Guatemala Trip Report (part 1)
Author: Jared Orr, Agua Viva International Volunteer
I made it back from Guatemala after a jam-packed week of labor and ministry, and the purpose of this writing is to encourage you in the Lord. I want to explain how the trip went from my perspective… as well as show you the greatness of our God.
I traveled with five other gentlemen (under the organization Agua Viva International) to the Shadow of His Wings Orphanage in Monjas, which is about 3-4 hours east of Guatemala City via pot-hole-riddled road. First of all, let me just say that this country is beautiful. The forests and mountains are awe-inspiring. I probably have 40 pictures on my phone of the same mountain in front of our cabin…such as this picture where it looks like Jesus is about to return.
The orphanage is the home of 75 kiddos, most of which are from abusive or neglectful homes. In fact, most of these children were not true orphans…for most, both their parents were not deceased. Rather, their situation at home was so bad that they were relocated by the court system and sent to Shadow of His Wings (SOHW). Unfortunately, UNICEF and United Nations place extreme pressure on the judges of the court system by saying that it is better for children to remain in their original families than to be sent to an orphanage. They pressure them in this way because of their generalization that 3rd world orphanages are so bad that the kids are better off in an abusive family. Yet this does incalculable harm to many poor children who are sent away from SOHW after just 90 days of healing. But the Lord Himself is fighting for these children. He is doing so through His sovereignty and a diligent team of leaders, such as the social worker Jonete, who pleads on behalf of the kids in court. Sitting down with Jonete one afternoon, we listened as she poured her heart out about the children. Her eyes teared up while talking about how easy it is to worry about them. She said, “I have such a hard time seeing them so happy…and playing with them…knowing that at any time they could be taken away from the project…and they don’t know it.”
But thankfully, we serve a faithful God, and even those kids who are sent away after a short time, we can be sure that the same One who brought them there for a short season will continue to pursue them and help them throughout their precious lives.
Many of the children at SOHW have been there for quite some time and have shown tremendous growth from broken, fearful, isolated individuals to now joyful, peaceful kids who are learning to trust again. The orphanage divides the children up into a handful of “families”, each with a separate house led by a “Mom” and “Dad”. These parents are the big heroes who spend every day bringing peace and order to a household of wounded kids. They will be rewarded greatly for their service.