Day 4 - Tactic
We awoke to another gorgeous morning here in Tactic. Clouds misted over the peaks of the mountains and musky air filled our lungs. The beauty of this land is so overwhelming, I spend most of our bus rides gazing out the window in awe of God's artistry.
Our first stop was Chixim (shi-sheem) Cathedral at a high place overlooking the village. Chixim is the corn god originally worshiped by the Myans. When the Spanish landed in Guatemala they immersed the people in Catholicism but not in a way we would expect. They believe that as long as someone complete's their 7 sacraments they get into heaven. It does not matter if you even know what you are doing or what other religions one partakes in. I know that for me, the atmosphere in the cathedral was extremely heavy and it was difficult to find how Jesus was present in such a situation as this. Our spirits lifted though after we prayed as a group about who Jesus is to us.
Today was the first day of our VBS program for the kids at the school in Purulha. Before we began out prepared program they had a special welcome for us. The gates to the school opened and as our vans entered the kids cheered at the top go their lungs and bombarded the air with firecrackers. Everyone was instantly awakened by the excitement and many of us were overwhelmed to the point of tears. They had made a sign with our names on them for each of us and entering the chapel they welcomed us with a chorus of popping balloons. I can't express how blown away all of us were. This welcome was so unexpected and any sense of exhaustion we had was thrown out the window. Passion and love for the Lord was evident once again in the kid's uproarious singing. Then came the time when the kindergarteners and other younger grades came to pray for us. I had three kids come over and smother me with hugs and they would not let go. As the leader of the worship time prayed I could here them whispering their own prayers for me and once again, I was brought to tears. I buried my face in their embrace and breathed in their scent of smoke and musk. We were then split into different classes to meet the kids, play games, and be prayed for once again.
After lunch it was our turn to welcome the kids into the chapel and begin our program. Everything went extremely well. They were all open to participate in every game, listened with admiration to our skits and Bible stories, and where gracious in our inability to adequately explain the craft to them in a language they could understand. Many relationships were formed between specific team members and kids and all of our faces, both kids and team, were vibrant with grins as the afternoon came to an end.
We experienced out first cultural activity tonight. The secretary of the school in Purulha, Evelyn, graciously invited us into her mother's home to teach us how to cook a traditional Central American meal. I'm not sure what it was called but we made deep fried corn dough stuffed with cheese and topped with a cabbage salad, tomato sauce and a chili salsa. We were all so blessed by Evelyn and her story and so thankful for her mother's willingness to have such a large crowd over.
Our evening definitely ended on a good note, our hearts and stomachs full, ready to rest and be blesses by another day spent with the kids here in Tactic.