Today’s post is written by Carlos Benitez who has been on this trip the last four years
5:00 am on our last work day was supposed to be magical. We were supposed to see the iconic sunrise on beautiful Lake Atitlan, but we didn’t do anything other than sleep until 6:00am because a HUGE cloud covered our “sunrise”. Yet, this is exactly how I would have wanted my last mission trip with the HMUMC mission team to end.
Unexpected and oddly beautiful; the beams of light crossing the skyline past the clouds served as a glimpse of heaven itself.
It’s 6:30am and it’s time to rush to the chicken bus to enjoy my, and others, day fully devoted to the abuelitos and the Happy Tummy children. As we are riding the roller coaster we have all grown to love, I look to the tired faces of my companions and see a joy I never see on the faces of children in school or people in church. I see faces that glorify God, faces content with the sweat and aches of hard work; content with where God has placed them at this moment. I cover my ears, close my eyes, and pray to the creator of the universe knowing He will hear me just as He hears the members on this trip, the people at Impacto, and everyone affiliated with Happy Tummies and abuelitos.
After getting manhandled by the twists and turns of the roads of Guatemala, we finally arrive at the Happy Tummies facility and we all drag our feet and groggily search for a place to rest.
Throughout this trip we have joked about “how difficult life as a missionary is” and how “hard God’s work is” because we have probably gained 5 pounds from how much we eat here. We are on lake front property and, if anything, our meals and views are reminiscent of a vacation. Though at times we feel as if it really isn’t a mission trip, we truly understand the meaning of being a missionary when we are doing construction or playing all day with kids. Our bodies are weak and all we can think about is the delicious food we eat every morning (shoutout to Abby for showing everyone back at home), but again, I see it, the faces of my friends. There is no sign of complaining or anger or sadness… just acceptance and readiness.
We eat, hear another beautiful mini message from Pastor Luis, and get our activities ready for our abuelitos. Oh how beautiful these little abuelitos are. They are so kind and welcoming, though some are partially blind or suffer from chronic pains. We give them simple crosses to color yet the gleams in their eyes make you feel as if you have given them the world. They fight for our attention and argue among themselves about who has the best art work.
As we work we laugh, we roast, we encourage, and we “mmm,” yet the love for one another stays the same. Conversations make the 6 hours that have passed feel like an hour and the joy of being with each other eases our anxiousness of what is to come next.
Soon the kids are coming and nothing is more powerful than the prayer we pray together to prepare us for the energetic and unending electricity of these children. Today we are able to share the same meal as the children, which in all honesty is delicious… so good that I wanted to get more and more and more, but I knew it wasn’t fair when these children only get one meal from Happy Tummies a day. Instead I shared my chips and realized my desire for more was nothing other than gluttony. I chugged along on what was more than enough food. We played and made fishing rods while teaching these children about Christ and fishing for people.
Soon PJ (Pastor Jonathan) asked me to help him shoot a video for the church where we would interview two children. As we filmed, I saw what I thought was absent in these children–a childhood that had no worries for the next meal, but only the next joke or next game. The boy, Lorenzo, spoke clearly and confidently about how blessed he was with Happy Tummies and the mission groups who come to help. He was aware of the blessing of a simple meal that not all are able to have, and in all he said, He glorified God. PJ, the kids, and I enjoyed our sliver of new fun away from the day-to-day norms while I continued to think about the blessing of being a servant of God.
The kids left and the whole week of work finally caught up with everyone. Everyone is dead tired. We eat our final dinner, enjoy ice cream, and once again embark on a roller coaster of emotions while watching a video recapping our trip here in good ol guat.
It’s 9:36pm, way past my bedtime, and I’m trying to recap all that has happened on my last day at Happy Tummies–a place I helped lay the foundation of four years ago. Since then I’ve witnessed the building and relationships inside of it grow.
PJ said it was a big deal to have the final words on the blog for this mission trip, but the words never really matter without the actions.
I’m sorry for writing so much, but God allowed my friends and I to do His work here and I’m grateful. Yet, I realize the notes on an iPad aren’t able to hold all the words I have to describe it.