by Rachel Williams
This past week in Antigua has been one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. I never would have expected the number of connections I have made with the people I have met, both with those who traveled with me from the United States as well as with the adults and children from the village of Aqua Cate. I have had the opportunity to see how chores don’t actually feel like chores when you’re doing them for people in need, to use and improve my Spanish skills through my role as a translator, and finally, my family now has the opportunity to sponsor a child in need from the village. Overall, I have observed that Christ can be so alive and show His presence even in areas of the world where children go hungry and sleep in infested beds or on dirt floors each night.
Back in the United States, disassembling, moving, sanding and cleaning bed frames would probably feel like the most tiresome chores. I would quickly lose interest in spending countless hours painting a room. I would likely be overwhelmed when dealing with overly energetic children tugging at my arms left and right. However, the work I have done here at Hogar Miguel Magone never once felt like a chore, and I am sure that this is because God was showing me how meaningful service to others can be. Knowing that all the work I was doing to prepare new beds and paint window frames would help to create a better home for orphaned or impoverished boys drove me to do my absolute best to help them to have the highest level of comfort possible. Oftentimes I would be reminded of whom I was serving as young Guatemalan boys came in to chat with me while I painted windows. Seeing their smiling faces all day made it impossible to even think about bemoaning the amount of work I did at Hogar Miguel Magone.
I’m not the most outgoing person in the world to begin with, so when I learned that I would be serving as a translator on the trip, there was definitely a little bit of trepidation mixed in with my excitement for the opportunity to finally use my Spanish skills in a meaningful way. However, as I put these skills to work, I began to realize what a blessing it was that I could speak the language and converse with these children. As I did so, I really began to see how they are just typical kids even though they lead difficult lives. From the beginning of the week to now, I have certainly seen a vast improvement in my speaking skills, despite occasionally having to have a 5-year-old repeat himself about twenty times before I can finally figure out what he’s saying. I have also picked up some new vocabulary along the way, thanks to my Spanish-English dictionary that I couldn’t have survived without. With hopes to return to Guatemala in the future, I definitely have acquired an incredibly strong motivation to improve my Spanish as much as possible so that I can better communicate with these children and help them come to know God.
Through my role as a translator, I got to know the boy who soon would become the first child that my family would sponsor. As translator, during craft time I constantly had children redirected to me to answer their questions. For whatever reason, during one of these times, I was having particular difficulty in understanding what this young boy was trying to ask me. As I struggled to decipher the question through his quick-paced speech and accent, I noticed the incredible patience and understanding that this boy had with me. He was incredibly friendly and understanding. Later, after he ran up to me to give me a hug before I left for the day, I was sold. The next day, he happened to ask if we were thinking of sponsoring a child, and I told him that we were actually thinking of sponsoring him. Seeing his joy was the most wonderful thing. I’m so excited that I now have someone who’s like a little brother in Guatemala who I can write to and help give a better life.
I am so grateful I came to Guatemala to serve. It’s amazing to see the way that Bible School and worship songs can help children to connect to God, and it was especially moving to see some children become emotional during the story. I was so happy to be a part of this mission and to be able to help do the Lord’s work in these children’s lives. I can’t wait to keep having these rewarding experiences on many future missions to come.