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


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


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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Snapshots from Rainy Season

The rainy season is finally upon us, and after two years of El NiƱo effects causing droughts here we are expected to have a normal one.  The rainy season here is called "winter" and has cool cloudy days and rainy afternoons and evenings for roughly 6 months out of the year from May to November.  This is the time that people plant, as most cannot do irrigation. Corn is "a thing" here as our students are learning and so are squash and beans and avocados, apples, peaches and plums. So here are some fun shots from the season. Enjoy.

Corn recently planted.  They plant 5 seeds together traditionally.

I love the scarecrows they put up.  This one has a plastic soccer ball for a head

Avocados! So plenitful here.  People are amazed how much we pay for avocados back home.

The tree in the distance is an avocado tree that didn't produce this year.  They have a tradition of putting a ladies' skirt (corte) around the trunk to help it do better next year. 

Corn fields in Mactzul I.  Every family plants enough for their family to have tamalitos and  tortillas and tamales for the year. 

And, of course road work at the beginning of the rains.  In this area people from different communities are assigned to road duty and serve for the year.  Several days a year required for road clearing and grating.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Medical Evangelism Training Interns

Well, our students made it safe and sound and lived to tell about their time in language school in Xela.  Over the weekend we all spent time together with Roger McKown, former missionary extraordinaire and current preacher at Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin, Tx, studying and learning about entering a different culture, what makes the gospel good news, and how to relate to people who look at the world through different lenses.  Our good friend Jennifer Hoines from ASELSI here in Chichicastenango joined us as well and had a lot of good advice for our fledgling missionaries. We enjoyed getting to know these young but eager Christians and hope this month will be a blessing to them and others in the future. Maybe one or two will become full time missionaries one day.
Which one is not like the others? This painting by Miguel Chavez was hanging in a hotel in Santiago.  It gave us a chuckle.

Jackson, Ciara, Alex, Kaden, Nathan, Jonas, Kaylin and James hanging out in the rubber tree fields.

We got to witness a baptism on Sunday.

Dina is one our coworkers at Clinica Ezell and this is her husband Julio who was baptized.

Kaden and Alex telling us about the disease complex of "Susto" or Fright. We wanted them to be familiar with how illnesses present in different cultures.

Jackson and Jonas talking about "Mollera Caida"
 or the Fallen Soft Spot in babies.

Kaylin and Ciara teaching us about the" Mal de Ojo" or the Evil Eye. While they were talking one of our coworkers from the clinic walked in and affirmed that it was common and told us how many people diagnose and treat the symptoms.

James and Nathan walking us through the Bilis or Bile Disease

Our rugged group

"This won't hurt a bit"