Saturday, April 11, 2020

Lock-Down

I thought I would post our March Update here in case you don't receive it. It is basically a Covid-19 update.
The view from Jimmy's tractor
Thank you to everybody who reached out to us asking personally how things are going during this unsure time in the world. With all of the families living at the institute counting on being paid each week for their hours, it really has given us an opportunity to practice true faith in a way that glorifies God. When you stop and process the what if’s and how’s, it can be scary. Right as churches were closing in the States and we were realizing our support would be down, Jimmy got a call from a farmer offering him the job of mowing his large property with the institute’s tractor. It took Jimmy 3 days and soon after he was actually paid for it, which often doesn’t happen here. That got us through last month except for our personal power bill. Then later a friend we met on furlough texted and said God put it on his heart to meet a financial need we were having. His gift covered the light bill. I have no idea how God will continue to take care of us all here, but I believe with all my heart He will.     
The owner of the property took this shot with his drone. You can see the tractor and the pretty rows between their saplings. He was happy because this was the first time he has not lost a tree when someone mowed.
 Guatemala has been slowly increasing restrictions on everything, usually without warning. The local government and police seem to be taking things the president puts in place to an extreme. Churches and schools were shut down first. Then a 4PM to 4 AM curfew was put in place where you would be arrested if you left your house during those hours. Businesses were pressured/forced to close and lay people off. Then due to the government fearing Holy Week and how much people usually travel during this holiday, they said you couldn’t leave your department and now the local government is not allowing us to leave our town. There are lots of talks of 24 hour lock-downs due to the hysteria, that could last for weeks. I don’t know how my own family will get groceries or how we will be able to continue taking them to the institute to stock the store. Although they do have plenty of live chickens and chocolate fruit, ha! The people making the laws, do not live in rural places or understand how most people in this country financially live from day to day, and not close to a grocery store. They plan on trucks coming buy with meat and veggies to sell. So many families are becoming desperate. They just want the right to provide for their families.
 
The first year students completed their chicken class and got their baby chicks delivery right before the shutdown.
 We are at a very low risk of Covid-19 infection and our pastoral students are at an even lower risk, living and studying at a private farm. Honestly due to this being a backpacking tourist area, I believe the virus came through here in January, but there are no tests to prove it.
We are used to local laws changing for no reason, even when there isn’t a perceived crisis. We are used to the grocery store being out of essential items and making great food from home with whatever random ingredients we can find. Long lines to get something done, while annoying, are pretty standard. Our regularly scheduled homeschool schedule will finish next week without missing any days. Our kids don’t notice anything being different other than missing their friends from local school. It is sad that our church outreaches to the neighboring villages have been cancelled with no way to do them online as the access of our people to technology is limited or non-existent.
 
The energy company has been giving free power to poor people so to make up for it they raised everybody’s rate by 12%. This not only affects how much we pay personally at our house, but also greatly increases operating costs at the Institute. This is especially hard right now during the dry season where the majority of our energy cost is running our well to water trees, chickens and students! The forecast for the next 10 days is 105-107 every day.
 
In good news, this has reinforced for all of our students the need to be self sufficient. One of our graduates starting his church in the village of Sepur spoke with Jimmy today. He is still working in different AG projects in the village as a day laborer. His chickens are large and fat and he is selling them to the village who can’t travel to buy meat from other markets. Jimmy asked him if he needed any help and he turned him down. “We have everything we need.” What a beautiful testimony. Before Jesus calms the storm Giovani is honoring God with his faith!
 
As members of God’s family, we are all in this together. I hope and pray that we will recognize God’s hand in all of our lives as He cares for us and that He will use it to do great things for His Kingdom and that none of us will get in the way! Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for and support the work here in spite of the uncertainty in your own financial future. Your families are in our prayers as well!
Jimmy preaching last Sunday
This is the funny I included in our update:  Jimmy set up a live feed from our house to the institute. The students can watch from a couple different places on the farm. This past Sunday while Jimmy was preaching he could see video from the salon where there is a TV set up. Raul was in there watching the service and Jimmy saw him get up and start beating something with a broom. He asked about it later. It was a pit viper!!! I’m not sad I missed that service!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Eden Turns 8!

Her 2nd Grade Classmates
Last Saturday we threw a party just hours before the president of Guatemala’s announcement to lay low. Not sure when E will get to see her classmates again but so thankful they all came that day to celebrate her 8th birthday with her! 
 
She picked a Cinderella theme with a Cinderella cupcake cake. I don't usually need to make any suggestions, she has a head full of ideas at all times! 
Looking for the key to unlock the attic!
 My favorite part about E's birthday parties are planning them out with her and all the excitement leading up to them! 
 There was also a Cinderella manicure!
I had my normal ups and downs while making her cake, trying to get Cinderella blue. Eden said in her typical encouraging way, "Mommy, I don't know why you don't like it, but I love it, and that's all that matters!" Eden has a nurturing, encouraging spirit always. I just love her! 
  As usual, Jimmy was very supportive of our party planning. It's a tradition that he carves something out of a watermelon. This time it was a crown!
Eden wanted her brothers to celebrate with her too!
 We played lots of games like Princess Bingo and roll the dice to Build Cinderella's pink dress that the mice made for her.
Pin the slipper on Cinderella.
None of the girls would hit the Cinderella piñata hard enough to break her open, so E's brothers finished her off!
We are so thankful for our sweet little princess God blessed us with. She is such a bright loving nurturing smart sparkly part of our family. We all had a blast putting this together for her.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Profesor Henry



Today was Henry’s first day of teaching at the institute. He is a very gifted communicator that we believe will be a great blessing to the students!! (He is a graduate.) My first day teaching classes I was SO nervous. I remember praying out loud all the way to the farm. Jimmy actually was physically ill his first day. This pic is completely staged because they finished before my class was over and very kindly posed for this pic. They said someone’s going to see this photo and think those students don’t even have any books. Don’t worry we have books and notebooks to spare. Also these are all the first year students! If you only knew how hard the devil fought to keep each one from coming. These are the ones that persevered.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

First Day of Spanish 2nd and 4th Grade



 I'm so thankful my kids have the opportunity to go to a great school in our town. The director/founder has a beautiful heart and wants all of “her kids” to have the very best.
 
J, S, and E have been counting down the days! Eden was especially excited that she will have the same teacher as last year.
 
Jimmy was invited to kick off the year in prayer again so he sent me a couple pics from this morning. This is their second year at this school and its third year in existence, it truly is a gift from God for my kiddos.

They attend school from 7AM to noon. We still homeschool in the afternoons for about 2.5 hours but this offers them friendships, fluency, and lovely cultural experiences.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Preparing for New Students

Jimmy was able to find a lumberyard opened that was stocked which is quite a task in January (It took up most of Monday) when many businesses are still closed for the holidays. 
He and several men at the farm have been building more bunk beds for the single guys’ house! Elias has been doing a wonderful job managing the construction of new houses for families. (I’ll have to take more photos of the new and redone houses.) 
We are praying for all the men calling in who said God was drawing them to study and the institute! Please pray that they will persevere through all that the devil will use to try and discourage them. Each one represents and entire village that will have the opportunity to hear the truth!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Bible Studies Have Begun



Rodrigo and Mari have already been hosting Bible studies in their new home in Agua Chiquita. We are so excited for them. Please pray as they share the truth, that God would draw more people in the village to a true understanding of His love and the freedom that He offers. Their hope is that with the first couple families that put their faith in Christ they can become a mission and then grow into a reproducing church.

 Last night a believer from a village we visited several times before the institute existed called and wanted to either have his son come and study to be their pastor or have a graduate come... they are so hungry for more about God! His son is a little young still but his village is close enough to Rodrigo and Mari that they will be able to visit their too. Maybe that will be the first spot for a 2020 graduate. We will see!! Villages like that are what God used to show us the need for the institute - Discipled families that can go and disciple other families!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The 2019 KBI Graduation

At the end of the year we had our 3rd graduation at Kekchi Bible Institute!
Mari, Rodrigo, Henry, Gerson, Angelina, Giovani
I wanted to share a little bit about each graduate's plans. Mari and Rodrigo each completed the full 3 year program of 60 courses. In mid December they moved to the unreached village of Agua Chiquita. They have a son whom Titus will miss very much.
Jackson and Titus
Giovani came to the farm as a single student, met the cook and got married! He completed the 3 year program and Angelina didn't begin studying until later, but completed the certificate program of 20 classes (she actually completed 35 classes). They also moved in December to the unreached village of Se Pur. They have one son as well. Since moving they have already faced some opposition among the village leadership but God cleared the way for them to remain in the village. 
Graduates with all of the men and women who teach at the institute. (Oscar's face is behind Eulalia, but we really appreciate him too.)
Henry was in the first group of students to ever come to the farm. Besides Elias, Jimmy has probably spent the most time with and feels the closest to Henry. When he left 3 years ago, with one semester to go, that was a very low point for us personally. He returned this past year, with his wife Ana. She is still completing the program, so he will stay here for a while. He will be teaching some first year classes at the institute and is our translator for all of our materials that we want to be put into Kekchi. He is a gifted teacher and translator, so we wouldn't mind if God's plan for him was to partner with us long-term, but God will reveal that in His own time. When I try to predict things like this, I'm always wrong!
There are a couple missing from this photo, but these are the other men beginning their 2nd and 3rd year at the institute, plus Gerson and his brother.
 Gerson is the first student to graduate single. Like Jimmy said in the graduation video he made for the students, it isn't for lack of options, haha! Gerson is waiting for a girl that wants to serve God along side him. He lives the farthest away out of anyone and is one of the only students who had a dad that truly supported him studying at the institute. His dad is a pastor in the department south of here and Gerson returned to his church to take over the youth ministry he start during breaks at the institute. He spoke of coming back once he is married to partner with our association to begin a church plant in Petén. (It is just an association to be legal in Guatemala, each mission once it becomes a self supporting church will file paperwork to become it's own association.) Can't wait to see what God has for him!

 Each year we learn so much about how to better prepare each student. We adjust and readjust constantly. This is the first year we worked outside the umbrella of an existing association for the church plants. These 2 families are pioneers. If they persevere and are successful, this will serve as proof of concept for other graduates who want to be autonomous. Please pray for them!

Another adjustment for the upcoming year is we have learned that many students (not all) move out of their parents' or inlaws' house to move onto the farm property. That means that when they leave the institute, it is their first time truly outside of a big family situation (We consider the farm community a big family!) where they are setting up their own house and won't have someone around to help them all the time. It can be overwhelming. Day one at the institute will be different for new families. It's hard because you want to fix everyone's problem immediately if you can but in some cases that will stifle their future. Please pray for our upcoming year!
This upcoming year will be our first where the ladies have a uniform too. We were all pretty excited about it!
It is such an honor to share 3 years with these individuals who sacrifice so much to follow God's call. The farm is such a unique environment. Everyone is there to grow, us included!
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