Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mountain That Requires Blood

Yesterday I picked up Claudia and Sofia to come over for lunch. On the 40 minute drive to our house Claudia was telling me about her Kekchi class (everyone in Basico is required to take it) and that they were studying Mayan astrology. (Side note: there's another set of Spanish/Kekchi vocabulary that I need to learn... yay.) This led us to a discussion about a mayan priest that came to Santa Rita a couple months ago. What she told me sounded like a story straight out of Elijah's day.
There is a hill in Santa Rita where their water mound is. The 18 yr old mayan priest (with 2 years of experience already under his belt) held a ceremony there. He got the Kekchi families in Santa Rita to walked around a fire in seperate groups. How the fire behaved "told" him about each group. When the young girls walked around it and the fire grew it "told" him that they were doing good and were going to have a long happy life. But when the women walked around, it shrunk. This "told" him that they had problems that needed to be fixed or that they were going to have... sad short lives I guess.

He told them that mountain was "still alive" and that they needed to feed it... it requires blood. If they don't feed it something with blood, someone will die. (I thought that was a little vague.) The poorest family in the village was required to feed it first. Their instructions were to burry a live chicken head down in the ground on the mountain. After that all the families take turns feeding the mountain various animals. There have been several more chickens and the village recently slaughtered a steer, of which half was buried on top of the mountain.

Claudia didn't go, but the Maya priest did come to her house afterwards which explains why, while several others from her family attend the Bible study, no more have accepted Christ. Please pray for the Kekchi in Santa Rita and that their eyes will be open to the One true God.

We also found out that Claudia's father (she has lived with her Grandparents most of her life) wants here to come live with him and his new wife in Santa Elena next month. She doesn't want to go. She has just began her new walk with Christ and wants to keep attending the Bible studies. Please pray for this situation. This happens quite often here. Someone will accept Christ and then they move before they get a chance to grow.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Mattress trucks are my favorite here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Beautiful Thing

So yesterday our 3rd Discipleship class was scheduled. Friday night we started getting rain from Tropical storm Matthew, so because it was raining so hard and the roads are impassable to 2WD vehicles in Santa Rita, I called to see if everybody still wanted to have the class. My call was met with shock, as in, "What do you mean will we be there?" I forgot that it doesn't matter if you have to walk in a tropical storm wearing flip flops through calf deep mud without an umbrella only to arrive where there is no electricity and you have to scream to be heard over rain on a tin roof.

Mercedes and Blanca met me when I first got there, took the keys and headed off while I went to remind the others. I was in my truck yelling from the window at shut up houses, and everybody stuck their heads out saying that they were on their way. When I got to our building everything was set up (tables out, lights on, tablecloth on, and seats out.) All the ground outside our building was covered in water.

This lesson was about who we should be praying for and we talked about praying for our enemies. All five people were there (although they were shivering in our freezing 70 degree weather). Each one already knew when they would be reading and they all really showed an active interest.

Afterwards I asked about them being Christians in Santa Rita. Most said that their parents didn't mind too much. Then Claudia said, "Some people make fun of us for having accepted Christ, but that just means we need to pray for them so that they will accept Him too." Claudia volunteered to pray to close our meeting (Jesús did it last week, which was the first time anybody in Santa Rita besides us has prayed publicly before) and when talking about praying for our enemies she said, "because we know that You change all the bad for good." I loved hearing her pray that, because that was the theme when I taught the life of Joseph, 13 months ago.

They are all really enjoying the fellowship, and we all laugh a lot. It has already become a close group and I believe they are going to be our greatest tool to reach the rest of Santa Rita.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY:
Tires aren't really that important and even possibly optional here I guess. This truck was missing a few.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Family Traditions #1

While reading Bringing up Boys by James Dobson, I came across so many good gems. One specific one that I've become obsessed with recently... yes obsessed, ask poor Jimmy, is in the chapter he wrote to moms. There he spoke about cultivating family traditions. A family rich with traditions gives "identity and belonging to each member." With the boys' first birthday around the corner, now is a perfect time to start some good ones!

This will be a new segment here on this ole blog - Family Traditions. We will be carrying on the ones from our childhood and starting some of our own. We are raising our kids as expats so we will be incorporating traditions from the States' culture and Guatemala's. And if anyone wants to share I would love to hear about any traditions your family enjoys as well! So on that note, let the family traditions begin!

Dobson mentioned one that was pretty simple... mealtime. Growing up my mom always cooked big breakfasts for us, except for Sundays when she would make me eat oatmeal by hiding a Flinstones vitamin, which I loved, in a bowl of that nasty stuff. Not going to continue that tradition... because it's cruel haha! We started off everyday together. When Jimmy and I visit Florida, I still look forward to breakfast time with my parents. When Jimmy and I first got married Jimmy said that he wasn't a breakfast person, so we have been doing the Pop Tart thing for the last 6 years.
Well we tried a big breakfast a couple months ago and now we're hooked. Jimmy wakes up each morning saying, "Woman... where's my breakfast?!" (I'm not kidding!) Not every family's schedule allows for this, so I am thankful that we can, in fact I love it! I was not a morning person for 30 years, but now family breakfast is my favorite part of the day.

Dobson also said that family mealtimes are "great settings in which to impart the truths of our faith." We will be able to add more to this as the boys get older but for now we pray together and then on Sundays we listen to a message from our home church during breakfast. It makes it feel more like a traditional Sunday that way.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: After the boys finish their breakfast (fruit, eggs, and oatmeal, which they like... crazy) they are done... as in ready to go to sleep!
video video

Friday, September 17, 2010

Santa Rita Kekchi Service

Last night we had a special service just for our Kekchi people in Santa Rita. The village is about 60% Kekchi, but a greater percentage of them speak Spanish than the rest of the Kekchi in Petén. Because of this we usually have around 20 Kekchi kids at Shelley's Bible Study, 10-15 teenagers and 10 Kekchi adults at Jimmy's Bible Study. Most of the adults though are Kekchi men because it is usually the women who don't speak Spanish. There are plenty of men too who struggle with Spanish enough to not come to the Bible Studies and there are several kids who don't understand a word of what we're saying, but they still like to see the pictures of the stories and do the crafts.

Even for those who do understand Spanish, we wanted to have a clear presentation of the Gospel in their heart language where it will mean more to them. So Domingo and José came last night to help us. All faces lit up when I introduced them and said, "Now the rest of the service will only be in Kekchi." Then when they heard José start to speak in Kekchi you could here them giggling with delight and looking at each other and smiling.

José sang a hymn in Kekchi, and the people were tickled with it too. He has a wonderful bellowing voice. We will have to record it one time. Then Domingo got up and gave a short, clear presentation of the Gospel, that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Light and the only way to heaven. There were several of our spanish-only crowd there, so he translated enough so they would know what he was talking about. I thought it was interesting that our Spanish people identify themselves so strongly with the Bible study that they were willing to sit through an hour long movie in Kekchi in order not to miss anything! For almost all of the Kekchi there it was the first time to hear about Salvation in their language.

We then watched a 76 minute video called "Hope" which we've talked about before in that it shows God's plan from Creation to the Resurrection. We only have 40 chairs, but with kids sitting on the floor we had 50 people under the roof sitting down. About 10 minutes into the video I looked outside and there were just as many outside watching as there were inside sitting down. When the movie finished, everybody scattered except those old men that always help me pick up chairs.

We were thrilled to see so many people come out. Please pray that God will give us more opportunities to follow up and continue to work with these people despite the language barrier. Hopefully soon we'll be able to share personally God's plan in Kekchi.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Whose God is Bigger?

I had a really interesting talk with our friend Arlen King recently. He shared some insight into Animism that I thought you would also find interesting. One of the ways ministry is different here from in the States is the foundation of beliefs or world-view that the people you are trying to minister to start with. In the States you have the Atheist or the Agnostic. Here we have the Animist. When the Atheist or the Agnostic hears about Balaam's talking donkey, their first reaction is incredulousness. There's no way a donkey can talk. An Animist doesn't question whether or not it happened, their first question is "What did the donkey say?"

The Animist is happy to pay lip service to our God. They don't mind learning about Him and praying to Him and throwing Him into the mix with all of their other gods. And when a crisis comes (ie. a sickness or a drought) they might even pray to our God first, but if they don't get the results they want, they run right back to their other gods because they might not help every time but just in case let's talk to the witch doctor.

Their question isn't whether or not our God exists, but whether or not He's more powerful than their gods and they're going to follow and serve the one that helps them the most.

This is why we constantly see things that really bother me in the indigenous churches here. For example, when a baby is born the custom is to tie a red string around its wrist. They do this solely because the red string protects the baby from evil spirits and the evil eye (cholic). The people in churches here would tell you if you asked that God protects you and you don't have to wear something to protect yourself from evil spirits, but as soon as you walk away they'll put it back on the baby...just in case we're wrong.

That's changed a lot of our ministry outlook here. When you teach the Ten Commandments in the States you teach #1 Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. #2 Thou shalt not make any graven image... and in the States we skip over those parts or take them in other directions such as worshipping money, or a new car or a house. But here those are as real as they were to the Israelites. There really are other gods people will add. There really are idols in their houses that they pray to as gods, and not the Catholic statues, but actual Mayan gods.

This has opened the Old Testament up to a whole new level for me as a teacher. I just started teaching the life of Elijah and when we talked about the ravens feeding Elijah last week, it wasn't hard for them to believe and really not that special. More of like an "of course God sent him food with birds, he had to hide." This Sunday though I am teaching about the showdown with the prophets of Baal. The words of Elijah to the people of Israel are just as applicable to our people here, over 80% of whom have not accepted Christ personally despite bringing their Bible, memorizing verses, attending faithfully and doing homework about the Bible Studies each week. He said to the people, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." Or in other words "How long will you be paralyzed by indecision?"

Now, I know that signs were for the Jews, but I believe God wrote them down more for the Kekchi than the American. Pray about next Sunday, that God will speak to their hearts and that more people will make a decision for Him.

*Tomorrow night is our special service in Kekchi for our Bible study in Santa Rita. Please pray!*

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Discipleship 101

Both Bible studies are doing great with a strong group of faithfuls in both. Many are interested, but have still not made a decision for Christ. It is different from the States to me in that I wouldn't expect someone who clearly professes to be lost to show up each week to a Sunday service AND bring their own Bible along with homework they did during the week. God is working in them! Please pray that their eyes will be open to the message of the Gospel.
Here is Benedicto, Macarias oldest son that lives in Santa Rita. His family (who are now Christians) told us that they were going to get him to come and they did. He has been coming for a month, so he received his Bible last week!
Here is Vilma! She was the first one in her family to start coming. She is always one of the first to greet us when we drive into the village. She finally turned 9 last week which is old enough to receive a Bible. I also made her read me a passage out of it just to make sure, and she is an excellent reader. She was thrilled... me too!
With all the people that have accepted Christ over the last couple of weeks in Santa Rita we felt it was time to start a discipleship class. Today was the first one and it will be every Saturday afternoon.
Our material is divided up into 8 books, with 60 lessons in all. It will take over a year to go through it. We are very excited about this. There will be 9 going through this first book and then each time Jimmy starts a new one more can jump in.

Jimmy said that there were some great questions today and the comments showed that they already had a good foundation from what they had taken from our regular Bible studies each week. He noticed they were excited about being with others who had made the same decision they had made. It was a safe environment for them. Please keep these new believers in your prayers!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carpet!!!

Two weeks ago we made a trip to Guate (Guatemala City). It was to pick up some things. Just the money we save on buying diapers in bulk there pays for our gas round-trip and for a night in a hotel room.

The main reason for our trip was to pick up new car seats as our boys are about to grow out of their carriers. We bought more Bibles for Santa Rita and found some other goodies too... by that I mean food of course!

The best part of our trip by far was the carpet! Jimmy made sure to find a hotel room with carpet so that our climbing and tumbling boys could have some fun. They hadn't experienced it before. They could explore all over and roll without skulls making contact with tile!
They had a WONDERFUL time and we loved watching them!
With the fast internet there the boys got tons of Skyping time with their grandparents too!
So we didn't come back with a roll of carpet, but we did find some rubber kids' tiles. We just had a metal worker make this playpen too. I was really happy with the job he did. It's a great spot for them while I'm cooking. All 4 of us fit in there quite often!
An extra treat while we were in Guate was seeing David and Regina and their new son Cruz! They are IMB missionaries in Coban. Soon they will be moving to Sayaxché, that's in Petén, about 1.5 hours from us! We hadn't seen them in almost 2 years... and in those 2 years we went from 4 to 7!
CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY:
I realized when I looked at this photo that one of my earrings was missing and had been for several hours... nice! Silas had ripped it out while I was feeding him earlier and I forgot to put it back in. Earrings are impossible with little boys!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Listener Feedback

Domingo and José stopped by our house today to work on some radio stuff. José is working hard like always. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for him, please don't stop!

Here were some of the listener comments of people who called into the station this last month (these are all places the Daytona team went to as well):

"I am very happy to listen to the radio and hear the word of God. We listen to it with the volume turned up all the way." - Bro. Pedro and Sister Maria from Escuipulas (They accepted Christ during the Kekchi Salvation service.)

"When I found this radio station I started calling and calling to ask for a praise song. My dad asked me who I was talking to and I said, I'm talking to Berea (station's name) so I can hear a song called Nothing But the Blood of Jesus. When I heard this song, my dad said, 'Call them to find out who is on that program'." - Carmelina from San Miguel Alta Uno (When José and Domingo got there, 2 families accepted Christ, including Carmelina's mom and dad. 3 weeks later, another man in the village, Juan, accepted Christ as well.)

"Before I started listening the radio I was a drunk, but once I started listening to the radio I accepted Christ and now I am singing and very happy." - Carlos from Escuipulas

***Please Pray***
Domingo and José are returning this month to Santa Amelia (the first village outreach that the Daytona team did) because 3 families have called in saying they want to accept Christ!

Also because of all the Kekchi speaking wives of the Spanish speaking Kekchi men that come to our Bible study, Jimmy invited José and Domingo to come to Santa Rita for a special service in Kekchi on the 16th of this month. Please pray as many will be hearing the plan of Salvation in their heart language for the first time!

That's all!
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