(the title is from Henry Blackaby, our motto for the week)
Wednesday morning we were scheduled to do VBS at a church/school in the morning and paint on the school's roof in the afternoon. When we drove up at the church, our contact, Carol turns around and says she needs to tell us something very important. She proceeds to tell us, through our translator, Patty, that we are in the "Red Zone," the most dangerous part of Guatemala City. It is run by drug traffickers and is a violent area. She also told us that most of the students' parents are drug traffickers and that a couple of them had been targetted over the last couple of weeks, as in someone had come there to shoot them.
I wanted to add,"so go have a great day at VBS and duck if you happen to hear bullets!"
Honestly, after all we had been through, I was not scared at this point. It just seemed par for the course.
We had a great time doing crafts, singing and acting out "Jonah and the whale" with the kids. As we were leaving the church, our driver began to yell at us to open the windows of the van immediately. We complied and then our translator told us that, "they need to see your faces, that you are not a threat." Apparently we had been in some danger, but I never saw anyone/anything threatening. As soon as we were out of the Red Zone we were told to close our windows, because it was safe. I think God shielded our eyes from even seeing anything.
That afternnoon, some of us went back to paint and others stayed at the seminary to rest, since we were not all needed to paint. I stayed behind to rest. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I felt so guilty, but I really needed a little break. I had not talked to the boys all week. I had only talked to Rod once when we got there because my cell phone did not work (although AT&T said it would). To be honest, I was feeling a little panicky; I just needed to hear their voices and I could go on and finish out the week. Here is a little excerpt from a prayer I wrote in my journal that day:
I am so tired and I miss my family so badly. I feel so drained and have nothing more to give. It is so hard for me to keep my eyes focused on you...........
I give you all of these broken pieces and ask that you give me your strength, your power, your healing so that I can perservere to the end. Give me a love for your people and help me to finish well. I love You.
Wednesday night the girls sat around working on our testimonies and sharing Scripture with each other. It was such a precious time together and God reminded me of Hebrews 10:23-25. The theme of our sermon series at church says, "The covenant by which we belong to Christ creates a community by which we belong to each other." We experienced this all week and it was awesome.
Thursday morning I felt so refreshed. The Lord had indeed given me His strength to perservere, as I wrote in my journal that morning:
You have shown me that to live is Christ and to die to myself is gain. I desire to abandon it all for your sake.
We did another VBS at the church where we worshipped on Sunday. We ate a homemade lunch at the pastor's house, which we the best meal we had while we were in Guatemala. Then in the afternoon, we went into two different schools to share the Gospel, openly, unashamedly. It's sad you have to go to a developing country to be able to share Christ in a school. Anyway, a few of us shared our testimony and then our leader shared the Gospel using a Spanish tract that opens out into the shape of a cross, which incidentally, is the most widely recognized symbol in the world. We did this altogether in five classrooms. Many raised their hands to say they had accept Christ. The pastor told us that he had talked with the students after we did and about 38 had accepted Christ. What an awesome day!
Friday was our "day off." It was a day spend going to Antigua to see the ruins of Columbus era churches and monestaries. We went up a mountain and had a beautiful view of the city and three volcanos. We shopped a little at a market, ate lunch at a fancy hotel restaurant, bought some coffee, and packed for the trip home. Friday was also sort of a transition day to help us get prepared mentally and emotionally to go back home after all we had experienced. It was a fun day and I really enjoyed spending it with all of the girls and Patty, our translator, who was so much more than that; she instantly became like a like a friend that we had known forever.