Guatemala 2018 

If you don’t know, Bay Pres has been actively involved in missions in Guatemala for over twenty years, and a team from Bay Pres just got back from a Medical Mission. Because this is an outreach of the church we want you to know about it - to know what we’re doing and why.

Here are a couple of stories from some of the team members that will help you get a sense of how God worked through us to impact the lives of people in Guatemala in a fresh way.

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL TRIP - WITH GOD’S HELP

With God’s provision our BPC Guatemala STM assembled a team of 17 individuals ranging in age from 12 to 80 years old. 8 of these individuals this was their first STM trip, And our team was supported by 10 in-country individuals who worked and served with us. They provided translation of Spanish to English and in many cases from the Mayan dialect of Quiche to Spanish to English.  

By God's grace our LWW team has been able to transform poor quality dirty water to clean water.

With God's provision of eyeglasses we were able been able to provide the gift of sight to over 220 individuals. And God working through our doctors and nurses, healing medicines, counseling, teaching, and the gift of prayer was provided.

On Wednesday the 7th a young man Eliseo (Elisha) came in with a number of ailments, he first spoke with Dr. Eddie and our dear friend and local Nurse Mari Dias who kept asking him questions about what was bothering him. Nothing seemed to be physically wrong so Mari and Dr. Eddie had Eliseo see Dr. Hugo Gomez to try and determine what was going on.  The conversation continued with Dr. Hugo and what was discovered was that Eliseo didn’t like himself very much his so called friends had told him that he was ugly, and unloved. Dr. Hugo talked about Jesus – Eliseo came to know and accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior. What a privilege it was for Hugo and I to pray for and anoint this young man. - Gene Kushner

AN IMPACT BEYOND WHAT WE EXPECTED

Our Guatemala STM was a testimony to God's providence, sovereignty, and timing in all things. I admit that I had trepidation prior to the trip. While not anxious about the work involved, traveling, or language barriers; I was fretful about the inability to truthfully impact the lives of the local community in such a short amount of time and with such limited resources. But, from the moment that we stepped foot onto Guatemalan soil, the Holy Spirit was ministering to my wandering heart; my heart which was too small and lacking in faith to believe God's greater plan. It seemed like throughout the week, whenever I lacked faith, joy, or humility, God used His Word, His people, and His creation to whisper just the right message that I needed to hear. 

One example that comes to mind. The local leaders started the day with prayer and scripture reading. There was a moment when everyone from the local community was praying out loud in unison. It was in a language that I could not understand. But, it gave me a glimpse of what Heaven would be like. God used that moment to assure me that His hands will be upon this clinic and I don't need to fully understand or comprehend the plan. I simply needed to be present and trust that the Lord will use me in His plan. - Simon Lam

HAVE AN OPEN HEART TO OTHERS

During our week, we met a girl named Ana Rosa who was sixteen. Gigi, Josiah, and I quickly became friends with her during our time at the orphanage together every day. She lives in Guatemala and her first language is Spanish, but she can speak quite a bit of English. She was a blessing from God for two reasons. First of all, she could translate what the kids were saying from Spanish to English, so that we could form deeper relationships and communicate better. Without her, it would have been so hard to get to know the kids more than on a surface level. She allowed us to discover more about the kids so that we could love them better. Secondly, she was such a light to our entire team. She has a heart for the Lord, and relies on Him in everything she does. She ministered to our team on multiple occasions, reminding us of God’s faithfulness and grace. She isn’t hesitant to be vulnerable and will share what is on her heart. She taught me not to be afraid to open my heart to others, because it is how God created us to be. To share our experiences and along with that, the truth. She also allowed me to understand that even though we live countries apart, we are the same because we were created by God. We discovered that we have some of the same joys, annoyances, routines, habits, and loves. We were made in his image as therefore are more the same than we are different. - Ava Ransom 

AN OVERWHELMING SENSE OF GOD’S GOODNESS

Our 2018 Medical Mission to Tacajalve, Guatemala was truly fantastic. In the close to 200 patients we met, it was beautiful to see how God orchestrated so many parts – volunteers, donations, translators, mentors, friends, neighbors -  to culminate in a week where so many of His People were blessed.

The most common problem people there were experiencing was dry, painful eyes. This is a direct result of lack of pure water intake and harsh conditions. It was very helpful to be able educate folks on the role of proper hydration, hygiene, protection  and nutrition to the health of their eyes. This is key information that our patients could use not only for their own benefit, but that of their family, and their community. One of our partners with Global CHE, Marquitos, was very excited to get extra copies of our pictogram eye health sheet to share with friends in other communities.

Many of our patients worked in clothing mills. They benefitted greatly from reading glasses to assist with near vision necessary in execution of their work tasks. This is of particular benefit to older folks who were facing declining work prospects due to naturally occurring loss of near vision as they grow older.

Pterygium and Cataracts are one of the very common and sad issues we encountered frequently, and were unable to help directly, as these conditions often require surgery. Indirectly, and with hope to the future, we were very very thankful that we were able to provide every patient with sunglasses – key protection in a place so close to the sun.

Impossible to put into words is the overwhelming sense of God’s goodness when you see the smile on an old persons face when they get their first pair of distance correcting glasses, and finally see the mountains for the first time. Or when a young boy can finally see the chalkboard, knowing his educational future is much much brighter, due to the culmination of everyone’s willingness to believe, give, serve and be blessed. - Bill Horschke

LANGUAGE HURDLES BECOME A FRIENDSHIP GAME

I was part of the team that went to the orphanage this week, and we spent time with the kids while the clean water system was being installed. I saw God working in the relationships that were built between us and the kids, and the way that they opened their hearts to us. From the first hour that we were there, the kids were so warm and loving. They hugged us and tried their hardest to communicate in a way that we would understand. One day, one of the girls named Gaby and I were playing a board game. After we finished, I asked her if she wanted to play again and she said “no gracias.” So, I asked her if she wanted to play a different game, and she said “no gracias” again. At this point, I could tell that little gears in her head were turning. She then opened a box and took out little cards with simple pictures on them. She arranged them in a pile on the table. She then picked one up, held it out in front of me, and said the name of the object in Spanish. She waved her hand at me, wanting me to repeat it. My chest was filled with gratitude as I realized that she wanted to teach me the names of these things in Spanish. She knew that I spoke a little Spanish, and I could tell that this game was a selfless act and a way for her to help me learn. I saw the Lord present at the orphanage working within each of these kids, because no matter how hard their pasts were, their hearts were filled with love, care, and selflessness. Like Gaby, they look out for each other always. God’s faithfulness in their lives gives me hope for them and fills me with gratitude because of God’s presence in places where He is needed most. - Ava Ransom

UNITED IN LOVE

How do I begin to explain what sometimes words cannot? God was present in every aspect of our Guatemala STM trip. He kept us safe during our travestels, even during the long and crazy bus rides through twisting and turning roads. His presence was felt by the warm welcome we received once we arrived at our hotel. God was present in each of the people we cared for and ministered to during clinic. We were met with smiles, kind words, and warm hugs. There were no pretenses, no judgements, only love; a love that crossed cultures, economic classes, and thousands of miles, showing us that we are all God’s children. My life will be forever changed by the people of Guatemala and I am grateful to have been part of this amazing experience. We may have spoken different languages, but we united in our love for our heavenly Father, as we prayed together, shared meals together, and laughed together. - Kathi Bangham

GOD IS RAISING UP A YOUNGER GENERATION

I didn’t know at the time the Lord put Guatemala on my heart that it would be a significant time in my personal life, where the Lord would have me pull away to see the kingdom from a bigger perspective. Like I said to you at church-I wanted to tell you, however I didn’t know how or what to say exactly. I am so thankful to have been on the trip and I really did think, when the Lord has me sign up that I would be a significant part in potentially revitalizing the “younger” generations to start being a bigger part of missions at BPC again. I am thankful that I got to be the “social media” person for our trip, and each time I posted I prayed the pics and stories would stir someone’s heart to get more involved...whether through funds or through actually going. I expect the Lord to work through that. - Devon Guertin

GOD WAS ALWAYS THERE

“This was my 13th medical mission trip with Bay Presbyterian Church.  It was incredibly obvious that God was guiding me in my serving others.  I could feel that God was working at the intersection of my medical gifts and my passion for His people. Every morning I awoke feeling energized and strong.  At age 80, this was totally God’s doing. I felt His strong presence in knowing exactly how to help each person in my small examining room.  God was always there. As patients came in for medical help, He also helped me to give the compassion and the spiritual care each one needed. I am so grateful for this gift of serving, that God has chosen to give me. I look forward to this trip every year.   I ask Him for the strength and ability to return next year. - Dr. Eddie Santiago

ETERNITY IN GOD’S KINGDOM

While we were saying goodbye to the kids on the last day of being at the orphanage, Devon said something to one of the kids named Yaquelin that made me realize (rerealize) the vastness and incomprehensible greatness of God. While Devon was saying goodbye, Yaquelin was holding on to her, so Devon said “this is goodbye for now, but one day we will see each other again in God’s kingdom”. I was so focused on the fact that I would never see the kids again in our earthly forms that I forgot to remind myself that God promises us eternal life together. It was so real that we had to leave, and that we would be separated from then on. However, I am so grateful to God that I was reminded that the time that we would be in different earthly places was nothing compared to the time that would be spent together in eternity, and in that moment the greatness of God became so obvious to me. God’s grace is so amazing that he sent his only son to die for us so that we could be saved, and able to meet again. - Ava Ransom

DRINK THIS WATER. IT IS GOOD.

We installed a Living Waters for the World water purification system at Mi Pequeno Refugio, an orphanage in Cantel, Guatemala.  On Thursday we had a celebration, and at least 30 folks from the neighborhood also attended.  We poured the purified water into little cups and passed it around for everyone to drink at the same time.  While passing the tray around, we heard one woman lean over to her children and say "Drink this water.  It is good.  We are going to get our water here from now on." That made my whole week. - Mike Kolakowski

HELPING PEOPLE SEE

In the four days of clinic,  we saw approximately 220 patients and were able to dispense mostly reading glasses and sunglasses.  I was surprised and touched by the quantity of patients who have never had any form of eye care. It is ironic since the main economic activity of this community is the fabrication of clothing for export. The recurrent comment of the older people was the need to be able to read the Bible since this is a strongly Christian community. I felt so blessed whenever a patient's face lit up because he/she can see clearly with a pair of glasses.  It was such an empowering experience to be able to participate in the mission and be a blessing to others. - Dr. Hoang Cao, (Juanita)  

This was a great trip for everyone involved and it was a blessing to be able to minister on behalf of Bay Presbyterian Church.

Find out more: If you're interested in Guatemala, get in touch - you might be a perfect fit for our advocate team for our Guatemala partnerships!

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