Hope is Found

Date posted: Wednesday 18 September 2019

As our group from Augustana Lutheran prepared to visit Guatemala this summer, enthusiasm grew as we explored accompaniment values, learned about San Agustín Lutheran in La Esmeralda, prepared children’s activities, and assembled 180 bags of various school supplies. Janet and John Metcalfe provided valuable insights and guidance as they have been an integral part of the sustaining relationship between Augustana and San Agustín. With 12 suitcases in tow, we began our journey.


For the next eight days, we immersed ourselves in the day-to-day life of Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala and witnessed God’s hands at work through the many aspects of its ministry. While nurturing the faith of those it serves, the work of the church extends to improving the quality of life for those who live with few resources. With the support of the companion congregations, Pastor Karen, Esther, Beatriz, Diego and other ILAG staff members faithfully and tirelessly bring a message of hope.


Hope is found at the Lutheran School as we observed God’s hands at work

  • in the enthusiasm and energy of the teaching staff
  • in the servant leadership of the new school coordinator
  • in the faces of the children as they eagerly participated in our Bible lesson
  • in the academic success students experienced (with the school receiving a Certificate of Excellence), all while learning in small classrooms with little room to move and very few resources
  • in the chatter and laughter during afternoon break
  • in the humor they shared with us as they noticed Mark’s baldness and had to touch the hole in his hair


Hope is found at MILAGRO as we observed God’s hands at work

  • in the beautiful voices of these young women as they sang during worship
  • in the skills the “cooking group” uses to prepare dinner
  • in the neatly constructed tote bags they have created using their sewing skills
  • in the cooperation we observed as we taught the young women how to do counted cross stitch and as they worked with their teacher, Profesora Karen
  • in the kindness they showed as they helped one another so all were successful
  • in the stories we heard of the leadership they share with children and adults in their home congregations during vacations
  • in the potential to improve the lives of others—one student has taught bread making skills she learned at MILAGRO to her mother…the family now has a new source of income
  • in the confidence they are developing as they learn academic, vocational, and personal skills to be leaders


Hope is found at San Agustín Lutheran Church in La Esmeralda as we observed God’s hands at work

  • in the welcome we were all given upon arrival
  • in the enthusiasm for learning as children participated in Bible school activities
  • in the worship music led by a guitar ensemble made up of men and boys of the congregation. This ensemble has become an outreach activity to involve young people in worship. A women’s choir leads the singing.
  • in the value the congregation places on education and the support Augustana gives to the children of La Esmeralda as we handed out school supply bags to all 180 students in preschool through 9th grade
  • in the commitment of young church leaders who have a heart for serving
  • in the healthier lives of congregation members by using water filtration systems, latrines, and stoves
  • in the sense of community as the women gathered together to prepare delicious meals, as the council discussed concerns and progress, and as musicians gathered to serenade Diego on his 26th birthday at 3:30 a.m. (a tradition often carried out on one's birthday).
  • in the fine textiles artistically woven by women in the congregation at the textile market
  • in the joyful ordination of Julio as he is surrounded by his family and congregation. In celebration of his ordination, Augustana member Rachel Lind created a beautiful, green stole made with fabric from Augustana’s Tanzanian partner as a gift from our congregation.
  • in the concern and challenges of growing seasons without enough rain
  • in the entrepreneurial spirit of one of the church members who is growing a new crop for the floral industry. He has formed a cooperative and recruited 23 other farmers to ensure a fair price for their goods.


Hope is found in the staff of Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala as we observed God’s hands at work

  • in the passion with which all staff live out their mission to serve the poor, the often voiceless, and those living in rural areas
  • in the search for a new location for its Lutheran School as the cliff where the school is located continues to wash away
  • in the focus on climate change—new farming techniques and how the church can support its members
  • in the staff’s sharing of Guatemalan culture, social justice issues, immigration, and the church’s focus on improving the lives of the people it serves
  • in the staff’s compassion for our group and those in the ministries


The work of ILAG is complex as it shares the Gospel and works to improve the lives of people in congregations. Augustana’s commitment to this mission partner continues to make a difference! As we walked alongside the staff and participated in the life of ILAG, our eyes were opened to the all-encompassing work the church is doing to bring hope and our hearts were opened to the people it serves.


– Jennifer Reinhardt

Augustana Lutheran, West St. Paul