Our last day at SEMILLA


We’ve arrived on our last day here at SEMILLA. After a long day of traveling back from Lago Atitlan, the students were able to have a bit more of a relaxing day. This morning’s breakfast consisted of the famous beans, eggs, and tortillas, along with the occasional bowl of cereal. Our last centering prayer sessions took place promptly after breakfast accompanied by our worship service. A lot weighed on the minds of our students this morning with considerable political change occurring back in the states.

Fabian returned for our final class session to contemplate what we’ve discussed these past two weeks. A timeline was drawn up on the whiteboard in front of our students as he asked us to describe our knowledge of Guatemalan history. Beginning with the pre-classical Mayan history, then discussing the Spanish conquest of Guatemala in 1524, to a revolution in 1871 which overthrew Gen. Vicente Cerna, and further events leading up to the Guatemalan Civil War. Today’s class served as a cumulative course on Guatemalan history as it developed from the pre to postcolonial period.

Around mid-afternoon, our students were able to engage in a more structured theological discussion once again. Conversations were focused on questions written on a whiteboard at the front of the room, which one student had suggested earlier in the week. Among the questions were these: Was Jesus a political or religious figure? How do we define the gospel? Acts vs. faith. What is history and what is a metaphor in Scripture? What about the nature of Jesus and the meaning of the Trinity? How should we think about the separation of religion and politics. Conversations together lasted almost two whole hours. The intrigue that our students posed towards this theological discussion was immense and clearly evident.

After dinner, we said goodbye to our SEMILLA spiritual and cultural guides as they would be leaving to pick up another group tomorrow. The students said their goodbyes with heavy hearts and warm hugs. We also gifted our SEMILLA guides with SSTT shirts and hats as a way to say thank you and remember our time together.

The last student-planned worship was led by Francisco, Graciela, Joyce, and James and addressed themes of healing and self-forgiveness. Worship leaders shared stories of healing and forgiveness in their own lives, offering vulnerable accounts of their own journeys. The stories were impactful and a great way to end our worship times together. Following worship, Sarah W. and Lucca offered the entire group their “spiritual gifts,” which were hysterically funny mini-dramas depicting unfortunate and hilarious events that unfolded while we were in Guatemala (not even the program leaders were safe). After nearly twenty minutes of gut-splitting skits, they finally concluded with a standing ovation and the call for an encore from the other students.

With the night nearly over, all that’s left is to clean our rooms and pack. We leave bright and early after breakfast at 8:00 am for our flight. Our time spent here in Guatemala was profound for many of the students and hearing their stories has offered us all a glimpse at what the future holds. Post-SSTT will offer so many new opportunities and stories for our students and we can’t wait to see where they go. But until then, we still have two more days with each other to process our own experiences in Guatemala, and the ways in which we have been transformed, affirmed, and called.

We’re also including here some zip-lining photos from Lago Atitlan that we neglected to post yesterday. We’ll be posting a couple more times as we finish up with reorientation back on Goshen College’s campus.

-Alexander Koscher