We Found Mission in Guatemala

In mid-June 2013 I was blessed with the opportunity to accompany a group of teachers, catechists, and other parish ministers on a mission immersion experience to Guatemala City and Esquipulas in Guatemala.  Everyone was touched in a profound way.  This post is one of those stories.  Written by Chuck Kennedy for the parish bulletin at All Saints, its intent was to publicize an evening of sharing and photos which many in the group attended.  It embodies the essence of mission and answers the question: "Why do you want to go to Guatemala?"  It is my pleasure to share it with you!
The Maryknoll Immersion Group in Guatemala

by Chuck Kennedy, July 7, 2013

My "vacation" wasn't the typical trip away.  It was spiritual and life-changing.  I, along with 11 other people, spent nine days in Guatemala with Maryknoll Missionaries.  Maryknoll is a Catholic Organization that does work all over the world. I called this my journey of faith, because I had no idea what to expect, what we were going to do, see, or even who I was going with.  I just knew that I was being called by God to make this trip, and I prayed that I would be open to the adventure.

After arriving late Tuesday, and spending Wednesday in Guatemala City, we traveled to the small pilgrim town of Esquipulas.  We settled into our humble quarters and then began to go out to different organizations to meet people and be with them.  Everyday was a new adventure, and opened up a new world to me.

We started by going to a school for the severely mentally and physically handicapped.  We brought them nothing but ourselves.  We colored and played with the children, sang a few songs, and were just there to offer a personal touch, some affection and to learn from them.

The next day we went to Santa Ana, which is a barrio where the poorest of the poor live.  Most of the children had no shoes; their homes were made of aluminum siding held together by limbs from trees, no streets, no running water or sanitation.  But all of the kids had an over-abundance of love and affection.  We brought them nothing but ourselves, and spent time playing, talking and just being.  They taught us.

On another day we went to a senior citizen's home where all the residents have no family, money, or are unable to care for themselves.  We spent some time with them, and realized that they just needed us to be with them.  We didn't take them anything, but offered ourselves to them.  We finished our trip with visits to an orphanage and elementary school; we talked and shared with the kids, played with them, and again brought them nothing but ourselves.

My experiences in Guatemala helped me realize what mission is about, and who God is calling me to be.  I came to realize that mission isn't about doing, but it is about being.  To be in mission with the church is to be Christ-like to those around you, especially the poor, the sick, the weak, the meek.  I didn't need to bring anything or build anything; I just needed to be me - a warm touch, a gentle hand to caress, a smile, a hug to hold them close, a few kind words.  I realize that my journey of mission is just starting right now.

Although I will someday return to Guatemala, we can all be mission to those around us, in our families, our neighborhoods, and our churches.