At Concordia University, our theme for the 2017-2018 school year was “All Things New” taken from Revelation 21:5, and that verse soon became the theme for my life. The Spirit led me to new places, to new people and new challenges. With all the new that occurred in my life this past year, what I’ve been reflecting on the most was my mission trip to Guatemala.

With other CU students, I had the privilege to spend spring break serving the people of San Raymundo, Guatemala. Working through a charitable organization, Casas por Cristo (Homes for Christ), we built a home in three days for a local family. This was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. I had no idea what I signed myself up for, I just knew that since last August, God had been calling me to the beautiful country.

San Raymundo residents stand outside their newly constructed home along with Casas por Cristo workers and volunteers who helped build the house.
Relying on donations and energetic workers, Casas por Cristo builds houses for residents in San Raymundo, Guatemala. Here's a photo of the house I helped hammer into shape for a family.

My year of all things new started with a calling to serve in Guatemala, but the Lord was also using the mission trip to bring me out of a relationship I was in that had turned toxic. When I was first told about the trip, immediately my heart jumped for joy at the chance to travel and to share the love of Christ. After instantaneous excitement came a sinking feeling--knowing that my boyfriend would not let me travel to another country. He tried to control my every move and couldn’t understand the calling God placed in my heart to become a missionary. He didn’t recognize the importance of the work I was doing.

Guatemala became a means for my escape, my reason to finally break free of the relationship that had been holding me captive for two years. Anxious and fearful for too long, I ended the relationship. This left a lost and hurting girl--with a fragile heart--praying for healing.

The beginning of healing came months later in the small, crowded, Central American tapestry shop I visited during my mission trip. Given time away from the work site, my friends and I decided to go into the surrounding community and talk with some shop owners. We hoped to buy some jewelry and blankets as souvenirs to take back to the States, but what I got was so much more.

Out of all the shops that lined the streets, the Spirit led us into one--where a young woman was sitting in her chair embroidering fabric, and a little boy sat playing at her feet. My friends and I walked in and started asking about purchasing blankets for our families back home. Talk over these blankets led to a deeper conversation about the shop owners’ family and her husband.

This kind shop owner remains in our hearts. We pray for the health and safety of the woman and her son in the aftermath of Volcan Fuego's eruption.

Her husband had moved to New York in hopes of making a better life for his family. The wife hadn’t been able to talk with her husband for several months and shared how hard it was for each of them. She had been living with her son and trying on her own to earn enough money to meet her husband in the U.S. She regularly traveled three to four hours to various markets to get fabrics that she could embroider and sell. She said that, one day, she hopes to open a shop in America with her husband, better provide for their son together, and get him a good education.

Day by day, she sits in her shop on the side of a mountain, embroiders fabrics, and dreams of a better life. Through her hardships, this wife, mother, and business owner praises God for every little blessing, stays deep in prayer, and walks with the joy and love of Christ. She has gone through so much when it comes to relationships but is joyful knowing Christ as her first love and the foundation of everything. This woman inspired me to dig deeper with Christ, to find healing in the name of Jesus, and to recognize that in time Christ makes “all things new.”

When I sat in her shop, I could see a breath-taking view of a volcano: Volcán de Fuego. Now after its deadly and tragic eruption, I sit here at home, thinking and praying for this woman and child. Now I can only imagine the fear that view recently brought. The woman who gave me hope and redirected me to Christ is facing a devastating battle. I have no idea where her and her son are.  I pray they were able to escape harm and find safety.

My heart hurts for this country which helped me gain a sense of freedom and safety that had been taken away from me for far too long by a controlling boyfriend. The people of Guatemala are welcoming, loving, joyful, and kind and are now needing help. I urge you to help our brothers and sisters during this time of disaster.

Please click here to donate for volcanic relief efforts.This will take you to the donation page for Casas Por Cristo, in the drop-down program menu please select 5481, Wayland and Kristin. These are the missionaries I worked with in Guatemala and they will be buying supplies for relief efforts. In the comments box, write that you would like this money to go toward volcanic relief and then enter in the rest of your information.

Casas por Cristo

Thank you for considering this and other ways you can aide the people of Guatemala.


Amanda Ressler

I am going into my third year at Concordia University Ann Arbor. I am majoring in family life education with two minors in church work and youth ministry. I plan to use this degree to travel the world building churches and family centers while proclaiming the gospel.
Amanda Ressler

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