When God challenges our focus, faith, and fears

Posted by Trinity Klomparens on 3/18/24 10:07 AM

NEW blog banner (4)-1

Lovie Aldana (Journalism, '20) never expected that she would find a home, a husband, and a whole new perspective on life when she first agreed to a mission trip in Central America. It was March 2020, and Aldana was a senior at PHC. Her local Hamilton church, Hamilton Baptist, wanted to send a group of Christians to serve and evangelize in Guatemala. Aldana knew nothing about Guatemala and did not have expectations for what a typical mission trip looked like. So, “Well, why not?” she thought. 

Read about another PHC student's heart for missions

During the first week that she was there, the mission organization shared about an internship that would help people learn about mission work by serving with different missionaries in 3-week increments. “A girl I met on the trip and I were both like, ‘Where do we sign?’” Aldana said. “We applied together and ended up coming together and doing the program as teammates.” As soon as she got home, she started fundraising and cramming to graduate from PHC early. Aldana graduated in 2020 with a degree in journalism

Lovie Churchill_1

Her second trip started in January of 2021. Aldana found it funny looking back. She had graduated early because she wanted to serve in Guatemala and then get back in time to enter the workforce around the same period other college graduates typically did. “I truly had no plans to stay long-term in Guatemala whatsoever,” Aldana said. But it took her less than a week to decide she would stay for at least a few years. “There was just so much to learn and to do,” she said.

Missions work was originally off of Aldana’s radar because she had never been on a mission trip or out of the country before. During her shortened first trip, she was impressed by the missionaries. They did not fit in her stereotypes. “Many of them were young. I had always imagined that really mature older Christians were missionaries, and that really challenged me,” Aldana said. “I was also impressed by how the missionaries we served with were encouraged simply by our interest in the people they had come to love so much and by our helping hands.” Aldana realized that, although she may not be an older Christian woman “who has it all figured out,” she can encourage and serve the missionaries and learn from the people in Guatemala.

Aldana was struck by the warmth of Guatemalan culture. “We were genuinely blown away by the way people living in houses of corrugated roof sheeting and on dirt floors, would welcome us into their homes with such joy and hospitality,” Aldana said. “There was no ‘Oh my gosh, ignore the mess.’ It was, ‘Can you stay for dinner?’” Aldana felt humbled by how generous and kind they were toward strangers. She could not help but think about how her “chickens back home had a nicer coop than their house,” she said. “It forced me to realize how blessed I am and how lame my ‘obstacles’ were when it came to loving others.”

During the first trip, Aldana stayed in the Antigua area. Antigua proper is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourists typically flood the streets. But, there are still many ways to serve. “Guatemala has a very striking juxtaposition between the carefree tourist and the unattended child selling trinkets, the well-to-do Guatemalan with an entire house staff and the multi-generational family cooking over a fire,” Aldana said. During the trip, she spent most of her time with a school that offered children a Bible-centered education up through high school. They offered this “as a way to not only break the cycle of poverty but to instill Christ-like values in the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.Lovie Churchill_3During the second trip, she had the opportunity to serve all over the country. She was in Sacatepequez, Escuintla, Quiche, Izabal, Chiquimula, and other departments. Beach, rainforest, lake, mountains, desert. “It was amazing to see how you can serve God with pretty much any college major, job background, or passion,” Aldana said. They met missionaries from all walks of life. Dentists, pastors, CFOs, youth ministry volunteers, nurses, special needs teachers, and more. 

lovie aldana

Aldana was struck not only by how great the need was in Guatemala or how many people were pouring their hearts out to meet those needs but also by how disconnected the American church was from that reality. Aldana said that she does not think the church disconnects because they “don’t care, but because they haven’t seen it for themselves.” She realized, that if God had shown her a need, and trained her for her college years to meet that need, then how could she choose not to help?

During her first trip, she served by painting a school and delivering food baskets to student families. She also helped to install wood stoves and stovepipes that led outdoors; this “was huge because these families do all their cooking over little fires or makeshift stoves that fill their house with smoke which is incredibly bad for their health,” Aldana said.

Lovie Churchill_Dental Work

After arriving in Guatemala, Aldana spent the first two weeks in one-on-one Spanish classes for four hours a day. She went on dental trips to remote communities where they would never otherwise be able to receive dental care, helped mix concrete with a shovel to build a house cement block by cement block, and replaced wood fires with stoves. The work “was really varied and showed us lots of different needs and ways to serve. Sometimes it was as simple and fun as going to a ladies’ Bible study,” Aldana said. She recalls that the Bible studies were funny because she “barely understood Spanish.” The team also got to visit some villages in the jungle that were only accessible by boat to bring them bags of essential foods, like rice, beans, and oil.

Aldana’s favorite part about the trip was learning how God’s ways are greater than hers. “I had every intention of going in to serve for 5 months, going back home, finding a job, and settling down. Instead, he graciously challenged my faith, my priorities, and my fears,” she said. 

“Imagine being fiercely independent and then putting yourself into a situation where you don’t know anyone, the language, the currency, the culture, how to get from A to B without a map. You go from protecting yourself and pushing people away to being embraced by a culture where depending and trusting others, being hospitable and living in constant community where multi-generational families are the norm,” Aldana said. “Honestly, it’s probably good that God doesn’t tell us all his plans, because if I had known he was going to have me meet my husband on the trip I probably wouldn't have come.”

Lovie Churchill_6

Aldana met her husband, Marco, while serving in Guatemala. Currently, they still live there with their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Bella. Aldana is volunteering with the ministry Casa de Gracia, House of Grace. She recommends that other Christians should choose to go on a mission trip. “Go with an open mind and a heart to learn,” she said. “When I came here, I had a very self-centered and short-term view of life. I am so grateful that God used the people here to show me otherwise. Serving others, quality time with family and friends, being grateful for what I have and the opportunity to share it, and seeking Christ and his Kingdom above temporary things is far more fulfilling than a ‘busy busy’ life that is centered around myself.”

Alumni Updates September


 Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


Search LearnPHC posts by keyword(s)

Popular Posts

Browse by Category

See All