Global Engagement Series: Anthony Chow’s Experience in Guatemala

Anthony Chow ’24, a junior nursing major with a minor in philosophical apologetics, served on a Global Engagement trip this summer in Guatemala. He and his team of 11 Azusa Pacific University students visited Guatemala in May and served in a variety of ways. Read on to learn about Chow’s experience:

Why did you choose Guatemala for your global engagement trip?

Guatemala spoke to me in part because of the trip’s two-week length. I went on a week-long global engagement trip to Mexico last year, and I wanted to experience a longer stay. The trip was split into a week in the capitol, Guatemala City, and a week in the rural area of Pacaya, getting a good mix of the culture there.

How did you serve on the trip?

We did a lot of different things. The first week in Guatemala City, we spent most of the time preparing a mission house for the summer. We organized a lot of their storage and painted rooms. The nonprofit, called Clubhouse, planned to host a Vacation Bible School for kids there later in the summer. In Guatemala, many children are victims of the drug and human trafficking trades. Boys and girls in school are in a safe environment. Clubhouse sought to provide a place where kids were secure and could get an education.

In Pacaya, we prepared two more houses, getting them ready for missionaries who were going to come later in the summer. We had a nice balance of ministry and spending time with the moms and kids in Pacaya. I loved playing soccer with the kids and teaching them to make friendship bracelets.

Since several of us were nursing students, we did some health assessments and check ups for the kids. Then we organized their pharmacy to help them prepare for the summer.

What were a few highlights of the trip?

A big one was spending time with our host, Pablo. He was an orphan who was adopted by Mike, the founder of Clubhouse. Pablo was really involved with us in our work. I remember when we were cleaning out one of the storage rooms in Guatemala City, I found a comic book in Spanish and said it would be cool to read it. Then we went to Pacaya for a week, and when we returned to the city to fly home, Pablo said he had something for me, and handed me the book. I’m not much of a crier, but that made me cry.

He came from nothing and didn’t have much to give, but that book was such a heartfelt gift. Through the gift, he taught me to give more than you take.

Another highlight was going on home visits. We’d step into someone’s home, get to know them, and give them some food. That was a pivotal experience for me because it showed me how much of a contrast there was between the rich and the poor. So many of these families have so little, and yet they’re still so happy.

What was the dynamic like on your team?

My group had a lot of fun. There was always banter. We’d listen to music as we worked during the day. At night, we’d write encouraging notes to each other. I found myself getting to know the group through meals and one-on-one conversations. I love learning other people’s stories. We all came from different walks of life, but we experienced Guatemala together, which was really meaningful.

How did you see God move on the trip?

Every night, I journaled and reflected on my day about how I saw God move. In Pacaya, the girls and boys would just run up to you and give you a hug. They didn’t even know you, but they were excited to meet new people. I saw God taking care of these kids and their families in so many different ways. I knew some of them struggled to put food on the table, but they weren’t worried because God always provided. That was so inspiring.

How did you grow personally and spiritually?

I learned the importance of taking time for myself. I realized there’s a time to be with other people—community is important—but there’s also a time to be by yourself, to sit in stillness with God. God is in both of those places, in the people around you and the conversations you have with the team, and he’s just as much there for you when you’re alone praying in your room.

Would you recommend Global Engagement trips to other students? What advice would you give them?

Definitely! When people say mission trips are a life changing experience, it’s true. There are eye opening things you would never see in the U.S., things that will stick with you long after you come back. I would recommend these trips as a way to see the world, to learn how life is outside of the U.S. It’s important to see what God is doing in other places. I would advise anyone considering one of these trips to be clear about knowing your why. Is it just to have fun? Or is it to see God more clearly?

The intention is so important. God looks at your heart. He cares about your why. If you get that calling, if it’s something God’s telling you to step into, then you should do it with resounding yes and put everything you have into it. Don’t come in with expectations. Come in with an open heart and let God show you his plan.

Service is one of APU’s four cornerstones. What does service mean to you?

Most people think of mission trips as spreading the Gospel, but it’s really about sharing God’s love. It doesn’t always mean bold evangelism and sharing the Gospel verbally. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. For us, playing soccer with the kids in Guatemala, painting walls, organizing storage spaces—these were all simple actions with the intention of showing God’s love. That’s service. We reflect Christ through our actions.

All APU undergraduate students serve 120 hours over the course of four years. There are many opportunities during the school year and during the summer to serve both locally and globally. Learn more about global engagement trips here or by emailing [email protected].