Guatemala Trip – December 26th through January 2nd
A group of 31 spiritual sojourners hoping to represent the love of Jesus Christ (and be molded further by Him) converged upon Antigua, Guatemala on Saturday, December 26th from Miami, Florida. Our initial day of travel ended with only one missing person (due to a lost Passport) and a wonderful meal at Hotel Real Plaza. Ron Gunter organized the group and gave a brief orientation and opportunity for various work groups to meet. Despite the long day of travel, there were really no incidents whatsoever and every bag made it through Customers without incident; that was a gift in and of itself. We did get to experience one unanticipated thriller during the day, however. We had an aborted landing at Guatemala City seconds before touchdown requiring our pilot to pull up and climb to about 10, 000 feet before circling and landing again. It was an even more beautiful landing the second time and we never really learned what caused that to happen. We suspect it was pilot induced as it appeared we came in too high on our first approach (as we compared it to our second landing.) Nonetheless, and now getting back to the Real Plaza, we were soundly asleep by 10:30 or so, Central Time.
The morning began with a brisk 3 mile walk for a few at 5:30 AM and a hearty devotion by Ron Gunter and breakfast at 7 AM. The devotion was about the 2 loaves and fishes and the miracle of the willing heart the boy had in sharing his lunch with others. This miracle of Jesus is shared across all four gospels. Ron noted he may be the most famous unnamed person in the Bible!
We were able to take buses thereafter to exchange our money at a bank by the local park and this was a first-time experience for many. Banks are open in Guatemala 7 days a week. Following this important step in shopping preparation, we took a group photo by the fountain and then proceeded to a local church located in an inauspicious alley setting. We arrived a bit early so our youth organized a game of Ninja Yah where their quick reactions minimized the group in short order to only the nimble and most aggressive survivors. This was played all in good fun and incorporated some of the kids from the local church, as well. Worship began with song (sung in both English and Spanish) and the message allowed us to learn more about the power of prayer by the Pastor (who also had a Spanish translator.) We all came away reflecting in our minds about the many ways God is worshiped each Sabbath and the fragrant offerings those worship services are to Him despite denominations, languages, and locations.
Following the church service, we took the buses back to the hotel for a delicious lunch and then we were off to the Zip Lines above the coffee plantation. This 7 station, tree-top thriller invigorated our entire group from ages 12 to Edna and we were proud of the efforts exerted by all to make it happen. Once we were done resting in the laurels of our squirrel-like exploits, we came back to Antigua and the Mercado de los Artisans for some good, ole fashioned barter-shopping! This lasted until dinner-time at which time we returned to the hotel with bags full of super goodies. Another great meal followed and the evening closed with some worship music led by Samuel Gunter, by guitar, and the sharing of Wow! Moments experienced during the day. All went to bed quite fulfilled by the bridging of relationships that have occurred in such a short amount of time.