Guatemala: Spiritual Earthquakes

Our mission team, the Guatemalan coordinator, the Guatemalan pastor, and an interpreter are all gathered in the church in Guatemala City. Carlo the digital tune master has cool sounds wafting in the background.  Someone supplied us with instant coffee and pastries filled with cheese and ham. This meeting is to give us a chance to share our experiences: our five-day medical mission is over. We’d provided medical care and distributed food, among other things, to villagers in Tierra Linda.

“A lot of people don’t need food, they need love,” the coordinator tells us. “You don’t need to talk a lot to them – just your presence is enough. Children never forget someone playing with them, someone sharing their heart.”

The mission doctor, who’s a surgeon back home, stands. “I have problems at work and problems at home.” His self-control begins to disintegrate. “The problems affect my spiritual life. I was growing away from the Lord.” He grips the chair in front of him and looks down until he can talk without his voice cracking. “The harmony of the team has put things back in perspective.” He hugs a team member and sits down.

Dave helped in the dental clinic. He’s a storage facility manager in real life. He stands. “I have a confession to make.” His face is blotchy with raw emotion. “I expected to come here and see poor, lazy people. I was wrong.” He whips his glasses off to mop up tears with his sleeve. “I was wrong. They are industrious people with faith.”

Tom, a nurse, says, “This is where we come to have God work on our hearts.”

Many others on the mission team share their lessons learned. Some of the testifiers are men, many are women. All swab tears and struggle to tell their stories without breaking down.

Those of us listening are swallowing big lumps in our throats. The meeting has been going on a long time. I gotta go to the bathroom. Variations of the sentiment “It seems like we get more than we give,” reaches cliché status.

Then the Guatemalan pastor goes to the lectern. Carlo decreases the decibels of a jazz riff.

Reading our minds, the pastor asks, “In five days, what can you do?” The pastor’s question grabs our attention.  “An earthquake that lasts five seconds can change people’s lives.”

Earthquakes are a regular phenomenon in Central America. I experienced one years ago in Taiwan that flattened tall buildings, pulverized villages, and rerouted rivers.

The pastor says, “You created a spiritual earthquake!”

Tears blur my vision.

Of course, the pastor is right. We call it “quality time” in the States. It’s not the amount of time we spent in Guatemala that made a difference in people’s lives. It’s what we did, sharing ourselves in Jesus’ name.

And now I’m thinking that the same is true no matter where we are. It’s how we share our hearts that matters, not how much clock time we eat up doing it.

The pastor ends with a phrase that rhymes in Spanish, and is translated as “You need courage to be different so you can make a difference.” He cites Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It’s clear from everyone’s testimonies and the pastor’s comments that we received more than we gave. Or more accurately, we received something different from what we gave. A spiritual earthquake shredded our stereotypes, recalibrated mindsets, reset defaults.

 

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About beth

I've finally opened my heart and mind to Jesus and the church and the big "C", (Christianity) as a last resort. My intent with this blog is to share what I learn and feel along my new path with Jesus. You see, even writing that sentence makes me squirm. . . it gives me the willies. Does it give you the willies, too?
This entry was posted in christianity, culture, guatemala, Jesus, mission, music, spirituality, travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Guatemala: Spiritual Earthquakes

  1. Susan Storlie says:

    “we received something different from what we gave.” God knows each of us so well, our needs, wants, desires. This is why we need each other, you gave what you had, they returned what you needed. Even if you didn’t know you needed it. Made me cry happy tears.

  2. free penny press says:

    My good friend just returned today from Guatemala where is is working on her non-profit org. regarding water and such.. She is a better person each time she returns.. I will share this post with her!
    Congrats on the FP!!

  3. My church has gone to Guatemala many times ans I hope to tag along someday. This place holds wonderful people, but they are struggling. God’s light is a beakon of hope for them and to those who spread it, thank you. Great post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed! It’s awesome to see something like this on the home page. Keep it up!

  4. Thank you for your words of wisdom. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Well deserved.

  5. Just awesome. Thanks for sharing! God is mighty. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  6. Matt_S_Law says:

    Wonderful, touching post. God bless you on your continuing journey.

  7. urstrulie says:

    This is an amazing testimony. I’m glad you shared it. You must keep sharing it. We must all continue to share our experiences of God’s work on this earth. I loved this entry, thank you for sharing your heart.

  8. jalal michaelsabbagh86@gmail.co.gravatar.com/jmsabbagh@gmail.com says:

    Great post. Christ said”He who follows me will not walk in darkness”. He who believe in Christ owns a Diamond ,he will not trades it for any thing..Wish luck.Jalal

  9. Raina says:

    how encouraging…

  10. busymomof03 says:

    Reblogged this on Busy Mom of Three and commented:
    great post

  11. Be blessed in the work you do. :)

  12. mexicrave says:

    Loved this post – it struck a cord, made me very emotional

  13. segmation says:

    Looks like Guatemala is lucky to have a friend in you! http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

  14. “Then the Guatemalan pastor goes to the lectern. Carlo decreases the decibels of a jazz riff.

    Reading our minds, the pastor asks, “In five days, what can you do?” The pastor’s question grabs our attention. “An earthquake that lasts five seconds can change people’s lives.”

    Earthquakes are a regular phenomenon in Central America. I experienced one years ago in Taiwan that flattened tall buildings, pulverized villages, and rerouted rivers.

    The pastor says, “You created a spiritual earthquake!”

    Tears blur my vision.

    Of course, the pastor is right. We call it “quality time” in the States. It’s not the amount of time we spent in Guatemala that made a difference in people’s lives. It’s what we did, sharing ourselves in Jesus’ name.”

    Wonderful thought. I will visit often to your blog. You can consider my blog too. http://successsearch.wordpress.com/

  15. Moving testamonial of how spirituality is about so much more than prayer. Thanks for sharing of yourself. A well-deserved FP!

  16. I’m glad you gave of your time, but am somewhat horrified by Dave’s expectation that people in Guatemala would be “poor and lazy.” It’s great to help others but not with the assumption that poor people are lazy or that those living in another nation and culture are unable to set the same morals standards as Americans, or perhaps even high. They’re not there to serve as your textbook.

  17. Soul Walker says:

    A well-told tale that I can relate to. I remember being in Africa some years ago and thinking I had given very little but gained a whole world in just a short three weeks. Blessings and peace.

  18. Check out the blog at MercyINK (not mine). Truthfully, I read yours because I thought it was related to hers. Guatemala has been coming up in my life lately…. Hmmm.
    Beautiful post, and so true of all mission trips, no matter where you go…

  19. Oh, I love this, Beth. I spent a lot of time in Guatemala as a child because my parents did mission work. that country will always have a special place in my heart and I love people that love my Guatemala, so thank you.

  20. author4u says:

    I lived in Guatemala for a year and it will remain with me forever in my heart…

  21. JT says:

    I really related to your post and have started reading some of your others as well. Siblings of the Cross we are, and I will be following your journey.

  22. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    Thank you for sharing. For the past two years, I have been very confused about what I should do after I graduate college. And I feel like the Lord is calling me to Guatemala, which is where my family is originally from. It is good to see that the Lord has great people over there already.

  23. Jade Jarvis says:

    Thank you for placing things into perspective. The best gift you can give is yourself.

  24. A touching story. Congrats on getting pressed!

  25. Very inspirational post. God bless you for your servant heart.

  26. “I expected to come here and see poor, lazy people. I was wrong.” Therein lies the problem with our ‘Western’ minds. I like your post, but it greatly troubled me that this was basically about ”us”, and the Guatemalans are mentioned briefly – in fact not at all, other than the priest. The soul searching should focus on how self-centred we are, as exemplified by this post (not by the person, just the post!)
    The quote was a shocker – admitting it is almost irrelevant. to a non-Christian like me. However, your post was illuminating and worth reading – I just found a lot between the lines.
    I dispute – strongly – the lines alluding to what the Guatemalans need. Of course they need love, and of course they enjoy ‘presence;, and people need to play..but to claim they.need ‘presence’ over anything else is to admit lack of technical training and facilities to ‘really make a difference’.
    But I understand your post, and say these words only as a personal reflection.

  27. Prometheus says:

    The pastor had skills :) That’s what one might call enlightenment.

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