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In May, our group of 9 traveled from Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley to Guatemala. We spent time with our partner congregation, Mensajeros de Cristo in Santa Elena 20 de Octubre, as well as time at the Milagro Center & El Mirador school in Guatemala City. We also toured Tikal. There were so many wonderful experiences along the way but the one word that sums up the trip for me is "Relationships".
Our delegation from Grace was comprised of members ranging in age from high school sophomores to seventy-something retirees. Not that we wouldn't ever cross paths at church, but we typically wouldn't be in the same activities that would involve us spending so much time together. And planning, traveling, and now reliving stories and conveying the experience to others does indeed mean that we spend a lot of time together! Our shared experience and passion for this ministry, not to mention many hours on a bus, resulted in new and meaningful relationships.
The ILAG staff who plan, travel with, and guide us on the trip are exceptional. They are able to bridge the cultural and language differences in a way that educates us and enhances our experience. Their commitment and faith are obvious. Plus they are just nice people to spend a week with! I am so grateful for the relationship between the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala & the Saint Paul Area Synod, as well as the relationships we continue to build with the individuals who facilitate not only the travel but all the other ways of connecting, too.
In Santa Elena, we renewed relationships with people we had met on previous visits and made new friends also. We shared activities, smiles and conversations, taught each other new things and worshipped together. Every week, our congregation in Apple Valley prays for our brothers and sisters in Santa Elena, and every week they pray for us. That is a strong bond.
As we were preparing to leave the village on our final day there, we gathered in the church for goodbyes. Our Guatemalan friends asked us to form a circle and then they formed a larger circle around us. One man began praying and all the rest joined in. Each was offering up their own prayers for us both in Spanish and Q'eqchi'. I couldn't understand the words being said but never have I felt the Holy Spirit more powerfully than I did in that moment.
I arrived home feeling blessed by all these relationships. God is most certainly walking alongside us on this journey of accompaniment.
Grace Lutheran, Apple Valley