Our team of 18 returned home on Sunday. The previous 10 days a whirlwind of activity, sweat, tears, joy, laughter, and unity. So much was accomplished but the job remains unfinished. Not because we only got half a roof complete, but because as long as we have breath in our lungs we have a purpose and a calling from Christ to do his good work.
We were called by God to be in Guatemala for 10 days. We remained called by God to be in Salt Lake City sharing the Gospel and to be a shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark place. We can celebrate a job well done but we are not finished. There is still much to do.
While in Guatemala we invited people to church without shame and with minimal understanding of Spanish. I wonder if we can be so bold here at home. While in Guatemala we pushed away the things that can so easily distract, entangle, and tempt us. I wonder if we will choose to set some of those things down permanently. While in Guatemala we prayed constantly and sought to spend time with our Savior through the reading of his Word and living it out. I wonder if we will continue to seek, read, and live the call.
Are we going back? I surely hope so. Guatemala has become a home away from home for me. I have developed deep friendships and a heart for the Guatemalan people...and the coffee is amazing! I have seen indescribable poverty and found that when God is all you have, God is all you truly need. God takes care of the widow, the orphan, and the poor. He does that through each of us.
We are home now. Let's celebrate, but at the same time, let's not forget to get back to work.
Saturday, June 11, 2016
It really is hard to believe that this very short week is coming to an end. I am so excited to see my family tomorrow, and am sure I am speaking for all of us when I say we miss you!! At the same time, it is difficult to be leaving this beautiful country and the people here that we have connected with and come to love. Everyone we have come in contact with has been open and welcoming and willing to serve alongside us. This is a very special place and I do hope I will be able to come back again, God willing.
Today, we split into two groups for the morning. Six guys went back to Membrillal early to work on the roof and the rest of us stayed back to sleep in (a little), have breakfast and then hit the streets in San Lucas. I carried a backpack with with extra invites and gospel tracts. Everyone had them in hand and we covered some major ground and handed out every one we had. It is amazing how much more receptive the people are here, and as we walked back by, we would see people reading it on the spot.
The guys got back and we all had lunch together and then we headed out for a day in Antigua. Antigua is a beautiful town in the shadow of a volcano, about a half an hour away, down a paved road at about an 18% grade. We had the day to spend walking around, visiting the marketplace and buying gifts and things to remember Guatemala. It was a shock to say the least to go from San Lucas and Membrillal to a wealthier tourist community. After yesterday, our hearts were still raw and very full.
Afterwards, we went to Santo Domingo, a five star restaurant and resort, built in an old monastery from the late 1600’s. The food was delicious, and it was wonderful to share a meal together with our group, Pastor Tono and his family, Maria Jose and her sister, Myrna, who cooked for us all week, and George, who painstakingly drove us around these chaotic streets. What a wonderful way to treat them and honor them and bring our weak to a close. Even though I’m sure the poverty that was witnessed this week crossed each of our minds, today was a day of contrasts and an experience that was very valuable to see Guatemala in all it’s beauty and as a whole.
Earlier today in the market, an old man shared the gospel with Corby, Drayk and I in very broken English. He told us that his home is in heaven as well as here. As we talked with him, Corby shared that we were able to work on building a church in Membrillal. He said that there are two ways to share the gospel. To speak and with our hands. He reminded me that we have much to learn from the people here and that God will speak to us in ways we aren’t expecting.
See you soon!
1 Peter 1:3-9
All week you have read the thoughts and words of everyone on this trip. It has truly been a profound blessing on so many levels. The sentiments mentioned in the blog echo my own. As I reflect on the week I’m still wrestling with my emotions and observations and I will leave Guatemala processing how I will use this experience to further His Kingdom.
On June 3, we arrived with two major objectives: build a stove in El Zapote and build a roof for the church in Membrillal. We accomplished the first on the first day and we will be departing having left the roof largely completed but with more work to do. As I think about the work we are to do as part of our walk, I think of James 1:27 “…to care for the orphans and widows in their misfortune…” Nowhere in this passage is it said that this work will be completed here on earth. It is an unconditional commandment. Even if we had completed the roof, there is still work to do. There are more classrooms to build, more funding to provide for students and more outreach into the whole community.
Iglesia Galilea set out on an ambitious and worthy endeavor to serve many communities here in Guatemala and we are blessed to be part of that effort furthering His Kingdom. However, we know that there are opportunities to serve in many different places and in different ways without traveling to Central American to find those who need the gospel, who need to know God’s love and plan for their life, and to know that there is eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ. This can be done in an infinite number of ways even in Salt Lake City.
Please be encouraged by the work of this team and the leadership of our church to have the courage to plant new churches and support other churches who are reaching out, even in faraway places like San Lucas Sacatepequez. I encourage you to find your opportunity to serve in a way to glorify God through the service of others.
The work is never completed. To be continued….
This week God reminded me of his love for the kids of the world. Being in Membrillal all week and really getting to know a lot of the kids through our VBS really impacted me. To look in the eyes of these kids is a special thing. The kids at this school demonstrate the grace of God that lifts us up out of the world and places us within the body of Christ. Because of the vision of Iglesia Galilea these kids get to go to school, these kids get to hear the Gospel, and these kids get to learn the Word of God. God’s love for these kids reminds me of his love for each and everyone one of us that claim the name of Christ.
Building the roof of the church was intense. The team worked really hard, overcame many obstacles, and avoided injury by God’s grace. We were reminded of the importance of building this church as Rudy poured his heart out to us one night telling us his story about coming to Christ. Without Iglesia Galilea Rudy would not have heard the Gospel. For him this project means that many more people will find Jesus because this church will faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
I am so proud of this team for all the street evangelism we did. We handed out several thousand invite cards to the various locations of Igelsia Galilea and roughly 1800 tracts in Spanish. Unlike in the US, it was joy to see store owners, people on the street, and others that we handed tracts intensely read them and re-read them. It was a highlight of the trip to hear that Igelsia had some visitors on Sunday because of our efforts.
Finally, today in Antigua I took a few minutes to myself. After buying several things for my family in the market, I wandered to the large catholic church in town. I prayed for a while and mused on the week. There was a wedding going on in the church, I stayed and watched. The music was great, the wedding was beautiful. I thought about the future and the wedding feast of the Lamb, I though of my own wedding day with my wife 14 years ago, and I praised God for all of his faithfulness in my life. After praying a older Guatemala man sat in the pew beside me. I asked him for the time and then we talked for 45 minutes. We talked about the Gospel, the centrality of Christ, life, and took a picture together.
This has been an amazing week. God is faithful. I pray that God will give me many more days in the nations proclaiming his Gospel.