Guatemala 2016 | Always Beginners

In January 2011 I traveled to Guatemala with Spring Arbor University as an undergraduate. At that time we explored many of the same areas Cohort 19 will be exploring in a few short weeks. As I consider our upcoming journey I am very eager to re-encounter the beautiful country I fell in love with five years ago, yet at the same time, I am acutely aware of how different this will be.

Five years ago I was barely scratching the surface of what it means to love justice. I knew it was something I should do, but it felt very intangible; I didn’t know how to practice justice where I was. I always assumed I would live abroad some day in order to fulfill the biblical mandate of caring for the poor, since I didn’t see much need in America. Sounds rather trite and naive, doesn’t it?

A lot has happened in five years. It seems I’ve been in constant transition since my last trip to Guatemala, but the MSFL program has helped me find ways to practice a lifestyle of reflection amidst the constant change. While I can’t claim to be significantly more knowledgeable regarding issues of justice, I can say I’ve grown more adept at listening to and learning from the world around me. I think this is how a love for justice must start–with an open ear.

In their book Geography of Grace: Doing Theology from Below, Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke identify a “three-step plan” for redeeming injustice, and the first step is crucial: Consider It. Our “aid” to others will prove hollow if we do not begin with a student posture, a willingness to hear and learn.

One of the things I love about Spring Arbor’s cross-cultural experiences is the lack of a designated mission project. While service projects certainly have their place, trips like the one we are about to encounter are times of consecrated learning. We go to breathe their air, walk in their streets, hear their stories and resonate with their heartbreak. Often we find that it is within these periods of listening and learning that the Spirit prompts and guides and teaches in fresh ways.

As we read and reflect and prepare for our journey, I am seeking an attitude of attentiveness and a posture of listening. No matter how much I think I know, I do best when I remember that we are all–always–beginners.

Rocke, Kris, and Joel Van Dyke. Geography of Grace: Doing Theology From Below. 2012.

Becca Bio PicBecca lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jon. They both work in higher education and love exploring, hiking and traveling in their spare time.