I can sum up my view of the people we met in Guatemala in one sentence...They were fabulous! We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the children, love they showed us, the gratitude and blessings they bestowed on us, their obvious love for the Lord, and their pride and joy for Compassion and the hope it offers them! We were a little disconcerted in the beginning, by their show of gratitude to us. We were so grateful to them for sharing part of their lives with us and felt we had not done anything deserving of the honor they were showing us. When we asked our "Guatemala Queen," Sandra (aka trip leader), she shared with us why. Because of Compassion, the children here in San Marcos have hope for a future. You are the face of Compassion and the face of their sponsors. This is a way for them to show their gratitude for what the Lord, Compassion, and the finanacial and emotional support of their sponsors has given them! You especially represent their sponsors. To them, their sponsor is a member of their family!
Needless to say, the time spent with the children in Guatemala was priceless! The morning we walked into our first center, they welcomed us with applause, and song! Outside waited a band made up of children from the 11 different centers in the San Marcos area. What followed was a parade through the streets, leading to the town center and the start of their 2-day sporting games! We thoroughly enjoyed walking in the parade and were overwhelmed when they played our national anthem and displayed our American flag at their opening ceremonies for the first time ever! We had a blast participating in and watching the 2-day sports spectacular! The children played so hard, were such good sports, and had a blast! We even got to try and teach some of them some Ultimate Frisbee and American football! :)
At the second center, we got to work in their bakery (a small room on the street with a table and a stove), where they are teaching the children some life skills for their future. We also got to visit some homes of the children from the center, worship with them in a church service, and participate in a talent show that showcased singing, drama, musical instruments, mime, etc, all performed by children from the various centers! We even performed a little interpretive movement ourselves! It is something we will never forget!
I can truely say we fell in love with these people! They have such a heart for the Gospel and for the children and families in their communities. The pastors and directors of these 11 centers have crossed cultural divides and joined together for the benefit of the children and they are seeing amazing results! One comment that really struck me and that I heard a couple of times during our week, was..."You can tell a Compassion kid just by looking at them. It's in their eyes, their behavior, and the way they carry themselves." What an amazing testimony to the work of Compassion and these local churches and centers who are fighting this battle over poverty and lost souls and standing in the gap! Their passion and sacrifice inspires me!