I had the great privilege of traveling to Guatemala in July of 2011—my first trip to Central America. Our mission team included a handful of pastors from around the United States, along with U.S. and Guatemalan staff from Food for the Hungry (FH). We hoped to learn about how we could partner with communities and churches in the Ixil region, combining physical, social and spiritual assistance and ministry.

We met with community leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities they faced. Many of these leaders were also pastors of local evangelical churches. They had the tremendous responsibility of governing and shepherding families, schools and churches, while often struggling for essential resources.

For me, one great joy during this trip came from a visit to the home of Eli, a young girl that my wife and I sponsor through FH’s ministry in Guatemala. We had a special time with Eli’s family, but her father was not at home. I learned that he pastors a church in the community and had already left for the same pastors’ conference our team would hold that evening.

During the visit with Eli, I saw her father’s study desk in the bedroom where he prepared sermons. I also noticed his small stack of books. Essentially he had one bible, one commentary and only a handful of other books. It moved my heart to realize how God had directed me to see first-hand the needs of church leaders who are the focus of our international efforts.

Another highlight came from our team’s participation in meetings with pastors from the neighboring towns. They had come together from diverse backgrounds and denominations. Most of them will likely never have access to formal ministry training. Each of our team pastors presented Bible expositions, with help from a Spanish-speaking interpreter.

Also, because of the generous gifts of our supporters, we delivered Spanish-language editions of three important theological books to the Guatemalan pastors. After the conference, I had the great joy of meeting Eli’s father and seeing him receive these three books to build up his modest library.

I went home with a full heart, thanking God for how He had moved providentially through our trip to Guatemala.