What a Mission Trip!
Never been on a mission trip? Neither had I. Now I know I had really missed something. We (Jim, Rebecca and Angel Griffith and David, Tindall, Parker and Katie Grace Cunningham met at 4 o’clock at the Birmingham Airport. That’s four in the morning – 3 tired adults and four energetic teenagers. Six hours later we had arrived in Guatemala.
At the Guatemala airport, we are welcomed as if visitors are something very special. What a surprised we learned that the Medical Missions doctors and staff had taken a returning team earlier in the day to the airport. We later learned some of them had been up since 3 a.m. but you would never know that. The kindness and humility of these folks is unbelievable. Later that night we met Herman, the Medical Missions director who calls the next few days a “date with Jesus.” The next 6 days were unbelievable.
We started each morning with a quick breakfast, quiet time and then a devotion time and bible study with Herman. Then two doctors, a dentist, interpreters, and our group loaded vans with medical supplies and were on our way to offer medical care to people in small villagers where there is no medical care. Local churches arrange the venue for this and everywhere we went we found loving, kind and very humble people waiting for us. Two of our very favorite memories are:
After traveling for hours through the city and beautiful green mountains, paved and dirt roads and countless scenes you would not see in America, (see Picture 1) we came upon a small very old building with many people waiting in chairs in front of the building. (See Picture 2) The skies were dark and the threat of rain could be felt in the air. Ladies dressed in bright colors, children the same and many inquisitive teen youth were what we saw when we drove up. All were very patient and very kind. As we set up our various stations, there were numerous helping hands and many curious children. As doctors started seeing patients, a very small, very old, very humble gentleman was first. He had a very bad injury that had not healed in a year. When asked his name you could hear him scream “I am Fredric Rogrigueriz Sanz…… but yet all his other words you could barely hear. After being treated, while he waited for his medicine, we had the chance to talk to him about God. Yet, none of our translators could understand him. It turned out that in his village, they spoke a different version of the Spanish language. There are 24 indigenous languages spoken in Guatemala. A local church member was secured to see if he could interpret for us. He was able to, but it took some time. Ok, at this point a lot of doubt is flowing in our minds. “Could we really talk about God to this gentleman and get him to understand?” We are going from English to Spanish (translator 1) then from Spanish to a local dialect (translator 2) We asked the local church members if they knew him. Nope, no one had ever seen him in their church. With doubt we started – “Oh Yea of such little faith.” It was amazing how the Holy Spirit worked. A half an hour later, many translations later, he prayed to receive Christ. He hugged all of us. I think at this point all of us were crying. The church member promised to follow-up with him and get him to Church.
At another medical clinic we again met some very humble, patient and kind people. Some had to wait 3 hours in a very hot room before seeing the doctors in a room that was very hot. After doctors saw the patients we had a chance to talk to them. A lady had been there for a long time and had waited for the remaining patients to be seen. She let others go in front of her. It was late in the day and everyone was tired. Yet, when we looked over at her, she was praying for those that had come so far to give her medical help, pray and help her (Picture 3).
There are many more memories than we named here. A few of them include a trip to an orphanage (see Picture 4), wonderful authentic Guatemalan meals cooked over open fires in large pots. Chicken never tasted so good. We also heard the testimony of a young man who had been on drugs, sold drugs and was delivered by Jesus out the drug cartel without being killed. What a week. We turned around and it was gone – too short. The time came for us to say our goodbyes and head home (see Picture 5). Those of us who have been to Guatemala before on mission trips say each one is uniquely different. The love and care by the mission staff for each of us is the only thing that doesn’t change. We found unbelievable Christians. The Guatemalan people, doctors and staff truly represent God’s word:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
It is amazing how we came to provide help but we received so much more ourselves. So many were just delighted that Americans cared about their country. We heard over and over “You all came so far to help us.” So many humbly showed extreme kindness to us in small yet powerful ways. What a trip!!! When can we go back?
Rebecca and Jim Griffith