This week was Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Guatemala!

There’s lots of traditional food, including really amazing Semana Santa sweet bread, and some kind of sweet coffee and caramel chickpea concoction (we weren’t a massive fan). The churches all have decorations out: dried fruits and lights. However, the Catholic churches here tend to do a lot more for Holy Week than the Evangelical churches.

 

This means that we had the week off construction and so many opportunities to get involved in other things that were more community-based. Most of us were definitely glad of the break!

Saturday:

 

We started our third week here in Pamezabal with an extremely early wake up at 3:30am for a youth retreat morning. As a team we were very confused as to what the morning would entail and even more confused as to why any youth would agree to going to an event at 4am!? After a very interesting drive to a lookout point we were told we were there to watch the sunrise! As a team we were astounded by the incredible sunrise and all valued the time to appreciate this beautiful country. The previous week we had been preparing various games and a devotional time for the young people. Carrie and Hannah lead a discussion time on Philippians 2, and Ella H shared her testimony in Español to the young people. From what we could tell the message went down well! We spent the rest of the morning playing games, laughing and having fun with the young people. For one of the games that the other leaders organised, Charlie F and Charlotte took one for the team and joined in the waterslide activity despite having no change of clothes!! One thing we have learnt since being here is that despite our limited Spanish God has given us many ways to speak to people through other means.

 

Sunday:

 

The following day we were blessed to have Maddie, our Short-Term Coordinator (STC), come visit us alongside Diana, an STC in training, to check in on us and see how we were getting on with the project. It was exciting to update her on all we had gotten up to and tell her the many funny stories that had happened: for instance, Hannah had an unwelcome encounter with the house cat or dog (we really don’t know) in her bed where she found that he had chosen her bed to pee in!

 

We also had a visit from Rhiannon (a Strider placed here in Guatemala) who stayed with us during her holiday week, although it wasn’t much of a relaxing holiday as she was a great asset to the team and helped with the translating massively!

 

Monday:

 

On Monday, Charlie P, Charlotte, Ella S, Emily and Carrie all went on a trip with Pastor Moises to pray for people in the community. The others had some nice and well needed rest time – a thing hard to come by at the moment!

 

To start with we weren’t really sure how it was going to work. But we were welcomed into houses, and first met an older man who wanted prayer for his health and family. Carrie was roughly able to translate, and we all prayed for him together. After that, we prayed for Lucia, an older woman with kidney failure which meant she couldn’t eat or drink. She was really grateful to receive prayer. We also prayed for some family members of Pastor Moises and they kindly gave us coffee and amazing Semana Santa bread, which Charlie loved.

 

In true Guatemalan style we didn’t know the plan, so we spent a lot of the time wondering if we were walking home or continuing to pray for people. But then we visited a young boy called William, recovering from head operations, and prayed that he would be able to get out more. His mum also asked that we pray for a wife! And then she sent us off with bags of Semana Santa bread!

 

Finally, we prayed for a family experiencing lots of spiritual attacks, physically and spiritually. Please join us in continuing to pray for them!

 

Tuesday:

 

Tuesday morning we joined Moises again in praying for the community. Hannah, Carrie, Ella H, Charlotte, Charlie P, Emily and Rhiannon all went. Firstly we visited Juanito, who had no limbs since five years old (now 30) and his family Rosa, Catty and Tomas, who we know from church.

 

Then we visited Edwin, an elder of the church, and his family to pray for his two month old daughter with hip displacer. Charlie P shared his testimony to encourage them. It was an extremely hot walk in a rural area, but Edwin and his wife were very generous and gave us water and fruit. They attempted some Spanish jokes which unfortunately did not translate well! But it was still very funny.

 

Boosted by our sit down we walked up to a mother who had been suffering with severe arthritis for over 20 years now. Some of the group were able to visit her later on that week to deliver flowers and pray for her again. Then we visited some very elderly siblings who only spoke Quiche, the local language. But Edwin was with us to translate. Finally we got to pray for Moises and his family. His brother wanted prayer for arthritis, and Moises wanted prayer for his health and that he could do his job well.

 

After returning to what we now call home, we ran our weekly English class, teaching the kids animals, feelings and body parts. It was quite a small group due to it being Semana Santa but it was an opening to offer more activities to the kids this week whilst we had no construction. And they absolutely loved bench ball!

 

After a tiring day we were all quite exhausted, but Sara had a surprise for us! We all had Guatemalan trousers made (measured to our trousers which we reluctantly gave up for a day, hoping we would actually get them back!). They all had really funky patterns, and it absolutely made our day!! To top it off, the next day our Guatemalan football tops Sara had ordered arrived! They have our personalised numbers and names on! Perfect for our football matches with the locals.

 

Wednesday/Thursday:

 

After a few days of prepping and practicing for the Good Friday service, we had an extremely fun afternoon with some of the local kids playing sports. We are continually so grateful for Sara (the lady we live with) and particularly on that day, as we started the afternoon with two children – one of whom lives with us. But thanks to her friendliness and great connections in the community she was able to recruit around 15 more kids to join us for the afternoon! We started off by playing football, which the kids absolutely LOVED, and we also introduced them to some classic British playground games such as Bulldog (not take down), the Fruit Game and Duck Duck Goose.

 

Everyone, including the team who went along, had the best time and a lot of laughs were shared. We were grateful that Rhiannon was with us to help with communication, and to also give Carrie (our group translator) a break while she was translating the service, helped by Ben. Charlotte was also incredible in translating beforehand many useful words surrounding sports for us to use, which massively helped in communicating with the kids, even in simple words.

 

Friday:

 

Friday was the day we had each been preparing for all week and so we were all both nervous and excited for the day. We spent the morning going over songs and the spectacular drama performance of the Prodigal Son, organised by Charlie P. The service went extremely well – they enjoyed listening and participating in the worship, particularly ‘Solo de Jesus la Sangre’/ ‘Nothing but the Blood of Jesus’, which we sang in both Spanish and English. They also enjoyed listening to a duet of ‘The Revelation Song’, sung by Carrie and Ella S.

Despite the chaos of the drama, it went down very well and we think they appreciated it! Theo and Carrie delivered an incredible sermon touching on how we respond to the crucifixion of Jesus. A lot of work went into the service and we were all so grateful for the opportunity to show them what a typical British service would be like. We were especially encouraged by Sara and her daughters coming along to support us, as they are not regular church-goers.

 

 

To celebrate, Sara took us all out to the local fair in the town for pizza (street food). We made sure to pray for our stomachs, and God has delivered us good health (so far!). Afterwards we enjoyed some fairground rides and ended up attracting a huge crowd. We were asked to film an advert for the fair, which gave us a free ride on the bumper cars – a huge highlight for all of us. We walked back with our churros and had a spontaneous truth or dare game with Sara and her daughters late into the night – Charlie P had to eat hot sauce and wear Sara’s traditional Guatemalan dress. All in all it was a good week and God was very prevalent throughout it.

 

Answers to prayer/things we’ve been grateful for:

– Our continued health.

– We were able to make great connections with families in the community through our groups this week.

– We had children turn up to every event we put on.

– That God was in the Good Friday service and that it went very well.

 

Prayer requests:

– Prayer for opportunities to start conversations about faith to Sara and for God to work in her life.

– For energy and joy as we enter a new week of construction in the church.

– Please join us in continuing to pray for the people we met this week on our prayer visits above.

– For continuing opportunities to work in the community here in Pamezabal.

 

Thank you for everyone’s prayers and support!

  • Emily, Theo, Carrie, Hannah, Ben, Ella H, Ella S, Charlie F, Charlie P, Charlotte

(Written by Carrie and Hannah)

 

To view the previous report click here