This year, I was privileged to be part of a team made up of University of Maryland students as well as Solid Rock Church members that spent Spring Break serving the people of Guatemala on a mission’s trip. This mission’s trip has been organized by Solid Rock’s college ministry, OneU, in the past. Our team partnered with Hope of Life International to provide food, medicine, bible studies, and prayer to the people living in surrounding villages in Zacapa, Guatemala.
Imagine waking up every morning to the faithful crow of the rooster. Our time in the jungle of Guatemala was spent rising early to such rooster calls and turning in late eager for what the Lord had in store for us in the morning. Such eagerness was also met with uncertainty, as nearly all our plans had to be adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances. At times, we were discouraged, thinking, “How would God use us in this moment?” Yet, to our surprise, time and again, His Spirit led us through the challenges of realigning our plans while still maintaining positive attitudes.
One such occasion was the revelation that we were unable to visit the village we had planned 6 months ahead of time called Robel Cacao. This news was brought to us literally minutes before we boarded our bus to be on our way to the jungle! Despite this seeming letdown, God had planned a much more endearing visit to the village of San Jose Pacayal. As a team, we were unsure of what to expect, aside from knowing this village had been reached by other missionary groups before us, a stark contrast to the seldom reached people of Robel Cacao.
Our full two days with the people of San Jose Pacayal were filled with numerous instances where God opened doors of opportunity to not only bond with these people but to also pray and encourage. Most of all, our team experienced such unconditional love from the children that can only be a pointer to the One who is the author of love. Such imagery evoked the following verse in Mathew 18
“…and he said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
In many ways, this was the theme of our trip for me. We, as people, have a plethora of preconceived notions on loving others. It is quite difficult to love those we know, much more those we know nothing about. Despite such circumstances, we were approached and received by the children of San Jose Pacayal wholeheartedly; a striking difference to what we witness on a day to day basis. Upon our final departure from the village, the children followed us to our bus and one even began shedding tears. It is this kind of love that God asks us to have for everyone, as we are all image-bearers. Furthermore, it is this love that He demonstrated for all of us on the cross.
Reflecting on our trip to Guatemala brings fond memories, but also stirs a hope that the Spirit of God is willing and working in our midst; may we always seek to be salt of the Earth, love and not to judge, and be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.
About the Author: Billy Castillo has attended Solid Rock since October of 2010 he and and his wife Alex were married in January 2013. Billy studied Psychology at UMBC, and is currently pursuing Masters degree in Information Technology.