After feeling called to mission many years ago, Rose Wade headed to Guatemala for a two-year Stride placement in 2018. After returning home for three months, Rose is now back in Guatemala, and this time as a ‘Stay’ member. We chatted with Rose to find out what prompted her to extend her time in Latin America.
I had always felt a sense of calling to serve God with my life. I believe that mission is not something you ‘do’, but being missional is a way of living, wherever we are.
I worked for a number of years as a youth worker in Northern Ireland, and developed a strong heart for working with young people. I also had a particular desire to help people who don’t have access to clean water or sanitation.
I was looking for a way to combine both of these things in service for God, something I didn’t really think was possible. But through investigations with Latin Link, I was told about a Guatemalan Christian NGO called AMI San Lucas. They provide people with water and sanitation and were looking for someone to help develop their work with young people. I couldn’t deny that God may have had me in mind for this job!
What I did on Stride
AMI works in the area of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá, and its surrounding villages. Life can be hard for people here. Many struggle to provide for their family; there is a high rate of malnutrition, alcoholism, and in some areas people lack access to adequate sanitation and clean water. Where I work, the majority of the population are indigenous Maya, with Spanish being their second language.
AMI San Lucas is all about integral mission, with a focus on health. As a Strider, I was involved in developing a leadership programme for young people from eight different communities. It was amazing to see these indigenous young people develop in their confidence and leadership skills, becoming brave enough to run activities. I was involved in the local church’s youth work at the same time.
On the sanitation side, I got involved in AMI’s home assessments and providing families with toilets and water filters.
Why I’m staying on
When I applied for Stride, I asked for a two-year placement because I wanted to see if long term cross-cultural mission was feasible for me. I didn’t have a clear intention of staying longer, but by the end of my placement, I felt a definite call to stay. It took several discussions and a bit of time and prayer to work it out, though.
One reason to stay longer was a sense of not being finished yet. I want to see AMI San Lucas realise their vision for the community, but by stepping away after my placement ended, there would have been a strain on their resources, with no-one to carry on the youth work aspect.
So one of my main aims in returning is to make sure the work I’ve been involved in is sustainable. We agreed that if I came back, AMI would look to employ someone local who I could train up to carry on the work with the young people. I’m happy to say, that’s exactly what I’m doing in Guatemala right now.
What I’ve learned
This whole experience has taught me to be flexible and trust God! Things don’t always work out the way we expected, but we have a good God who is there for us and protects us. It’s been a huge lesson in trusting God, his goodness and plans.
I’m also really grateful to all the people who have supported and enabled me to go – you’re a big part of this mission as well, and I think of you often!
Called to use your skills?
If, like Rose, you have a particular passion that you want to explore in the context of cross-cultural mission, a Stride placement could be the right place to begin. Latin Link will help to find projects suited to your experience and skills, and support you throughout your placement.
Find out more: latinlink.org.uk/stride or pick our brains on 0118 957 7112 or firstname.lastname@example.org