On August 1st, we celebrated one year since drastically changing our lives and moving to Guatemala. It has been an amazing year of discovery, trust, and growth in every area of our lives. When we first stepped off the plane in Guatemala City, to make it one year seemed like it would be the most difficult thing we would ever have to do. By God's grace, we never doubted it would be possible, we just did not know how it would happen.
Having no idea what path God would take when we got here, things fell into place rapidly and smoothly. There truly were difficulties, and times of doubt. Here we are though, one year down and stronger with each day that comes.
We had a problem though. When arriving in country I refused to refer to my family as missionaries. We were just a family with a strategy of not barging into a country with no roots, nor relationship and trying to change it for the better. As I quickly learned, so many "missionaries" to Guatemala have left a bad taste in the mouth of locals as they come and live a luxurious life and feed kids on Saturday, then go home and watch movies while eating a bucket of ice cream without a care in the world. I refused to be put in that category.
Why were we here? To love people, not to be missionaries. This was my thought, but boy did I have a shallow concept of Christ's mission.
It's crazy how refusing a title can mess with what you came here to do. A missionary is someone sent on mission from God to spread the good news of Christ to absolutely everyone. Whether that be our neighbor in Houston TX, or the hungry beggar on a sidewalk in Guatemala. We are all missionaries, and we have all been called since the day of our salvation to spread the Gospel. It's funny that we had less trouble referring to ourselves as missionaries in the United States than here, when the concept of missions is typically narrowed down to those who are serving overseas (which needs to stop by the way). Ultimately, my understanding of the Gospel was not fully developed. Which is actually great news (pun intended), because it reminded me that I am still a work in progress, which will forever be the case.
A couple months ago, my family and I were sitting in the central park of town (most towns outside of the city have a cathedral in the center of the community with a park) and Guatemalans love to hang out at the park. We were approached by a 6 year old girl, Maria. Maria, dressed in her traditional Guatemalan clothes, asked our family for 1 quetzal (the local currency). This is equivalent to about .13 US. I asked her what she was going to do with that 1 quetzal. Her response was sweet and innocent, "Comprar tortillas", which is "Buy tortillas". 1 quetzal can get you anywhere from 3-5 corn tortillas, depending on which lady along the street you buy from. We decided to walk with her to buy some tortillas. During our walk we got to know Maria on more of a deeper level. Her mom left her several years ago to live with her 75 year old grandmother who sits barefoot on the sidewalk and begs for money on a daily basis. Since Maria asked us for the 1 quetzal in English, I asked her if she knew any other words. She responded with "Yes. Please. Thank you.". We giggled at this as we tried to teach her a few more words. After buying tortillas, my family and Maria just kind of stood there, none of us really wanting to leave the others company. After a few awkward smiles we caved and ended up buying more tortillas and a whole chicken for Maria and her grandmother. Then we sat on the sidewalk and ate with them. Although Maria spent a great amount of the time translating from Spanish to her grandmothers mayan language, we all just laughed and pretty much fell in love with each other. Now when we see Maria, we try our best to catch up before she has to get back to work, and if she has some spare time, we will send her off with an ice cream cone. This sweet 6 year old girl changed our lives in Guatemala. We are missionaries.
We have been sent. This does not mean we will have to struggle through 3 hour long church services and get frustrated when people call us back two hours or two days later than when they said they would. This means that we can have JOY through every single moment that we are a part of what God is doing in this amazing country. My mechanic may leave me without a car for a week when he was supposed to have it back to me in an hour, but I will show up a week later with pizza and give the guy a hug. Because that is what being a missionary is! We were sent here. No matter how hard we try to tell ourselves we are not "missionaries", we were sent here! What an honor.
My prayer is that you too, as a believer in Christ, can fully grasp the knowledge that you are a missionary. No matter where you are. Be true to the calling before you, for it can just be that you were sent to be exactly where you are, from that moment of salvation.
What a journey it has been. What a journey to come.
To Christ be the glory.