Praise for a dad who digs wells

Day 5 – Posted by Brad

We started with a special treat as Keith had a chance to drive in Guatemala.  He drove up a dirt road to the village we were going to work with.  He did a great job, and only crashed two times.  Just kidding!

keith

Today we visited a very special group of women at a remote village.  There are about 25 families, and Bethel visits them often.  We visited them last year, and looked forward to seeing the women and children again.

We built another chicken coop, this time for Maria.  We decided to build a “mini-house” this time, figuring it would be much more durable and faster to build.  When we arrived, we were overwhelmed by all the little kids who wanted to visit (and get candy).  We did not disappoint.  Rick gave them rubber balls to play with, and we handed out a lot of gum and lollipops.

sonya

After setting up the tools, Keith, John Forshner, Tim, Scott and Rick began constructing the coop.  They were doing an excellent job, so Chris, John and I decided to go visit some of the families to see what their needs were.  On the way, Chris spoke to the mom of a little girl named Sonya.  She had gone to school last year, but her mom said she could not go back to school this year.  School started 15 days ago.  Sonya said she has been pleading with her mom every day.  Well, she got her wish today.  Chris talked to her mom and she will be in school tomorrow.  Praise God!  She was so excited.  I let her choose a backpack for school.  On a sad note, there was a girl who had been going to school in the past, but decided not to continue this year.  She is the daughter of Rosalia, one of my favorite moms.  When I had Chris ask why, she finally confessed that because she is older, and taller, the kids teased her at school when she could not learn at the same pace as the others.  We tried to encourage her.  John Mitchell and his non-profit “On His Path” is going to partner with Bethel to have a tutor come visit this village on a consistent basis to help them learn.  Many of the kids have been struggling because when they get homework, their moms cannot help them as they have no education themselves.  When I gave Sonya a backpack, this girl said she wanted one too.  Chris and I said that we are so hopeful she will continue in the future, but we need to save the backpacks for kids who go to school.  I know this may sound harsh, but it was meant to be a firm encouragement.  Well, it worked.  She was visibly upset.  Chris spoke with her, telling her that very soon the tutor will be coming, and she can get the help she needs without embarrassment from the others.  After much conversation, she said that she did want to go, and will commit to it.  We gave her a backpack and praised her for her big step, and encouraged her to study hard.

wall

It was also encouraging because I looked up on Rosalia’s wall and she had the pictures I had taken of her family last year still up on her walls.  It shows you how you can never take for granted the power of a picture.  These photos of their mom, and family obviously meant a lot to them.  I get a lot of flak from the guys for taking so many pictures.  But, at moments like that, I am glad I do.

well

Now for the best part of my day!!!  As we approached the house, there were two men hand digging a water well for Rosalia.  We walked up to take pictures and ask questions.  They had a HUGE pile of dirt that they had removed.  They had already dug to about the 30 foot point and hit water.  As we walked away, I thought I heard one of them ask if we were “Christians”.  I said that we were Christians and asked if they were.  They said yes.  In actuality, what he asked was, “Are you “Christian?”  Meaning, are you the man named “Christian”, instead of “Chris”.  When we went into Rosalia’s house, one of the men stepped inside and asked if he could talk to Chris.  He began to share his story.  He has a wife that is suffering from debilitating arthritis.  He has children, and has been praying for help.  He previously lived near this village we were working in, and would often see Chris and Bethel visit.  He had to move away to get his wife closer to his family, as she literally cannot get out of bed any more.  He works from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM EVERY DAY.  He is working hard to provide, but does not know what to do.  Chris spoke for a while and ultimately told him that his wife needs a miracle.  To be that far in debilitation in her early 30s is not good.  I felt led to encourage him as a dad.  I told him how great it was that he was working hard to provide, caring for his sick wife, praying for her and trying to seek any help he can.  Instead of doing what so many other Guatemalan (and American) men do, and abandoning his wife when the times get bad, God sees his faithfulness, and I encouraged him to continue.  I told him that God has blessed men with the privilege of being responsible for the spiritual direction of our families.  Not only to provide for the physical needs of each, but to ensure the spiritual strength of his wife and kids.  Chris then took the opportunity to pray over this man.  Chris, John and I got down on our needs and laid our hands on him.  Chris prayed for him, his wife’s health and his future.  After Chris was done praying, Chris shared the Gospel with him.  He made sure that he understood the love of Christ and what God wants in each of our lives.  The man was very appreciative.  We gave him some money for his family’s needs.  Chris also said that he was going to pay for the well he was digging for Rosalia.  This man was not charging the full amount for the well, as he knew Rosalia could not afford the amount.  What a blessing and opportunity.

well-dad

We then went back and helped the guys finish the chicken coop.  It looks REALLY good.  It is a smaller version of a metal house.  Rick and Scott did a great job setting up the roost inside.  Tomorrow, we will pick up the 50 chickens for Maria and 50 for Viviana.  They will hopefully have a fantastic egg business the next day as the chicken should be laying right away.  I truly like this idea.  What a way to bless a family.  Not only are you providing employment, but a future.  It is the goal to empower these people to get ahead in life, provide for their family and bless those around them.

roost

coop

After dedicating the coop to Maria, we went to build a kitchen and install a stove for a woman.  She lost her entire family except for one son in the Guatemalan Civil War.  Her father, husband and brothers were all killed.  She makes her living by making traditional clothing.  She moved to Tecpan after the war, and had been paying very high rent.  She bought a piece of land and paid it off.  While she did not smile a lot, you could tell she was a very strong woman.  When we walked up, I almost walked by her old kitchen without realizing it.  It was so small.  As you can see by the pictures, it was not much.  It really puts it into perspective for us in America.  We complain about how small our kitchens are, and spend so much money renovating them (often times more than once).  For $300, we changed this woman’s daily life.  She no longer has to sit in a small smoky area every single day, breathing that smoke.  As we dedicated it, we found out she does not have a water well or electricity.  We decided as a group to sponsor both of those.  This will allow her to continue to work after dark, and also not have to walk so far every day to get the water she needs.

kitchen

kitchen-2

Little Claudia tracked down Michaelito (Chris) again.  She ran down the path and clung to him.  She is literally one of the most adorable girls any of us have ever seen.  We can only stand there and laugh as she smiles every time anyone says the name “Michaelito”.

michaelito

Finally, we went to our second annual “Tecpan men’s Bible study”.  This year, we had 7 Guatemalan men and 8 American men open and study the Bible together.  Scott did a great job talking about forgiveness and fellowship.  Several of the Guatemalan men shared thoughts as well.  It was very encouraging to see these same men again.  One man said he missed last year, and was very sorry.  I don’t think he will miss next year.  He was very excited.

men group

After the study, Pastor Juan’s family brought a pound cake to help celebrate Tim’s birthday, which was yesterday.  We sang Happy Birthday in English and Spanish.  I think Tim was genuinely surprised and thankful.  After talking for some time with the men from the study, we headed back to the hotel.

birthday

We are getting up early on Thursday morning as we will be having our wheelchair distribution in Chimaltenango.  It is only a few doors down from Bethel’s wheelchair shop.  This should be an amazing time.  Many of these people are in desperate need of these chairs.  Many have waited for a very long time to receive them.  They will go home with a new life of mobility.  This will not only change their lives, but the lives of their families as well.

Please pray for us at the distribution.  We are all healthy and having a great time.  We are growing together in our faith and friendship.  I am personally thankful for each man who chose to take time away from their lives at home, and serve.  God is doing amazing things, not only with the people we serve, but in our own lives as well.

We continue to pray for all of you at home.  Especially in Iowa with the snow and cold and Louisville with the crazy winds.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Don't hesitate

Day 4-Posted by Brad

In the early years of my marriage, my wife and I would walk out of a grocery store and see an elderly person who needed help with their groceries.  Holly and I both had the same instinct…help.  Holly would instinctively go help right away.  I wanted to, but a thousand reasons would stop me.  Maybe they will think I am going to steal their groceries?  Maybe they will think I am dangerous?  A thousand reasons not to act!  I wonder how many opportunities I missed to help someone?

Today, we were getting ready to build the chicken coop for Viviana.  As we stood looking out across a cornfield, we noticed a huge amount of smoke pouring out of a nearby house.  It was obvious they had a wood fire burning in their house to cook with.  It was coming out of every small or large opening.  I took some video from a distance.  I heard one of the guys comment that someone should go over and get a closer video.  The thought immediately jumped into my head that I should go over and get a closer look.  My heart broke for the people we all knew were inside breathing that smoke.  The thought also jumped into my mind that I should not go.  Maybe they will not want me to come over?  Maybe they will be offended that I want to see the kitchen?

I chose to do what I knew was right.  I walked over to John Mitchell and asked if he was interested in walking to the house with me.  He said that sounded great.  John had just earlier purchased two big boxes of gum for kids.  I suggested we take a bunch of gum over to give to the family’s kids.  We walked over and knocked on their gate.  One of the little kids opened up, and we began giving them gum.  The mom came to the gate and we gave her gum as well.  I commented (in Spanish) that I liked their chickens that were running around.  I motioned over to the work site where we were installing a chicken coop.  I asked if I could take pictures of their chickens (we were in!!!)  We asked about the smoke and if we could see their kitchen (cocina).  She graciously allowed us to look.  We went inside and it was so smoky.  You can see by the picture the amount of soot on the walls.  Imagine their lungs!  I began asking questions, and she said her husband was a “vet-o” (or something like that).  I told John, “I think she is telling me her husband is a vet”.  It didn’t seem right, but maybe he just worked with animals.  We spoke a few more minutes about her kitchen and then went back to the  work site.

sylvia-stove

I immediately found Chris and said that I felt we needed to go back over.  I wanted to see if he was interested in possibly installing a stove, and if there was anything else he felt Bethel could do.  When we got over to the house, Chris began asking her questions.  It turns out her husband is NOT a Vet, but a diabetic (and I thought my Spanish was getting so much better!)  Anyway, she said that he was an alcoholic, but his diabetes forced him to stop drinking (one of the few times I would say “praise God for diabetes”).  She had four children with her.  One was a girl named Jackie, who was 14 years old.  She had another daughter who was 8, and two younger boys.  Jackie said that she had gone to school for four years, but had to stop going two years ago due to money.  You could see in her eyes she wanted to go.  Chris asked her, and she said yes, she did want to attend.  Chris asked about the 8 year old, and the mom said she would like her to go, just no money.  Chris looked at the mom and said, “OK, go register them today”.  In a shockingly fast sequence of events, Chris instructed the mom what she needed to do.  I gave her the money necessary to pay the registration fees for both.  We also gave her some extra money to ensure the money was not used for something else.  I went and got backpacks for the kids.  We also gave them a bag of food.  It turns out the dad was working.  When he is not too sick, he buys pies at a bakery and sells them to restaurants.

sylvia

Before we left, I looked at Jackie and said that God truly does hear prayers.  That He brought us to their house today, and He is giving her a great gift.  That I have a 13 year old daughter, and I wanted her to succeed just as much as I want my daughter to.  That her finishing school will allow her to help her family.  I gave them a Bible, and told Chris to tell her that she needs to learn to read in school, and begin to read the Bible to her family.

sylvia-jackie

sylvia-girl

We left them, and Chris was beginning to work on the details of raising support for them.  One of the men on the team felt led to sponsor the two kids.  So, both kids start school in the morning.  The dad returned from work, and came to see Chris.  The dad was hesitant to let them, as it would mean he may need to spend some money.  Chris told him that if he would help pay for her traditional clothing she would need, Bethel would do the rest.  The dad agreed, and it was done.  Chris later told us that Jackie was jumping and dancing at her house.  She was going to school again!!!

All of this is to say that we should follow what God puts on our hearts more often.  I am sad at the opportunities I have probably missed over time.  But, I am committing to myself to follow God’s lead, and let Him do the work, I am just the servant.

The chicken coop took a lot longer than we thought.  We didn’t have specific building plans so we went through a lot of trial and error.  Rick had some great ideas, and it helped tremendously.  He suggested 5 gallon buckets for the egg laying.  In the end, we will build somewhat differently tomorrow.  The place we will build is much windier.  We are going to build a “mini-house” for their coop.  Sheet metal, just like the home we built the other day.  It should be MUCH FASTER.

coop-1

roost

Juan’s wife “Anna” brought us some delicious fruit today while we worked.  She did that for us 5 trips ago when we were here with the Wheeler’s team.  There is nothing like fresh watermelon when you are working hard outside.  Thanks Anna!

anna

We finished the evening by going to church.  It was a praise, prayer and worship service.  Pastor Juan preached, and we praised God a lot!  There was a young man who came forward to say that he was backslidden in his faith, and had been angry at God.  But, he wanted to re-commit himself to God.  We went forward and prayed for, and over this young man and several others.  It was an amazing time of prayer!  Wow, very different than what happens in our typical church service in America!

I want to wish Tim Turek Happy Birthday.  25 years old…who would have thought!

We pray for all of our family’s health and well-being at home.  We are all doing great here, and praise God for the opportunities He is providing!!!

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

WINGIN’ IT

Day 4 – Posted by Rick

Pilots, insurance guys, truck drivers , craftsmen, business men and farmers, a pastor and a missionary.  A diverse group….all “Hermanos in Christo” (brothers in Christ) gathered far from home to serve.  Even when a day is planned out….we all know better.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord ‘s purpose that prevails.

So, we are to build the first ever Bethel Ministries chicken coop.

With constant tweaking….we were just “winging” it….pun intended.   It was awesome!
A field trip to the hardware store and the lumberyard was a highlight!
Obviously, NO OSHA regulations at that lumber yard. Fresh cut full dimension lumber here!

roost

This project was teamwork at its finest.   Lots of gatoraid and Pollo Campero to fuel the work.  Good stuff.

The completed project is but a prototype, but I think it will serve Viviana well.
Thursday we will deliver the 50 chickens, which are ready to lay.  She will have income from the eggs very soon.  Huevos ( eggs)  are a staple in the diet of the Guatemalan people.
Tomorrow, we are off to a Mayan village to build yet another chicken coop…this time for Maria and her children.
(Did anybody write down any blueprints from today??)

Dios te bendiga to Aiviana, Alahandro, Annania, and…..baby’s name

Rick

Choices!

Day 2…Unexpected Blessing

By Rick, John, Chris

Not that any blessings are expected, but we stumbled across a great need today.   While building the house, we noticed a shack/home tucked away on the ridge above the construction site.

John and Chris took a climb up the hill to see if we could help.      We then went to the van to get a bag of food.  We gave her family a bag of food from Bethel Ministries, including several bags of Kids Against Hunger food packets

Peteronina lives in her small home with 6 children.  No husband.  Petronina shared with us her story.  (Video attached)

3 years ago her family was complete.   She was expecting their 6th child.   Alajandro was born 3 ½ months early.   When he was born, he weighed only 1 pound 4 ounces.    Petronina’s husband told her,  “this baby will be a burden and will not live,  you must kill the baby now”.   She refused.  He told her if she didn’t kill the baby, he would  leave her and the kids.      Again she refused.  (AMEN)

Fast forward to today’s encounter.    Alajandro now is a ROBUST, energetic,  happy,  HEALTHY little boy!   A true MIRACLE!!!     We praised her for her awesome choice to give Alajandro his chance at life.   We discussed how back in the States, when a baby is born even 1 month premature,  they are often in the NICU until they reach the equivalent of full term.    We do not know the details, but we are sure Alajandro did not spend his next 3 months in a Guatemalan Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, because it DOES NOT EVEN EXIST!!

Petronina,  thank you for the choice you made.     You knew that by giving Alajandro life,  you would probably endure many hardships.     Thank you for BLESSING US with your story.

 

alejandro

 

Click to see the video of the visit

 

Dios te Bendiga,

Rick, John and Chris

Are you Michaelito?

Day 3 – Posted by Brad

Are you Michaelito?

I’ll explain the question you see above towards the end, as it came after a very wonderful day of work.

mario-before

family-before

mama

We began the day heading to build a house for the Mosh family.  We knew very little about them when we began.  There was a mom, dad, 4 daughters, 2 sons and two grandsons.  When we arrived, the dad was cleaning up their land.  You will notice from the first picture that Mario did not seem very lively when we began the day.  He seemed tired and distracted.  As we began to build, he picked up tools and started to help.  Before long, he was lifting, holding metal and a real part of the team.  You will notice by the time we finished, he was smiling and very proud.

To see the conditions they lived in was humbling.  The family has lived in their inadequate home for 24 years.  The mother said that all of her kids have been sick over the years.  The 8-month old seems to be doing much better.  Now that they are in their new home, it should be great.  You will see from the photo that Rick took how the baby stayed in their old house.  Great photo!

baby

All of the guys worked hard. It was especially cool to see Tim and Keith on the worksite.  Tim loved getting in there and working with his hands.  He was a little concerned in the beginning that the house was not built with the highest accuracy we would in America.  It is Guatemala, and we had about 5 hours to build it.  Keith, Tim and John really did a great job.

tim

keith

john

We also built a kitchen for the family, and installed an ONIL stove.  We then decorated the house, set up the bunk beds and had the house dedication.  When Chris asked the mom what she thought, she replied that she never thought it would be that nice!  They were truly pleased.  So were we.  One funny picture was of Scott working on the house.  He was totally unaware of the little one watching everything he did.  Cute!

scott

stove

bunks

family-after

We then skipped lunch and went to build a kitchen for a mom.  You will see by the photo that she had a bad situation.  She always had to go outside to cook (rain or shine, no roof), and her stove was bad.  But, the most interesting part was to come.

kitchen-before

claudia

As Chris walked up to the site, a beautiful little girl named “Claudia” ran up and grabbed Chris’s arm. She looked at him and said, “Are you Michaelito?”  Chris said no, he was not.  She said, “no, no, I know you are Michaelito!”  She was so emphatic about it.  I guess someone built their house, and she remembers his name.  It obviously meant a lot to her that Chris was him.  So, Chris said, “OK, if you want me to, I will be Michaelito”.  She was extremely satisfied.  She clung to him the entire time.  She smiled, laughed and was completely adorable.

joel

She had two brothers, who were both good boys.  You will see one young man named Joel.  The smile on his face from the hat Rick gave him was huge.  Wow, he really loved that hat and did not take it off the entire time.  We gave them backpacks and shoes.  In fact, I took Claudia and her brothers to the van to look for black shoes for school.  As I opened the bag, I was unsure if there was a pair of girls shoes that would fit her.  Keith later told me that he was watching as this went on, praying the entire time that there would be one pair.  Guess what, the only pair of girls shoes we had…fit!  By the way, if you have the opportunity, please collect all the black shoes you can. These things are literally like gold.  Backpacks are a huge help (thanks Debbie).  When I gave Claudia her backpack, people literally came out of the cornfield next to us.  Kids came from everywhere.  “Mochilla, mochilla!!!”  That’s backpack in Spanish.  For Juana’s benefit in Louisville, I now know it is “Mochilla”, not “Machete”.

As we left the house, Claudia gave the saddest look ever.  None of us got a picture.  Probably for the best!  I had been saving a special blanket for that perfect opportunity.  The grandmother of this family came at the very end.  I ran back to her and wrapped this warm, soft blanket around her like a shawl.  She loved it, and it was totally the perfect choice.

In the end, we had an amazing day.  All of the guys are doing a super job.  Working hard, enjoying the Guatemalan people and serving Christ with all of their hearts and hands.  I am so thankful to be here with a great group of men that love Jesus as much as I do.  It makes it totally worth it. It has also been a special blessing to have Rick and John here from Iowa.  Thanks for coming with us guys!  One of the things I appreciate about John Mitchell is that he is always thinking about how to help, and ways to make people’s lives better.  But, he is not afraid to stop and just let the moment sink in.  I love the picture of him sitting next to the three young men.

johnm

I will close with a picture as we drove back to the hotel.  You will see the volcanoes in the background.  One of them is smoking (hopefully not going off).

volcano

Tomorrow we build a chicken coup for a single mom.  She will get 50 laying hens.  We will also continue to visit families.  We will also go to church tomorrow night.  So, I will not be able to post until much later.

One special prayer request.  John and Rick sent a container of wheelchairs from Iowa.  They are in Guatemala, but the container has been flagged by Customs.  They plan on pulling everything out of it and searching it.  The US Customs has already done the same thing, so it is crazy.  Please pray that the men who do this simply open the door, look in and close it again, knowing the lives that will be changed by the wheelchairs.

group-house

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Mamma's got a shotgun!

Day 2 – Posted by Scott

Today I made my best attempt to act in a way that is contrary to my personality.  I tried to keep my mouth shut (stop laughing Kimber).  It’s amazing what you can learn when your lips aren’t filling the air with useless chatter.

On a practical note, make sure you bring chapstick to Central America.  It’s totally messed up to bleed every time you crack a smile.  I look like a boxer who lost.

Seriously, here are some of the things God reminded me of today during my semi-successful vow of silence.

Solid things are built in layers; trees, pearls and relationships with friends.  I have five years of layers here and I can feel the strength in them.

Great ideas start with random seeds, but don’t get upset if someone else gets picked to cultivate them.  There is no place for jealousy in the kingdom, if you ever want to see anything constructive to get accomplished.

ALL kids deserve good, strong dads.   Bad dads deserve a good, strong attitude adjustment.

blanca

Once you give a piece of your heart away, you don’t have the option of getting it back.  It’s a good thing that with Christ our capacity to share our hearts is unlimited.

The Holy Spirit creates instant connections between believers that are infinitely strong.  I guess that really helps if we are going to live together forever.

If God gives you an idea, SHARE IT! If you notice a gift in someone else, INVEST IN IT!  Yes, I mean RIGHT NOW!

You don’t have to speak another person’s language to be able to speak to their heart.

Joy is not dependent on circumstances.  Just ask a Viviana. She is an abandoned momma of three who owns a shotgun and lives behind a steel wall.  Did I mention that she leads worship at church?

Dios te Bendiga,

Scott

What a day!

Day 2- Posted by Brad

Where do I begin?  Wow, what a day.  It feels like we have been here a week.  So much has happened.  First of all, I began the day with my annual COLD shower.  Remember the ice crystals from 2 years ago?  Well, they were in full force today.  The owner of the hotel said they had a new automatic heating system.  I don’t know where they put it, but it was not there this morning.  But, at least I was fully awake!

We usually have breakfast at the hotel.  We sat down at 7:30 and began a devotional.  Chris spoke on patience and taking on the easy yoke of Christ.  About 8:00, we were wondering where the breakfast was.  Chris found out the cook was sick.  The owner of the hotel felt bad and sent us to a local restaurant.  Chris was getting an instant opportunity to have an easy spirit.  He has this ol thing he does when he knows he has made someone mad.  He looks at them and blows them a kiss, as if to say, “I know you are really mad…but I love you!”  He says it always makes them more mad.  Well, as we were driving away to the restaurant, Chris looked over and the woman who owns the hotel blew Chris as kiss.  Just like he does to others!  He laughed out loud.  Thank you Jesus for humbling him so quickly.

chris

John and Rick finally made it.  Long journey to get here, but we are thankful they arrived safely.  Their bags made it as well.  Blessing!

kimberly

After a delicious breakfast, we headed to our first home visit.  It was with a family we built a porch for last year.  The mom was so sweet and thankful.  Her daughter is working hard in school.  But, her 13 year old son had to quit school to work to earn money.  He works 7 days a week carrying very heavy items.  He earns 25 Q (2.50 a day).  He would like to go to school, but they need the money.  He also would like to go to church, but he cannot take a day from working.  I told him how proud I was of him doing the honorable thing by supporting his mom.  But, he needs to make sure his relationship with Christ is solid.  Pastor Juan had said last night his goal this year is to have 50 young people give their lives to Christ.  Well, after today, he only needs 49 more.  Chris spoke to this young man for a long time.  He asked him if he makes important decisions every day.  He said yes.  Chris said, this is the most important decision he could make.  The boy truly opened up.  I am so happy for him, as well as his family.  They are still in the difficult position with school and work.  But, he is on a good road.  By the way, the Mom is the woman on the left side of the picture.  So tiny.  Such a HUGE heart for God!!!

We then went to Vivian’s house.  She is Pastor Juan’s cousin.  She had a violent husband who was a drug addict.  To save her life, she had to run from the town where they lived.  They are now here.  She has 3 young kids.  Actually, two young, and one baby (more in a minute).  She is also the one Chris has selected to run the chicken business.  We are going to build a chicken coup and give her 50 chickens.  They will already be laying eggs, so instant income.  We talked with her at length about the opportunity that lies ahead.  In Chris’s enthusiasm, he threw himself down on the bed and screamed loudly.  What he did not realize was that her 1-1/2 year old was asleep on the bed.  What a way to wake up!  Crazy, screaming man!  The baby handled it well (She didn’t handle me holding her at church later in the night.  She wanted her Mama).

viviana

john

We then went to Berta’s house.  If you remember, she is the wife of Luis.  He is the alcoholic man who Terry spent so much time talking to.  Bad news is that Luis is still drinking and has become much more violent.  Good news is, Berta is a very strong woman with some very smart kids.  The older son is doing great in school.  In fact, he was selected to go to a school that only chooses the best students.  She also has a 13 year old daughter who was incredibly smart as well.  She was also chosen.  They are struggling financially.  We took up an offering to pay for the uniforms and fees they need to pay for the special school.  Berta was so pleased.

tim

johnm

scott

We then went to church. Today was Pastor Juan’s church anniversary.  21 years as a church, 14 years as the pastor.  It was an awesome time.  So many faces we recognize.  The music was amazing.  They even had the Americans raising their hands and jumping up and down.  I told John Mitchell that I don’t think I had ever jumped in church before (and may not again).  But, it was a special time.  A young man named Manolo made some very powerful videos.  One was about the dangers of young people using drugs.  Kind of scary, but effective.  The other was highlighting a camp for young people.  He has some incredible audio visual skills.  I am glad he is using them.

juan

We were able to spend a lot of time talking to old friends.  Blanca was there with her girls.  So good to see them.  Many of the people we have worked with over the years were there.  We had a delicious chicken dinner.  A lot of eating, talking and drinking coffee.  I did want to include a picture for my daughter Sarah.  Two of Blanca’s daughters were wearing shoes that Sarah would love to have.  So, Sarah….these pictures are for you!

shoes1 shoes2

It has been a long day, and my head is tired.  So many happy times today.  But, it is time to sleep.

We will build the house tomorrow.  Juanito says it will only take 2 hours, but I think he is waaaayy off.  We will see.

Thank you for your prayers.  Everyone is doing well.  We love you!

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Good news…bad news!

Posted by Brad – Day 1

group-arrived

Inside all good stories, there is good news, and bad news.  Highs and lows.  So, which one should I share first?  Good, or bad?  Well, how about the good!

The good news is that the Kentucky group arrived safely in Guatemala, and have had a great day already.  The bad news?  John and Rick from Iowa have not been so fortunate. 

Rick sent a text to me as we were taxing out to takeoff from Louisville.  I know, I was not supposed to have my portable electronic device on…but I did!  Anyway, he said they had been bumped off United and would be flying to Atlanta, hoping to make our flight.  We arrived in Atlanta, and they were still in Iowa.  We all went to the lounge and had some coffee and snacks.  We boarded…still no news from Rick.  As we were taxing out for takeoff, Rick sent a text saying they had landed in Atlanta and asked if we were still on the ground.  Yes, I had my cell phone on again.  I told Rick we were already gone.

We arrived in Guatemala 30 minutes early.  No problems with customs or immigration.  Amazingly…all eleven bags made it!!!  Unheard of!

We went to Pollo Compero for lunch.  A staple of the Guatemalan diet.

Then, the best part of the whole day.  Chris told me that we were going to visit Juana’s daughters in Chimaltenango.  It truly was the highlight of my day.  They are the most precious girls.  Their eyes lit up, as they knew I was visiting.  I immediately opened up the bags we brought and gave them the special stuffed animals from Juana.  She spent a lot of time recording the message in her own voice.  The minute they pressed the button, their faces began to glow.  Their Mama’s voice…in the room…perfect!

girls-day1

girls-mooney

We spent time watching them play, running around, having fun.  Juana’s middle daughter Jackie showed us her school project.  She is making a radio.  Very cool! 

school project

I told them stories of their mamma teaching me to make tortillas in the USA.  They laughed!  What a way to end the afternoon.

We are now at the hotel in Tecpan.  Dinner is being served, so I have to run.

Thank you for your prayers.  They are felt, and greatly appreciated.

Breaking news!  I was just told that John and Rick are due to land in Guatemala at 10:00 tonight.  Because being on the road late at night is dangerous, they will be staying in Chimaltenango tonight, driving up in the morning.  Bummer!

In the end, God is in control.  We have a week ahead of challenges and we need to remember He works all things together for good for those who love Him.  We all love Him…so we’re all OK.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

On the road

Posted by Brad

group

We made it to Atlanta.  No problems with the 11 checked bags.  We are waiting for our next flight.

We need prayer already.  Rick and John got bumped off United (not sure how that happens) and transferred to Delta.  Rick just texted to say they are suppose to be on our flight, but they are still in Iowa.  Please pray for their travels!

No matter what, God is in complete control.  Even if we get delays, and the bags don’t make it, we will still be in the “center of God’s Will”.

How small is the world?  Scott was sitting next to a woman who works with the Lyon’s Eye bank.  Check this out…they take corneas and use them for medical purposes.  Exactly what Juana will benefit from.  She offered any help she can.  Who knew!  She actually lives very close to Scott and Kimber.

We will post again when possible.  We love you all very much.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Off we go!!!

Posted by Brad

Well, we are off to Guatemala on Saturday morning.  It has been a long wait, but we are finally ready to go.

I will try to update the blog and pictures daily.

I am excited to serve along with the other six men that are going.  There are five of us from Kentucky, and two from Iowa.

We truly need your prayers.  Seven days full of serving the people of Tecpan, Guatemala in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Dios te Bendiga (God Bless You),

Brad