Friday, July 24, 2009

Never the Same - A Summary of my Guatemala Experience

I am back from Guatemala! Here is one final summary of the whole trip.
First, I’d like to say Thank You a million times to everyone who helped me go!! If it were not for your financial support and prayers, I wouldn’t have had this experience.
The adventure began in Miami Fl. There I got to meet the rest of my team (40 people), and we learned the drama that we would be using during the next two weeks. The drama is called “Spellbound,” and it tells the story of the Gospel. First they cast us in different parts. I was cast as the “Evil Magician,” who represents Satan. It was a very challenging, but very fun part to play. We spent two full days in training, and I loved every minute of it.
We arrived in Miami on Monday, and Thursday afternoon we flew out to Guatemala. It was so exciting to finally leave Florida and begin our real ministry! We stayed in Antigua, a beautiful village about an hour south of Guatemala City. We were privileged to stay in an absolutely gorgeous hotel. We even got to eat at the hotel restaurant for breakfast and supper. The food usually tasted wonderful, but of course there were a few weird things that I decided not to try.
Each day we woke early, ate a nice breakfast and had team devotions. Then we’d load up on the bus and go to our ministry sight for the day. We did the drama at schools, parks, an orphanage and a soup kitchen. Sometimes we would also help out by cleaning, painting, or doing whatever was needed. After we performed the drama the audience had the opportunity to come forward and give their lives to Jesus. It was so exciting to see people ask Jesus into their hearts every time we performed. Afterwards we were able to mingle with the audience, during which time we were usually able to witness to a few more. We also got to play with the children, giving them little toys and painting their faces. They are so precious! Matthew 19:14 - Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
One day we went to a soup kitchen in Guatemala City. While we were there, the First Lady of Guatemala arrived. She told us through a translator how grateful she was for all the work we were doing. Then she invited us to their palace so she could “honor” us. My friend Aubrey prayed for Guatemala with her, in front of the TV, and over the radio that day. The next day our team wasn’t able to go to the palace, but three other teams were able to. While they were there, the First Lady proclaimed every person on the mission trip "Special Ambassadors" to Guatemala! I'm not exactly sure what that means, but what an opportunity to witness to the very government of Guatemala! We were so thankful that God had made such a divine appointment and helped us to have such an impact.
Every night after we got back from ministry, we would have FUAGNEM (Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute) service, which consisted of worship songs and an inspiring message. The worship was amazing, and every night I was challenged to go deeper in my faith. FUAGNEM was definitely one of my favorite parts of the mission trip.
Sometimes during FUAGNEM a few people from each team could share something that happened that day. One team shared how they got to pray for a man who was born without a knee cap. After they prayed for him, the man had grown a knee cap and was able to get out of his wheel chair and walk! How amazing!
About 500 teens went on the mission trip. God used us to have a big impact in Guatemala – over 3,000 lives were saved by the end of the trip! But just as important, God used the trip to have a big impact on our lives as well. My heart was definitely touched in a big way. I am thankful beyond words for this experience!
I would ask that you continue to pray for me and all the people who went on the trip. It’s harder to radically live out your faith in the mundane surrounding of home than it is on the mission field. But it’s just as important to be a missionary here as it is across the world, and I know God used that awesome experience to equip me for the rest of my life.
The theme of the mission trip was “Never the Same.” And with lots of prayer and determination, I don’t believe I ever will be.
This is our lovely resort.

Myself and my roomie Heidi in full make-up

I didn't forget to celebrate Independence Day! Me and my roomie Kate. :)

We painted lots of faces! This is my friend Anne with a Guatemalan girl.

A ten-year-old Guatemalan girl - already responsibly working.

My whole team after performing at an orphanage

Here I am with some children from a school where we performed the drama.

Ayiesha Woods and her brother Donald were on the mission trip! They are both so awesome!

Here I am with Aubrey! (Guatemala Missions Trip...09 - blog roll.) She rocks!

This is Lake Atitlan. One day we sailed across the lake to do our drama on the other side.

Here I am atop the ferry that sailed across the lake. It was so fun.

Me with awesome friends Carly and Catherine (Cat was also my roomie!)

Some more awesome friends - Bethany, Ashley (roomie:), myself, and Tyler.

Airplane buddies, Alex and Lydia, on the flight home!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We Serve a Big God!

It seems like such a long time ago that we landed in Miami, and then flew to Guatemala. So much has happened, so much has changed in every person here.
One thing that has impacted me the most is how everyone here is literally like a family. Seeing the love between team members and the support we give to each other blows my mind away. I keep thinking, this is the way the body of Christ is supposed to be! When our team is together, there is such a sense of freedom. I know that I can share any struggles I have without fear of judgment. And every single day we pray for each other. It is so awesome to know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ all over America who will continue praying for each other even after this trip is over.
Today we went to a soup kitchen in the city. After the drama, we got to go and talk to a lot of people. One of the best things I saw was a couple with their five year old son come to Christ.
Then, the President's wife came. Yes, the first lady of Guatemala. That in itself is pretty cool, but the most amazing part is that we got to pray with her, and my friend Aubrey even got to pray for Guatemala over the radio! The President's wife actually invited us to their palace so that she could honor us, because she was so grateful for what we had done for her country. This was just proof of how God is using us in huge ways to impact this country of Guatemala!
Well, I'm almost out of time. I am looking forward to coming home! But this experience is going to be hard to leave.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm Having an Amazing Time in...

Hello everyone! I'm sorry I haven't found time to update since I've been here. So let me fill you in on what's going on.
We arrived in Antigua, Guatemala late Thursday night. The hotel we are staying in is beautiful. It really reminds me of a castle. It's surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, and of course, the quaint city of Antigua.
A few hours ago my team returned from our third day of ministry. Our ministry days are so much fun. On Friday we went to an orhpanage where we worked doing everything from cleaning windows to sorting rotten cabbages and carrots (a reeking job!) Afterwards we did our drama for the children. On Saturday we went to a park and did the drama twice. (The drama is called Spellbound and it tells the story of the Gospel. It is amazing! I am the Evil Magician.) On Sunday we had a more relaxing day with worship services and seminars. And today we went to a church in a small village where we painted a huge wall. That was the most fun so far! Everyone was covered in paint from head to toe - literally. After that we went to a school and preformed the drama again.
But I think the most amazing thing so far about this mission trip has been the worship services and the Fuagnem (Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute) services. Susie Shellenburger, former editor of Brio, is an awesome speaker, and she goes deeper every night. The presence of the Holy Spirit is so evident in the services.
This trip is more than living up to my expectations. I can't wait to give you a more detailed report (complete with lots of pics!)
If you want to know more about the trip, visit the blog on my blog roll, Guatemala...2009 (sorry if that's not the exact title!) But it's Aubrey's blog and she updates it pretty regularly.
Serving and Growing in the Lord,
P.S. Happy (after) Independence Day!!!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dear People of the United States of America,
This country belongs to you. Will you now let a controlling government take it away from you on a whim?
Regular people like you and me laid down their lives so that America could be free. America was built to be a nation of liberty, where anyone can “worship GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience”; a land where anyone with a determined will can become anything they want to be –the sky’s the limit! A country where no matter how young, old, sick, or feeble you are, you have the undeniable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness! A place where you can determine how rich you want to be, without the government telling you that the profit you earned from your own hard work and sacrifice are unfair to those less fortunate! America was meant to be a land where you have freedom to voice your thoughts without anyone trying to hush you up.
For too long have we been apathetic to the affairs of our country. But I believe that something powerful is stirring in the hearts of many Americans. Finally, we the people are waking up!
Much has changed since the founding of this nation. But nothing worth fighting for is ever too far gone. Don’t give up on Your nation! Keep fighting for the freedoms that you hold dear. Don’t be afraid. Don’t get discouraged! The original patriots suffered through hunger, cold, sickness, death, and persecution to obtain the freedom America is now losing. Is it too much for us to suffer through a different kind of persecution in order to regain that freedom?
So, dear Americans, remain strong in your cause. Hold fast to what you know is the truth. And don’t ever settle for any lower standard of truth!
In all that you do – in all that you fight for, keep our Lord, Jesus Christ, in front of you. Jesus is the only One who can give everlasting freedom. And He is the one to whom we must now turn! God gave us our Independence. He gave us victory over tyranny and bondage. And it was only when we, as a nation, lost sight of God that we began to crawl back into our chains.
Stand strong for your country in the name of the Lord! This is your country! Let’s take it back! -Liberty Davidson