Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do we stay or do we keep walking?...San Rafael, Guatemala

back to Our Walk of Faith

Wednesday (6/20)

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 Guatemala...at least for the time being. The mountains here are significantly larger than the NC mountains, and there are 2 huge volcanoes nearby...Tajumulco is the largest volcano in Central America...neither are active...Praise God!)

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 San Rafael.

We sat and prayed for sometime outside of San Rafael...the decision was a little more difficult than in San Pablo. We finally decided to go on in and see what doors God would open...

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 Mexico!! Praise God! While we were there a guy--Canela was in there as well. When we were leaving, he asked if we would like it if he showed us around. I had an uneasy feeling about him, but at the same time didn't want to be rude. I just prayed and he showed us around town a bit. We got him to drop us off at the internet thinking that he would leave us there and go on...but NO, he waited for us the entire 1 1/2 hours that we were there. (It even rained part of the time...he just moved to a shelter and kept waiting!) We weren't sure what to think about that or what to do...Chris and I were hungry by this point, but we didn't want to go very far from the center of town in case he followed us.

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 Mexico had given me a some material to use with someone who can't read or can't read well. I pulled it out and walked through it with him. It had the book of John, but there were pictures that accompanied the text. It was hard to tell if he was paying attention or not, but he kept asking us to read more to him. He and his friends finally went home after a couple of hours with us. We definitely planted seeds...

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 Connecticut several different times. She was in a horrible car accident when she was young and was sent to the US to received medical treatment. She had to go back for continued treatment...since then she's gone back to visit her host families. She even went to high school in the US for a couple of years. She's not a Christian, so we were hoping for an open door to share with her. She told us about a program that her son attended at a Central American church up the street-Monte Horeb. It's a program sponsored by Compassion International. (We wanted to know more since it was the same program that we had heard about in Vega de Alatorre, Veracruz, Mexico.)

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 Anaheim, CA for a year or so. His English was no where near what Carlily's was, but he was trying to communicate with us. I had an uneasy feeling about him as well, but I didn't know how to express that to Chris. When Julio went to pay, Carlily told us to be careful of him. Craziness! Julio told us that he went to Monte Horeb and that he'd like to take us in his car, and then we could stay at his house. At the same time, Carlily told us that she and her sister would go with us to the church as well.

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 San Rafael.

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...

Thursday (6/21)

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 San Marcos (the next town) and Dr. Hanry works at a free clinic during the day and in his own practice in the afternoon and evening. I thought that Dr. Dulce was a servant...she is, but she's missing an important factor--God guiding her hands and decisions. Before Dr. Hanry checks out his patient, he asks them about their spiritual life. They pray together and then he starts working on their body. They have two boys--Samuel and Gabriel. It's been a struggle for them to have children...they've lost 4. Hna. Suly explained that it drew her closer to the Lord. Amazing!

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 San Rafael. As soon as Suly introduced us, Hna Any said "there's a Light around you...that Light will open doors that you've never seen open before." Then she left because someone called her to attend to some of the guests. Chris and I were baffled and amazed...Salvador had told us that the angels were making a tunnel for us to walk through and that they were fighting before us marking the way. Do you want to talk about confirmation?! Praise God! Chris and I continue to sense that God is doing something big...that He's going to blow our minds...it may happen before we leave Guatemala! Wow...Chris and I thought that maybe God was going to raise the baby from the dead. We prayed for over an hour when we got home...just seeking God about this situation. Something changed in Chris that night...he began to pray with purpose like I've never seen or heard from him. We still don't know exactly what happened in the spiritual realm tonight. We were just being obedient in prayer...we may have to wait until we get to heaven to find out what happened. What a day!

Friday (6/22)

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 US and a few other countries around the world. We also visited their sewing shop...it was incredible to see that many boys working so hard...they've learned a ton! (The jackets, vests, and shirts in the upper part of the picture were all made by the students in this program. So they get to take home brand new clothes that they made at the end of each semester!) I was amazed at the clothes they were making! (The girls come too, but on a different day.) Next semester, they'll need about 15 new sewing machines because the program is growing so much. In their classes, the kids also work on grade level appropriate material to help them succeed in school. Most of the kids who are a part of this program are really poor-spiritually, emotionally, and materially. So they teach them life skills, a trade, and about Jesus. They try to minister to all of the areas of their lives.

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 San Rafael. Then we sang and played together some more! They are such a special group! It was awesome!!

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!

Saturday (6/23)

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!

Sunday (6/24)

This morning we met Obed (Hna Suly's brother) and his wife, Suzy (who speaks really good English)! They are visiting from Guatemala City aka "Guate." They were pumped up to meet us and invited us to stay in their house if we ended up going to Guate...they even said that they'd come to pick us up on the outskirts and drop us off on the other side if we wanted. We're still not sure if we are going that way or not, but it's so encouraging to know that God is going before us giving us contacts!

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 "La Charca de Los Sapos"--The Frog's Puddle!! It's beautiful country out there!! Chris even got in a little soccer before it started raining (It's the rainy season, so it rains almost every day! It's quite interesting trying to dry your clothes out on the line--thankfully the sun is very strong!)

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 San Rafael is because we were to anoint the streets with oil and pray over the city with Dr. Hanry and Hna Suly. So we made plans to do just that on Monday evening!

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 Guatemala on June 25th) by recognized the children's teachers. We encouraged the teachers and congratulated them on a job well done. Then we talked to the 35+ kids who were there about setting an example in their homes. Many of their parents don't know Jesus, but the kids can be open Bibles with their lives to show their parents the way to Jesus. We were excited to see all of the kids...we were also impressed to hear that they are doing something similar to the Compassion Program in this community, but they don't have any financial support from Compassion International...the community and Monte Horeb (the mother church in San Rafael) fully support the program! Praise God for initiative!!

We rode in the back of a truck standing up on the way back down the mountain to San Rafael. Pretty exciting...and amazing view of God's creation!! When we got back to San Rafael, we went to Hno Luis's house. Several nights earlier, Hno Henry had invited us to his family's taco restaurant. We hadn't been able to go until, but tonight seemed like the perfect time. The tacos were sooo good...don't worry, I wrote down the recipe! Hno Henry's parents--Miguel and Rosa--aren't Christians, but they agreed to let us pray for their business. We had a small opportunity to witness to them. Praise God for seeds planted...now we continue to pray that they will take root!

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 Guatemala! We could finally see the other half of this special couple...Hno Noé and Hna Arjelia! No wonder their kids are so in love with God!

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 Cabuz River, and open space to play. We saw more of the destruction that Hurricane Stan had caused especially along the river. Chris and the boys had a great time playing soccer together while Hna Suly and I talked about what God had been doing in our lives.

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 Honduras!!) Chris wanted to hold Julia so bad, so every day he went out to talk to her, to bring her food, and to give her something to drink. So by Monday afternoon, she didn't turn her back on him any more...and she let him hold her!!)

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 San Rafael!! When we got home, we spent some more time sharing testimony with Hno Obed, Hna Suly, and Dr. Hanry.

Tuesday (6/26)

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 Franklin's baby brought back a lot of memories for her. Please just pray for Franklin's family and for Hna Leny...that the Lord will give them healing!

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 Guatemala! We're sad to leave, but excited to see what God has in store for us in the next town. God bless you and keep you! We love you!

Picture of the sewing machines that the students use at the Compassion program...If anyone is interested in sending money to buy some of the machines, e-mail us and I'll get you connected with the right people. They cost 900 quetzales (about $120 dollars) each.

More scenery...Volcano Tajumulco (the tallest in Central America) and a small waterfall on the Cabuz River

More flowers...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What is a Tuc-Tu?...Malacatán, Guatemala

back to Our Walk of Faith

Sunday (6/17)

We woke up and packed our things. We didn't carry our packs to church, but we wanted to have them ready so that we could leave right after the service. It took us a while to find the church, but after asking a couple of other people we found Iglesia Evangelica Central America Jesús Salva. (Evangelical Church of Central America Jesus Saves) We were a little late, but we went on in to Sunday School. Hno Mario came up to us almost immediately after we sat down to ask our names. We briefly told him what we were doing. Before we knew what was going on, he was introducing us and asking us to share a little about what we were doing.

Then one of the brothers brought the morning devotion...he talked about our responsibility as Christians to love one another. He also talked about being obedient to God's commands in order to show our love for God. One verse that he shared that really stuck out in my mind is John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." In other words, people should recognize us as Jesus's disciples by our love! Wow! By our love...I will be seeking the Lord for His love...because it's the only love that lasts! With God's love living out through me, others will be drawn to Him...and they'll recognize that I'm His disciple!! Wow!

After the devotion, everyone went to their own classes...Then Pastor Oto came up to teach Sunday School...he also encouraged us to be different than the world by being joyful in all things...in good, in bad, in problems, in victory, in trials, and in triumph! An impossibility without the power of the Holy Spirit...He's the one who reminds us that God works all things together for good (when we can't see the good)...this is what gives us joy...focusing on the solution (Jesus) instead of the problem!

At the end of the class, all of the classes came back together. Each class went to the front to tell what they had learned, say the verse they memorized, and to sing a song. Pretty cool...the kids, the teens, and the adults all get a chance to share!!

Hno Mario and Pastor Oto came up to us after the service to find out where we were staying...we told them that our things were in the hotel. He explained that one of the church members owned that hotel, so we could probably just keep staying there. They went with us to the hotel, but the owners weren't there. We told them that we could just carry our packs with us since they had invited us to share at church that night. Then we went to Pastor Oto's house to eat lunch.

While Hna Lety (the pastor's wife) and Yeimy (the pastor's sister-in-law) were preparing lunch, Dunia (the pastor's daughter) was entertaining me! Chris was watching soccer with Pastor Oto, Emerson (his brother), and Ludwin & Douglas (his sons). We had a delicious lunch!! Afterwards, Pastor Oto and Hna Lety taught us a ton about Guatemala...how the schools are different, geography, and places we should see. They were so helpful!!!

The service Sunday night was so good...The men were leading the singing...it was incredible to see that many men at church. At one point when a duet was about to perform, the power went out...but when they started singing...it was powerful! Wow! Then we were singing a couple of choruses...right when we started the 2nd chorus singing "There is power in the blood of Christ" the lights came back on!! Then the teens came forward to sing about the power of the love of God...whew...we were ready to share when it was time to go forward!

Several people approached us after the service...some to introduce themselves, others to invite us to eat, and still others to invite us to stay with them. It was quite overwhelming to be honest...we've only experienced that kind of welcome at a few churches on the journey. We finally decided (with a little help from the pastor) that we should stay with Hno Victor, Hna Elizabeth and their kids--Mayari, Maria del Carmen, Manuel, Wendy, and Dirk.

They took us to eat Pupusas which is Salvadoran food...oh so tasty...a possible reason for us to head in that direction...ha, ha, ha! Then they took us back to their house where they showed us their Tuc-Tu...the name itself just makes me laugh...There are tons of them all around the city...their name is the sound that they make! Hno Victor has a driver for it because he runs a tire shop during the day and isn't available to drive it.

Monday (6/18)

We went to Hno Mario y Hna Alma's house to eat breakfast with his family. (We also got our first ride in a Tuc-Tu!!) We had talked about church and about the local Christian TV station. It's absolutely incredible the religious freedom that there is in this country. Nearly every town of any size at all has a Christian radio station and towns that are a little larger have at least one Christian TV station. So shocking after Mexico where it's illegal to broadcast on the radio anything religious and the only Christian stations are international ones that are only on cable.

Hno Mario does a program on Channel 16 several times per week, so he invited us to join him before lunch to share our testimony with their viewers. I was so nervous! Mainly I just ended up translating for Chris. We were able to share quite a bit! What an open door...if all of Guatemala is like this it may take us a long time to get through this small country!

After lunch at Pastor Oto's house, we went to a brand new mission that they are opening up in Villanueva. A large group of men gathered to go out and invite people to church and to share Jesus with those who may never have heard about Him. Chris and I were partnered up with a man to go to Marta's house. We shared about Jesus and how to get to heaven, but they wanted to think about it some more. Please just pray for those seeds that were planted in Marta and in her children. After we all got back from visiting homes, we had the first church service! Chris encouraged them to found their church on God's Word...to rely fully on Him and not to put their faith in a building or in a pastor.

Tuesday (6/19)

This morning I got a little lesson in washing clothes...by hand on a cement wash board without running water. It was super tough! I have to give it to these ladies...they are strong and I am weak! While I was washing clothes, Chris and Wendy were having a language exchange...She was teaching him Spanish and he was teaching her English...it was precious!

After learning more or less the process for washing the clothes, Hna Elizabeth sent me and Chris with her girls to the market to get vegetables for lunch. I've been in quite a few markets, but this one was pretty big...filled with tons of people selling the same veggies...I have no idea how they knew which one to go to! One of the ladies was really nice...she had some veggies that I had never seen, so I asked her about them and she even let us sample some of her fruit!!

After lunch, we had a little time to share with Victor and Elizabeth...they've been struggling in their marriage. We just encouraged them to keep their eyes focused on the Lord...to seek Him together. The only One who can make changes in anyone is the Holy Spirit. We told them to ask the Lord about what needed to be changed in their own heart and not focus on what needed to change in each other. We also went with the whole family to visit the Cabuz River...this area of Guatemala was harshly affected by Hurricane Stan that hit here the same year as Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast in the US. The Cabuz River washed away a lot of houses and it changed it's course. So now it runs where people's houses and property used to be. The huge rocks weren't in the river before and it was calm enough to have baptisms in it...not anymore!

Pastor Oto invited us to share about prayer that night, so we spent some time studying before heading to church. We encouraged the congregation to pray without doubting! Prayer prepares us for what lies ahead. There are healing, protection, forgiveness and power in prayer, so we challenged them to seek God authentically daily in prayer, so that they can recognize His voice when He speaks!

We moved houses that evening...Hna Lupita (in blue) had also invited us to stay with her on Sunday night, but it didn't work out, so we decided to stay with her and her sons (David, José, and Luis (pictured)) and her mom (Hna Sara pictured in red) that night. It was good for us because it was closer to the edge of town, and we were planning to leave Wednesday morning. We enjoyed fellowshipping with Hna Sara, Hna Lupita and Luis over supper. Hna Sara just recently lost her husband, so God had been doing a lot of healing in her heart. Both ladies are really burdened for David and José because they have no interested in things of God...but we reminded them that salvation has arrived in their house, so they will all come to know Him in His perfect time!

We'll be in touch again soon! God bless you and keep you! We love you!!

Pictured below: Chris with 2 boys who hope to teach children about the Bible one day...they asked that we pray for them as they grow up...that they would continue serving the Lord!!

Imagine my joy...I'm still finding new flowers!!