It is hard to believe how quickly the last 7 months have gone by. It is even harder to grasp how much I learned and experienced during my time in Guatemala, about Guatemala, about the world, about God, about appreciating the things He has blessed me with, about myself, about managing a team, about coordinating a production schedule, about unconditional love, about overcoming obstacles, and the list could go on and on. It is almost impossible to share everything about my experience, but I will try through this and several other blogs.
When I arrived to Guatemala in January, after missing my connecting flight in Dallas, I took a detour to the LA airport and finally arrived in Guatemala City at 5:30am. (Thank you again Hubert for picking me up, and Josue for making me breakfast). Shortly after arriving, I fell asleep. When I woke up a couple hours later, I hit the ground running, with little rest for the next 6 months.
With the start of February, we began Tuesday/Thursday rehearsal workshops with several youth from the streets. At the beginning, other than Fergie, Mefi and myself we had a different group of kids each week. Some would come to check out the classes, but quickly after lose interest; others would wander in, still feeling the effects of their latest solvent consumption, barely able to participate in the exercises. But slowly, we started attracting a group of extremely talented, determined and passionate young adults. Each class was an experience, some were encouraging as the kids made progress and gained confidence in their abilities and what they had accomplished; however, others were extremely emotional as some chose to drop-out because of obvious internal struggles they were experiencing.
March and April were work months. Our Guatemala team kicked it into high gear as we started developing the plan and organizing the team for the Live Event in June, in addition to keeping Tuesday/Thursday classes going. The deeper we got, the more work we took upon ourselves. And the deeper we got, the more responsibilities I added to my list of things to-do.
With Scott’s arrival at the end of April, production went into high gear. As other A-team members have mentioned, the production of Becoming Fools was very different from Reparando in the way that the Becoming Fools story was taking shape, with the occasional sharp, left turn, right before our eyes. The unstable lives of the youth we were working with added an additional level of stress and planning as I was still adjusting to coordinating and planning our production schedule in a foreign country, in a different culture and different language.
The beginning of June came before we knew it, and with it came nerves and excitement about a whole week of events we titled Celebración: Voz de las Calles. During this week, we had a press conference, a national consultation and the live theatrical event, not to mention rehearsal for the show every evening. As all the pieces for the show started coming together, I was continually in awe at the progress these young adults from the street had made in their performance ability, confidence. Throughout different conversations and interviews we had with the kids, my heart was so warmed as each of them continuously thanked us for the opportunity to participate in this event. However, about a week before the show, I realized that these kids had no idea the magnitude of the event they were about to put on. One day at practice as I was stamping the entrance tickets for the show, Cesar, one of the young men asked me what I was doing. When I told him that I was stamping tickets for the show, he said, “Wow, there are that many?” I only had a stack of 100 I was working on at that specific time. I asked him how many people he thought were coming to see them perform. He responded “You, Scott, Josue”…and listed a couple other members of our team. As I told him there were 700 seats in the theater and we were hoping to fill as many as possible, a mixture of nervousness and excitement crept over his face.
As the show got closer and closer, I got more nervous and more nervous. Even then, in the middle of June, after about 5 months in Guatemala, I still had not gotten used to how everything ALWAYS comes together last minute. Characters were not finalized, costumes were not altered, set pieces were not constructed, tickets were not sold out, several scenes of the show had not been rehearsed, and many other details weighed heavily on my mind and heart. I feared not having a full theater for the kids to perform in. I feared that the kids having stage fright and forgetting their parts. I feared not having the finances to make the show happen. I feared letting the kids down in giving them an amazing experience. I feared letting the Athentikos team down if everything didn’t come together like it needed to. Night after night, I went to bed praying that God would make the things happen that needed to. And for the things that didn’t, I prayed for complete trust in Him, that Celebración: Voz de las Calles (the press conference, the consultation, and the live event) would bring awareness and change the hearts of Guatemala City. I prayed that the kids would be great, confirming my belief in them that they are way talented, charismatic, amazing young adults that could accomplish any challenge set in front of them.
The week of Voz de las Calles came and went quicker than any week of my life. I tried to absorb every emotion, every up-and-down, every fear and every triumph because I knew after it was all over I was going to want to experience it all over again…and I did! The day/night of the event was crazy! Good thing I wore shorts and a tank-top, because I was sweating all day from running around to fix all the finishing details. The crazy running around continued throughout the show, but I was able to sit and enjoy some of it. Words cannot express how amazingly proud I was of each and every kid performing on that stage. And as the show ended, each of their faces lit up with pride, accomplishment and a new sense of self-confidence.
More production followed the Live Event, and time continued to fly. After Scott and the rest of the production team were gone, I was able to take a step back and enjoy Guatemala. I was able to spend some time in the streets with our kids from the show and meeting other young adults. I shared Reparando with some street kids. I was able to travel a little. And before I knew it I was packing my bags to come home.
My trip home became a 24-hour, emotional ordeal. With delayed flights, long lines and lots of waiting, I had lots of time to reflect on my time and experiences. However, now a month later, I still find myself unable to completely wrap my head and heart around everything. I am forever thankful to Athentikos for the opportunity to be a part of this production. I am forever thankful to every person I met in Guatemala who touched my heart in such a special way. And I am forever thankful to God for the lessons I learned, relationships that were formed and changes He made in my heart.