By Lori Womble
It’s been three weeks since I flew home to my family in Atlanta, but my head and my heart seem to be stuck in Guatemala. This last mission trip marks my third, and each trip gives me the hunger for more. It is difficult to explain what these mission trips mean to me to someone who hasn’t been to Guatemala, and even more so to someone who hasn’t been on a mission trip at all. Putting words to what my heart feels seems inadequate somehow.
My home church in Atlanta, Georgia places a big emphasis on international missions and has sponsored a team of adults to go to Project Salud y Paz for the last five years. Upon arrival at Project Salud y Paz this year, we admired the finished product of the building we had been working on for the last two years. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Moving on to other pressing needs, our tasks were vast and varied, ranging from digging a 15 foot hole for drainage to conducting a Vacation Bible School for 250 local children. Our task list was long and somewhat daunting for eighteen adults, most of whom spend their normal workdays sitting at a desk. However, this is what I witnessed, and experienced in my fellow team members: minds and muscle coming together to figure out how to improvise when much needed tools and equipment were either missing or inadequate; jumping in, without hesitation, to lend a hand when help was needed; supporting and motivating each other when tasks seemed too big or too difficult; and, grown men and women finding their childish side as they unabashedly played with and loved the children. I saw Jesus in their eyes and it made me love them more.
I also saw Jesus in the eyes of the people of Guatemala. Their needs are so great, and they have so little. Yet, they are grateful for what they do have. Even though many have to stand in line for hours for medical care, children have to walk a long way to come to school, and food to fill their stomachs is often very little, they go about their lives with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. One little girl climbed onto my lap, put both of her hands on my cheeks, and stared into my eyes with such an expression of love, it made my heart melt.
My team and I got dirty, experienced a few blisters and sore muscles. At times, we felt exhausted mentally and physically from all we accomplished, and maybe even a bit homesick. Yet, the true gift of experiencing Project Salud y Paz is the opportunity to share God’s love with the amazing people of Guatemala and receiving the same love right back. I am forever grateful for this experience and how God has blessed me through service to others. I will be back.