Saturday, 3 September 2016

'Twas the night before Sunday
And all through the house
No team member was stirring
Nor Annika Krause

I give up, I can't continue this.

Today we went to tour a few cathedrals and the jade factory with a tour guide, went shopping, and had a debrief.

The next two paragraphs have too much history.

We first went to the main cathedral in the central square of Antigua. Only a fraction of the building is used today for services; much of it was destroyed in previous earthquakes, and any restoration or reconstruction work was halted by the UN naming it a heritage site. Many of the images of the patron saints, including statues and paintings, were preserved, went missing, stolen, or destroyed.

The next cathedral was ruins of the cathedral Capuchinas. It had the cloistered convent, which was used to house nuns; these nuns were usually the first daughters of noble, royal, or other notable families, as a part of maintaining their power. A round room located in the ruins were where nuns would perform prayers of purity. If one stood in the middle of the room, they would hear an echo due to the acoustics of the room. There was also a crypt located under the convent, where they would bury and cremate their dead. The final notable room was the round storage room located underground. The room was perfectly round and had remarkably good acoustics; we sang a few songs while standing at several points along the perimeter.

The final cathedral we could not enter, as Tim and I were wearing shorts. Maybe next time.

After the cathedrals, we were led to the jade factory and had a tour there. Many of the original jade pieces excavated were made with methods we cannot perform today, even with our technology. If I asked my atheist friends about this, they would say "Aliens." I don't think anyone bought what was there as it was very expensive.

After lunch, the team had the chance to spend up to four hours shopping. As a man, I was done after visiting two places and ran out of money in about 1.5 hours. The rest of the time was spent sitting  with the team's (new) belongings as they obtained more money to get more things. Even after a long week of missionary work, they had plenty of energy to shop. One day I will understand how that works; one day.

After dinner we had our debrief, discussing our highlights of the trip, our overall feel of the trip, as well as our action plans once we returned. We prayed for each other, and finished our night. I must say that Guatemalan style prayer, which is similar to Vietnam style prayer, is a lot more fun than what we do in Sherbrooke.

Overall, I'd say the trip was pretty good and would encourage everyone that's willing to go. Don't worry about the details and let the Jesus handle it, seriously.

- Andrew Pham

Friday, 2 September 2016

Day 8

The last morning spent in Tactic, went smooth. We all packed the day before and were good to go.
We had breakfast at 8am, and left the guesthouse around 9 to join a devotional at the elementary Chicoy school, before leaving the small town for good.It was wonderful being able to hear the children voices in the morning, and praying with them before leaving to Antigua. We stopped for lunch at 12:30, and hit the road again once everyone got an ice-cream, from there it went straight to Antigua.
Everyone pretty much had a goodnight sleep, but that didn't keep us teenage girls from napping 5 hours straight till we got to Antigua.  It was a ride, but we made it!
Saying goodbye is always hard, so thats why I stuck to saying "hasta luego, nos vemos!" instead (till later,will see each other again!) made the situation a lot easier.  Even though we're still in Guatemala, I think most of us are looking forward to coming again! Being here has just been such a blessing to us all, and the people we got to know during this trip.
We arrived in Antigua around 3:30 and arrived at our hotel around 4 in the afternoon.  Antigua is absolutely beautiful, and full of history! Love the stone roads, even tho they are insanely bumpy.
When we settled in we went to Fernando's (a coffee & chocolate shop) where everyone got themselves a little snack.  After that we went to a restaurant close by, and had a lovely dinner all together.  From dinner we went for a walk with Les a few blocks around Antigua, and he gave us a little knowledge about the old buildings that were made in the 1500's and still stand today! We will get to take a peak into some of the cathedrals tomorrow.  We had a great debrief with Les afterwards, when we went to sit down at a place where we will be having dinner tomorrow.  Well, that's all for today! Hope you enjoy reading!

- Julianna

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Day 7

Today was our last day in Tactic. It has been an amazing experience! The Lord has manifested himself to each of us and as a group in so many ways.
This morning we went to do two home visits. Both homes had stories of brokenness, yet in both places there was a strong presence of God, his love and power. We had times of sharing, worship and prayer. It’s amazing how God works in peoples lives here in Guatemala.
After the visits we quickly stopped at the market to buy Guipil. These are typical outfits of Guatemalan people.

After lunch we went to a school for a devotional. The devotionals are powerful times where people pray and worship. After worship we spent time in english class with different students, playing games and getting to know them.

We also visited a sponsor class. They greeted us with confetti. We played games and shared food that they had prepared. They made us feel loved and welcomed.
In the evening we went to a cell group. We started with worship and prayer. Then some of our group shared their testimonies and we sang a song. After that we had a special time of prayer for the people that shared their testimonies. The Bible study was based on some versus in 1. Corinthians 15 and 16. After prayer we were served hot chocolate rice pudding, which was awesome!
It has been a full, amazing day! God bless you all.

Day 6

Today was quite the day. After breakfast we went to Chicoy to go into the sinkhole that is there. This is a place that, like the church at Chiixim, is a place where people go with witches to do witchcraft. We hiked up the side of the mountain, which was hard at 5,000 feet, and looked down into this place of spiritual darkness. The people in this area will hire a witch to do a ritual of some sort, either a blessing for someone or even to curse someone. The thing is, hiring a witch costs quite a lot of money, and people will often borrow money and end up in debt just to have a witch do one or two rituals for them. We also learned that the better known a witch is, the more they charge for what they do. When we went down into the sinkhole we had a time of singing and prayer, calling God into this place of darkness. We were told that many of the local witches have stopped coming to this place specifically because it has started to lose it’s power. This is the result of a group of people like us going down into that place every week to worship God and to pray.

In the afternoon we had our final day of children’s ministry. It was a time of laughter and joy with the children and youth and teachers that we were working with. Afterwards, we played some soccer with the teachers of the school that we were working at. This was also something that was hard to do at 5,000 feet :) Once the soccer game was over, we came back to the guesthouse to eat dinner and fellowship with the teachers. We heard a couple of the testimonies of the teachers of the school as well. Then, we had a party! Guatemalan style. We had a surprise birthday party for Nadia and Julianna.

It is now very late and tomorrow is going to be another very full day.

Dios de bendiga! (God bless you)

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Day 5 

Today was another day of waking up at 6am and almost falling asleep at the breakfast table. The breakfast here has been so good I don't think I’m looking forward to having breakfast in Canada again. Once we finished our meal we got on the bus and made our way to the Catholic Church which is on a mountain. When you get up there you can see a beautiful view of all of Tactic. Les started talking about the Catholic practices, here in Tactic, and it was really sad because instead of praying to Jesus and listening to the holy spirit, they pray to a statue and believe that just by touching it they will have power. Another thing that Les mentioned was that they burn different colour candles which represent blessings, financial help, curses, relationships, etc.

After the our visit to the Catholic Church we went to go for home visits. Devon and Tim both had child sponsors so went went to there sponsored kids houses. It was just amazing how these people live in these small, old, rusty homes and sometimes there are up to 7 people in one little house. When I look at their living conditions compared to mine in Canada I’m so much more grateful for what I have. Lots of the time people don't realize that there are millions of families in poor countries who barely have a roof over their head and we need to appreciate everything that we have.

Once we finished our home visits we had VBS! I just love when we get off the bus and walk into the school, and have all these kids running up to you, and hug you so tight they don't want to let go. Running around and playing games with them is so much fun that I wish I could do it everyday while I’m here in Tactic. When VBS was finished we got on the bus with some other students who helped us and we are making such amazing relationships with them. Sometimes they teach us a little Spanish, or we teach them a little English. I’m going to be extremely sad that we have to say good bye to them tomorrow, but they will never forget us and we will never forget them.

Nadia Rahnumah

Monday, 29 August 2016

Day 4

Our day began very early this morning when our alarms rang at 6:00am.  We met for breakfast at 6:30am and were on our way by 7:15am to go to the Vida Chamche School in Tactic. All the children from the school were lined up on the pathway and up the stairs to the school and gave us the most incredible greeting; the children threw confetti on us, waved and said “hola” as we walked to the gymnasium. The morning devotional was something I have never experienced before. The principal, Juan Carlos led the children in a passionate and inspiring time of devotion.  The children were asked to greet us and within seconds I was surrounded by many kids who were hugging me and smiling. It didn’t take long for me to be captivated by a group of boys in Grade 5 that were in the back row as they were singing and praising the Lord with all their heart and soul. One of the boys was consoling his friend as he cried and worshiped. 

Juan Carlos, the principal asked the kids to join the Canadian guests in prayer and the three boys which I had been watching and two younger boys came running to me, hugged me and these precious children prayed with me and over me. The experience was humbling and brought tears to my eyes.

Juan Carlos shared his personal testimony with us which moved me to tears. The school is very fortunate to have him as a leader.

In the afternoon we went to the Vida Mocohan School for our VBS program. We picked up the Grade 12 students from the Vida Chijacorral School to join us. Upon arriving at the school we were greeted by the students with hugs, kisses and smiles. We broke up into two groups, crafts and games, and spent a very special time with the kids. I enjoyed playing games with the kids and seeing their smiles and hearing them laugh.   

We were joined by Les and Rita for dinner, followed by a debrief meeting with Les. Each of us shared a highlight from the day and Les also shared a personal story about how he impacted on his first trip to Guatemala.

As I reflect upon the day I am grateful and inspired about the leaders in the Guatemala community and God’s kingdom.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

We survived another day! Today was so amazing. It is my favourite day so far. The girls and I got up at 7:00am for an 8:00am pancake breakfast. Wearing our Sunday clothes we headed down to the church. The service was surreal. Les Peters provided us with some sort of tecky box and headphones. Les stood in the back of the church and as the Pastor was preaching Les would translate into a microphone and only our group could hear him. I don't know why but i got super pumped about that the night before. Personally i sang alone in Spanish with the words on the screen. Thank goodness i took Spanish in school and learned how to pronounce things. During the sermon i took out my headphones and just listened to the pastor in his own tongue. I find Spanish to be the most beautiful and hypnotizing language in the world. Even though i have almost no clue what people are saying i could listen to it all day. After church we went for lunch at a restaurant and then came home. About half an hour later we got a property tour from Les and then we went to their house for cookies and juice. After that we had gone to meet the teenage students from the school and had prepared an entire evening for just us. They had been planning this for two weeks. As we walked in they set off fireworks! We greeted each person traditionally as they do. Girls kiss girls on the right cheek. Men shake hands with men and Girls to boys shake hands. they led us through many different activities. They had provided traditional clothing for us to wear, and we tasted traditional food. Also we had learned the process of making corn and planted some seeds as well. We played some games and had dinner that they had made for us fresh. Throughout the evening we sang some praise songs in Spanish. During dinner all the teenagers were bonding. Kira and i sang the cup song and taught two of the guys the Cup song from Pitched Perfect. We succeeded! After we got out of our traditional clothes and went home. Today was a very spiritual day and i loved it. i would love to live here.

Alanna Burkholder.