Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Ten months as a "norteamericana" in rural Guatemala has taught me several things:
1) Value people
2) Cherish every moment
3) A plan for impact
Around 9:30am on a typical, quiet Monday morning, the sun was rising on a small town called Colomba in the department of Quetzaltenango.
Standing tall in the distance was
the Santa Maria Volcano (12,375 ft/ 3772msnm), smoke was wafting from the Santiaguito Volcano (8,366ft/ 2550msnm) and fluffy white clouds scattered across the blue sky.
Ring, ring, riiinnngggg…
“Hello, it’s your buddy.”
“Hey! What’s up?”
“Come down and let’s hang out. I am at the bottom of your street.”
“Okay, great! I’ll be right there.”
This is a young man in the strongest years of his life. He heads down the unpaved road near his childhood home. Upon contact with his long time friend...
Straight into the chest.
Another life snatched away.
Unfortunately, in this little town in Guatemala, it’s not uncommon.
It’s shocking and tragic how death is so common, normalized and a huge part of the culture. Lives have been taken frequently during the greater part of a year that I’ve been here. Sickness, murder, a freak accident…
I can’t help but think about life, our time on earth and how it’s a gift.
In Guatemalan, or ‘Chapina’ culture, there seems to be a lack of time awareness. On occasion, it’s frustrating, for a ‘Gringa’ like me, because punctuality doesn’t seem to have much importance. On the other hand, I’ve also seen a lot of value in it. People give their time freely to what’s right in front of them.
If it is you, you have all of their time and attention.
If it is a delicious meal, all their time and attention goes into whipping it up.
If it is a kiddo, a project, a neighbor…
I think you get the point.
Warm Guatemalan folks tend to take time to slow down, talk and invest in relationships.
We have all heard the saying, “There are ONLY 24 hours in a day.”
What if we changed that to, “There ARE 24 hours in a day.”
Are we so focused on ‘efficiently’ spending our time that we are rushing past and ignoring those who are in need of our time?
Yes, deadlines exist and tasks are waiting to be done. Yet danger lurks among tasks on our to-do list taking priority over people on our prayer list. The majority of the time, that list will be there, but that person in front of you may not be.
Jesus encourages us in John 15:12 to,
"love one another as I have loved you."
Jesus loves us sacrificially and unconditionally. One of the greatest ways we can show love is by giving of our time. We often forget how God can use the simplest action like sharing a smile, saying hello or sincerely asking how someone is doing, to minister to another. May we be so filled with the Spirit that even in just a smile or hello, others would feel the love of God pouring out.
I'd like to lay down a challenge to honestly consider how we are maximizing our moments.
Can we slow down and take five minutes to help the sweet older lady take her groceries to the car?
Why don’t we take the time to call that friend the Lord’s been putting on our hearts?
What about those instances we feel like we don’t have enough time to open up God’s word? Yet somehow we spend hundreds, if not thousands, of hours a year on social media?
The past ten and a half months in this small, lush and green town have reminded me of how precious life is.
Your life and the lives of everyone around you, precious, yet they can be gone in the blink of an eye.
So the time is now.
Go out, give your time, love God and love others.
(P.S.- If you decide to spend time on social media, learn more about joining a SEPAL short-term mission trip here.)