One of our Guatemalan volunteers, Cristha Fuentes, wrote the following blog. Cristha assisted in our mask-making workshop at our Oasis camp this Fall. We loved having her creative and happy spirit as part of our team.
Two weeks have passed since Oasis camp finished and I can sum up my amazing experience in 3 acts narrated through Ephesians 2:10…
- ACT 1: For we are his workmanship,
On Tuesday, I was sitting next to the dorms where we were staying and admiring a beautiful sunset. While I was enjoying the sunset, I could hear the girls playing soccer close by and I suddenly started feeling overwhelmed by the outrageous love God had shown me that day. All of these feelings brought to my mind the verse of the day and especially the word “workmanship” and how if we search for its Hebrew root it actually means “poetry”… why did this matter at this point? Because even though the beauty of the sunset was breathtaking, God’s poetry wasn’t there; it was in me, and not only in me, but also in the girls playing soccer and in pretty much everyone around me. We are His poetry, His masterpiece; despite everything we’ve done, in His eyes we are perfect. And that single thought reminded me how Guatemala is not just beautiful because of the landscapes it has, the volcanoes or even the stunning lakes; Guatemala’s beauty lies in its people and their stories. That was something I didn’t realize until I was able to see my country through the eyes of the U.S volunteers, they could see us in a way we couldn’t see ourselves. I have no words to describe how much it fills my heart with courage and hope hearing how much they love Guatemalan people, and how they admire our capacity for resilience. All those things gave me hope and perspective on how God sees us, His Guatemalan poems.
- ACT 2: …created in Christ Jesus for good Works
Since my first camp at La Limonada with I Am Art this past summer, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life… for once I felt useful. So when I was asked to volunteer at Oasis I immediately said yes. I was thrilled to be with the girls and humbled by them trusting me with their stories. Nevertheless, on Wednesday I started feeling anxious about the idea of leaving them after camp. I had doubts like: “what will happen to them after I leave? Will they be okay?” All these thoughts were making me feel terrible and even guilty about coming back home to the comfort of my life. God knew how I was feeling, so He started working on me. During large group and the workshops, I started understanding how being there was my way of being God’s tool in a much bigger picture, much greater than the small fraction I was seeing. I was only a small brushstroke on God’s masterpiece, and like me, He is going to use other brushstrokes to finish what He had started in the girl’s lives. Therefore, I understood that being there was my mission and I could rest and believe God was going to be with them and finish His good work. So, “be still my heart and know that I am God”.
- ACT 3: …which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The biggest lesson I learned in this journey was: Trust in God’s process. For the workshops to be a success and the purpose of the camp be fulfilled, the girls had to trust us during the process. They had to go through all the steps even if they didn’t understand them. The girls had to go through the journey of creating something they considered beautiful, go through the pain of seeing that beautiful creation being altered through conflict, to finally be comforted by the masterpiece created after the restoration process. During the process we live in IAA, conflict was particularly harder than the last time I participated. The girls had been working on their masks, and putting in their best effort to reflect who they were in each color and design they added. All of the sudden, on Wednesday, we asked the girls to grab someone else’s mask and destroy half of it. At first they got angry, they couldn’t even looked us in the face…for 10 minutes or so they stood quietly just looking at their masks, and suddenly I started seeing tears falling from their eyes; they started crying. Even if they didn’t understand at the moment what was happening they still did what we asked them to do. After that we had a group hug and we started praying for each other and talking about the experience. Of course, they were not simply crying about the mask, the girls went deeper in this exercise. In one girl’s words, they “went back to that single moment in [their] lives when [their] hearts got broken.” Hearing those words broke my heart too. I felt so guilty for putting the girls through that experience again. Even if I already knew the next day was going to be better and they would learn to find solutions and that God can fix anything… I still suffered with them. It was an emotional and hard experience, but above all it was powerful. For once, we were not teacher and student, we were sisters; their pain was my pain and my struggle was their struggle. We really opened our hearts that day and I know they will keep that moment in their hearts forever and I´m sure I will too.
Later on that day, I was laying on my bed, trying to acknowledge all the experiences of that day and I realized that, that’s life and we need to trust that God knows the plans beforehand. He knew what would happen in the camp. He knows all our stories, and He knows how our stories will develop; we just have to trust He has control on the outcome. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Our duty is to trust Him and enjoy the ride. Just trust in His process, trust that He has big plans not just for us, but also for each one of the girls at Oasis.
So in conclusion, it was another amazing camp, I do not regret for a second spending my week there and it was the best way to celebrate that I’m finally done with college. It was God’s purpose to have me and everyone from the team there. And to finish, I just want to say thank you…
Thank you to the volunteers for flying from U.S or Finland just to help my country and to fulfill God’s purpose. Thank you to Athentikos for using art to heal wounds and for giving me the chance to finally use my artistic talents in something that is not for myself. And thank you to the girls from Oasis for changing my life forever.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes