With today's end, we are near the close of our time here in Malacatan. We have spent 2 long but rewarding days in the heat an humidity serving, and are looking forward to a good night's sleep. The weather has actually been better than hoped for. We have had only occasional rain showers, and nothing that has canceled or delayed service opportunities. It has been quite warm and humid, but the skies have generally been overcast so we have not had to endure the penetrating heat of the Guatemalan sun. Thus while we have a few students experiencing colds and stomach upsets we have had no serious illnesses or sunburns. This has been a very strong team in that regard.
God is working through the effort the teams have been putting out. The program teams (childrens, mime and sports/drama) continue to have large turnouts at each stop,and generally experience very good response to the message of Christ's healing power and his gift of redemption. The mime team has been collecting response cards from their audiences. These cards enable each person an opportunity to indicate where they are in their spiritual journey and if they would like someone to follow up with them on any specific topics or questions. The local church will then use those in their continuing outreach programs to develop a relationship with those respondents and provide a church home for them. This church has a very strong calling to service and community. Since our last visit 2 years ago they have doubled the size of their youth group (in part as a result of the interest generated by our 2010 team as they served along side the church's people). It is such an encouragement for our team to see the effects a prior teamhas had - evidence that what we are doing does have an impact.
At the last presentation the mime team put on yesterday (Thursday) one of the response cards included a whistful request. The girl who had filled in the card has also commented that she wished the team could go to her house so her sister could see them. As it turns out her sister has multiple health issues and is confined to a wheel chair. When the team saw that card they immediately knew they had to try to visit the sister. The girl had included her phone number on the card, so they called her. They ended up going back to the school to pick up the girl from school and she took them to her home. When they got there they went in to meet and pray over the sister. It was a very moving moment for all involved. As theywere preparing to leave Mark asked the girl who had written the card what it was she was hoping for. She said she would very much like to replaced her sister's wheelchair. The one she had was quite old and rusty. When the mime team returned to the church for dinner they were all still very moved by the entire experience. When the rest of the team heard the story we were all equally touched by the one girl's compassion and concern for her sister. We all prayed about the situation and for the 2 girls and their family. We felt strongly that God was
blessing us with the opportunity to be his answer to her prayer, and so decided to use a little of our team contingency fund to buy her a new used wheelchair and the mime team delivered it to her house this afternoon. I will leave the rest of the story for someone from the mime team to tell.
Last night and tonight the church hosted a youth rally they are calling 'Revolution'. There are a lot of youth (ages 14-20) in this city and the church is working hard to get them exposed to the Gospel and to try to create an environment and leadership team that will continue to grow their youth and young adult ministries. They set up in a local covered baskeball arena with their worship band and lots of lights and have an inspiring and very expressive time of praise and worship. Then our mime team performed and the preacher gave a
short teaching on faith based on Psalm 23. It was a very powerful evening, and at the end of the message about 10 people came out of the crowd of over 100 to the front as an expression of their having decided to ask Jesus to come into their lives. Tonight the drama team performed their skit and the preacher taught about attitude, basing his message on the story of Joseph. At the end he offered those in the crowd to make a decision to follow Christ, and another 10 or so came forward. It was a great way to end our stay here.
Our word for day is faith (from our team devotional on James 2:4-26). Faith is at the core of this church's ministry and it is a constant theme of the pastor's teaching. I believe this message resonates with many of our team members, since being part of this trip was a step out in faith, and each day here brings new opportunities to rely on and further develop our faith. Being part of this trip has allowed each of us to see more distinctly how the connection between faith and works functions, and to better understand what true faith is. The experiences of the trip have also helped us see where God's grace fits into the equation,
illustrating an any number of occasions how our own strength alone is not sufficient to carry us through.
Tomorrow morning we are up and on the road on the early side of the morning (8ish). We will take a short break and spend a couple hours at a local water park before taking the short drive (less than 2 hours) up the mountain to San Marcos. We will jump right into service there as they have service opportunities already scheduled for each of the teams after lunch. I will check in with you tomorrow night (or as soon after that as I figure out how to get connected). In the meantime here is some input from a few of the team leaders.
Hola a todos, this is Tom (one of the leaders from the sports/drama team)! Our team is doing very well. So far we have played soccer every day and performed our drama multiple times. The way that God uses the "ice breaker" of soccer really helps when we do the drama. The Guatemalan kids are very attentive and respond well to the message that is presented through the drama. Many kids are hearing the message of Christ for the first time and we have the opportunity to hand out response cards that are returned to the church so that the local church can connect with the kids and their families. This follow up is muy importante for kids to connect with the church to allow discipleship to take place. We are having a blast serving the people of Guatemala and connecting with them through their national sport, soccer! We put skates on our kids when they are born, they teach their kids to walk with a soccer ball in front of them. Please continue to pray for our health as our service is physically demanding in an environment that is MUCH hotter than ours. Brenna, I miss you and Tessa, and I love you both. Can't wait to see you soon!
Hola! Dan from the service team here. I am happy to report that everyone is healthy and happy. The team is working very hard and they all have great attitudes. We spent the first few days hanging sheetrock in kids classrooms, painting church bathrooms and putting stucco on a walls. When we came to Malacatan we went to a member of the church's home to put up a canopy which will be used for a womens gathering place. We've been very lucky so far. The skies have been mostly overcast so it hasn't been too hot. Today the sun is out it is intense! John, one of the other leaders made sure all the kids had plenty of sun screen on. Every child has had a great experience with their home stays. The families have been great, staying up to make dinners, breakfast etc... It has been a highlight to go home after a long day to be treated so well. They are very interested in learning more about our faith and culture. Please pray for our health, safety but mostly for us to really experience God on this trip. Please also pray for people to see Christ's love in our work.
I Miss you and love you Sharon. I can't wait to share in person all that we've experienced in Guatemala!
Hola from Guatmala! God is so faithful and doing an incredible work here in Guatmala! I continually praise God for this team of 73 people he has knit together. Our team is united, bonding, and selflessly serving. I have had the opportunity to serve with a variety of the teams so far...and each connects well with the Guatemalans. They have also become celeberties- everyone wants pictures with the Gringos :) (white people). I am continually amazed at the way the Guatemalans receive us, trust us, and love us. Their hearts are also very receptive to the Gospel as we have seen many people accept Christ for the first time and rededicatetheir lives to Him!!! Praise God! We have also seen miracles among our teammates... God is so big and so good. God's hand is at work and answering your/our prayers. One of my favorite moments so far is worshipping with our team and over 60 Guatemalan youth at a Youth Revolution and outreach night last night!!! (PS Jake Beggin says hi!) Thanks for your prayers and support from home... you are a valuable part to the team! God is using you!!!
PS... love you mom, dad, Julie, and Shelley!
PPS... the weather is warm but beautiful... hope the weather is fantastic at home! ;)
Greetings from Guatemala! The Children's team has had the opportunity to serve at 7 different schools and parks in Guatemala City and Malacatan. We visited an all girls school this morning that had 600 there to play games with and to do our program. Our students did such a good job in interacting with such a large group. They all found ways in playing different activities with these children in smaller groups. It was amazing to see the kids all getting involved and as a leader, we didn't have to tell them what to do. The students really love the Guatemalan children and we are getting many pictures of the students spending time with them. Please keep us in your prayers for keeping our energy level up, staying healthy and continue to share the love of Christ with compassion.
I miss you and love you family!
this is our first pizza lunch and the team was hungry!