Jars of Clay

After our amazing day on Monday, it was hard to imagine it could be any better. But, we had a very special day building a home for Ursula, reconnecting with old friends and praising God with our Guatemalan brothers.

 We started the day again with breakfast and our morning devotion led by Tom. We talked a lot about prayer, and the power of it in our lives. We must ask in faith, setting our pride aside. It is in the times of suffering and brokenness that we must have complete dependence on God and His provision for all things. The idea of us being similar to “Jars of Clay” would become more important later in the day.

 We got a little bit of a late start, and did not arrive to the home site until almost 10:00.   I was a little concerned because our team has never been lightning fast on building. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the fact I walk around a lot taking pictures and asking questions of the family. My good friend Tim commented a couple of years ago, “Brad, I notice you don’t work a lot”! Well, someone has to take the pictures…right? 🙂 Just for the record, I did pull my weight today on projects, though I did take a break to help the family select the shoes they would need for school.

 Fortunately, Pastor Juan had already poured the foundation. So, all we had to do was build the house. I really like the metal home Bethel is using now. The materials are very good and easy to work with. People often tell me they don’t think they could be useful on a trip like this because they have never worked in construction. Believe me, if I can do this…anyone can. Chris, Juan and Chris’s son-in-law Saul are so helpful and patient. Literally anyone could be useful on this kind of project.

 Rick, Scott and Tom really clicked on the house. Everyone found a niche and worked hard. From building the walls, to putting in windows, building the bed and finally decorating the house for the dedication. It was great seeing everyone united and working well together.

 We then had the opportunity to hold the dedication of the new home for Ursula. We presented them with the donated items. So many friends and family from all over the USA donated the items that will bless this family daily for many years ahead. Thank you for filling backpacks, donating the funds for stoves, blankets, the house, hats, shoes and clothes. You made this day happen. Thank you!!!

We then had the chance to sit and talk with Ursula. We heard her tell her story. Her husband was an alcoholic, and was physically abusive. Ursula had been praying for 18 years that God would help her. Her husband died 8 months ago. He was walking down the road in a drunken condition and was run over by a car. This family has been through so much. Ursula’s tears flowed as she spoke of her prayers and faith in the midst of the storm. As Tom said, “She has been a jar of clay for 18 years, waiting for God to fill her with His Spirit and Provision.” She thanked Pastor Juan for finding her family and connecting them with Bethel. I told her that this house and all of these blessings were answers from God. It took 18 years for her to finally get to see God working all things together for her good. He had to orchestrate the lives of so many people not only in Guatemala, but in the USA to bring this special day together. It was not only a blessing to her family, but a blessing in our lives as well. What an honor to serve God. The thing that blew us away was that Ursula clearly saw this as an answer from God. While she was thankful for us, she kept praising God!

Once again, Pastor Juan took the opportunity to speak into Ursula’s children’s lives. They were attentive to what he said, and were really soaking up what their mom was saying as tears ran down her face.

A special moment for me was capturing a picture of Ursula after the dedication. While she had much pain in her life, seeing she and her daughter smile and laugh was worth it all to me. I love her smile!

I do have a special request. Three of Ursula’s kids need sponsorship for school: Merida is 12, Miguel is 9 and Luis is 8. If you are in the position to help with $25 sponsorship for any of the three, please contact me. These kids truly want to go to school. This will be a major blessing to their lives. It could be your family, co-workers, Bible study group or neighbors who could come together to make this happen.

We then headed for a much anticipated lunch at Kape Paulinos. This is by far our favorite place to eat. Rick calls it “The House of Meat”. It was very delicious!

kape

We were so excited to go see Juan’s new house. This is not only an answer of prayer for Juan and his family, but quite honestly for me as well. He is my good friend, and this is something he has wanted for so long. I am so grateful for the group in Missouri who raised the funds and brought 20 men to build it. They will be able to remove the supports in a couple of weeks, and then paint and finish the house. So, in 2 months, they should be able to move in. To see the smile on Juan’s and Ana’s faces was so good.

Ana’s cousin Viviana lives right next door to Juan’s new house. She has had a very hard life as well. She had to flee her hometown many years ago when her drug-addicted husband was physically abusing her. She has a new life now. She opened a little tienda (store) next to her house. I asked what her hours were. She said “24”. I am hopeful for her in the future with her business. We had a nice visit and bought things from her tienda.

Not unexpectedly, Tom was the Pied Piper of children again. Viviana’s daughter “Daniella” saw Tom and lit up. Chris said Tom is the only North American who she has ever done that for. He has a gift.

There always has to be a dog story for our trips. As we were standing with Viviana, her young puppy ran up to us. It was so cute. I asked one of her kids what the dog’s name was. She told me “Perro Negro”, which means “Black Dog”. Easy to see why…he is a black dog. Reminds me of the time we took our kids to Yellowstone. As we waited for Old faithful to go off, a chipmunk ran up and stole the show for our daughter Sarah. She appropriately named it “stripey”.

My daughter Mia will be happy. Viviana’s daughter “Annie” loved the Disney Princess shoes that Mia sent. Actually, she gave the shoes to Rick to bring. Annie had the biggest smile and danced around the house in her new red shoes. Well done Mia!

After cleaning up, we walked over to Juan’s church for the men’s Bible study. We were greeted by Angel. If you remember, he was the young man who was desperately asking Chris to help get him into school. We found out that he was able to get into school.

The men’s Bible study was fantastic. We had 8 Guatemalan men show up tonight. Scott did a great job talking about “perspective”. He started with a couple of fun pictures that were brain-teasers. One was a cell of blood on a pin-head. The second was a blown up photo of a dog’s nose. The third was what appeared to be a frog ready to leap. Only then did Scott turn the picture 90-degrees to show that it was actually a horse’s head. His point was that our perspective may not always be correct. He talked about four truths: 1. In this life we will suffer; 2. God will not abandon you; 3. Our suffering is ultimately limited; and 4. Suffering has a purpose. As part of God’s plan, we should expect it. Even though we are like Jars of Clay, as believers, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. He loves us and will be with us. Our faith should grow and that should be a witness to those who are not believers, and draw them to Christ, ultimately bringing glory to God. We finished by sharing prayer concerns in each of lives, and were overwhelmed by the power of Pastor Francisco’s prayers. Wow!!! Rick said that is he ever has a demonic presence in his life, he wants Francisco to help intercede through prayer.

What an awesome day. Once again, all of our hearts are encouraged by what God is doing here in Tecpan. All of the men are healthy and happy. We miss you all, and can’t wait to come home and tell you more of our stories. Thank you again for all of your prayers. Please don’t stop…we still need it. Tomorrow is more stoves and home visits.

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

Posted in 2015 Guatemala.

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