Katie Green returned from her week-long mission trip to Guatemala the last weekend of June. While her time there was brief, God showed her that time is no constraint when he’s working with a willing pair of hands.
She and her team partnered with a children’s orphanage and school called Agua Viva, which was established in 1980. They helped the home with VBS prep, VBS, service projects, and general childcare. Many of the children they worked with came from abusive or broken homes and were ordered by government courts to live at the orphanage. Katie experienced a strong connection with one girl in particular. Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.
Veronica’s mother died when she was four years old. Her father immediately married another woman and abandoned his son and daughter (Veronica). When Guatemala’s government found the children alone, they sent them to Agua Viva, where they now have hope for a healthy and vibrant future.
This is where Katie and Veronica (now 7 years old) met last month, and they became quick friends.
“Veronica found joy in small things,” said Katie. “I loved that about her. She was shy, but had a good heart.”
As the week progressed, Katie felt she needed to be part of Veronica’s life for the long term. She decided to sponsor her, which helps provide funding for Veronica’s living expenses and education. Agua Viva appoints up to 10 sponsors per child to ensure all their needs are met, and when available, they allow the children to meet their sponsors.
When Veronica found out Katie became one of her sponsors she was overjoyed and shouted, “I’ve never gotten to meet a sponsor before!” And when it was time for Katie and her team to leave, Veronica burst into tears, begging her not to leave.
“Guatemala is closed to adoption from the states,” said Katie, “so it was incredibly hard to leave this child who I really connected with. I’m just happy I’ll be able to stay in communication with her until she’s grown up. Even though I was only there a short time, God still used me to make a very lasting impact on her life.” In turn, Veronica’s impact upon Katie will be equally long-lasting.
God showed Katie another way he was working through her short week of service when the team spent a day evangelizing in the city of Antigua. Katie was to serve as the translator, but she didn’t feel that her Spanish was good enough; however, she jumped into the job with a willing spirit. The team met and talked with a lot of people, but no one accepted Christ. Nearing the end of the day, they were starting to feel disheartened when they met a woman who was already a Christian. The day before, her husband had left her and her children with no source of income and no hope. Through Katie’s translation, the team was able to pray with the woman and encourage her in Christ.
“She told us it was a divine appointment that we were there to pray
Further still, God allowed Katie to see long-term effects of her short-term service through the appreciation of Agua Viva. Her team completed small, yet necessary service projects for the organization giving them time to focus on big-picture needs and planning. Agua Viva only hosts mission teams during the summer, so they utilize teams to do as much work as possible while they are present. Katie saw firsthand what a blessing a short term mission team can be in enabling mission organizations—like Agua Viva who faces recurring demands coupled with shortfalls of resources—to continue their ministry.
“One day we simply washed all their tools that were covered in mud because of all the rain,” said Katie. “So it was just little things that had to be done that had a big impact on them.”
Katie glimpsed what it looked like to partake in Relational Mission – a kind of service that prompts us to step into the dark places and live life-on-life with those in need. She found that helping with the little things like sponsoring a child, praying over a stranger, or alleviating pressures on an organization are often what makes the biggest impact.
When she returned from Guatemala, she felt that the trip helped solidify her call to mission work. Her acceptance of this call was evident when she jumped into VBS at First Baptist one day after her return. We are thankful for young adults with servant hearts like Katie.
“Even though I was only there a week,” said Katie, “I feel like God was saying ‘I can use you in one day or one year, and you’re still doing my work.’ That was really encouraging.”
God does work in wonderful ways, and he works through the little things. He used First Baptist to send Katie and then used Katie to impact a life forever. Together, we are a Relational Mission church.
For more information about Agua Viva Children’s Home, visit their website.