Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Light Dispells the Darkness....

Yesterday was our final full day in Tactic.  It was a busy day that was both emotional and fulfilling.  We began our day with a visit to the sink hole.  It is a place where many people in Guatemala go to offer sacrifices, burn candles and do witchcraft.  We descended deep into the sink hole, the pathway down was steep and winding, but the team helped each other arrive safely to the bottom.  It was a grand site full of very large stalactites and stalagmites.  When we arrived in the hole we could see remnants of recent witchcraft activities that had taken place.  We gathered together and sang praises to God and then prayed together.  This place, usually used for dark spiritual rituals was filled with God’s presence as He inhabits the praises of His people Psalm22:3.  We explored the cave a little bit and then the team scattered throughout and began to praise God once again.  It was a powerful time as many students prayed about leaving things in their lives, that distract them from God, down in that pit. As we walked back up the path and seeing the light of the sky above us, I was reminded of Psalm 40:2,3.  “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” There truly was a feeling of freedom as we ascended out of the sink hole, a freedom that can only be given through Jesus.

After we went to the sink hole we continued with child sponsorship home visits.  It is difficult to describe the conditions that the people live in.  Some families are extremely poor.  With houses made of wood with many cracks in the walls, dirt floors and very small spaces that many family members live in.  Often they will cook over a fire in the same place they sleep in. Their homes will fill with smoke and as a result many people have respiratory problems.  It was heart breaking to see that people live in such desolate conditions, but they were so happy to have us there to visit and pray with them.  Each home visit touched our hearts in so many ways.  It is amazing to see the thankfulness that they demonstrate in the face of such a harsh reality.

Later in the afternoon we loaded the vans to travel to Coban to visit the hospital.  This was a very emotional time as the conditions of the hospital are very poor.  The walls have mold on them, there is electrical wires hanging from the ceiling. The floors are not clean and the medical supplies are inadequate.  We visited and prayed for the patients in the pediatric ward and our team brought hope and love to each patient and family.  It was a very difficult time as we saw babies with birth defects where surgery is necessary, but unattainable.  There was a toddler with burns all over his body with no medication to ease the pain he was in, or proper dressings to cover his wounds. This was heart wrenching as we watched him cry with pain and not being able to help.  We prayed for the patients and left them stuffed animals.  The parents and children were so grateful. The hope of Jesus was brought into a very hopeless place. We then went to the maternity ward to give gifts to the new mothers and their babies.  They were so happy to receive their gifts and to show their babies to us.  The team had a chance to hold some of the babies in the nursery and was in awe over the tiny sizes of some of them.  One of them was only 4 and half pounds We are thankful that our team was able to go and minister to the people there.

To end of our day Les came to the guest house to lead our debrief.  We answered some tough questions and shared our hearts openly.  The team has grown closer to God and to each other.  We cannot believe we are already at the end of our trip.  We are happy to come home to see our loved ones, but  know that a piece of all of us will stay in Guatemala.
We travel to Antigua today; I will blog or give a Facebook update when we arrive there.  Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.  It is so much appreciated!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Forever Changed

Every morning we begin our day with joining a Vida school for their morning devotions.  The children in the schools begin at 7:30am every day thanking God for His goodness and mercy and raising their voices in praise to Him.  The team is in awe at the way these kids praise Jesus with total abandonment.  Some of the children come from places of complete desolation, but they realize that it is not their physical environment that brings them joy and peace, but it is the love of God that they feel.  They are so thankful for how God has brought them out of the darkness and into His light, so they worship Him with all of their might.  Witnessing and being a part of this has been extremely eye opening for the entire team.  As leaders, it has been amazing to see the team grow closer to Jesus and appreciate what He has already done for us.

In the evenings we have been debriefing our days and these have been powerful times.  Les came to talk to us and helped us to process some of the things that we have been experiencing so far.  After he left, the team continued to meet and began to share their hearts with one another.  We talked, prayed, sang, rejoiced and cried together for three hours.  The bond that has been built amongst the team has been absolutely amazing.  Many expressed the desire to let go of things from their lives that would distract them from having Christ at the center. Thank you for your prayers!

We are so excited to have the opportunity to go to Vida Nueva, our sister school, to share the gospel of God’s love through VBS.  The moment we got out of the vans we were greeted with children jumping up and down yelling excitedly.  Each day they would come running to  blanket us with hugs, no one wanting to let go.  We shared the gospel through skits and songs and did crafts and played games with them.  The days went by too fast and it was so difficult to leave them each day.  We all carry memories of these beautiful faces that we saw for only a short time, but have changed our lives forever.

We have completed our work project for the trip.  The team was given the task of moving large cindercrete blocks, sand and rocks from one side of a bridge up to the site of Vida Nueva School.  We loaded wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow and walked them up the road to take to the site.  The road was bumpy and hilly which made the trek more difficult.   We are amazed at the heart and determination that the team showed as there was not one complaint from anyone on the team. There were smiles on their faces as they took load after load up the hill.  We worked through rainy, muddy conditions and after finishing the work we were disappointed that we didn’t have another work project to do.  Though our muscles were sore and fatigue set in we were so happy to help our friends. 

Today we will be going to the market for an activity and then we will be doing home visits of our sponsorship children. We look forward to all that God has in store for us today.

Sorry we are unable to upload any pictures right now.  I will try again later on.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Precious People

We were not able to blog yesterday, but would like to share about the day we had. What an absolutely incredible way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We joined the Guatemalan people for their Easter sunrise service and were amazed by the beauty around us.  There are no walls in this tabernacle, only a roof.  As we sang praises and gave glory to our Lord, we watched the land be awakened by a beautiful sunrise. The music was moving, lively, and worshipful.  We could feel a very strong presence of the Lord, so much so, that it is difficult to describe.  We praised Jesus and listened to testimonies from the Guatemalan people.  We were amazed at the thankfulness that the people expressed to God, and how they praised Him with great fervor. It was so incredible to be a part of it.  The three hour long service seemed like it was less than an hour and no one wanted it to end. 

After lunch we went to a senior’s home in central Tactic.  When we arrived the entire team was shocked and horrified by the conditions these elderly people live in.  The home is limited to single beds with no other pieces of furniture. The rooms are dark and the floors and walls are made of cold, unwelcoming cement.  The residents have been abandoned by their families and never have any loved ones come and visit them. One young Guatemalan woman, who shows the heart of Jesus, cares for the people with no funding only relying on donations to try to meet the many needs there. For these seniors it is a heart wrenching and lonely existence and many of us were brought to tears as we sang songs and prayed for the people.  The team visited with the seniors and showed them so much love and compassion.  God’s presence was so strong in that place and our students were such a blessing to them. We pray that God will continually give these precious people peace and will hold them so close to His heart.  It was so very difficult leaving the seniors in those conditions knowing that their last days will spent this way.
Photo credit: Eileen Nogue
It was a very emotional time for the team and in the evening we talked about how we were feeling after having such a trying experience.  We as leaders are so impressed with the maturity of the group and how willing they are to love and support each other through some very difficult situations.  God is doing a tremendous work in Guatemala and also in the hearts of our students.  What a mighty God we serve!


 We will update the blog as often as we can. Please forgive us if we can not update it daily.
 God Bless!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

First Full Day In Guatemala

We woke up at beautiful Seteca Bible Seminary in Guatemala City.  Most of the team had a great sleep and enjoyed waking up to the gorgeous sunshine and being able to explore the grounds full of stunning greenery and flowers.
The night before, several pieces of our luggage were missing from the airport, so we prayed that they would be recovered.  We praise God that later today, the missing items were found! 
We began our long drive to Tactic and endured winding roads and humid temperatures.  We were provided with a great lunch along the way and excitement continued to grow as we got closer to our destination.
We are now in Tactic and have settled into the guest house.  There are some minor upset stomachs, but on the whole everyone is doing well.
 We are all in good spirits and very excited for the days to come. The team is now playing games and visiting while waiting for Rita (Les' wife) to come do our orientation. We are going to head to bed early tonight so we can attend the Easter sunrise church service at 5:00am tomorrow. We will also be going to a senior's home later on in the day to pray and minister to the people there. 
Thank you for your continued prayers.  We will keep you posted as often as we can.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lord, Here We Are! Send Us!

It was a tearful goodbye as we left our families, friends and other loved ones behind, but we are so excited for the journey ahead of us.  We so appreciate all of the prayers, support, love and hard work that each of you have given in preparation for this trip. 
As we were boarding the bus and about to leave the school, I ran back inside just to double check that there weren't any bags left behind.  My heart was so warmed as I saw parents gathered together in the foyer praying for our team. I don't think I will ever forget that image.  We are so thankful for all of you who are praying for our safety, health and for God to move amongst our team and the people of Guatemala.  What an amazing blessing it is to have that kind of support behind us.  Thank you so much!
We will be boarding our plane this afternoon to reach our destination.  There is excitement and anticipation as this is becoming a reality. 
Lord, here we are! Send us. Isaiah 6:8.  What an amazing opportunity to share the love of Jesus in Guatemala. Thanking God for an incredible team of high school students who are willing to do all that God asks of them. We know His hand will work mightily through them.
We will keep you posted as often as we can! Thank you for sharing in this journey with us!