Category Archives: Guatemala

My Dearest WordPress: I think we’re breaking up…

It appears that while we have been in Honduras, WordPress has been blocked in Guatemala, where I reside and normally write from.  Today, I am stuck in Honduras with aspirations of returning to Guate tomorrow when, hopefully, normal forms of transportation will resume.  But this may be the last I am able to post here for awhile.  We believe WordPress has been blocked as it had been used by many Guatemalans to spread the word about the political situation there (see earlier entries below).  So…I feel in a bit of super surreal situation:  I need to leave Honduras (for a number of reasons…the top one being, obviously, the political instability here…).  But when I return to Guatemala, I will no longer have the freedom to post anything here regarding the government there or here!  And still the top two world news stories remain…Michael Jackson.   Great.  The irony…I seek refuge from a country in the throws of a military coup in an only-sightly-less-messed-up developing nation which will no longer allow me to voice my thoughts online about either of those real life situations and all anyone on the outside cares about is some dead 80s star.  Frustration reigns.

How Surreal was Your Day?

Mine couldn’t have been more so:

At 8:20 as the church service started, so did the earthquake; like all good Central American dwellers, we waited for the shaking to stop and then moved on.

At 9:00, I listened to a message given to English-speaking Christian church-goers about how not to be gripped with fear while living in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which incorporated the Islamic proverb:  Trust God, but tie up your camel.

At 9:45, I left church to see someone’s private security guard in the parking lot making sure that that someone could be inside listening to a message about not being afraid without being afraid.

At 10:00 I boarded a city bus to sit behind the military personnel posted there so that gang members might not attempt to kill the driver.

At 11:00, I participated in a protest for justice and listened to people around me chant:  “no tenemos miedo…no tenemos miedo”  (we are not afraid…we are not afraid) as a number of them were flanked by personal security.

Once I digest all that, I’ll have more to say about the protest itself…

Where do I put this?

As if I hadn’t been struggling enough today with what justice means, what this whole movement is about, if I’m doing the right thing or being led by radical idealists, trying to look for direction through God’s word…along comes this article in today’s Latin American Herald, entitled…

Murders Up 15 Percent in Guatemala

Read the article or just check these stats it relates:

  • 2008 was the most violent year in Guatemala’s history
  • so far this year (Jan. – April), the number of murders has exceeded the number of 2008 (Jan. – April) by 15%
  • 2009 will likely see 1,000 more murders than last year’s total of 6,292
  • the first four months of this year have seen nearly 2,000 murders already
  • Guatemala (with 13 million inhabitants) has nearly the same murder rate as Mexico (which has more than 100 million  inhabitants)

Is something wrong here?  Obviously, yes.  But what do we do about it?  Does it matter?  Will God bring His justice?  Or is He already doing so?  How much blame can we hold against those who take the law into their own hands when they don’t see anything being done to help?  Is it wrong to even ask that?  How does justice get done?  Who should handle it?  Will we like the answers?  Where does forgiveness fit in?  Where do I put this?

The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it:

God, how long do I have to cry out for help
before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
and stand justice on its head.

Habakkuk 1:1-4 (The Message)

Will God’s answer here and now be the same as it was then and there?

Peace and Justice for ALL

Last night, around dusk, a crowd began to gather at the Obelisco, a well-trafficked area of Guatemala City ; the main hub leading to zones 9,10,13, and 14.  The event:  a candlelight march for peace and justice.  Prior to beginning, the organizers were approached by the press, but also by the police wanting to know what was going on and how long it would last.  It was a well-considered place for such an event.  The Obelisco is the home of Guatemala’s Monument to Independence, the base of which displays Guatemala’s Declaration of Independence as well as this statement:

“Guatemalan: This flame symbolizes our supreme desire for liberty and justice. Venerate it, respect, and never permit it to be extinguished.”


The flame, however, has long ago been allowed to burn out.

Prior to marching, the crowd sang the National Anthem.  Independently.  A capella.

As the darkness of the evening settled, everyone lit their candles and began walking the heavily-traveled circle around the Obelisco. The crowd, though not large, was able to completely encircle the area with light and continued marching around and around.  I was reminded of the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho.

I don’t remember how many times we circled, but everyone: parents, kids, grandparents…all were content to do so peacefully as many times as we were allowed.

At one point during the march, the President’s motorcade rushed past, presumably taking him to meet with the president of Thailand who is in country right now. We were only blocks from the hotel where he is staying, and as a precaution, the police continuously circled us circling the Obelisco.  Interestingly, at one point, from one of the police trucks parked along our route, came a horn blast of support. The numerous killings of police that happen here go just as unpunished as the killings of “regular” people do.

When the marching was over, people were asked to leave their candles in front of where Guatemala’s eternal flame should be burning.

Justice makes no sense to the evilminded; those who seek God know it inside and out.   Proverbs 28:5

Peace and Justice for ALL

Crime and Politics

Some history and follow up on the state of affairs here in Guatemala, where we will again be marching for justice on Sunday.  This is by far the most clearly-written article and response I have yet to see on this crisis.  Please read.  Please pray.  Please share:

Crime and politics in Guatemala:  An indictment from the grave

The Big Guy Does It Again

A little while back I put up a post about how sometimes it is just so clear to me how God aligns things just right (see previous post: Sometime I Just Have to Say: “OK!  I get it!”).  While I am always confident in His plans for all of us, some days it is way more obvious just how He works, and I have to stop and marvel at it.

Take yesterday for instance…I visited my Facebook account to check on any responses to the March for Justice information which I had put up just the day before.  (Btw…The day I did that was the first time I had visited fb in weeks…fb and I are on-again/off-again lovers.)  So yesterday when I visited, I decided to clean up some of those piled up notices, starting with the friend requests.  There were a handful…some students, one dude who was a friend of a friend, and an old classmate from high school…one of those people who I knew who she was, but had never really been friends with.  I always debate about who to “confirm” and who to give the big “ignore” click to.  Yesterday I was feeling generous and just accepted everyone.  Yada yada.  Then I went on to check the day’s news, scanning for more info to share in English about the crisis here in Guatemala.  Instead of finding any direct references to the government scandal, I found one about the murder of an American priest.  It relates to what we’re fighting for here, so I put a little something together, posted it on my ministry blog, and was just about to do the same on Facebook, when there appeared a message on my wall…from the high school classmate I had just accepted.  (note:  I haven’t had contact with this person in 20 years.  There is little chance she would have known that I was living in Guatemala until scouring fb for contacts…and even if she had found that much out, she had requested weeks ago to be fb friends…) She was writing to ask if I had heard anything about an American priest who had been  killed here this week, and went on to write a heart-wrenching note about how she and her family had been very close to this man…

Now, I had been looking to use Facebook as another outlet for information to the world about the goings-on here…and here was a person I would likely have never contacted myself…never even remembered or thought about, who’s friend request had been sitting in my notices for weeks, and who I had just confirmed that day…writing for information on something that NEEDS to be shared with the world.  Coincidence? Not in my book.

I just can’t deny God’s hand when I experience things like this.  I know He wants justice for Guatemala. And I know He will use whatever means are available to bring it about:  in this case…online social networking.  How awesome is that?!?!

Chalk another one up for the Big Guy…

I SO Wish People Would Get It!

Recently I have been praying, writing, emailing, tweeting, blogging, talking, chatting, etc. about the situation here in Guatemala (the facts of which can be found in my previous post: March for Justice).  In my mind I’m doing all of this…spending my time and energy on this topic, even though it’s the busiest (aka: last) week of school when I could easily (and probably should) divert my attention to many other things…because I want people to know.  To be outraged.  To want to help do something about it.  Even if all someone does is say:  Hey!  That sucks!  Thinking about you!  With you in spirit!  That would be a start.  That would be a help.  But instead I get either avoidance or…my personal favorite…statements such as:  Why don’t you just leave?  Isn’t it time to get out of there?  Why don’t you just come home?  There is plenty of missions work here [the States].

For real, people!?!?!  Really?!?!?  These are statements that make me so sad.  Where would anyone currently enjoying the freedom, safety, lifestyle, etc. of the US be if no one had ever stood up for those things there?  Now, I haven’t lived in the States for seven years…that’s not a long time…but do people there really just think that’s the natural order of things?  That they just woke up one day with all they have?  If so…maybe they do need to be doing a better job in schools…teaching history.