The warnings came true. I woke at 6 am on May 19th with an awful stomach ache and several side effects. I whined. I was angry. I wondered why it happened to me. Then I realized something as I lay in the extreme comfort of the Utz Jay hotel in Panajchel later that evening. Where have I been for the last week? What has the Lord shown me? I had antibiotics on my nightstand and a nurse just upstairs. Since when was I so infatuated with myself? I think that we Americans easily take our comforts for granted. When faced with all the comforts one could ever dream of and yet being angry about being sick, one asks himself if he is truly a Christian. I have seen people who sleep on floors, have tin roofs, and are at the mercy of a clinic that provides good medical help, but is financially strapped. That is the point of trips such as this. For men and women to truly become their full identity in Christ, and that means first seeing their selfishness then getting outside of themselves.
In 2012, I was able to see the beauty of the Catholic Church in Rome. What splendor! What awe! What truth! The Lord asked me to see that same beauty in Guatemala. This task is far more difficult. This task requires one to look through the filth, the garbage, and the stink to see that this is a part of our universal Church. The beauty and splendor of the Church encompasses all the world because the Lord God surrounds each beautiful heart and place in all the world. This means we are to attempt the same. We are to let the Lord bring us to the ends of the earth so that He may use us to bring his love. This is the change that I believe is happening in my heart. I am seeing the value of living outside of oneself, which is a microcosm of Christ’s selfless act on the cross. I have no doubt that every young Christian on this trip is transforming as well.
Today, May 20th, we were able to visit the place where Fr. Stanley Rother was killed. Shot by the Guatemalan government in the 80’s for standing up against genocide. It was a powerful moment as we all prayed and asked to give everything to the Lord, even our very lives.John 15:13 says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” So to those reading this back home: can we Americans lay down our lives for our God, for those who are our brothers and sisters that our God loves fully and Church encompasses? Will you imitate your Christ for real this time and not hold back? As for me, there is much work to be done.