Three teams of PCUSA youth converged on the Evangelical Presbyterian Seminary near Retalhuleu during the past two weeks, each of them paired with a nearby Guatemalan Presbyterian Church. I wasn’t exactly sure how the logistics of three simultaneous groups was going to turn out, but God was good as always, people were cooperative and flexible, and somehow we managed to juggle everyone’s schedules and arrangements. The groups—from Jacksonville, FL, Savannah, GA, and Kenosha, WI—came prepared to work with their partner churches on service projects. The projects involved painting walls and building more Sunday school spaces at the churches, and were tackled with great enthusiasm. However, the mission went well beyond physical construction. The focus was more on the development of cross-cultural, spiritual connections—“temples made not with human hands.” It seemed that at every turn visitors and hosts were singing in each other’s languages, sharing in worship, visiting homes, touring local schools and cultural sites, cooking and eating together, and teaching each other new games. After farewell services at each church, everybody seemed to go crazy snapping photographs, swapping hugs, smiles and Facebook information, and wiping away tears.
Many thanks to the host churches—Monte Hermón in the village of Ocosito, Sol de Justicia in the town of El Xab, and Estrella de la Mañana in the town of Sibaná. Special thanks to the efforts of the PC(USA) groups and their team leaders—Matt Hartley from South Jacksonville PC, Lance Loveall from Kenosha First PC, and Will Shelburne from Savannah First PC. Thanks also to our hard-working interpreters, Valerie Harden and Nancy Gonzalez, and our ever-careful drivers, Alfredo Cisneros and Elías de León. The power of Christ’s Spirit was evident every day, and deserves all praise!
(Photos: Guatemala and U.S. youth at play, the Monte Hermón congregation as they welcomed their visitors from the PCUSA, gathering of U.S. teams and youth from Pacífico Presbytery)