We left for Guatemala on a Saturday. It's crazy how a plane ride under 3 hours can take you a world away. We went with Living Water International, to drill a water well in a village in Guatemala that did not have clean drinking water. This organization is amazing – they have dug wells all over Guatemala, changing the lives for so many people. And not just Guatemala, but all over the world.
We arrived at the team house in Antigua – where the full-time American Missionaries live that work for LWI.
This is the view from their yard. Yes, that is a Volcano erupting. His name is Fuego. He often goes off several times a day!
After getting settled in, we got to go to the market (the one for the gringos and also the “real” market), and see some of the city.
One of my prayers for this trip was for God to use this trip to increase my love for missions. It was definitely something I had to pray over and over again. I knew that I was there to serve in any way I could. And part of that means sacrificing comforts. I am spoiled though. I like familiar things - hot water, bug-free environments, toilet seats… Honestly, at first, it was a bit of a rough start. And as the trip went on and we discussed some of these things, the topic of spiritual warfare came up.
It is not something I think about much, but it is true that there are spiritual battles going on.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God…" Eph 6:12-13
Satan wants to stop anything that would bring God glory. He can use normal everyday occurrences to create fear, discourage, distract, plant doubt, etc.
I had some bad stomach issues for a couple days as a side effect from my malaria medicine. Stomach problems + 7 hour car ride = not cool. However, it just so happened that a lady on our team was a Pharmacist – and she advised me to take the medicine with food (even though the instructions stated otherwise). Once I started doing this, no more tummy troubles! God provided.
It was rainy season in Central American which means mud slides, bad roads, and broken bridges. Our drive from Antigua to the village where we would drill turned out to be a 7 hour road trip along crazy bumpy pot-hole filled roads. The LWI staff later told us that they had no idea if we would even make it to the village to drill and were worried about us making the trip to Guatemala for nothing. Despite some major traffic jams on the way – we made it safely to the village. God provided.
The first night we stayed in Hotel Seis (near the village) I had major trouble falling asleep. Did you hear me? I could not sleep. What?! I can ALWAYS sleep. I can barely stay awake most of the time. Rain makes me sleepy. Sun makes me sleepy. Movies make me sleepy. Cars make me sleepy. Food makes me sleepy. I am borderline narcoleptic. There is no explaining what happened the first night in Hotel Seis. After hours of laying there wide awake and becoming more anxious about not falling asleep with every hour that passed, I finally fell asleep and I think I got 1-2 hours of sleep that night. Want to know the miracle? I was not even tired the next day. Crazy. That next day was a full day of drilling and I needed energy. God provided.
These might seem like small things, but it just goes to show that God is in the details of our lives. And He is good!
Uh oh, little pothole...
That critter was found in our hotel room the second night. Great idea to leave the windows open to air out the room. Might as well have sent out a Scorpion Evite. Thankfully Greg came to the rescue with a broom and the scorpion was no more. After that, nightly checks took place for the rest of the trip. Under the bed – clear. Floor – clear. Covers – clear.
We spent 3 full days drilling, and a few hours finishing things up on the 4th day. It was really neat to see the drilling process. There are 2 LWI staff members - Alvaro and Manolo, who were in charge of the drilling, and taught us what to do. We all got to rotate through all 4 of the drilling positions. There were a lot of hard working local men who would arrive early every day to help us with some of the drilling process.
The current water source that the people in this village used was from a hand dug well that was not very deep. The water is contaminated, which causes lots of sickness and disease. The kids have diarrhea more often than not. Imagine trying to do every day chores such as clean, wash clothes, cook, etc. with no clean or running water. Wow.
Here is the team (except for the LWI staff), and without Lisa. She was the other lady that went. That was a HUGE prayer of mine that was answered. I was praying for another girl to be going on the trip, and God was so kind and gracious to answer my prayer! Lisa helped teach health and hygiene classes (with the LWI Hygiene leader, Blanca) during the day to the women and kids. Things that we may think of as common knowledge - how germs are spread, parasites, proper ways to wash your hands, the importance of eating healthy, food groups, etc, are not necessarily common knowledge to the people of this village. They worked hard every day teaching truth on how to care for your body. They also shared the truth about the Living Water - Jesus Christ, and how he is the ultimate thing we need.
Each day in the village this group of ladies would cook us lunch. We would walk down this dirt road from the work site, and go to their house for lunch. They were the sweetest ladies ever. And the food was delicious. We always laughed because they cooked SO MANY TORTILLAS. Every meal includes tortillas. There were probably enough tortillas for each person to have 8-10. We could never finish them all.
We drilled the water well right in front of a school, so it gave us a wonderful opportunity to play with the kids each day. Of course none of them spoke English and none of us spoke Spanish (fluently), but it didn't really matter. They would just come up and crowd around me and stare. Is it because I am ghostly white? Or because I have no make-up on and I am hideous? Or is it just the blonde hair? Who knows, but I was loving getting to play with them. And they sure did LOVE having their pictures taken.
Maria. Sweetest. Girl. Ever. Am I allowed to have a favorite? Maria followed me around every where. She gave me hugs about every 2 1/2 minutes. And she is absolutely gorgeous. You probably can't tell from this picture but her eyelashes are to die for. How do you say - "Are you wearing fake eyelashes?" in Spanish? Ok, clearly she was not. She was just that beautiful.
And obviously we had to teach the kids to take a jumping picture. Cause we are the Matterns. And that is just what we do.
On the third day, when the well was all drilled and the pipe in, we had to let the water run out of the well for hours and hours until it got clear. What do you do with enormous amounts of spare water that is just going to waste because it is not clean yet? Water fight, obviously. It was amazingly fun and we were all completely soaked.
This is an attempt to form the largest game of Duck Duck Goose, ever.
Praise God that we were able to hit water and complete the well! This is the team together with the finished product.
After we completed the well the village had a dedication ceremony for us. It was very meaningful and well planned. They sang the national anthem, the Mayor spoke, a local pastor preached, we sang hymns, they prayed over us, they had a different child present each of us a gift as a token of their gratitude, expressed their thanks over and over again, and gave us a chance to speak as well. It was wonderful.
Before we left we stopped by the ladies' house that prepared our lunches every day to say good bye. They had fixed us more food which they called a snack (even though it was a HUGE amount). All of the ladies were crying their eyes out as we said our goodbyes. It was so touching. We were strangers to them just a few days before but they really showed us what hospitality and love look like.
We traveled the 7 hours back to Antigua after the dedication, and arrived at night. The next day was our last day before we left to fly back to Houston, so we got to spend the day being tourists.
That night we went out to eat at a very fancy restaurant. Here is a picture with the LWI staff. They were amazing. We were only there a week, but they do this all the time. Living their lives to serve the Lord. I am so thankful for them.
I have some other cool pictures of the city, but maybe I'll post those later since this is already a crazy long post. I will just end with this last picture. No explanation needed.
It was a wonderful trip. To see the finished well and the gratitude of the people was priceless. God is so good!