Thursday, July 26, 2007

A visitor from Smithfield, NC (our home!!!) in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala

back to Our Walk of Faith

Thursday (7/19)
The whole crew--Alex, Evette, Alex, Michael, Rose, Abigail, Rex, and Chris--gathered around to pray for us as we were getting ready to head out this morning. Chris prayed for them and their ministry too...hard to say goodbye, but we are realizing more and more that we are just beginning life-long friendships, so we aren't as sad when we leave a place...we're learning that we'll hear from them and see them again!!

As we were getting ready to leave, Jason (the guy who shuttles the family up and down their have to have 4x4 and their vehicle doesn't have it.) was making a run up the hill with some stuff for the family, so we didn't have to hike up! Praise the Lord. We started walking towards San Lucas Tolimán because we heard from Patricia...she was there and hoping to see us--5 miles or less!!! We walked no more than a mile, and Jason (pictured in the middle) came by again...this time in the Tuk-Tuk. He was on his way to San Lucas to get a piece of glass for Alex and Evette. He told us to hop in! Too funny! So we arrived without being all sweaty! Praise God!

We got to the church about 3 minutes before Patricia (in the middle) did...perfect timing! We ate lunch together and started swapping stories of all that's been going on. She has seen the hand of God as He lined up this trip...a friend of hers (Rebecca) from the Newman Center at UNC-Chapel Hill told Patricia about this opportunity, and God opened doors to get her here!

Father Greg, the main priest at San Lucas (where Patricia is working), gave a talk after lunch about the culture and the economic situation in Guatemala. I was pretty impressed with his observations! I learned a lot, and he confirmed some ideas that Chris and I had been thinking about. Chris and I were even able to talk with him after his talk. He (and a a few others) walked to San Lucas Tolimán from Minnesota...3,000+ miles in 3.5 months. We've travelled about 500 more miles, but it's taken us quite a bit longer. They didn't carry a pack, and they had a van that went before them where they slept each night. They were praying for peace along the way and their goal was to get here. We are ministering along the way and with pack...I guess that's why it's taking us longer. We don't feel impatient though...God's timing is perfect...we are learning such amazing lessons along the way. Interesting isn't it, how God calls us to different things?!

During the break in Father Greg's talk, Chris met Luke a recent college graduate. They were able to talk quite a bit. That evening after supper, Pat and Liz Kearns (along with their daughter, Mackenzie, who taught us a new card game and entertained everyone by playing the piano!! Thanks, Mackenzie!! The Kearns are from northern CA...the body of Christ coming together to work!!) took Patricia, Rebecca, Emily, Chris, and I out for ice cream. We really had a great time sharing with them. Pat and Liz have come a long way in their faith...they rely heavily on God as they make decisions!! (Their son, Sean, is also in San Lucas with them...only their oldest daughter, Jeneah, wasn't able to come on this trip.) They reminded us of Cursillo that we had heard about in GA, in LA, and in TX...I'd say there's something that we need to investigate about that retreat! We slept at the house where Patricia, Rebecca, and the Kearns were staying. Emily (not the one from ice cream...this Emily is a med student) let us borrow a mattress from her room so that we didn't have to sleep on the floor! Praise God!

Friday (7/20)
We decided to stay and work a day with Patricia...yesterday she went to a school where Chris (another recent college grad who is down for the summer as a volunteer) has been teaching English this summer. Today...she was going to lay down a water line! Well, I don't know very many words for tools, but today I learned how to say pick axe, hoe, and sledge hammer. We saw again that many hands make light was pretty hard digging out a 1.5 feet deep and 1 foot wide trench, but we accomplished our goal in about 3 hours. (See pictures below.) We had the privilege of working alongside of two groups from Minnesota...we met Father Vincent and Abbie (the youth minister at Father Vincent's church) along with quite a few of the youth. We also met Sue who teaches and coaches in the same town.

After lunch we checked e-mail and played some cards. Then went to supper...Chris was able to talk to Chris and I was able to talk to Patricia and Rebecca for quite some time...God was really moving in our conversations...a lot of the things they have been learning, God has been revealing to us too! Pretty amazing, huh?!!

Emily (the one who went to eat ice cream) is leaving on Sunday, so Pat and Liz and crew wanted to take her out to eat. We weren't sure where they were, so we had to wander around a bit to find them. When we got there, we met Yovany (left) and Benjamin (right) as well. They are seminary grads who are hoping to be priests in 2 years. It's different than in the US though...once they've graduated from seminary in the US, they usually become priests within 2 it all depends on the could take 2 years or 10 years.

As were finishing up, another large group was finishing up as well, so we all started heading towards the street to go back to our hotels/houses. Then all of a sudden, everyone started getting quite, and we were instructed for the women to get on the inside and the men to get on the outside. Apparently there had been a shooting right in the area where we had been walking around about an hour earlier. Talk about God's protective hand and His timing! Chris and I really weren't very worried...we've seen God's hand. He has taught us to trust Him! He is with us! Praise God! It turns out that the guy who was killed has been robbing people and buildings, and the vigilante group in town was tired of it.

Saturday (7/21)
We knew it was time to leave...Pastor Francisco (one of the pastors we worked with last summer in Honduras) was in Guatemala. We weren't sure if we were going to meet up with him or not, but we knew it was time to walk. The Lord lead us south towards the coast which pretty much meant we were headed to El Salvador and that we wouldn't see Pastor Francisco. I was already working out what I was going to tell him...thanking the Lord that He had freed me from wanting to make decisions to please others instead of God! We had walked about 6.5 miles, and we were taking a break when a truck threw it into reverse and asked us if we wanted a ride. We agreed without asking where he was heading. Once we got in, Heraldo explained that he was on his way back to Guatemala City and that we could ride as little or as much as we wanted. So here we go praying again...asking for the Lord's guidance.

Heraldo stopped to get a drink of coconut water...straight from the coconut! Then we headed on...he has a lot of knowledge of the country, so he pointed out native rubber trees and how they get the sap out to make the rubber, volcanoes, and he even took us to Antigua so that we could see the old capital. We ended up riding with him all the way to Guatemala City. He wanted to invite us to stay at his house, but he is in the middle of some marital problems. He hasn't been home in a week, and he's not sure if he's going home tonight or not. Hard stuff...we let him know that we'd be praying for them and we tried to share with him a little more before he dropped us off. We hope to stay in touch with him...we'll see what happens.

Well, it was date night time again! 7 more weeks have passed! We ate and just spent time together tonight!! We also received a call from Pastor Francisco. He was just as surprised as we were when we told him that we were in Guatemala City. We made plans to meet for lunch on Sunday! We were going to get to see him after all!!!

Sunday (7/22)
We walked to Christ Central (the church that Pastor Francisco told us about), and we arrived right on time. Hector (one of Pastor Francisco's friends) was waiting for us when we arrived. The message was on the Laws of the Kingdom of God. I just laugh as I think about them...they are all backwards if you think about them in terms of this world, yet they function completely and totally within the Kingdom of God! Pretty amazing! Hector gave us the study guide and notes for the series, so we get to keep studying along the way. (God knew why Patricia had space to carry stuff to Smithfield for us! He's already been giving us more resources for the journey!)

As we were walking out the door to run to the hotel to grab our stuff, an American couple stopped us. Bob and Lee are originally from Richmond, Va, but they've been all over the world since they retired...sharing Jesus! While they were living and working in China, God began to give Bob a book on Revelation. So he's in the process now of getting it published!! It will be in English, Spanish, and Chinese!! We wanted to talk with them more, but we had to run. We quickly exchanged phone numbers and darted for the door.

We were able to get our stuff without being charged extra, and we met Pastor Francisco and Hector in the park to go to lunch! What a great reunion!!! We talked and talked and talked...I think we were in Wendy's for 4 hours or more. God is so amazing...all four of us were sharing what God has done in and through us over the past year. Hector invited us to stay at his house that night...his wife is in Beliz for 4 months, so he's home alone...he had no idea what God had in store! Praise God! Just as we were leaving, Heraldo called to tell us that he went back home. He passed the phone to his kids, Rosario, Erick, and Elena, and to his wife, Ericka. Please pray for this family. We made plans to meet together on Monday night for supper at their house. Chris and I were excited because that meant we could introduce them to Hector, and they'd have a connection to a church family!!

Monday (7/23)
We spent some more time with Pastor Francisco just talking, reading the Bible and praying together. Before we knew it, it was time for us to head out. We arranged to meet Bob and Lee at Hyper Pais...the Guatemalan version of Wal-mart. We had a small was too far to walk to in a reasonable amount of time and the 3 of us don't know the bus routes. Hector explained it to us before he went to work, but we were still a little unsure...we got on the first bus and Francisco met Erick...believe it or not Erick was on his way to work at Hyper Pais! God sent us a guide! We arrived and met Bob and Lee with no problem. They stay on the first floor of Byron, Maribel, and Lucita's house. (Byron, Maribel, and Lucita wanted to meet us, so they came to lunch too!)

The fellowship at lunch was great! Bob told us about the book that he's been writing about Revelation. We're interested to read it so that we can learn more. He has used secular history along with commentaries and the scripture to write this book...God gave it to him really...which makes us even more interested to read it. Lee and Maribel talked to Pastor Francisco quite a bit while Chris and I listened to Bob. It is just awesome to see a couple who could be retired still going strong serving the Lord! They've been sharing God's Word all over the world...they've even been to Cuba! They pray a similar prayer as they go out each day...Lord only bring people across my path today those you are drawing to yourself. Then he simply asks every person that God brings across his path, "Do you know God?" If they say "no," he says "do you want to know Him?" We really enjoyed our time with them!!

Byron took Pastor Francisco and us to buy Pastor Francisco's bus ticket to go back to Honduras and then he took us to the church where we were going to meet Hector. When we got to the church, Byron asked if we could pray with him! Talk about God's timing! Praise God that Pastor Francisco was there! Pastor Francisco has been teaching us more and more about deliverance...he even bought us a study on it while we were at the church!

Once Hector got to the church, we prayed and then headed out to meet Heraldo and his family. First we picked up Erick and Elena (his two youngest children) from school, then we headed to his house where we met his wife, Ericka, and their oldest, Rosario. We talked with them awhile and then had supper. After supper, we started talking to them about the Lord. We asked if we could pray for any special requests...they all asked for us to pray that their family would stay together and that they'd always love each other. So Pastor Francisco started praying...Ericka was broken. I hugged her for probably 10 minutes...God's healing began that night for that family! Praise God! Now Hector will be here to follow up with them and to invite them to church. Please continue to pray for them! Ericka is pictured with RE, Elena and Elena Roo...the little kangaroo that Elena gave us so that we could remember her. They wanted to walk us part of the way home after a night at their house!

Tuesday (7/24)
Chris and I just worked on e-mail and wrote today. When Hector got home from work, we talked with him a lot! He even shared his's similar to Chris's...the Lord freed him from alcoholism and ungodly relationships with women. Pretty awesome to see transformed lives! Praise God! He is the God of restauration!!

Wednesday (7/25)
We washed a load of clothes, then we rushed out to church at Cristo Centro (Christ Central). They have a special service on Wednesday mornings. (Pastor Francis, CE, and Pastor Fernando are pictured here.) We arrived right on time, but we had been running to get there, so I was out of breath when we got there! The service was really good though...Chris and I brought a greeting...then one of the pastors brought the message about the Lord's Prayer...he applied it to the Kingdom of God theme that they've been studying for a couple of weeks.

After the service, we met quite a few students from the Bible Institute who are from all over Central and South America. So we have contacts in Colombia and Nicaragua now!! Thank you, Jesus!

Then we went to lunch with Bob and we heard more of their testimony and how they came to know the Lord and each other. We also were able to read the introduction to Bob's book. We saved it on our memory stick...we'll be able to read it as we go! We had a good time fellowshipping with them again!! God is so good!

While we were at their house, one of Byron's friends, Benigno, came over. (remember Bob and Lee live in the downstairs part of Byron and family) Benigno wanted to hear more of our testimony...when Byron told him about us, he knew that he was supposed to meet us, but he didn't know why. He ended up praying for us after we shared our testimony. Please pray for Benigno because he's separated from his wife right now, and he wants God's will to be done in this situation.

Thursday (7/26)
Today we went to breakfast with Hno. Carlos and Hna. America. We shared testimony with them and they shared with us. They both have such a sweet spirit about them...another example for us of a marriage that has endured the test of time because God is the central focus of their lives! After breakfast they took us to their house, and then they had to go to a physical therapy appointment for America's back. (Please pray for her healing! She's got at least 2 herniated disks!)

We came back to Hector's apartment and have been's looking like we are leaving tomorrow morning...heading towards El Salvador. We are about 75 miles from the border. (the halfway point of the journey!!) We'll see what God has in store for the journey!! God bless you and keep you! Keep walking for Jesus with the Holy Spirit as your guide! We'll be in touch soon! We love you!

1) Dinora and RE met on one of the many bus rides around Guatemala City...she just recently started attending church again! 2) Patricia with the guy from the internet...he had UNC and NCSU attire, so we had to get a picture...Go Wolfpack!!!

3) The ride over to work in San Andres! 4) Meal takes awhile for 200+ people to get through the line.

5) The fountain in Antigua 6) The Cathedral in Guatemala City

More flowers...

Hard at work in San Andres...a village that was devastated by a mudslide...the entire community had to be relocated to this property. They started out with plastic houses and little by little people have helped them construct the block houses that you see in these pictures. They are thinking that in 3 years they will be back to "normal" with water running to each house, kitchens inside their houses, etc....

Other students we met while we were in San Lucas Toliman...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Joy Comes in the Morning!!--Aguas Escondidas, Guatemala

back to Our Walk of Faith

Wednesday (7/11)
We had to say goodbye to the teachers from Chimaltenango this morning...but they left us with phone numbers and at least 3 invitations to stay in different homes in case we pass through there. After they left, we helped gather up the towels and sheets.

We went to check e-mail, and we heard from Patricia of my former students...She also ran cross country and worked with us on the leadership team for FCA. She just wanted to let us know that she was going to be in Guatemala the 17th through the 30th near CHIMALTENANGO (okay...4th contact to this city) We were so excited. Then when we walked back into the door at Buenas Nuevas, we almost ran into 2 men--Allen and Rafael As it turns out, Rafael is a professor at the Seminary in Chimaltenango (number 5!! now we know what direction we are headed from here...we just don't know when we are leaving!) Right as Allen and Rafael were heading to their cottage, Fran and Jonathan came up and invited us to eat breakfast with them on Thursday morning before we left.

From there we had a little bread and a little coffee, then we went to a cell group meeting at Irma's house (she works at Buenas Nuevas, so we were excited to meet her family) We had a great time singing everyone's favorite hymn or praise song and then sharing testimony! There's a really sweet spirit about their family.

Thursday (7/12)
Breakfast with Fran and Jonathan was really good...the food was normal, but the conversation for was excellent! Fran talked to us about downfalls of doing short-term mission trips...concepts that we hadn't thought about...again God bringing up issues to consider...things such as partnerships, definite goals, and beginning/ending points. Then we talked about possible causes of poverty here in Guatemala...we raised all of the normal issues--lack of education, outside interferance, corruption in the government, apathy--but he raised an issue that I've never thought of...spiritual poverty...people at all economic levels who steal saying there's no other way for me to get ahead--lack of integrity. Then tons of illegitimate children...a cycle left over from the Spanish conquerer the family unit being broken up because of work...people seeking a better life in a different job (many times in the US) instead of seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness! Fran shared our opinion and concern for so many men leaving for the US and the destruction that is causing on families here.

After breakfast, Chris called his dad. (He had talked to him mom and was even able to talk to his Uncle John on Wednesday afternoon.) He and his dad had a really good conversation! Praise God...we are continuing to lift up our families while we are so far away...especially Chris's right now!

Then Chris rested some...he only slept 3 hours on Wednesday night...God woke him up to pray and read His Word. While he was resting, I worked on the blog a bit.

After lunch, we went to Crossroads Cafe to hear Mike's testimony. (He's the owner of the coffee shop, and we had heard from several people that he had an awesome testimony.) The coffee of the day was Amazing Grace, so Chris got some...Mike was pretty busy, so we only learned a little of his testimony...we were able to read their scrapbooked journey from California to Guatemala. Pretty good testimony of God's faithfulness!! We had been there for about an hour and no doors seemed to be opening, so we were almost ready to leave...God sat us back down. Chris talked to 2 men-Michael (we ended up seeing Michael again and getting to meet his wife) and Rodrigo each for about 30 minutes while I talked to Mike's oldest daughter-Kasia (pronounced Kasha). We had a great time talking. Kasia has a really sweet spirit...she loves the Lord! Then Lungi, Mike's youngest daughter, came in as well. We learned that both girls play the piano, but Kasia plays the harmonica and Lungi plays the ukalali as well! Before we knew it, time had passed and it was time to go to church.

We went to Emanuel Central American church tonight...Hna Marta met us there. The youth were in charge of the music, so we knew a lot of the songs, and they were really up-beat! The pastor talked about living under the law and how Jesus cancelled that law...we are no longer slaves to it or to sin if we have accepted Jesus!

Friday (7/13)
We decided to walk around Panajachel a little this morning and to enjoy the lake a bit. We've been working most of our time here, so we wanted to see a little before we left...we were pretty sure that we'd head out on Saturday.

After lunch, we walked the streets with Hna Marta...praying for the city and asking the Lord to lead us to those we needed to talk to this afternoon. We met Mariela first...Hna Marta did most of the sharing, but Mariela wasn't even interested in our praying for any needs that she might have. Next, we met Aracely...her husband owns the school where Debora (Hna Marta's daughter) went to school. They just lost their house, and they are struggling, so she allowed us to pray for her. From there, we went to visit Hna Manuela...she's 87...she lost her memory, but her husband is still faithfully caring for her. After we left there, we stopped by a pharmacy...the lady there uses her job as an opportunity to minister spiritually and physically! Finally we prayed for Josefa who has a really hard job...around flies all day long...she's caring for her adult children instead of them taking care of themselves.

It was getting pretty dark, so we decided to head back to Buenas Nuevas...we washed up our clothes and spent a little more time with Hno Marco and Hna Marta.

Saturday (7/14)
The day was a little slow starting, but we finally left about noon to head towards Chimaltenango. Three people gave us advice about how to go, but we finally decided to take the most direct route...Hna Marta reminded us that the Lord was going before us, so there was no need to fear. The road was uphill for about 15 minutes then relatively flat for 15 then it was time for a break...after we'd gone about 5 miles, a car with Texas plates hit the brakes and threw it into reverse. Alex (the driver) asked to see the back of Chris's pack. We learned later that he was looking for a light, a mirror or reflective tape...he had seen a flash of light from the cross. When he realized that it was just paint, he knew it was God! He and his wife, Evette, invited us to ride the rest of the way up the mountain with them. We agreed...then we got a real surprise. They are on a walk of faith as well...theirs is just figurative instead of literal!!

Alex and Evette moved here about 1 month ago from Texas with their family (Alex, Michael, Rose & Abigail) and two of their worship leaders (Chris and Rex)...Alex and Evette pastored a church in Dallas. God called them here to plant a church. They are also involved in Deliverance ministry. We didn't know what that meant, but they were willing to explain. Some people are possessed by demons...they aren't Christians, and they don't have the Holy Spirit living within them...they need deliverance to have the demons cast out. People who are Christians can't be possessed by a demon because Jesus owns their heart and the Holy Spirit lives within them...but Christians can have strongholds that haven't been broken which is why a Christian would need deliverance. As they explained, Chris and I began to understand at least one of the reasons that God brought us all together. There are issues in our lives that we have been battling with...we've prayed and asked the Lord to remove them from us, but it doesn't seem that we can be's because there are some strongholds that need to be broken...we want to know God closer to Him. We are pumped up to see what God is going to do here!!

After supper, we had a great time of praising the Lord IN ENGLISH!!! It was sooo good to sing out to the Lord with a group of people!! Alex also talked to us about the strongholds in our lives and told us to start praying for the Lord to reveal them to us. (Needless to say Chris and I talked and prayed a while before we went to sleep that night.)

Sunday (7/15)
Wow...what a morning...we started with singing out to the Lord. God is so amazing! His presence was so strong. Chris and I both were just really seeking the Lord to be set free...Alex asked Chris Embler if it was okay to pray for me. I just began repenting to the Lord. As we were praying together, CE was praying for me as well. His praying began to change, and he was no longer was becoming disruptive. Alex, Chris, and Rex realized that it was a demon trying to distract and disrupt what the Holy Spirit wanted to do. Rex began to pray for CE, and Alex was lead to pray for him as well...It's really important that the head of the family is right before working on the other parts. I'm extremely blessed because CE desires to be molded and shaped by the Lord. He wants to be completely surrendered to the Lord...his heart is sensitive to the Spirit's leading. So Alex, Chris and Rex started praying for CE. It was really a battle...the strongholds didn't want to break although CE was asking the Lord to tear them down. As the men continued to pray and to take authority, there was a breakthrough. Finally, CE felt release...he had peace and felt that a huge load had lifted from inside of him! Praise God! God is so good!!

The rest of the day we fellowshipped with everyone and just praised God for the work He had done. That evening we even watched a movie together--Dreamer--about a little girl and her horse.

Monday (7/16)
We basically worked on things around the house today...Chris helped haul bricks out from the chimney that was torn out. He also helped Michael groom Sampson, their horse. We also were able to spend some time with the family.

Tuesday (7/17)
Today we've been working around the house, finding boxes, rearranging, laying block, etc. Chris and I also walked up to the top of the mountain to bring some water down and to find some cups. Chris has really been enjoying working with the construction crew...they are from San Lucas...the exact same place that Patricia is coming to today!! Can you say "hand of God!!!"? Hopefully tonight we are going to be able to spend some time praying and worshipping the Lord together again!

Well, we spent some time praying tonight...that's for sure. Alex sat me down and talked to me for about 30-45 minutes about my deliverance. Then I went upstairs to talk to Chris. I was pretty nervous, but we went back down pretty soon. Alex and Evette started praying for first nothing seemed to happen...there seemed to be a block. I was struggling with strongholds of fear, control, and rebellion...they did not want to come out. After several hours of praying and seeking the Lord, I finally felt release...peace. Now it's a matter of taking every thought captive to the Lord...allowing Him to be in control. For so long, I've lived my life to please it's time to only worry about pleasing Him!! Praise God!

Wednesday (7/18)
Today we've been working around the house again...hauling block up to the 3rd floor for the builders, sweeping, painting, etc. This afternoon we are just catching up on journaling. This evening we just hung out with the family by the light of a flashlight because the power was out for several hours.

It appears that Patricia will arrive this afternoon because she didn't arrive in Guatemala City until late last night. It's looking like we may be leaving tomorrow...we'll have to see what God has in store...maybe we'll get to see Patricia...292 days without seeing anyone from Smithfield...we're pretty pumped up at the thought of seeing her!!! We are just waiting on God's timing though...He knows best!

We'll be in touch again soon! Please keep praying for Chris's family...his Uncle John passed away on Monday...we just found out on Wednesday. Also remember Gabrielle O'meilia (see prayer requests for more information)...they have her on some pretty strong medication to stop the seizures, but she just had another round (6-7 in a 24 hour period) earlier this week. We love you and God bless you! Keep seeking God first...He'll take care of the rest.

1) Rose and RE guarding the gate so that the dogs didn't get out. 2) We almost convinced Michael to go with us and carry CE's pack. ha, ha, ha

Rex, Rose and Micheal...

They say that Lake Atitlan is the most beautiful lakes in the world...we thought we'd share a couple more pictures from there...

Of course...I have to share the flowers with you...