Summer Youth Teams—a Growing Tradition of Partnership

This morning the last of four summer youth teams left for the U.S., having spent ten days in the town of Palín. The 20-member team, from First PC of Portland, Oregon, stayed at the Presbyterian campground called Monte Sión, alongside Lake Amatitlán. It’s a place of scenic beauty, hearty meals and, unfortunately, no hot water. (An accompanying cartoon entitled “Taking a Cold Shower” illustrates the experience.) The visit required adjustments for some rustic conditions, rainy weather, and a few cases of sickness. They took things in stride with a great spirit. Of course having gracious, attentive hosts in Palín made a big difference.

The youth partnered with Palín’s Iglesia Presbiteriana Betania. They labored on a construction project at an outlying small congregation called Ebenezer, where they also held a week-long Bible school. They paid several visits to the local elementary school, sharing music and delivering school supplies. (See photos) The time was filled with a variety of worship services, encounters with Guatemalan youth, and much personal reflection. The young people worked hard, and afterwards played hard at Monterrico beach and in the colonial city of Antigua.

When it was all over, team members shared comments like these: “amazing experience,” “truly life changing,” and “shows that there is no end to God’s love for the world.”

I’m grateful to First Church Portland, and especially to group leader Sue Van Stelle, for having the wherewithal to come here, and for trusting that they’d be taken care of while in Guatemalan. I’m hopeful that the relationship between these churches will continue. God willing, this summer’s youth teams will become an annual tradition, perhaps with some churches sending teams over and over again.

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