About our time in Guatemala
Wednesday, we plugged in with a short-term team who ran a medical clinic in one of the villages. This was a two-fold blessing. Rachel and I desperately wanted to experience what it was like to run a medical clinic and the group only had 2 nurses. Therefore, Rachel and I got to experience the medical clinic and the short-term team was able to open 2 additional treatment stations for the villagers. It was a unique experience. There were no doctors. In these moments we had to operate far beyond our typical range of skills. Mainly in the area of prescribing antibiotics and doing our best to diagnose illness without blood work, 12-leads and x-rays. Sometimes it can be easy to look back and think that our work was in vain, we were only able to give out so much medication and most of these people won’t get medical treatment for another 6 months. However, it was throughmeeting their needs that the villagers allowed the evangelist into their homes to share the gospel. We may not have been able to meet every medical need but for some spiritual needs were met to the fullest extent and God’s kingdom was expanded.
Thursday, we spent 4 hours in prayer and in reading scripture. We did this because we had the opportunity to meet with Carlos Vargas (the man who started Hope of Life) and he asked us what our biggest desires were for ministry. Rachel and I had so many dreams that we couldn’t answer that question clearly. But 4 hours in prayer has a way of focusing the mind and organizing one’s thoughts. This was a great time of evaluating whether or not Hope of Life is where God is calling Rachel and I toserve long-term
Friday was spent with the many orphans at the top of the mountain. Simply playing with them, painting their faces and being there for them when few others are. They are wild, eccentric and full of life. They are also in great need of someone to pour into the directly. These orphans are much better off at HOL then their previous environments. The have 3 meals a day, somewhere to sleep and usually someone to play with. But, despite the other missionary families and ministry workers, there is no designated youth ministry. No single individual or couple is focused on meeting the spiritual needs of these children. This is one of the top needs Rachel and I have been praying over and evaluating whether or not God is calling us to be the solution to this problem. Friday, we also had the opportunity to see the last part of a baby rescue. So, while we did not get to go out to whatever remote area from where this baby was rescued from it was critical for us because we would be a part of baby rescues if this is the place God calls us to.
Saturday, we were able to go to the market in town and see what it looks like to do weekly shopping for family meals. Its’ been a huge blessing to have friends, The O’Conner family, who are already full-time missionaries here at HOL. This was also the day we meet with one of the missionaries, Jessica Holt. She spoke with Rachel and I about the various needs at HOL. She also told us her story, how she was called to serve and about some of the trials she has encountered through raising kids in the family style orphan care. Se greatly encouraged our hearts and helped Rachel and I further understand that needs at HOL. As well we spoke with Phil and Patty Monk who currently have 15 kids living in their home! Similarly, they helped provide insight for us and also encouraged us through prayer. And finally we ended this day with a time of cooking burgers and hanging out with the Thomas family. They are one of the newest American families to move to HOL to take in orphans. They went from no kids to 8 kids in just 2 months! We hope to learn more from them as time goes on!
Sunday can certainly be characterized as a day of rest! Most of the short-term missions’ groups have left by Sunday and in general there aren’t many events going on. Daily life continues of course but slowly. It was nice to slow down from all of the hustle and bustle. We did get to experience Guatemalan church. It was strangely American. The building was more so just 4 columns with a roof, so it was very open, so the environment was very different. But the service seemed very American. All the seats faced forward toward the pastor, we opened with songs, then prayer, then teaching and a song to close. It was still a great service! One thing particularly that our friends pointed out was that the teaching on this Sunday was all these kids would get all week. For the adults they can find and start other bible studies to help with spiritual growth. But currently for most of the youth, this Sunday morning was all the teaching they would get.
Monday was a crazy filled day. Perhaps even our busiest. We aren’t even sure how we filled so much in! The day started with meeting with Carlos Vargas for a second time. As Rachel and I had spent more time in prayer and in the Word, we had come to realize that Hope of Life very well could be where God is calling us to. And we wanted Carlos to know that, and we wanted to further clarify to him our seriousness and the work we would like to do. After meeting with him we meet with 3 others whose names I will probably spell wrong. We meet with Lourdes (The woman who oversees the 400 staff at HOL), Sabrina (The CEO of HOL) and Eslin (the director of the orphanage). This meeting was pretty intense, which was a good thing! They wanted to know why we wanted to serve, wanted to know that we were serious and asked some really tough questions. It would be a lot to type all out, but I’d sum it up to say that they all truly wanted to know how serious we were in considering full0time missions and wanted to know that God had truly called us and that we aren’t just doing it because it sounds fun and exciting because there will be trials. Following this meeting we went to what is called “the dump”. It’s exactly what your mind is picturing. It’s where all the trash is taken to be sorted and burned. Except it isn’t sorted by machines, it is sorted by people. Our purpose in doing to the dump is to feed everyone who is there. Just 2 years ago they would feed around 300-400 people! Now they feed around 50 or so. This is a good thing, because it means the people are getting healthier, getting jobs and are able to move. The reason people live there or go there often is to sort through the trash in hopes to find something to sell. If they are lucky they will make around 1 dollar a day doing this. Seeing this makes you realize you have a whole in life to be thankful for! When we got back from the dump we were connected with another missionary Chris McNutt. His job is to oversee what is known as the rescue village, Las Casitas. There are 53 families with a total 170 kids living in Las Casitas and each family has its own story. Each house we walked by Chris would tell us the story of how they were rescued. For one family her husband was murdered, and rumors were the killer wanted to kill the children as well, so HOL took them in and gave them a safe place to live. For another family the father was raping the daughter, HOL heard of this and went and rescued the family and gave them a safe place to live. There were stories of either murder, rape or pure poverty for just about every family. Each one now has hope thanks to being rescued. Chris showed us every aspect of what was going on in Las Casitas, his finger was on the very pulse of the place and he knew every single person by name. We spent several hours there. This day ended with spending time with our friends the O’Conner’s, whom without we may have very well never known about HOL. We went and ate at the only restaurant around. It was on the back porch of someone’s home and it was some of the best food I have ever had. We enjoyed our last bit of time with them and prayed together with the family. It was a great way to end our trip.
Tuesday was nothing but traveling.
Perhaps one of the biggest things for Rachel and I is meeting with the many different missionaries and administration. For those who might have missed it Rachel and I have recently been responding to the conviction on our hearts for long term missions. We always hoped that long-term missions would be how we spent our life, but we didn’t think that was going to happen just yet. But it is happening, and it is happening soon!! There are very few things holding us back. One of those things being we aren’t entirely too sure where we want to go! But being here in Guatemala and meeting with the many missionaries at Hope of Life is helping us focus on what exactly we are looking for. We have been able to learn about multiple ministries and opportunities here at HOL. As well we have been able to hear about what needs still have not been met and evaluate whether or not Rachel and I have a calling to fill those needs. Join with us in prayer in making this decision!
There is still much work to be done. Here in Guatemala, in the US, Tanzania and every other place of the world. I pray we are all obedient to the voice of God and his leading. Thanks for reading this far and please pray for Rachel and me as often as we come to your minds. If you ever want to know how to better pray for us, just come check out this blog. We will try and update it as much as possible to keep others informed of the work God is doing both in us and where he is leading us.
Michael and Rachel Pouchot