In January Dr. Bill Peed, Director of the Global Ministries program at Kingswood, along with his wife Marilee, took a team of nine students to Guatemala to serve a week with Impacto Ministries of The Wesleyan Church. From their ministry base located on the shore of Lake Atitlan, the largest lake in Central America, the team travelled up the mountains each day to serve in neighbouring towns.
After settling in at the ministry centre, Kingswood students brought school supplies to Happy Tummies, an after school lunch and tutoring program for school-age children who have little to eat at home and do poorly in school. For some, the five lunches that are served during the week at Happy Tummies are the only meals they get until the following week. Providing food, vitamins, and individual tutoring have helped the forty children currently in the program to feel better and excel in school.
“While we were at Happy Tummies, the pastor shared that nearly 100% of the children come from abusive homes. Hearing this news broke me inside as I grew up in a similar situation,” said Sara Lynn Whynott. “Knowing that they are being hurt and realizing that there wasn’t anything I could do to change that was hard for me. But in that moment I realized that I didn’t come to change their situations. I came to show them God’s love.”
The Kingswood team also assisted with a ministry to “abuelitas” or grandmothers, those who are neglected because they no longer can contribute to the economics of the family unit. In addition to serving them breakfast, students shared a Bible lesson and sang songs with them. Since it is important to provide activities for their minds and hands, the students brought supplies for each of the grandmothers to complete a small weaving project. By taking care of their nutritional needs and keeping them active, the abuelitas program helps relieve the financial stress of the families of these elderly women.
“I’ve never had much of an opportunity to share my own story with people, even in Canada, so sharing a message about abiding in the vine (John 15) to the abuelitas was a newer experience for me,” said first-year student Julia Mullin. “I felt like I would need to adjust my own story to make it applicable to the lives of the Guatemalan people; however, sharing from my own life, although different from what they know, was a powerful tool in our ministry. God can speak through my life to His people no matter where I am in the world.”
During the rest of week the Kingswood team held youth seminars in various villages. In addition to Bible lessons and testimonies, students played games with teens and provided them a lunch that included meat, which was a special treat.
“One day our team traveled to a small village in the mountains, where I became friends with two young girls, Matea and Manuela,” shared Elizabeth Ebling. “After spending time with them, I began to notice that both of these girls most likely had lice, and Manuela’s hands and arms were covered in warts and blood, but they hugged me and grabbed my hands.”
“While initially my selfish instinct was to be hesitant, I knew that Christ would not be,” continued Elizabeth.” Love would not deny these children the affection they longed to give and receive – even if the risk would be something as small as ending up with a scalp full of bugs and hands covered in warts. For the sake of sharing Christ’s love, the risk was worth it.”
“While I was serving, God gave me confirmation that serving in Guatemala is part of my future,” said Adrienne Sanford. “And, getting to see the beauty and ministry going on through Impacto has inspired me to serve in my daily life, wherever that may be.
To see more of KU’s ministry in Guatemala, see video.