When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
In June Becky Maier, Corinne Coburn, and myself traveled to Guatemala on behalf of Our Savior's in Stillwater. We met up with a group from Christ the King Lutheran in Durango, CO. Together with Pastor Karen, we drove from Guatemala City to the community of Zaculeu in northern Guatemala. What a beautiful country!
The people in Zaculeu were so welcoming and appreciative to have us visit. They truly understand the meaning of hospitality as they showed us around their community, welcoming us into all of their homes, and spending endless hours in a smoky cooking building where they prepared our meals. And they were so excited to have us there! They had not had any relationship with a church from our synod for around two years. The knowledge that they had not been forgotten and had the possibility of a new connection was very important to them.
They shared with us the joys and struggles in their homes and families, their dreams for the new church that they're in the process of building, and even let us try our hand at making tortillas. In return, we ruined a few tortillas (much to their amusement), shared about our own families, took their pictures with a Polaroid camera (which was so popular they started bringing over neighbors who were not members of their church!), played Frisbee and soccer, took some relaxing time to color with the women, and just listened when they talked. I think the most meaningful part of the whole trip is when we visited each of their homes and laid our hands on their families and prayed for them. When it was time to leave it felt like we had made a connection and were leaving new friends.
It's hard to not just write a check to help those who appear to be in need, especially when it would be so little money for us. But in seeing what they have accomplished so far with their church, and knowing their plans for its eventual completion, it was easy to see the pride that they take in being able to do the work themselves. While money can help to mitigate some issues, like helping to pay for medical procedures and providing a portion of the materials for their church, it does not give them the pride of ownership, the empowerment of the knowledge that they can provide for themselves, and the beginning seeds of a personal relationship between our communities. These are things that are much more valuable than any check that could ever be written.
Our Savior's Lutheran, Stillwater