Monday, February 28, 2011

They Kicked Us Out

I was trying to wait and post this until I wasn't as sad and we had some type of plan, but I still am and we don't.

The town meeting on Saturday was supposed to be a chance for Jimmy to share and then let everyone vote again. Since there was going to be a new vote we didn't even address the fact that the last meeting was done in secret, based on complete lies and that several of the signatures appear to have been forged.

The lady from the town council in charge of the meeting was one of the 8 that spoke out against us. One of the other 8 was the one choosing who got to speak. After the first several people allowed to speak were found out to be against us, the lady in charge was still saying we were going to vote again.

Then those for us started speaking up. Several people from the community improvement committee spoke up about how we had helped out the village in several ways. They said that they were embarrassed about how we were being treated now. Some spoke out about land rights and how if they were now truly the owners of their property then Fabio has the right to build a Bible study on his. Others spoke up about those who wanted us kicked out and the lies that they were telling. Others pointed out that they don't kick out criminals yet want us to leave and how unjust that was.

Fabio was the only one who mentioned God though. He spoke up boldly. There are many new believers, some who couldn't be there that day, some who spoke up trying to share arguments that would appeal to those against us, some who were too afraid to speak up at all, but more than for anyone else in SR we want to fight this out for Fabio's sake. This 70+ year old man has learned about God and has given all. We saw him being mocked during the meeting and it broke our hearts. We cannot leave him there alone.

When the lady from the town council saw that there were not enough people against us to get a majority (when someone's watching the legitimacy of the signatures) she changed her story and said that the original "act" stands. She refused to hold another vote.

José's wife, the matriarch of the Kekchi, who was against us in the past had a change of heart. We have tried to reach out to her family several times because we really love them. She must have seen that. She let our opposition have it! That was surprising.

Those who actually spoke out against us specifically said all kinds of elaborate lies. Lorena, who we knew was only nice to our face from the beginning, with intentions of hurting our cause ended up describing it beautifully. She said, "Fabio, you speak so much of God now. They (meaning us) don't know how you used to talk before they got here." He has changed. He is a new creature in Christ. That fact right there makes ALL of this worth it.

So tonight was our first Monday night not being in SR. The act only said "Jimmy", so Jimmy tried to get me to go by myself tonight. I'm not 100% sure he was kidding.

What they did is against the laws of Guatemala, but that doesn't mean it would be the best decision right now to continue on like nothing happened. Please pray that God gives us wisdom. When Jesús gets back he could even keep the services going possibly. (He is in Guate working right now.) Jimmy is still talking with our lawyer. The people in SR are very upset about this for many reasons. It is a violation of property rights, so those who don't even care about God are effected by this decision. They might take care of the fight for us.

So we don't know anything other than that we are still in the middle of the story. It feels like Satan has been victorious. We feel like years of work have gone up in smoke. We feel lower right now than at any other time in our ministry, but the Truth is more powerful than our feelings. Our faith is strong and our God is real.

No matter what, people who wouldn't have heard did, many are now new creatures in Christ. We are gone, but the Holy Spirit is still at work in their hearts.

Please keep praying for Santa Rita.

Friday, February 25, 2011


February and March are the hottest months in Petén. This team is working so hard and doing some pretty glamorous stuff too!
Like Jacob and Matt chipping a hole for the tube on the seats for the outhouses (we are building Fabio a new outhouse too).
Jimmy spent most of the morning trying to get lumber since our original supplier was almost a week late getting it to us and still couldn't come up with it. He found some!
Mateo, the pastor in Poptún is a carpenter. He engineered the top 2/3rds of our building since it will be out of boards.
The wood was still wet, so between each board they had to wipe the blade down with diesel. (That is what pastor Tim is doing in the photo above.)
Here is Ian chiseling a notch for a support beam.
The team got 2 complete sides done and will finish the other 2 tomorrow!
Over the last couple days Jimmy has found out about more of the lies that were said about us during the last meeting and their sources. This will help when he speaks in the meeting tomorrow.

During lunch time José went to the store to buy a drink. He overheard a couple men talking about how they should get a bunch of guys together to go tear down our building. He came back and got all the men together to pray right away.
Each evening we take the team to Flores for a nice meal... so we can get more work out of them the next day!
Pastor Tim let Silas try out his hat. The middle part is mesh, so he could see through it = the coolest hat ever!
Jimmy got to spend a lot of time around our Kekchi missionary friends. This is what they do, start churches in campos blancos (white fields/places with no Gospel). Jimmy asked if it is always this hard to get into a village. Domingo said, "No, you just pick the hard ones!"

Domingo and José both told several stories of places where after they had gotten something going, the towns people got upset and tried to kick them out. They spoke of how the new believers would persevere. Each story ended with the same phrase, "There's a church now." Please pray that our new Christians persevere.

Mateo said that there is a saying among the Kekchi, "Raizes amargas, fruto dulce." (He said it in Spanish.) It means "Bitter roots, sweet fruit."

Please pray for our meeting tomorrow at 2:00 (CST). Please pray for wisdom as Jimmy speaks, that the new believers will persevere, and that God's power will be made known.

Thank you to everyone who let us know you are praying. You all have a part in this.

"Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." ~Elisha

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Add Insult To Injury...

we have a team here this week. They arrived Tuesday evening. I don't think those who are currently on a mission to kick us out appreciate seeing a large group of gringos, kekchi pastors, and others from our Bible study come together to finish our Bible study building a couple days after they thought we were history. I think they were planning on us tucking our tails and running. They got a surprise yesterday morning.

God's timing is perfect. This team is from the same church that built the fence around and painted their school and payed for half of the tubes to solve the drainage problem of their new road. Their pastor came down too this time. Jimmy is taking all of them to the meeting on Saturday. He will introduce them as just that, those who helped out "your community" in these ways. It will be a nice physical reminder of how we really do care about SR.
Yesterday morning they helped the Kekchi guys (since they know what they are doing!) build the forms to pour the columns. The top half of the building is going to be out of wood to save money. That is Domingo and pastor Mateo from the church plant in Poptún in the photo above!
That is José with the saw. We had 5 Kekchi missionaries/pastors come to help. We are really thankful to have their support.
Macaria came by. She is a Kekchi lady who accepted Christ along with her son and daughter. Her husband got really upset about it and doesn't let her come anymore. She was able to share her story with the Kekchi guys and they were able to encourage her in her heart language. She said that she didn't know about Salvation until we came and it is not right that she is not allowed to learn more (speaking about the community and her husband).
Then they mixed concrete and brought it in bucket loads to Lico to pour into the molds. This is hard work, especially in this climate!
Here is Fabio telling the team his story, how before he couldn't find out anything about God and now we came to tell him. He said that he gets to learn every week and he doesn't want it to stop.
Rosalino came to help too. He is interesting. He's the first one at our Bible studies every week. He shows up for every activity and does all of his devo sheets, but he still hasn't accepted Christ. Pray for him. He represents what is unfinished here.
After the columns the team leveled out the center to be able to pour a floor later.
There is only one female on this team, Kim. She was out their pic-axing with the rest of them! They cleared a path to have a nice walkway to the entrance of the building and for a little landscaping later on.

This team is great! They are working so hard and have the best attitude. They were late getting back for supper because Jimmy couldn't get them to stop working and load up!

Please keep praying for the meeting on Saturday. There is spiritual warfare going on here. Oh me of little faith, I get sick to my stomach when I think about Saturday. I have verses running through my head all day long, the same ones we are teaching our boys right now... well here is our chance not to have dead faith. All those times when you read about the Israelites and their whiny disbelief and you get so frustrated with them, yet we somehow separate that history from our own life. Look at the past. I believe in this God.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The First Ones There Have to Clear a Path

What God put in our hearts to do was to go where there was no Gospel witness. What we have learned so far is that it is very different from going somewhere that already has a Gospel presence, no matter how small that may be. You start from zero. You don't get any disgruntled Christians from other works or Christians who attend the first couple months to help out your new little work. You start really below zero... in the red because a place without God is a stronghold of Satan. There is a very strong resistance to Him entering. Those against you may not even know why they hate you, but they are not God's so Satan can have his way with them.

Each person that comes has to be introduced to the Bible, and this God who they really knew nothing about beforehand. Then they can be walked through the plan of Salvation. If they accept Christ then they can be discipled. What I am saying is that this is a very long process. Even after a year you may have a handful of baby Christians... baby Christians who are persecuted for their new faith. It is tough on us, but that pales in comparison to what they go through being rejected by their family and friends. It's hard to pry open the door of a fortress of Satan. It makes him angry.

This past Sunday while Jimmy was there for a discipleship class, he was served the now all too familiar "we don't want you in here anymore" papers.

It was the most unofficial document we have seen since moving here and Guatemala loves the officialness of their papers. It was all hand written. Some of the signatures were legible, some were a fingerprint for those who are illiterate, and then there were about 20 that were just scratches. There ended up being 57 signatures in all which would make a majority, but that many people did not attend the meeting. One of our people told us that they regularly sign people's names to things to get whatever number of people they need. He read it just to make sure no one added his name since it had been done before. That might explain the unrecognizable signatures.

The reasons it gave for not wanting us there anymore were:
1. From the beginning we brought our religion in with us. (I have grown to loath that word only because of the way it gets used around me.)
2. We are a security threat. (This is a result of the very common rumor about gringos kidnapping children that someone started about us. That is one way they try and scare Kekchi people away from attending.)
3. We do not treat all the children equally. (I guess this is because we only give Bibles to kids 9 and up who can read. I also have reward parties for those who earn points for doing their devo sheets and memorize verses.)
4. We cause division. (There is no basis for this that I can even contrive or make sense for in my head. We do not go door to door. We do not pressure people to come to our studies. We do not pressure people NOT to do things either.)
Honestly these are all so awesome I can't pick a favorite.

Here are all the people that came to our adult/teen Bible study Monday night. I was so thankful for them. They know what is going on and all the controversy surrounding us and they were not ashamed! I wanted to hug them all!
These 3 men who sat in front of me make up a pretty spectacular row. It was Fabio, who gave us the land and is the least favorite person in the community right now (behind us of course); Lico, who is working on our building (that is why he was there. He is an old friend who accepted Christ in NH); and José (he's 50+, but looks like a teen in this photo), whose wife is basically the matriarch of the Kekchi in the community and is against us, but he comes anyway (He has been away working and this was his first week back)! This row tells a story, but I was so thankful to see it because I felt like this was God showing us that He wanted us there because of men like these. Missions works!

After talking with our people we were very encouraged. There is nothing true in the letter to begin with. As for #1, we were given permission by the town council to hold our Bible study on 2 different occasions. #2, is absolutely disgusting. #3, we just gave school supplies to every student in the school, so it is a little hard to say we discriminate. #4, there's no proof of this one either. Secondly the letter is completely worthless since it goes against the law of Guatemala.

Our people wanted us to get a lawyer involved to settle this once and for all. Jimmy met this morning with our lawyer and he said basically the same thing, the paper is worthless and what they are trying to do is illegal. He wants to wait to get involved until they have some action rather than just words... lovely, especially since he added that we are crazy for trying to work with them. He said, "They are problem people." (I want to add that most of them are wonderful people that we really do care about.)

There will be a town meeting Saturday about us. Jimmy will be allowed to speak. We are SO thankful for this. This whole ordeal is different from NH in several ways. (I'm very numbery today) 1. The original land owner is very supportive of us. 2. Jimmy gets to speak and defend ourselves. 3. We have a lot more supporters and even Christians in SR. 4. We feel like more of the leaders in the community want us there (even if they are quiet about it, they are not openly against us.) 5. We do not fear for our safety nor have we received any personal threats.

And one last thing. All of this from what we can tell is being instigated by one person. We know who it is. Please pray for her. Her name is Rosa. Her heart is so hard. God has been known to use hard hearts to make his power known (Ex. 7).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Friday was Jimmy's 28th birthday. We usually reserve Thursdays for family day, but this week we moved it to Friday. We had nothing on our agenda but spending time with each other and eating yummy stuff. We celebrated Daddy! He got to pick all his favorite meals and didn't have to change any diapers (although I think he snuck around and changed some anyway)!
Jimmy always wants a German chocolate cake. The boys tried it for the first time and they liked it too!
His grandmother sent me her recipe, so he got his big cookie! Her recipe is delicious. It makes 2, we ate the first one the night before his birthday when it came out of the oven!
The day was mostly a good one. Unfortunately in the afternoon the wind blew, so we lost power and water for about 4 hours. That's Guatemala's way of wishing Jimmy a Happy Birthday... haha! Makes you really appreciate your fans when you have to go without them.

Earlier that morning I threw some potatoes in the oven to make soup later for supper. Jimmy and I traded watching the boys so that I could finish getting ready. I forgot to tell him the oven was on and really didn't think it mattered since they were all playing the the boys' room. Well they moved out into the hallway/kitchen/dining room and Silas walked over to bang on the side of the oven. Jimmy was close by, but he didn't know the oven was on since it wasn't mealtime. Silas let out a yelp. The poor little thing burned the palm of both hands. We felt so bad. It was a horrible feeling. Silas sat with his hands in a bowl of cold water for about 2 hours, so it must have burned for a while. We gave him some ibuprofen and he was much better after his snap, playing like normal again. We are so thankful it wasn't any worse. It was very traumatic for us all. In our forever house since our kitchen is part of the great room and can't be closed off, we are going to sell this oven and look for one that doesn't heat up on the outside so this can never happen again.
Jonah checking on his brother. He wanted to know where his bowl of water was!

So how's that for some birthday drama! Even though part of our day was in the dark, part was filled with guilt worrying about out little boy who was in pain, we all survived and had some very memorable wonderful moments together!

CRAZY ITEM OF THE DAY: The temperature has been fluctuating a lot, which makes our ceiling star snowing again! Thankfully the worst room is our storage room, which is really our clothes closet/laundry room/pantry. Each day this is what everything gets covered in. You can tell when someone goes in there because there are white footprints trails through the rest of the house.

Friday, February 18, 2011

School Supplies for Santa Rita

Soon after school started (here the school year begins in January) we were contacted by the community development committee in Santa Rita to help with school supplies. Many of the children had only 1 or 2 notebooks of the 7+ notebooks they needed and didn't have any of the other basic supplies. Well, we were still playing catch up from the tube project and also from the supplies for the construction of our Bible study building, but we really wanted to help with this very important need. We thought about posting the need on here and in our monthly update, but realistically by the time the money got here they would be 2 months into the school year.

God worked everything out. One of the men who was on Andy's team heard about the need. He gave us cash before he left to purchase supplies for each grade... no more waiting for mail to be opened, checks to be deposited, and ATM's to be working, God provided the money directly into our hands for this project!

Jimmy put an order in at the bookstore, since each teacher had provided us a list of exactly what their grade needed. The owner of the bookstore gave us everything at his cost and separated each item that he bought in bulk for each grade according to their lists. This enabled us to give 50% more to the school than what the money normally would have bought. Last Tuesday morning we picked up 7 boxes of school supplies (one for each grade) and delivered them to their prospective classrooms... everyone loves us on those days!

Here are some of the students from each grade along with some of the boxes of supplies. I won't name them all, but there are so many kids in these photos that I love so much and am thankful for the interaction God gives me with them each week to teach them about Him!
This teacher was so nice. She was gone the day the teachers were suppose to make the list of supplies needed, so I don't think she was expecting anything. The man at the bookstore helped Jimmy pick out all kinds of fun stuff that preschoolers usually need for school, like finger paints, paper, crayons, and scissors. She was thrilled!
{1st Grade}
Rosa is the 1st grade teacher. She has never attended our Bible studies, but is always nice to us and really, she was one of the voices who helped us get into the community. I am very thankful for her. She and her husband are good parents, so I have a lot of respect for them for that reason as well.
{2nd Grade}
{3rd Grade}
{4th Grade}
The teacher, who will remain nameless, ran as fast as he could when he saw us coming, so he's not in the photo. He's the one who told his students that no one in his class was allowed to come to our Bible studies. He hasn't liked us from the beginning. He has asked us for stuff (like soccer balls and money) before and we have said no. We aren't really into buying friends. We prefer to help the community out as a whole. Anyway, Jimmy decided to have some fun with this. He told Reyes that he was going to drop the school supplies off for all the grades, but he was going to keep 4th grade's supplies, because he doesn't want to force someone to take something from him who doesn't like him! Well that was going to make a whole bunch of parents really angry with the 4th grade teacher. This teacher knew that, so he came after our Bible studies and after a long drawn out conversation of him saying "I never said..." and Jimmy making it clear that he knew exactly what he had said... a remarkable thing happened... pigs started flying. That teacher apologized. So the next time that this teacher starts some other hateful rumor about us I am going to remember that moment... it was beautiful and we will probably never get another!
{5th Grade}
This is normally a closet, so I think they did some restructuring or something and moved the 6th grade back over to this building.
{6th Grade}
The 3 on the left, Elmer, Mercedes, and Sofia, actually come to both Bible studies each week! Reyes (that's his last name, but what we call him) is Rosa's husband. He is the town mayor and also in charge of the elementary and secondary schools in Santa Rita. We really appreciate him. He genuinely cares about the community and I think one of the best things this community has going for them. A co-op might work if everyone had his attitude, but everyone doesn't. We really like working with him.

We are so thankful for the man who gave the money to be able to meet this need. It goes a long way to show those who don't attend our Bible studies or understand really why we are there that we do care about them. Please pray that God will use this simple action to soften their hearts and that those who don't know Him will come find out more!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Family Traditions #5: Valentine's Day

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson

So my goal for this year starting at the boys' birthday was to get a wreath on the door and bunting over the kitchen table for each holiday that our family wanted to celebrate together. I thought I could build on these decorations and traditions as the years go by, but this would at least get me off to a good start. Here is our Valentine's wreath and bunting. I got it up by February 1st.
1. Valentines for Their Sweethearts: Their #1 Sweethearts for the next several years are going to be their grandmas! I thought it would be a fun way to kick off the month of love by making something together to mail to their grandmas. They don't have their coloring skills down yet, so we chose something they are already very good at... grins! We made a photo card.
I was inspired by Martha. We had so much fun taking pictures of these jokers. They knew they were suppose to stay in the shot, but before I could snap the picture they would make a run for it, giggling the whole way.
2. Valentine's Mistletoe: It works the same way. We hung a smooch sign over the doorway to our kitchen/dining room. Jimmy and I had fun with it of course, but the boys did too. I like the boys seeing their mommy and daddy be affectionate. We gave them tons of smooches too!
3. Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Pancakes for Breakfast: If we don't have eggs, we usually have waffles, so pancakes will probably be a once a year thing... especially ones with chocolate chips. (This is a very unhealthy holiday!)
I had never made pancakes before and Ms. Paula Deen didn't let me down. We skipped the toppings this year.
These pancakes even got an applause from Silas. That means he really likes it!
4. A Valentine's Sweet: I want the boys to look forward to some extra sugar on Valentine's Day. This year we had bite size smores.
I don't know how they make it so messy, but I'm sure it's more fun that way.
Jimmy taught Silas how to lick all the chocolate off his fingers afterwards!
While we were eating these I had the idea of using one of Jimmy's family traditions. Each year Jimmy's grandma makes all of her grandkids a chocolate chip cookie cake for their birthdays.
{Jill, Jimmy's sister, with her b-day cookie cake from Grandma Jim}
I think this tradition would fit perfectly for Valentine's Day. Maybe I could even write them a little lovey dovey note on it. *Make a note for next year - ask for recipe from Grandma Jim* As I am typing this Jimmy just told me he misses his cookie cakes and wants me to make him one for his b-day (in 3 days). He'll be 28 and he still likes it... so sweet!

5. Hidden Messages: A couple weeks ago I told Jimmy about a tradition I wanted to do when the boys got older. On separate pieces of paper we all write down one thing that we love about each person in our family, nothing long, just one liners. Then we hide everyone's notes in places we know they will go during the day. We were so busy and tired last week, that by the time Valentine's Day got here, I was ready to skip the whole thing. Well Jimmy really did it and I found my notes! Here are some of them.
He used a dry erase marker. I found one on a lid on my pot rack...
and another on a storage container on my desk. They were all over the house. He's sweet! This will be a fun tradition. Maybe by next year I can help the boys write something that they love about their brother and then we will hide it. It will be a hoot!

We actually received some Valentines in the mail this year.
Becca was really thoughtful and sent the boys a Valentine along with a bunch of other goodies.
We also got some heart shaped candies from Grandma KS (that we can't get here), some Valentine's chocolates from Becca, and on Valentine's morning my lilies bloomed for the first time in forever, so that was a sweet little Valentine from God... perfect!
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