We got up early and headed out after breakfast. Hna Lupita walked with us to the street that lead out of town, and we continued on. We walked about an hour when a man stopped to ask if we wanted a ride. His truck had a sign on the back that said "Jesus breaks the chains (that bind you)," so we figured he was okay. We also saw the huge hill up ahead and praised God for a rest! (I should probably take this opportunity to tell you that God has lead us to the mountains to travel in here in
He dropped us off in San Pablo...we weren't sure if we were supposed to stay or go, so we prayed...we were to keep walking. We had been walking about 15 minutes all downhill...what an amazing God we serve! As we were about to start climbing again, another truck stopped. This time we were a little unsure, but the guy seemed pretty nice, so we climbed up in his huge truck. It turns out that his whole family attends church except for him. We encouraged him to seek the Lord and to take the role that he should as head of his family! He took us up a little further than he was going so that he could drop us off on the outskirts of
We sat and prayed for sometime outside of
We finally had the opportunity to buy a chip for our cell phone and much to our delight...calls are really cheap in comparison to prices in
We decided to invite him to eat with us...he had been kind in showing us around, but we were still concerned about his intent. After lunch, we wanted to read our Bibles. He explained that he couldn't read, but that he had recently started going to church. He asked if we could read to him. A pastor in
Just before he left, a man came in and sat behind us. Once Canela was gone, he (Abel) started talking to us. He works at the Christian radio station in town, so he was asking about us and was sharing testimony of how God had healed his son. We asked him if he knew anything about Canela...he told us to be careful. After a few minutes, Abel had to go to work, so we said good-bye, and he headed on.
We wrote for maybe 30 minutes, and a lady came in--Carlily. She was reading Chris's shirt (which has a verse in English), so I asked her if she spoke English. Come to find out she had lived in
While we were talking to Carlily, another man came into the restaurant and sat down at the table with us. He immediately started talking to us in broken English. Julio lived and worked in
We thought it would be good to go with Carlily and her sister...we thought they might stay for church. So we went with them thinking that Julio would meet us there. We arrived and Carlily immediately started trying to find the pastor so that they could put us up for the night. Trouble...that's not how it works...we wait on the Lord...we don't go meddling! We quickly told her that the reason we wanted to find a church was to attend the service, not to find a place to stay. God already knew where we were going to stay. So we headed for the church only to find out that she wasn't interested in staying. Yikes! By the time we sat down inside the church, I felt beaten and bruised on the inside. Strong spiritual warfare in
It turned out that it was a youth meeting! As the leader shared, the Lord began to calm my heart. At the end of the service, Chris and I shared a little about our journey and about seeking God first especially in dating relationships! The teens invited us to hang out with them that evening...they were going to pray for a teenager who was sick, then go play soccer against another church in town. We agreed! How awesome!! These kids have a heart for serving...we walked about 15 minutes to get to Mauro's house and then we all crowded in and prayed for him to get well!! On the way I talked with Hna Balbina...she is a nurse in a nearby hospital and has an incredibly sweet spirit about her. She bought Chris and I a Gatorade and water and yogurt.
From there we walked down to the soccer field...Chris played with the guys and I played with the girls...this was my team!! While the guys were playing, I started teaching some of the little kids who came with us some songs. Before I knew it, the teenage girls were gathered around too...they teach the kids for the Compassion program, and they are also Sunday school teachers. We had a ball singing and chatting.
After the soccer matches, they dropped us off at the church, and we stayed in one of the classrooms!! It was really cold that night, so I was extremely thankful that God made Chris in such a way that he exudes heat!! We were physically exhausted from walking and playing soccer and spiritually battered from all of the different encounters of the day. We cried out to the Lord for a peaceful night's sleep...and drifted off...
This morning we prayed probably more than normal, but God refreshed us...He had protected us from so much on Wednesday...we knew He was faithful. By the time we left our little room, we were ready for whatever God had in store for the day...ready to serve Him more!!
We went to a restaurant close by to eat breakfast--the pastor walked us down so we would know how to find our way back, and then he went back to work on some things at church. As we were walking back, we ran into several of the teenage girls that we met last night. They had bundles of flowers that they were taking to the church to decorate. (Different groups take turns putting up the floral arrangements.) The pastor was outside when we got back, and he asked if we would be willing to speak at the service that evening...it was celebrating all of the work that their teachers had done that year. We agreed and explained that we were teachers as well, so it would be an honor to speak that evening.
I went in to use the computer...the teachers wanted the words to all of the songs that we had sung! When I finished, I went outside to find Chris talking to an older gentleman-Hno Noé. (Chris explained later that when they were talking they both understood each other completely! It was definitely the Holy Spirit.) We continued sharing with him, and Hno Yovany (the director of the Compassion program...they have close to 300 kids in the program) came out to talk to us too. Hno Noé explained that every morning, he goes out in his truck to ride around the city. He asked the Lord to reveal someone who needs help or someone who he needs to talk to. (sounds familiar doesn't it!! That's exactly what we do every morning as well!) This morning, he didn't run into anyone, but he felt compelled to go to the church. That's when he met Chris! Oh, how he was sharing with us...not just testimony, but he told us to get out our Bibles and he started sharing for God's Word! It was amazing!! He's 72 years old and sold out to the Lord. He told us that he didn't have anything to start with, but God taught him to sew into His kingdom. He started giving...investing in the people of God, and God has richly blessed him!! What an awesome present from the Lord after such a hard day on Wednesday!
When it was time for him to leave, he told us to go eat lunch with Hno Yovany that he was paying for it. We were shocked! Lunch was wonderful too...we shared testimonies back and forth. Another lady at our table was also a Christian, so we all prayed together before she went back to work. After lunch Chris and I prepared for the message that evening.
We enjoyed the service...the music was really good and lots of people were there praising the Lord. We encouraged the teachers to follow the Ultimate Example--Jesus! When they were unsure what to do or what to teach or how to explain something, they should rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them and to teach them first. At the end of the service, they called all of the teachers up and gave them a small gift in appreciation for their service.
Then the fun part...the kids crowded around at the end of the service to sing and play some more! It was great! We taught them about 10 songs and a couple of new games! We were in the middle of a game, when Hno Luis came up to us and said, "Hno Noé is waiting for you at his house to have coffee with him." We didn't know anything about it, but we went with Hno Luis and his wife, Hna Aracely to Hno Noé's house. When we got there, Hno Luis said, "We're supposed to go to his daughter's house." (It's a rather large complex that has 3 houses connected together.) She wasn't expecting us, but she welcomed us in...her dad wasn't there. We quickly learned that Hna Suly and her husband, Dr. Hanry are servants, and they love to have people stay at their house. While they were fixing supper, Chris and Hno. Luis went back to the church to pick up our packs. She would not hear of us staying in a classroom another night! I was baffled!
We fell in love with this family..."The Frogs"...that's their nickname. All of them from Hno Noé and his wife, Hna Arjelia to their grandkids are Christians in their family. Now how does something like that happen...Parents pouring into their kids! There is sooo much love in this family! Wow! Amazing!
Hna Suly is a principal of a school in
Just before we arrived, Hna Suly learned that her cousin Franklin and his wife just had a baby, but he died only a few hours later. She wanted us to go with her over to his house...they were having the wake. (Please pray for this family...the mom was still in the hospital because of all that she had been through physically...she could be there for the wake or the funeral.) We went over to pray for the family...when we got there, there was a service going on inside, so we waited in one of the chairs outside.
The service ended and Hno Yuri and Hna Any came out. (Yuri is Suly's cousin too.) They live in San Pedro (the next town), but they are starting a church in
Hno Luis came for us to go to his house to eat breakfast and to wash some clothes. We watched a church service on TV while we were waiting for the clothes to dry. We still had a little time before lunch, so we decided that we should visit some people.
After praying about the situation, we decided that we should go and visit Julio. (the guy we met right before church on Wednesday) He wasn't there when we stopped by, but his wife, Sonia, told us that he'd be back any minute. About 5 minutes later he caught up with us at the store on the corner. We had a good conversation with him about God's Word. He knows a lot of scripture by heart, but something is off. He's struggling...they are struggling. (We also got to meet their little girl Melane.)
We went back to Hno Luis's house for lunch...this time we ate with his parents, sister, nieces, etc.!! After lunch we gathered our clothes, but decided to come back for them after we visited the kids at Project Compassion.
They are finishing up their semester, so they were writing letters to the people who sponsor them in the
After touring the classes, it was time for break. The kids wanted to play and sing again! It was great...we had to herd them back into their classes when the bell rang for their break to end! At the end of their classes, the ladies of the church have a snack prepared for them everyday. We helped serve the kids and then washed dishes...we had quite a bit of help though because about 10 of the kids still wanted to play. Apparently they've heard the saying "many hands make light work." We washed 100+ plates, forks, and cups!
We thought that the kids would be ready to go home after we finished, but NO! They wanted to have their own church service! Chris and I couldn't believe it...doors don't open any more than that. We set up some chairs and we shared testimony with them. We talked to them about being God's hands, feet, and mouth in
From there we went to pick up our clothes at Hno Luis's house, but we ran into Canela on the way there. We said "hey" and kept walking, but he came back for us. It was raining so he invited us in to his house...it just so happened to be right beside Hno Luis's house. Very interesting...I was still a little uneasy. He had learned where we were staying and what we had been doing. Neither Chris or I felt very good (stomach issues), so we left pretty quickly.
We got our clothes and then went on back to Dr. Hanry y Hna. Suly's house. Nobody was home, so Chris went to lay down. He was really struggling, but we saw God's hand again! Where were we staying? At a doctor's house, Dr. Hanry came in and realized what was wrong with Chris quickly and gave him medicine to make him better! Amazing God, we praise you for your timing and your perfect plan! While Chris was resting, I spent time with the family...falling more and more in love with them!
We spent some more time with Dr. Hanry and the boys. (Hna Suly is taking classes to get her master's degree on Saturday.) While we were talking, a lady came in from own of the small groups to ask us if we could bring the message that night at their group. They were celebrating Father's Day, so we would need to share a message about Fathers. We were pretty excited about the opportunity to share!!
We studied in the afternoon, and then ate lunch and fellowshipped with Hna Suly when she got home. From there, we went to church...their group is called Peña de Horeb. (I'm still not exactly sure what that means.) They were all really excited because about 4 fathers who aren't Christians came to the service. We spoke about the Perfect Father, God...He modeled many characteristics for us. We encouraged dads to step up and be providers, protectors, and teachers as God designed men to be! We challenged dads to start fresh if they hadn't been being the dad they should be. We counseled people who had bad relationships with their dads to forgive. Finally, we instructed the church to reach out to widows and orphans to care for them as a father would.
After the message, they had several games that the dads participated in...they made Chris participate even though he's not a dad yet. He had to eat a lemon, but he thought it was an orange (that's what it looked like). So he put the whole thing in his mouth at once. (Poor thing, he had a huge ulcer on his tongue because of the lemon (it's gone now...Praise the Lord!!)) All the contests were quite comical! All of the men received gifts! They gave Chris a pair of socks...much needed...again God is right on time with provision! Then we all had supper together! Hno Ismael came to us after the service to ask us if we would be willing to share Sunday evening at a mission that he was helping start...it was in a community up in the mountains--Its name Rios de Agua Viva--Rivers of Living Water. We agreed to go with him, then all of the kids gathered around. We were able to chat with them quite a bit!
We were pretty tired, to we headed back to Dr. Hanry and Hna. Suly's house to go to bed. Hna Suly and the boys were already asleep, and Dr. Hanry was out on a house call. We were getting ready for bed when there was a knock on the door...Jeremias wanted to talk to Hna. Suly. It was a little hard to understand all that he was saying, but he has such a sweet spirit. He serves the Lord whole heartedly! It's beautiful! Before leaving for his house, Jeremias wanted to pray for us. We were so touched by his kindness!
This morning we met Obed (Hna Suly's brother) and his wife, Suzy (who speaks really good English)! They are visiting from
At Sunday School that morning, Hna Suly was directing, so we asked her if the kids could come up and sing the songs that they had learned. The kids were so excited to share! The lesson that morning was on "What is God asking of me?" A good question for us all to think about! I've been feeling Him tell me to spend more time in prayer...it's our communication with Him!
After the service, Eddy came up to us to ask if we could come to his house for lunch and then just stay with his family until church started. He comes into town for Sunday School every week and then goes all the way back to his house. What dedication!! We were excited about the opportunity, so Hna Suly found out where he lived and promised to have us there by 1:30 in time for lunch.
Hna Suly and all of her family was going out to their ranchito for lunch and some time together since Obed and his family was down. It's called "
We moved inside to talk a little more (we'd been discussing the Holy Spirit) just as Hno Yuri and Hna Any were driving up. Hna Any was relieved to see us because she said that she didn't finish telling us what the Lord had told her the other day. She said, "in addition to the open doors, the Lord says that you will have some of Solomon's riches." We still don't know what that means exactly, but if it's truly a Word from the Lord, we'll find out sooner or later. It was almost time for us to go, so we gathered around to pray. As we were praying, Hna Any said that the reason that Chris and I were still in
Dr. Hanry drove us the rest of the way out to the mission and to Eddy's house. He lives with his parents Hno Humberto and Hna Ana and quite a few brothers and sisters. We were able to fellowship with them quite a bit. They are passing through some hard times right now, so they had a lot of questions to ask us. We asked God for wisdom as we shared...really just directing them back to God for guidance because we are just His followers too! We also talked to them about every part of the body of Christ having a job to do...we encouraged them to seek Him to learn what their job was.
That evening we shared at Rios de Agua Viva...they were celebrating Teacher's Day (which is a national holiday in
We rode in the back of a truck standing up on the way back down the mountain to
Monday (6/25) (Día del Maestro...Teacher's Day)
Hna Suly didn't have to go to work today, so we spent time with her and the boys sharing testimony! Hna Suly's mom came over so that we could finally meet her...she had been sick up until that point. She has an awesome testimony of following God's leading all over
Then Hna Suly decided that we should do a little exploring. She took us down to a park where there were about 4 pools (too cold for me to even think about getting in!), animals, a bridge over the
When we got back home, Hno Noé came over to share with us some more and to ask us if we would be willing to share with their small group that night. Their group is called Lirio del Valle-Lilly of the Valley. We agreed that it would be a great opportunity for us to share testimony of our journey. The Holy Spirit was definitely moving...time flew by as we fellowshipped with them!!
(Oh, I forgot to tell you...Dr Hanry and Hna Suly have a Spider Monkey named Julia. (Joseph Jeffreys we thought of you...remember
About an hour after the small group meeting ended, Hno Yuri y Hna Any arrived to go out and anoint the streets with oil. We all prayed together for about an hour and then headed out! We got a lot of strange looks (and questions from people on Tuesday), but we just continued praying! Trusting and believing that God is going to do a mighty work in
A long day with an extremely happy ending!! Tuesday morning we finally met Hno Daniel's wife, Hna Leny. We actually already met her because she's the only who teaches the girls how to sew at the Compassion Program...we just didn't realize who she was. She and I were able to talk quite a bit that morning while our clothes were washing. She's struggling a bit because they lost a son who was 7 months old about 7 years ago, but the death of
We ran a few errands and checked a little e-mail then came back to the house. Right as we were walking in, Hno Noé and Hno Daniel were coming in too, so we talked to them a bit...Hno Noé had us take our Bibles out again! Beautiful, unexpected lessons from God's Word!
After lunch, we went to the Compassion Program. They were celebrating the birthday's for the month of June, so we went to spend some time with them. We also wanted to tell the kids bye because we knew Wednesday was the day that we would be heading out. We helped set up just a bit, and then Hno Yovany gathered all the kids together. He gave us the opportunity to talk with the kids, so we shared how to know Jesus as their Savior and to be God's hands, feet, and mouth. Then of course we sang the choruses with them...it's really neat how God has taught us these songs...they reinforce the truths that we teach! Absolutely amazing! Praise God! We hoped that some of the kids would make a decision to follow Jesus, but none of them did.
After we spoke, they gave out presents to the kids who had a birthday that month (a white dress shirt that was part of their uniform to wear to school). Then all of the kids received candy, cake, kool-aid, a tooth brush, tooth paste, and a ball. The little kids also presented a skit on David and Goliath! It was so cute!! We really enjoyed our time with them...it was really hard to leave!
About 7-10 of the kids didn't leave...they wanted to talk to us some more...one of their friends was sick with a cold, and they wanted to go pray for her to get well. Chris and I were excited to go with them because we had played with Kimberly all week. It was so sweet to see their concern for their friend. We found her at her mother's store. We prayed for her and for the business before heading back to church for prayer meeting.
We were a little late coming in, but the message was about things that impede prayer...not praying specifically, selfishness, pride, doubt, and inconsistency. After the service, we had a chance to say goodbye to many of the church members that we had met...we were pretty sad and getting tired from an emotionally draining day.
We knew we needed to visit with a couple of people still so we headed out from the church. Julio and Sonia had really been struggling, so we went to pray with them and to encourage them to seek out a couple who could disciple them in their marriage. We tried to connect them with Hno Yuri and Hna Any's group...we're just praying for God to do His work in them!
From there, we went back to the Hno Henry's taco restaurant. We enjoyed another delicious meal and shared a little more of our testimony. I'll be honest that we were exhausted by this point, and as we were leaving we saw one of the boys (Alex) from the Compassion Project outside waiting on us. We went over to talk to him, and he gave us a bag of food...macadamia nuts, tamales, bread, and chiles. Then he introduced us to his cousin, Oto Eduardo, who was with him. We thanked him and started walking towards the last house that we needed to visit. They followed us...Alex explained to Chris that he wanted us to pray for his cousin. We thought he was sick, so we asked why he needed prayer. Alex told us that his cousin was bad and that he didn't have Jesus in his heart. Chris and I stopped right then...we sat down and talked with Oto Eduardo to ask him what he knew about Jesus. He couldn't tell us much, so we explained to him why Jesus came and why we all need a Savior. Only through belief in Jesus could we go to Heaven one day. Oto Eduardo turned to Alex and said, promise to remind me of all that she is saying. I asked Oto Eduardo if he remembered any of the songs that we taught during the week. He did...we even sang a couple together. I shared with him that the songs would remind him about what he learned. Then he wanted to pray to ask Jesus to be his Savior. I could have cried! It was awesome!! After we finished praying, they told us that they had to go. As they walked off, Alex put his arm around his cousins shoulders as if to say...I want to keep setting an example for you and to continue directing you in the right path! Wow! We weren't tired anymore!!!
We made our last visit to Hno Luis's house to tell him and his family goodbye, and then we headed "home." Dr. Hanry and Hna Suly talked with us for quite awhile, and then Dr. Hanry went to his clinic to get some medicine for us. We learned that we have to de-parasite ourselves every 3 months now in order to stay healthy. He also gave us a ton of other medicine "just in case" as well as what to use it for and the directions. They also gave us several toiletry items to replenish our supply, socks, etc. We were overwhelmed by their generosity. We all shed a few tears that night before we went to bed knowing that we'd have to say goodbye in the morning.
God has really been pouring out His Spirit, protecting us, and radically providing for us since we arrived in