It seems that I still cannot post to this blog in a timely matter.
We returned from Guatemala on August 1, arriving at BWI just before midnight and getting back home, settling in, and asleep around 3 am. Then we hit the ground running. I had to prepare for Sunday Morning – A 15 minute video, testimonies, a short message, and just the general building of a service, which takes more planning than you might think. The NEXT Monday we started Teen Boys VBS, which ran 3 nights and involved building a target range, buying weapons (This years VBS for boys was “Top Shot” – we shot pellet guns, slingshots and blowguns) planning, food, etc.
So now I finally feel ready to post on the trip.
Its really difficult to describe everything I experienced in Guatemala. I can’t describe all the events, I’ll let the video do that. But I’ll let you into something more personal. I’ve been out of the country before (Kenya, 5 years ago) and the feeling of landing and then driving through the streets of a foreign land was similar, but this time there was something else. A connection. From the first day, Guatemala felt like home. More like home than Harford County. There was a sense that a country like this may be one where the Lord may eventually let me settle. Though I’ve lived in the same 10 mile radius all my life, Harford County has never really been my home, not in my heart. From my earliest days, I longed to travel, to see other lands, other peoples. I had a sense of longing when I went to Kenya, longing to continue to travel, see places and people I had never encountered before. A longing to experience SOMETHING outside the tiny little box of the modern American Church. That feeling has never left me.
But in Guatemala, that sense of longing seemed to be, if only temporarily, filled. Like I belonged to something, someone, bigger. Now I’m not saying that I feel called to Guatemala. If so, I would have resigned from First Baptist my first Sunday back. But I do feel that, perhaps my retirement plans may NOT involve moving to the south, but much further south. Perhaps when the Lord is done with my pastoral career, He will allow me to do some limited (or even full time) Missions work. And it may not be in Guatemala. But meeting, and actually getting involved with and establishing friendships with people from another land (something that did not happen in Kenya) changed me. I saw a people who had some contact with, but had not been totally immersed, in American culture. It felt weird, meeting person after person who were humble, polite, gentle. People who were genuinely grateful for whatever assistance you provided. The kids were great, visiting the Manna feeding centers was an awesome experience, but it was the pastors, teens, moms and dads that affected me the most. I felt like here was a group of people who I could invest in and know that the investment was not only appreciated, but would have lasting impact.
Thank you Jerry Abbott (MANNA European Director), for introducing me to Andrew Even, MANNA Central American Director. Thank You Andrew for an amazing trip. I’ll let the video tell most of the story. Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have a question.