I received a phone call from my friend, David Sgro, Monday afternoon. Dave is the missionary I have been working with the past three years in the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj in Guatemala. He broke down in tears as read this post to me written by Joshua Hunt. Joshua is in Xenacoj with a team from AIM World Racers for a month serving in and around the village. Joshua’s story below is a story of hope rising from the ashes.
Here’s what Joshua Hunt had to say on his blog:
“Hola Justin! Tienes tiempo para ir conmigo a Ayapan?” (“Hey Justin! Do you have time to come with me to Ayapan?”)
German, our local contact, poked his head through our open front window as we wound down the afternoon listening to some quiet indie music.
“Sure?” I responded, somewhat honored to be asked but bewildered as to what needed to be done in Ayapan.
I convinced Karissa to go along with us. Being as AIM technically requires us to travel in at least pairs, I was able to cover my lack of enthusiasm for this new, unknown, late-afternoon task.
As we wound up the ragged mountain roads, our 15-passenger van with only 3 seats in use bounced lightly and rebelliously over the potholes and loose stones. On two different occasions, we squeaked by colorful chicken busses, staring perilously down the mountainside as only fractions of inches separated us from either becoming a new paint job on a public bus or chicken feed at the bottom of the slope.
When we made it to Ayapan, the main schoolyard in the center of the village was empty, save for a handful of boys playing with a plastic ball and shielding themselves from frequent swirls of rising dust. Only a week ago we played fútbol for hours with the schoolchildren during recess. But now, during the approaching dusk, the field felt lonely and void. Walking around the side of what I thought was another educational building, we found a man sweeping a layer of fresh, green pine needles out of a chapel meeting room in to a pile on the portico.
German approached the small-statured man with purpose and intent. After introducing himself to the man and his companions still inside the dim meeting hall, it was clear we were to be introduced as well. I fail to recall the names of each of the six men, but German quickly explained these were the mayor and leaders, city council if you will, of the local community. I strained to maintain my composure; not one of these men stood taller than 5’4’’, and they appeared a perplexing mix of age and youth. Among the weathered and deep-ridges faces, the wisps of grey hair and the various silver-capped teeth, these representatives appeared no older than thirty, not much older than me.
In the minutes that followed, I struggled to keep up with a rapidly interchanging conversation in both Spanish (“Castellano” in the words of older Guatemalans) and Kaqchikel, the Mayan and native language of much of the population in the mountains here. The conversation continued as we took seats inside the hall.
After a short while, German suddenly turned to me and said, “voy a comprar algo para tomar, venga,” (“I’m going to buy something to drink, come with!”) as he headed to the door.
Karissa and I followed German out to the tienda across the street where we purchased glass bottles of 7UP and Mirinda for each of our group back at the chapel. German paid at the barred counter and popped the lids off one by one. We returned to the seated group, a solemn, yet polite gathering.
Please go to Joshua’s blog to read the rest of this story of hope rising from the ashes. You will understand why Dave was in tears when he called me on Monday afternoon. To get there, click here.
After Dave read Joshua’s post, he thanked me and said I was part of what is happening in this village near Xenacoj.
Many people think short-term missions don’t can make a difference.
Maybe it’s time to rethink this.
Short-term efforts coupled with long-term commitments can make a huge difference.
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When have you seen hope rise out of desperation?
When have you seen a short-term effort make a big difference?