by Tori Beavin. Tori is a sophomore at Whitworth University in Spokane. Being in Guatemala for a little more than a week, 15 others and I were able to briefly immerse ourselves in the culture and get a glimpse of what life is like for people living in a few different areas of Guatemala. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this mission trip, and am still trying to process all of the many ways that Guatemala has impacted my life.
While we ventured into the village of Sepacay to help install latrines, we were also given time to meet some of Sepacay's wonderful people. In a community that has seemingly very little to give, the people of Sepacay were far more generous, welcoming, loving, and gracious than I could ever imagine nor explain. While we were the ones being graciously welcomed into their community and homes, they were unbelievably generous in giving us gifts and going out of their way to make us feel welcome. We were also continually overwhelmed by how thankful and appreciative they were for us simply being there, the work that we were doing, and the little gifts we gave to kids such as a single crayon and coloring sheet.
Villagers worked alongside us and supported one another while we were building latrines for families. I am still incredibly inspired by their work ethic, strength of community, and their faith in God. I felt God's presence so much throughout the week, but some of my favorite moments from the trip were when we stepped into the homes of those we built latrines for, and prayed with them after watching them wash their hands for the first time. In Sepacay, everyone prays out loud at the same time, which was a beautiful ritual to witness and take part in, and was one of the many ways I saw them wholeheartedly glorify and praise God.
One of the challenges we faced in Sepacay was the fact that collectively, our group only knew a few phrases of Q'eqchi', their native Mayan language. However, despite the language barrier separating us, we found ways to communicate and even became friends with them. While I definitely saw things in the village that made my heart ache, my heart was also filled with great joy and hope from all of the incredible and perfectly content people that we met and through the love that they have for each other and for God. Bantiox (thank you in Q'eqchi'), Messiah Lutheran for all of the prayers and support that made this trip possible, because it truly was an amazing and humbling experience.