The Chronicles of a Short-Term Missionary - Guatemala

My first short-term missions trip to Guatemala was in the year 2000. I met Pastor Roger Osorio in the States in 1996. We were both pastors, worship leaders, and song writers. It was a blessing to establish such a relationship. We corresponded for a few years and then we planned a trip to Guatemala to work with Pastor Roger in July of 2000.

My oldest and youngest sons, Russ and Jonathan, along with a good family friend Jason Crowe accompanied me on the trip. We were all musicians so we were planning to minister in music and I would preach the Word.

The day came for us to depart Atlanta for Guatemala City. Our plane to Houston was delayed in arriving in Atlanta because of bad weather between Atlanta and Houston. After about an hour and a half delay we finally boarded the plane for Houston! We were to arrive later that evening in Guatemala City after a short layover in Houston.

As our planed touched down in Houston I realized our connection to Guatemala City was taking off simultaneously! We were that late. We would miss our connection! After deplaning we went to the airline to see what could be done to get us on to Guatemala City where Pastor Roger would be waiting for us at the airport. All the flights to Guatemala City were booked up for the rest of the evening. We would have to wait until the next morning to fly out.

Our disappointment turned to joy when we learned the airline was going to put us in a hotel for the night. In addition, they would provide dinner and breakfast for us...on them! That took away most of the pain of our delay! To top that off, when we boarded the next morning we were booked first class! What a blessing! When you do missions work you just don't do first class, unless Jesus wants you there! Needless to say we rode this pony with gusto all the way to Guatemala City!

Our trip seemed to be turning into an emotional roller coaster ride. When we got to Guatemala City, guess what was NOT there. Our luggage! Nope. No where to be found. The kicker is that we were scheduled to leave Guatemala City that evening for a couple of nights in the small mountain village of Santa Cruz. We did...without our luggage. I am so grateful someone suggested to me years earlier, when preparing for my first trip to India, that I take along an extra set of underwear and socks in my carry-on!

We arrived with no bags...only our carry-ons. This meant no clothes (but what we had on), no tooth brush, tooth past, soap, shampoo, no deodorant, and all the other necessities of life! I was scheduled to preach at a fairly large church that night. I couldn't preach in shorts before this great crowd so I borrowed a pair of blue jeans from a local musician. Problem was...he was about 6' 2" in height! I'm about 5' 8 1/2" when stretched on the rack. I had to fold the jeans into big cuffs that covered the tops of my feet. I wore the same shirt I arrived wearing. I preached the next evening wearing the same clothes! Pastor Roger explained to everyone in Spanish our predicament and it was obvious they understood!

On our third day in the country we left Santa Cruz to spend the rest of our time at Pastor Roger's church in the city. Our first priority after arriving back in the city was to check with the airport about our baggage. As it turns out our bags actually arrived the night before we did and someone stuck them aside for us and forgot about it. They were there all the time! We all thought it was hilarious when we learned the news.

I had heard nightmares about folks losing their luggage when making flight connections. But this time it was us! It was a good lesson for us all. Flexibility is a must when serving God. We must be pliable and ready to adjust to any situation. From lost luggage to strange hotels to no hotels to just about anything...we must be prepared.

Serving Jesus is an adventure. At least that is the way He plans it. We can learn much from our natural experiences about serving God. And travel for Him is the most effective way to learn from Him. Life is never boring for a short-term missionary!

84882: End of the Spear End of the Spear
By Steve Saint / SaltRiver

Asked to return to Ecuador by the same tribe who killed his father and other missionaries 40 years earlier, Steve Saint and his family try to help a Stone Age people transition to the 21st century. Their efforts lead to the discovery of the tribal intrigue behind the murders---resulting in very difficult decisions! 368 pages, softcover from Tyndale.