Update 6: Friday, March 13th
Today was our last ministry day. A lot of emotions, hugs, and love shared among us all. We started the day with "McMuffins" Guatemala style, just the way you like em'! It was Manuel's turn to share the devotion this morn. He spoke on the Lord's purpose for our life and following the direction of Psalm 138:8, reminding us that God is in control, and that we were created for God's purpose. Everything that happens is an opportunity to praise the Lord with our lives. After devos we had options for what we wanted to do next! I think we all chose wisely. Some of us went to Godoy's Coffee and the rest stayed back at the house to help Oscar with prep work for next week and to sort more medicine for the clinic. We were able to hit our vitamin count goal of 500 bags, which will be distributed in April.
We then had a smorgasbord of leftovers from the week to choose from, plus fresh hot dogs off the grill. Did I mention we have been blessed by Ginny's hospitality this week!? Thanks be to God. Today was pretty laid back because we stayed at the house for most of the day. Some of the kids of the Guatemalan missionaries came to the house for the Bible lesson along with sponsor kids that live in the Guatemala City area. We were able to share the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 for the last time with 12 adults, 8 teens and 12 kids.
The rest of the afternoon was our last chance to chat with the Guatemalan missionaries before they headed out for the day. We took our last few photos with them and expressed our gratitude for their hard work and open hearts. They are such wonderful examples of Christ's love. All of us were deeply touched by them. It was hard to say our 'goodbyes', but one day we will see each other again, if not here, in God's Eternal Kingdom. We all thank God for these incredible people of faith, who truly inspire each of us on some level.
To end our day, we had rooftop pizza (y pollo for Lynn)! Followed by a team reflection time about the past week. Ginny asked us questions to help us debrief about the things we felt, saw, experienced, and thought. We all came to the conclusion that we need to know more Spanish as well as being more courageous in sharing God's Word. We all sensed an inner peace and confident faith which we witnessed in the people we met even in the midst of their poor conditions. The team looks forward to sharing our various experiences as we each return home.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are grateful for each of you. May God pour out His love and blessings to all. Adios!
p.s. The Golf game will continue as we pass the time at the airport. Pete's in the lead, followed by Pierson, and Liz 1 point behind him, and Brian bringing up the rear.
Update 5: Thursday, March 12th
Today seemed like a long day for all of us, but a good day. We had breakfast, just the way we like it (as Kevin alllwayss says)! Then devos led by Julian. He talked about the things we treasure in our hearts. By 9am we headed out to Gonzales Park in Amatitlan. Things are not always as they seem. This park is actually a cemented area in between two walls. It is the perfect space to hold our Bible lessons. Kevin had told us the story of how they managed to use this area, and we discovered that the mayor actually lets the ministry use this location for free. What a blessing. The 167 adults use this space to gather. The amount of people coming keeps growing, and so now we use the house across the street for the teens and the clinic. For all 180 kids, there is another park similar to Gonzales, around the corner that we can also use for free.
So once we arrived, we did house visits. Liz, Carole, Henriet, and Brian had sponsor children to see today. Liz went to see Dulce. She had been sponsoring one of her sisters, so now it was a great blessing to continue to be a part of their family in this way. They shared tears, hugs, prayers, gifts, and much love. Liz says that it has been amazing watching the girls in their family grow up since coming back in 2011. Brian visited Allison; she is 13 years old and in 7th grade. She lives with her grandmother, younger sister, and mother. Her favorite subject is math. She loves art and playing soccer. She told Brian that she would like to be a lawyer when she grows up. It was very meaningful to Brian because 4 years ago he had met her at Gonzales Park, and God put a real love for her and her sister in his heart. So, it was a huge blessing that she was avaible to be sponsored.
The lessons were once again a huge success. Over the past ten years, it has been amazing to see the program grow and see people (of all ages) coming to hear about Jesus. The kids had a lot of fun, and the teens were very attentive. The teens all week long were amazed when Pierson told them his age. I guess they are not used to seeing a 5' 10'' fourteen year old.
Groundwork Guatemala provides weekly medical clinics in El Rincon, Buena Vista, and at Gonzales Park. Two nurses provide a listening ear and medical advice to men, women, and children. They provide medication to the people, which have been donated to the mission. Vitamins, tylenol, ibuprofen, blood pressure, diabetes medicines, treatment for scabbies, lice, fungal infection, bladder infection, burns, etc. are some of the things prescribed or dealt with. People come to visit the clinic which consists of a card board table, surrounded by stools, and topped with plastic tubs of medications. The people come alone or in groups of 2 to 3 family members. Henriet, a nurse with our group, worked with Ana and Julian (the Groundwork Guatemala missionaries) in the clinic this week. We saw 23 to 59 people in the clinic each day. Please pray that God will continue to bless these weekly clinics.
We came back to Ginny's special chili, which filled our tummys to the brim. After dinner we did our team devotions together. Pastor talked about each of us being named by God and how one day we will recieve a new name from Him. This was interesting to think about. The scripture reference was from Revelation 2:17. And for those of you wondering about the traditional game of Golf, Liz, Brain, and Pete are tied for 1st place with Pierson bringing up the rear. We shall see what happens tonight!
Gracias amigos for all of your prayers. Adios!
Update 4: Wednesday, March 11th
We started our day here in Guatemala very early. We left the house by 7am to try and beat the traffic to Buena Vista. The morning started off cool and breezy until we got closer and closer to the volcanos and sugar cane fields. The weather drastically changed once we got out of the vans. We survived coming down the rocky, dirt road to the town. There used to be an old railroad track which ran right down the main street of Buena Vista. It seems like this town is so far away from everything, but it is sure full of lush greenery (the Guatemalans say that it isn't so green because it's their dry season). Banana, plantains, mango, avocado, coconut, guava, almond, and even cashew trees fill this area. We also saw stalks of corn and pineapple growing from the ground. And did I mention all of the sugar cane?! There are various kinds of pretty flowers on the trees too. Such a beautiful place to be!
The kids were already lined up waiting for us to arrive. They seemed so eager to see us. We started the lessons right away. The adult lessons were in the morning and the kids had to wait until after lunch. While the adults got started the and clinic got set up, Kevin took Liz, Pete, Michele, Pierson, Carole, and Brian to show us a little more of the town. We stopped at the church, and Kevin told us a story of how a young woman wanted to become baptized but none of the churches would allow her to because she didn't meet their qualifications. No where in the Bible does it say that you need to show ID or not have medical problems to be Baptized, it's heartbreakening. So one of the Pastors who was here with Groundwork Guatemala from Wisconsin decided this needs to be done. So they went down to the river and she was able to be baptized!
It was a lot of our hightlights and lowlights seeing the town elementary school. There were only three teachers, so they had to cram into the dark rooms, several grades, all trying to learn. It was a joy to see all the little children, especially in the classroom we went into. They welcomed us in and we got to see how beautiful they wrote and colored. The learning conditions were sad to see, and hearing Kevin talk about how people prioritize looking good rather than actually helping the children broke our hearts. Please pray for these kids to get the education they need.
The first house visit of the day was also a favorite part of today for a lot of us. We were on our way to see someone, but the gate to their property was locked. Carlos wanted to take us under some barbed wire to get in, but we thought it would be too tight of a squeeze for some of us. But, God, as He always does, had another family for us to meet. Kiatana and Jose were the lovely 82 year old couple who welcomed us in. They made sure us gringos were in the shade the whole visit. They are wonderful examples of what Christian marriages should look like They show the love of God evidently. We could see that even with the language barrier. Even with the tradegdy of their daughter passing away from a heart condition, they still carried lots of joy and compassion. We enojoyed our morning with them, sharing God's love. Please
There were a few house visits today and another visit was done by Pastor L, Randy, and Lynn. They were welcomed into a newly built home with a tin roof and walls of split bamboo; owned by a young couple. The man worked in the sugar cane field and also collected wood for his family. They had one child and the woman was 7 months pregnant. They were very open to the Message of God's love and protection and were willing to recieve a Bible. They hadn't owned one before. The father is the one that can read. The ministry looks forward to following up and building relationship with this family.
The adult Bible study went well with 83 of them. They were all super attentive to the music, and hearing the Bible lesson of God's love, forgiveness, and the power of God, along with the assurance of eternal life. The 11 teens did well too. Pierson and Liz highlighted to them how we need God to be a part of our everyday, and how we can trust Him to provide the big and little things. We cannot lean on our own understanding. For the kids ministry time, the team had to manage 161 children. They loved all of the songs and really enjoyed the craft.
We then packed up the vans for the long 2 and a half hour drive back. We were happy to be home to eat the delicious meal Ginny provided. Once again, we have been preparing for tomorrow for our last time out in the field at Gonzales Park. It was a fantastic day for us. Also, we may whip out a deck of cards tonight for the traditional game of Golf. We will update you on how that goes tomorrow!
Update 3: Tuesday, March 10th
Today was full of joyous people, lot's of fun, and new sights to see.
We started the day, of course, with devotions together. Carlos led them. He began with us trying to figure out what the street signs he drew meant. He focused on how directions are important and how we can get our life directions from following Jesus and reading our Bible daily. We then grabbed the "sun" and "bug sauce" and loaded up into the van of our choice. We went to El Ricon today. The building we used to use was no longer available to us, so we adjusted to a new space across the street. We had about 130 kids, 7 teens, and 125 adults come to hear the Bible lesson today. All of us enjoyed playing frisbee, playing with the beach balls, and playing tag with the kiddos. They were so full of energy and life. They gave many hugs and shared many smiles.
Each group had a great time singing our new song, "Hosanna". Lynn even got the teenagers to join in on the fun. The lesson of Feeding the 5000 went well for all of us. Each group was attentive and able to answer the questions well. We pray that they start to grasp the message of this story of how God provides and how we can trust Him no matter who you are.
We split up into three groups today for house visits in this town. Group one was Michele, Pete, Carole, and Carlos. They went to see Marta and Baudilio. They welcomed us into their home with open arms. They shared their story of their lives and how they came together. They also shared how thankful they are for all the many blessings God had given them. When they had nothing to eat and didn't know what to do, God provided for them. They both asked for prayers for health and continued blessings. The team got to share with them Isaiah 40:29 to remind them that God is always with them.
Group two was Randy, Pierson, Pastor L, Henriet, Sandra, and Oscar. They visited Sonya and Luis who opened their home and openly shared their life experiences of how her paralysis from a gunshot wound and his rehab from Guillan Barre brought them together into a marriage. God blessed them with two children, Violet and Nehemiah, whom they thought they could never have. He had lost his job as a teacher. Please join us in prayer that he can find employment.
That leaves the third group to be Liz, Lynn, Brian, Kevin, and Brisa, who went to go see Iriene, Joel, and Jose. Iriene's husband and daughter had passed away, and she herself was very ill. Yet, she was so generous and wanted us to be the ones to take a seat on her couch. She had told us about all of the problems with her health that she was facing. We were able to share with her some scriptures from Psalm, Matthew, and James which had all mentioned how God will help us get through hard times. We need to continue to pray, cry out to Him for He has compassion on us, and face the day with joy. Please pray for her health and for her to get the medicine she needs.
We came home to yummy burgers for dinner, shared the "happies" & "crappies", then prepared for the early morning tomorrow. George also came by for a quick visit to drop off the beautiful hand-crafted boxes made by his boys for us to take a look at to see if there were any we were interested in buying. We ended the night early with devotions and some singing as a team.
Tomorrow we leave by 7am to head into the sugar cane fields!
Dios te bendiga! Adiós!
Update 2: Monday, March 9th
Hola! Hola! Hola!
Our first full day here was a success! We all slept really well on our luxurious air mattresses. Breakfast was wonderfully awaiting for us at 7am sharp. Ginny is the mastermind chef when it comes to each delicious meal. What a blessing. It was amazing to see all of our Guatemalan missionary friends again (or meet them for the 1st time). We, of course, started our day by doing devotions on the third floor with a nice breeze coming through the windows. Brisa, one of the youngest missionaries here on the Guatemalan team, led the Bible study time. The passage was from Romans 1:21-24, 28-32. It was a good scripture to remind us about the state of our hearts. Are we making excuses for the sin that we do or are we striving to have a heart like Jesus, a heart to serve?
After devos, we headed out to see "Only A Child" ministry, operated by our Boston friend, George. Since most of us had heard the story of how the ministry got started, George gave us the short version and we got to hear more about the young men that are there. George translated their story to us, and we got to ask questions about where they are at in life now. It was so touching to be able to hear how hard they work in school and making the hand crafted wood at George's workshop. For those of you who don't know, "Only A Child" has been operating for about 20 years, and the mission is to take young boys off the streets and from difficult life situations and to teach them about God and how to make something out of their lives. We all heard today how driven these boys are.
Afterwards, we briefly visited the Guatemala City dump from the front gates. This is where all of the garbage from every part of town gets halled and dropped off. Those who work in the dump, dig through the trash to find things that could be resold or are simply looking for food to eat. As Kevin explained what was going on inside and outside the gates, we sat in silience, taking it all in, trying to process how they live their life. It is overwhelming and difficult to see the sight in front of our eyes. Seeing the little kids walk down such a dangerous, dusty street was scary. This is ordinary life for many Guatemalans.
Next part of our day was delicious rice, tortillas, and beans for lunch with the wonderful Guatemalan missionaries. After chatting with them, they helped us get our lesson plans ready for tomorrow. We will be teaching on how Jesus fed the 5000.
We then headed off to do some house visits. Those are times for hearing different families' stories, sharing the Gospel, and praying for people in their homes. The people we see have some connection to the ministry of Groundwork Guatemala. We split into two groups. Henriet, Randy, Carole, Lynn went with Kevin and two missionaries to see Randy's previous sponsor child, Anna Victoria and her mother, Merilee. Randy reported to us, "We had a heartwrenching visit being informed of Johny's leukemia diagnosis. We shared many Bible verses of comfort, prayed, and sang together. Anna Victoria and I reconnected like it was yesterday instead of four years ago, since we last saw each other. She held my hand all the while we visited. We shared hugs while we prayed, and then it was time to say goodbye." Ana, the Guatemalan missionary, led our group singing "Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord" into a microphone that played into the alleyway of La Libertad, bringing the heart cries of this family and our group into words.
Brian, Liz, Pastor L, Michelle, Pete, and Pierson went with the two missionaries, Carlos and Sandra to go see the 29 year old, Alida. She had told us a little bit about her current life situation, and then started to open up about her past. Not even the missionaries knew about her childhood being spent in an orphanage. It was heartbreaking to hear that her mom had told her that they were going on a trip but instead took her and one other sibling to live at that orphanage for 11 years. At the time she didn't understand it, but now she realizes how God has a plan and has been at work in her life this whole time. She was well fed and able to get a good education at the orphanage; whereas, if she stayed at home all of those years, she would most likely be working in the dump with her mother. Her mom was trying to look out for her too by sending her there and doing what she could for her. She now has a great Christian husband and a beautiful daughter. We prayed over her family to have better health and that God keeps them safe in the neighborhood they are currently in.
We came home to dinner, talked about our highs and lows, and prepped for tomorrow's day.
Should be a great Tuesday ahead of us. Today went by so fast!! Stay tuned.
Dios te bendiga (God bless you)
Update 1: We made it to Guatemala safe and sound. It was a very smooth travel day for us. Even going through customs with all of our bags was very easy. The airport workers walked us right through, where Ginny and Kevin were waiting for us. We unpacked all of the in-kind donations and got organized. We are all pretty tired and will sleep well tonight. Stay tuned for the update on tommorw's 1st full day here! Thanks for your prayers!
Ready to leave!! Guatemala Mission Team prepared 14 checked bags of in-kind donations to support the mission. The bags will leave with the team early on Sunday (Mar 8th) morning! Continue to pray for safe travel.
We will update you upon our arrival!
Short Term Mission Trip 2018
13 adults and youth are preparing to serve along side the missionaries of Groundwork Guatemala Team at four locations in and around Guatemala City, Guatemala this summer from July 21-July 28, 2018.
The Team is preparing a Bible Lesson on “God’s Protection” using the Bible story of Moses being found in a basket at 3 months old by the daughter of the Pharaoh. The lesson will be presented along with songs in Spanish, and craft project and activity booklets for over 600 children, teens and adults during the week.
In-Kind Donations are being collected from four area churches that the team will transport down to Guatemala. Health items and medical supplies and as well as needed items for the ministry will be collected thru the end of June. Cash donations can also be made for this purpose.
Your gifts of financial support for the Mission Team can be sent to Trinity Lutheran Church, please add on the memo line “Guatemala Mission Team”.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated. If you would like to be a prayer partner and receive all team updates and reports from the mission field, send an e-mail to Rev. Dennis Lassanske at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be added to the prayer partners contact list.
We safely arrived in Guatemala last night!!
Saturday morning our team gathered at Trinity at 8:30am for the send off of prayers, hugs, and sang: "Light my candle....go into the world." While Liz made her way to the Denver airport. As we got to our designated airports, we discovered that all of our flights were delayed. This ended up being a blessing for all of us. We had kind people to help our team get the bags all checked in, and they had plenty of time to teach the newbies our traditional card game of Golf.
As God would have it, Liz and the team's flight landed in Atlanta at the exact same time. Liz was headed for the tram and bumpped right into some familiar faces. We were all together now and could relax before our final flight into Guatemala City. Flying right at sunset was so beautiful to see from 32,000 feet. Not only did we get a painted sky, but a lightning storm to follow. Little did we know that a miraculous trip throught customs would close out our travel day. We walked right through, no questions asked, no bags checked thanks to the two young men helping us with our luggage. All we had to do was hand in our customs forms and bypass the baggage scanners.
Waiting for us at the exit, there they were, our lovely hosts, Ginny, Kevin, and Manual . We loaded up the two vans with 13 checked bags, 13 carry-ons, 13 backpacks, and just as many people. We got settled in the mission house and had a good night's sleep.
Today, Sunday, we had breakfast just the way we like it (as Kevin always says), recieved some more house & saftey rules, and headed to church by 10am. Experiencing praise and worship in a different cultural setting was a wonderful time for all of us. There was liturgical dancing, passionate prayers, enthusiastic singing, and a powerful preached sermon. We could all feel the Holy Spirit moving in the room even when we didn't know what was being sung or prayed during the service. Each of us were impacted in a positive way by the worship experience today. We walked back to the house to eat some homemade grilled cheese sandwiches thanks to Ginny.
All afternoon was spent unloading, sorting, organizing, and doing some house projects together. We are so grateful for all the in-kind donations (toothbrushes, medicine, school supplies, craft items, etc.) that supports the work of Groudwork Guatemala Ministry. Thank you to all those who contributed. A little later in the afternoon we had a surprise visitor, Gisele. She is Lilivet Ryder's sister. She has helped this ministry out before by doing some translating. She also brought a surprise snack, fried plaintains with refried beans, and sugar on top - cultural, interesting, and good!
The evening was spent by preparing teaching lessions, practicing our spanish songs, and sharing the first lesson of our daily devotion, "Crourageous" based off of Joshua 1:9.
We have an early morning tomorrow; please keep us in your prayers as we visit people in their homes and learn about Only a Child Ministry.
If you would like to see daily picture updates you can visit the Groundwork Guatemala Facebook page or copy this link: https://www.facebook.com/Groundwork-Guatemala-65535996953/
Dios le Bendiga (God Bless You)
Hola! Hola! Hola!
We survived our second full day here in Guatemala. Our team experienced the culture on a deeper level than yesterday, and the Guatemalans have already made an impact on us all!
This morning we were able to reconnect (or meet) the Guatemalan missionaries that work with Ginny and Kevin. We sat in the upper room and introduced ourselves, as well as, had a devotional led by Jullian, one of the missionaries. The devotion theme was all about how to be generous. After being encouraged by Jullian's lesson, we headed out to see a man named George.
George is another missionary from Boston. He has been here for 20 full years running the ministry called "Only A Child." The heart behind what George does is to take in street boys and teach them about God, family, good work ethic, and how to create beautiful wooden boxes. We got to hear the story of how this ministry came about. Whether this was our first time or our fifth time hearing it, we were all amazed at how God orchestrated every detail for George and these boys to come together with what was needed for a safe work and living space. We then got to meet all of the boys. They told us how long they have been with the ministry and what their personal goals are.
Normally after we visit George's, we make a stop at the Guatemalan City Dump. Today, however, we did not. Kevin took us to the entrance of the dump instead of looking down into it from the bluff of the cemetary. We saw all of the garbage trucks and the people going in and out. Kevin explained the cycle of the people in this area, the reasons why they work in the dump, and some of the sad stories of these people.
Next we headed back to the mission house for some traditional beans, rice, and tortillas to enjoy for lunch. The Guatemalan missionaries ate with us and then helped us prepare for our Bible lessons, crafts, and songs that we will present tomrrow at El Ricon. We will be split up into 3 groups: adults, teens, & children. We are teaching the story of Moses in the Nile and how God protects us in times of trouble. You can look up our theme verse for the week in the Bible - Psalm 46:1 & pray that we will have courage and strength to procalim God's love through what we have planned. Pray that the people's hearts will be open and ready to recieve the Hope of Christ.
The afternoon house visits at La Libertad challenged us to step out of our comfort zones. For some of the team it was being in an unfamilar neighborhood and for others it was speaking to the people what God had placed on our hearts. We were split up into two different groups, and each had some of the Guatemalan missionaries leading us to see specific families. House visits are all about building relationships, sharing God's Word, and praying together.
One of the houses we went to, we met two ladies, Elaina (48 yrs old) & Maria (16 yrs old). They both work in the dump to collect sacks or bags. They take them back to their house to get washed, and then they try to resell them in the market. They told us they wash about 1200 sacks a day. Maria doesn't go to school anymore. She stopped at 3rd grade. We asked if she wanted to go back, and she said 'no'. Elaina wanted us to pray that her kids would study hard so they could have a good future. If you do not have an education, you will have almost no chance of getting a good job. This is how people end up working in the dump.
Another house visit was spent at a young girl's place named Lydia. This home revealed hope in an overwhelming family situation. Lydia has lost her parents, was abandonded by her husband, and is pregnant with a second child at age 20. She and her sister manages a household of 12. With her young family, she still goes to school with younger siblings in the evening. Upon our arrival we were welcomed into her house as she quickly got out her Bible and pointed us to her favorite Bible passage, Joshua 1:9. We were encouraged by her derterminitation and desire to better her future. We were privlidged to pray over her that God would continue to give her courage and strength in the days ahead.
It never ceases to amaze us how the families we visit deal with and rise above what seems or looks to us like impossible situations by finding hope in God's love.
Monday was concluded with sharing our highs and lows of the day, final preprations for tomorrow, and our team devotional on courage.
Once again please check out our daily pictures using this URL: https://www.facebook.com/Groundwork-Guatemala-65535996953/
Today was our first offical day out on the road! We ventured out to El Ricon, which means "the corner". We'll tell you more about that later, but first...
...The start of our day began with devotions led by Manuel. He talked about the story of the leper. A big point of the message was to have faith for Jesus to heal us, but also for us to take care of our hearts by getting rid of the sin in our lives. It was encouraging once again. After devos we got on our "sun sauce" and "bug sauce", made sure we had our TP in our pockets, and loaded up the vans. Riding in the vans is an experience in it's self. Julian and Manuel are our divers, and they do a marvalous job weaving in and out of the traffic. If you are not used to cars swooping into your lane and motorcycles riding inbetween the two lanes, then you are in for quite the adventure!!
We made it to El Ricon after about 45 minutes of riding in Guatemalan traffic. We got closer and closer to the volcanos as we drove. What a beautiful sight! We started out our time there by doing house visits. We split up into three groups, and each of us seemed to have a difference experience.
Groupo #1 consists of Henriet, Connie, Barb, Caitlyn, Randy, Aracely, & her husband, Ronnie. We visited Elvira and she directed us to the home of her son, Mario, when we asked her for prayer requests. He had been involved in a car accident while riding his bike. He broke his hip, lower leg, and had multiple scrapes on his face. His wounds are not healing well and needs to see a doctor tomorrow. When we had asked what to pray for he said he didn't know what to ask for. He never really attends church unless he is going for a wedding or funeral. Our prayers for him focused on blessing family members who are providing good care of him, asking God to heal his fractures, and for direction in his life that leads to Jesus as he heals.
Groupo #2 consists of Pastor L, Liz, Don, Brian, Carole, Kevin, and Sandra. They went to Maria's home. She is a 68 year old woman who has been suffering with sciatic back pain. She demonstrated trusting dependence on the Lord. Our group offered encouragement, the strength of God's Word, and prayers. On our way out, a family member drew a bucket of water from their deep well in the home. We discovered the water to be extremely hot. The high temperature is due to the volcano nearby.
Groupo #3 consists of Michelle, Emily, Joel, and Carlos. They saw Cesar, who is Jason and Lilivet's sponsor child. It is always a blessing meeting your sponsor kids. Cesar is doing great in his studies and is planning to be a mechanic in his future. They shared how thankful they were to be able to be sponsored. The mom, Hilda, shared Psalm 91, which is the passage to encourage her with strength and guidance. They ended with prayer.
Also, a special surprise visitor came to us in El Ricon today, a young man named Rolando. He is Barb's sponsor child. He lives in Gonzalez Park, our Thursday location. He knew he would have been in school the time we would be there, so he decided to attend classes in El Ricon today so he would get the special opportunity to see Barb.
House visits really give us a glimpse of how the Guatemalans live and what they go through. Their prayer requests tend to be very similar: blessings on their family, health, and good education.
Previously when our church has come here, Kevin always takes us to see a woman named, Margarit, and a man named, Carlos. They have the miraculous story of the well. Briefly, the story: Margarit hired this man, Carlos, from Nicaragua, to build a well at their home. Unfourtunately, he had abused Margarit's daughters, and at one point when he was building the well, he fell in. He now has one leg and is in a wheelchair. The amazing part of this story is God's love and forgivness in Margrit's heart. After the tragedies that happened with her daughters, she forgave him and chose to care for him. For those of you who know the story of the well, the newest update is, their home has been overtaken by a local farmer, and their land is now full of corn stalks. If you look through the corn, you can still see the well. Looking at it, buried behind the greenery, we were reminded of God's great love and forgiveness for us.
After lunch, the kids started to arrive for the faith lesson. We all had a blast attempting to read to them in Spanish, attempting to jump rope, and attempting to talk to them as best as we could with the little Spanish we know. This was a big highlight of the day for most of us. Seeing the joy and laughter of the children melts our hearts. We then separated into our groups to do the teachings. Emily, Liz, and Caitlyn taught the 10 teens today. Barb, Carole, Michille, Joel, Brian, Connie, and Randy worked with about 100 kids. Pastor and Don led the 75 adults. So we had a good size crowd today. Again, it is a joy to see the people grasping God's message. We pray the Word will soak into their lives. We shared so many hugs, smiles, and waves 'goodbye'.
We hopped back into the van for the crazy, fun ride back to the mission house. Once again, Ginny blessed us with an amazing, nutricious dinner when we arrived. We shared our highs and lows of the day. It is always special hearing everyone's insights to what they were touched by each day. We ended the night by chatting with George from "Only A Child." He brought over the homemade boxes and told us how the ordering worked. We also got to ask him some more questions about the ministry and the kids that work there. It was also neat to hear the story behind why George came up with the name, "Only a Child!"
It was a busy, but life-giving day! We are on the road by 6:30 am tomorrow for a 2 hour ride to Buena Vista. Thanks everyone for praying!
Dios te bendiga! (May God bless you!)
Pictures from this week:
Today was spent in the lovely village of Buena Vista! It was very hot, but very beautiful; very heart breaking, and very life-giving.
We left early this morning for the 2 hour van ride into the sub-tropical area known for the suagr cane fields. We got a clearer look of the volcanos: Pacaya, Agua, Fuego, & Acahtango. We could see the smoke coming out of some of them. As we got closer to the village, those of us in the non-air conditioning van could feel the air getting warmer and warmer. The road eventually went from bumpy paved road, to bumpy rocky/dirt road. Having two hours in the van with the Guatemalan missionaries gave us good opportunity to get to know them better, to hear their stories, and for language practice. It is such a blessing and makes the time fly by so quickly.
When we arrived in the village, we drove down the narrow street, which used to be an old railroad track. We arrived at the pavillion, unloaded the vans, put on a lot of bug spray and sunscreen, and then jumped right into ministry!! The clinic was open with Henriet, Ana, & Julian, while Pastor L and Don started their time teaching time with all of the adults. The rest of us went on house visits. Our first stop was the school. For most of us, this was a heartbreaking experience. Kevin took us around the building. All of the classrooms were dark, hot, and crowded. Some had 57 students in there. The kindergarten teacher didn't come to the school today, so some of those kids joined another classroom. Some children had books and some did not. We all thought, "how do these kids learn with so much chaos happening around them?"
We split up into three groups again:
Groupo #1 - Liz, Caitlyn, Emily, Michelle, Joel, Carlos, and Marvin (from Only A Child). We were so grateful to have Marvin join us today to help translate! We walked a long way down the road to find this cute little girl named Adriana. We chatted with her mom a little before we went next door to see Maria. Adriana followed us. She really liked Emily and Randy, probably because they entertained her with peek-a-boo at her house!! Back at Maria's, we listened to her prayer requests and discovered she had diabetes. The doctors also thought she may need a dialysis, but the doctors office that provides that is not in Maria's range. It is very hard for the people here to get to the doctors quickly and to get to the type of doctor they need. This was also the case for little Adriana. She has a lot of bad upper respiratory problems that none of the doctors near by could take care of. These situations were hard to hear. We prayed with great faith for healing and brought encouragement to these families.
Groupo #2 - Don, Carole, Barb, Connie, Cesar, and Sandra. We went to see Debra, a 20 year old girl. She had a full term baby. Unfortunately, the baby died 2 weeks after the birth. Debra was still so sad and tearful as we shared scripture and prayer. She seemed to have good support. Most of us felt she will come through this trying time with the help of the Lord. We encouraged her for when she is feeling alone and sad to read the scriptures. God's Word is powerful, and it's His strength that gets us though these sad tough times. His heart is feeling what Debra's is feeling. We prayed over her fervently.
Groupo #3 - Pastor L, Henriet, Kevin, Julian, and Ana. We visited Domino in Xaya (pronounced "Shy-ya"). He is a 25 year old man who had a stroke 1 year ago and was near death, weighed 75 to 100 pounds, & he had the apperance of a Holocaust survivor. His grandmother was his caregiver. Ana & Julian visit him regularly and bring him hope. They care for his physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs. They encouraged him to complete exercises to give him strength. He smiles a broad smile when he hears Ana's voice. Today he weighs 125 pounds and looks healthy. He was glad to demonstrate his ability to walk the length of parallel bars. Ana and Julian built them for him. Julian was correct when he said, "This is love in action!"
In these hard scenarios, we have to remember the Truth of God's Word. James 5:11 says, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have perservered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
After our PB&J lunches, we did the kid and teen faith lessons. It was harder to get the teens to get into the music, but the little kiddos just loved singing. Oscar does a wonderful job getting children to listen and pay attention. Cesar was the one translating for the teenagers today. For the teens, they answered the questions about the story very quickly; one girl in particular knew every single answer. It was a little crazier over with the kiddos. Brian was telling us about the several children that kept asking him for help with the craft and with the little Spanish he knew, he would tell them, "un momento, un momento!" As he would turn from one kid to the next! It is always a joy working with the cute little ones.
On our ride back, we made a special stop at the "puente de misterioso". We were surprised with the outcome, but we can't share what it is. I guess you'll have to come here and experience it for yourself.
Also, for those of you who were wondering, Don is in the lead in our game of Golf!
Today was, overall, a great day! Thanks for praying!
Guess what everyone!? It finally rained today! It's the rainy season here, and we were starting to wonder if it truly was with all of the sunshine we've been getting. The downpour in the middle of the day really showed us.
The start of our day beagn with Oscar leading the Bible study. He even did his own translating. We read the passage of Jesus telling Simon to cast his nets again which led to their boats over flowing with fish. Oscar shared how those fish are the blessings Jesus provides when we listen to Him. We then had our normal routine of getting ourselves ready to hit the road once again. Sadly, this was the last time traveling to another location for ministry, but what a great day it was!!
A lot of the teams' sponsor kids were at this location, Gonzales Park in Amatitlan. Things are not always as they seem. It was a giant slab of cement, wide open space, in between the building walls. There were two places like this about 2 blocks apart. The kids are in the new location, John the Baptist Park, and the adults in the original park, Gonzalez Park. The attendance keep growing and growing. The ministry has moved the teens to the house across the street, which is actually Barb's sponsor child, Rolando's house. The clinic is held in this house too, but today we didn't run it because Ana needed to stay with one of her sick babies. Please keep baby Madeline, who has been hospitalized, in your prayers.
The morning started with meeting sponsor children and going on house visits of those families. Randy, Liz, Michelle, Emily, Connie, Don, Henriet, Barb, Carole, and Kevin all got to meet either their sponsor child, the family of the child, or meet the child for one of their family members back in the States. This encounter is one of a kind. Being able to have a sponsor child is more than just sending a check, it is a real life relationship, almost like a pen pal. It is so meaningful to be able to bless someone with the oportunity to go to school. It's something we take atvantage of in America. Families here have to make the decision of which child to send to school first because they can't afford to send them all at one time. The parents may rotate siblings going year after year, meaning the other kids are getting behind in their studies. The parents all showed their gratitude over and over and over. Like I mentioned earlier, the parents always ask for prayer with their children's studies. It seems like such a simple thing, you send your kids on the bus with their school supplies year after year from age 5 to 18, and you never have to worry about which child to send, or how you are going to be able to get uniforms or new school clothes for all your kids. Something we take for granted is such a treasure for these people, and it affects their entire future. All of the encounters we had today with these families had a unique story worth telling. If you get the opportunity, ask one of us about it! We'd be happy to share!
The lessons were all a positive experience for the three different groups. We were amazed with Oscar and how he gets the kids attention. He played "Simon Says" to start the lesson. The kids would change their moves quickly, almost too quickly that they very moment when Oscar wouldn't say the words, "Simon says," they would do the move and mess up. There were very many laughs. They were super attentive and eager to answer the questions. The kids needed some help with the craft, but they liked the outcome. Things really got interesting when it started raining. Children and leaders had to squeeze together under the tents to start dry. Some kids wanted to get wet!
For the teen faith lesson, we really hoped today they would get into the music. Getting teenagers to sing with enthusiasim can be quite the challenge as we discovered with the other groups. In the middle of our time with them, we got that rain. We had a tin roof in the house we were in, so it was very loud as we were teaching and singing. Not only was it raining, but the parrokeet in the house was squawking/talking to us. We think he just wanted to answer our questions, but none of us speak Spanish Bird. We helped most of them put the baby Moses basket together, and ended our time with prayer. Overall, this was one of the best times with the teens according to Caitlyn, Emily, and Liz.
Today was by far the most adults we had attend the lesson. It was close to 175 women with some men. They prayed ferverantly, sang enthusiasticaly, and listened intently to our faith lesson as the rain began to fall. Everybody squeezed under the 6 portable tents we had set up, plus the ladies off to the side with their umbrellas. No one left until the last prayer and blessing was said. The women volunteers amazed us as they broken down the tents, tables, and chairs and carried them to storage as the rain continued to fall. They wouldn't let us assit them. Don was a good example. He tried to help carry the tables but the women pushed his arm away. Sandra said, "Yeah, it's women power!"
We headed back to the house in the rain. There was so much water rushing down the streets. We had to roll up our windows so that we wouldn't get splashed from the cars zipping by us - a whole new experience!! To end the evening, we ate, shared highs & lows, had our team devo time, made some mazah (for tomorrow morning), and played Golf. Brian is now in the lead!!
Tomorrow we will be doing the faith lesson at the house. It's hard to believe our trip is getting near the end!
Dios te Bendiga!
Pics from the week: https://www.facebook.com/Groundwork-Guatemala-65535996953/
Can you believe we are getting to the end of this trip? It is hard for all of us to come to that realization. Today we did ministry at the house and had a few small adventures near by.
This morning was a very unique morning. We celebrated the Christian Passover meal with the Guatemalan missionaries. A very special thanks to Lynn Lassanske for planning this special celebration. This is the very first time the Guatemalans got to experience this event in Jewish history. They thought it was very interesting...all the meaning and symbolism behind everything.
After the meal, we split up into 2 different groups. One group went to the Mayan Ruins and the other to Godoys Gourmet Organic Coffee. At the Mayan Ruins we saw some cultural sights - people were praying to their gods, lots of mayan priests were there making offerings to their gods, and there were underground structures. Many new sights were being studied by archaeologists. We thought it was very interesting to see the artifacts, information about the Mayan culture, and be in such a historical place.
For those who went to Godoys, we picked up all the coffee we ordered and got a small tour of how the coffee is made. It is really neat to discover the long process of what goes into our daily cup of joe. We discovered that this coffee is avaible in the States, bought by "Snooze" the restraunt. Liz in Denver has enjoyed several cups of this coffee without even realizing it!
Lunch was just the way we like it, hotdogs in a tortilla, fruit, pasta, fried potatoes, and some left over mazah. To top all that off, Aracely and Cesar bought us Krispy Cream doughnuts! It was such a special treat that they wanted to bless us with. After eating our wonderful assortment of food, we took some group pictures on the roof. Today you could see, plain and clear, the volcano, Auga. We then got ready for the final faith lessons.
The people that came to the house were from near by. The Adults were in the garage, the kids were in the back courtyard, and the teens were in the dinning room. It just seemed like the hour flew by today as we taught the story of baby Moses for the last time. After we wrapped up the lessons, we had to say our final goodbyes to the Guatemalan missionaries. They were so grateful for us coming to their country to share God's love. Oh, how we were so grateful for their service here at Groundwork Guatemala for the Kingdom of God. So many laughs and memories were shared. It's always hard to say goodbye, but we pray we see each other again. The Guatemalan missionaries showed all of us how to have lots of faith, step out with boldness, and to love deeply.
Dinner was on the roof tonight. We had PIZZA!!!! It was such a beautiful view and fun to share a meal up there. Shortly after we entered a team time of sharing some hard hitting questions about the week. Most of us ended up in tears, realizing how impactful this week has been. God showed each of us more things about Himself and about ourselves. There were lots of surprises and frustrations as we reflected on the week.
Each day here was so different as you may have noticed from the previous blog posts. Each person we encountered had a different story to tell. Each city had different challenges to overcome.
To leave you with some final questions, "What is God's plan for your life?" "Are you listening to His voice in the day to day?'
God loves us and has a place for all of us in life. He knows where we are before we even get there to do it. He is at work and goes before us in all we do. We all came to realize this tonight.
Tomorrow we will be headed to Antigua to see a little bit more of this beautiful country before we have to pack and head home. Thank you all for praying over us and the people here this week.
Dios te Bendiga!!
Hola! Hola! Hola!
This is just a short update for you all as our trip comes to a close.
Today we had brunch in Antigua. Kevin was our tour guide as we visited the historic city. We were acompanied by Kevin and Ginny's spanish teacher, Karmen. She is a native, so she was able to provide us with a good history lesson as we walked through the cobblestone streets. There were many tourists in this area, very different from what we have experienced all week. Lots of street venders following us around as we repeated, "no gracias." We also headed up the mountain to get to Cerro de la Cruz. It is a beautiful look out over the city and a stunning view of the dormant volcano, Agua.
When we were done exploring Antigua, we came back to the house and started the packing process, relaxed, and journaled. For dinner we ordered "Pollo Campero." The Guatemalan version of "KFC." It was delivered on a motorcycle!! We all enjoyed it. After dinner, we did some cleaning and ended the evening with praise and prayer for the last time in the upper room. We had an incredible lightning storm happening in the distance to top it all off.
This week is one we will never forget. God has blessed us as we came to bless the Guatemalans. A special thanks to our prayer partners for walking along this journey with us by prayer support. Dios te bendiga (God bless you)! Tomorrow we head to the airport around 9:30am for our two flights home. It's crazy how fast this week went by.
Guat Team 2018
Carole discovered the mens bathroom, and decided it was the on-sight suite of the house. She blames the men for hiding it the past 2 trips she's been here. As for the golf game, Caitlyn won the last round! Way to go newbie!
Pics from this week found here: https://www.facebook.com/Groundwork-Guatemala-65535996953/?ref=br_tf