Even though this has been a relatively “easy” and relaxed week compared to some of our other trips, I’m exhausted.
Thankfully, this morning was somewhat restorative. We went to one of the bigger churches here in Guatemala City, Casa de Dios. And when I say “bigger,” I don’t mean 1,000 people. I mean 25,000. We spent the first 50 minutes of the service singing and praying. Nate commented that it was great to be able to break away from thinking about this past week and the upcoming week and just focus on worshipping.
Believe it or not, this was the first time we’ve been to church in Guatemala. We noticed that the congregation worshipped in a very passionate and focused way. On an unrelated note, we also noticed lots of people wearing winter coats while we were breezing ourselves with makeshift paper fans. Apparently, 70 degrees is cold (not even cool, cold) by Guatemalan standards.
Another fun part of the experience was that we had ear pieces that allowed us to hear an English translation of the service. It saved us a lot of frustration and allowed us to participate more fully.
The church is close to Hogar Solidario, so we decided to grab some fast food and head straight there. We were still eating when we pulled into the compound, so we locked ourselves in and finished our food. While we sat there, 10 boys circled the bus, banged on the window, and tried to open the doors. We said we felt a bit like we were in a Zombie movie or being circled by sharks.
Once we escaped, we headed to the multi-purpose room where the boys were listening to a Bible lesson from a local church. Note to self: Sunday probably isn’t the best day to visit. The boys get lots of “church” on Sundays. Since the boys had been sitting for so long already, Nate quickly adapted his plans. He had the boys stand up and copy him as he lead them in exercises and stretches. They loved it.
Ever since we prayed with the boys in small groups in April, Nate has been wanting to talk and teach more about prayer. Just for fun, we started the “lesson” by passing out hard pretzels and sharing about how the pretzel pattern was originally meant to symbolize how early Christians crossed their arms to pray. The pretzels were given as treats to good little boys and girls who memorized their prayers.
Guess what? None of the boys had seen or eaten a pretzel before.
Next, Nate broke us into four smaller groups and led us in a few different types of prayer. We repeated Nate as he prayed for the group. We prayed silently for the person next to us. We prayed through the different themes in the Lord’s Prayer out loud and all together. Last but not least, we had the kids write out their prayers and prayer requests on a huge poster for us to take back to the people at our church. Our hope is that we can hang it up and encourage our congregation to pray for the specific needs of the kids.
Poor Nate felt terrible most of the afternoon. His group prayed over him and his sickness.
Unfortunately, before his group had the chance to pray, Nate had to make an emergency run to the bathroom. Whatever this sickness is, it seems to have hit Nate the worst. However, Chris and I have felt lots of gurgles and general stomach weirdness. Are you sick of hearing about our digestive problems yet? I’m sick of writing about them. I think we need to follow the advice our friend Adam Pomfret included in his comment to our last post: maybe it’s time we stop trying not to get sick.
After our prayer time, we started the insane process of passing out 100 candy bags. The Foreign Exchange “Amigos” from our church put together packets of their favorite, all-American candies for the boys—Blow Pops, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, Gushers, and Pixie Sticks! I knew it would be crazy and lots of boys would try to get extra candy, so we recruited Chris to be the bouncer. Once a boy got his candy, he had to leave and not come back inside. Chris and his muscles were there to block anyone who tried to sneak back in for a second helping.
The boys have been busy painting, moving in new furniture, setting up flower arrangements, hanging signs, moving in catering equipment, and practicing the songs and dances they’re going to do for this most-important couple.
The place looks gorgeous.
But, as Christy pointed out, it’s sad that it takes something like this to really fix the place up. Why isn’t this home always tended to with such care and concern?
Berta mentioned later that she is worried for the kids. Hundreds of new kids have been moved to Hogar Solidario but no new staff workers. We briefly saw Joseph (our friend who gave us the gorgeous baby booties last time), and he looked frazzled. He asked us to pray for strength, because he’s so tired he just wants to go home. The workers from the girls’ home (Manchen) and the baby home (Casa Alegria) expressed similar sentiments. They’re exhausted. And no wonder. Berta said there are 2 women caring for the 44 children under 4—just think how much work and time it would take to keep up with all those dirty diapers!
We finished up the afternoon by playing games outside with the kids. Chris threw his football. Nate grabbed a Frisbee. The two pregnant ladies headed to the baseball diamond. I’m sure our doctors and midwives would be proud. 🙂
I have mixed feelings about leaving tomorrow. On one hand, we need rest. We need these last few pre-baby months to be calm and restorative. We need sleep, silence, and time to chill. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with myself without another Guate trip to look forward to this year. I’ll miss the kids. It’ll hurt to not fly down with Jody and her team in August. I’m trying to set some goals for myself (e.g. learn more spanish) that will help us when we come back. Like we told the boys, we’ll come back. We always come back. It’s just that next time they’re will be three of us instead of two!