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May 22, 2006

Paul Pitcher - Guatemala

I find myself at the end of another adventure. After two years of wandering the highlands of Guatemala and traveling in and out of Central America, I have found myself in a familiar yet strange world for the last 4 months.

For the last two years I have been the humble worker in Guatemala, bringing the messages of hope through stories and pictures back to the United States and living my life in their culture. It has not been always been an easy journey in the civil war ravaged small country but my biggest challenge was not in living abroad but in returning to my “homeland”. The United States has been a comforting home and a frightening materialistic land of chaos at the same time.

My travels have taken me from the skyscraper streets of downtown Chicago to the confusing maze of Boston to the rolling hills of Vermont to the fishy scented peaceful coast of Maine. I have walked down the salty beaches of California and peered curiously at the tall rusty metal wall between Tijuana, Mexico and the United States. I wandered around the southern flavored communities of North Carolina, the warm hospitality of Georgia and the great plains of Illinois. I crossed over the Mississippi into the cornfields of Iowa, switched directions back to final four adorned Indianapolis and flitted down to the sun tinged flat lands of Kansas. These are just a few of the places I have visited in the last 4 months. Each morning I have had to wake up and ask myself what state and what time zone I am in.

To each of these places I have taken a heavy burden in my heart, I have tried to bring with me the story of Guatemala, of the country, of its history, of its people and of the work that I have done and continue to do. It is a difficult story to tell but holds an inspiration behind it, almost unexplainable in words. The story is not mine; I am just the spokesperson, the “portavoz” in Spanish, and the conduit of pain, struggle, hope and faith.

I have been Guatemala’s messenger to over 2000 people in the last few months, making a personal connection for many of the people that provide the support and solidarity for the work carried out by Acción Cultural Guatemalteca.

Now I have something to take back to Guatemala, a message of solidarity and excitement. My eyes have seen the light shine in peoples eyes as they here of amazing work going on around the world. I have had people come up to me and shake my hand with gratitude for the messages; the legend of Pablo has grown yet I am but the postman.

I can tell my Guatemalan brothers and sisters that their stories inspire people, that they bring us closer together in a land torn apart by political beliefs, war, religious disagreements and stubbornness. That the stories bring people a fresh breathe of hope. In a land where we create more and more borders to hide behind, be they physical or mental we have heard their stories of community and openness, they are undeniable and they motivate us in our own lives!

And now, what’s next? I head back to Guatemala from this long absence, I will take a new step forward when I alight from that plane and look around the country I call my second home. It is both an exciting and nerve wracking new day


Paul Pitcher is a missionary with the Christian Action of Guatemala (ACG). He serves as a communication and youth worker with ACG.

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