I just got back from Guatemala late on Tuesday night. Had an awesome time. I went with a team of 34 people from my home church South County Christian Center. Out of the 34 people, I led a group of 18 people to the town of Joyabaj. Although my wife and I have traveled all over the world, this was the first time, I've ever led a team that large, much less a team with teenagers in the mix. Thank God for grace, because I'm not sure what I would have done without it.
While we were in Joyabaj we met with a missionary named Bill Vasey who has been working among the Quiche people for 40 years. According to Bill, we were the first team he had ever hosted to come to Joyabaj. All the other teams Bill has hosted over the years have opted to stay in nicer cities. We didn't realize that what we were doing was anything out of the ordinary, but according to Bill, just our being there made a huge impact on the people. We didn't stay in hotels, but we did get to stay with local families. That made the trip all the more authentic for me.
For most of the group, it was the furthest away they've ever been from the modern conveniences of an American lifestyle. For me, Joyabaj was somewhere in between. Rhiannon and I have stayed in towns far less developed. Though I was uncomfortable sleeping on a mattress on the floor, I've been far more uncomfortable in the past sleeping without a mattress on solid wood in places like Pakistan and Cambodia.
The one thing that set this trip apart for me was the manual labor. Every day the team got up and hauled dirt with shovels and wheelbarrows for hours on end. The official reason why we were there was to help construct a Christian school--and that we did--though God allowed us to do much more. On the first day we arrived in Joyabaj a few of us decided to get a head start on the work, so we spent about two hours hauling bricks. We finished at about 5:00 p.m. and about the same time we noticed that the construction crew was putting away their gear and heading to the soccer field. We felt this would be a good way to bond with the locals so we decided to challenge them.
There was only one little problem with this idea. The only shoes I had on were rubber boots. Due to the fact that July is right smack dab in the middle of the rainy season, Bill had recommended that everyone wear rubber boots to the job site. That was a great idea, but it didn't help me at all playing soccer. I hung out in the back most of the game until one of my teammates challenged me to charge one of the opponents and yell yaaahh!!!! at the top of my lungs. To get a good laugh I decided to play along. I charged the opponent--wearing rubber boots and shorts mind you--yelling yaaahh!!! and before I could complete the word, I tripped over a rock and sprained my ankle. Even though I was in pain, the first thoughts that ran through my mind as I was going down were I bet that was hilarious!
It was. I'm okay now. A bit humbled but okay. I'm reminded of a verse found in Ephesians 3:10 where the Apostle Paul says that God's purpose for the Church is to display His glory to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. It's funny that I've never heard a sermon preached on this peculiar detail in Scripture. Have you ever thought about the fact that your life is an open screen in which angels have a front row seat in heaven--and God is teaching them through you? I know it's hard to believe, but every single moment of our lives are loaded with significance, even when it seems like no one is watching. God is actually teaching angels through our broken, wonderful, and sometimes hilarious lives. I wrote a book a few years back on this subject entitled "The Angels are Watching: How God Uses Your Life to Teach the Angels"
Kind of reminds me of the film "It's a Wonderful Life" when the angel Clarence watches a snapshot of George Bailey showing off his dancing while unbeknownst to him a swimming pool opens up and invites him to take an accidental plunge. I'm thinking I got a few heavenly laughs that day--literally.