Reflection by D'Angelo Smith
The journey up the mountain to Saq Ja was a great climb and took a lot out of me because we had to backpack all our stuff to the community house. After reaching the community house we were greeted by some of the community members and a dinner. We called it an early night so we could get up early to visit two of the neighboring communities where some of the young people live who are on scholarship. I was in the group that went to Pamaxan. After a great journey on foot, we met and talked with the students and some of their parents. We broke the ice with some games, which everyone enjoyed because they don't get to take off much time from their busy schedules to play.    One of the best moments was meeting the high school students, who expressed their gratitude for scholarships. I asked if our youth could share some stories about ways they see connections and how they feel about hearing the youth stories from Saq Ja. This opened a great discussion among all of them, as they discussed similarities and differences. Both groups of youth shared emotional stories that touched everyone. It was an amazing experience to witness! We then took time to have fun and play soccer. It was wonderful to see two communities connect in such meaningful ways that I believe will transform everyone present. This is what God calls us to as the beloved community. Our youth lived it out and we should be proud!
Reflection by Ignacia Salinas (Spanish with English Translation)
Queridos amigos, envió estas palabras desde la comunidad Sa'qa en las montañas del Quiché en Guatemala Centro América.Un pequeño lugar cerca del cielo, con aire puro, gente linda, rica y nutritiva comida. Hombres mujeres y niños, encargados cada uno en hacernos agradable y bella la estadía. Para mí personalmente ha sido una experiencia maravillosa, reconectar con una comunidad muy parecida a la de mis ancestros, principalmente con personas que sufrieron el genocidio, masacres y persecuciones por ejércitos entrenados para ser despiadados con los mismos de sus raza o etnia.     Se han pasado momentos de gran intensidad emocional, como cuando los alumnos del instituto apoyado por nuestra comunidad, nos representaron la historia de la desaparición de la comunidad, como sus miembros huyeron a las montañas para sobrevivir y como con la fe, esperanza y el amor de nuestro Dios, han renacido, crecido, fortalecido y comparten de lo poco que reciben de nuestra Comunidad de fe. Personalmente estoy muy complacido de ser parte de esta Iglesia y estar formando parte de esta delegación, que recibe los agradecimientos, cariño y amor de cada uno de los miembros esta comunidad de Sa'qa. Su amigo, compañero y hermano en Cristo, Ignacio.Dear friends, I sent these words from the Saq Ja community in the mountains of Quiché in Guatemala. This is a small heavenly place with fresh air, beautiful people and delicious, nutritious food. Each community member here has made sure our stay is pleasant and beautiful. For me personally this has been a wonderful experience, reconnecting with a community very similar to that of my ancestors: people who suffered genocide, massacres and persecution by armies trained to be ruthless towards members of their own race or ethnicity. There have been intense, emotional moments, especially when school students our church community has supported told stories of the disappearance of their community, how community members fled to the mountains to survive, and how because of their faith, hope and love for God, they have been reborn, have grown and strengthened, and now share with each other what they receive from our faith community. I am personally very proud to be part of this church and this delegation, which has experienced the affection and love of each of the members this community of Saq Ja.
Reflection by Martin McKinney
The beginning of my journey to Guatemala began with a ride in the backseat of an Uber car driven by a driver who, despite his youth, had a calming, mature disposition that reminded me of the old men who like to drive in the left lane, at the lowest speed, gaping at the sights and marveling in wonder at seemingly nothing. What confounded me was this young man's keen ability to engage in meaningful, incredibly thoughtful conversation while driving and responding and remaining defensive against the Chicago driver who is inevitably in a hurry, blowing the horn, while yelling profanities to the window; my driver seems to be completely unaware.  Anyway, Jaime and I talked about the Uber model and how it is a new form of exploitation for many who are seeking to supplement or perhaps are unemployed or underemployed, even as it serves simply as extra income for many. This new "air" model leaves the responsibility on the employee to secure savings and health care and sick pay all while enriching the rich with the savings that result from stranding the worker.
Jaime listened to me ramble on, politely agreed, and gently reminded me that people in the part of the world where I was trekking (and taking water purifier, boots, a nail clipper and the other accoutrements of comfort) live on less than $3 dollars per day, "and it would be nice if we learned to reside with less, rather than consistently seeking to secure more, at the expense of those who have nothing." He, the Uber driver, is 30, y'all! The creation story teaches us an important lesson about learning to reside in provision, to think of what we have as sufficient. But what we really have become is consumers who believe that we have a right to more. More income for more gear, more friends for more happiness, more land, and we glorify and strive to be in proximity to excess in these things, even as we march, protest and demand for basic necessities. There seems to be no possibility to turn back to a peaceful co-existence with the land and animals, plants and natural resources; we are engaged in a fateful push to conquer all that there is, even as more of us fall under the proverbial bus of poverty.