Written by Lily Lovell (age 13) | Guatemala 2019 Trip

Our team split  into groups to visit families’ homes and talk to them about the dreams for their children, see their homes, and have a glimpse into what they face every day. Our group was in the first humble home, where the grandmother of the family said, “This Earth may not give us much, but God gives us many blessings.” I was constantly reminded of those words throughout our trip; and the students kept showing me how powerful those words were. Los Verdes, Guatemala is a community that shows you how strong that truth can be.

If you were to stand in any one of the homes in Los Verdes, you would see poverty. But you can also see something other than the poverty – you can see the joy. You can see the happiness in all of the students as they close their eyes and sing out the lyrics to the worship songs. You could see their happiness when they talked and laughed with their friends. You can see happiness in the staff and teachers when little ones ran up and gave them a hug. Happiness is so present in the Learning Center, and God is the center of that happiness.

Happiness is a choice. Anyone can choose to see the negatives in life. At the Learning Center, the students and staff constantly see poverty, hurt, disease, and pain. But they choose to see something else. They choose to see the joy in their lives. Instead of turning away from their hurt, they choose to smile instead. They choose to praise God for all of the things that he gives them, all of the many blessings that they will surely receive in heaven. This Earth has broken so many people down. Knowing God has built them up.

James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

In the Bible, joy is happiness and putting God above everything else. I think that this verse is telling us, “If you are happy with God and put Him above everything else, whenever something difficult comes and hardship is among you, He will be there with you and follow through with His promises and blessings.” I think that joy is not something that just comes randomly or occasionally when something exciting or important happens, but it is tied to faith. When you are faithful, God will place joy in your heart. You can see that all of your hardships and difficulties are for good, for God will give you many blessings. Continue with your faith, and those blessings will be granted to you. God’s plans for every individual show that even if your trials seem endless, they have a good outcome. It shows that this Earth is just temporary – it is not our home. It doesn’t matter if everything isn’t perfect here, because this isn’t our home. We shouldn’t find joy or happiness in what is here on this earth. We find joy in God.

So, choose happiness. Choose joy. Spend more time with your family and friends. Instead of just giving someone a nod, show them a smile. Instead of walking down the street every day in a black-and-white world, choose to see a little color. Instead of hiding your problems or carrying your burdens yourself, give it all to God. Choose joy.

Editor’s Note: This is Lily and Florecita … their friendship began when Lily became her sponsor 4 years ago. Lily has now been to Guatemala three times on CP’s annual family mission trip, each time renewing their friendship..