We've arrived in Romania!! After nearly a 45 hour travel day, lost luggage, and two leaders left behind, we've settled into Eastern Europe mostly unscathed and ready to dive into ministry! For this blog I'd like to recap some of my time in Guatemala, going into detail about what God did in my heart, in our ministry, and a bit into my role in the kingdom as well.
Truth be told, my time in Guatemala really was a challenge. This has been a season of learning true humility, deliverance, greater inner healing, and one where God's been teaching me to submit to Him in all ways. And in the midst of all of this, I've come to realize I've been clinging to and believing lies about myself and God for quite some time. They whispered into my spirit "you're unloved, unseen, unworthy, unwanted". I hadn’t felt like myself and learned quickly that I'm not even sure who Dezarae is, for my identity has been built on the things God has given me rather than on God Himself for so long. Some of those things being ministry, leadership, knowledge, etcetera. When coming to the Race, all of those things were taken away and I found myself floundering, insecure and uncertain of my place in all this. It’s humbling to write all this. I must admit I have been avoiding it. Though God has been so gracious to me in removing my idols and false identity, He’s been meeting me in the secret place and whispering the truths that I’d forgotten apply to me also. Like clay in His hands, the Potter has been reshaping, reframing, and reforming me (Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:1-17). He’s teaching me what He sees in me and who I truly am. I’m learning to be a daughter and how to have a relationship with my Father! Praise the Lord! I think, however, this initial misperception of myself and of God attributed significantly to my struggle with connecting to the culture, many of the people, even the ministry at the beginning! He revealed to me more aspects of his character as a loving Father in Guatemala, and through all of this, I’ve been learning my identity in Him, for the Father is the giver of our identities.
Our ministry really was incredible, however. We spent about half of our time working with kids in the villlage of San Antonio Aguas Calientes where we lived and the other half in Bible studies or intercession in the tourist town of Antigua. For reference, here’s our ministry schedule day by day: Monday’s were house visits and English classes for the kids. Tuesday's we did house visits and VBS. During house visits we went to homes in the villages where we met with women and brought Bible studies, friendship and fellowship, prayer and prophetic words from the Lord, even a few sustainable feminine hygiene supplies! Every Wednesday was Bible study with a group of missionaries where we were poured into significantly and then Beauty for Ashes, a ministry for women in the village focused on creating a safe place to unpack their stories and discover God’s love, truth, and presence in the midst of the turmoil (we spent those days studying the scriptures and learning/teaching the attributes of God). Thursday mornings were a time of intercession for Israel in Prayer House and Worship Room later on, which is a large interdenominational (and bilingual 👀) worship night. Friday’s we did Prayer House for the nations as a whole and soccer practice with the kids. One day we celebrated Kid’s Day, a huge national holiday in Guatemala where schools close and kids get to be in parades, where businesses and ministries go all out in festivities too. Ours had a day for water balloon fights, water slides and games, and a surplus of candy. We had so much fun pouring out God’s love into these kids and seeing the joy of the Lord written on their hearts. This is the day something in me broke for these kids as I found myself joining in the dancing and playing and jumping around to the music! It was silly and wild and so much fun!
I noticed God move the most significantly in my heart during our times ministering in the Prayer House. I was incredibly apprehensive to pray out loud the first few weeks, fears of failure and comparing myself to others were evident and persistent. On our second week, we were praying for Israel and the Lord displayed a vision over the eyes of my heart right before asking me to prophesy over the nation! My heart was racing, my hands were shaking, but I felt power coursing through me and noticed a bold authority rooted in truth gripping me. So willingly, yet still apprehensively, I prayed for deliverance for the believers preaching the gospel in Israel, for the hearts of God’s chosen people to be softened that they might hear and receive the truth, and for repentance. I'm starting to understand a bit clearer now why we pray… When we pray God gives us His eyes to see people, circumstances, and the world around us with His eyes and through the lens of His will. God answers prayer. He listens to His children when we boldly approach the throne room of grace (Hebrews 4:16), and when we intercede we join in doing what Jesus did with the Holy Spirit (John 17, Romans 8:26, John 13:15). Often times, the things that our hearts break for and the ways our hearts are burdened to pray indicates where God is equipping us to exercise our authority. He's been making it known that He’s calling me to intercession in this season. Many people in my community back home had heard this from the Lord and spoke it over me before I left, people on my team and my ministry hosts have prophesied this over me too! And I can't forget that it was during a time of prayer and worship at my local Prayer Garage when the Lord sent me into missions by saying "yes, it's time. Pack up and go". What an honor it is to engage with the Lord and go to battle daily for my sisters here and for my squad. What a joy to pray for and with the nations, tribes, and tongues of the world!
On our last ministry night at Worship Room, we were praying as a team before set up. The focus of the night was spiritual gifts and unity in the church from Ephesians 4:1-16. As we prayed, my heart started to race as though the Lord had something to speak through me. I asked Him “Lord do you really want me to pray right now? I don’t have anything to say!” And He replied “Not yet” and then I saw an image of myself on the Worship Room stage wearing the same clothes I had on praying into a microphone. See, the setup of worship night is a bit of worship with the band, 45 minutes or so of intercession according to the night’s scripture, and then more worship. I said, “Lord is this really you?” In my rational mind, there was no way He’d want me to pray into a microphone in front of so many people. But of course, He did! I didn’t share this conviction with anyone however cause really I did not want to do this, though one of our ministry hosts approached me soon after and asked me if I’d pray one of the verses along with another girl on my team right after me. Turns out The Lord told my ministry host too. And I said yes! It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, I was shaking and I definitely started with the mic way too far away, I may have even blacked out for a second and prayed nonsense, I’ll never know. But I obeyed the Lord and He covered me, and I trust that His will was done! And I was so encouraged to see the community around me support me in it too, my teammates wrestling with me through my anxieties beforehand and bringing me to scriptures, and another ministry host holding me and praying over me for strength and courage and speaking life and truth over me. It’s a night I’ll truly never forget. More than overcoming the fear of public prayer I remember the cries of love from my community rallying around me.
All in all, I'll always remember Guatemala... the colorful, vibrant culture filled with warm genuinity. The friends I made, the mentors and leaders pouring into me and my teammates who equipped us for life in kingdom building. Our host family that served us with full hearts, consistent joy, and tender hearts. The vast array of mountains that my friend and I will always and forever know as broccoli (iykyk). And of course, I'll always remember our adopted street dog, Grumpy Gramps giving us light hearts and lots of laughs.