Unforgettable week in the Highlands

By: Robert Key

February 4, 2016

It all started when ... During the summer, our church announced an informational meeting about their next trip to Guatemala with LWI. After church I told my wife, “We should go to Guatemala” and her response was, “Really???” We attended the follow up meeting that we assumed was just informational, but realized when we left that we had basically signed up to go. In the weeks before we left, I was telling people at work that I would be on vacation for a week and would not have access to email/phone/etc. If they asked, I told them I was going with a group from my church to dig a water well in Guatemala. I never mentioned that this was a “mission trip” as I thought that might create a negative reaction in some folks. The day I was leaving, a co-worker said that she thought “going as a “missionary” will change you more than the people you are helping.” That made me stop as I specifically never said I was go ing as a missionary as I’ve never thought of myself in that role.

I enjoyed getting to know ... The group of volunteers from our church and the LWI staff in Guatemala. We knew a couple of folks from our church group by name, but not very well. After the trip and the joint experience that we shared, I felt very close to the group and continue to feel the same way today. The LWI staff of Jaime, Karla, Cassie and Byron were amazing. It was a privileged to work with these four exceptional individuals. Their commitment to the mission of LWI and to helping people in their country was genuine and infectious to our group. Their humor, professionalism, work ethic and compassion made the week fun and meaningful.

Things that challenged and changed me ... I was not in control for the week and people were not looking at me for direction which is different from my daily life. It was great just being part of a team and following directions from a very capable leader in Jaime. The work was challenging as we were active from sun up to sun down, the drilling rig was loud, the area was dirty, and the sun was intense. I found that during the day when there was a brief break, I would look around at the community and people and I thought about their lives and what we were doing. It was hard to reconcile the life that we live in the states versus the daily life in the Highlands of Guatemala. I felt thankful for my life and family in the states but grateful that I had the opportunity to see this culture and meet the people in this community. Now that I’m back at home and at work, I still think that just a four hour plane flight from where I am every day, people have significant challenges every day to sustain life, but seem happy and content. This keeps the challenges of my day in perspective.

I will never forget ... At the dedication ceremony, it seemed that everyone from the community came and hugged each volunteer while we handed out Bibles to them. Near the end of the line, an older woman whom I had seen throughout the week preparing meals for our group said to me in English, “Thank you for my water.” I awkwardly said, “You’re welcome” as I felt that I did not deserve her thanks. I was a very small part of the process for the week and this would not have been possible without the LWI team and the other volunteers. I also thought of Jamie saying that if Jesus wants us to find water, we will find water so clearly I was not the one to be thanked. I now fully recognize that clean water is a gift that with a little time and money, even someone like me can make a difference.