In the Bible, Philippines 4:13 says ” I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” This verse has impacted my faith and my life in so many ways. During the summer of 2009 i experienced the opportunity to work with the International organization Habitat for Humanity building houses for families in need. Twelve other members of my church and I flew to Guatemala on July 25th not knowing what experiences lay ahead of us. Guatemala has a 97% poverty rate in the American standards. The houses are torn, tattered, and unsafe to live in, but the people of Guatemala are surprisingly grateful. They thank God for everything they have been given, but by our standards they have nothing.
Arriving in the tradtional old town of Antigua, Guatamala, was a huge culture shock for me. I had never seen a place so impoverished but so full of life and happiness. Around Antigua are many volcanos, both active and inactive. The first day in Guatemala we climbed an active volcano, Mt. Pacaya, in the southwest region of Antigua. The hike up was altogether eight miles. It took many blistering hours of sweat, heat, and water breaks to finally reach the top. Finally we reached our destination using a lot of teamwork and muscles. On the top of the volcano we witnessed real activly moving lava. We roasted JiffyPop popcorn and marshmellows on the outskirts of the lava flow. You would think we as Americans that we had never eaten popcorn before by how excited we were. That experience is one I will never forget.
The next day we arrived in a town called Mozantinago, where we would be working for the next five days. We went staright to the local church that would be partnering with us throughout the week. The church was approximately the size of a large American walk-in closet. The services were held outside in the garage of a lady name Deana’s home. Deana reminded me of an angel with her wrinkled smile and a glow of confidence and love. She was the angel that made our lunches everyday on our job site. She had nothing compared to what we as Americans have, but sacrificed so much for us. In the church i noticed that on every broken wooden bench, there was a pattern; American then a Guatemala, American then a Guatemalan, and so forth. It was amazing to see how cultural and language barriers did not exist in the face of God.
The next five days were filled with hard labor in the scorching 90 degree heat. The first day of service I woke up excited and ready for a full day of work. Our main jobs were to carry three pound blocks from the storage area to the house and to level out dirt for the floor. This task might seem miniscule bute after carrying 36 blocks two at a time by myself, my arms and back started acheing miserably. This work was straining and exhausting, but well worth it in the end. The family we were bulding the house for was extremely grateful. You could tell by their smiles and tears of joy that they loved and appreciated everything we had done for them. The irony of the situation was I traveled down to Guatemala to give this family a home, when in return a recieved so much more. I learned many important life lessons on my trip, including, to be grateful for all of the blessings in my life. I learned that in the end all of the materialistic items that hold great value will no longer be important. Lastly I learned to live all of my days through Christ Jesus. I must remember to live everyday like it could be my last and treat everyone with love and respect. My journey to Guatelmala was truly an experience I will never forget.
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