Feeling Homesick for Guatemala

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Seven years ago today I was flying home from Guatemala, where I and several others from my church had just spent a week working at Clinica Ezell, a health clinic run by Health Talents International. This was my first mission trip and I was more than a little nervous embarking on it, particularly considering that I was not a medical professional and was unsure of just how we non-medical folks would be of any use there. Still, I had felt an unmistakable nudging from God to sign up for the trip and took a leap of faith that there was a purpose for me going. Thankfully, as it turned out, there was plenty for me to do there (you can read about my experience here).

Although we had several planning sessions prior to the trip to help us prepare for it, I quickly learned that there was still so much I didn’t know about this new place. I didn’t know just how beautiful Guatemala would be–not just the landscape, which was breathtakingly gorgeous, but its people as well, who were the most humble and grateful people I’d ever met.

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I didn’t know how humbling an experience it would be to see people living in extreme poverty and yet filled with so much obvious joy. I didn’t know how thrilling it would be to worship in Spanish, understanding only a portion of the words (my high school Spanish being a bit rusty) but fully sensing the presence of God and His Spirit moving among the people there.

I didn’t know how comfy scrubs were–seriously, they’re like wearing pajamas all day long. I didn’t know that I could cheerfully (for the most part) survive a week without air conditioning and ice in my drinks. {I truly am a spoiled American.} I didn’t know how much I’d love having fried plantains with my breakfast every morning, or how good hibiscus tea would taste. (I also didn’t know how awesome it would be to have an icy drink again–when we landed in Houston from Guatemala City, we all made a beeline for the food court to get our hands on some Cokes with plenty of ice in them.)

I didn’t know that a place can take root in your heart so quickly, in just a matter of days, and that when I left I was leaving a little piece of my heart there. And from time to time I think of my all too short week in Guatemala and feel a little homesick for it. A few of my friends who went on that first mission trip with me have continued to go back to Clinica Ezell every August, and as they’ve been posting their photos of this week’s trip on Facebook, my heart is happy and a wee bit sad at the same time. Perhaps next year will be the year to finally return to this beautiful place and see what else God has in store for me there.

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