[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today was the day I have often thought about and anticipated over the last five years. Since our last visit to La Limonada in 2011. La Limonada is a place unlike any other I have ever experienced first hand. It is a place that is full of sharp contrasts, a place with beautiful people, and extremely hard lives. A place that is known for violence and poverty and crime. Even amongst Guatemala’s own people, it is known for it’s unsavory reputation. When we were in Antigua earlier this week, we were talking with someone who asked where our group was from…when we replied with what we were in Guatemala doing – facilitating and running an I Am Art camp with Athentikos for children in Zone 5 – we were given a shocked and completely surprised response. A response that said, “wow…you guys are crazy!”

But what most people don’t realize about La Limonada (Central America’s largest slum community) is that it is also a beautiful place. A place where the people living there are no different than you or I, a place where you will most likely be greeted with a hug and a smile and a Buenos Tardes as you pass them on the narrow streets. You will be welcomed into their homes and given first priority for a place to sit. Many of the residents in the slum look out for their neighbors, and are doing the best they can to raise good kids and make ends meet…you know – just like you and I.

What struck me today, as I visited the community for my third time – is that there is an amazing amount of hard work, determination, and love that has already been established in the community – that makes it even possible for a ‘gringa’ from the States to visit. This work, this labor of love, and this choosing to extend Jesus’ grace and good news of His Gospel to any and all – is the work of the amazing staff members and leader of Vidas Plenas, Tita. I affectionately call Tita a Guatemalan Mother Theresa, because, well…. few people on this planet love and live as Tita does. The beauty of the slum was first seen in her eyes, and because of her compelling to engage with the people in the community – there is now a beacon of Gods light radiating there through the work of the committed staff and Tita, and offering hope and a future to precious kids in the Academies.

I was thrilled to see kids in our art camp this week that I had first met 6 years ago. They are taller now, but they are still there – excited to participate and engage and dreaming big and wanting to do right. Learning about Christ, and thriving in an extremely difficult environment. It has blessed my soul. I will forever be grateful to Tita and her work, and thankful for my opportunities to experience the beauty that is La Limonada.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][mk_gallery images=”7875,7872,7871,7869″ column=”4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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