Growth rings

Counting your “growth rings”

Final thoughts from Brad –

If you had to look back over your life to see what had been accomplished, how would you measure your growth?  How many awards you won?  How much money you made?  How many years you have been married?  It seems like a simple question…or is it?

During a church service the last night we were in Guatemala, Pastor Juan asked if anyone in our group wanted to come say any closing words.  I stood up and thanked them for another great week in Guatemala.  I wanted them to know how much they all meant to us.  I used the example of tree rings on a tree; how looking at a cross section of a tree revealed “growth rings”.  These rings generally coincide with the age of a tree.  In most cases you can simply count the rings to tell the age…a ring for every year.

Before I wrote this post, I did some research on growth rings.  Many sources talked about how rings can vary in thickness.  In a year of much water and ideal conditions, the ring is wider and more distinct.  But, in a year marked by severe drought, the ring can be quite thin.  Looking out at the members of Juan’s church, my rings are wide.  I see people I have come to love, children who are growing up, faces that have become so familiar, and people I hope to see next year.  The tree characterized in my life is stronger because of my time in Guatemala.  More on this later…

group-house

As usual, it was exciting to see how God built this year’s team.  He never does it the same way, and it is always for the best.  As always, having Scott with me is an amazing blessing.  We have been through five trips together now, and it always gets better.  He is like a strong oak tree that I am anchored to.  Having John along for a second year was a treat.  His quiet, yet insightful heart is always encouraging to everyone in the group.  I had been praying that Keith would go for years.  When he said he wanted to go, I was excited.  In the build-up to the trip, Keith and his wife Debbie blew the doors off on fundraising and backpacks.  They walked down the street of their neighborhood and God made some incredible connections.  Tim was another great addition to the team.  Tim is probably one of the hardest working men I know.  Last year when I talked about our trip to our Bible study group at church, he told me that he thought he wanted to go.  He and his wife Rita worked extra hard as well at fundraising, and made so much of what we did in Guatemala possible.  The two surprises were Rick Fulton and John Mitchell, both from Iowa.  Rick had been to Guatemala before with Bethel and reconnected this year when Chris and Donna visited Iowa.  He helped collect wheelchairs later in the year, which brought us together.  While I like to keep my teams small, I really felt God telling me to invite Rick.  Boy, am I glad I did.  What an incredible blessing he was.  He asked if he could invite John.  I was so happy he did.  I want to take a moment to tell you what John means to my family, and how amazing God truly is.

Almost seven years ago, we brought Mia home from China.  It was one of the most challenging times for me.  We knew she had a clubbed foot, but we were surprised to discover she had a tethered spinal cord.  It meant that Mia would face many health challenges in life.  I knew that God was faithful and would work all things together for His good will, but how?   I knew God had the power to miraculously heal her.  I prayed for that.  One night while I was praying in Mia’s room, God showed me that while He could instantly heal her, He would change more lives and display even more power by allowing Mia to continue in her condition.  God would work in the lives of the doctors, nurses, other parents and friends that we would encounter through her life.  This was a hard thing for me to hear in the flesh.  Parents never want their children to go through tough times.  But, I knew God was good!  So, I thanked God for His mercy and grace and prayed that one day I could see lives changed because of her condition.  I had to wait almost seven years (you just have to wait a few more minutes…keep reading).

Holly heard about an amazing doctor in Iowa, Dr. Ponsetti.  He was the 91year old doctor who created the technique of club-foot casting, where the foot is returned to the proper position through a series of casts.  At the end of the procedure, a brace was necessary to keep the foot in position at night.  A man named John Mitchell created the brace that Mia used.  We had the chance to talk to John for a few minutes when we were in Iowa.  John said that he and his wife were going to adopt from Guatemala.  Years later, Holly emailed them about Bethel Ministries International (BMI) and encouraged them to contact them if they had time to volunteer in some way.  I later heard from Chris that John had been helping Bethel, and he had taken groups of people to work.  But, I never knew the extent of what he was doing.  John’s story of his life, business creating foot braces, and his promise to give back to God so much of what he earned to help others is absolutely amazing.  John started a foundation called “On His Path” in which he distributes the money he and others donate to help the widows and orphans around the world (I encourage you to visit the website).

johnm

Now fast forward to our time in Guatemala.  Several of us were sitting in the van together waiting to drive to our first work site of the day.  John and I were telling the other men about how we met.  I had been watching John bless other people’s lives through his extreme generosity over the past few days.  I had heard about how many projects had been accomplished over the past four years in Guatemala because of his foundation.  All of the sudden it hit me.  Why was John sitting in that van?  How did he get connected to Bethel?  Why were so many people blessed by God’s working through John…my daughter Mia!  Remember that prayer seven years ago?  Remember the answer I got from God (He would bless many more people through her affliction than her healing)?  It overwhelmed me.  I could not stop the tears.  God did not have to show me this, but He did.  Thank you God!  I can still see Mia’s bedroom the night I prayed.  It will never leave me.  It will serve as a “growth ring” in my life.  Some rings are “wide”!!!

tim

A couple of years ago, Scott and I asked Chris to allow us to choose one area of Guatemala and focus on it.  I told this story at the end of last year’s trip.  But, our goal was to focus on one church, one group of people, one town…Tecpan.  This week, we visited several families we worked with in the past.  We found encouragement, but also challenge.  Berta’s husband “Luis” is much worse in his alcoholism.  He continues to spiral.  But, she has a personal strength only possible through Christ.  Her kids all show the psychological scars that accompany having an abusive father, yet they continue to excel in school.  God gave us the opportunity to look into their eyes and encourage them to continue to work hard in school, and serve the one “Father” that will never leave them, nor forsake them.  They have financial needs we were able to meet, keeping them in school and allowing Berta to feed them.  Another time, we also spoke to a 13-year old boy who cannot go to school or church because he works seven days a week carrying very heavy loads around town, all because his father abandoned them.  Can you imagine your 13-year old doing this?  Someone in America has the financial means to change this.  Could it be you?  God changed his heart.  You can help change his circumstance!

kitchen kitchen-2

The “ONIL” stove project continues to be a huge blessing.  People breathe smoke inside their homes, which damages their lungs and eyes.  For $300, we built a kitchen and installed a stove that literally changed their lives.  While installing a stove for a woman, we met little “Claudia”.  She is the one who saw Chris and thought he was “Michaelito”.  She was so sweet.  She served as a reminder of why we do this.  Four years ago, someone came to Guatemala to build a house.  They left such an impression, she will not forget it.  She may not remember the face, but the day impressed her heart.  It’s not about us anyway.  It’s about God.  He is the one who arranges the circumstances.  He is the “One” who gets the glory.  We just get the privilege of being the people who get the hugs, the smiles and the chance to carry out His will.

family-after

Having Juana with us in Louisville for the past few months did so much towards encouraging me to a build another house.  She told me of how critical it is to have a safe, warm place for your children to lay their heads at night.  We take it for granted, but having adequate housing is a huge need.  A relatively small price for a huge blessing!  The family we built for had been sleeping in a cold, wet, breezy shack for 24 years.  Can you imagine that?  Her kids had been sick so many times over the years.  Her 8-month old currently has pneumonia.  Well, all of that changed with the house.  I have to give Maureen Wagner a lot of credit for how we decorated and dedicated the house (hot mits, sheets, and kitchen tools…things guys don’t normally think of).  When we dedicated the home, the mom commented that she never imagined how wonderful the house would be.  I am thankful they have a place to truly call “home”.  I am also thankful they have a dad who decided to stop drinking, to be present and who finally decided to be the dad God gave him the privilege of being.  Imagine how wide of a growth ring that will be for his entire family!

sylvia

I was grateful for the chance to step outside of my comfort zone during the week, when I took the time to walk over and visit a family I saw smoke pouring out of the kitchen because of their wood fire.  When John and I walked over, we discovered they not only needed a stove, but they had two children who desperately wanted to go to school.  Because of the generosity of one of the men in our group, by the end of the day, both kids were enrolled in school.  I left them with a Bible.  I challenged the 14-year old girl to work hard in school to learn to read.  Why?  Not just to get a good job, but to read the Bible to her family…to begin to plant the roots “deep” for their spiritual growth.

God has been putting a burden on my heart over the past couple of years, and that is of “Biblical training” of pastors in Guatemala.  As we were leaving one of the homes, the mom commented that she had been praying for many years about the specific item we brought her.  I told her that God truly does hear prayers.  She said that the pastor of her church told her that “God did not hear your prayers unless you were inside of a church.”  What pastor would say this?  What man who was interested in the truth of Christ would say that to anyone?  I was heartbroken and angry!!!  Where does something like this come from?  I asked Chris whether he thought this was from a lack of Biblical knowledge or a cold, selfish pastor.  He said both.  Just like in America, there are pastors who are only in it for themselves.  But, there are others who just don’t have true knowledge and understanding of what is in the Bible.  The inadequate knowledge comes from two problems, both preventable: 1.) In America, it is because we have chosen “not” to read the Bible; 2.) In Guatemala, it is because many “can’t” read the Bible.  This woman was under a huge burden from this false teacher because she was not aware of what the Bible truly says about God: who He is, who we are, and what He demands and desires for our lives.  If she was able to read the Bible, she could have easily known what this man was saying was untrue.  That is why I so desperately want the younger generation to go to school in Guatemala.  They need an education: for a good job, but to also READ THE BIBLE.  But, how was I able to so confidently dismiss what this man said in Guatemala?  Because I decided some time ago, by God’s grace that I needed to read it as well.  My prayer is that 14-year old Sylvia learns to read, and creates a “growth ring” for her family.

chx-3

I am also excited about the new chicken coop project that Bethel began this year.  We constructed two chicken coups for families, gave them 50 chickens, and the feed and supplies necessary to begin selling the eggs.  I was so encouraged when I received an email from Chris saying that all 100 chickens were laying eggs!!!  This will be a huge blessing to everyone involved.

men group

I am also thankful for the continued blessing we have found in the members of Juan’s church.  For the third year, we hosted a dinner.  It happened to be their 21st Anniversary as a church.  We donated a power point projector which they immediately put to use by putting the lyrics to songs and Juan’s sermon notes on the wall for everyone to see (real helpful since we don’t speak Spanish).  We had three chances to worship with them.  I had the chance to preach on “Forgiveness and Fellowship”.  For the second year, Scott taught at the men’s cross-cultural Bible study.  We were also encouraged by seeing Blanca and her daughters, who have become like daughters to us.  Looking out at the church that final night, telling them what they meant to us, felt really good inside.  It was closure on another year…one more “growth ring” on the tree of my life story.

I want to take one last moment to share my hope for you.  I am truly blessed to have experienced what is going on in Guatemala, but you can experience that same thing as well right here at home.  If you were to look back on your life, what would the growth rings look like?  Would they be full because of the richness of your life with Christ and your family, or would they be thin and narrow because of a drought…a persistent drought that seems never ending.  It all begins with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  To understand “who you are”, you have to begin with “who He is”.  How we are all separated from Him by our sin and personal rebellion; and because of that, death entered the world, physical and spiritual.  He did not leave us there.  The wages (payment) we deserve for that is death, but He paid the price so that we don’t have to experience that judgment.  How did He resolve this dilemma?  Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.  Some people think it was the mere fact that Jesus died on the cross.  It was so much more than that.  At that moment, He was actually paying the price for the sin that WE committed.  He bore the full wrath of God’s punishment, so we don’t have to!  So, when time on this earth is done, when God looks at each one of us, He will see one of two things: “Forgiven” or “Judged”.  It is a choice each of us has to make…individually.  This is not about what church you belong to, what clothes you wear or what color your skin is (every tribe and tongue will be represented).  This is about the God who loves us so much that He sent a gift from Heaven to pay the price for what you and I did.  But, to receive this gift, you must accept it.  You can reject it, but I pray you don’t.  As always, if you don’t know about this mercy given by God, I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and tell you more.  I promise you it will be a tremendous growth ring for you and your family.

Finally, I want to thank all of the people who have supported us through prayer, financial donations and caring words.  I have received encouraging emails and had people approach me about how much they loved reading the blog.  It truly does make a difference to hear from you.

It has been another wonderful year.  By God’s grace, I hope to add another “growth-ring” next year.  Who knows, maybe someone reading this will want to go along as well.  Just let me know…

michaelito

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Update on Juana

Last night’s surgery seems to have been a great success!

They did a cornea regeneration operation, and used Juana’s own stem cells with a donated lens in one eye. The specialist who performed the surgery said he was very pleased, as he found even more healthy stem cells than expected! The miracles keep coming!

They have a follow up appointment this morning, and then drive back to Louisville.

Please continue to pray for Juana’s recovery. She needs them every day. Her eye needs to heal very well before she can go back to Guatemala with confidence. The same physical environment exists when she returns: blowing dust, smoke, etc.

We all love Juana so much, and want the weeks ahead to be full of healing, encouragement and excitement over the gifts God has given her…a heart that has been opened to truly see God through salvation, and an eye that will have vision she has not experienced in a very long time.

Can you imagine what it will be like when she clearly sees her daughter’s faces for the first time?

Thank you God. All glory to you!!!

Brad

Prayers for Juana on Monday

Posted by Brad on 2/3/13

I wanted to ask for your prayers for our friend Juana.

Eyes

For those who may not know about her, we met Juana several years ago while I was on a men’s mission trip.  We were visiting several families and handing out shoes to children.  Juana’s kids were some of the most adorable that we met.  They had truly sweet personalities.  When we met Juana, her eyes concerned us.  They appeared to have been scarred by years of smoke exposure.  As I was leaving, I thought I would take a picture so that I could go back home to the US to tell people about the dangers of smoke exposure.  I am so glad to have taken that photo.

After going home, I began to show the picture to everyone I could.  One of our friends, the Shutt family, was interested in revisiting Guatemala, as they were blessed with adopted children as we have been.  We had the opportunity to travel with Carol and her girls in April 2011.  While on the trip, they had the chance to meet Juana.  They immediately fell in love with Juana and her girls.  Carol began sponsoring their education and came home inspired to advocate to have Juana’s surgery accomplished in America.

I want to tell you at this point that the odds of all these next steps  occurring are simply astronomical.  Maybe better to just go out and buy a lottery ticket.  It would literally take a miracle.  Fortunately, we serve the God who specializes in miracles!

The first hurdle was finding a eye doctor who would help.  Carol was working on decorating a eye doctor’s home in Louisville.  She took the photos to him and asked if he could help.  In the end, and yet many miracles, they found an eye surgeon who would donate his time for free if Juana could come to America.  A long series of paperwork trials began, with the help of Chris and Donna Mooney of Bethel Ministries International in Chimaltenango.  Chris is the one who introduced us to Juana.  Working from both countries, the paperwork was completed, doctor letters written and prayer all along the way.  The US Government eventually granted Juana a medical visa, and she arrived in October.

After being escorted by Donna Mooney to the US, she has been staying with the Shutt family.  Their family has been a huge blessing, showering her with love and care.  Juana has met so many people while here, and has blessed everyone who has gotten to know her.  She is a warm, caring woman who is easy to be around.

Beyond having the chance to become well rested and good nutrition, she has been able to focus on her spiritual life as well.  Juana gave her life to Christ in December.  Since that time, she has been able to attend a Bible study for moms here in Louisville and grow in her faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.  It has been a wonderful time of blessing.

After having her examined by the eye specialists in America, we have discovered that there is so much more involved with Juana’s eye condition than first thought.  The procedure they will be performing will attempt to correct a cell deficiency within the eye itself.  There are only a few doctors in the world who can perform this procedure, and one happens to be one hour away in Cincinnati.  Miracle?  You bet, but not surprising when you look at how God makes all things work together for His purposes!

Her surgery date had been scheduled for early February, and I was scheduled to travel to Guatemala at the end of January.  She had special stuffed animals she wanted me to deliver to her daughters.  Juana spent several hours recording these special 30-second messages for the build-a-bears.  I delivered them and the girls loved them.  As I was leaving, her youngest daughter gave me a stuffed animal to give her mom when I came home.  You should have seen Juana’s face when she got that bear on Sunday night.

Well, I am home now from Guatemala, and Juana has her surgery in the morning (Monday).  Several families met tonight at the Shutt family home to pray over Juana.  It was a time of pouring our hearts out to God, asking for His love, protection and comfort for Juana.  Praising Him for being the caring Father He is, and praising Him for the chance to get to know Juana.

prayer-1

Her surgery is scheduled for Monday morning in Cincinnati.  Carol drove up tonight with Juana and a wonderful new friend Leah who will be interpreting.

I will try to keep the blog updated on Juana’s status tomorrow.

We need your prayers.  God does want us to pray for one another.  He loves for us to be of one heart.

juana girls

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Eggs

I wanted to update you on the egg program Bethel began with our group.  We built two chicken coops, and gave 50 chickens to each woman.

Chris told me today that the chickens are already laying!  They produced 50 eggs…way to go chickens!!!  Also, they have begun to sell them as well.  One of the women’s young daughters told the mom she wanted go out and sell eggs to the neighbors.  A family business.  What better way to financially help a family than create opportunities like this for them to succeed on their own.

My prayer is that more groups that travel to work with Bethel will raise support to build these chicken coops for other families.  The cost is low, and the need is huge.  Please help these families begin to support themselves!!!

Brad

To donate, please click here: 

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Heading home

Day 7 – Posted by Brad

day5 038

Well, we are leaving Guatemala. By tonight, we will be back home with our families in the USA.  It has been a week beyond imagination for the seven of us.  We have made new friends, and strengthened the bond of fellowship with old ones.

God has been so good to us this week.  He has opened doors of opportunity and changed hearts.  We have witnessed   abandoned moms get new opportunities for work, children begin to go to school for the first time, 50 disabled people receive the gift of mobility to a young man giving his life to Christ.

God has been behind all of it, and every single thing was for His Glory!!!

One of the biggest challenges is to get back into life at home.  While we are so excited to be back with our families, there is so much to emotionally unpack in each of our hearts.  I will write some final thoughts in a few days to put a close to yet another wonderful trip.  So, please check back.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

A great finish to the week!

Day 6 – Posted by Brad

What a way to end the week.  Today was the culmination of all the efforts leading up to the trip.  God has allowed us to impact so many lives over the past 6 days, but we touched more in 3 hours than all the other days combined.  Why?  Because 50 people received the gift of mobility that in many cases never had it before.  I know it is hard to imagine that a wheelchair could make that kind of difference.  But, that is because most of us have never had our mobility taken away.

We traveled back to Chimaltenango this morning to set up the wheelchairs that Bethel would distribute.  The guys had a brief chance to see the wheelchair shop, which is where Bethel receives all the chairs and refurbishes them.  I think it was especially helpful to the men who have never been to Guatemala before.  Fortunately for us, the wheelchair distribution was literally 100 feet from the shop.  So, we just made a bunch of trips back and forth to get the equipment in place.

welcome

Our role today was to support Bethel in the distribution.  Today was the completion of a long process for Bethel.  They get applications, prepare equipment and carry out the event with amazing precision.  When we arrived, there were already people waiting.  People with one leg missing or no legs at all.  Elderly people who could not walk.  Children who had limited mobility.  All waiting for the day to begin.  Bethel had everything organized like clockwork.   Chris began by preparing the people’s hearts.  I love one of the things he said to them, “There may be a lot of things you don’t understand about God, but if you’ll open your heart to Him today, you will never doubt His love again!”  Amen!

These people were so excited to be there.  They live in a culture that in some places still teaches that people with disabilities have been cursed, or is a result of sin.  They have been praying for years to receive a wheelchair, with no financial hope of getting it.  They are sometimes told that God doesn’t hear your prayers unless you are in a particular  church building.  It builds and builds in their lives…until today!  All of that changed in 3 hours.

We had 4 stations set up to fit people with chairs.  Each person would be called, and our team would go pick out the chair that was perfect for them.  It wasn’t by chance that the right chair was there, but a result of Bethel making sure they had the correct one.  Once we picked the chair, we would custom fit the chair as necessary.  Some needed special foot rests. Some needed foam cushion seat padding.

wound

There was one woman who had an incredible open wound on her leg.  Donna gave her some medicine, bandages and supplies to take home to help it heal.  Bethel says that there are so many disabled people who die from simple pressure wounds like I saw today.  They can’t shift themselves around.  They often times have no sensation to tell that they have a wound.  Their physical conditions are difficult to keep it clean.  Infection sets in and the rest is history.  What would be easy to treat in America, becomes a death sentence for a person.  It doesn’t need to be that way, but it is.

facunda

I was working along side John Mitchell today at our station.  Every time someone would get their chair, they wanted to thank you and give praise and glory to God.  Sometimes they wanted to tell you a lot.  I found myself asking Donna Mooney many times to come translate.  She was a saint! One special woman was Facunda.  Guess how old she was.  80, 90, 100?  Nope, 103 years old.  I even got a picture of her birth information.  Can you imagine what that woman has endured in 103 years of Guatemalan life?  Incredible!  She was so very sweet.  Though she was unable to open her eyes, she was still hearing what was going on.  I also had the chance to meet the Governor’s wife from El Tejar, the city that Juana will now live in.  She was very nice.  I knew something was different, because they took pictures of her with many different people.  I made sure I said hello while I worked on one of the people she brought.

governor

tuktuk

Once a person received their chair, they went to an area where a local pastor or a young person from a Guatemalan group called “Todo Por amor a ti” would talk with them, pray and give them a Bible.  Today, 11 people gave their lives to Christ.  This may have been the person who received the chair, or a family member who accompanied them.  Amazing!!!  What an opportunity to share the love of Christ.  This is what it is all about.  This is why we fund raise for projects.  This is why we come.  Our goal is to provide the opportunity for people like Bethel to speak the Truth of Christ into these people’s lives.  Many of the 50 were already Christians, but many were not.  All glory to God!!!

tulio

Now it gets even better!  After we cleaned up the site, Chris and I went and spoke with a young man named Tulio.  He is the son of a woman named Luki, who we have been sponsoring the education of her children for the past few years.  Tulio has been working in Bethel’s wheelchair shop for some time.  I received an email from the Donna Mooney about the fact that Tulio wanted to be a pilot.  My wife suggested that I email some pilots at UPS to see if they had any suggestions. Amazingly enough, I had met a pilot several years ago that married a Guatemalan woman, lived there for two years and still flies to Central America in the Military Reserves.  When I posted on our union message board, this man read my post and contacted me.  He said that while it is a great dream to be a pilot in Guatemala, the reality of that happening is next to zero.  It is very difficult to break into that circle as the influential families mostly get those opportunities.  He suggested I offer the idea of becoming an aircraft mechanic to Tulio.  It is offered at the same Academy.  When I emailed Donna, she said that Tulio was over joyed.  It turns out that he is very mechanically inclined at this is a perfect fit.  But, the program is costly.  Holly and I want this young man to succeed.  So we stepped out in faith by sponsoring this three year program.  But, to have the best odds, he MUST learn English, which means another program that we need to pay for.  It is my prayer that someone reading this blog feels led to help us with this sponsorship.  We are very happy to do this, but as with all burdens, it is best shared when spread among many people.  Maybe you have a group at work, a Bible study, possibly you are a mechanic by trade and can understand this young man’s passion.  If you are in a position to help, please email me at bradups0301@yahoo.com  I wanted to have a conversation with Tulio before he got started on this program.  I had him tell me in his own words (translated by Chris) why he wanted this.  Not to tell me what he thought I wanted to hear, but from his heart. I just listened.  He spoke from his heart, and it was good.  I also told him that while what I was about to say sounded hard, it was the truth.  That if he is not really committed to doing this, then I would rather him not waste his time.  That we would find some other opportunity.  He passionately said he wanted this.  I also told him that he is being given an incredible gift by God.  That when he is done, he bears huge responsibility to help his family.  When he succeeds, so does his family.  Finally, I told him that the single most important decision in all of this is his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  That without truly seeing who God is, how Tulio (just like the rest of us) are separated from God by our sin.  That not until we truly repent (turn from trusting in our own strength) and trust in the full payment of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the only hope we have of salvation, that whatever he hopes to do is ultimately meaningless.  Once we have repented, we receive the forgiveness necessary to bring us back into fellowship with God.  Once saved, God promises to give us the Holy Spirit which will go through life with us, lead us on the path that God desires for us, and make all things work together for the good of those who love him and call on His name. I asked Tulio point blank if this was a reality in his life.  I will keep all that he said private, but he confirmed this was his only hope in life.  Chris and I then prayed for Tulio, and he broke.  He could not keep the tears inside.  It was an incredibly special moment, that I was thankful for.  Please consider helping us with Tulio’s new journey in life.  He is a very special young man!

maria-1

keith-2

chx-3

After an authentic Guatemalan “Domino’s Pizza” lunch, we then headed back to give Viviana and Maria each the 50 chickens for their coops.  It was really cool seeing all those chickens.  While there is much for each of the women to learn, they are both excited about the opportunity for them to have a small business raising chickens.  In fact, one of Viviana’s chickens laid their first egg while we were there.  Chris said it was still warm (I will let you use your imagination).  I don’t think Maria’s will lay an egg for several days, as the bumpy car ride up the dirt road probably sent them into shock.  In fact, after Scott pulled one of the chickens out of the container, it jumped right back in. It probably had no clue it was safer outside of that crate.  Not only am I excited about the opportunity for these two women,but the other families that will hopefully get this same chance in the future.  For a relatively small amount, you can provide the chance for a family to finally get ahead in life.

egg-1

As we walked out, we saw the school teacher that will now work with the kids in this village.  Her name is Sarah and she seems so sweet.  She is teaching 10 kids wright now.  Very cool.

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We then headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up and went to church.  A couple of the guys were not feeling well, and stayed back at the hotel.  It has been a long week and I think our bodies are ready to get home.  It was a special church service.  Pastor Juan preached on goals, and we had the chance to say goodbye to our special friends.  We will truly miss them.  I pray that we have the chance to come back next year and see them again.

We fly out on Friday at 1:40 PM and fly to Atlanta.  After a 3 hour layover, we get back to Louisville at 10:30 PM.  Please pray for the men who are not feeling well.  Please pray for our journey home.

We miss you all and can’t wait to be home with our families.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad