from Mark to Marcos

from Mark to Marcos

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Santa Cruz Memories.

As I sit here and reflect on the past four years, I am amazed. I am amazed at how much has happened and how much God has allowed me to be a part of. I am at a loss for words. It has been exactly four years since I first landed in Guatemala.  Somewhere and somehow during that first trip, God touched my heart and changed my life. During that first trip, God began to place a burden on my heart and passion in my life for the people of Guatemala. 

Now, I am two months away from calling Guatemala home and I can’t help but imagine what the next four years will hold. 

However, instead of imagining what the next four years will look like, here are some of my favorite Santa Cruz memories. 

Santa Cruz, Baja Verapaz

Santa Cruz is the place where it all started, the place where I began to fall in love with Guatemala. In May of 2010, I was there with a missions team from Roberts and it was during team devotionals on the second or third night in the village that the idea of long-term missions made its way into my mind. Immediately after devos that night, we had a time of prayer. I felt as though God told me to listen to Amy’s prayer. Seconds later, Amy started praying. She prayed for me and my future in Guatemala. Little did either of us know that I would actually have a future in Guatemala.

Santa Cruz was also where I made some of my first and best friends in Guatemala. Victor was one of those friends. He’s kind of like a brother now. Anyways, after a week spent together in 2010, I promised Victor that I would pray for him everyday. Keeping that promise was extremely hard. I had no way of getting weekly updates on how Victor or his family were doing. But, I continued to pray. For 15 months, I prayed. When I returned to Santa Cruz in 2011, Victor had a new home.You see, before their new home, Victor’s family slept in the same little room that they cooked in. The open fire in the middle of a room like theirs is how many individuals get respiratory diseases in Guatemala. Now, they only use their old home as a kitchen. Their new home is where they live and sleep and it’s built much better than the one I visited in 2010. 

Vladimir is another one of my good friends in the village. However, it didn’t start out that way. I mean, I thought his name was Sebastian. Unfortunately, Vladimir cannot hear or speak. Even though I didn’t know Spanish in 2010, Vladimir was still much harder to communicate with than Victor or the other kids. However, when I returned in 2011, I recognized Sebastian, I mean, Vladimir. That was when I learned his name and when our friendship started. I knew all along that love is a much more universal language than English or Spanish and even if we couldn’t talk, we could still be friends. My favorite part of this story is when I returned for the third time, in 2013. I knew that Vladimir was Vladimir, and not Sebastian. During that trip, I had Vladimir teach me the alphabet in his sign language. No, we didn’t have any in depth conversations, however, we began to communicate with words. I pray for Vladimir most days. I pray that God allows him to speak and hear. However, I am thankful for the little miracles, like communicating in Vladimir’s sign language, that God gives us each day. 

This past August, was when I felt as though I went from being a visitor in Santa Cruz to a friend and brother in the community. I was sitting on the steps of the school, talking with another one of my good friends, Angel. We were talking about all that has happened in our lives since we met each other 3 years prior. Somewhere in the conversation, Angel mentioned that he was a really good swimmer and that his older brothers had taught him to swim. He then proceeded to invite me to go to the river with him and his brothers. The following morning he asked, “are you going to come bathe with me and my brothers this afternoon?” Realizing that their leisurely swim was also their daily bath, I said “When? How? Where? Of course!” Swimming in the river that day felt like a right of passage. It was one of the most simple, unplanned days of my time in Guatemala, however, it was a day filled with so much joy.

Four years ago, I would have never imagined having these stories to share. I also would have never guessed that a short-term mission trip would lead to life-long friendships or that it would lead to a long-term commitment. Lastly, these stories give me hope and a confidence that the next four years will be full of new stories and relationships in Guatemala, written and orchestrated by an awesome God.

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