This weekend I went to the Polochíc Presbytery in the mountains of Baja Verapáz. The churches there are mostly Q’eqchi’, though some are Pocomchí. On Saturday I caught a 4:00 AM bus from Guatemala City, transferred to a microbus, and then arrived by noon at the town of La Tinta where the presbytery is headquartered. A presbytery leader, Pastor Julian Icó, gave me a tour of the Presbytery’s facilities, and we discussed preparations for a team that’s scheduled to come in January from the PCUSA Presbytery of the Inland Northwest.
The primary purpose of this trip was to preach at Pastor Julian’s home church, the Iglesia Presbiteriana Esmirna. So after lunch in La Tinta we climbed aboard his son’s pick-up truck for a 3-hour trek to the Q’eqchi’ village of Monte Blanco, where the church is ledged on a hillside (see photo). The dirt roads were in bad shape because of the rainy season (see photo). We crossed numerous bridges, including a type of swinging bridge that’s called a “hammock.” I’m not quite sure if vehicles are supposed to drive on it, but we did (see photo).
The church, comprised of 25 families was celebrating the 14th anniversary of their building. Pastor Alberto Cucul and lay worker Gregorio Tzib presided at Saturday night’s five-hour service. It included a concert, a wedding, the presentation of newly-baptized members, and Holy Communion. Visiting pastors and musicians came from other Presbyterian churches in the area, as well as Pentecostals and the Nazarenes. I preached about the paralytic who was lowered through a roof to be healed by Jesus. The Sunday morning service was more brief (three hours), and I preached about Moses lifting the bronze serpent in the wilderness.
The people were very kind to me. Pastor Julian said my visit was the first at the church by a mission co-worker. Not surprisingly the accommodations were rustic. Sleeping quarters were above the church kitchen, which meant that the room was filled with smoke a lot of the time. For some reason there was no water for bathing, and the beds were just boards. (Fortunately I brought a sleeping bag.) I returned home late Sunday night, thankful for safe travel and for the opportunity to worship with Pastor Julian, his family and his congregation.