April 7, 2011 In life

guatemala: part three

i’m sitting down today and i WILL finish writing about my guatemala missions trip. no, i won’t be able to do the two weeks justice. no, i won’t be able to summarize all thirty pages of my journal in this last post… but that’s okay. if i sit here and wait for the day when i feel like my writing adequately can wrap up the trip, i’ll never write. sometimes done is better than perfect. amen, anyone?

this post comes at a great time this week, too, because twenty-something of my friends at revolution youth are half-way across the world. the intern program we have at church sends these young adults into the mission field for two weeks to put what they’ve learned into practice in a challenging, unknown situation. they left about seventy-two hours ago. i won’t be writing where they are or what they are doing right now–safety concerns—but pray for them if you have a minute. proud of them.

i talked a lot in my second guatemala post about my emotions and the challenges i came up against serving in the “mission field.” thanks for letting me be vulnerable with you. i learned much through writing and re-living all of those thoughts again. sometimes we need to stop and reflect on recent lessons we’ve learned… lest we forget them as time passes.

we visited an orphanage called precious moments in guatemala city. you can see photos from the orphanage in post two. it was a hot day, that day. the sun was beating down on all of us. half our team was sick. people were barfing in the streets. many were dehydrated. we walked into a 15×15″ cement yard. dirt everywhere. two or three toys in the corner. the windows of the building were covered in dust. broken plastic and wooden chairs thrown to the side. a lady who lives across the street runs precious moments. twenty children live there. she teaches up to one hundred children daily in the school there. for free. these children have no one: so she is being someone for them.

i was desperate for a bathroom. we had to drink litres and litres of water a day to avoid dehydration. [i think it’s the elevation?] — i drink 3-4L in canada… so i was easily drinking 8-10L in guatemala. meaning… bathroom breaks every 30-40 minutes. no joke. painful weeks. hah! i walked into their bathroom and i felt sick. dirty water flooded the tile floor. there was no toilet seat. there was no toilet paper. there was no lock on the door. there was nowhere to wash your hands. they had nothing.

inside the home, the mattresses were full of mould and dust. i’m sure the entire building was contaminated with everything possible. our team leader, jeremy, shared his story. how he grew up in an orphanage in haiti as well. and a team of “white people” came to visit him. they told him about God’s love. how God loved him. he believed them. that stayed with him. [and eventually jeremy was miraculously adopted by a canadian family–doing amazing things in children’s ministry at church now.] God loves these children. jeremy led us in a song, oh jesus loves me. i looked across the cement at my friend jenn… and i saw her tears and i started to cry. i don’t understand.

i don’t understand poverty. i don’t understand why life on earth can suck so much. i don’t understand those that live rich lives and those that are born into the lowest of the low. why? why do i live in north america? why do i have money? i don’t know. i do not know. all i know, is that rather than these questions pushing me to not believe in God like many who rightly question “how could a loving God allow suffering to happen on earth?” i choose instead turn to God because He is my answer. this isn’t His will for us, this difficult life on earth. His will for us is heaven. this earthly life is unfair and sinful and imbalanced and impoverished and hurting and dying. one of my favourite quotes by C.S. Lewis is as follows: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” — this world does not satisfy me.

something i felt blessed by on this trip was my friends. i was thankful to have some of my closest relationships in my life around me in guatemala. my brother was there. such a gift to see his face in the morning and in the evenings. i enjoyed our one-on-one debriefs about the day. my best guy friend josh was there. we had a couple wonderful, encouraging talks in the van throughout the trip. i also watched him puke repeatedly and got to take care of him. ew. my other wonderful friend, leanne and her boyfriend sam came. leanne and i were on different teams and did not see each other much: but even seeing familiar faces at the end of a long day helps. most of the other relationships i found myself leaning on during the two weeks were new ones. that was really neat. we became family. it was a pretty crazy experience in community to “do life together” for two weeks straight. that’s not in my introverted nature.

selfishly, one of my highlights of the trip was the road-tripping. i have this crazy, romantic, whimsical obsession with driving on highways or roads or wherever the four wheels of a vehicle decide to take me. put me in a car with some people and i’m happy. i’ll sit there and i’ll do sudoku for hours. or i’ll look out the window. or i’ll listen to my iPod. or i’ll read a book. or i’ll pray. i just want to keep moving somewhere. then, i want to stop. i want to stop and get out and observe life around me.

there was one moment in particular, we had driven for a few hours and we stopped for gas. we stayed in the van. all around there was the hustle of the town. lady gaga was blasting from nearby speakers, if you can believe it. i had just closed my journal after journaling eight big trips i’d like to take in my lifetime. i couldn’t stop smiling. i LOVE travel. i loved life at that moment. if i could travel somewhere different every month, be a part of something music-ministry or youth-related, incorporate photography, but more importantly writing/blogging… i would feel exactly in my element. who knows what God has for my life. i’m just gonna keep on walking. thanks for reading.

  • it looks like you had a fabulous trip! mission trips are highlights of my life, they are definitely amazing!

  • Great pictures! And, I totally can relate with you… I LOVE road tripping, because it’s an excuse to slow down and relax and be a little disconnected from the “real” world for a little while. :)

  • Thanks for sharing, Jamie! Though in your case, it’s more like “keep on running.” ;-)

  • Sarah Penner

    The the one of you in the grass! So pretty! What an awesome experience!

  • hey! your month of bland food-ness must be over. Are you all better???

  • life is so amazingly complex, that the poor wonder at their poverty and the rich wonder at their wealth…
    on a simpler note, the first leanne+sam image is adorable. love.

  • I think we share a similar heart for travel – let’s compare stories and dreams at lunch this week :) and I love that quote by CS Lewis…

  • you are inspiring. Just loved reading this post.. and just in case you ever have a doubt, you rock! Seriously, these shots are so beautiful and your writing is like everything that I have in my heart but never realized until I saw it in you.
    “if i could travel somewhere different every month, be a part of something music-ministry or youth-related, incorporate photography, but more importantly writing/blogging… i would feel exactly in my element. who knows what God has for my life. i’m just gonna keep on walking.” Love it.

  • Loved your thoughts on this subject Jamie — it’s one I grapple with often myself.

    In the end, I find comfort in Matthew 5:5. All the money in the world can’t buy your way into Heaven, right?

  • love this. I would be happy to roadtrip any day of the week.

  • J.B.A

    Ive just ran though about every blog post from this post to the latest one you’ve most recently posted. You’re great.