La Limonada, Guatemala

Years ago the area of La Limonada was a beautiful location, a natural ravine, with a river running through it and lot's of trees. At one time Guatemalans from rural villages fled to Guatemala City, and began squatting in the narrow valley to escape the violence of the civil war. Today this area is home to more than 60,000 people. La Limonada, which was once an escape from violence has now become notorious for violence.  
The ghetto has been known for violence, gangs and drugs. Bullet holes can be seen in the walls and alleys. No wonder that it has the 4th highest murder rate in the world! Gangs have controlled a great majority of this area. Many have died because they walked into the wrong zone of the ghetto. The drug of choice, mostly because of its affordable price and easy availability is glue sniffing. The little yellow glue tubes can be seen all over the ground.  

Residents have difficulty getting hired for jobs when employers find out where they live. If they do find a job, they are paid very little for their efforts. Some make as little as $3.00 a day.

Knowing all of this, we entered into the ghetto prayerfully and trusted the relationships that our guides Ashley and Emily from Hope Renewed International had built with many who lived here. 

People have asked me if I was afraid going into this area. Honestly, I felt the protection of the Lord as we walked through the rock paved alleys, children playing in the alleys, past men drinking in door stoops and the hundreds of people we greeted. Knowing that I had been sent with a purpose and in the name of the Lord gave me strength as we ministered in this area. 

Let me introduce you to two people that impacted me. I am purposely removing their names.

In the morning, I met #1 while we were working on mixing and applying stucco to a house. We had a pleasant conversation and he was helpful with the work. Our friend Emily had been sharing with this young man about God's plan for him and her hope that he would be able to stop drinking.  He was confident of this and
seemed excited about it. After lunch we returned to the work site and so did man #1. Unfortunately he had drank his lunch and now was stumbling and slurring his words. My heart sank as we talked with him.  I even said to him, "it's hard to understand you when you sound like this ........." . Fortunately he found humor in my frankness. I began to pray as I stood there mixing cement, trying to back away from his horrible beer breath. "Lord, what do you want me to do? How can I show your love to this man?"  I honestly wanted to just walk away!  

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40
I was reminded of this verse and stayed talking, feeling inadequate and unprepared to minister to this man. Just when I felt like I had nothing else to offer, God reminded me that he had prepared me in the morning for just this situation. 
I reached into my bible and pulled out a 3x5 card and began to read the verses that I had written in Spanish that morning. "My word will not come back void" I heard God whisper as I kept reading to this man. 
Man #2 
Seven of us met him in the alley and at once realized that there was something special about this young man. He responded slowly to our questions, the consequences from years of glue sniffing. When asked if we could pray for him he asked us to join him in his home. Inside the dimly lit, dirty house we asked what he would like prayer for. He began to share with us his addiction to glue and his desire to be free of it. Hesitantly, he also shared that he was not ready to go into a rehab program. After several of us shared scripture with him and prayed for him I was reminded that God wants to heal us but we must be ready to accept His healing and restoration in our lives.

But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.' Jeremiah 30:17

The ghetto has been known for violence, gangs and drugs, Yet I found it to be a place filled with people who are hungry for love, acceptance and restoration. May God richly bless those like Ashley and Emily and their teams to be the hands and feet of Jesus, making a difference 1 person at a time.
Where is your "la Limonada?  How does God want you to minister there?
Father, I pray for this beautiful area of La Limonada.  I ask that you would use the light of Christ and His deep forgiving love to change this place. To make beauty from Ashes. Restore what has been taken from these people and increase your presence by casting out the darkness!  Jann


  1. Thanks, Jann! I'm thankful that I got to be there to witness how God used you in these situations. I am praying with you for those who God introduced us to. Chrisann

  2. Jann,

    As I read your blog I remember it like yesterday being there too. So hard not to fall in love with these people who have nothing, and are so desperate to fill the void in hearts with all they have ever known - addictions. You can sense in this community of people how close God is to the broken hearted & yet how desperately Satan is trying to keep them from the truth. So hard not to stay and share the good news of God's love for them with everyone you meet. I came across this verse yesterday & thought it fit well with your talk about addictions: 2 Cor. 10:14 "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." Would love to get together & hear about your experience sometime :) God Bless, Kim VS

  3. Thanks Kim, We strongly sensed that the battle belonged to the Lord. Can't wait to share with you more!

  4. I googled La Limonada and found your blog post. Your words are beautiful! I'm on the Board of Lemonade International, a US based non-profit, working with students and families in La Limonada, Guatemala. I'm praying with you for the Light of Christ to reach all who call La Limonada home. I'm encouraged to read about another Christian organization working in La Limonada as well.
    Thanks for sharing!


Thank you for visiting, Praying that you are blessed today. Jann

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