In June, two Timberline families, the Herman’s and the Cherry’s, moved to Guatemala with the desire to work with the less fortunate and make a difference in and around the country. One of the ways they wanted to do this was to provide a way for American missions teams to have a conduit into the community through local outreach programs. From August 4-9, 2012, they hosted their first “Gringo” mission’s team, a group of 15 from Timberline Church, who came to build a home and relationships with the people in “Cerro Alto” – a small village outside Guatemala City.
Each day the team would travel out into the village where several team members spent three days building a two bedroom home for a single woman, Blanca, and her two daughters. They worked with Justin Herman and a native Guatemalan man to construct the home from the ground up including doors, windows, siding, and a roof which included a fiberglass skylight to help illuminate the house during the day since there is no electricity. The community watched the work with interest and joyfully interacted with the team members.
On their last morning of construction, some of the village women even jumped in and helped by carrying 30 to 40 pound buckets of water on their heads to help mix the concrete that would be used for an outside stove the team built for the family to prepare meals on. The team also constructed a large elevated chicken coop and supplied the family with 15 baby chicks and feed. On the third evening, the community gathered for a dedication ceremony, time of prayer, and the emotional moment when the keys were given to Blanca. The team heard multiple people say that the Americans who came were the “feet of Jesus.”
While part of the team worked on Blanca’s home, the rest of the team spent the first half of each day at the school in Cerro Alto playing with and building relationships with the children in the village. Team members played soccer, basketball, jump rope, kickball, tag and many other fun activities with the children in addition to passing out lots of “dulce” (candy) and of course lots of hugs. They also were able to serve lunch to the children at the school and spent time doing crafts like making bracelets and drawing pictures.
One day, the team gave away over 200 toothbrushes and toothpaste to the school children and others within the village and also instructed them on the importance of dental hygiene. It was a joy over the next several days seeing the entire school out brushing their teeth after lunch concluded and putting into practice what they had been taught.
Each afternoon the team members at the school walked 30 to 45 minutes to join the others at the construction site. On the third day, a man asked if they would come to his house and pray for his wife who had kidney cancer. As the team, still being the feet of Jesus, walked up the trail, the man loudly announced in Spanish that “the Gringos are going to pray for us!” and his children shouted over and over the “Gringo’s are here, the Gringo’s are here”. What followed was a special time of prayer as they ministered to this family and were able to share God’s love and hope in the midst of the incredible challenge they are facing.
On the last day of their trip, the team continued to be the feet of Jesus by helping out at the feeding center Pastor Araceli runs at her church in Guatemala City. They helped prepare the food and clean the church. After a short message, they distributed the food to the many families that were there. The team also served food to some adult men and a woman outside the feeding center that were struggling with addictions and had shared through an interpreter that they had lost everything and wanted to change their lives. One team member, who knew exactly what they were dealing with, was able to share his personal testimony and clearly demonstrate God’s redemptive power in his own life. While in the city, the team also visited the building Pastor Araceli is renovating for a senior’s home and spent time with the precious children at her orphanage.
Team member Greg Dix shared that one of his personal highlights from the trip was seeing how God had brought together a team from Timberline, both young and old from different walks of life, and used them to demonstrate God’s perfect love to the people of Guatemala.
After all, what else would Jesus’ feet do?