Transformation in Guatemala

This summer, Valor Discovery sent eight teams across the globe to serve in Christ’s name through ministry, labor, outreach and relationship. In June, one of those teams traveled to Guatemala for two weeks of sacrifice and rich ministry in the Guatemalan cities of Zacapa and Antigua. The experience, which marked the fifth for Discovery in the country, included service through construction, VBS, outreach and church ministry, and proved meaningful and impactful for the 22 students and leaders on the team. Among the students was senior Elise Kemp, who in four years at Valor participated in three Discovery trips, including Guatemala and Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Elise recently reflected on her experience.

During my time in Guatemala, I seriously was amazed by the sheer quality of friendships I made and the vast quantity of children eager to learn and to pursue their gifts. I was blown away, actually, during the art lessons my teammates and I taught, only to discover that our students were far surpassing our own artistic abilities. I was blown away by the patience that rooms full of children could have with our broken Spanish, and the community values they had which enabled them to wait their turn and share crayons. I was so inspired by the hours of worship that included hand clapping, jumping up and down, and using every ounce of energy to dance and run around in bliss worshipping the Lord. Most importantly, I was absolutely humbled to see the obedience the local leaders of the community had to serve through the grind of hardship and to follow the calling God had on their lives.

The ministry in this particular area of Guatemala did not start when my team arrived, but rather, it is the ongoing work of a God who is sovereign and who invites a global church to partner with Him. He doesn’t need us, but instead chooses to use us, transforming us in the process. 

The role I saw our team take on in this process was the empowerment and encouragement of the ongoing local ministry. Revival starts from within, so speaking life to and showing gratitude towards the people invested at the core of this long-term mission is key. To me, the faces of my friends in Guatemala, young and old, represent lives and souls that are deeply, deeply loved by a Father who deeply, deeply desires relationship with them. Not only that, but for each of these faces, there are dreams, possibilities, gifts, abilities, and zest that were uniquely designed for their lives.

These faces also represent stories of hardship, brokenness, difficulty, and pain. Being able to speak their language allowed us to really sit with these people and listen to understand their story.

The second role I saw our team take was in taking the risk of outreach by simply being with people, making it a point to make meaningful, individual connection through small acts of love.

Not only did the Guatemalans inspire me, but they inspired my teammates as well. My teammates were so relentless, hard working, and devoted to whatever it was they were doing, I couldn’t even believe the perseverance we had sometimes. We had some pretty rough patches such as: a night (affectionately known as “the apocalypse”) where one by one each of us went down with some kind of stomach flu; conflict confrontation and reconciliation; literal blood, sweat, tears, and let’s not forget…blisters put into construction projects that we didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing finished, just honest hard work for Jesus’ glory.

The ability of this team and my relationships, especially with the girls on the team, ministered to me so much to see that willingness to step into struggle and laying it all before the Lord deepens our joy in a powerful way. I was extremely blessed to get the opportunity to get to know all of these people both within my team and outside of it.

My faith is strengthened to once again see that God is for sure at work in individual lives, in entire communities, and in the world. It is my prayer going forward that my eyes would continue to be opened to how God calls me, and each one of us, to partner with Him in whatever it is that He is doing, wherever He is doing it.

For more stories from Guatemala, visit the team’s blog here.