In 2020 a team from a partner church in Bellingham came to Guatemala. They made it to the Shekinah Center in San Cristobal, but had to return to the States before reaching the village of Pansimaj due to the COVID pandemic starting in Guatemala.
The team said they would come back, and they did. This meant a lot to us ASOSAP staff and especially the village. Keeping their word built trust between them and the villagers. They were warmly welcomed.
Team members expressed that the three-year wait to come back was so worth it. They covered this time in prayer and trusted God as this prayer from a team member shows:
“May God richly bless our time with the Pokomchi. We pray that they will see God at work in their village and be encouraged in their hearts by all that is done. To God we give the glory for all that He has done for us in being able to travel to Guatemala and praises to Him for what He will accomplish while there!”
Let’s take a closer look at their time in Guatemala:
After spending the night in the Shekinah Center, we all ventured off to the village of Pansimaj. A smooth ride along the paved road was followed by an hour and a half of bumping along a dirt road, squished together in the back of the pickup. The road winded up and up the mountainous terrain and the views were incredible. There were lots of joy and laughter along the way.
After settling in at the village, it was time to walk up to the church. The pastor and a community member shared words of welcome. Another villager led worship. The team was introduced and given a chance to share. They commented how we all serve and are loved by the same God, and expressed gratitude to be in the village. Here is what two of the team said:
“We have the same God as you. He loves you just as much as He loves us. Isn’t he a wonderful and great God? Thank you for sharing your love with us.”
“This is very special visit for us, and we hope it is also for you. Thank you so much for having us. We hope we remain in your hearts long after we leave.”
To thank the team for coming, the village gave snacks and live chickens for a meal later in the week. This was the first of many times the villagers came bearing gifts of fruit or vegetables. It was a huge outpouring of love and gratitude.
After the welcome came the cultural activity, a chance to see how skilled the Pokomchi are. They showed the team how they plant corn, chop wood, carry heavy loads of wood, collect water from the natural spring, carry heavy water jugs on their heads, harvest pacaya (a seasonal vegetable that grows high on thin tree stalks), peel and cook pacaya, grind corn, and make tortillas. The team was awed at all the villagers do and much laughter was heard as the team tried to do these activities.
The following days were dedicated to building water tanks for families. The team divided into two teams, each with an ASOSAP construction expert and translator, and walked to a family’s home. It was hard work, but also lots of fun as the team, family, and ASOSAP staff got to know each other and joked together while building. In the end, two water tanks were completely finished and two almost finished. ASOSAP staff will finish the tanks and do another tank, for a total of five. The tanks bring life-giving water right to their front doors, but this time of growing together in relationship was equally important.
Families thanked the team and God for these projects that they wouldn’t have been able to afford on their own. They also expressed gratitude for the time shared together as brothers and sisters in Christ. They said that they will always treasure in their hearts these moments spent together. Tears flowed from the families and team at these sincere words.
Another part was the kids’ activities. One with kids from Pansimaj and another from the nearby village of Panhux where a partner pastor lives and serves. The team shared about God through singing worship songs in Spanish and a play about the fruits of the Spirit in Spanish. They also connected with the kids through fun activities: rock painting, origami heart making and paper airplanes, sidewalk chalk drawing, giant bubbles, soccer, hair styles, nail painting, and fun games such as a clothing relay race. The adults even got involved. Roaring laughter was heard throughout, and these activities will be remembered fondly by all.
Another highlight was the devotional time at base camp. Each day a different team member shared a Bible verse and topic. There was also time to share how they saw God working, how they were challenged, and what they learned each day. It was a meaningful time of sharing and often simple acts had great impact. For example, a team member shared how during the kids’ activity an older woman came to get her hair styled. She gently brushed and then braided her hair. She felt that this woman so enjoyed this and that this woman had never experienced this kind of love and gentleness before. An ASOSAP team member confirmed that this woman had commented in Pokomchi that no one had ever treated her with such care before. This had touched her deeply and she did not want it to end.
Our goal is that mission team members would grow in relationship with God, the Pokomchi, and fellow team members, bless and be blessed by the Pokomchi, embrace the Pokomchi culture, and share the Gospel. We can say with certainty that these goals were met and it was an incredible experience for all.
Hear from the team and be encouraged to take the leap of faith that is joining a mission trip!
“If you’re ever considering challenging yourself this way. I think you could only gain from this experience. You’ll learn more about yourself, you’ll learn more about others, you’ll learn more about God. It was a priceless experience.”
“This is our second time coming with ASOSAP to Guatemala for a mission trip. We came the first time with our two kids, and it was a life-changing event for all four of us. Your heart will be overflowing with emotion and love when you leave this place. Come and be the hands and feet of the Lord, it’s a great experience.”