Church member Carissa King is serving an internship in Guatemala with KidsAlive International, a Christian ministry that cares for the physical and spiritual needs of children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or mistreated. She sent us this new update this week:
Hello, again faithful friends :) and Happy September!
Here in Guatemala, September is the patriotic month, because the 15th is Guatemalan Independence Day. I am expecting it to be a busy week with many special activities due to the holiday. I am very excited to learn more about Guatemalan culture and get to celebrate with them. If I’ve noticed anything here, it’s that Guatemalans love a party and will pretty much throw one for any small happening. Therefore, I’m very excited to see what celebrating a national holiday will look like!
Overall, this month has been fairly uneventful in terms of concrete “progress.” I still have not been able to start the small groups here at Casa Ester, due to some administrative barriers, which has been very disappointing. I am still hopeful, however, that they will start up soon. It is just a matter of getting the right list of people’s approval and everyone taking the time to review and accept my proposal in their busy schedules!
I feel that the best way to recap this month is to simply list the many highs and lows that I have experienced.
A weekend visit from my Wheaton New Testament professor, including a day away at a beautiful lake
Many compliments on my Spanish ability (one tour guide even said I sounded like a Guatemalan!!)
The arrival of a new Tía who has been sweet to me
The arrival of my halfway point
Leading my first devotional in which I was given time to prepare and able to share some of my own hardships which seemed to move some of the girls
Finding a good church fit
Finding a much-needed friend and source of wisdom in a missionary here
Feeling loved and cared for by the missionary community through sickness
Sweet conversations with some of the girls in which they shared more about their past
Finally figuring out how to make rice well here (the trick is you have to sauté in oil first!)
Feeling more comfortable in my Spanish and being able to initiate more conversations
Some of the independent girls at Casa Ester joining me in helping at Oasis with devotionals, which has led to deeper connections and more time with them
Getting to attend one of the devotional team meetings and feeling welcomed by the staff there
Saying goodbye to my friend and roommate and beginning what feels like a long four months alone
Seeing my friends return to school for the semester without me
Realizing I’m only halfway home
Realizing that I’m already halfway done and still don’t feel settled in a routine or purpose
An intestinal infection that resulted in a late-night ER run to the city (all good now though - antibiotics are great)
The growing weight of living and working in a culture of indirect/passive communication
The continuing stress of a few complicated staff relationships I have at Casa Ester
Finally feeling enough courage to ask for a meeting with the director of spirituality, only to have to push that meeting back three times over two weeks
Feeling the weight of living with 15 girls who have suffered so much and have very little ability to empathize and connect emotionally
A general lack of energy for my homework and work here due to all the above
Through all of these things, however, the Lord has been ever-present. Through many hard nights, I have felt His love and been able to lean into Him remembering how I must put all my hope in Him to find true joy.
In my battles with loneliness and desiring the comforts of the people and places I call home, the Lord gently reminded me of what He taught me four years ago. The biggest lesson I learned after the fire was that the Lord has to be my first and sometimes only comforter. What was hardest about losing everything at once was that suddenly not only did I not have my home, but I also had none of the things that made me feel safe and comforted. In this season the Lord taught me that he is my comforter, and now in this new season, I have a chance to reapply this lesson. This time, however, I need prayers for courage. This time I have to choose to let the Lord be my first comforter because I have not lost everything and the things I miss, I will get back. I must choose to be present here. Rather than seeking comfort in a future that is uncertain (because any day could be our last right?), I must choose to seek comfort only in what I know is guaranteed: I believe in a God who has saved me and no matter what happens today I get to spend an eternity in heaven worshiping Him. When I live into this, I live my moments out in Joy rather than longing.
Friends, that is the joy that the simple gospel brings and that just simply must be enough!
And so, I challenge you today to choose to be present in what the Lord has for you today, despite whatever around you is trying to strip your joy, may it be worry, stress, grief, pain, desire, or the countless other things that take us away from the Joy Jesus gives freely. Reflect with me today on Psalm 33:
“The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”
Through these verses I have felt the call to stand firm, knowing the Lord does not waste time and that his plans are good, knowing that I will not be my own deliverer, but all of my hope must be in the Lord’s unfailing love.
Prayer Requests for the coming month:
That these small groups, or whatever the Lord wants me to do with my time here, will be able to start (particularly that the meeting with my bosses would happen and also go well!)
That the Lord would continue to move in the hearts of the girls here
That I would be able to continue forming deeper relationships with people here
For courage to choose joy and to step into things unseen
Peace to you all and thank you for your tremendous support :)
For the Lord is good, His steadfast Love endures forever - Psalm 136