Monday, November 13, 2017

Where to Start

When you drift away from blogging for a while it is hard to know where to start back up.  So nothing like current events.

ABC Checkups with our Visting Medical/Dental Team
This week was spent with a really great small group of people who helped us knock out some of the last well child check ups for the ABC program kids.  We are steadily increasing the number of families served so it is helpful to have the extra hands to help with the clinical side.
Diana and Dr. Allen White and Dr. David Weed

David photo-bombing my nice shot of Gary Tabor, Austin Harper and Dr. Robin and Chance Pruitt.

Debra Blesener, Sheri and I 

Cheers! Enjoying tea and coffee at the end of the day.

Gary Tabor and Kemmel solving clinic maintenance issues over coffee.

Baptism in Mactzul IV
After an intimate communion time and  saying goodbye to our team yesterday morning we headed out to the community of Mactzul IV, about and hour outside of Chichicastenango.  We were invited by this new congregation to witness the baptism of one of our patients that they had visited and cared for and evangelized.  This church amazes us with their willingness to get involved in peoples' lives and care for their needs while at the same time sharing the good news of salvation and transformation by the Holy Spirit.  This particular patient was left paralyzed after a fall from an avocado tree about 11 months ago.  His road to recovery has been a struggle as you can imagine in a rural mountainous area like his.  But he is optimistic and gave some words of appreciation and encouragement to the church after his baptism and we were honored to witness his new birth.
Diego and Gregorio leading the devotional service before the baptism.

Andres and Martin getting into position.

Creative!



Brother Martin heading back up the very steep climb to the road.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Seed Spreaders

This is a seed spreader from the Home Depot website--the brand name makes us laugh because "Chapin" is a slang word for a Guatemalan.

We have been caught up following all of the natural disasters that are happening around the world and especially in our United States.  It is hard to watch people suffering like that as they lose loved ones and belongings.  But is is also heartwarming to see the outpouring of good will between neighbors and strangers as people pick up the pieces. It reminds me of the the story in Acts of the persecution of the Jerusalem church that caused the believers to be scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  But instead of the church dying, it spread and multiplied as the believers preached the word wherever they went.

Here in El Quiche, Guatemala we have had a pretty quiet year as far as natural disaster goes.  But on the spiritual front we are hearing about persecution and church division in some areas.  Our HTI evangelist Gaspar has been working with a church plant in a small town that has some very faithful new members dealing with persecution from their town leadership.  The community is resentful of them forming a congregation claiming there are already too many other corrupt churches in the area. During a Bible study visit by Gaspar and fellow missionary Diego they were confronted by the civic leaders and told they had no business coming into the town to preach and start a church. The town leaders began to get agitated gathered the people and talked of detaining the two for further questioning--usually a precursor to a lynching or beating.   After explaining they they had been invited by the family after visiting our clinic, the rest of the town rose up against the leaders and threatened to detain them if they didn't permit them to meet peacefully. Others members have family of a different faith and are abusive to them for leaving that faith.  But, instead of faltering or joining the congregation in the nearby town as recommended, they have decided to form their own congregation and keep worshiping God in spirit and and truth.  One lady decided to be baptized and asked Gaspar and Diego if they were ready for the load of problems that was coming their way if she converted.  They promised to back up the congregation and support them in presence and prayer.

Still other areas are dealing with church leaders that are oppressive and dividing the congregation. But rather than fall away, these scattered members moved and preached the word in another town and formed another congregation that is growing exponentially. Now surrounding elderships are asking for help in how to improve their pastoral skills.

While the thought of disaster and persecution and division are unpalatable, you can see how the Word of God gets spread to places that we humans would not have thought to take it. It clearly shows the nature of the Word as a seed and God using us as seed spreaders to move the gospel throughout the world.  So here's to the coming months of rescue and relief work in the States and around the world. May the church step up and out and let her good deeds shine before others so that they will glorify our Father. (Matthew 5:16)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reading is Fun


Juan Mauricio from Xepocol helping give a class in Paxot III.
Remember the organization Reading is Fundamental?  They are still around doing good things for community-based literacy.  I was trying to remember their name and all I could come up with was Reading is Fun.  I think that was one of their slogans.  It will be nice one day when kids around here feel like reading is fun.  And thanks to the generous donation of books from Eastside Church of Christ, we may get there sooner than later.
M.T. practice reading to his mom.
One of the frustrating things about illiteracy is how far reaching the effects are in a society.  Even people who can read don't have many options in reading material and never really develop a love for it.  People who can read marginally never learn comprehension skills to understand what they just read--whether it is Bible, the newspaper, or novel.  Even the teachers in the local schools are limited in their own literacy experience and their lack of resources.
Moms and kids checking out the reading materials.

But, one of the things I admire about young people in this area is the desire to share what they have learned with others.  We have several local area high schoolers who have been working with us doing their internships and even just volunteering time to take ideas out to church groups who want to help their kids do better in school.
Esteban from Xepocol and Cesar our ABC coordinator giving a class in the Paxot III church.
This attitude combined with great resources will go a long way to convince the next generation of kids that Reading is Fun.  And this is one of the fundamentals that will move more people out of poverty.

Reading is FUN!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Friends






I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15


I like how throughout the the gospels Jesus refers to people as "Friend" or "my friends." Whether he is with his closest followers or engaging someone on the road, his go-to word is "friend." It says a lot about his method of evangelism and gives us insight into how we can be more effective in sharing the good news of God's redeeming love with others.

To think that God puts importance on the relationships we make throughout life and encourages us to get involved in people's lives tells us what a caring Lord we serve. Because we have lived in so many different places, we count it as one of our blessings to know many friends. They have made us feel welcome and loved as family where ever we go. Thank you to all of our friends out there. You make us want to be a better friend and to share that sense of love and inclusion with people in this world who feel left out.
































Sunday, July 30, 2017

Drudgery


So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Galatians 6:9


When we first started thinking about full time mission work, I have to admit I was pretty excited contemplating the adventure of it all.  I imagined ourselves setting out each day healing the sick and afflicted and sharing the good news of God's redeeming love to people who don't yet know.
Well, that's pretty much what we still do every day, but some days we wake up wanting to call in sick or just getting through the day and waiting for the weekend to start.  Even thought we have some great days and even recently many new people coming to Christ, we get weary in the drudgery of day to day life. So in essence our work is work like any other job. It reminds me of that old Dunkin Donuts commercial about the guy who gets up early every day--"time to make the donuts!"

This even happens to our church partners, lamenting that people just don't want hear about the Word of God.  One of our volunteer promoters was pretty grumpy at the end of clinic a couple of weeks ago because very few of the patients asked for prayer after the consult.  He was wondering why he even wasted his day to be there. Well, yesterday, I tried to make a point of taking patients over to him, especially ones that seemed to be struggling emotionally or spiritually.  I asked him how it went, and he beamed that he spent a good long visit with one couple talking about God's love and the church. He had invited them to services and they seemed eager to visit.  I was so glad to see the renewed enthusiasm in this brother and thanked God for the lift of spirits.

This week we have our friends from our home congregation of Eastside Church of Christ with us. They are all excited to be here and their enthusiasm rubs off on us, so that we remember what a blessing it is to be living this adventure full time!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trip to Chile



Last month we took a leave to go see Kemmel's dad who had been hospitalized in Chile where he lives.  After two long flights(3 hours and 6 hours) separated by an overnight stay in Bogota due to cancelled flight, we arrived in Santiago about 10pm local time.  Then we made our way to the bus station to take a midnight bus ride to Chillan where Kemmel's dad lives.  We arrived at 0530 and were welcomed by Kemmel's brother Bobby and taken home where his stepmother Marcia fed us and we went to bed for a few hours.
Our time there was difficult as we were only permitted to visit during the one hour visiting time each day--one at a time. But the rest of our visit was good as we got to spend time with family there.  We bundled up each day bracing ourselves for the winter cold which was a little more than expected, haha.  We even made a couple of side trips to Santiago and Concepcion where we did some good urban hiking.  In Concepcion we stayed at an AirBnB right next to the building  that came down during their big earthquake several years ago--a little sobering!
But after a few weeks we had to pack up and come on home and get back to work.  It was hard to leave knowing that Kemmel's dad has a long recovery ahead of him, but trusting in God to help him through it.
When we got back we were greeted with messages and phone calls and hugs from staff and patients and friends who had been praying and were glad to have us back.  It felt good to be missed and we are so grateful for the hard working team we have here and the help from Sheri and  Dr. Feliciano Lux who covered clinics for us.
We are also thankful for our supportive churches and Health Talents for giving us this time to be with family and put our minds at ease.  Thank you Lord for your faithfulness.
Callie, Bobby, and Ron (Kemmel's brothers and niece) 

Midnight bus to Chillan--they take their buses seriously!  Only $12 a ticket for a 5 hour trip.

Fish Market in Chillan


Downtown Santiago


Love us some fried empanadas!  This place in Concepcion had great shrimp and cheese ones.

We visited the port town of Talcahuano.

Sea lions taking over this boat!

So many goodies in market--dried figs, raisins of several varieties, dried apricots and cherries.

Bobby and his girl Javiera accompanying us on an urban hike one day.

Notice I have on a parka and Kemmel in his light fleece!

Planes, trains and automobiles!

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago with a view of the snowy mountains in the background.