One of my first impressions of Guatemala: lots and lots of mountains. Upon our arrival in the country I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast to our Canadian roads back home; winding up, down and through the rolling mountains was one of the first moments of “culture shock” that I experienced. The fact that I had to climb one of those mountains every morning for the next six weeks became real to me as we ventured from the airport on that first morning in Guatemala. I loved taking in the splendour of this aspect of God’s creation. There is so much striking beauty.
A few days later I found myself hiking up one of the mountains that surround Tizate, the town we were living and serving in. We went up as a team to pray for the school because we were told that there was a perfect view of it from about halfway up. We had our own guide (equipped with a machete, just in case) and were all decked out in our hiking gear. We were prepared for a good hike. Personally, though, I was prepared for a good Canadian hike, which isn’t half as steep or challenging as a Guatemalan hike. Needless to say, the climb was rather difficult for me.
We climbed in a single file line, and it didn’t take long for me to find myself at the back of it. My weak legs were simply not used to that kind of work. I took numerous pauses, during which I was able to take a moment a soak up the beauty around me. Despite some difficulty, there was encouragement along the way: every time I looked back I was surprised by how high up I was. It finally came time for us to stop and pray for the school. We camped ourselves under a macadamia tree and gazed below at the town and school we would be working in for the next six weeks. I was struck by the reality of what my presence in Guatemala meant – it meant that I needed to serve. I needed to serve the people in that building down below. I needed to serve the people in Guatemala. And by doing this, I ultimately needed to serve God.
Looking back on that hike, I am now able to see how it applies to my time here. I came into Guatemala prepared for a good time of ministry. But I was prepared for a good time of Canadian ministry – something that many years of Canadian camps and VBS’ taught me. But, similar to that hike, I needed to be mentally prepared for Guatemalan ministry time. It looks quite different, and for me at times has been a challenge. But every time I stop and reflect on what God has done through me during my time here, I am surprised at how far I’ve come. I love being able to take in the beauty of it all. And now that we are reaching the end of the trip – just as when we reached the end of that hike – I will be able to give it all to God, who was and is in control of everything.