"Everybody who sees you, Bishop Patricia, takes notice." These were the words that Bishop-elect [...]
As I sit down to compose this piece on Guatemala I find it difficult to believe that it has been nearly a month since we, the 2016 delegation from Mount Olivet, have visited. I can't help but wonder if the villagers of Nuevo Porvenir and Playito Cero Alto miss us like I miss them? For me this trip has changed something within, something real, something tangible yet intangible. Hello my name is Heather Melsness and I am a stay-at-home mother of four children, and yes I went to Guatemala this year...and last year as well! I can not explain it, but it changes something deep within you. In my experience this change has had different peaks, valleys, and plateaus. Last year I came home compelled to change. Like a gazelle I began giving away things that I no longer needed, evaluating what I thought I needed and what I thought I wanted. But then I puttered out and lost speed and honestly forgot. Forgot about what I had experienced, what I had heard, seen, felt. And I began living my life as I had for so many years that came before this trip.
Because of my fleeting memory I knew I had to return. My heart and mind began to flood again with the smiles of the children. The laughter of the women. The strength of the men. These people had become a part of me like family. We grow so close to them and isn't that what God expects of us? To love our neighbors as ourselves - we are called to be in relationship with others and the work we do in Guatemala is just that. We are building relationships, community, and memories. The people of Nuevo Porvenir and Playito Cero Alto spend the year in between our visits preparing their land, their food, their homes, new churches and schools with angst and excitement for our return. And when we are there they treat us as if we are kings and queens. They feed us and love us and move out of their homes, so that we can lay our weary heads to rest. They let us be a part of their family in Christ through baptisms, weddings, pastor ordinations and church dedications. It is challenging to find the words to explain this experience, but it is fascinating how the Spirit moves within you afterwards.
This experience has changed my worldview. It's all a part of God's glorious plan for me. So I may not move at gazelle speed; however, this time I will not forget. I pray for the villagers and I know they are praying for us each and every day. So won't you put this on your heart and pray for Guatemala? Pray for the villager of Nuevo Porvenir and Playito Cero Alto, pastor Karen Castillo, and all the people that support the Iglesia Luterana Austina de Guatemala. Peace be with you my brothers and sisters in Christ both near and far.
Mt. Olivet Lutheran, Minneapolis