Posted by Scott
Well, all that is left is the trip home. We woke up around 3 am in order to beat the insane traffic that heads into Guatemala City each day. Chris was really excited to get home, too. He has been out with teams for days and days and really wanted to spend some time with Donna. I understand why. She rocks. We made it to the airport in record time, made it through customs without incident, and even had time to shop a little. Trinket stores are open at 5 am there! Cool for me. Unfortunately, we got separated from Tom and Rick right away and didn't get to say goodbye. Man, we were a great team. Thanks for all your huge effort this week as well as your Grande hearts...especially yours Tom. Ha!
I know I have not written this week, but I do have some thoughts. Here goes. My Grandad had a business that most folks under sixty would not recognize. He owned a rendering plant. Farmers would bring him dead livestock (he got an elephant once) and he would render them down into their useful parts. Oddly, very oddly I suppose, my mind works like that, too. I tend to take a large load of stuff and render it down into its useful parts. This week of ministry work in Guatemala needs a LOT of rendering.
I had the opportunity to talk to the men of the church at the beginning of the week. It is pretty difficult to come up with a decent bible study on a normal day. Try coming up with one that you have to present in a language that you do not speak! In general, it was about our perspective of suffering. One of several points we discussed was that sometimes our inaccurate perspectives, driven by our emotions or circumstances, drive us into unnecessary despair. The good news is that a proper perspective of suffering can bring encouragement and healing.
Misperception #1: The suffering found in the mission field is somehow unique
I have heard this statement more times than I care to remember. "Oh, you went on a mission trip! I have always wanted to do that. What was it like?" No offense intended, but it's similar to what you see around you every day in the USA. I admit that we dealt with many unique Guatemalan issues of suffering each day, like the need for installing stoves that help save eyesight, or how landslides can unexpectedly remove villages, or how the trauma of decades of civil war can traumatize an entire people group. However, the suffering we saw in Guatemala actually made my mind sling shot right back to my own church community. I see the same panic-filled, desperate look from folks at home all the time. The answer to it is the same for people suffering all over the planet, and it always works. Stop. Drop to your knees. Collapse into Jesus. Then, every morning, do it again.
Misperception #2: There is no purpose in suffering
I do agree. Suffering...well, it stinks. Tragedy is not always the end result, though. Take the stories of two women that Brad already wrote about. Marta is the young wife and mommy with a deadbeat boyfriend who is the father of her son. He actually has a second girlfriend, complete with kids, a couple blocks away. Marta has everything she needs to leave this guy, but she has convinced herself that sticking with him while he sleeps with the neighbor is her best bet. Marta’s unnecessary suffering will probably end in tragedy. Contrast that with the life of Etylvena. For eighteen years she endured torture at the hands of her sadistic husband. She prayed and worshiped secretly in her heart that she could one day be free along with her two children. Mercifully, eight months ago, her husband was taken from the earth after stumbling in front of a semi truck while he was in a drunken stupor. What was not known to her was that her children and neighbors watched in amazement as she endured her suffering. When she was finally free they wanted to know how she did it. She simply told them it was all because of her Jesus. Now, many of them have found life in Jesus, too. In Etylvena's case, there was purpose in the suffering.
That leads to misperception #3: Broken hearted means a broken and unusable heart
On the contrary, as Christians we need to be broken in order to be usable. If we are not broken, how can we let the love of Christ spill out on the folks around us?
For fun I have added a bonus misperception that has nothing to do with suffering, so that I can lighten the mood before I go...
Bonus: God speaks English and Chris Tomlin is his favorite worship leader
I spent five straight nights in a church where I understood 3% of what was being said, and came away with a deeper understanding of the gospel. I also watched forty people weep to worship music led by a mariachi band, but I have complete certainty that they were at the feet of Jesus.
On that note (did you catch that?), I will be on my way to make the last leg of my journey home with my buddy Brad. Both of us are eager to hug own families for the first time in a week.
Dios te Bendiga,