Gabby's Entry #6
"Not for the Faint of Heart"
Okay! Now maybe THIS TIME I sent
home a group healthy and happy. Of course, there were only two
of them, so maybe my chances are better this time. Middle
Tennessee Presbytery has been working with the Petén Presbytery for
almost three years. They are interested in a partnership and
came to visit all the churches and discuss the plan with the
Presbytery leadership. They found a lot more here than any of
God sometimes does
that to us, doesn't he? We're coasting along in our comfort
zone, in our car with AC, power locks and leather seats, when all of a sudden he decides we need a
So some of us come to Guatemala for a year and others, a couple of
times per year. We could neither foresee or accomplish any of
this on our own. We needed
each other and we needed Him. Lucky for us, we had both because,
man, sometimes this mission stuff is not for the faint of heart.
and Karen after our first challenge
Our itinerary said we would be
visiting four churches followed by a meeting with the Presbytery
before a final Guatemalan goodbye from Tikal. It sounds
relaxing enough, right? I actually thought to myself,
this might be boring or if not boring relaxing. I should know by
that's never the case. The first day, I found out that
the village, Valle Nuevo, was nicknamed "Mudville" last
year because the
road was so difficult to travel only three of the ten people on the
mission trip made it there. I became increasingly more
suspicious when Joe told me we might want to buy rubber
boots. Then, the morning we were to depart, I found out that
we were riding in the back of a pickup on a dirt road for an hour to
Hmmm, this is not what I expected.
We all jumped out of the truck, wet
from the rain, at a break in the fence line. How anyone ever
finds this place once they leave it, is beyond me. I have no
internal compass and surely would have been left for dead if it
hadn't been for Martín and our Valle Nuevo guides. The road
was far too muddy for us to take. This was the downfall of the group
the year before - mud up to your knees. So, instead?
We cut through a barbed wire fence and tromped into the jungle land
for our 45 minute hike. And guess who needed to use the
bathroom? I waited.
The hike to Valle Nuevo
Me, complete with rubber boots,
blisters and a walking stick.
But we all made it! We had a
worship service, a meeting, then lunch before we started our hike back
out. My favorite saying during this was, "Casi allá?"
(Almost there?) which always made Martín laugh. Others may not
have had as much fun as I did, but we were all proud of our
accomplishment and ready for the next day's challenge.
Three-day old baby with cleft palate
Jocelin, the baby to
the left was our surprise on our second day. She was born on
October 31st, the same day that Karen and Jim arrived in
Guatemala. God was definitely at work getting a registered
nurse to a tiny village in Guatemala to help this new mother and
child. When we found her, she was malnutritioned and unable to nurse.
Karen, thinking quick on her feet, helped to show the mother how she
could express milk and use a dropper to feed the baby. Karen, who
has never worked in pediatrics, did an amazing job saving this baby's
life. I was only lucky enough to be along to help translate.
We went back the next day to give Sandra, the 16-year old mother,
vitamins for herself and Jocelin, a manual breast pump and another
dropper that would be easier to use. Wow.
La Caoba was a different experience
altogether but still filled with shocking sites and God's grace and
mercy at work. Since Karen, Martín and I had to return to
Chinatál the next day to see the baby again, we missed the worship
but Karen took a look around and was pleased to see there were
happy, clean faces on all the children. We drove off relieved
knowing that this church was served by a health promoter who had
been trained and he
seemed to be doing a fine job.
But news travels fast in Guatemala
and by the time we returned, there were several children that needed
Karen's help from this rural 700-person community. Conjunctivitis, malnutrition, scabies and ring worm
were some of the heartbreaking things we encountered.
Child with skin
condition that could be treated with antibiotic cream
Malnutritioned baby with
(bugs that get under the skin &
cause a rash and itching)
(see thin hair, also had large belly)
Sometimes God knows
you're ready for things that you don't even know yourself.
This was a challenging trip for everyone. We saw starving children
as we sat and ate chicken the women had cooked for us, we left a
four-day-old baby in the hands of a sixteen-year-old and God, and we
saw Christ. We saw Him in everyone we met. The faith of
these people is more than I could comprehend. I don't honestly
know if, in the same situation, that I could be as gracious and
faithful. And for this experience, I was truly blessed.
Will Middle Tennessee
sign a covenant with the Petén Presbytery? We all hope
so. And either way, I look forward to seeing my friends again
For more pics, click
Romans 5: 1-4
Therefore, since we have been justified in faith, we have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we
have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now
stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not
only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we
know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance,
character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint
us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the
Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.