I’m awakened to the sound of music. Xela’s city square is adorned with Guatemalan flags as the country celebrates its Independence Day. And the melodies, juxtaposed with the sound of car horns, whistles, and cheering, carries my mind back just a bit. To Sunday. Because Sunday was a symphony.
The composition began with a visit to a local church – where we were embraced and accepted with hugs, kisses, and warm words of encouragement from the entire congregation. Songs selected for worship were a special gift to us, so we would know the English translation of each one. We were even asked to sing. And sing we did, humbly stumbling through “Holy, Holy, Holy.” While standing there, singing in English as the congregation joined us in Spanish, I couldn’t help but think of “every tribe, every tongue, every nation,” one day in unison singing to the Lord God Almighty. Every language will blend in harmony, and we will all understand and be understood. Oh, what a day that will be!
As church ended, a new movement was added to Sunday’s symphony – laughter. Mandy, a team member full of reckless passion, had joined our trip praying to be overwhelmed by the Lord’s love and mercy. His response to her prayer touched everyone – an older woman hugged her tightly, whispered words of support in her ear, and slipped a ring on her finger. Her face lit up, tears streaming as the laughter began. “A gentleman from the United States told me about Jesus,” the woman shared. “I love your country, and love its people. Please don’t stop telling the Good News.”
The afternoon brought new refrains as we journeyed along winding roads, climbing every upward. Singing seemed so natural – “The Revelation Song, “Little is Much,” “From the Inside Out” played as our ragtag choir joined in. “He Knows My Name” and “The Song of the Beautiful” evoked tears as we reflected on the plight of the orphans. And as we neared Xela, a city truly nestled in clouds on the mountain, we loudly and proudly practiced “Sapo,” a song about a frog.
We ventured carefully up the narrow cobblestone streets leading to our hotel, a few of us reflecting on our time spent in this city a year ago when we traveled on a Shoes for Orphan Souls trip. Our arrival at the Bonifaz hotel brought new music – preparing for the ministry to Cerecaif, an orphanage with 72 children, all removed from abusive circumstances. We painted t-shirts and wrote memory verses on index cards. And we were reminded to fear not. To love wholly. To allow our hearts to be wrecked by those sweet faces.
Sunday had no coda, because the symphony continues – outside our hotel and inside our hearts. New movement. Let the day begin.