Finding God on Gannon’s campus: ABST trip provides loving experience despite great uncertainty


Two weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to co-lead an ABST to Guatemala.
However, our story did not start here.
For a year, we were planning our Haiti trip, but recently found out that it’s too dangerous for travel.
So our small group of seven decided to try a new adventure.
When we arrived in Guatemala City the first night, we were groggy from travel and very unsure of what to think of it all.
There was almost a sense of silent anxiety that none of us were admitting to aloud.
The feeling seemed to grow when we arrived at the mission in San Lucas.
It seemed like they weren’t truly understanding that our group did not come to do construction work. We wanted more of an intellectual conversation driven by an understanding of how to obtain human dignity through empowerment and opportunity for communities.
And the worst part is that we felt guilty for being surrounded by so much beauty. We were on a service trip, but it didn’t fully feel like it when we were surrounded by a clear lake seated between volcanoes, waking each morning to chirping birds and seeing tons of smiling faces from the locals as we traveled through the streets.
For the first two days, we were so unsure of what our purpose was as a group.
But God works in very strange ways.
By the third day in, we were starting to look into the fact that God takes us to places that we are meant to go, whether we agree or not.
We started to find that maybe providing this sense of human dignity didn’t have to be set in stone by providing the economic framework we had studied for the past few months. Maybe providing that dignity was just through the interactions with locals, showing them that they are worthy of love.
And that love for this community and for our own group was beginning to grow within our hearts each day.
As we sat down to reflection each night, the words being spoken were no longer questioning, but affirmation of the wonderful encounters we had each day.
And that’s what we were doing: encountering a new culture and showing love to those who may truly need it.
Using an article from the founder of Just Haiti, the organization we focus on for the Haiti trip, we dove into the idea of accompaniment.
The final bible verse that is mentioned in it is found in 1 John 4:7-12. To summarize, this entire chapter looks at how love is a gift given from God to us to show others. If God is within you, there is no way to not show that love.
During this experience, love is what moved us. It was something we craved and something that we could give to others.
We showed love in helping each other climb up mountains on our early morning hikes. We showed it by attempting to speak average Spanish to the people on the streets. We showed it by worshipping alongside community members at an Ash Wednesday service that was in Spanish.
Love binds together people from all over the world. No matter what place you are in, love will come find a place to stay, whether you planned it or not.
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