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What an amazing trip we have had so far!  I can hardly believe we only have a few days left before we head back to the US.  We have been so busy, this morning is the first opportunity that I have had to sit down and write about our experiences.  I have not tallied up the numbers yet, but when we leave on Sunday we will probably have interviewed over 40 people – maybe even more.  Each of these people have amazing stories which connect to one another through various themes: struggle, survival, transformation, faith, hope love, and life.
Many of the needs and conditions in Guatemala (gang violence, orphaned children, displaced people, extreme poverty, fear) are a result of the civil war which ravaged the country for over thirty years (1960 – 1996).  Fathers were killed, mothers were raped, young men were drafted into the army and children fled alone.  Many of these children traveled to the US seeking a better life. They lived on the streets and ended up joining gangs out of necessity for survival.  Survival …  I have never had to survive like some of the men, women and children that we have met over the past two weeks.  Struggle is not bound to a gender or place.  It exists in urban ghettos, hospital beds, wheel chairs, and rural mountain villages … in ways that I would never have even dreamed about in my worst nightmares.  Yet, in the middle of all this struggle, we have witnessed amazing beauty.
We have witnessed: a woman risk her life to care for the forgotten people in the most dangerous ghetto in Guatemala City … a former gang member become a pastor and open a rehab center for drug addicts … a woman feed children in her community and start a school to give them a better opportunity … a man care for the physically disabled who are hidden away their entire lives in a hospital … the list could go on.  In the midst of struggle, we have witnessed men and women serving and giving their lives away for the sake of others.  If I did not know their stories, I would ask why?  Why do these people care?  Why do these people give?  I would ask those questions if I did not know their stories.  However, I do know their stories … struggle, survival, transformation, faith, hope, love and life.  Each of these people have reached the end of themselves and come face to face with a compassionate God who has cradled them in his arms, stripped away their burden and transformed them.  These people care and give because they are responding to their own transformation; they respond with love because they have life.  They aren’t thumping Bibles, they are living out the truth of transformation … caring for and loving others as Christ loved them.  It is a beautiful picture of scandalous grace which flows downhill and pools up in the lowest places.
el scotto

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