Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Guatemala - GT = Good Times and God Times

First, let me thank each and every one of you who prayed for and gave money for our missions experience in Guatemala. Your sacrifice of time and money contributed to a great work that God is already doing in the area we were privileged to serve. Sondra and I are both grateful and humble that you would invest through us in the work that God is doing in the area of Las Conchas (The Shells) on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Those of you who gave financially, be watching your mailbox soon.

We departed from Nashville on July 4th and took Sondra's mother with us. Sondra's aunt and uncle have been missionaries in Guatemala for nearly 49 years and we went a couple of days early to spend time with them. Sondra's mother traveled well and we arrived rather late on the 4th and got settled in for the night. The next day, we met up with with Sondra's cousin Harvey, and his wife Sharon and the whole lot (notice the NZ way of saying all of us) of us headed to a house down on the coast for a short time of R & R. It was a great getaway for a day playing on the beach, laying in the pool, eating and catching up with family. (This was my first time in Guatemala so it was great to be with family in their setting.)

We headed back to Guatemala City mid-day on the 6th and got to meet up with Melanie, Harvey and Sharon's daughter, and she was delightful. We played a card game, took tea, and enjoyed just all being together. Melanie's new beau was coming by to take her out that evening and was meeting Harvey and Sharon for the first time. I had many things going through my head to mess with her new beau but actually thought it best not be my ornery self.

Friday was an enjoyable time going to see the camp that Betty and Graham have built in Guatemala and is used by many churches and ministries for camps and retreats. It was very meaningful for me to see it after hearing about the many adventures of them buying the property, building the camp, and hosting many groups over the years. We did a quick drive through Antiqua and then headed back home for a short visit and then to have dinner with Harvey and Sharon at Chili's. Harvey is actually kind of a big deal with Chili's in Guatemala. And I will say that the Chili's there are definitely a step up on those here in the States. I also led a Bible study Friday evening at Graham and Betty's church with a group of youth and young (and not so young adults) and it was a great experience to have Graham translate for me. I felt very honored that he would translate for me and actually helped me along. :-) Here is a pic of Betty and Graham and Harvey and Sharon.

Saturday we met up with the rest of the group coming from the States and got settled in to our living quarters for the week. We stayed at a Nazarene Seminary about 25 minutes from the area that we were serving in for the week. Nice accommodations with plenty of hot water and the food was muy bueno! And Sondra and I got to share a room that was filled with 3 bunk beds. A romantic get away! The air temp was very cool and pleasant but the rooms could be a little stuffy so the purchase of a small fan Sunday afternoon at Wal-Mart was a wise choice. (The elevation in Guatemala city is 5000 ft. plus so humidity is not too bad.)

Sunday was attending worship at Shalom Baptist Church which is church that has impacted that area of Guatemala for the Kingdom. It was a good time of celebrating Christ, followed by a lunch on the grounds and then our groups of ministry met with our other team members and translators.

Monday - Thursday were pretty much ministry in the Las Conchas school with VBS for elementary in the morning followed by middle school ministry in the afternoons, food distribution in the town and some worked on the Life Center being built that houses a local church and an education center that will teach job related skills for those who live in the area. Hermitage Hills has had a long standing relationship with Shalom and Las Conchas and it was great to see what God has done through that partnership.

Sondra primarily worked with women in the mornings facilitating a women's Bible study (along with some other ladies) and then doing food distribution in the afternoons. I served in the mornings by helping with recreation, assisting those taking pictures of the elementary children that will be sponsored by people to help provide them a good meal every day that they are in school. The picture here is our child that we sponsored this year.
(This is an incredible ministry of seeing that kids are fed at least 5 times a week with a nutritious meal.) And then each afternoon I shared the gospel with 35 middle school boys. Many of them were completely unchurched but we gave them a copy of scripture and I took a Bible story every day and my translators, Mark and Ivan, did a great job of helping the gospel come alive to these guys everyday. We gave them a chance to respond to the gospel everyday and on Thursday, 8 of those boys gave their life to Christ. It was an honor to be able to help plow some ground, plant some seed and see some harvest. I am grateful for Pastor Carlos, Ivan and Pastor Alvaro who day in and day out share with those in the area the truth of the gospel. We also did recreation with these guys each afternoon and Richard and Barry were great at leading games and a soccer tournament for the guys.

If you are still reading, I am almost done! Hang in there. There were leadership training opportunities Monday and Tuesday night and while others were leading adults, I met with the young adult youth leaders and had a great time with them. We will continue to meet periodically using technology to have ongoing training opportunities. This is a pic of some of the youth leaders.

Thursday night we had a celebration time as a team and Sondra and I met back up with her aunt and uncle and Sondra's mom (we had left her with them for the week while we were doing missions) and did a short visit with Harvey and Sharon again at their home. It was really good to connect with them again. They had stayed with us in the States for a short visit many years ago so reconnecting was much fun.

Friday we headed back to the States and got home very late. All in all it was a great trip and I only hit the highlights and I am sure after Sondra reads this she will say, "Well you missed sharing this and this . . ."

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