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!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Connection

I remember when the first family left the institute to go begin pastoring a new work. We were all on our front porch saying goodbye and praying over them. I remember not knowing what to say to the wife. Her husband began his journey at the institute as a single student and she came later. I never really connected with her, she was so shy and probably still felt like the new girl when she left.

That day I purposed in my heart to do better. I wanted to build a strong sense of community with the ladies at the farm even though sometimes there seems like overwhelming obstacles to a true connection. When they graduate these families go to areas where there are no other Christians, I want them to have a strong support system of people who know what they are going through. I want them to always be part of our community.

Then God sent Mari. She is one of those friends who you never struggle with what to talk about. Building that friendship was easy. I probably have never been around her when we didn’t laugh at least a couple times. She leaves in a few weeks to move to their new village, her journey here is coming to an end. I’m so happy for her family. They are going to be wonderful partners in ministry. Still, thinking about them leaving makes me sad.

I appreciate Mari. I feel like God used her friendliness to show this introvert it’s possible! I have nothing more in common with Mari than any other lady at the institute, but God offers us this beautiful gift of family and friendship that overcomes any shortcomings on my part inside His community. Connection is something I will work at forever, here where God has placed me, but I know it’s possible.

Last night we celebrated Mari’s little boy’s 3rd birthday. Tito is going to cry as much as me when they leave.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Salvation Testimony Week

The 2 in the middle are 2 of the ladies who became part of our big family this past weekend!
Last week was the one in Personal Evangelism class where everyone has to share their testimony. We were concerned about a couple of the new students just because we had never gotten a clear testimony from them, even though they claimed to be Christians.  
 One of the new ladies who married a student before his second year, stood up when it was her turn and shared what her church told her Salvation was. She then concluded with, “So I know now that I am not a Cristian, but I want to put my faith in Christ.” This gave 2 other new wives who shared similar stories the courage to speak out as well. All 3 put their faith in Christ this past weekend. We are so excited for them! 
One had such a drastic change in her countenance. There is absolute demonic oppression going on in these village where Satan wants to keep them in bondage even in the ones where it appears the Truth has already been there. Those usually become the most difficult to reach. But what they have isn't the Truth, it's an evil counterfeit. Each time God delivers someone from Satan's kingdom it is a powerful testimony of who He is! 
So many people are looking for the Truth. We are very excited ever time it reaches one of them!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Where the Battle Lies

     The purpose of our Bible Institute isn’t just to have people who know more about their Bible, it is to have people trained to teach the Bible to others. The 3 families that have graduated so far, are in full time ministry. 2 are pastoring new missions, and one is our dean of students. Their experiences so far are helping us learn how to better aid our students as they graduate and then transition into ministry. There are 4 couples and a single guy scheduled to graduate this year. One couple is staying and in charge of translation work and teacher training in existing churches.

   It’s a tricky situation because legally you have to join a pastors association to form a church, but these pastor associations have become political machines that tax churches rather than helping them. They are also full of syncretism and idolatry where half the pastors are also the village witch doctor. There is a significant lack of biblical training. Not all of the churches involved are corrupt though. Many are sincerely searching for truth and know the current system is failing them. Many call into the Institute desiring a pastor who can lead them to the Truth. In one such church, La Balza, Jimmy and Elias were able to lead them to Independence. They legally formed an independent association just for their church. This allows them to pick their own pastor and also frees up their money to be used to reach the unreached villages around them. 
Taking 1st Semester Finals
   La Balza has relationships in 7 of these unreached villages, and have 1-3 people in each village who have accepted Christ because of their witness and radio station. This became an obvious partnership, to have our 3rd year students begin formal works in these villages. As each church is formed, each will create their own independent association.

   The 3rd year students are visiting their assigned village once a month during their final year at the institute. They spend Saturday traveling, Sunday preaching in the village, and Monday traveling back to the Institute. Our prayer is that their hearts will be tied to these people and their need and that they will leave straight from graduation to pastor in these villages. 

   The village of Purulá has 30 families and only one Christian. It is hard to get to (hour and a half walk from the road) and even harder to live there. During the dry season, the people get all of their water from a cave. They have to walk down 36 meters of steps to get to the water. The people take turns, 4 families at a time, carrying down their laundry, washing their clothes and then coming back up to switch with four other families who take their turn.

   Henry and Teodora visited this village this month. They just got married in December, so since they don’t have to carry kids with them, we thought the young couple could handle the hardship of travel and carrying their water. It was a hard first weekend. The Christian family was open, but didn’t want to take them anywhere else because the people in the village can be hard and closed. We thought they would be discouraged so after the visit we talked with them alone. Teodora said, “I knew who I was marrying and the call he has. If this is where God wants us to go, I’ll go there with my husband.” Henry said, “Yes it’s hard. But how are they going to hear about God if I don’t go? I’m motivated by how lost they are, not discouraged about how hard it is.”

   The village of Ak’ Tela’ has 400 families. It’s more of a town than a village, even though it’s 3 hours from the highway. There are 3 Christians in the village, so we sent Giovani, his wife Angelina with their 9 month old Joel, and our only single 3rd year student, Gerson, to this village. Gerson is one of the vocalists in our church, so the Christians asked him to sing a Christian song. They didn’t know any. He sang two and they asked for more until he ended up singing our entire songbook to them. Then he taught the kids while Giovani taught about the Bible. The Christians there were very happy about what they learned that day. They said that no one had ever opened up the Bible to them like that. 

Mari y Jackson
Rodrigo and Mari went with their 2 year old Jackson to La Balza, the mother church of all of these missions. The pastor of La Balza took Rodrigo to the village of Joventé on his motorcycle. It has 50 families and 2 Christians. There is some dispute about the land that was bought for a church building, so we are not sure if they will continue there or not, mainly because La Balza is putting a lot of pressure on Rodrigo to visit them every month rather than Joventé because they want more Bible training. Unless he becomes their pastor, we don’t want to continue down that road, because without the authority that comes with being the pastor, you can’t change much in an existing church. Please pray that God gives wisdom in the situation.  

    This is a fluid situation, depending how a village responds and how God leads each student. I listed all of their names so that you could pray for them specifically. Satanic attacks are common, he wants to keep these villages as captives in the kingdom of darkness, so please lift them and this work up in prayer! Thanks!
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