Local Reps Dawn & Peter Ritchie from the Wirral, England, tell us about their life-changing trip to Guatemala recently
“First…well, I guess this trip was all firsts. First passport, first flight, first time ever out of the UK! After supporting Adopt-A-Child for many years, we felt God’s call to go and visit. Spurred on by our son, Dan, offering to go with us, we planned, packed, prayed and off we headed to Guatemala, which to be fair, is not your typical destination for first-time travellers! I had always said I was too scared to go anywhere but I can honestly say after having a list of fears too long to quantify, none of my fears were ever realised! Thank you God!
Before you even land, you see the volcanoes, the beautiful landscape, the corrugated tin roofing, it was very emotional touching down in Guatemala City! Here we were in a place that meant so much, that we loved dearly and prayed for and now would see with our own eyes, hug the children we had only written to and drink in all the sights and sounds of the culture around us.
Guatemala is a place of contrast. Extravagant beauty meeting abject poverty. The fertile, volcanic landscape makes for the most amazing foliage and flowers you could ever feast your eyes on, but life is hard for the people. Our sponsored children – Paola, Edwin, Keily, German and Joel – face many challenges including cerebral palsy, special needs, inadequate shelter and food and even gang violence in the notorious Zone 5. I have to give credit to the families we met – they were truly inspiring. One of our team had a visit from a young girl who was training to be a teacher. Her two older siblings had already trained. Their mum and dad couldn’t read or write, both working two jobs to give a better life to their children.
I think for Pete, the standout moment was in the kitchen – no, not to fill his stomach as usual – but to fill his heart! There was a member of our UK team who desperately needed prayer, and as soon as the busy Guatemalan cooks heard about this, they all stopped work and gathered round to pray! Heaven came down! God blessed us beyond our expectations – everything we did was Spirit-led, Jesus-centred…truly we experienced ‘Agua Viva!’
We laughed, we cried, we saw sights and heard stories that will never leave us. If I was being honest, I didn’t think we could love this ministry more than we did but we were wrong! We now admire what AAC do, even more. Their works…yes, but more than that, their generosity, how they share Jesus and have an extravagant love for the people. A love we now share in bucketloads!
We’ve been home not quite 4 weeks, no luggage got left behind but our hearts certainly did – and our hearts are calling to us to remember, to pray, to act, to return. If someone told us we could go back now, we’d just go…right now…no prep…no luggage!! Such is the pull of those heartstrings!
We love Jesus, we love Adopt-A-Child, we love Guatemala and we know the rest of our lives will be lived giving testament to that.
Until next time Guatemala… ¡Dios te Bendiga!”
Dawn and Pete Ritchie