Posted by Brad - Day 6
This picture of the little baby crying says it all! This is how we are all feeling inside now that it is almost time for us to leave Guatemala. It has been a really special week. The team has worked so well together. I have enjoyed every moment of it. It makes me look forward to next year already!
Back from the Dead
We started the day out by visiting Isaiah. His story and what occurred during our visit blew me away. Isaiah used to live in Tecpan, where we are staying this week. Isaiah and his wife had two daughters named Sayda and Damaris. For reasons unknown to us, Isaiah’s wife hired two men to kill him. The men choked him to death. Isaiah was dead! Someone came along and saw what happened and revived Isaiah back to life. Wow!!! Amazing and heartbreaking. Needless to say, Isaiah needed to leave town…fast! So, he and his daughters moved to this more remote village. Isaiah doesn’t choose wives well, as his second wife continually beat his daughters. He asked her to leave. Six months ago when Chris first met Isaiah, he told him he needed to quit running from God, and that he needed to give his life and heart to Jesus. Chris said that Isaiah’s heart broke and he turned his life over. So, Isaiah came back from the dead twice. The Bible makes it clear that all of us are spiritually dead. That we have no life! When we repent (say we are sorry to God for trying to live without Him), and we turn our lives over to God through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit literally brings our souls back to life. We are born again. This is what happened to Isaiah.
Today, when we visited, both of his daughters were there, and we had the best visit with them. Sayda and Marta are absolutely adorable. They are 14 and 12 years old. Both girls attend school and like it very much. They can both read and are good students. In visits like this, it is easy for the girls to stay back and not be part of the conversation. As Chris was explaining the food baskets, I told him that we should make sure that they know who Jesus really is. These girls have been through a tremendous amount of hardship. Chris then spent the next few minutes leading them through the Gospel story, from Creation to today. It was very fun watching him interact with them. He had them laughing…and ultimately crying. We needed to make sure that they understood that Jesus is not just some distant person, but the Savior of their souls. Also, that He knows their hearts and hears their prayers. Sayda was the most interactive. They both ultimately said that they have fully committed their hearts and lives to Jesus.
As we were walking out, Tom Ballinger asked if they needed a pila, which is a large fiberglass wash-basin. Chris also asked where the girls took their showers. Isaiah led Chris around to the side of the house, where there was just a small tarp. As you can see from the picture, this area has no privacy. There are so many people walking down the road. These teenage girls need to have privacy. So, our group is going to pay for a bathroom to be built, where the girls can have privacy while they shower and get dressed.
Both of these girls are so special. We gave them a lot of good clothes along with black school shoes and tennis shoes. I always like to make a plug for people donating black shoes to us. These are literally like gold. People come out of the woodwork when we bring the shoes out. It was a great visit, and we left on an emotional high knowing these girls were committed to Christ.
Our next visit took me to the other end of the emotional scale.
We then headed to Sylvia’s house. She is a 21 year-old woman who is married and already has three children. Her husband works for the local schools. As the guys installed the stove, Chris and I talked with Sylvia in her house. We talked about the generalities of her life and she acted like everything was fine in life. The Holy Spirit led me to dive deeper into her story. I had Chris translate about how our lives are similar to an egg. I know, it’s crazy. But, I knew where the Holy Spirit was going with it. I explained that eggshells do a good job keeping things inside and out. That is, until you add a lot of pressure. Then, the shell cracks and everything inside comes out and you have a big mess. I told her that our lives are the same. We have this thin shell where we try to act like everything is good in our lives, then the pressures and troubles of life come along and break that thin outer shell. That’s when life gets messy. Once again, Chris asked her how her life was going. Sylvia’s shell broke. She began to weep. She explained how her husband was not a believer. She told her husband that she would only marry him if he promised to go to church and give his life to Christ. He gladly said yes. As you can easily imagine, he only went a few times and then backed out of his promise. They quickly had babies and she was trapped. Not only that, but he recently told her that he is seeing someone else in another village. And, she has been told the other woman is pregnant. Boy, it gets messy fast!
Then, her husband walked in to the house where we were sitting. Fortunately, she had stopped crying enough that it was not too obvious. I felt a protective anger build up when I saw him. What a dog!!! This is where Chris is so gifted. He began to speak to him about general things. He used humor to ease into the conversation he wanted to have. He eventually got to the point where he told him how special of a gift our wives and children are from God. That we need to treat them well and stay true. That as men, Satan continually tries to lead us away from our families, but that we have to immediately get away from the attack and back on the right path. Chris did a wonderful job, and the husband looked like he had the Holy Spirit putting immense pressure on him. We all prayed together and it all ended well. He said that he wanted to serve God. I can only pray that God will open his eyes to the truth of Jesus.
We had the family come out to the van and get school shoes and backpacks. While all the guys were working to defend themselves from the dozens of kids who descended on us, the sweetest young girl walked up. She was about ten years old, and she was carrying her sister who is just a couple of years younger. Her sister has severe special needs and is unable to walk. She has actually received a wheelchair from Bethel in the past. This girl who was carrying her sister had a smile on her face the entire time. She never complained and was truly happy to carry her. It was a powerful example of love!
After eating lunch in a church, we made our last visit to a family way out in the middle of nowhere. The grandmother was recently diagnosed with Diabetes. Her eyesight is failing. When Chris was explaining the food basket, he gave her the Bible. She looked at him and said that this was the first gift anyone had ever given her. I had Chris tell her to imagine a seed being dropped on the ground. It lays under the ground for the right amount of time. We can walk by it and never know it’s there. Then, one day, it sprouts above the ground for the first time. We don’t know how big it will grow. Over time, as it is watered it can grow very large. I said that this gift of the Bible is like that seed. This is the first time she sees the gifts of God sprouting in her life. We asked her, “Will you let this gift grow into something big or small?” It was her choice. God wants it to grow into faith so large that it affects those around her. As Chris said, it can produce fruit in her life that is good. It definitely made her think. We will just have to pray that God opens her eyes more to His Word.
We were all moved by Pablo's strong Christian Faith And discipleship. It was so moving to hear him praying over families in their native Mayan language!
We then went home and loaded all the supplies up in the trucks for tomorrow morning. After getting cleaned up, we went to my favorite restaurant on the planet, Kape Paulino. Pastor Juan and his family met us there. It was a wonderful time of fellowship.
Congratulations to Tom Ballinger’s daughter and son-in-law on their new baby girl. She was born this evening. In fact, Tom got the news and picture at dinner. We have been praying all week. Great news indeed! Welcome to the world little Ariana Ruth Matarazzo.
Well, it’s getting late. We only have a few hours of sleep as we have to leave the hotel at 3:00 a.m. We will all be traveling tomorrow.
I always ask each man to summarize his thoughts into a blog post. It takes some time to decompress and really consider what the trip meant to each of us. So, I will post them as I get them. Then, I will make a final blog post to close out the trip.
Thank you for following along with us this week. I hope you have enjoyed seeing and hearing what God has been doing. It was a wonderful week. Thank you for your donations. All of the projects went well. You made this trip a success.
Dios te Bendiga,