Recently I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, for the first time. Although I want to travel all around the world, Guatemala was never on my radar. But it was a “God thing.” I’m writing a Guatemala blog series to show you the beautiful pictures and to share about the amazing things God did there. This is Blog #5, A surprise encounter at Parque Central in Antigua. You can read my other blogs about Guatemala at the links below:
Blog 1: My trip to Antigua, Guatemala http://www.bethjones.net/my-trip-to-antigua-guatemala/
Blog 2: Travel requirements, the Guatemala grocery stores, and the street markets http://www.bethjones.net/travel-requirements-travel-requirements-grocery-stores-street-markets/
Blog 3: Antigua’s beautiful ancient cathedrals http://www.bethjones.net/antigua-beautiful-cathedrals/
Blog 4: The older Antigua, Guatemala cathedral, Iglesia El Carmen, and San Juan de Dios Convent http://www.bethjones.net/the-older-antigua-guatemala-cathedral-el-carmen-san-juan-de-dios-convent/
When God began stirring my heart to travel to Antigua, Guatemala and confirmed it for me to go, I still didn’t know what His exact “mission” was for me there. I trusted that He would show me when I got there, just as He has for me on other trips that I’ve taken. And He did!
“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord, and the Lord delights in his (her) way.” (Psalm 37:23)
I was busy the first several days after I arrived, with my Spanish instructor Elvia and my driver Allen taking me around Antigua to grocery shop, visit the street market, and tour the ancient cathedrals and ruins. This was so good and generous of them and I deeply appreciated all their help, and my friend Kim Rogers’ and her boyfriend Stan Edwards’ help, too!
Kim and Stan arrived in Guatemala the day after me. After a couple of days of getting settled into her beautiful condo home again, Kim took an Uber from her town Jocotenango to Antigua, giving me a walking tour of the city. I hadn’t tried to venture outside my Air BnB on the streets since I got there, because I didn’t know where anything was and was afraid of getting lost–especially of walking around alone in the dark (not wise for a woman alone in a foreign country!)
Stacy, the girlfriend of the Air BnB’s owner Diego, is a hairdresser and has a salon right by my cabin. I went to the salon door to chat with her a minute one afternoon, and she said I’d be just fine walking to town. Um, no! For one thing, it looked like it was going to rain and I didn’t want to get caught in a storm, trying to find my way around there. And even though Parque Central (Central Park) is only about four blocks from my Air BnB, I’m very directionally challenged!
Kim’s walking tour really helped me to learn how to walk safely to the park and back to my Air BnB. It also helped me to become familiar with the most important things — like where the coffee shops, Tacool restaurant (tacos), and the street markets for shopping were located! 🙂
One morning after Kim had shown me around town, I needed some time just being alone, and decided that I felt confident and brave enough to walk to Parque Central by myself and to hunt for souvenirs for my family and my small group of intercessors. I was able to buy a few gifts that I wanted to get at some of the little markets in town. That morning the weather was clear, so I started out on my little adventure –and God had a surprise in store!
As I walked around the park, suddenly an older man came up to me, smiling. He began the conversation by telling me about a walking tour he offered around Antigua. I smiled, too, knowing this was a “Divine appointment” from God. He talked to me about a tour, and I talked to him about Jesus.
God just opened up the conversation and I began sharing with him about receiving salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. I am not a strong evangelist by nature, but to my shock, when I asked him if he wanted to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he said yes immediately. It was so easy!
So I led him through a prayer to be saved through faith in Christ, right there on the spot. He thanked me with tears in his eyes as I then prayed for him, for God to financially bless his tour business, his health, and his family. I walked away with great joy and peace in my heart, knowing this was a big reason God had sent me to Antigua, Guatemala!
At the park, you will see the famous Mermaids fountain. It was designed and built by Diego de Porres in 1737, and has four mermaids holding their breasts with their hands. This is where the water comes out (okay, kinda’ strange!). The park is a central place for people to hang out, just a beautiful, peaceful place to sit and enjoy your day. Some of the coffee shops around the park, like Cafe Barista, offer Wifi so it’s a great place to hang out for writers! One morning I went there, ordering a cappucino and banana bread for breakfast. Delicioso!
One of the things I really wanted to do when I traveled to Guatemala was buy a cup of coffee, and sit in the beautiful Parque Central and people-watch. I’d watched lots of videos on YouTube prior to traveling there, and the park looked so pretty and inviting. The park is well-maintained with a manicured lawn, trees, and beautiful flowers. I especially love the palm trees. I was able to do this while there, and it made me so happy!
I went to Cafe Condesa by the park, ordered a cappucino, and enjoyed seeing a family sitting on a bench, eating pizza, and a young couple on a bench, enjoying their ice cream cones together. It was so romantic! There were lots of pigeons in the park, hungry for crumbs, and I saw a white one. My daughter Leah would have liked the pigeons. She took pictures of them when we traveled to Ireland together several years ago, LOL. It’s the simple things in life which bring the most joy!
As I walked around town during my week in Antigua, street vendors often approached me to sell their products or services. At times I knew God had brought them across my path and I was able to pray for them or give them prophetic words of encouragement that God loved them, Jesus wanted to give them eternal life, and just impart hope and life into them.
One day Kim showed me around her town Jocotenango. She wanted me to see one of the many women there who hand-made corn tortillas and sold them to make a living for her family. One morning she found one of these women, dressed traditionally, with her two young, beautiful teenage girls helping her cook them in their humble, little home.
It had sheet metal walls (tin?), the stone stove, a little, wooden round table, and a plastic chair inside the house. I wasn’t sure where they slept. I think the floor was dirt. I was struck by the sharp contrast of how different her home was from the $130,000 to $250,000+ gorgeous homes in the gated community across the street, where Kim lives.
Many Guatemalan people live in abject poverty and the illiteracy rate is 74% for the population above the age of 15 years old. Coronavirus has greatly impacted the economy, and made things far worse. It has especially affected tourism, which is one of its most important economic sectors.
Since I speak only a little Spanish right now, I asked Kim (who is fluent) to translate for me as I prayed for this woman and her girls. (Kim asked her permission first for me to pray for her, and she said yes.) Kim thought she seemed receptive to the prayer and thankful. It blessed me to be able to do this for them. I told her how beautiful her daughters are: “Bonita!” One of the greatest ways you can help the people in Guatemala, besides praying for them, is to buy goods/services from the locals.
Kim ordered 10 of the tortillas, I think for just a few quetzales. We brought them back to her house after walking around the local Guatemalan people’s neighborhood, and she prepared them with softened butter, salt, and fresh, diced avocadoes. They were delicious! I miss these!
When Kim later looked at pictures that I uploaded and posted on Facebook, she busted out laughing because I had accidentally taken a picture of the tortillas with cat food, that Kim had bought for the cat wandering around her neighborhood (mama cat with two kittens). She is now feeding the cat every day and named her “Francesca.” We saw one of the kittens one morning as we were on the upstairs terrace. So cute!
I believe the primary “mission” God had for me to travel to Antigua, Guatemala, was to lead the man at Parque Central to Christ and to pray for people, and give them words of encouragement from the Lord. I was able to go one morning to Cerra de la Cruz, the hill with the Cross, read Scriptures, and pray over the land and the people there. In my next blog, I’ll share the pictures of this powerful time.