In July, Big Woods Bible Church from Pennsylvania spent a week serving the children of Cruz Blanca, Guatemala. Team member Jacob P., who is a gifted creative writer, shares his reflections on the time he spent in La Candelaría, the field where all the kids play.
We walked semi-single file through the village, through cornfields, through a small patch of woods, over a barbed wire fence that some children crawled under instead of going over, and down a hill. After the barbed wire fence, an expansive field in a valley between the mountains sat mowed and already filled with children playing happily. When we got to the field, everyone on the team spread out and began playing games with the children.
Four of us played soccer with some children and early twenty year olds from the village that already had a game going. All around us was lush, green vegetation. My lungs burned with the exhaustion of not being in too good of shape and not being used to exercising in the elevation of 5,500 feet. My molars on the right side of my mouth ached and my right ear wouldn’t pop, which concerned me, but only for a little while.
Eventually, I left the game and drank water while walking to an erosion ditch that children were playing in. The deepest point in the ditch was around seven feet and I watched as two small boys took turns jumping from the grass where all the children were playing into the seven foot ditch below. When they hit the ground their knees buckled and they nearly hit their faces on the ground, saying “ouch” but climbing up and doing it all over again while laughing.
I twirled children around by holding their arms and spinning in circles. They giggled and I was dizzy.
I bounced a ball back and forth with two four-year-olds until they walked away. I watched the school teachers turn a jump rope made of the belts that held the girls’ dresses up around and around with boys and girls jumping and laughing in the middle. I watched girls braid the American’s hair. I watched children sit on the laps of the team members—no words were shared between them, but both were content as if there were words and they were good friends. I watched team members play tag and play baseball and play with parachutes. I watched love shared between both peoples and felt nothing but God’s love while watching and taking part in the games.
On the walk home, a little boy named William wanted me to carry him, so I gave him a piggy-back ride over the barbed wire, through the small patch of woods, through the cornfields where I smiled at farmers and said “hello” and they smiled and said “hello” back, and through the village watching stray dogs sleep and walk around and children do chores and play. Back at the village I put William down, hugged him, and walked into the Learning Center.