Seeing God on the “Volcanoes” of Life

A big hola to everyone back home from the Guatemala site!

What a week this has been; pushing ourselves physically, experiencing the different cultures, and making the most of the last couple weeks in San Juan del Obispo.

Our week started off similar to many before, getting back into the familiar routine for one last time with Spanish classes and weekly activities. In particular, on Wednesday night we had worship, and we sang this song called “Nothing I Hold Onto” by Will Reagan. There is a line in the song that says, “I will climb this mountain with my hands held open.” This lyric became very relevant as the week progressed. During that worship night, Dave shared a thought that had come to him when singing that bridge over and over again. He mentioned that we are all climbing this mountain of life, and God isn’t a goal that we reach at the top like the summit. Instead, God is coming down to us. God walks with us through all the various terrains and the valleys and the high points. This thought and lyric really encouraged me as the week went on.

On Thursday, we had the privilege of visiting the San Antonio Market. What an awesome experience! The women there were very welcoming and eager to teach us all about some of their traditions. We started off with the basics, such as mastering holding the basket on your head while walking. This is a task most women do every day in markets and, most often, with a baby on their back at the same time. It’s more difficult than they make it look. Things escalated and before you knew it they were demonstrating how a traditional Mayan wedding would occur, and our fellow amigos Renee and Aaron were “tying the knot”. It was a funny, yet beautiful moment, knowing these women wanted us to experience as closely as we could each aspect of this beautiful culture.

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Friday was the day we had all been anticipating since the beginning of the semester. Some of the members of our group were going to conquer the famous Volcan de Acatenango, and what a journey it was. About five and a half hours of hiking up, with moments of pain and wonder intertwined together, as we trekked above the clouds, we saw yet another perspective of Guatemala. Once we all made it to camp, we sat around a fire and enjoyed the show that the neighbouring volcano, Volcan de Fuego, put on for us.

The eruptions and the stars were sights of pure glory to God. I spent a lot of time reflecting on Dave’s thought and the lyrics from the worship night earlier; and I couldn’t help but praise God for His creation and for His character. That God would come down and seek me out no matter where I was, even on the side of a volcano, mesmerized by His creation. No one got a great sleep that night, but at 4 AM we got up to finish what we had started. We hiked in the dark for about an hour and, as the sun started to rise, we neared the summit of the volcano. We made it to the top in time for the beautiful sunrise God painted for us that morning. We spent some time of thanks and also admiration. It was a view like I had never seen before, and made each step up so worth it.

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Something about this community of Outtatown makes the easy things fun, and the tough things better. We were all there to encourage each other and share the same joy and excitement when we reached the top. As we all hiked Volcan de Acentenango, a few of our friends stayed below the clouds and had a restful weekend beside the ocean. Soaking up sun rays, while finding God in the stillness and silence.

To end off the busy week, Mundo Spanish School invited us to make an alfombra in Antigua. An alfombra is a tradition in Guatemala, and a form of giving an offering to God in the season of Lent. We created our alfombra, giving thanks to God for all that He had blessed us with in the year. Each beautiful colour has its own significance and it was an honour to be able to participate in such a beautiful ceremony.

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I am truly thankful for all the opportunities we have been blessed to participate in and see God at work in Guatemala.

Thanks for reading as always we appreciate all of you!

Adios amigos,

Bethany

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