My week at Dorie’s Promise gave me the incredible opportunity to give up my self-centered tendencies by shifting focus from myself to the lives of others. Since the patterns of my ordinary life were broken for that week I was able to be more loving and attentive towards others. Struggling through the language barrier taught me the importance of carful listening, and the children taught me how to communicate in ways that I had not previously expected.
At first I was nervous that our group’s contribution would not have much impact on the community. We were just a small cluster of people entering the lives of so few among the many Guatemalans in need; but Jesus also entered lives subtly, just by talking and sharing stories. We touched many lives in small ways during the past week, delivering gift baskets with food, medicine and school supplies to families in the Limonada Ghetto and villages in Morales. I was amazed at how quickly people invited us into their homes and shared their stories of hardship.
For instance, we met Sarah, a woman who touched our hearts through her faith, even though throughout her life she has suffered from child abuse, an inconsistent husband, and many family injuries and health issues. We also met Jenny, whose sister was wrongly imprisoned, and we blessed and prayed for both of them together. Then we went to minister in the women’s prison, where we didn’t just hear about Jenny’s sister, we actually met her.
Most importantly, this trip taught me the importance of being powerless. We often feel the urge to control the details of our daily lives and we feel as though we have complete control over outcomes based on how we act. As we discovered, however, this is not the case, particularly in the ghetto. God has complete control over our lives, and only he tells us how to dedicate ourselves and maintain hope. Most shockingly, our experience at church in the Limonada Ghetto taught us to reconsider aspects of our lives with Christ that we are not taking advantage of. Many of us, myself included, forget that God is someone to lean on in the midst of each day and all desperate times.
I don’t think I would be the same person I am today had I not taken a risk and traveled to Guatemala in order to volunteer at Dorie’s Promise.