Today’s guest blogger is Ellen Albers – senior, volleyball legend and our resident elf.
The community where the church is located is at the edge of a red zone, meaning the area is infested with drugs and violence. The kids that come to Vacation Bible School have seen it all. We don’t know what they have witnessed and experienced. They have never known safety or clean, well-kept neighborhoods. And yet they enjoy the same things as every other kid. They love to smile and play games and dance like crazy, so our team clicked with them immediately. Within thirty seconds of our arrival each morning, a game of fútbol has already started in the street, kids are hanging on our arms, and some kid has borrowed someone’s camera and has taken twenty of the same picture.
Though we can’t all hold extensive conversations, we have taken advantage of the universal language of smiling and laughter. On the first morning of the VBS, we started by teaching the kids some songs and dances that we learned the previous night (Disclaimer: Be prepared to hear these songs over and over when we return home because we can’t get them out of our heads.) One little girl was hanging around the back of the room. She was too shy to say her name and though I begged, she wouldn’t dance with us. Someone told me her name was Abigaíl. I didn’t know what to say or how to reach her, but throughout the dancing I stayed near her and kept smiling at her. When the songs were over, she turned around and hugged me. I had found a new best friend. Abigaíl stayed with me the rest of the day.
The coolest thing I have witnessed in these kids is their gratefulness that someone is spending time with them. Most of their fathers are either addicts or are not present in their lives at all. Knowing that our team is making such a major impact on their lives is the best feeling. Not only are the kids grateful for us, but everyone we have encountered is happy we are here. The Guatemalans are a beautiful people. They always greet us with smiles and kind words. We are supposed to be here on a missions trip to encourage them, but they are the ones encouraging us. We don’t share the same language or culture, but we share the same Jesús.
Editor’s note: We have been working in a part of Guatemala City called Bethania. It is in a new zone that Clubhouse is trying to break new ground for ministry. We have been working with Pastor Mario and his fledgling church. They may be small in number, they are mighty in Spirit.