A VISIT TO GUATEMALA
I met Andrea when she was 17. Graduating high school early, taking a couple college courses to appease her parents, getting some internship hours under my supervision at our church. She had known since she was just a young teenager that her home would be among the Guatemalan people. She was excited about that calling and determined to get there.
Fast forward seven years and Jo Morton and I just returned from a visit with Andrea and her husband, Jhonatan, and their sweet boy, Rio. She is now the Director of Ahava Ministries (https://www.ahavaministriesgt.com/). She is living her dream! Ahava began in 2012 and works to eliminate poverty (spiritual, emotional, physical) by serving the widowed, orphaned, and broken hearted in Pastores, a community near Antigua, Guatemala. Ahava works to target all of these conditions through deep relationships, spiritual mentorship, and education opportunities.
In addition to running the ministry, taking care of their one-year-old, being a wife, and volunteering at a local orphanage (among many other things) she just finished her undergrad degree in Counseling. At age 25 she is impacting the world in such profound ways, and with such a humbleness. It was a joy for us to visit them and encourage them.
Some highlights of our trip…
We began our mornings at the guest house where Oralia (our host) would prepare breakfast. Jo and I would sit at the dining room in awkward silence as our host did not speak English, and we spoke very little Spanish. It was humbling to have such a communication barrier. But I dusted off some Spanish I could find in the dark corners of my brain from the few classes I took in school. And we had some laughs, used some “charades” and enjoyed the challenge of being a foreigner in a foreign land. A common delicacy was something resembling Mosh. It was a sweet milky oatmeal liquid that was much enhanced by a sliced up banana.
Some friends of theirs own a coffee shop and roastery, La Vid Coffee Roasters, and we frequented this cozy little shop during our week in Antigua. During this time of year, it rains in the afternoon just about every day. Whatever the travels were for the day, we always found ourselves at La Vid to wait out the rain. La Vid offered an excellent coffee of any variety. We’d share a slow pour or each have a latte. But as good as the coffee was, it was the community that made this the highlight of the trip. Each visit to La Vid was guaranteed to include friends and family. Jhonatan’s brother’s, and their friends were always sure to show up. Jhonathan trying to find a parking spot on the street would rush in and plop Rio on one of his brothers laps and rush out to move the car. We were at home there as much as Rio was. It was such a treat to get to spend some time in a place they love so much and to meet some of their community there in Antigua.
Ahava just purchased a piece of land where they will build their ministry center in the next few years. An opportunity came up where they could rent some buildings on an adjacent piece of property while they build their own space. This moves them away from some small, broken up rooms down a narrow hallway (where they’ve been for the past five years) to a more open space with a few classroom buildings, an office building, kitchen for preparing meals for their students, and open space for the kids to run and play. Plus, they’ll be essentially “on site” as they build their ministry center so that is a huge bonus. The week we were there a team from the States had come to volunteer and moved all of the ministry’s belongings (shelves, books, games, balls, dishes, etc.) to the new site. Jo and I were able to help do some of the unpacking and organizing.
We were really able to get a better feel for what life is like for Andrea and Jhonatan and their work near Antigua, Guatemala. We got to spend some time in their home, play with Rio (even babysit for them one day!), visit their favorite restaurants, meet some of their friends, and even go to the grocery store with them. It was an invaluable trip for Jo and myself, and I think such an encouragement to the Mendez family to have a supporting church send a couple of people to visit and see what their lives are like.
Beth has been a member of this beautiful community of believers at The Journey for 10 years. She has a wonderful husband of 15 years, spends her days with their two kiddos, and loves to learn about other people’s stories.