It’s been several months since returning home from my first trip to Guatemala with the Athentikos team, and I can honestly say that it crosses my mind at least once a day. I felt very strongly from the moment I learned about this trip that I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this; an opportunity where I could share my love of art AND be used by God through the talent He has given me while working alongside children from La Limonada and 5 other beautiful and very talented women … on a mural – Sign me up!!
I only had an idea of what to expect and had seen a few pictures from previous trips, but God opened my eyes to something new each and every day. So many things about the trip, so many people, captured my heart over the 10 days we were there for I AM ART. How could they not? The people of Guatemala are beautiful and the children are so full of hope.
The students have been learning about their rights as children. So, through the mural and workshops, we focused on ten basic rights: name, nationality, protection, love, education, recreation, food, housing, medical attention and family. As a mama of three, it was, and still is, hard for me to grasp the fact that not every child is automatically raised in an environment where these ten rights don’t come naturally. But unfortunately, this is their reality. This created a deeper passion and love in my heart for the mural while painting with the children throughout the week. Seeing their excitement and passion for art only fueled that love. These fearfully and wonderfully made children sometimes have no food to eat at home, some have no place to lay their head at night, some are abused, they’re all surrounded by gang violence and looked down upon by other surrounding communities. The art workshops and mural gave them a chance to escape their circumstances for a moment and simply be children. There’s definitely something freeing and therapeutic about painting and creating, and it was evident through the smiles, laughter and fun I saw and felt through the children each day. I also love how the mural adds a bit of sunshine to the community and will be a daily reminder that each child is important no matter their circumstance. Hopefully, every time they pass the mural, the children of La Limonada will feel joy knowing they played such a major part in creating it.
A few of us also had the honor of visiting an extremely talented shoemaker and his family in La Limonada. Otto had three others helping him make beautiful women’s flats in a small section of his home. I stood in awe of how efficiently they worked with so little space and resources, and the quality of these handmade shoes. A God-given talent for sure, and the smile and spirit that beamed from Otto’s face as he worked was pure joy. I met his adorable daughter whose smile could light up any room, and his son whose somewhat quiet personality was full of respect and love. I was excited to have a bag full of goodies to share, and it didn’t take long before more sweet children were slowly passing Otto’s door looking for the “Sticker Lady.” I could’ve stayed there all afternoon passing out stickers and sharing a smile or laugh with those precious faces. What a joy they added to my heart.
During our stay, Joel Van Dyke asked us to look for Jesus each day, and I found myself looking for Him in almost every circumstance. The truth is, He was everywhere I turned. He was in the beauty of the land, the smile of an elderly man passing us on the streets, the laughter of the children painting, the love and passion of the Lemonade International teachers and volunteers, the hope that is felt when you look over the slums of La Limonada. Luke 6:20-23 says, “ 20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” His love and wonder has no boundaries. He’s there.
I’m not certain the plans God has for me in the future, but I do know that He left my heart wanting to do more for La Limonada. Maybe it’s for our family to sponsor a child from there, for my daughters to raise money through a lemonade stand for the fall art camp or for me to go back again one day. I’m hopeful that His plans involve all of the above. What I do know is that He sparked a passion for I AM ART and showed me the importance of this camp that can help these children express their emotions, surround them with encouragement and love and help heal their spirits through art. I’m so very grateful that God led me to this opportunity and that I said, “Yes.” I’m also honored that Athentikos allowed me to be a part of an incredible experience and their amazing team.