Wednesday, December 28, 2011

By Robin Oosterhouse

After our week in chilly Sololá we headed to Guatemala City for a week of VBS with Iglesia Cristiana de Jesu Cristo. They haven't done a VBS in a few years so they were thrilled at the idea of doing one with extra helpers. They had the schedule all planned out, the teachers in place and only about 25 children so the week was much different than the previous week in Sololá. We plugged in wherever we could by helping prepare the snack, classroom control, songs and crafts. We also had time in the schedule to do what we wanted so we did some teaching, games and crafts all focused around the theme of our identity in Christ and His love for us. It was so different to go from a group of poor, Compassion sponsored kids to those in the middle/upper class. I think it was good for us to work in very different neighborhoods because it forced us to work and reach out in different ways!

While we were in the city we split up and lived with different families from the church. Each assigned home fit our team members perfectly and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together and grew to love our host families! They were such a blessing to us by feeding us breakfast and dinner and driving us around for the week. Two of the host families are on staff at the city YWAM base and we plugged into many ministries with them.

One afternoon we visited children at the Ronald McDonald house and did a craft with them. This is a place where children with cancer stay close to the hospital either because they live very far away or are too sick to travel a short distance for treatment. Another day we visited a group of guys participating in the Teen Challenge program. We joined them for worship, gave a testimony and a short message. It was a joy to watch them sing with all their heart and they sounded fantastic!

One evening we joined the base for their weekly homeless visit. They brought a hot, nutritious drink and we sat on the sidewalk and played Uno with some homeless people. I think we were all touched by the experience to just sit and show that these folks have value. This was the same motivation behind our visit to a safe home for abused women and their children. The guys entertained the kids with balloon animals and face painting while the ladies gave the women and older girls manicures and pedicures. We explained that we wanted to bless and pamper them to show them how precious and beautiful they are to God. I really enjoyed watching their facial expressions change from slight embarrasement to pure relaxation and joy! We couldn't resist (buying) their beautiful handmade jewely that they make to supplement their income. Our last ministry event for the week was Saturday night youth group. They are a great bunch of kids and we enjoyed getting to know them a bit and worshiping with them.

Aside from ministry we also enjoyed visiting the local malls and Wal-marts (more than once) which are very much like in the US. Being surrounded by many familiar restaurants and stores almost gave a sense of being back home and no longer on outreach. We had a Guatemalan with us almost all of the time partly to guide us around the city and partly because there is so much violence that it's unsafe to be alone as foreigners. The traffic was unbelievable, you never knew how long it would take to get somewhere since you could be stuck at a snail's pace for a long time.

Our family visited the city zoo and we couldn't believe how big and beautiful it is, the boys especially loved seeing all the animals. The most memorable event for me was climbing an active volcano on our day off. There was a good size erruption last spring so since then it's been pretty quiet. We were disappointed to not see any running lava but it was still an adventure to climb around on volcanic rock and we did go into a small, warm cave. It was too dangerous to go to the very top because of the wind but we could see 3 other volcanoes from near the peak and the sunset through the clouds was breathtaking! It was a great ending to a great week, the next day we joined the city YWAM base for a powerful time of worship together then headed back to Antigua.