Our Mission Trip to Guatemala

We thought Guatemala needed us, but it turned out, we needed Guatemala.

I had been hesitant for the past several years to go on a mission trip. I always thought we were Senders, not Goers. The concept of eating food in a poverty-stricken country, bunking overnight with women and basically choosing to willingly sign my life away freaked me out.

So much so, that the Friday before we left, I had our will professionally completed. That just shows the fears that I had of choosing to enter the dark country of Guatemala.
Guatemala, though, was actually full of so much light. And after returning, I realized how much darkness we live in and around every day right here in the US.

El Viaje (The Journey)

We were and are so fortunate to have the support of my amazing parents who sign up to watch our crazy boys all week again and again. It took much of the stress away knowing that they were in beyond capable hands.

We almost didn’t make the flight. Our airline lost our reservations and took over and hour to find them in their system. By the time we were cleared, we turned the corner to see the biggest security line that had to ever have existed at Jacksonville International Airport. After thorough searches and tossing things that TSA were taking too long to check, we {literally} ran without shoes to the {last} gate in the C-wing. The airline held our plane for us for almost forty minutes, which is basically unheard of. Thank you, Lord!

But alas, we were smooth sailing and made it to our destination. We spent the next day getting acquainted with the facility and the Guatemalan culture. We got to grow together in our faith and we spent lots of time together studying and talking through God’s word.

La Academia (The Academy)

The Buena Vista Sports Academy for Boys partners with our gym, Trinity Fitness, to bring teams to help serve the boys (the Rhinos) who come there to play soccer but who also learn about living a God-first life. The families who run this ministry are kind, loving and selfless individuals who have devoted their lives to helping these boys grow physically and spiritually.

I’m not a big fan of watching or playing soccer (ok, I’m more of a cheerleader for all sports…) but the excitement that these boys had while playing was truly indescribable! This academy has provided a home away from home for these boys. The academy teaches these boys how to be leaders in their households and how to honor and respect women in the village.

But it mainly grooms them to be men of God. Although they get a healthy meal and a nice shower, they mainly walk away with brothers (Rhinos) and the ability to grow spiritually with God-first leaders helping them along the way. It was such a special place!

Every day we would wake up, individually read 1 Peter and journaled, battled together (worked out) and got into God’s word as a family. It was so special to share what God was revealing to each of us there. We enjoyed wonderfully cooked meals (there went one of my biggest original fears!) by their staff cook, Johanna and spent time breaking bread and just learning more about each other.

We would then prep to serve the Buena Vista community in any way that we could with our hearts full and ready to love others.

Nuestro Matrimonio (Our Marriage)

I went to Guatemala thinking we were doing pretty good. We loved each other, we loved our boys and we really tried to love others (but often we fell short). We spent time reading the Bible together as Logan drove into work most mornings and we committed to raising our boys in a God-first environment.

But on the second night in Guatemala, I realized that we both needed to be doing so much more than we thought we were.

Logan is so blessed to have a group of guys from Trinity Fitness who lift him up and inspire him spiritually – it’s a brotherhood. And many of their wives and other friends at TF do the exact same for me. But I realized as we watched the Johnson family, who led the academy, interact that we had so much spiritual growth to do…together!

Almost like a light bulb going off, we decided to focus more on each other spiritually moving forward and to not let the fire that was set off in Guatemala ever sizzle out.

Los Días (The Days)

We spent our days busy, actively seeking to learn more about the Rhino boys, their families and the Guatemalan culture.
Logan was in his element warming up and training the boys physically, but I was practicing, too. I had committed to loving others deeply (1 Peter 4:8) and man, did we love those boys so fast and so much. Even after returning back to the US, in the evenings we Facebook message many of them in broken Spanish and English and just sit there and smile.

We also had the opportunity to meet a modern day prophet, Cesar. This man, the father of one of the Rhino boys, has not been able to move from his bed for many years due to chronic illness. But he loves God and sings his praises and feels no sorrow for himself whatsoever. For almost two hours, he quoted out of the Bible and not he wasn’t reading – he has literally memorized the Bible. {Really makes my whining seem worse!}

We expected to see so much poverty and so much sadness. Poverty, yes. Poverty was all around us. Lack of hygiene, uncomfortable and unsanitary living conditions and loads of illness, even a death while visiting. But one of the biggest take aways from Guatemala for Logan and I was how much light people had in the darkness.

They smiled, they hugged us, they opened up their homes to us without any notice. They loved us, despite not being able to communicate clearly to us. Despite having nothing to give us. And we hope that the light in the darkness there forever shine in our home.

Un Viaje a Antigua (A Trip to Antigua)

I was excited to be going to a popular tourist destination in Guatemala: Antigua. God for sure stripped me of all of my comforts as soon as we landed in the country. I thought I was a good photographer: my Nikon camera shattered moments after arriving. I thought, well that won’t stop me, I can take awesome panorama shots on my iPhone and my phone didn’t turn on for the first few days. The message was clear: disconnect, stop relying on comforts and just love others deeply.

And that was exactly what Logan and I did with our team of Rhinos as we were tourists around Antigua.

We enjoyed some gourmet Taco Bell and in Antigua, Taco Bell is super legit and high-end. Allan, one of the former Rhino boys who now helps lead incoming Rhinos, was giddily excited to be our tour guide. We enjoyed every second as we sat down and loved on those boys (mind you still not being able to speak any Spanish!)

Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas)

One of my very favorite parts of going on this trip in late December was forgetting all about Christmas. To us, it wasn’t only about the presents but also about instilling His presence in our home.

We had a wonderful time preparing for and throwing a Christmas party for the Rhinos. Thank you to so many of you who donated to the Blessings Through Blocks cause, which brought a brand new box of Legos to each of these boys.

We all felt like family as we prepared for a Christmas feast getting everything perfect for these boys to enjoy dinner and a talent show.

El Regreso a Casa (The Return Home)

We sadly packed up our things and would have possibly abandoned our flights altogether had it not been for our babies, our fur baby and some daydreams of our warm duvet cover and hot showers 🙂

We were warned by others who had been on the trip — the return home will be very rough! You will have a hard time assimilating back into American culture, especially during the holiday season.

Little did we expect exactly what God had in store for us as we arrived home.

A few hours after briefly resting after arriving home close to midnight, we were awoken with the news that our next door neighbor had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The family, the neighborhood, everyone was in shock.

We looked at each other and weighed our options: we could say that we will serve others once we’re settled back from our trip OR we could dive right in and continue to love others as deeply as we were led to do in Guatemala.

God was giving us a Fast Pass. He knew that we dedicated to Him and each other that where He wanted us to go, we would go. He knew that we committed to loving others deeply and He used us just a few hours after being home.

Our hearts have been aching and we have felt sad all week. But going back to our commitments that we made to each other in Guatemala, we chose to joyfully serve them. And we will continue to joyfully serve them until they beg us to stop.

 ¿Qué Sigue? (What’s Next?)

I’m a planner. I’ve been telling family and friends for years that Logan and I would be willing to open a Trinity Fitness in a different state to help other broken families turn to Jesus but that it would be on our timing.

What Guatemala did for Logan and I was to be open to change and to be focusing on praying together on how we can be best used for Him.

We may stay in our house forever and continue to serve our community in Nocatee, FL. We may spend more time opening our home to strangers. We may consider adoption. We may open a Trinity Fitness. We may become international missionaries.

But the mission is simple: we will continue to love others deeply and will {together} listen to His call and His timing.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Buena Vista Sports Academy for Boys (or to go on a future trip through Trinity Fitness), contact:
Brock (BVSA Guatemala): www.bvboys.com
Anthony Widener (Trinity Fitness): anthony@trinityfitness.org
And to support our dear friends, the Fosters, who have devoted their lives to opening a BVSA in Honduras, go to: BV Boys

Until we see you all again in Travesia!

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