Guest post by Sara Stanton, Associate Director of Girls Ministry
On Saturday, May 23, a group from the CUMC Student Ministry traveled to Villa Nueva, Guatemala, to spend a week at New Life Children’s Home.
58 children ranging in age from 3-24 currently live at NLCH along with house parents and several missionaries. The children come from a variety of backgrounds, many having been abused or neglected. In some cases, families simply did not have the resources to care for their own children, and so the children ended up at NLCH.
Our first couple days were spent meeting the children and getting to know more about NLCH. We attended church with everyone on Sunday at the largest church in Central America. Though we weren’t always sure what the lyrics to the songs meant, our team had no problem clapping and dancing along to the music. When it came time for the sermon, we were grateful for headphones that allowed us to listen to a translator. We were challenged to get into the Word and read it for what it says and not what we want it to say.
Beginning on Monday, our team of 13 students and 3 staff served NLCH through work projects and building relationships with the children. In the mornings we completed projects ranging from sanding/repainting benches to trimming trees, and in the afternoons we played sports, games, and colored. In the evenings we enjoyed some soccer games with the older residents.
This was a really special time for everyone. Not only did our team become closer as they worked together to play against the very good Guatemalans, but the children from the home also grew closer through the shared goal of beating the visiting Gringos. The games ended in lots of smiles, laughs, and high-fives. No translation necessary.
On Wednesday, the missionaries at the Home took our team to visit the town of Antigua. We had a delicious breakfast at a charming, open-air café followed by a visit to a coffee plantation. We learned, start to finish, how coffee is grown and how it ends up in our kitchens.
After that, we went to the markets to shop! Haggling was a new experience for many on our team, but the students quickly picked it up and enjoyed the challenge of getting the best price.
On Friday evening, the Home held a special celebration of our time there. We had a delicious meal of tostadas, watched a slide show of pictures from our week, and we each received a picture of ourselves with one or more of the children. There were many tears and hugs as we began saying our goodbyes.
Saturday morning we were able to spend a little more time with the kids before heading out for the airport. My bus was pretty quiet on the trip to the airport as our students thought back on the week and began to already miss the children at the home.
We are grateful to God for how he worked in the lives of our team members and the children at the home. We pray this is only the beginning of an ongoing relationship with our friends at New Life Children’s Home. Our students already want to go back!