It’s GUATEMALA WEEK on our Watershed social media channels (Facebook & Instagram) and blog! This week we’re featuring content written by participants from Watershed’s trip to Guatemala last month to visit our global partners, EducateBV. Follow along as we post several pictures and thoughts throughout each day. Full-length blogs by contributors will be linked in each day’s final post.

By TJ Sullivan

How can we live with joy in our hearts? How can this continually flow out of us regardless of our circumstances? And how can that joy be a reflection of God’s love for us and for those around us?

Since returning from Guatemala, these questions have been ruminating in my heart. The DeepStream motto of “Love All, Worship One” has challenged me to question how my life can exude joy and be an example to others every day.

One day of our trip in particular stuck with me when it comes to loving all and living with joy. The itinerary seemed simple enough: English class in the morning, a water day with the preschoolers, and gardening in the afternoon. But the love the Schmidt Family has for the people of Buena Vista and the joy the villagers live with was most evident to me on that day.

It jumped off the page as we celebrated students’ achievements playing Bananagrams, Jenga, and Memory to practice words in English. It resonated throughout the village in the shouts of laughter from the preschoolers riding on our backs down the Slip-N-Slide, not to mention how fast their little legs carried them back up the hill for another ride! Otra, orta! Another, another! The contagious nature of that joy was especially evident when two mothers of the students decided to join us in sliding down the wet, soapy plastic.

There was joy in the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the property gardens, stumbling over phrases in Spanish together. God’s fingerprints could be seen through the heartfelt thanks Jose (the property manager) showered us with, not just for the help in planting new crops, but in his gratitude for new friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ. It wasn’t about how many seeds were sewn, it was about the joy of knowing they are loved and cared for by a community some 2,600 miles away.

Since returning home I certainly haven’t been perfect in leaning into the loving, joyous life God calls us to that was so evident to me in Buena Vista. I’ve gotten frustrated at work, annoyed in the parking lot that is now I-77, and discouraged when things don’t follow the plan I’ve laid out in my head. But the bracelet on my wrist from Guatemala has helped bring me back to memories of the trip.

Despite the challenges of living in one of the most impoverished parts of one of the world’s poorest countries, there is a joy oozing out of the people there. I believe that joy comes from the love God has for them, and that love is displayed by the work DeepStream is doing daily in their community.

On that Wednesday in Guatemala, God’s love was manifested to the people of Buena Vista in Jenga, Slip-N-Slides, and planting crops. But that was just Wednesday, and every day DeepStream purposefully finds ways to love all in the community. To me the memories of the smiles, laughter, and warm hugs are a constant reminder that, in spite of our circumstances, God loves us deeply and calls us to share that love and joy with everyone around us.