The following piece was written by members from Incarnation Lutheran Church that visited their sister community Chontalá in Guatemala in 2014. Originally published in the church newsletter.
By Martha Rush & Candace Gruman
The images of thousands of Central American children crossing the border alone [without documents], without their parents or any resources, shocked many of us this summer and fall. How? Why? What kind of desperation would cause parents to send their children off to this perilous, unknown future? Central American parents are just like any of us who have loved children. They dream of a better future for their sons and daughters – a future where they can have strong relationships, food on the table, and a chance to do meaningful work, love God and build families of their own.
Fortunately in one Central American [community]- Chontala, Guatemala – loving parents are finding a way to provide this life for their children without sending them away – and our faith community is a part of this. In October, five delegates representing Incarnation were blessed to travel to Chontala for our fifth trip in seven years. We reunited with families who have become part of our own family, and we visited with the 28 children we are sponsoring on their quest for a better education.
The biggest news out of our trip – nine of these children are going on to “Básico” (7th-9th grade) next year, an outcome [difficult to achieve] in a nation where few children go beyond 4th or 5th grade.
Although our trips to Chontala don’t involve constructing buildings or serving food, make no mistake that together, we are serving as God’s hands and feet in the world.
Here is how we experienced that:
- A huge community of fathers, mothers, grandparents and children showed up to greet us, offering hugs, food, music and dancing. We felt immediately loved and welcomed back to this [community]. We couldn’t even carry our own luggage – everyone swarmed to help us.
- Every morning and evening, parents and children worked together over woodstoves in their…houses, grinding corn and shaping tortillas by hand, and sharing their bowls of beans, rice and chicken with us.
- Children were eager to read the short, student-made paper books we brought with us. They cared for each other – older siblings carrying and caring for younger siblings – and they happily played with us, reading, looking at our cameras, playing catch and card games.
- At an ecumenical service, attended by over 130 children and their parents, we worshiped God with our Guatemalan hermanamiento. Singing “This Little Light of Mine” together reminded us that although we are little in God’s eyes, we have enormous power to share God’s love.
One day, the children we support will become parents themselves, and we pray that they will be able to raise their children in peace and growing prosperity… Perhaps some of them will become teachers – or even go on to attend university. Perhaps they will become leaders in their community and country.
The light we are sharing, and the light they are spreading, is a blessing to us all. If you are [a member of Incarnation and you are] interested in joining our shared mission with the people of Chontala, Guatemala, please contact Lynda Thompson. Future trip dates will be announced soon.