Saturday, June 9, 2018

Last Day in Guatemala

The Lord has so blessed me this week.  Being my first mission trip I did not know what to expect. I just knew that God had this thing under control. We arrived Friday evening to a wonderful meal prepared by the greatest cook. We prayed, enjoyed time with one another, went over the itinerary for the week ahead.
Saturday we enjoyed lake Atitlan, shopping throughout the village, lunch near the lake, and then just aching to get to work.
Sunday one of the best Church services and worship I have been apart of, it started my mind wrapping around Romans 15: 1-6.  Ash falling from the sky to find out about the volcano, but aching for work right to washing cars and building Cornhole for the school at Membrillal. Of course we needed to break them in, so a few games were enjoyed.
The work week was amazing, thru this team we rocked a lot of work out. God kept us safe, full of energy, and hearts full of service, we saw a building just get higher with each block we layed. Sore muscles yet not one complaint, just pure joy in service for such a beautiful place.
Friday just finished up a little work, poured some columns, and off to Membrillal for a great VBS and great time enjoying kids teaching some cornhole and the love that our Lord has for each one of them.
Today we enjoyed a trip to Antigua, and just some time unwinding from a very powerful, God enjoying week. I experienced the “shopping” malls of this city and then we went to a hill overlooking the city and then off to a little village off the grid called Hobbitenango  what a cool “shire” right out of the Lord of the rings books. Saw some very large millipedes. From one of the lookouts up there you could look across the valley and see the roof of the church in Membrillal, Amazing.
As this mission trip comes to an end I have been blessed this week with many new friendships, growth in my heart for the kingdom, and a true love of Guatemala.
I will be returning...until then lets pray for Guatemala, the people, the people that have had their lives torn in the eruption of Volcan de Fuego, and for this team. Coming home is going to be hard for me, because time seems to stand still here, and the “hustle” of home is about to hit us all.
God Bless Guatemala…
Troy Brown

This has been my eighth trip to Guatemala.  Every year I am astounded of the love and grace of people who seemingly have so little but are willing to give themselves away over and over again. 
Simply put, this place fills my heart. 
Risen Life, you should be proud of the team you sent.  This has by far been the easiest trip to lead.  Your loved ones have showed the love of God to each other and every Guatemalan they have come in contact with.  It has been an honor for Jared and I to lead this team. 
How do we sum up ten life changing days into a few words?  We can’t.  From the largest volcano eruption in over a century, preaching and teaching, singing songs, building a church, loving on hundreds of children in Membrillal, and spending sweet time in sweet fellowship with Tono, Rudy, Maria Jose, and all of our friends here, God has done so much in our personal lives and we are forever changed.  After eight trips these people have become family.  My heart is full.  We can’t describe what has happened here, but I double-dog dare you to come with me and experience it for yourself. 
We are tired and sore but at the same time we are energized and ready for the work at home to continue. 
Tomorrow we will get on a plane and travel home.  A piece of me will always be here.  Until next time Guatemala. 
Sean Patrick

Risen Life, this has been an amazing team and an amazing time. As Tono mentioned today, it was as if we packed a month’s worth of ministry into one week. Some of this was planned, but much of it wasn’t. God ordained our time here in a great time of need for Iglesia Galilea as well as the people of Guatemala and this team was happy to serve in any way we could. I could not be more proud of this team.
With that said, I want to say thank you to Risen Life and many of you that supported this team so that they could be here. Your investment in the kingdom is incalculable. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I like Sean challenge you to come with us in the upcoming years.
There has been a lot said about the ministry done here as well as the work. But truly, I cherish the example that our Guatemalan Christian brothers and sisters in Christ have shown us. They have shown us what it means to serve others, to love others, to lay down their lives as Christ has done for us. I cannot say enough about how these brothers and sisters teach me to be a better pastor and a better Christian. They continually show me how to trust God in deeper and deeper ways. It brings tears to our eyes to part from our Christian family here in Guatemala. We look forward to the day when we all live together forever with the Lord.
Jared Jenkins

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Day Filled With Blessings

What an incredible day we had today!  The Lord was with us in all we experienced.
The day started with two major activities.  The SAFE presentation Jenn gave on Tuesday was so well received that she was asked to give another presentation at the church in Membrillal.  She and Jared went with Micah who was the driver and the interpreter for her presentation.  The presentation went very well and touched the pastors deeply.  At the same time, the rest of the team assembled to pour the cement into the columns created by the new levels of bricks the team built during the week.  Three sand, three rock, one cement, mucho water spun in the mixer into a fine, chunky soup that was carried in buckets, lifted up onto the scaffold by a rope (Kenzie took a turn hoisting buckets impressing one and all with her strength), and poured into the forms that were put in place yesterday.  Getting this far on the construction was a huge accomplishment made possible only by the empowerment of the Lord in each and every member of the team.
The team gathered for lunch and then headed for Membrillal to lead a Vacation Bible School for the children there.  The VBS started with a time of singing lead by Sean and Tono.  The children were divided into three groups to participate in the three activities the team had planned.  Matt lead a teaching session which included a gospel lesson and a magic trick.  Jenn and Kenzie lead the children in making crafts.  When the children finished their projects, they showed them with great pride.  Earlier in the week, Troy led the team in construction of two Corn Hole game boards that were used in the game playing session.  The children enjoyed all of the activities, including a few who were “too cool” at the beginning, but joined in with joy very quickly.  At the end, the children thanked us with a “hug fest” which moved us greatly.  The joy and love the children showed was such a blessing to us.  The Lord poured out His love on all of us during the VBS.
But wait, there’s more…After another great dinner, we went to the Youth Group at Iglesia Galilea.  The turnout was overwhelming – the room was packed with over 40 people who came to worship and fellowship.  The youth group is led by Maria Jose and a team of youth who do a fantastic job.   The worship time, even though the words were in Spanish, was Spirit filled and powerful. Following the worship time, I was humbled and blessed to share my personal testimony of how the Lord made me a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  Sean followed this with a sermon on the same topic.  We then played games together, and had a great time.  We were all impressed by the number of youth involved and the quality of the leadership.
This day was truly filled with the blessings of God.  We all felt His presence and love in everything we experienced today.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Guatemalan Strength and Fearlessness

What a joy it is to be back here in Guatemala with our dear brothers and sisters in Christ! It has been such a blessing to continue to serve alongside the people of Iglesia Galilea, who have become our good friends. The partnership Risen Life has with Iglesia Galilea as well as the opportunity I have had to come down here for now the third time has really allowed the truth to sink in that we are all one body as God’s people, made up of people of all nations and tongues, serving one God, and sharing the same purpose as we minister to and serve alongside each other. I no longer see it as “us” and “them,” but as simply “us.”

Today was another long day at the worksite. We had a few people continue to lay blocks up high, which is coming along beautifully. As I am more than happy to let the guys who have no fear of heights or sketchy looking scaffolding take on that task (you’re welcome mom and dad), I have been part of the team on the ground who has had the task of digging the now deep and huge hole- shoveling and hauling and leveling dirt to fill in the floor of the church. We have moved tons and tons and tons and tons of dirt. This has truly been the hardest week of physical labor I have ever had in my life, but I am thankful to get my hands dirty and be helpful in whatever ways needed, even if it means I won’t be able to use my arms for a week afterwards. It has been especially rewarding to come back and see the progress of the church building from where we left it last year, and to continue to work on building it up. We are all pretty exhausted from the work, but the team has kept on going strong, all working hard and without complaint. This team is seriously awesome! And the men of Iglesia Galilea here who continually work on this building never cease to amaze me with their servants’ hearts and their Guatemalan strength and fearlessness.

It has been a long and eventful week. We are always told in preparation for these trips to “pack our flexibility,” and thankfully we have a team that has taken this to heart this week. Almost every day there has been something unexpected that we have had to step into to serve, and each member of our team has done so gladly and willingly. God is so good, and what a blessing it is that He has brought us here for such times as these, to be used for His purposes, His glory, and others’ good. Tonight, Sean had the opportunity to assist Tono with worship at a funeral at the church. This was no light or easy task, but a huge blessing to Tono and all those involved. All that we have had the privilege of doing here this week is a great testimony to the strong and trusting relationship we have with Iglesia Galilea, who has entrusted us to assist them with many important tasks.

We appreciate all of your prayers, and ask that you continue to pray as we finish out our time here. Tomorrow is going to be a long day with construction in the morning, VBS in the afternoon, and youth group in the evening. We trust that God will provide us with the strength needed to complete the work ahead of us well and with smiles on our faces! I have been so blessed this week by the love that our Risen Life team and Iglesia Galilea has for the Lord, which is so evident by the way in which they love and serve each other and the people of Guatemala.

Kenzie Soltis