I'm sitting at home alone, listening to music and reflecting on everything that happened in Guatemala. I still feel like I haven't processed everything that happened, but I want to share what I have processed so far. I decided to break it up into days because otherwise my thoughts would be a jumbled mess. If you don't want to read through each day, you can skip down to "What God Taught Me the Most" if you want :) I will refer to several people throughout the post so here's a quick reference:
Crystal -- Leader of the band; guitar/vocals
Jhonny -- Drums
Chris -- Bass
Corey -- Electric Guitar; Speaker
Pier -- Founder of Oak Foundation Interational
Day 1 -- Tuesday
Here's how we traveled: Atlanta--> Mexico City (3.5 hour layover) --> Guatemala City. Traveling to Guatemala was pretty crazy because there were several stressful times throughout the day. We barely made it to our gate one instance, Jhonny's ticket for our connecting flight was mistakenly ripped and had to leave the group to have it reprinted in Mexico, we didn't know that our baggage didn't automatically go on our connecting flight from Mexico to Guatemala so we had to beg to go back through customs in Mexico to get our bags (luckily we realized all of this before we left for Guatemala, though), and Jhonny had to explain several times that the small mixer in his carry on was not a bomb haha (Thank the Lord that Crystal and Jhonny speak fluent Spanish). Despite all of that, I knew God was going to do something great. After all, satan was doing everything he could to make it difficult. Pier picked us up from the airport, and we spent the night in Guatemala City before heading to Patzun the next day.
Day 2 -- Wednesday
On the way to Patzun, we stopped in Antigua. It's so beautiful there... definitely a must see if you ever travel to Guatemala.
We walked around the market and bought a few souvenirs.
Once we arrived in Patzun, we checked into our hotel and passed out.
Day 3 -- Thursday
We traveled to America Latina (a Christian school about 30 minutes outside of Patzun) to play two concerts for the students.
The first one was in the morning for the middle school and the other was in the afternoon for the high school. It was so stressful trying to set everything up in one hour... it's hard to explain everything music/instrument wise, but just trust me when I say it. was. stressful. Again, though, that's how you know when God is going to do something great -- satan tries to throw you off! Both of the concerts were incredible! So many students worshiping the Lord in unison was beautiful. In between the concerts, we got the opportunity to share in two leadership classes at the school.
It was so cool to see students who were passionate about becoming leaders in their school and their community.
Day 4 -- Friday
We got to explore the local market in Patzun.
While walking around, we saw a poster promoting the concert that we would be playing the next day.
As Jhonny says, "Things just got real." Naturally, we took a picture with it.
Later on that day, we spent time with the mothers and children that Oak Foundation International minister to. They specifically focus on mothers and children who are at risk (more on Oak Foundation International at the bottom of this post).
We brought bubbles, beads/twine to make bracelets, soccer balls, stickers, crayons/coloring books, and a pinata full of candy.
I have a heart for children, so they really
pulled on my heart strings. In comparison to the kids in the US, I was taken back by their thankfulness for the seemingly simple things that we brought them.
Later on that night, a local church hosted a worship leader seminar that Crystal and Corey spoke at.
At the end of the seminar, Crystal led us in a few songs. The people sang so loud that we were overwhelemed with emotion.
It is so beautiful to hear God's people, His leaders, crying out for Him in worship. I get chills just thinking about it.
Day 5 -- Saturday
In the morning we got to relax a bit and prepare for the community concert we would have that night. Again, it was stressful setting everything up and we even started a little late, but God was there.
It wasn't just a concert, it was worship.
Corey shared the Gospel and gave an invitation to accept Christ, and several people raised their hands.
Seeing people go from death to life never gets old... ever.
After, we got to take pictures and interact with everyone who attended to the concert.
It was a blessing to meet so many new people... I just need to work on my Spanish!
Day 6 -- Sunday
Sunday morning was the worship workshop where each person in the band taught on their specific instrument. Crystal and I spoke about vocals-- warmups, different techniques, what to eat/drink, how to harmonize, etc. I'm not much of a speaker, so I was super nervous about this day, but it was great! It was so cool to be in a room of people who have the same passion for music/singing as you do.
In the afternoon, we visited the Mayan Ruins nearby.
We were there for about 10 minutes before it started pouring. But hey, at least we got to see it! That night, we lead worship at another local church. By this time, I was exhausted, but again, God showed up. Isn't it cool that in our weakness (and even in our complaining), God can work through us? It was another fantastic time of worship. Immediately after leading, we got in the van to head to Guatemala City (where the airport is).
Day 7 -- Monday
Our flight from Guatemala City to Mexico City left at 6 AM, so I woke up around 3 AM. Needless to say, I was tired, grumpy, and so sad. It felt so wrong to be leaving.
Thankfully, travel was pretty smooth considering we knew what to expect that time around.
What God Taught Me The Most
When we first arrived in Guatemala, Pier explained to us that in Patzun, white people were regarded as "higher people." Therefore, when we were walking around the city, we should try to acknowledge everyone we saw. By doing this, we were basically saying "I acknowledge you. I see you. You are of worth." As we began to say hi to practically everyone we saw, their faces lit up. I was surprised-- a little "Hola! Buenos Dias!" from us completely changed their demeanor. Seriously, I saw the most authentic and beautiful smiles from these people. It reminded me of God's love. He could pass me by and not say a word.. because let's face it, that's what I deserve. I feel like I am not of worth.. that He is higher than me (which He is)... yet, He takes the time to stop, look me in the eyes, and love me. My demeanor, my life, changed when I saw His face. When He called me out. When I accepted His love and grace. Thank you, Lord! I am of worth because of You and Your grace.
As cliche as it sounds, this trip also taught me to be thankful for what I have. We had to use bottled purified water to even brush our teeth or we would get sick. The hotel also didn't have consistent hot water for showers, or a heating/cooling system. Some of the homes/buildings there are built out of a combination of wood/metal tin. I don't say this to complain, but to make you aware.
As I sit in my comfy living room (which as a decor/craft blogger I take great pride in), as my air conditioning runs, as I brush my teeth in the morning, drink water from the faucet, or take a hot shower... I
am incredibly selfish. Or even as we sit in our local churches and complain about the color of the carpet, the music, not having the latest and greatest equipment... we
are incredibly selfish. Like this quote from Pinterest
-- Many people live with a lot less than what I have and are happier
than I am. Ouch, ouch, ouch...
About Oak Foundation International
Like I mentioned before, Oak Foundation International
focuses on women and children at risk in Patzun. From one of their sites: "Oak Foundation International is based on God's command in Isaiah 61:3 to be 'oaks
of righteousness.' In Isaiah 61:1-3, God commands us to proclaim the
good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all who
mourn. By doing these things we will become 'oaks of righteousness.' We
feel led to become 'oaks of righteousness' to the women and children at
risk in Patzun, Guatemala. Many of these children are orphans or are
living in single parent homes with their mothers who are widows. The
average income in this area is $2 a day." Pier and his three children live by faith every month that God will provide for their needs.
(The band with Pier and his family)
They taught me so much about true
faith. If you feel led, please consider donating to Oak Foundation International
. They are a non-profit organization, so they can provide you with a receipt for your taxes, too. As a band, we plan on coming up with ways to raise money for the foundation in the weeks/months to come so stay tuned for that as well!
Overall, I feel like in my own personal life and in the band's life, we are on the edge of something amazing. Not for our glory, but for His glory! Do you know that feeling you get when God is doing wonderful and powerful things in your life? I feel that right now.
Would you pray with me that He would continue revealing Himself to us? We've been invited back to Guatemala in December and next June, and we were invited to Nicaragua this week as well. All of this stuff is in the beginning stages, and I can't wait to see God do His thing.
See more pictures of our trip here and "like" our page while you're there!
To Donate to Oak Foundation International, click here.
**Special thanks to Crystal and Esteban for allowing me to use your photos.**
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