Day 4 – Posted by John – 2-1-12
Considering the chasm of distance, language, borders, and culture, it can be challenging. From the comforts and confines of our American lives, it is truly “a world away.” It is perhaps impossible to imagine the reality of having to find firewood to cook the next meal, or living miles from town with no means of transportation to go to the doctor. Or that your country has recently emerged from thirty years of civil war. Or that every few years, hurricanes come that create such floods that entire villages are washed away, and with them all their earthly possessions.
Life is difficult here.
The country is poor. You can see it, hear it, and smell it. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty for the life I have. The things I see here I don’t think about at home. When you are here, you cannot help but think about how blessed you are. And we are blessed, but let me share with you a BLESSING I received here:
Having never traveled to Latin America, I came here with an open mind. In my few days here I have observed that the Guatemalans are a kind people. They are ready to give a hug or handshake if you are not a stranger, or even if you are. They are Spiritual, and the worship is full of passion and color! They are gifted to worship without inhibition, something we could learn from and I wish we could take home with us. As we were welcomed into their homes to install a porch or a ONIL stove, the only look on their sweet faces was gratitude…..gratitude from people who have nothing! To think of all of the times I have uttered a complaint about a scratch on my car! For heavens sake, Lord forgive me……
Let’s turn to Joy…when we are finished working, and the project is completed….and Bibles are passed out and prayers are prayed, JOY and sometimes tears fill the room. Who can say who gets more joy, giver or recipient? Who cares, it is wonderful and truly an experience one cannot purchase with dollars or cents.
What a privilege to serve alongside these servants of God (Pastor Juan, Chris, Brad, Jeff, Scott, and Gary) and to play a small part in ministering to your children! Thank you Father!
Posted by Brad
There are moments in life where you realize something so special just happened that you know in your heart that you will never forget it. I had one of those moments today.
Four years ago, Scott and I went to Guatemala with a group from my church. We built a home for a woman named Blanca. She had lost her husband in a tragic accident. The pain in her life was written over her face. He left a loving wife and wonderful children behind. We went to build a house for her. Over the days building the house, we got to spend time around her young children. There were not a lot of moments for us to play with them. But, they had a permanent place in our hearts.
Each year we have gone back, we have made it a priority to go visit Blanca and her children. We value her and want to keep that relationship open. As the years have passed, her children have grown before our eyes. In 2011, we spent a lot more time around them. We worshiped with them at church. We had a time of fellowship with them at their house. We took a lot of pictures and had them developed at a local picture shop. We gave them copies of the pictures for memories. We gave each one an individual picture. We also took a family photo and had it framed.
Holly and I took our girls to Guatemala in April, and they all got a chance to meet Blanca and her children. It was fun for me to have my family meet the people that have come to mean so much to me in Guatemala.
This year, Scott and I couldn’t wait to see Blanca and the girls. We were at church last night, and briefly saw them. We told them we would stop by today after the kids got home from school.
We got to their house and gave lots of hugs and smiles. We asked about how things had been going. All is well with them. They showed us the shower/toilet addition that Terry paid for after last year’s trip. They did and excellent job. We took individual pictures again, along with a family photo. What happened next absolutely blew me away, and brings tears to my eyes as I write about it.
The oldest daughter is named Paola. She has always been quiet, but very warm to us. You can tell she is thinking and processing it all, but just very reserved. She asked Chris to translate something for her. As the words left her mouth, tears began to flow from her eyes. While I did not understand exactly what she was saying in Spanish, I knew it was big, because tears immediately began to fill in Chris’s eyes as he translated. Paola began to tell us what we have come to mean to her. She said that while she lost her dad, and it still hurts so much, she truly considers us to be like dads to her. The fact we have come back every year, the interest we have shown, the hugs and laughter we have shared and the words we have spoken to her have so deeply impacted her, that she truly considers us family. That moment is what I have always dreamed would happen. When I am at home in Kentucky, I can hug my daughters every day, look into their eyes and tell them I love them. I can dry their tears and hold them when things are tough. To know that the investment in time we have joyfully made in the lives of these sweet young ladies in Tecpan has had the impact we prayed for is worth more than anything that could be offered. I told each one of them that I do think of them as my daughters. Just like I want the hopes and dreams of my girls to come to fruition, I care about those same things happening in their lives.
The time that we shared with that family today made it one of the most special in my life. While the “quantity” of time we have shared is relatively small, the “quality” has been incredible. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for allowing me to be a part of that family. I look forward to seeing how God works in each of their lives.
As if it couldn’t get any better, we later had a wonderful time of fellowship with 5 men from Guatemala studying the Bible. Scott and I have been praying over the past few months about how we could build bridges with the men of Juan’s church. We knew that no matter what we planned, God would have something different in store. Well, that is what happened. We discovered that while the women in Guatemala more easily meet in the home and study the Bible, it is much more rare for men to fellowship. Scott and I discussed what to do with the idea of the study. Scott developed a message that blew me away. I told Scott later that as he began to teach the lesson, I felt like I was watching a movie. You have no idea how this thing is going to develop or end, so you just realize you are in for the ride. Scott did a fantastic job of telling us why fellowship is so vital in the life of Christians. He talked about the Spanish and Greek words for fellowship, which are “compañerismo” and “koinonia”. He gave verses to build the ideas, and had men read them. He used the example of “horsepower”. If you have one horse working, you get one horsepower worth of output. If you have two horses, you get the output of three horses. If you have three horses, you get the output of five. The point is, when believers fellowship, and become united together in faith, we multiply the effectiveness and blessing. The men were very moved, and truly enjoyed it. I am thankful for Scott doing such an awesome job. Our prayer is that the men in the church begin to fellowship together. I hope when we come back next year, we can fellowship with the same men, plus a lot more.
It was truly an awesome day. We have the wheelchair distribution tomorrow. It will be fun to see 25 people receive the gift of mobility. Please pray for each one of the people who will be there tomorrow. Our prayer is that many come to faith in Christ, which is the ultimate gift anyone can receive!
Dios te Bendiga,