This week, Eric Want, Lynn Smith, Tom Mitchell, Mollie Nelson, Julia Parrish, Arky Nelson and Maria Zupa, of 1st Baptist Church of Sarasota and Ron Gunter of the Florida Baptist Children’s Home set out on a mission trip to Guatemala. Our goal is to give a hand to the Children’s Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Guatemala. We flew out of Miami Saturday afternoon and arrived in Antigua, Guatemala, where we will be staying, that evening. Each one of us checked 2 bags with items for the children at the center. We brought toys, food, diapers, clothing etc. for the children. But, our main objective is to give these children as much loving care as we can in the time we are here.
The trip went without a hitch. Ron has done so many of these mission trips that the airport personnel know him and they worked very hard to make our getting through check in, customs etc. as easy as it can be. We arrived in Guatemala City where we were met by Samuel, our driver, with a large van. We loaded all of our bags in the Van and headed to Antigua and our hotel. We are staying in the Real Plaza Hotel. The hotel is very nice and has beautiful grounds. All of our meals, which we eat at the Hotel have been great. So, with a great hotel, great food and beautiful surroundings we are ready to start our work for and with the children.
But, today, Sunday, we started off with some things to get us acquainted with the area. Several of our gang started the day off at 5:30 am with a walk through the town. I don’t know exactly who went as one of them wasn’t me. My room mate, Eric, didn’t go either as we thought the hour sleep was of more value to us then a walk, especially at 5:30.
At 7:00 am we had breakfast and then loaded into the van for a trip downtown to sightsee and make a money exchange. We drove through much of the city and then debarked the van at the city center where we walked around and took in the sights. Some of us purchased some souvenirs from the street vendors. My wife will love what I bought her. Then it was to the bank where we all exchanged some dollars for local currency. The current exchange rate is 8.27, so we came out of the bank feeling rich.
Then we boarded the van again and headed out to church. We went to a very nice local church, Iglesia Del Camino. It was a wonderful service with great message and Pastor Mike delivered a timely message on Spiritual Warfare. We met some very nice people after the service and stayed a while to get aquatinted and talk.
Then it was back to the hotel for a light lunch. After lunch we headed up into the mountains for the treat of the day. We all went Zip lining. For you that don’t know what this is, it is where you travel from tree to tree, above the tree canopy, wearing a harness and sliding along a cable called the Zip Line. Only one of us had done this before, so there was a little apprehension apparent on some faces. We signed up at the base station and then boarded the back of a truck and headed up the mountain. The ride was very exciting as we climbed on a very steep and narrow road with many switchbacks. When we arrived at the first station we all got into our harnesses. We were given instructions on safety and the proper way to ride and then we started out. The first leg was not to long or steep so it really got you pumped and a little relaxed. As you went from station to station each one became a little faster and covered a longer span. Oh my, was it fun. Every one of us had a ball and hated to have the fun come to an end. The view was spectacular and there was enough excitement to get the adrenalin flowing pretty good. Then we got to take that exciting ride down the mountain again. There was a lot of talk and good natured ribbing that went on as we descended. After we got off the truck some of us shopped in the stores at the check in area and others, me for one, just relaxed.
Then it was back to the hotel and dinner. After dinner Ron and Lynn gave us some back ground into their lives and their Christian walk. A couple of us are going to do this each evening and it is amazing the camaraderie that emerges as we listen to each person and then have a discussion about how God has worked in our lives and has helped us grow and also protected us. I think these evening talks are going to be some of the highlights of the week. After our talk some of the gang went for a walk again. As you can guess I wasn’t one of them and neither was my room mate, Eric. We were pooped after our long and eventful day.
Tomorrow we head out to the Malnutrition Center to meet the children and start our getting into the serious side of our trip. We are all looking forward to holding, rocking and playing with the children and showing them that not only do we love them but, Jesus loves them also. I for one can’t wait and I can tell you the others are as excited as I am. Tomorrow night I will report on how our day with the kids went. Come back and see for yourself.