Minnesota can be a cold place, and not just during the winter. The phrase “Minnesota Ice” has been used by transplants to our state to describe the adjustment prior to feeling truly accepted as a part of the community. It takes a while to establish true friendships here.

When the Augustana delegation arrived in La Esmeralda on Saturday, Aug. 5, we were greeted with extreme warmth—both kinds. Fireworks heralded our arrival and people ran to meet our bus. We were ushered into the sanctuary immediately and greeted with songs of joy. The members of San Agustin welcomed us into their homes despite never having met most of us before.

Over the course of our two-day visit, meals were shared, jokes were made, hopes and dreams discussed. Laughter, smiles, and prayers were in abundance! As we left town at 5 a.m. on Monday morning, our bus was stopped several times by people outside their main street homes, so they could wish us a safe journey.

The San Agustin congregation didn’t simply make us feel like family. We were family. We are family.

Ice has no place in Guatemala. It has been a truly humbling experience to be here learning firsthand what it means to be an aggressively welcoming and accepting congregation. My heart is full from the extreme warmth and hospitality of our brothers and sisters in La Esmeralda.

Matt Howard
Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul

Matt was a co-leader of a delegation group from Augustana that traveled Aug. 3-11.