by Becky Kreidler, Franciscan Mission Service
Editor’s Note: Missioner in Guatemala, Becky Kreidler, describes a moment of receptivity as she encountered the children of Xela.
Sometimes I get caught up in the intended purpose for each chapter of my life and underestimate how God is at work all around me. When I came to Guatemala my eyes were fixed on the expected. My first six weeks were spent in Xela, where I anticipated focusing on studying Spanish, learning about the Guatemalan culture, and getting to know my host family. Through His grace, this was all true, yet I was also introduced to an after school program for kids ages 5-18, called Proyecto Comunitario (Community Project). I spent many Tuesday afternoons helping students with their homework and through countless moments at the Proyecto I was reminded that in a small chapter not explicitly designated for ministry, God still intended for it to blossom.
Despite my broken Spanish, the kids and I were still able to communicate and grow close through working on homework, making jokes, and playing outside. I especially loved our time together after the doors closed at 5pm and I would join the kids on their walk down the hill from the proyecto back to the city center. On one particular Tuesday during homework time, I noticed that many of the girls had tiny pieces of colorful paper in their hair. So as five kiddos and I descended the hill at the end of the afternoon I asked them why their hair was decorated. They explained it was called pica pica (confetti for celebrating Carnaval) and immediately asked if I wanted some. Filled with the warmth of being invited into another’s tradition and celebration, I bent down to the ground so the kids could reach my head. Through a chorus of giggles, they sprinkled my hair with pica pica. Before I knew it, I was lending them my phone to take a photo of my newly decorated hair and we took off, continuing down the hill as the sun set behind the striking hills and volcanoes of Xela.
In that moment, I could sense the deep holiness of being blessed by children who I barely knew; the profound gift in the action of receiving. And the imagery took me back to countless times, sitting in a church, witnessing the sacred sprinkling of holy water at baptisms and standing during the Sprinkling Rite, feeling the holy drizzle of water with the gloria ringing in the background. In water, in pica pica, in the simple, humble, and bold act of receiving, the light of Christ is revealed and shared.
And it was in that moment that I realized that these kiddos had completed a prayer that God had placed in my heart. For in my first few weeks in Xela, He continuously led me back to the message Thy will be done. And as I watched the kids skip ahead of me and the sky turn from the soft blue of late afternoon to the deep pink of the evening sunset, I had an overwhelming sense that this is His kingdom, and it certainly has come.
For as I helped the kids earlier that afternoon with their homework and looked out the door at the entire city below us, I couldn’t help but think that this is the light of the world, for a city on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). And as these kiddos sprinkled my hair with pica pica, I couldn’t help but wonder if we all actively and boldly spread God’s love to one another, like these kids did for me, how clearly glimpses of His kingdom would be revealed.
I often resist allowing myself to see His kingdom unfolding before my eyes because I think it will only be revealed in heaven. Yet, in the only prayer Jesus directly taught us, he said, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
As He continues to invite me into surrender, I begin to let go of expectations of how a chapter of my life should be defined or how I should understand God and His kingdom. I am truly starting to allow myself to sit in the truth that kingdom glimpses are present in this world, just as they surely will define the next.
Reflection Question: Where in your life has God revealed glimpses of the kingdom?