Guatemala Update and Summary

Dear friends,

I just wanted to reiterate my thanks for supporting me on this trip. If it wasn’t for each and every single one of your prayers and financial support, the trip wouldn’t have

been possible. It was through you guys not only that I was able to go, but that most of the funds that went towards the trip were able to be put towards the many projects that Hope Renewed International was working on throughout the city and elsewhere as well. When I mention the name Ashley, she’s the person who runs Hope Renewed Internatonal in Guatemala.
I wanted to just give you all a quick summary of what we did and then share about what I learned and how God was working through both the team as well as the people in Guatemala. 
Saturday – We arrived and went to watch a BBoy competition of the team that Hope Renewed International sponsors. They also had a documentary about how these B-Boys turned to dancing to fight and stay away from the gangs and violence that thrive throughout Guatemalan life and how they’re using their dancing skills to serve God and their community. We also went to the City Cemetary which is on the border of the dump, to hear about how violence has devastated the city and life of the people.
Sunday – We went to La Limonada, which is the name of the ghetto, and visited people’s homes, listened to their stories, gave out some donations, as well as prayed over them. We then went to watch the soccer team comprised of men from the ghetto play in a local tournament. The soccer team was also sponsored by the organization. We split up into two groups and visited homes as well as painted a room which will be turned into a school room for the kids in La Limonada.
Monday – We went split up into two teams. The first team worked on clearing out the garbage on the edge of the garbage river flowing through the La Limonada so later on they can put in a new wall to prevent homes and a church from collapsing into the river. The second team went to the women’s prison and played games, arts and crafts, and heard the stories of many of the women in there.
Tuesday – Went to the dump and gave out donations to the people who lived in the dump at the community center. We then took the kids from the dump out to McDonald’s for lunch. Then we went back to the dump and worked on the community center building for the rest of the day.
Wednesday – Drove to Panajachel, then went to a village built by a local church and took the kids out to lunch at a restaurant, then went back and gave out bananas and soccer balls and played with the kids.
Thursday – We went ziplining on an outdoors course in Panajachel, then we drove to a HIV/AIDS orphanage and hung out with the kids there.
Friday – I came down with a stomach bug and stayed in but the rest of the team went back to the dump to work on the community center, went to an orphanage to visit and play with kids and finally went to church in the ghetto at night after dinner.
Saturday – We went to Ashley’s house to debrief and share about our week and then left for the airport

A lot of people ask me what I did and I get to tell you all these cool things that I did, but I really think that the coolest parts of this trip was not how I got to serve others but how God used others to serve and teach me on this trip. I was very much so humbled on this trip from the beginning because of my language barriers. I haven’t touched Spanish since 7th grade and all I had was one of those phrasebooks I bought at the airport. I had to depend on my teammates and Ashley, the girl who ran Hope Renewed International in Guatemala, for translation and for interaction as well. I was sort of like a baby who could only point and pretend to use sign language. But I see this as an opportunity and place that God placed me in to be able to just observe all that He was doing in Guatemala and not let me bask in any possible glory I could get from what I was doing.
Everywhere we went in Guatemala, Ashley, who was also our main translater, would introduce us to people, friends, and families in the ghettos, the dump, the women’s prison, and so on. She always had them share their testimonies with our group to share with us how God had been working in their lives. How even though they might have nothing, they love Him and depend on Him for everything they have. God saved many of them from the life in gangs, or even from being killed by the gang violence that happens around them everyday and night. Almost every single person we met had a friend, father, brother, son, or some other family member killed by the gang violence that consumes Guatemala. This is only allowed to continue because of the ongoing corruption that happens in every level of government in Guatemala.  Through everything they’ve gone through, through all the things they’ve lost or never even had, they still love the Lord and depend on Him every single day of their lives and are grateful for it.
We got to interact with lots of kids throughout the week, many of them from the ghetto and dump and orphanages that we went to. It was interesting because I couldn’t understand many of them and it was like once again speaking in baby language to other people. But what I did learn from this was that no matter where we are, God loves His children and wants to know them. Sometimes its just through kids that we see what childlike faith is supposed to look like. They mostly just accept the circumstances they’re in but trust and depend on their parents step by step like we should just know that God takes care of us and just continue to walk with Him no matter what circumstance we’re in.
This trip has also helped to give to enlarge my vision for God’s plan of redemption for the world. I’ve only been to China outside of the states, and by going to Guatemala, I re-realized that God wants all of the people all over the world in His loving arms. Hopefully as I’m back in the states and live my life continuing to trust in Him, I’ll be keeping in mind and praying for my brothers and sisters and the unsaved in China, Guatemala, and the rest of the world! Hopefully I’ll be able to be more missions minded in everything I do and to be involved internationally whether I go into business, some other job, or missions!
Thank you so much once again for supporting me. Every one of you have been a blessing for me not only for this trip, but for my life as well. I’ll be posting pictures on Facebook once my school work dies down a bit.
Blessings,
William Poon