When Lynn asked me to write about my experience in Guatemala, I did not know where to start. It was life changing. If you had known me before the trip, you would never have believed that I would go out of town, much less out of the country, especially with a bunch of strangers. I’d never even been out of the country before! I prayed over the decision to go, questioning “What could I possibly do…Who would benefit by me being there… What kind of sickness will I get?” After countless discussions with my husband and many restless nights, I finally committed to go. On arriving in Chimal, I was dumbstruck and scared. I don’t think that I was truly ready to see how people in such poverty really lived. Before we left I simply could not fathom such living conditions. From the small, metal sheet box structures they called home, to barefoot, malnourished children, to scrawny dogs laying everywhere, to the dirt, rut filled streets, everything reeked of suffering and despair. The air was heavy with dust and exhaust from the ‘chicken’ buses (old U.S. school busses repurposed to haul people +). I thought what dangerous, horrible conditions these helpless people are forced to survive in and raise their children day after day. Then my heart swelled with pure happiness on seeing a throng of happy, smiling children and adults when our ‘chicken’ bus arrived at their church. My simple, selfish fears of getting sick or hurt were replaced with joy, peace, and an overwhelming sense of calm. I felt a desperate need to be exactly where I was and knew that God was there at work in them and in me. Everyone made us feel so welcome that it felt as if we’d known each other our whole lives. I could see first-hand the impact the ministry of Matthew2540 in partnership with Pastor Erika was making in her community through education, nutrition and faith filled leadership. As I packed to head home, I cried most of the day because I desperately wanted to do more for each and every soul there that had wrapped their arms around my heart but I brought back with me hope that through my witness others would want to get involved with this mission and come experience it for themselves. June 2-9, 2018 is our next trip.