An Easter Morning in Guatemala
The chapel of the Trappist monks of Assumption Abbey is beautifully lit up. It is like a golden oasis in the dark green woods of the Ozark Mountains.
Father Phil from the Philippines speaks in a soft voice, but his words I clearly hear. “Go back to Galilee, to your place of work, keeping the Resurrection of the Lord present in the pleasant and not so pleasant tasks of your ordinary daily lives”.
My husband and I had such a good time during our spiritual retreat that the last thing we fancied at that moment was going back to the harsh reality of Guatemala. “And”, continued Father Phil, “Give proof of the Resurrection. The philosopher Nietzsche said that Christians should give proof”. This last phrase certainly got itself notched in the back of my mind.
Many a morning later, as I walk around in my neighborhood in Santa Cruz I happen to see Mike, one of the local boozers. He is having a lovely snooze in the morning sunshine. I can’t help think that his snooze is like a death sleep, as I have seen several of his drinking buddies die a slow death.
Two hours later I hear a racket at my door and I am surprised to see Mike again. “I’m here with Baldy” he says. “You’re kidding me” I answer, “Baldy died in August in the hospital”. Peter, nicknamed Baldy, used to be Mike’s drinking buddy. Neighbors told me that Peter had died of severe cirrhosis. “Look for yourself then”, Mike replies. As I peak my head out of the window, I find two piercing eyes staring at me. Perfectly well dressed in an ironed white shirt, formal attire and a lot thinner, it crosses my mind briefly, that I might be looking at the ghost of Peter. “It’s me” he confirms, “I just wanted to visit you…”
Ten minutes later, with steaming cups of coffee in our hands, Peter tells his story. “Yes, true indeed, five months ago I was dying. My stomach was swollen like an enormous balloon. The doctors did not want to take me in, as they said: “You are going to die soon, because your liver and your pancreas are totally destroyed. We can’t do anything for you. It is preferable to die at home and get a decent burial, than to die in the hospital and get only a black plastic bag for your other-world journey”.
“A bus driver’s assistant took pity on me and they let me go on the bus to Guatemala City. Somehow I managed to get to my sister’s house. As I lay on my deathbed, I cried out to Jesus, asking for forgiveness, promising him my soul and body and begging him for life.
“Suddenly I felt a great urge to go to the bogs. I won’t go into the details, but it was as if the balloon burst. When I left the place, I could walk again. I know that through the power of Jesus, I was cured. Glory be to God!
“Here I am, on my way back to the city to work as a gardener now. I know what it is to lie in the mud and in the gutter… It is through His power I am standing here.
“Wait a moment, please, before you go. May I take a photo of you? I have to give proof…”
Dutch VMM missionary to Guatemalan Cultural Action (ACG)
and friend of Global Ministries (UCC/Disciples)