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The second day in Patzicia on lunch break I passed a number of trucks bringing supplies to market. One of the trucks had a cartoon of Tweetie Bird below the outside mirror. A jolly voice bade us good morning. It was said in English. I said hello in response.

“I am Sylvio!” he said jauntily. “And you must be Samson!” I smiled at him and pointed out that I still had my hair. He laughed. “I have the best produce in all Patzicia!” he said proudly. We traded words and smiles. I wished him good bye.

Several days later, as we were walking through the market on the way back from the construction site. I heard a voice call out “Hello, Samson!” It was Sylvio. We exchanged more words before continuing on through the market.

After that, I looked for Sylvio or his truck daily. Walking to breakfast on the last day of our time there Sylvio materialized from the back of the produce truck. “Hello Samson!” he said. I said I was leaving and he blessed my travels wishing me well. He joined me in a picture holding one of his prized papaya. I most likely will never see him again.

We crave significance, to know that we are worth interacting with. Perhaps the biggest of God’s gifts that we receive and bestow on each other is the comprehension that we are valuable enough to be noticed and interacted with. We are worth spending time with. Luke 8:43-47


I have for many years have believed that the opposite of love is hate. This trip has changed my thinking. I now believe that the opposite of love is fear.

One of the members on the Salem team was randomly attacked at night in the market square during a local festival in Patzicia. News of the assault was shared the next morning during the daily team meeting. Not only was our member assaulted. It was an assault on the perception of safety the team felt. Adjustments were made to rules of conduct the group lived under.

With the assault came a choice. Each member of the team had to choose. We could choose to love or we could choose to fear. If we chose love, the work we were doing would continue. If we chose fear, our effectiveness was greatly inhibited.

To love is to be vulnerable. Fear separates, love embraces. I John 4:18

The last evening spent with the Guatemalan church, gifts were exchanged, encouragement and gratitude for all parts of the body. After nine days of serving and being served by the local church in Patzicia each member of the team was presented with beautiful cloth wallets. The women were asked to come up first and the men followed. Each person on the Salem team was given this gift with a hug. I was the last one to receive a wallet and a powerful tearful hug.


And then the lights went out! As electricity failed throughout the town, the church was plunged into darkness


No one left. Everyone stayed in their seats. Candles and cell phones illuminated the concluding moments of the service. While the meeting was plunged into physical darkness, there was a light that could not be extinguished. The light of love and gratitude shone in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it. John 1:5

When we arrived at the work site the first day the team was met with two parallel chalk lines about three feet apart, running alongside the building and then veering towards a shed bordering the street.

The team adapted to tools that were less than adequate and dug in (literally) to the work that was asked of them. Over the course of five days chalk lines were transformed into a trench stretching over 300 feet long, and depths that varied from four to ten feet deep.  In five days, a trench had been dug, sewer pipe had been laid, and much of the trench had been recovered.

Faith and action worked in concert with each other.  It would not have happened if the team believed that it couldn’t be done, or waited for the right tools. Commitment, encouragement, focus, and playfulness, worked together to accomplish something that at first seemed inconceivable. Matthew 21:21.

On the bus ride to catch our plane back home, Mario, our ministry contact shared that however we perceive our experience, during this time in Guatemala we were living as the body of Christ. We were looking towards our own needs. We were looking to do what we could to meet the needs of the community we were living in. We were looking out for the needs of the team. When one part of the body was hurt, we all hurt. When one part of the body experienced joy, the rest of the body was buoyed up as well.

As members of our body succumbed to illness and injury, it was up to the rest of the body to care for the hurting as well as continue the work at hand. I witnessed many examples of the body focused on the needs of others. It was a powerful witness of resilience and encouragement. We are the body of Christ in all its different configurations. Now, back home, the body is configured differently, but we are still one body. I Corinthians 12:12.

At a “christian” book store last night, behind the checkout counter was a sale of reusable shopping bags in red, white, and blue. Under a picture of a waving flag were these words: “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

To me there is a world of difference between the freedom Jesus gives and the freedom America gives. A world of difference!