Spiritual Bootcamp and Then Some...
by, 12-07-2008 at 01:43 AM (1721 Views)
Thought I'd take a break from the weekend of hardcore studying (haha) and post some more on my trip to Guatemala. I know, I am terrible...bear with me please.
It might be nice to introduce you to the team of Guatemala 08 before I talk about them. Actually, it'd be easier to understand some of the stories if you have a face to put to a name.
From left to right, a little about the team:
Pastor Katie: Her and her husband pastor a small church in the area in Chino. She was the head and mastermind of the trip out to Guatemala. Throughout the trip she was like a mother hen, always counting her chicks to make sure we're all accounted for. At first she seemed a little intimidating, but she was really laid back and an amazing person to lead the trip. Funny but authoritative and responsible. Completely willing to have the Holy Spirit lead the trip. I love this woman. She delivered powerful messages full of fire in a place where women pastors aren't exactly esteemed. It was really cool to have her lead my first missions trip out. Interestingly enough she has gone all over Latin America and doesn't know a word of Spanish!
Me: You all know me. I've been saved since 2002, but really been living my life for the Lord since I joined my church's praise team about three years ago. Leading praise and worship has changed my walk, and I love the Lord with all my heart. This would be my first missions trip, at 22 years old.
Gina: Best friends with Pastor Katie's younger daughter. She was quiet and had done many missions before, but when you get her together with Amy it was always a blast. She has a really sweet and humble heart. She lives and goes to church in Carlsbad...a couple hours south of me.
Abigail: Only one from out of state, from Ohio. And she was also the youngest at 15 years old. She's done missions trips before to Mexico. She has a pure heart and loves children's ministry and also does many other ministry positions at her church, including praise and worship as well.
Amy: Pastor Katie's daughter, can you see the resemblence? She is I think 24 years old. She is an amazing person and was good at everything she did. It was her first missions trip. She sings beautifully having done opera classes, loves children, and was the comical life of the trip. She also took all the photos and is a blessed photographer. Comical, smart and beautiful she was able to make friends with everyone. I love her so much and God had us connected on so many levels. I ministered to her and yet she was a big test on my faith as well.
Josh: Obviously the only guy on the trip, and the praise team leader at my church. His first missions trip as well. I got to know him on a different level than how I know him as I do at church. God has called him to pastor one day. This trip was different than he'd expected in that he had counted solely on street ministry, healing people, and raising people from the dead. Face painting, children's ministry, balloon animals and dramas were a new aspect of service than he was used to. He played Jesus in all of our dramas .
Alicia: Diehard missionary, she's gone all over the place. When we lacked in translators, she was all over it. She made sure the team was taken care of too...always bringing food along for the drives, hikes and walks. She always had a conversation going and a knack for getting to know the people.
There they are. Seven people, Pastor Katie's smallest group. Only one guy in an instance where there's usually a higher ratio. And all of us were adults, save one. All unique characteristics in this group compared to Pastor Katie's usual teams.
Training camp was interesting for me. It was only about three days long and yet I learned so much about myself even prior to the trip.
We did a lot of packing of gifts for the people we would meet and the children we would minister to. It was a new experience for me to do the dramas. But as Gina was in charge of that, she emphasized the importance they had in bringing forth a message in the midst of language barriers. We practiced them until we had them uniquely perfected. It was also the beginning of that notion where missionaries have to eat everything that is put in front of them. That was interesting for me. Is it strange to say I'd never eaten fish tacos before! In thinking about the trip prior to training camp, I had thought this would be the hardest aspect for me to deal with along with the possibility of not showering. It turns out I was able to bathe everyday...save for the three days at training camp...how ironic.
I got to know everyone pretty well when we were at camp, sticking pretty close to Abigail, Pastor Katie and Alicia. Try as I may, it seemed as though Amy and Gina stuck very close in what seemed like a type of clique. I noticed though how well Josh seemed to be getting along with them. Something I easily overlooked in the beginning.
Amidst the rush of making bracelets, preparing gifts, dramas, and bible study, Pastor Katie wanted us to come up with our testimonies so that we'd be able to tell them to an audience in less than three minutes. It turns out this was really difficult for me to do. But I thought I would just throw out there the story of how I got saved in 2002 (a later story). As Josh led us in worship in one of the youth rooms at the church where we were staying, I was talking to God and realized He didn't want me to tell that testimony.
It was a really long emotional road for me to get to training camp. I had battled it out with more than a mother who was less than comforting regarding my trip. The day before I left for boot camp she had let me know how disappointed she was that I went against her wishes. My oldest brother had called Pastor Katie, and knowing both Josh and myself very personally, he decided to inform Katie that, should anything scary or dangerous happen in Guatemala, Josh and I would lose our minds. But, whenever he spoke to me, he was always supportive. Thanks a lot right. He had even given me a letter I couldn't read to give to Pastor Katie. Aside from the family issue, there was also my relationship. For many months I had been talking about my trip with my fiance, and even when he became my ex-fiance, we still talked about the trip. But he was less supportive of my trip; according to him it was because of my zealous and radical involvement in the church that I left him. But it was because I love God.
So as I worshipped in that room, God told me that my testimony to bring to Guatemala was the story of how my life had changed in order that I had enough faith to be in that room that day...just preparing for that trip. He wanted me to tell the story of how I'd left all my plans to marry the wrong guy..what it took to leave, how it hurt to leave, but how obedience to God's will brings about such a blessing on my life. I cried at worship.
I was so nervous to rehash my testimony in front of my six team mates. We all sat at that table and I could feel my heart beating. Josh and I had had a summer thing going on, and I didn't want him to see me cry at all...let alone about my old relationship!
This was the first time we told our testimonies, so it was natural that they took more than three minutes to let out. As they started, it was easy to see why. Tears started coming from every pair of eyes as they told their stories. All of us had amazing stories that led to us being there that day, and on that trip. I realized that this would be the start of something new...that I had never started to get so close to people so soon. They got to me, and I told them about Nick, and about my family, and about how I am willing to let go of everything I am and want because of how God has moved in my life...that if I were not able to worship Him with my life, if He had not touched me the way He had...I would have no clue who I'd be. The tears came out. I hadn't known I'd felt so convicted in my heart of the words I'd spoken. And Josh gave his testimony too. I had known it, but until then I had not realized how similar our stories were.
So it turned out that each one of us had testimonies that spoke to a particular audience, and yet were so similar as it was easy to see God's hand in bringing us together.
As we finished up the days at camp, the dramas got easier and we all got closer knowing each other's personal lives a little more intimately. We had been staying at a church for the weekend, and as we prepared to leave for LAX Abigail, Amy, Gina and I realized that running around barefoot had left the underside of our feet a completely different skin tone, and that our hair had become quite greasy. The church had no showers...but it did have an industrial kitchen...
As we packed our things Katie emphasized how important it was to try and look as fresh as we could when we arrived in Guatemala. Hmm..right. After attempts at freshening up, there was still the deal of the hair...the four of us girls took turns washing our hair in the industrial sink in the kitchen , a feat that proved the necessity of a partner to do! Abigail directed the corded faucet to wash my hair as I did hers, and Gina and Amy did likewise. Never had I been so happy to wash my hair! So...what was I to expect in Guatemala??
Alicia prepared snacks from the leftovers of the amazing food and snacks that volunteers and the church had provided us, and we took a ton of pictures of departure...not that we stopped taking pictures ever, there are a ton of the drama practices, packing and general insanity from the whole training camp experience.
The vans picked us up, Katie kissed her husband goodbye as he let us know he would keep in contact so as to let our families know how we were doing. I was so excited to be leaving, and a little nervous as well. I didn't even mind that our trip was going to be so long, six hours and then a four hour stopover in Georgia, and then another six hours to Guatemala City.
But little had I known that what I had so easily overlooked would become my biggest test so early on....