What does it mean to be a witness? It can mean simply that we have seen something. But it can also mean that we are called upon to share what we have seen as vividly as we can, to make it real to others.
This was a far different experience for me from the visit three years ago, just before Covid.
We made it back to Guatemala City, our last full day of site visits. We had gotten in late following the overheating of our bus as it climbed the steep mountains surrounding Atitlán, only to be met as we arrived in Guatemala City with a three-hour traffic jam. We had heard that traffic could be bad, but never imagined we’d experience anything like this firsthand.
I woke up on Sunday morning in paradise at a beautiful resort in Santiago on Lake Atitlán. There are 37 volcanoes in Guatemala and three of them dominate the view across the lake. It’s truly spectacular. Take a peek in the video below!
A high altitude report from Carol and Bruce Shumway, Trinity Presbyterian Church
“Can’t see the forest for the trees?” Yes, yes you can! Day four of this Guatemalan journey was spent visiting a reforestation site in the Western Highlands with Carlos, our agricultural expert. You have probably heard of “tree huggers” and “forest bathing.” Today we were forest dreaming. The group rode up a harrowing road to an elevation of 10,000 feet to see a reforested area and meet the Mam women who are the custodians of this site. The climb to the site left us breathless, literally, from the thin air, and the view of the trees almost touching the clouds left us breathless as well.
Last year, 6,000 trees were planted on this mountainside. They replaced the pine trees that have suffered disease from a pine beetle infestation. New species of trees were planted to help protect the remaining pine trees. With the support of the Partnership, the women have been able to put into practice the teachings of their indigenous ancestors: “For every tree cut down, you must plant ten,” stated an Association board member.
While most of the projects of the Partnership have involved helping the women to empower themselves and create a sustainable source of income, the reforestation project is done for the love of the earth. Our hearts were gladdened to learn that despite their personal struggles, they are responding to God’s call to be faithful stewards. We are optimistic that the efforts of this one small group can make a difference as they are a small part of a larger effort that has succeeded in planting an average of 10,000 trees every year with the Partnership’s support.