Tu Habla? Agragape goes to Xela!

Five years ago everything changed. I almost didn’t even realize what was happening. It is pretty normal in my world, as a minister, to organize and to travel on mission teams. Honestly, I can’t remember a year of my life that hasn’t contained at least one trip.  In 2011, I somehow began traveling abroad.

I found myself in a city officially known as Quetzaltenengo. The people who live there just affectionately call it Xela, unless they are old school Mayan’s who will still call it by its original name of Xelaju. It’s the second largest city in Guatemala and home to around 200,000 people. It is a city with a very young population and a very rich history stretching back to before the Spanish conquest in 1524. From them moment I set foot in Xela I knew my heart would be in Guatemala forever.

Since 2011, I have traveled to Guatemala 8 times to lead mission trips and ministry training conferences. Each time I journeyed there I would pick up a little more of the language, but never enough to really be conversational. God began placing it on my heart to learn to speak Spanish.

“One day, Edgar, when you finally go to heaven,” a friend of mine once joked with me, “you will be able to speak the language of heaven. The language that God and the angels use. You will finally know Spanish.”

I don’t think they knew how close to true that statement was. Not that I feel like Spanish is the actual language of Heaven, but I do know that it is one God expects me to know to serve Him. It has become very apparent that my ministry will focus greatly on reaching Spanish-speaking people. How can I truly do that without knowing how to speak to them?

It is true that I can use translators. I have been doing that for years now. There are many missionaries that survive off using translators to help them speak to the people. There is just something about learning how to speak to people yourself that helps them to know you care about them.  I have loved every translator I have worked with. There have just been so many opportunities (at home and abroad) where I did not have a translator with me, opportunities where the Gospel could not be communicated, that have lead me to know it is God’s will for my life that I learn to speak for Him in a language that nearly 400 million people speak as their native language. Spanish is actually the second most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin has it beat by just a little bit.

I was in Guatemala this April when God started to push me towards a solution to my language deficiency. While ministering in Xela, I ran into several people who were there as part of an immersion training school. It is a program where you live in the area and spend time learning how to speak as well as local history and customs.

After some research I found a school called Casa Xelaju. The sabbatical (and some vacation time) from my job allows me six weeks of study. Casa Xelaju has arranged for me to have an apartment and a personal teacher for 5-8 hours a day this summer from July 15 until August 25.  They are pretty confident that this will give me the training needed to be conversational before the summer is over. I am not sure they took into account the denseness of my skull. I choose to trust them and God though. Taking it in faith that prayer will give me enough brainpower to overcome.

Over the years, I have developed a relationship with a local church or two in Xela, and the families that attend them. This month and a half will give me the opportunity to spend time physically working in and with these local congregations that we help support from stateside. I am excited about the chance, after several years of speaking in these churches, to be able to speak, do hospital visits, and preach without a translator.

This month and a half of my life will allow me to completely change the scope of my ministry and future. It allows me to learn to reach an entire people group through personal conversations. It also makes it possible to begin arranging and executing mission trips thru Agragape Ministries (contact us if you want to know more) as well as the local congregation I serve.

I know that where God takes you He will always provide what is needed. I am expectantly living with an understanding that God will take care of the financial side of this trip, as well as the emotional and physical side. There is more than one prayer going up that my stomach can adjust to life there.

I would love for you to partner with me in prayer (if you are the praying sort, in good thoughts if you are not) and help me to experience and new path in life.

You can make a financial donation to this adventure either in person to me or thru the Go-Fund Me page. All funds will go to expenses incurred in country or travel. All money that is left over after all expenses are paid will be used to finance future mission opportunities or to help local congregations in Xela.

I would love for you to keep up with me while I am out of country a bit. To keep an eye on what is going on and to meet the people I meet and hear the stories I hear just join us on Agragape’s on-line world.

I will be blogging throughout this adventure (as internet permits) over at Agragapes Blog Site.

You can also join us at the Agragape Facebook Page.

Last but not least you can sign up for the Agragape Newsletter. Here is a helpful link for you.
Agragape Newsletter Sign Up

Thank you so much for all of your support. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
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John Edgar Harris 
Prattville, AL
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