Xenacoj – A Stretching Experience

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Guatemala was life changing.

Trying to find the right words to capture my experience is challenging and perhaps even impossible.

I will continue to reflect on this trip for a while.  I was up in the early hours of the morning thinking about it.  I think about it when I’m driving in the car.  I think about Xenacoj when I’m eating my meals, when I’m talking to people, and when I’m running.  This experience is on my mind all the time.

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The people of Xenacoj have left a permanent mark on me.

I was stretched in making the decision to go in the first place.  It took a lot of faith and trust for me to take my whole family there.  Would they be safe?  Would they stay healthy?  How would they respond to the poverty, the language, and the living conditions?  How would we pay for a trip of this magnitude?  Would people really support us after what we went through three years ago?  All kinds of questions went through my mind when we initially decided to pursue a trip to Guatemala.

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I was stretched during the trip.  Three of our family members experienced illness while we were there.  I had to sleep on a bed that was about a foot shorter than me.  Sleep in general was tough for me most of the trip (the rest of my family seemed to sleep fairly well).  We slept right in the village where we heard fireworks, roosters, dogs, music, talking, snoring, and church at all hours of the night and morning.  The language barrier was initially a challenge.  It took a couple of days until we actually felt like we were serving.  Once we started serving, we saw some pretty deplorable conditions and desperate poverty.  We couldn’t fix everything.

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And I obviously continue to be stretched following the trip.  How do I respond?  I don’t want this trip to simply be a “nice” experience.  What is next for our family?  When can we go back to Xenacoj?  How should we live our lives differently now that we are home in the States?  How can we continue to help GO! Ministries and the people of Xenacoj and Guatemala?  How can we inspire others to stretch outside their comfort zone and consider missions?  Questions, thoughts, and ideas permeate my mind constantly.

And yet, it’s difficult to fully capture what we experienced.  Perhaps the easiest way to show you is through a video that Dave Sgro (founder of GO! Ministries) put together using our pictures.  There are a few inside jokes and stories in the video, but the video does a pretty good job touching on many of the things we did on the trip.

How have you been stretched by a missions experience?  What questions do you have for me (or my family) about our experience in Guatemala?