By Emily Sutherland
This is my first trip to Guatemala, and I have been overwhelmed. This country is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the scenery is beautiful and the stories that we are hearing are beautiful. I am still processing what we experienced Thursday (the 6th day of our trip). It began with showing Reparando to a Christian Missionary school in Guatemala City, and the response was amazing. The main characters in the film shared a little afterward and Shorty was overcome by emotion. Dozens of high school juniors and seniors waited for their turn to meet and speak with Tita and Shorty. Since I have seen the film several times, I was surprised at how emotional I was; I now realize it is not only the film itself that brings the tears, it is physically meeting the real people of the film. Tita and Shorty are authentic and humble. Our hope and prayer is that the high school kids will want to react to the film and collectively make a difference in their own community. I am confident that God will make that happen.
Scott greeting Shorty; Herbert and Matt preparing for the pre show at the High School.
Sharing with the students after the film; Shorty started to get emotional.
The students were really overwhelmed and inspired by the message of the film.
A few hours later we had the opportunity to join in a visit with Hector and Italo who minister to some of the young people that live on the streets. I was a little scared because we had been warned to take off all of our jewelry and anything else that we didn’t want to give away. Hector told us that they are not afraid to ask for anything. They are accustomed to begging and stealing for their daily needs, and they are always using drugs. We walked about three blocks to their “home” and along the way picked up about five of them on the streets – all of which were inhaling solvent in order to stay high. Their home, aptly named the Tank, was in a vacant lot in Zone 3 of Guatemala City, surrounded by a cinder block wall. The roof was a blue tarp and some mattresses and a few torn and broken chairs were all they had for comfort. I couldn’t focus on one thing because I was trying to take it all in. I found it amazing that they were so welcoming to all of us and that they were truly a family. Each one of them has a story and slowly we were able to sit down and hear them. I scanned the room at one point and there were four or five different conversations taking place, most of them ending in prayer, and in some cases, tears streaming down their faces.
Italto hanging with one of the young people. He is teaching this young man professional clown skills in order to make some income.
This is the “house” (an abandoned lot) where about 20 of the young people gather to live, hang out and sleep
I found myself wondering where the hope is in their situation. They are uneducated, addicted to drugs, and most of them cannot go back home. But in the spirit of Reparando, hope IS rising. There are men who are investing their time and money into these kids, and the more exposure the kids get to genuine love and acceptance, the more they can understand that God loves them, too. One young man has been restored. Cesar has moved back home and is now ministering to his own peers in the Tank. I’m struggling with how I can help because it is not good enough for me to say goodbye, cry a little, and then pray that it all works out. God showed me this and he wants me to respond. It might be that I need to help financially for a little while, but I know God will never let me forget them. I want to see them again. I want for them to be repaired and restored and in turn helping others that need it. This is already happening…because that is how God works. He is at work when we don’t even realize it.
The lot is surrounded by this white wall in which many of the young people have painted their own messages of hope.
THEN… Last night was our big premier at the theater in Mira Flores, one of the nicest shopping malls I have ever been to. I was almost uncomfortable being in such a nice place since only hours before we had been in the other extreme. The massive movie theater was packed, holding more than 390 people (our awesome volunteers had to sit on the floor)! The story that sticks out to me, is one that is completely behind the scenes. Earlier in the day, Joel Van Dyke received a panicked call from one of his staff members that the movie theater was going to cancel our showing unless we paid for the theater. Originally the theater was not making us pay because the manager was friends with one of our team members here in Guatemala City (and we weren’t charging a ticket fee). Apparently it was illegal to give us the theater for free and we had no other choice but to pay or cancel. Through God’s divine intervention, there was a man that was placed in Joel’s path and extended his heart and his wallet. He was in no way connected to Reparando, but he knew he has there for a reason. Why do we ever doubt that God will make it happen? I can dream the biggest dream possible, but God’s hand is infinitely bigger.
Packed theater! Sharing after the show.
We really missed the rest of the A-Team this week. We wished they could have ALL been here to experience this amazing evening (and week).
Some of our “Reparando” volunteers (We have nicknamed the RepaRAMBO team)! THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your work this week!!
Photos by Amelia Moore (www.ameliajmoore.com)