Friday, January 28, 2011

A Church Raising!

About 3 months after beginning the Bible Studies in Santa Rita, Lesbia, a friend of ours from New Horizon, told us we could borrow her empty house that she had in Santa Rita. We received permission from the town council and started fixing it up.
We added more onto the outside roof, poured a cement floor and built a bamboo wall around the outside portion. She said we could stay there rent-free in exchange for fixing it up for 2 years.
Well those 2 years are up this February. We hadn't really thought about it until Jesús mentioned it to us the other day. We hoped that since nothing had been said that maybe we would be able to use the house longer, we had no other options. Three days after that conversation Fabio told us that he wanted to give us half of his land permanently for our Bible study.
{The day Fabio told us about the land}
Right after that Lesbia came to talk to us to tell us that she wanted her house back for her son to use. "No problem!" We told her about Fabio and asked her if she would let us stay just until we had a new building done and she thought that would be fine.
This is the land! It is on a busy road in the community which is more accessible to all rather than in the very back corner of the village where we are currently at.

So enter our God-timed teams: Andy and his church have been planning a trip for a while now to come and work on our house. They've had plenty of time to do that, but we also put them to work on the new Bible Study building. They are getting everything ready for another team from Topeka, KS who will be here at the end of February to hopefully help us finish the new building.

Andy, his two sons Joseph and Samuel, Robbie and Larry came to help us this week. Robbie has a lot of experience as a backhoe operator so Andy asked if we could rent one. It just so happens that we have some missionary friends, Arlen and Keturah King, who loaned us one at cost, so we got the Santa Rita digging done in less than two hours what would have taken a week by hand.
Before that the guys had to clear off the forest that Fabio, who is 71 years old, had spent the last month cutting down with his machete.
While Robbie and Arlen's operator were working on that, the rest of us (with José and Domingo too) went to our land to load 500 block in the dump truck that brought the back-hoe.
{Domingo & José, we are so thankful for their support}
We found out that it is a long way from our back fence to our front door, especially when you have to make 40 trips carrying two blocks each time!
{Pastor Andy}
We had some surplus block from our wall that we won't be using on our house and it is the perfect amount for the base of the new building and it's outhouses.
By the time we got back the tractor was done and it was time to unload. After the long day everybody was ready to call it a day and head into Flores for a big meal at La Luna!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just the Beginning of the Story

Since we live in a developing country we are surrounded by those in need. It is tough to know when to help and who could benefit the most by the resources with which we have been entrusted. We take these decisions very seriously, because poor decisions in this area can really hurt your ministry. Good intentions alone don't always lead to happy endings.

Before Christmas we were presented with a need in Santa Rita. Their county government, I guess you could say, laid down gravel on all of their previously mud dirt roads.
Their roads were so bad before that during the rainy season we could not pass them in our micro. By foot was completely disgusting. It was sticky mud that made you taller with each step. We chiseled mud off of our shoes regularly.
The added height of these new roads caused flooding problems in people's dirt floor houses. I cannot even imagine what living in that would be like on a daily basis... a swamp. They have been reorganizing the government in Santa Rita so I don't know an English equivalent for this committee, but one day a sort of community development committee came to us with a solution to this problem. They needed to purchase concrete pipes to provide drainage throughout the village. This part right here is why we have a lot of respect for Santa Rita, they said that they already had the concrete and men to do the work, they just didn't have enough money to buy the pipes.

Jimmy did not make any commitments that day, but later when we could talk about it alone we both were sort of reluctant to tell the other that we really wanted to help with this project. We took the fact that God led both of us separately to the same conclusion, as a green light.
We invested a couple months of any of the extra funds we could scrape together into this and then one of our supporting churches in KS (who is coming in Feb) went in with us for the other half.
Here is what they look like installed... and they fixed the problem! It effects people's lives in a positive way on an almost daily basis.
There are no secrets in this town. Everyone immediately new that we had helped with the pipes. One day when we were visiting Maria she told us how thankful she was for those pipes. She is a personal friend, so that meant the world to me that God gave us this opportunity to help her.

God orchestrates everything so beautifully. This happened at the same time that a man who attends our Bible studies announced he was giving us land for a permanent place for a "prayer house." (That is what he called it.) The whole community knew about it before we did really. This committee that came to us with the need ended up telling us when all was said and done that they wanted to support us being in the community openly. (That is a big step in case you haven't picked up on that!) We thought it was just some pipes, but this was a turning point I believe in our future there. There is so much more to the story... I cannot wait to share!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Last week we were officially adopted into the family of Kekchi Baptist Pastors. This is the first time a foreign missionary has requested to be part of the Petén group. It is really the next phase in the work that the Southern Baptists started in Cobán, the churches where these men heard the Gospel and answered the call to preach. Now it is time to take the Gospel to all parts of Petén.
After over two years of working with these 62 men, Jimmy felt like his relationship was close enough to request this and after the shock wore off we were wholeheartedly accepted. Last Wednesday at their annual meeting, we presented our letter of recommendation and other paperwork and then were voted into their association. Their association is a way for these pastors to pool their resources, have fellowship, encourage each other, and have accountability.
The discussion started 2 weeks ago during the January KBI session. Jimmy was tired of being singled out. He did not want the men to feel as though he was trying to come in and take over or start his own thing, he wants to come alongside them and work with them. We can help in the area of training. We have the resources to help start a permanent seminary, which they are very excited about.
I didn't get a photo of them, but our friends David and Regina were there and were asked to come to the front to pray over us. They are missionaries with the IMB who just finished their 3 year internship in Cobán and arrived in Petén as "full-time" missionaries in November to begin an up to 3 year assignment. They are the first IMB missionaries in Petén. We are excited about working with them whenever possible, but more than anything else we are thankful for the fellowship with them and their heart for the Kekchi! They live in Sayaxché, about 1.5 hours from us.

{Silas with José's wife, Candelaria}
As we walked up to the front to be accepted, the men were applauding. We clap with the boys all the time, so as soon as Jonah and Silas heard the applause, they started clapping too. The men loved it. They kept clapping just to get the boys to do it! They are 2 little hams. They get so much love and acceptance from our Kekchi friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our New Family Logo

For a while we have been wanting a logo for our overall ministry, just to make all of our materials look uniform. We love our KBI logo, and the same talented artist who designed that one created this one for our family.
I have no idea how she understood my jumbled mind, but we love it! Thank you, Leslie!
I am reworking our websites as well with a new software that should be more friendly than our current iweb format. We are trying to articulate our vision for Guatemala more clearly. Hope it doesn't take me forever. This is a great start! The next thing on my list is a decent updated family photo... seriously impossible with a camera remote and two 15 month olds. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Equipping Nationals

49 national Kekchi pastors came to the January module of KBI.
Jimmy taught on Spiritual Gifts. Beyond being helpful in a practical sense, it helped them be able to defend their faith. When men from their churches travel to the city they hear about the emotional experiences that some churches there are marketing rather than theology. They return to their village with questions that these pastors are unable to answer. They have been asking for a course that covered this for some time, so Jimmy was able to go into preparing for this class already knowing some of the issues these pastors were dealing with.
James taught on the book of Ruth. He taught it all in Kekchi, so all we know is that the men liked it!
The second day the pastors had the idea of recording his class so that they could air it over the radio since it was in Kekchi, so thousands got to enjoy it!
We are so thankful that James was willing to come down and teach. He loves Kekchi people. We saw it, the pastors saw it, and that was a blessing to us and our ministry.
Some of the wives always come too. Here is Mateo, the pastor in Poptún, with his wife; Domingo and his wife Candelaria, missionary to the unreached East half of Petén; and Oscar and his wife who translated for Jimmy's class.

Since so many Kekchi people attend our Bible study in Santa Rita we had him share his testimony and sing in Kekchi. We love to watch their reactions as the gringo opens his mouth and their heart language comes out! They just can't believe it!
Something really special happened during this session of KBI. We will share more about it later in the week, but we believe it was a turning point for our ministry with the Kekchi here.

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: This was taken on a main street in Santa Elena. This is one of our new lights, set on a timer that you can see counting down = recipe for collisions. If you turn right at this intersection you are on the causeway to get onto the island of Flores. Do you see the sparks?
There was a man on the sign above welding with sparks falling down on all of the traffic below.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Forever House #3

...our journey to rent free living,
all the entertainment minus the headaches.

There are so many perks to living in this country when it comes to building your home. For several months Jimmy and I kept a list of the functional features of a house that were most important to us. Then we drew it all out, EXACTLY like we wanted it. Who gets to do that! We then took that drawing to our architect, Julio. He is a Christian, who only charged us about a tenth of the price that is normal around here. We were very surprised and thankful! He took our sketch, tweaked it and turned it into blueprints with a list of materials needed.
{Julio, Jimmy, and Lico}
Then he came to our land and went over the plans with Lico, our mason. They roped it all off with fishing line. It is hard to picture exactly how large your land is until the house is on it. We ended up being very happy with how much yard was left after our house was roped off. We opted for a small front yard in order to have an extra large backyard for our boys.
This is taken from where our front door will be. It looks a lot farther in this picture, but the front is sort of small. Perfect for a neatly kept area free from dogs (yeah right) and toys!
This photo is taken with me standing at our front door and Jimmy standing at our back door. This is our great room (kitchen, dining, living area) in the center of our house, open on either end. Hopefully it will have a nice cool breeze flowing through it all the time (another yeah right)!
This photo is taken from our back door. I love our back yard. I keep picturing 2 sweaty little boys running around out there!
Here are some smooth stones that come mixed into our gravel that Lico uses to mix concrete. He is saving them in a pile for me! Maybe they will be a future interior wall in our house, or maybe a shower.
Julio is good at what he does. He said that we needed to raise our house in case of flooding, so it will be 3 blocks high. He said that each time they re-gravel the road it gets higher, so we needed to take that into account. He was right. A couple days later they came and laid down gravel on the road in front of our house. Before it was only mud! It is higher now.
{This photo was taken while my parents were here}
The day after Thanksgiving is when they started roping off our house, so they have already finished digging the foundation for all of the walls. They do it by hand. It is so perfectly straight, I have no idea how they do it, but they do it well!
We ordered our 2 metal doors for our wall over 3 months ago. The guys we hired are winners. We had been using another metal guy who did good work, but was a little slow. Never as slow as these though!
This was there 2nd attempt at this door. The curly Q's were not what I asked for, but it is not worth the hassle to change it again.
We bought paint for several coats, but you can still see the metal through it. They didn't even use half of our paint, so who knows where the rest is.
{Same door from the inside}
Here's the kicker. We hired them because their advertisement said that they specialize in installing garage door openers. We were very excited to find an opener on sale in Guatemala City. It will open this door far enough for one car to fit through. We were thrilled! Well these guys are now saying that they do not have anyone who knows how to install it... which we were charged extra for. So 3 months into this, they have our garage door opener still in their shop. At least we still have the other half of their payment. Thankfully we did not order all the metalwork for our windows from them yet! Surprise... we will be going back to the other guy. He was slow, but always got it right in the end.
Here is what it looks like opened all the way from the other side. It slides behind the wall. Yellow is my favorite color!

So that is where we are at now. Lico gave us a timeframe that puts us moving in around July. It won't be finished then, but livable. I doubt it, but it was still exciting to here!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Watching the Church Grow

Sunday night we went to Poptún to attend a service of the new Kekchi church plant.
Do you recognize those green chairs?!
James was asked to share a little about himself. They all giggle with delight when he starts to speak Kekchi because they cannot believe it!
Jimmy and I said hello too and that we were happy to be there with them... in Spanish!
I loved seeing Mateo and his wife working together to build this church. Mateo is very articulate and confidant... the good kind of confidence when he preaches, confidence in the God he is speaking about. His wife is just as passionate about this church plant. After the service she served everyone a type of oatmeal drink and bread while we had a nice time of fellowship. Everyone there is so friendly.
Jonah and Silas were well received of course. I love the way they instantly connect us with people. They got passed around a lot. They are very comfortable with Chapines, so they didn't fuss a bit. They both have started walking. Silas more than Jonah. He wanted to show off his new moves... and he did! He was walking all over the place!

Pastor Mateo was on the radio yesterday for the first time. He got 2 calls already from the broadcast asking about the church!

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: Silas loves hats and thinks everything is hilarious when it is on your head. After the service he went up front and stole the offering plate off of the table/podium and walked around with it on his head... he was right, it was hilarious, he had everyone laughing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Special Service in Se Tul

Another KBI module starts tomorrow! This past summer we met a family who was traveling through Petén. They didn't speak much Spanish, but they were fluent in Kekchi... who would have thought! James Yoder and his wife Marietta were missionaries with the Kekchi in Belize 18 years ago. We stayed in touch with him and James agreed to come back down to teach a module for KBI.
Saturday Jimmy and James were invited to a special event in Se Tul. This is the village on the complete other side of Petén (about 3 hours of highway driving time) where the Kekchi radio station is based. There were two special events: one the inauguration of a new parsonage
{The man in the center left is the pastor of this church.}

and two the 20th anniversary of the church.
{Berea Baptist Church}

They got there early and got a tour of the village.
In the center of the village are hand dug wells. That is where everyone comes to draw water.

We haven't been there in almost 3 years, since we went with Pastor Andy to see the radio firsthand.
(Andy, the air conditioner is still there and they were quick to point it out as the one you bought for them to keep their machines cool.)

It is a very large church and out of 260 families in the village, 80 are members of the Baptist church.
{ribbon cutting ceremony}
{time of prayer & dedication}

After a special prayer and dedication of the new parsonage, they had a big meal for everybody.
The meal was caldo which is what they basically call anything that is in liquid. I wasn't there this time, but I have never eaten caldo in a Kekchi village when it was not delicious and Jimmy confirmed this time that it was!
{Jimmy with Domingo, grabbing a tortilla haha}

A couple hours later the service started. This was such a big event that both the Catholic church and the Spanish speaking church in the village attended.
{a special processional to start the service}
{a very giving people}
Both James and Jimmy gave a testimony. I don't have a picture of James giving his because I forgot to give Jimmy our camera before he left. So thank you to James for all of these photos!

James was a big hit! He speaks perfect Kekchi after working for so many years in Belize, and as teenagers would walk by him having a conversation with one of the other pastors (many attended to show their support) they would stop in their tracks, turn around and just listen to the white guy speaking Kekchi. Hopefully we are not too far away from this.

It was a great time of fellowship with the pastors and all are excited about attending the Institute this week. Please be in prayer for that!
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