Wednesday, July 2, 2014

May trip to Guatemala

Overlooking Guatemala City

In May I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala for about 4 days.  It was a very, very quick trip, but I was so thankful for every moment there!  My first trip to Guatemala was in 2003, and then I proceeded to travel there about 6 more times including a total of 4 months living there and attending language school.  My last trip to Guatemala had been in 2007 where I spent one month working with national doctors in a clinic setting.  I have spent time trying to find ways to return to Guatemala long term, but it just seems that the Lord had not opened the door for that until now!  Earlier this year I was accepted by TEAM as a full time missionary!  We have been talking about me going to Guatemala, but I have never seen the specific ministry that TEAM works with and wanted to see that before committing to my 3 or more years in Guatemala!
So, the overall purpose of the trip was to meet fellow missionaries and Guatemalan co-workers and see the communities I would be serving.  My first two days were spent at the Potter's House, which is a Guatemalan run Christian NGO (non-government organization).  They serve the 10,000+ people who scavenge through the Guatemala City garbage dump.  There are countless needs within this community and the Potter's House is working to address as many of those as possible.  But, they are not only concerned about material poverty, they are concerned about their spiritual poverty and trying to help them find hope in the only One who can bring them hope!!!  One of the ways they do this is through offering medical care.  That's where I come in!  As I was sitting with the medical team of the Potter's House, they asked me what I would like to do if I moved down there.  My question to them was, what do you do and what are your goals and visions for the future?  They then started telling me about how they would like to expand their medical care of the more than 5,000 children living in these dump communities, work with women and infants to prevent malnutrition, and train some community members to be lay health workers in these dump communities.  When I told that my experience had been mostly in pediatrics and I had already gotten a master's degree in community health nursing, their jaws just about dropped open =)  What I didn't tell them was that I have worked in a homeless shelter, worked in a community clinic primarily working with pregnant women, and have always wanted to train nationals to take my place!!!   This was just one of the many stories during my 4 days that made my jaw drop as well!

Kids in health class at the Potter's House
Community surrounding the garbage dump

It's amazing to me that the Lord could take so many of my past "wandering steps" and pull together this opportunity for me to serve Him in Guatemala!    As I've been praying for the Lord to clearly confirm this step towards Guatemala, I can not believe how much He has designed this to be a perfect fit for me!   Now, that's not to say that this has been an easy decision!  The Lord has given me a great love for the people of Guatemala, but the Lord has also given me a great love for the people of many other countries.  It's been a difficult step to feel like I have to choose the people of one country over another.  However, the Lord doesn't need me anywhere - and He cares for people everywhere more than I ever could!!!  So, this is an area that I've had to constantly entrust to the Lord!  I also returned from Guatemala having to work through my response to seeing some of the difficulties that will arise when I do move there.  Like, how will I live in Guatemala City and enjoy it, or where will I live, or how will I navigate in such horrible traffic?  But, the Lord will provide one step at a time, I don't have to know all the answers now before I move!

The next step then, figuring out how and when I can return to Guatemala!!!  My goal is to go back in the spring of 2015.  There will be a lot to do between now and then!  I plan to continue working as a nurse at Riley while I begin developing a team of people who will prayerfully and financially support the ministry in Guatemala.  There will be other things that need to be done in preparing to leave and sorting/packing as well as various trainings to help prepare me for going!  Once I move to Guatemala, I anticipate taking the first couple months to focus on remembering more of the spanish that I have learned and increase my vocabulary!  And then during that time I can work on finding housing and re-acclimating to the culture as well as beginning to serve with the Potter's House.  

Over the past few months, the Lord has been reminding me of His incredible faithfulness!!!  When I'm tempted to worry or be fearful of what lies ahead, I just have to remember His faithfulness in the past and present and know that He will be faithful in the future!  I love the way Psalm 136  rehearses the phrase "His love endures forever" after every statement.  The other day while reading that, I was thinking about my own life and how I could insert my own phrases and repeat the same thing over and over again!  God is in control of all things, good or bad, easy or hard, and we can ALWAYS trust Him!!!!