Day 6

Today was a travel day for us. We woke up bright and early, ate a delicious French toast breakfast cooked by our sweet cooks who have been feeding us great meals all week. As soon as we were done with breakfast, we hopped on the bus to go back to Guatemala City. 

It took a whopping eight hours with a little stop at Pollo Campero for lunch. During the ride, we slept, talked, and sang songs. We had some very hard laughs, and we bonded a lot. The ride today seemed shorter because of the friendships we’ve made over the week. We taught each other car games, and some of us laughed until we peed our pants. 

Once we finally got to the City, we  were welcomed into the same hostel we stayed in the first night. Then, we had a delicious meal at the church. The donuts were to die for. We listened to David, the pastor, talk about the history of the church. He told us his personal experiences with following and obeying God, and it taught us that if we listen to God, we can do big things. Overall, it has been a long but impactful day. We’re so grateful for this experience!

-Camille Guinn, Emma Iseman & Connor Young

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Day 5

Today was our last day working in the villages of Rio Dulce. The village we attended today was Boqueron. When we arrived, all of the children came running to see us get off of the bus. We then gathered under the shaded area where they would have the feeding program. The feeding program is a way for the children to get a good healthy meal, but to also learn Bible verses. To be able to receive the meal, they have to be able to recite back the Bible verse they learned. Today they were served sausage, a hard boiled egg, bread, and a rice drink. Seeing this was an amazing thing for all of us to watch. The joy on these children to receive this food was tremendous. Not only did they enjoy for themselves, but they also shared with their loved ones.  God works in spectacular ways to be able to help these children get what they need to be healthy. 

After a wonderful breakfast, we split up into our working groups. I (Peyton Andrews) attended the group who would make a cement floor for one of the homes. As we approached the house the work seemed a little intimidating. We quickly got started with the process. Our group was very determined to get the job done. Everyone worked together and we all took turns in switching out jobs to make sure that everyone was staying well. The people of our group never got in a disagreement. Everyone was constantly making sure that everyone was okay and giving motivation as we worked. As the house began to come together, it was amazing to see the transformation. The people of these homes live with dirt floors which can spread sickness very easily. They will finally be able to have a place where they can have clean feet. When we finished the house, the mother of the home was crying and told us how thankful she was. This made all of us feel like what we did was truly impactful. God gave us the strength and motivation to work our hardest to get these people something that can change their lives forever. 

I (Walker Gilbert) was a part of the other working group which we helped members of the village create gardens. Today, we had a very small group but we made a hard working team. The first garden we went to was for a boy named Manuel. It is amazing to see that the gardens are cared for by the young people of the village and it is their responsibility. The first garden we somewhat completed because Manuel had worked on it before we came, but we were still able to poke holes in the soil and plant the seeds. This garden had cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes. Then finally, we finished putting up the chicken wire fence around the garden and it was finished. Then we moved on to the second garden. The second garden we had to start completely from scratch. We had to make the rows and and remove all of the rocks from the soil. We put the seeds in the garden and finished putting up the fence around the garden. Once we finish the gardens we get to pray over the caretaker of the garden which is the best part. We prayed that Manuel would continue to take care of the garden so that he could help provide for the village.

Then after lunch, we were taken on an excursion to the canyon. We all gathered in canoes and went up the river. We reached a spot where we could all get out and swim and relax a little before the next VBS. We went back to the church shortly after and were greeted with around 100 excited kids. We had to very quickly set up our VBS for the kids. The best part was when we took all of the kids out to the soccer field and played with them for hours. It was amazing to see the joy in these kids. They were so happy to hang out with us and always asked us questions even though most of us do not speak the same language. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

-Peyton Andrews & Mary Walker Gilbert

Day 4

Today we went to Nacimiento at 5:00am and rode up the mountain in pickup trucks. It was such a cool experience and the view during the whole ride was absolutely breathtaking. The village was at the top of the mountain and we considered it to be one of the prettiest places on earth

We got up early to go watch the feeding program and help feed the children before they went to school. In order for them to get their breakfast they have to learn a new bible verse and recite and memorize it. We thought it was incredible to see their love for God considering their circumstances. It truly influenced us and opened our eyes on how to love God more and strengthen our relationship with him. 

We both worked in garden today and it was way more wet than yesterday. Some were hesitant to get dirty, but we weren’t.  So we jumped in there and got to work. When we were done, we were covered in mud head to toe but the garden turned out amazing for the family.

When we were done we played with the kids and jump roped. They loved it and ended up taking it from us and wanting us to jump with them. Even though we couldn’t understand them most of the time it didn’t stop us and the kids from having fun. 

We felt the love from them through their smiles and happiness. We both agree this trip is changing our life and making our relationship with God stronger.

-Mason Lilly & Sydney Sasser

Day 3

Today, after an early start, we traveled to the first village, Tablitas. After our one hour bus ride to the village we began work. We split into two groups based on the jobs we were going to do. One group was working on making a concrete floor, and the other constructed two gardens. After the jobs were completed, the team met in a local church to eat lunch. After eating lunch the team broke up into their small groups to prepare for vbs. Soon kids were lined up outside and ready to begin. Shortly after the kids came in, we got started. We began with the drama. The kids really enjoyed it and it was very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces. After the drama, the evangelism team went up and shared a parable. We then went outside to play with the kids. 

Overall, the experience was very overwhelming but at the same time very humbling and exciting. As Americans, sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in everything in our own lives that we often forget there are others who have real and bigger issues than ourselves. Our hearts were touched and filled with unfailing love from all the kids. It was so inspiring to see kids who were struggling but never failed to put that all away to have a good time and really connect with Jesus. Their love for him really shined through and touched our hearts.

-Cooper Parrish and Meredith Abell

Travel Day Part 2

Today was our first full day in Guatemala. It was very, very long and exciting to say the least… most of the time. We began our day at the crack of dawn (good ol’ 7 am) with some delicious breakfast provided by our wonderful hosts at the hostel in Guatemala City, consisting of fresh fruit and cinnamon pancakes. Naturally there were some bumps in the road of our departure for church (I, Emily, dunked my toothbrush straight into the slightly yucky water running through our faucets and proceeded to throw it directly into the trash can, only to retrieve it for a thorough disinfecting at a later time and higher common sense level), but we made it out of our accommodation in one very large, very excited piece for church. We travelled by school bus to the CCCG campus, which is perched straight on the mountainside with a perfect view of the valley and nearby volcanoes. We joined the CCCG congregation for their Sunday morning service beginning at 9:30 am. It began not unlike the 11:05 service at Belair campus, with guitars, drums, bass guitar, and worship leader, and continued for the next 2 and a half hours. The vertical relationship between our worship leader and God was by far the most apparent and inspirational thing that we experienced today. Immediately following service, we were served a delicious lunch of beef roast and potatoes in a yummy sauce (whose name neither of us can pronounce, much less spell) with rice, sliced avocado, fresh tortillas, and cucumber lemonade. Following lunch, we departed yet again on our non-air conditioned banana vehicle for our ride to our home for this evening and most of this week: Rio Dulce. Luckily the windows rolled down, because we were on the bus for a grand total of about 6 and a half hours, plus an hour in the middle for rest time and dinner at what we refer to as “GFC, Guatemala Fried Chicken”. When we finally arrived at our destination, the sun had long disappeared behind the mountains (despite it only being about 8) and our energy was running low. We unloaded our bags from the bus and touched base with our families back at home before beginning worship led by Aaron and a short devotional led by Mary Walker on “Seeing Our Neighbor”. We are looking forward to our cool showers and comfy beds to recharge for an early start tomorrow.

Lilly Williamson & Emily Grabowski

Travel Day Part 1

Juliana Cadle

A lot of tears were shed today. Happy tears, sad tears, and most importantly tired tears. Not that this was a bad thing, we got through it and I made two new friends on the plane. It could’ve been worse, I could’ve been stuck between two huge dudes with the body type of Travis like Meredith. But there’s always tomorrow. Who knows, maybe i’ll be stuck between two travis. Either way, I cant wait to serve God in anyway possible. Even if it means sitting in the middle of two huge dudes.

Meredith Palmer

Today has been full of many new and exciting experiences. First, we got to the church and prayed over our group before we headed to the airport. I was a little nervous once we got to the airport because I’d never been on a plane, but I found it to be a lot more calm and fun than I expected. On the plane I had to sit in the middle of two random people but it’s okay because I got to explain our mission trip to them. After we landed and left the airport we got into a school bus and they took us to the church that we will visit tomorrow. They fed us a great meal of beef, potatoes, and corn. Then we came to the house that we’ll be staying at for tonight and got ready for our exciting day tomorrow.