Experiencing Guatemala With Fresh Eyes

I have had the great opportunity to come to Guatemala in 3 of the past 5 years. It took the first 2 trips to really feel comfortable here and not feel out of place. 

My first trip was full of overwhelming emotions. Every site, sound, and smell was brand new, and I was filled with feelings of wonder and amazement, but also sadness. Sadness for the people I was leaving behind in Guatemala and sadness for the conditions they were enduring.  

But at the end of my 2nd trip, I felt as if I had experienced most everything that was possible for a team to experience while here. I've taught classes, been to Gerona, done varying construction projects, eaten great food, seen some amazing sights, cried on the last day of seeing the kids I had grown close to, and the list goes on. 

When I finally said yes to God's call to come to Guatemala this year, I started thinking back to my past trips, wondering if there was anything new to experience. Where would the feelings of wonder and amazement come from? How was I going to experience that feeling of newness for a 3rd time?

A few places were obvious. I got to see and spend time with my sponsor kids and many people I had met over the years, and I got to spend time and create new bonds as well.

But what I have found to be the most exciting, the way I have experienced that newness I had been wondering about, was not through my own eyes, but through the eyes of the new members of the team. A majority of the people on our team of 20 this year have either never been on a mission trip, or been out of the United States before. 

They had never experienced what it felt like stepping into the Guatemala airport, or being stuck in traffic so close you could touch the vehicle beside you. They had no idea where we were going, and what the school and church looked like. They also had no idea how fast the people here were going to effect them, and be in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives.

I had forgotten the amazement I felt when 1st coming to Guatemala. Things get comfortable over time, even when it's completely different from what you see at home. When you have come several times, the work and the things you do may not be that different, but what is different is the people you experience them with. 

Being in this environment, away from your comfort zone, creates an opportunity to bond and share experiences with people that you probably never would have had in America. And hopefully bonds you take back home with you. That has been my experience.
It's been a pleasure experiencing Guatemala with a new group of people this year, creating memories I will never forget. 

Written by Jeff Webb, a team member of Wilson Community Church

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