Operation Central America

Come and see what is happening on the Operation Central America missions trip. Also learn about the teams and their prayer requests.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Postscript

Well, everyone should be home and re-acclimating to the U.S.  Leaving this morning was hard for most of us as we had to say goodbye to our Guatemalan and Salvadoran friends.  After breakfast we did an exercise that is often used at senior high retreats.  Each person picked up a sugar packet, and then we all stood up and mingled around.  The idea was to find another person and exchange sugar packets, each one telling the other "this trip was sweet because ..." followed by something affirming they noticed about that person during the trip.  Then each one moved on to connect to a different person.  The noise level rose dramatically as everyone got into celebrating each other's participation on the trip.  The Guatemalan patrons in the other part of the hotel restaurant kept looking at our room, curious about what these crazy gringos were doing.  After that we all sat down again and several of our leaders (including the Guatemalan and Salvadoran mentors) shared their thoughts of encouragement for the students, followed by a time of community prayer.

And then it was crazy time again as the buses arrived to take us to the airport.  The hotel is in the middle of downtown (actually only a block away from the main plaza with the cathedral and man government buildings) and so the streets are narrow and busy.  As a result there is not much room for the buses and they cannot stay in one place for very long.  We quickly formed a line to move all the bags from the pile in the hotel lobby to be distributed between the buses.  As everyone was involved we made short work of the loading process, even though there are still about 125 duffle bags.  After the 20 minute drive to the airport we reversed the process and got all the bags down and separated.  The team split into their three flight groups, checked in and got through airport security.  The rest of the trip was the standard travel experience.  Each flight received a big welcome from the friends and family who have been waiting for our return.  And so the trip winds down to sharing memories, souvenirs and pictures with family and friends.

We pray that along with the stories of people, places, food and events they remember and share the ways and places we saw God's character revealed.

the faithfulness of God:  we experienced his faithfulness through the opportunities he provided in advance for our team to participate in.  We also saw it in that we had the right supplies to meet the needs we encountered.  For example, the boxes of medicines we received from MAP included inhalers and some other medicines that have not been needed on previous trips but turned out to be in high demand this time.

the grace of God:  we saw first hand how God uses broken, imperfect people to share the Gospel message of his perfect plan for our salvation.  Through both students and leaders sharing their struggles and doubts and how God was working in their lives others were encouraged to continue to work out their faith journey.  We also saw how God provides for unspoken needs as the service team was able to build a roof for a woman who had thought it was an impossible dream.

the power of God:  we experienced his power through answered prayer.  A girl our mime team happened upon "by chance" (clearly God's provision) had been praying for a wheel chair for her sister and we were able to be the instrument for answering that prayer. A woman suffering from long-term knee pain came through our clinic and after being prayed over was completely healed.  Several of our own team members also experienced the healing touch of God as a result of the fervent prayers of the team.

the love of God:  we experienced the love of God through the relationships that were created and extended during our trip. When someone was feeling down or struggling with something there was always someone else able to come alongside them with just the right thing to say or do that would comfort and encourage them.  We also saw God's love in the beauty of the land of Guatemala with its soaring volcanoes and lush green forests and fields.  But we mostly experienced it in the people of the churches who opened their homes to our team, offering all that they had to make us feel welcomed.

And so OCA 2012 is done.  Thank you for your encouragement and prayers.  Knowing you were following along with us and being able to read your posts was definitely a blessing for all of us.  Hopefully the blog will also serve as a memorial to the trip, a place where the team members can come back to and be reminded of what God accomplished in and through them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Last Night in Guatemala

Our last night together in Guatemala as OCA 2012 draws to a close.  We got up early (7:30) in Santiago so we could be on the road by 9.  After a drive of 3 hours or so we arrived in Antigua.  The students were given money for lunch (there are lots of familiar fast food restaurants in the town) and set loose for 4 hours of sightseeing and shopping in the market.  The leaders had lunch together and took the opportunity to honor the work all of the Guatemalans on our team had done for us.  After we ate we joined the students in the market. It was an entertaining afternoon of bargaining and engaging the local people (and tourists from every corner of the world) in conversations.

By 5:30 everyone was shopped out and ready to head to Guatemala City and dinner.  It is a drive of less than an hour so we were soon at the door of our hotel for the night.  Yes, we are in the Panamerican again in case there are any alumni reading.  After the usual tumult of assigning rooms and finding bags we settled in for dinner followed by one last team time. We also started saying goodbye to our Guatemalan brothers and sisters as they return to their homes here in the city.

It has been a tremendously productive trip in terms of what the teams have accomplished - over 1500 people seen by the medical teams, at least that many people exposed to the gospel through the programs put on by the childrens, mime and sports/drama teams, and several families blessed by the work performed by the service team. We saw hundreds either recommit their lives to God or invite him into their life for the first time.  We renewed our relationship with the church families in Guatemala City, Malacatan and San Marcos.

Most importantly, it was a productive trip in terms of the impact on our students.  They were stretched emotionally, physically and spiritually and responded admirably.  We are praying that what has been learned/discovered/developed will continue to grow once we return home.  New realtionships have been formed and existing ones strengthended and deepened through our adventures.  I would  love to be able to capture the emotion of the praise singing - it is a reflection of closeness the team feels to God.  Which raises another prayer request: that the team members individually and collectively remember not to let all the distractions of the life we are returning to dampen that connection to God.

I will close with the chorus and first verse of a song that is a favorite of the team.  It expresses our prayer as we head home tomorrow morning.  See you all tomorrow night!

   Bless the Lord, oh my soul
   Oh my soul
   Worship His holy name
   Sing like never before
   Oh my soul
   I worship your holy name

   The sun comes up
   Its a new day dawning
   It's time to sing your song again
   Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
   Let me be singing when the evening comes
  (10,00 Reasons)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


 Our last day in Santiago, and our impending return home seems very near.  The individual teams spent the morning debriefing th trip, reviewing what was learned and how that learning can be carried forward as we return home.  There was then some time for individual personal reflection.  By then it was lunch time, after which people spent the afternoon with a combination of shopping in town or swimming or or just hanging out and enjoying the hotel grounds.  After dinner w had another team gathering for worship and teaching.  Majo, one of our Guatemalan translators, referenced 2 Timothy 2:3, Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 5:8-9 and talked about how if we truly want our lives to reflect that of Christ then we should expect hardship and challenges.Then William, our evangelist from El Salvador also talked about how the students should expect to suffer for their faith and what that means in practical terms.  His primary text was Hebrews 11:32-34 and Luke  18:27.  He finished with the reassurance (and admonition) from John 15 that "if a man remains in God] and [God] in him, he will bear much fruit.  Apart from [God] he can do nothing." The main point was that we need to stay in the Word and in community so that we can draw on God's grace and power as we each face our respective challenges as we return home.

Tomorrow we are up early to hit the road for Antigua (where we will spend the afternoon shopping and exploring) and then Guatemala City for our final night of OCA 2012.  I will close with some pictures from Santiago and some of the learnings the team members shared when Mark opened the floor to input from the students and staff during the worship time:

God is: present, humbling, encouraging, one who meets our needs, love, able to break down barriers of culture and language, powerful to bind he agents of Satan, present in His word.

We learned:
- physical disability is not a limitation to living faithfully
- God knows what we need
- God knows how to get to us
- work for God, not just for output
- need to be all in, not just luke-warm
- need to read/experience God directly and not just through others
- need to listen for and listen to God's voice
- God's blessings may look different tahn what we expect
- we can't do it alone; we need His strength, and we need accountability
- true trust/faith is not relying on what we have; we need to develop a sustaining hope in eternity (true, motivating hope, not wishful thinking)
- we need to reach out to everyone; it will be harder at home than where we are strangers
- faithfulness is a lifestyle, not a series of mountaintop experiences
- at the end of the day, GGod has us all in his hands
- how much bigger and more powerful God is than we often give him credit for
- our lives are in God's hands before we even realize we need him
- we can trust God to carry us through when our strength fails
- we need to stretch our comfort zone of prayer and allow ourselves to experience his faithfulness
- God answers prayer even when we don't really know what it is we need
- the valoue of Christian community, for support and accountability
- parallax: when we focus on ourselve we cannot see God
- God gives us glimpses of what he has planned for us in order to stir the passion to pursue his plan
- the value of reading the Bible
- God is constantly providing physical/perceptual reminders of his love for us
- God provides opportunities for us to learn that our understanding is often too narrow and self-centered; we need his perspective


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On to Santiago

Well, we are officially on R&R today.  It rained through the night and was still drizzling as people came down to breakfast at 8:30.  As we were getting ready to start loading the buses the clouds began to clear, however, and within 15 minutes the lake and surrounding mountains came into clear view.  What a spectacular vista. 

Before we left we lined up with all of the children from the orphanage to shoot a video promoting the school and orphanage.  We intermixed our team with the children holding hands in a long chain which stretched the equivalent of about 3 city blocks.  Our being there blessed the facility because it brought in income for them to buy food and supplies for the children, and it blessed us because it gave our team an opportunity to minister to children you would think have a bleak future but yet have hope for som3ethiing more through God's mercy in the form of the orphanage and its staff.

We drove about 5 miles down the hill to the town of Panahachel.  There we boarded a cruise boat (similar to the dinner boats on Lake Minnetonka) for the hour ride across Lake Atitlan to Santiago.  The skies were still clear and the lake was smooth so the team had a great view of the volcanoes surrounding the lake.  Most of the team was on top of the boat, enjoying the sun after all the rain of the past several days.  When we landed in Santiago we walked about a half mile up through the town to our hotel - the Tiosh Abaj (they have a website).  After getting room assignments We had a great lunch of hamburgers and french fries.  By then the
buses had arrived with all our bags (the roads they had to take around the lake are narrow and winding so it is longer to drive than to boat).  We hauled our bags to our rooms and then had the rest of the day to swim in the pool, enjoy the hotel gardens or shop in the nearby market.  After a nice dinner we gathered for some team time of worship and sharing what people had learned over the course of the trip.  Lynn Martinson, one of our childrens team leaders taught briefly on the topic of trusting God and guarding our faith.  The key text came from 2 Timothy 1:12-14 - "Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."

We are continuing our theme of making the experiences of the trip a foundation for how they will face the realities of the coming return to friends and pressures of life.  Everyone on the team wants this to be something more than a 2 week diversion, and so we are identifying both what we have learned and how we are going to sustain that learning.

Tomorrow the individual service teams will have the opportunity to debrief their particular experiences, and then Mark has an exercise for each of us to do on our own.  Then the afternoon will be open for shopping or swimming or whatever.  After dinner we will then have the opportunity to worship together again and hear from William (our evangelist from El Salvador who has been travelling with our sports/drama team).

Here are a few entries from team members, followed by some pictures from today.

Wow. Only 2 days left on this journey, and what a wonderful journey it has been. So many awesome adventures throughout the past week and a half. We made it to Santiago and have started our R&R at the hotel. Most of us are in the process of enjoying the outdoor pool and taking time to simply sit back and process through everything. Serving has been so incredible. Seeing how God moves through all of these teams is crazy awesome. Going to the schools and presenting the gospel through mime has been such a fantastic opportunity. At one school in San Marcos after presenting there were students that were even interested in starting their own mime team. Crazy how God can work. :) Our "mime mother" Chris Erickson is here sitting enjoying a chocolate milkshake - which pretty much sums up these few days. Thank you so much to everyone for your continuous prayer, we appreciate it so much!:) - Mikayla Coxe (P.S. - Dad, love you so much, give Dusty a hug for me :) )

Hey Mom and Dad
I Can't believe that there are only 2 days left before I come home. Today we traveled from a orphanage in Solola to Lake Atitlan where we are spending the R&R days.I am sitting here right now laying here by the pool at the hotel. Its so nice to have the next couple of days to decompress before traveling home. This trip has shown me so many opportunities to share the love of the Gospel to the Guatamalans. I can't wait to see you guys on Saturday night.
-Love, Leah Jordan

It feels so wrong to know that our scedualed service is over. How on eath did we already finish? Finally, though, we have some down time to reflect and get in some God time. The clouds and mountains around the lake never stop amazing me. It makes it really easy to see God's glory when you're surrounded by the most amazing scenes that could never happen back in Minnesota. I guess we'll be home very soon then; everyone here is anxious to see you guys and to flush toilet paper again.
See ya'll reall soon. - Wesley Nawrocki

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday post-script

Here are a few late entries from team members....

Hola friends and family! It's Morgan again. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. Many of us (probably all of us) have experience some life-changing events. I can see God working through so many people. I'm amazed at how many blessings God has put upon us. Today was our last service day. We left San Marcos and traveled to an orphanage in the clouds (literally, we are in a cloud). We are loving on these kids! Mom-I'm not sick anymore(: thank goodness. I feel much better than yesterday. Keep sending the prayers because even though our service days are done, God can still work.
With much love, Morgan Allen

Hey Family and Friends!
Thank you so much for all your prayers and your support I could not have done this without you! We are having a amazing time and lots of hard work.  Today was the last day of service for all the teams. We saw a total of 1370 people in all the clinics.  I love you all.

The beginning of the end

We left San Marcos this morning at about 9 in a nice gentle rain.  It has been raining since yesterday afternoon so everyone is damp and chillled.  Our route took us through some of the most spectacular scenery I have seen as we wound our way out of the mountains.  But we couldn't see any of it as we were in the clouds the entire way down to the plains and Chimaltenango.  We took a short (relatively speaking) potty break there. 70 some-odd people and 2 bathrooms; you do the math.  Then it was back on the road to Solola.  We arrived around noon at the Eagles Nest orphanage for a nice lunch of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and then the teams spread out over the grounds for one last half-day of service.  It is still raining, so it makes things a little more difficult, but being the last time out the kids are finding ways to cope.  The children of the orphanage are loving all the activity and all the kids who just want to spend time with them.

Tonight we are staying here at the orphanage.  Don't worry, we are not in cribs.  The facility is  actually set up as a conference center as well.  Everyone is up and on their feet for the day today.  Those who were feeling a little sick are on the mend.  There are a number of colds and such due to the weather and the smog and just being tired after the many long days of service.  But everyone is energized for the final days of the trip.  We are hoping the rain clears off for our trip across the lake to Santiago tomorrow morning.  Please pray for a couple sunny days to end our trip - everyone would benefit from some healing rays from the sun.

Our word today is from Philipians 3:12-16 - "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained."  We will continue to remind each other that this trip and its experiences are but one step in a life-long race.

Here  are some pictures from yesterday and today...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Last day in San Marcos

Good evening.  We are just starting some team worship and teaching time.  Today was our last service day in San Marcos and everyone is feeling the end of the trip approaching even though we still have most of the week left.  The teams had another strong day in spite of a persistent light rain and cool temperatures.  Its a little unexpected to see a row of students all sharing a blanket to ward off the evening chill.  So much for Minnesota blood.....

Thanks for all the posts.  The students are taking the opportunity when they can to see what you all have written.  It is all great encouragement for us.  They are a strong team, but everyone needs a boost now and then.   Tomorrow we leave for a half day of service in Solola, and then we will pack up our team bags for the last time.  I don't know when I will have access to the internet again so I may not be able to give you an update until Wednesday when we reach our R&R location.

Our word for today is from James 1:2-4 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  We are starting to prepare the kids for their return to their reality.  They have seen God move in big and small ways during the trip and we want them to lock in these experiences as touchpoints of  grace to draw on when they hit the rough spots in their "real life".

Here are some more student posts.  Sorry, no pictures tonight due to a low battery.  I will recharge it and get you caught up the next time I am on.

Hey Dad (Kris Terp),
    I'm having a great time here, but I can't wait to come home!! It's ridiculous how grateful and thankful God has made me throughout this trip. I've been recording a lot with the GoPro so I can't  wait to show you everything. Happy Father's Day!!!!!! I wish I could've been there to celebrate it with you. P.S. Will you let me know a little bit of what the plan is for me getting to Tennessee? I'm asssuming Olivia is picking me up from the airport but I'm not entirely sure. Thanks! Love you, Gabby

hey Dad!
SO yesterday was Fathers day and at night we had a service. While we were worshiping all of a sudden the song "I am desperate for you" comes on. So im singing along and then I realize its your favorite song!! and it was perfect because it was on fathers day:) I think it was definetely a gift from God that we got to sing your favorite song anyways I hope you had an AMAZING fathers day cuz u deserve it. I miss u and mom dylan and peyton a ton!!!!! say hi to briggys and webster for me :)
love you! Taylor S.

Dear Family!
I am so happy to be in cooler weather. Malacatan was sooo sticky and blah, San Marcos has been cool and wet. It rains a lot

here. The kids here are also so ADORABLE! I have taken soo many pictures and I can't wait to show them all to you. My homestays have been amazing also. However, I am roomed with a girl (Laurel) who doesn't spreken (speek) any spanish at all, and you know my spanish is only so-so. But we seem to be getting along just fine with the language barrior. Love you OOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDLLLLLLSSSSS! And hope the house isn't TOO quiet without Cole and me. I have been praying for you guys and Colie. I miss y'all but I'm having so much fun here :p Love you tons. ----Camrie Vlasak
P.S. The coffee here is AMAZING!! You'd love it!

Hello Syverson clan, Im writing from San Marcos and it's way cooler here which feels really nice. My home stays here have been interesting to say the least. It has been a cool experience looking back for encountering the power in the peace of God when we call on Him. No worries, I'm totally safe and healthy and having an AWESOME time. God is really present here and I'm learning alot while soaking it all in. Thanks so much for the prayers and I miss you guys alot. I'm really sad I missed Father's Day (Love you lots, Dad! You're the best and I greatly appreciate everything you do for us). Can't wait to see you guys when I get home!! Love you lots! Ellyse

Hey Peterson family, its Mariah! I am in San Marcos right now and its sooo amazing! It is my favorite city so far! Its cool weather and very mountainous. We are up at 8,000 feet and so we are practically in the clouds. Its so beautiful. I am taking lots of pictures! The schools here are so awesome. There are much smaller groups than in the other cities. I like that because then there is more interaction between us. I just finished eating this amazing ice cream from a shop called Saritas.
Its very good!! See you soon, and love you! Love, Mariah Peterson

Hey Mom and Dad
Right now I am in San Marcos and it is our last full service day before Rest and Relaxation. On Saturday we went to a waterpark on our way to San Marcos from Malacatan. It is so pretty here and I am taking so many pictures. I can't wait to see you and Becca on Saturday. I can't believe that she has called three times already. I can't wait to get home to tell you all about my trip and I can't wait for Hawaii when I get back.
Love, Leah Jordan.

I was able to read your post that you wrote. Hi Emy and Erie! Miss you guys. San Marcos is very cold for the most part. Normally, I am always hot... but here, I have goose bumps all the time. I praise God because I haven't felt sick at all!! Upon arriving here, a number of people started feeling a little sick. Im not sure if it is the altitude change or what. Surprisingly, there really hasn't been weird or bad food that I have had. Maybe all the places purposely made american food for us - who
knows. Please pray for the kids who are sick! I am with 4 other girls in my home stay here in San Marcos. Muchhhhhhhh better experience than Malacatan! It will be sooooooo nice to be able to throw my toilet paper in the toilet once I get home, along with bushing my teeth in the sink... as opposed to spitting in toilets and showers. Can't wait to come home! Love, Lauren Falkanger

Hi mom and dad and Cassie!!
I'm here in San Marcos in the mountains. It's a lot cooler than the tropics in Malacatan. Today we went to 3 schools and did our little program for the kids. They were really crazy in one of the schools. My home stay here has been a very unique experience and I will tell you about it when I get home. Yes dad, I am watching out for bugs. There are plenty.
Love, Caroline Ahlgrim

Hi Mom, Dad, and Trevor!
San Marcos is so different from Malacatan. We are all wearing sweatshirts and longer pants. It is so crazy. I've had some unique home stays while I've been here and I can't wait to tell you all the craziness that has involved in them. On the first day here in San Marcos, we went to an orphanage. It was my favorite place by far. And yes, I did want to take them all home with me. We have done eight shows in this city and just finished our last one. Tomorrow we are planning on going to another
orphanage in a different city. I am so excited to go there. See you in a couple days! I can't wait for my own shower and bed. I love you all!
~Emily Bolz

We went from hot to cold, sweating to hot tea, humidity to dry air, and energized for God to energy from God. We are ending our serivce days here in the next 24 hours or so and it has been a life changer for all of us. It's crazy to think that we are more than half way done, but it's also relieving knowing that God did his work and that we can take our experiences and apply it to our lives when we get back to the prairie.Thank you family and friends for your prayers. On behalf of the team,
we all appreciate it! Peace and Blessings. <3 Lexi Holsten

Wow, all I can say is wow. Guatemala has captured my heart. I started out this trip unsure of what to expect,and I still am a bit unsure of why I am here, but God has been revealing so much to me everyday. It is simple things that make me so happy I'm here. A smile, an encouragement, a new brother/sister in Christ, this beautiful place, amazing conversations, and so much more. Currently I am in San Marcos, this has been my favorite spot so far. This whole experience has been amazing, but it feels weird to think that my time in Guatemala is coming to a close. (To Emily Guimont- I have taken your advice to ride the chicken bus at all possible times) Thanks, everyone for your prayers and loving thoughts.
See you soon-Marina

Guatemala is totally beautiful. I started out being really nervous about being away from my family for so long, but now that I have been away from them for a little more than a week, I am doing okay. San Marcos is WAY different than Malacatan. It is much cooler here, and we drink a lot of coffee(the BEST coffee I've ever tasted!) and really good hot tea instead of Pepsi. Miming has been super cool because our team is absolutely insane. God has totally gotten ahold of my heart and convicted me
of a whole bunch of things that I can't keep in my life if I truly want to be a follower of him. Dad~ Happy late Father's day, and I promise to bring you back some awesome Guatemalan coffee. I got some guatemalan candy for Adam. I miss you all and I'm super excited to see you guys again, and take a *HOT* shower, and sleep in my bed.
Love you all :)
~Audrey McCormick

I am so glad that I am here on this amazing beautiful trip. All the things my dad, brother, and sister said are so right. I love Guatemala so much. So far we did about 19 Mime Perfromances. They all went well.Even when we had our bad days they still went well. It's crazy how these kids think we are so famous. They love to take pics and get our autographs. It's so amazing to see how many new brothers and sisters are coming to christ. I feel like this trip brought me closer to God. When we were in Malcatan I had a very intresting home stay. My friend and I didn't know any Spanish, and ourhome stay mom didn't know any English. But some how with God's help we told her that we are from Minnesota. Then she brought a friend who spoke English and he used to live in MN. Then she brought another friend to her house. He grew up in Guat but he got taught English from his friends, and school in Guat. Then she had another friend who lived in the states, and just moved to Guat last year. So God is totally working, I met some amazing people, but cant wait to be back home. Love you all
-Jasmine White

Hola familia! I am so glad that I am here in beautiful Guatemala. The Children's team performances have been going great, get ready to hear me singing when I get home. I have also had a good time in my homestays. 2 have been with a bigger group of guys in a nice house and the middle one was just me and one other person who didn't know Spanish so I got to practice my spanish speaking skills. While there I also got to take a bucket shower and have a new least favorite food, cereal with steaming hot milk. Overall, I have had a great experience and God is definately working in Guatemala and in me. Thanks for all the prayers. See you soon! - Peter Hienz

Today was fun- Buddy 

To start off, happy belated fathers day dad!! this trip has been pretty amazing so far and I am excited to keep working! But, watch out mom and dad! I may not want to come back!! Just kidding :) Love you Mom and Dad (and Rach)
    <3 Laurel

Joe Arnold ;) Rodgers: So today was sweet. Yesterday we torn a whole bunch of clay shingles off a roof. We kept the good ones and tossed the bad ones in a pile. After we finished Elle and I decided to assist the great people of San Marcos by fixing their road and fill in the potholes of a coble stone/ dirt road with the left over broken tiles. While we workedthe common passer by actually stopped their cars to say how much they appreciated it. About an hour into our back breaking assistance to
the people, a woman walked up the street and started picking up tiles and throwing them (praise God not at us!) and speaking in tongues. Not actually but it wouldnt have suprised me... we continued our work and she soon left. We worked for another hour and a half and filled in all of the major holes. Upon returning to our work place we found the tiles tossed on the pastors retaining wall and not only the big chunks but had SWEPT the entire road where our tiles were. So that was fun and
accomplishing.. :P Love you fam! Hey Mahers!
HASTA!    -Jose

Hey dad!this is julia! i love you and i'm soooo glad fathers day was a good one for you! today we went to three schools and at the last one i shared my testimony to the kids! i was really nervous cuz the kids were really little like 4 but i decided to just do the big version because maybe i could help some teacher or some adult helper! so yeah and for dinner we had steak and potatos and rice =] so that was awesome! but i love you and tim and miss you guys! give tim a BIG hug from me!!

Hello Family & Friends. (Its Libby Shirley:) ). Today we served our last day here in San Marcos. It was a full day (3 Mime performances). The days here in San Marcos have been FULL...yesterday we had 4 YES 4 Mime performances. It is chilly here in San Marcos and it is AMAZING how quickly us Minnesotans got used to warm weather and still feel COLD here...tehe. I hope that
all is well is MN.You can pray for us to continue to serve WHOLE HEARTEDLY no matter where we are or how exhausted we may feel. Please also pray for the teammembers who are not feeling 100%, pray that they might be encouraged and have faith that GOD IS AT WORK IN THEM. God bless you all...or as they say here "Dios les bendiga". Family-I am doing well health wise...PRAISE GOD. I love you. -Libs
THANK YOU, Libby Shirley

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feliz Dia de los Padres!

Happy father's day to everyone back home.  We had a great day of service in San Marcos and the surrounding communities.  It was overcast all day, but we just had light passing mists every once in a while so it did not impact any of the teams.  We have a few kids and leaders feeling the effects of the transition from the hot coastal plains to the cool, thin air of the mountains.  San Marcos is at about 8000 feet so the altitude is definitely a factor.  Our nurses are keeping on top of everyone's condition.  We have as a team been much healthier than other years, so we are confident those feeling a little sick will be back on their feet in a day or so.  One last full day of service tomorrow and then we are off to Solola.  Tonight we have a youth worship service with the youth from several churches in the area.  Lots of music, a message from Mark, and Pastor Neri's children will perform a mime (and hopefully some Christian rap!).

Our word for today is Micah 6:8 where "good" is defined as t "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  For the team it is another good reminder that to  be a Christian is to accept a life of service, and that it is more about your attitude in serving that whatever it is you are doing.

The pictures at the end are of our service team.  They built a roof over a woman's porch/patio in Malacatan (they even stayed back a half day in order to finish it).  The church there needed the space for a women's group to meet.  The family was very moved to see it painted a cheery yellow and have the good solid roof.  If our team had not finished it there is a good chance it would be waiting for us to finish it next year.

Here are some posts for the kids for their fathers and families on Father's day....
Hi everyone! This is Christy Altman! The trip has been amazing so far and the medical team is
so fun.  We have seen over 900 patients so far and it's amazing to see our team spreading the love of Jesus while being able to heal them. Right now we are in San Marcos and it's very cold here but it feels amazing! The things that we have seen here so far have made me so thankful for what I have. This trip has truly been life changing so far and I can't wait to see what will happen in our last week here! I hope everything is going well in Minnesota!
P.s. happy father's day, dad! love you!!! Adios!

Hello Everyone!This is Sydney DeJongh. We have had an great time so farin Guatemala sharing the love of Christ! The service team has had a lot of fun and has gotten a lot done. We have put up some sheetrock, painted a lot, and done a lot of heavy lifting. The homestays are amazing! It is so cool to get to know the people and its also funny trying to figure out what everyone is saying with the language barrier. We have been blessed with health and safety in travel so far and continue to keep our good attitudes in sharing the word. Hope all is well in Minnesota and we'll see you all soon!

Hello everyone! this is maddie ask. I am having so much fun in Guatemala!I Really like my team, we have been working really hard, but laughing harder! I am learning more and more spanish everyday. I do however miss my family and friends! I love and miss you mom, dad, anna, josh, and lori, and bennett! and sometimes ben...jk! oh and I love miss you too mari! hope everythingis well in Minnesota! Adios!

Hello everyone! This is Elle Grady. We are currently in Malacatan which is quite a bit hotter than Guatemala City. Mostly humid and a little rainy. Today the service team bought materials and planned to start building a roof on the house of a family nearby. While we waited for the roof materials to arrive, we painted the house a new bright color that the family was very thankful for. After we were done, some of the neighborhood kids asked us to play soccer and were so excited to play with us. It was awesome to see how they connected and tried to communicate with kids they didn't even know. I'm excited to see what God has in store for the next couple cities!

Hi!! This is Emily Striker! I have been so excited to share on the blog about all of the amazing things that have happened so far! The med team has already seen and given medicine to over 900 people! It has been so eye opening to see how the people live everyday down here. It has really hit me how blessed we truly are just to even have good health. It has been so life-changing so far and I am so excited to have even more incredible experiences!! I miss everyone so much! See you in 6 days Minnesota! Adios!

JOE RODGERS: What is cracking homies? Thought id swithch it up a bit... It's Joe Arnold Rodgers (a.k.a. Jose). This mission trip has been so amazing and a great way to start summer. Talk about escaping the drama in Edina. (LOL) On a serious note this trip has been such a great opportunity not only to use many of my gifts from God but also to explore and strengthen my faith. God has been working on me, inside and out. Especially last night. I went from a very nice clean english speaking home to Malacatan. On our way here I prayed that God would let me experience true lifestyles of the majority of the people here. HE DELIVERED! Jack and I arrived at a more common home. A dirt floored, open roofed, bug filled home. Thank you God! Also thank you for Jack Jaspers bug net, he saved me aswell. This is kinda long so im going to do my best to wrap this up. Mom, dad, You know i love you guys and cant wait to see you in ? days! Billy, youre a stud and Matt Angel says hi, he loves you. Em, I love you too! Honey, no offense everyone but i miss her 2nd most. The #1 is you Grandma Maxine! I LOVE YOU! Try and be happy while im gone. But not too happy.. Also Hi Mahers! okay this is long. sorry. BYE! Buenos noches!

Hola Familia de Minnesota. Its me again.Today the mime team had an incredibly moving experience with a girl who is not able to walk and has limited control of her body. We were able to pray for her and to encourage her family. Please pray for her (Juli) and her family. Pray also for my teammates that they are able to process what we saw in a healthy way. Thank you so much.
Mom/Dad/M/J/C: I am feeling MUCH better today. Praise God!
Love you, Libby Shirley

NIKKI MILLER: Hi family!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay so basically i'm gonna be an awesome surgeon when i'm older:) I've been giving people shots...yes real actual injections of vitamin b and testing people's blood sugar levels!!! It has been so cool down here and SUCH an awesome experience!! All my home stays have been fabulous and i havent seen any bugs yet (yay). We've helped like over 900 people and given them all free med assistance, which is awesome:) Well I miss all of you so so so much (including Duke and Ryder), and i cannotw wait to see you all in 6 days in Minneapolis!! I actually havent been dying of heat and i havent gotten sick at all (God has for sure been on my side the whole trip) thank the LORD. Okay well hope EP is awesome as always and try not to miss me too much!!!!! Sending you MY LOVE from Guatemala!! Love you all beyond belief :):):) -your favorite daughter

Feliz dia de los padres!! sorry i can't be there with you but I miss you LOTS and love you!!!! -Taylor Halling

happy fathers day dad! love jack

Hey dad, Happy father's day!!! I've gotten through so far without dying or geting sick so that's all good I'll see you guys soon! - Cobi Linde

Hola mi padre! I love you dad! wish we could go fishing to celebrate but ill take a rain check till I get home! See you in a week!:-)

hi dad!! HAPPY HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! ilove you and hope you and tim are having a great time!! im having a blast! give tim a giant hug and an i love you from me! i'm giving you a hug from here! LOVE YOU AND HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! =] love your favorite daughter JULIA!!

HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!! Hey, Dad. Im still alive so no need to worry. Just wanted to tell you and Obby that I love you both and that I miss you and I am thinking of you guys on theis Fathers Day. Sorry that I couldnt be there to celebrate this occasion with you guys. Love you ooodlessss! Camrie Vlasak

Happy Fathers Day! Love you so much and I will see you and mom soon! Love, Mariah Peterson

Happy fathers day Senor Dan Larson and Steve Berestka!!!!!  I hope you all have a wonderful fathers day full of love and yummy food!  I really wish I could be there with all of you!!  Con amor, Marissa Larson

HI DAD!!!! I am so sad I can't been home to hug you and tell you how much of an amazing father you are. I love you so so so much and I am so blessed to have you as my dad :) Love you!!! Emily Striker

Hi Daddy!!!! Just wanted to let you know that you're the best dad in the whole entire world :) andI have no clue what I would ever do without you! You do everything for the whole family and just know that you're appreciated. love you soooo much and miss you tons! wish i could be there with you and everyone as you celebrate.... you probably went to like Manny's. Love you!!! -Nikki Miller

Hey Daddy! I miss you a lot. I love reading your letters. I hope you are having a great father's day, but probally not as good as if i was there:).  We will have to celebrate again when i get home. Do you remember last year in Chicago when we went to that church and I had to present you with that hat? I do. I cant wait to see you! You are the best dad anyone could ever

ask for. You are nice, kind, caring, a good example, loving, and funny. I am very lucky to have you, and I am very proud of you. See you soon.
Lots of love
Sami Stinchfield

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hello from San Marcos!  We got up this morning and enjoyed the heat and humidity for a last hour or so as we loaded up the vans and buses.  Our first stop was at waterpark just outsidetown where the team was able to frolic for a couple hours.  After the last few days of constant sweating the cool of the water was a welcome relief.  Refreshed, we reboarded the buses and headed up the mountain to San Marcos.  Almost immediately we could feel the difference in the air.  The breeze is cool and the air is much drier.  Even though the temperature is still warm it is almost chilly compared to Malacatan.

As soon as we arrived around noon the medical team headed off to their clinic where they would be serving this afternoon.  They had their lunch brought to them so they could start getting set up right away.  The rest of the team enjoyed a wonderful beef vegetable soup (see the picture below) before heading out to their respective service sites.  We will all meet back here at the church for dinner and a brief team time before heading off to our homestays for the night.  Its hard to believe that this is already the last time we will be staying with families this trip.  The team is doing very well health-wise, and it seems the cooler, drier air has re-energized them.  We will have to be more aware of the effects of the altitude, but it looks like we will be able to finish strong.

Our word of the day is from Act 10:1-35, where Peter is shown that God's love is for everyone and to not be judgemental toward different cultural norms.  This is a great leasson for the team as we begin service in yet another area of Guatemala.   It is all the same Guatemala, but each region has its own distinct culture and traditions and the students are finding many opportunities to test their adaptability and broaden their understanding.

Here are a few pictures of our trip in to San Marcos today.  See you tomorrow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Malacatan Service Day 2

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!

With Love,
Tom Ramy

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!

God Bless,

Dan Grady

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!
In Christ,
Terry Dull

this is our first pizza lunch and the team was hungry!