I had never heard of the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (ILAG) until a couple of months before my spring break journey to Guatemala. I learned it would be our home for the first two and half days, but never knew that such a small place could touch so many lives.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Pastor Karen Castillo. She showed us around the beautiful courtyard and gave us a short tour of our rooms, kitchen and the chapel. She also let us know that our afternoon plans had changed - 52 school kids from El Mirador school would be coming to the ILAG complex instead of us visiting their school! I was a little nervous since my Spanish speaking was very limited.
After the children arrived, we performed a skit about Daniel and the lions and sang songs both in Spanish and in English. The children were very well behaved and so joyful! They took turns swinging at the piñatas and generously shared their candy with us. Sharing was a great way to start a simple conversation. Even with the language barrier, I felt like they knew were connected through God's love.
Our second day was Sunday and off to church we went. Divino Salvador del Mundo, a small church in the El Mirador neighborhood, needed extra chairs to seat us all. Our group sang one song in Spanish and another in Swedish. Afterward, we attended a bible study and met many of the church members. They were all very kind and we shared a snack together.
For lunch, we went to a church member's home and had a lovely chicken dinner and also helped build and decorate floats for Holy Week. It's tradition in Guatemala to carry floats of Jesus along roads covered in colorful sawdust and flowers. We enjoyed interacting with Pastor Karen and the other church members. They told us they will send pictures of the procession! It's amazing to me how our two different cultures praise God.
On our third and final day, we met the young women at the women's education center. They came from far away to learn skills so they can be more independent. We helped make a video so other people can learn about the program. Pastor Karen then led a 'sending off' service in the chapel and one of our group members presented a sculpture of Jesus he made of wood and copper.
We felt so much love from all of the people we met through ILAG. I now better understand how our work here in Minnesota helps spread the good news of Christ in Guatemala by supporting churches and schools. It's hard to believe all of the people who touched our lives in two and half days because of ILAG. I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity.
Gloria Dei Lutheran, St. Paul