By Abby Willms
This week, our group embarked on independent service week – a week that provided us with an opportunity to stretch and grow as leaders, collaborators, and decision-makers. We were split into four groups, each living and serving alongside a ministry or organization for the duration of the week. Between the four groups, we had the opportunity to work alongside staff and volunteers at schools, hospitals, orphanages and ministry centers throughout Guatemala. The four groups were comprised solely of students – no leaders – thus providing us with a great chance to practice and improve communication both internally within our groups and externally with the various people we interacted with at the organizations.
For my group, this week gave us plenty opportunity to exercise flexibility and decision making, along with the ability to find humour and joy in times of uncertainty. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, our original placement didn’t work out – leading us to a wonderful children’s transition home in San Lucas. Our time with this organization was special and quite impactful as we witnessed the dedication of the wonderful staff, the efforts made to create a “home-y” atmosphere for the children, and the openheartenedness of the children and staff as they welcomed us so warmly into their space and their lives. We spent our days playing outdoors with children, assisting the nannies with many large day to day tasks that arise from caring for and living with 30 children. The nannies (or “Tías”, as the children call them) do these tasks, including laundry, dishes, dressing/undressing children, cleaning, and cooking, with a great degree of joy, efficiency, patience, and grace. Seeing the joy with which these women completed seemingly mundane or monotonous tasks was a testament to their dedication and deep love for the children.
After three days at the ministry, again due to some unexpected circumstances, it was thought best that we switch placements. This was a very difficult decision for our group as we so badly wished to continue on at Amor de Patricia. While disappointment was definitely palpable, we were grateful that, due to the quick thinking of both Outtatown staff and partners in Guatemala, we were able to continue at another organization – teaching at a local school and working to paint a mural for the inside of a Sunday School classroom. While this week shaped up to be different than the original picture we had envisioned, we remain very grateful for the ways our hearts were touched and our minds stretched by the dedication, care, intentionality, and drive of the people and organizations to work towards a more just and loving world.