Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Power Troubles

So some group decided that they could go around in different poorer neighborhoods in Guatemala and get people all riled up about how much they are paying for power. They give them numbers about how rich people pay less than the poor people for power. (Actually in our specific case we pay 33% MORE per Kw than our low-consumption neighbors)

Different parts of Guatemala do pay different rates. It depends on how close you are to whatever power plant you are using. We are 500km away… at the very end of a long extension cord. We pay more and our power is out very often for long periods of time, but living somewhere rural was our decision, so we pay the rates. Our water and rent is cheaper (when we paid rent). Prices fluctuate inside a country based on your location, like anywhere else in the world.  

The more illiterate a society is, the easier it is to manipulate them. They just have to believe whatever they are told. This group told them that they are being persecuted because they are poor. "Politicians in Guatemala City are paying less than you hard working poor people." They told them that they could pay this group $4 a month and they would attach their house lines directly to the pole, bypassing the meter and giving them unlimited power. So they are stealing all of their power from the electric company, but they are calling it a protest because they are being taken advantage of since they are poor. Whenever the power company comes out and cuts their lines, someone from this group hooks it right back up that same day… so they say. Of course the power company can't keep up.

The power company is reporting that 2 million people are stealing power. Those part of the revolt claim the number to be more like 6 million, almost 50% of the households in Guatemala. Either number is too many for them to arrest or put in prison. (Not that any laws are actually enforced here anyway.) 

This affects those who are paying for their power because a whole lot more households are hooking up to the grid and all those who were hooked up before are using as much power as they want… power that they would never have been able to pay for otherwise. So, if you are at the end of an extension cord, there is hardly any power left because it is way overloaded. Our water pump keeps overheating.
It burned up our first pump a couple weeks ago and melted some of our pipes. Our new pump just turns itself off when it gets overheated which is turning out to be every couple minutes when the water is running! There are other things that just won't work because there isn't enough power to run them. (Like the air conditioner unit in our guest bedroom and we have guests with us right now.) On top of that the power company is turning off entire cities and even counties for weeks at a time to punish the people stealing power, but those who are paying for power lose theirs too, so everybody suffers.

Anyway we keep losing power too. It has been over a hundred degrees each day and trying to sleep without a fan is pretty miserable for my children. They are exhausted and their necks and scalps are covered in itchy heat rashes. Trying to run the generator to keep your food from spoiling is expensive anytime, but when it is becoming longterm like this, it is not sustainable. Think about the businesses around here who don't have a generator and wouldn't be able to afford the gas to run it anyway. It is just all sad. Sad for everyone. These people who are stealing power don't realize it, but this is not going to end well for them either.

Who knows when or how this will end. The government wants to nationalize the power grid here, so this might all just be a big political move. Things always work better when the government runs them, right? Jimmy reported our power issues to the power company, but when they come look at it, they will probably see that we are the only ones in our neighborhood that are paying for our power and will cut the whole line. Yippie! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Ministries of Our Church

We are starting to advertise our church's new ministry to teens and young adults (15-25). It is called Grupo VIPs. Please pray with us over this new ministry. It kicks off May 9th and will be held every Friday night.  
We are praying this meets a need in our church and in our town. We have many in this age group that have come and put their faith in God, but really are lacking the Christian friendships they need for encouragement and accountability. Also, in our town there is nothing for this age group but trouble. Please pray with us! 

For the last two months we have started a discipleship class that meets on Sunday mornings. 
Jimmy found some really good curriculum and printed off all the sections and bound them individually so that each of us could have a workbook. I love this time! It is really hard to get people talking sometimes. Everyone is afraid of answering a question wrong or being embarrassed. This setting is perfect to get people talking. It has cleared up some confusion and people have asked some really good questions. The material covers everything from who Jesus is and who we are in Christ to basic doctrines and how to share your faith with others. 

Please pray for this discipleship class. This will be where the leaders and teachers of our church come from. Please pray that all those who are Christians will commit to this class. I feel like it as already been under a lot of attack. Two weeks in a row we had people injured or admitted to the hospital right as class was about to take place. Of course some of the people who want to come are being pressured not to attend by those who serve Satan. 

Jimmy and Juan try to follow up with anyone who misses to keep everyone on track. 
Right after our lesson on Salvation, one of our teens led a new 12 your old at our church to Christ. That 12 year old started coming because we met him at the basketball courts in our town during one of Jimmy's games. He is one of about a dozen other guys who come together just for our children's ministry. 
{The one on the far left led the one on the far right to Christ}
Please pray that the rest of them will come to know the Lord too. I feel like there is a huge opportunity in our town with the children, youth and young adults who are searching for truth. Please pray for our church and that we will be wise with our time and resources in order to be used most effectively by the Lord.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Heard Around the House #12

Silas - "Dada, you're the best ever!"
Dada - "Why ya think that?"
Silas - "Because you're smart!"
Dada - "Well why do you think I'm smart?"
Silas - "Because you eat asparagus."
Whenever Eden is coloring at home she holds her paper up and yells, "Shelley!" I think she thinks that is Spanish for "look here". She hears the kids at church say it when they finish their papers. She doesn't know it's my name.

 Eden is so loving. Out of nowhere she regularly looks at one of us and says, "Love you, Dada!" or Love you, Mama!"
Jimmy picked me up a small shopvac. My kids haven't been around vacuum cleaners. They keep asking me if they can play with my "orange thingy". It is blowing their minds! That thing is pretty handy. I am loving shopvacing all the bugs out of all of my screens!
We have been working on our grocery store behavior. These 3 hooligans have come a LONG way! I am so proud of them! They are big helpers now.
Our grocery store in Santa Elena is in a mall that was built a couple years ago. It is really struggling to get going. Most of it is still empty and the little stores come and go on a monthly basis. I really like going there though because the grocery store is super clean and the people are really polite. They also usually don't have loud music blaring… now I sound old. I was surprised to walk out when we were finished shopping and see something new! It took me a second.  
I told the boys to go look close at that new statue. They saw the cool tool belt, so they went right up. Just when they got close he moved to shake their hand. They jumped back! Their mama laughed and laughed! Eden was NOT amused. She didn't cry, but this silver mime might be just a half a step above a Chic-fil-a mascot in her book. Once Silas figured out what was going on, he went right up to shake his hand! 
Jonah finally went too. This "statue" was epic! They are still talking about it. It was so hot, the poor guys paint was dripping off onto the floor. My boys had silver hands.
Jonah and Silas are still at the age where bandaids are as cool as your boo boo. Jonah was showing his daddy his band aid.
Dada - "That's gross!"
Jonah - (mischievously) "I know, it has boo boo on it!"

The other day my kids helped tell the story about the Good Shepherd in my Sunday School class.
{The sheep, the thief, and the Good Shepherd}
We rehearsed a bit beforehand. It's a good thing because Eden was not happy when the thief tried to steel the sheep:
I was making biscuits the other morning and must have added too much milk because the dough was a lot runnier than normal. All the kiddos were sitting at the counter coloring.
Mama - (Scrapping the sticky dough off the counter) "This is a mess!"
Silas - "Mama, you just need a little more practice making biscuits!"

It has been crazy hot here lately. We may are or may not all cram into the blow up kiddy pool when we get desperate.
Here is an afternoon when the kiddos were swimming. It is one of our more sophisticated conversations!
I regularly catch the boys helping their sister. It is SUUUUUPER sweet. 
Eden on the other hand thinks irritating her brothers is a sport. She OWNS those boys. 
Jonah is very artistic. He is kind of inside the box, and that box is going to be extremely tidy and there are going to be guidelines that all are expected to follow. Silas is very creative… no where close to the box. He has a huge imagination and an outfit to go with every new idea:
Their two personality kind of balance each other out in a beautiful way.
We have lots of conversations about them being twins and about when they were inside my tummy at the same time. We looked at photos the other day from when they were born and in the NICU. 
Jonah - "What was on us when we were born?"
Mama - "Goop."
Jonah - "Why did you eat goop?!"

Here is one last video of the frog that has adopted us:

Kids are always messing with my guitar pick at church. The other Sunday mine was missing and I had no spare. Jimmy immediately pulled an old card from his wallet and cut me a temporary one. I thought it was super sweet! Jonah and Silas thought it was cool too. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Light in the Darkness

Saturday last week was our church's activity to some caves in Santa Elena. The Actun Kan caves are behind the house we lived in, our first year in Petén. I like going over there, it feels all nostalgic and familiar. 
We've been a little concerned that we kind of spoil our church people and make things kind of too easy. There needs to be some sacrifice and commitment on their part. I probably didn't explain that very well, but anyway moving on. We advertised this activity for a month and told them that it would cost $2 per person for anyone 8 and older. In order to go you had to sign up and pay ahead of time… possibly a mind blowing concept for Baptists in any culture. No one signed up until the last service before this activity! 
And on the way to the caves someone called Jimmy and asked if we were still going to the caves that day, haha! Needless to say Jimmy did not turn around and go back and get them! 
We have been to these caves with a couple of teams. You can explore the large part without getting really messy. They used to have lights, but not anymore. You have to bring your own flashlight. It is pitch dark with lots of bats. You can also walk/crawl all the way through to another entrance. That takes about an hour and a half and you get FILTHY. It is a real team building exercise because you have to lead, follow, and trust each other to stay together and get through it.  Our people were pretty nervous, just in this part of the cave. They kept commenting about how they were concerned someone was going to get lost and left inside the cave! They still really wanted to go though. The darkness is pretty unnerving at first. 
At the entrance is a list of shapes to look for. I thought it was a lot of fun. I could totally see how the formations got their names. You can see how extensive this cave is from that map too. 
Once we were inside Jimmy had us all turn off our flashlights and cell phone lights. He shared a devotional from the Psalms (57 & 142) from when David was hiding out in the cave. Then we sang several songs together. Those are some beautiful acoustics in there!
The dampness of the cave made it refreshing compared to outside, but it also made it pretty slippery. There was a lot of helping each other going on. It ended up being a really great activity for some of the people from our core group! 
{Silas and Juan}
 I think everyone was happy they came. No one had ever been before. 
{Silas, H, & Jonah}
 They ended up giving us a group discount for the entrance fee, so Jimmy used the extra money to buy pizza for everyone afterwards. 
 It was a nice time of fellowship. 

This big guy was waiting at our door Sunday night. Eden went out with the boys to feed the dogs and started crying when she tried to get back into the house and it was standing in the doorway. She let out a big squeal and ran pasted it to safety as fast as she could. Last night I went to fill up the dogs' water bowls and found him swimming in one. I let out a very similar squeal. Jimmy and the boys of course think it's funny to scare the girls!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Women With Purpose

I haven't posted about our ladies ministry in several months. I'm permanently behind. Every 7 days everything stops though and we have a day of rest/family day. That day is tomorrow! So yippie!

We needed a name… anything that can bring more identity and belonging. Our women's ministry needed all that, so this is the name we chose:
{Women with Purpose}
We have been studying the purpose of God's design when he created men, women, and marriage. Here it is up on the wall in our ladies room. It is made out of foam paper and hot glued on the wall. Jimmy bought me one of those fancy digital paper cutters for Christmas, so I waited till I had that thing to cut those letters. This logo has been up since December and I still only have a photo of it taken with my phone… permanently behind.
We meet the third Sunday night of each month. Each month we switch back and forth. One month we have a recipe that ties into the lesson somehow and the next we have a craft.
{Eden's favorite months are the craft ones!}
I thought it might be difficult to come up with recipes because everything has to be made on a stovetop since most people here don't have an oven. Also, the recipes have to be reproducible, so all the ingredients need to be things that they would normally buy or have available in their local tiendas. 
Soups are popular here. Honestly most meals are a whatever you got all thrown into a large pot together with a little chicken bullion. Around November there were a lot of gourds being sold around here, called Ayotes. 
 I always thought they were pretty, but I never cooked anything with them before. Once I cut one open and pureed it, it turned out to be pretty similar to pumpkin (only the ayotes shaped like the one below), so that's what we did. We made pumpkin soup.
This tied in pretty good with the lesson when we were celebrating God's purpose for men. We made a whole bunch, tried it ourselves and then served some to the men's class next-door. They were happy!

Each month I feel a little more comfortable teaching these ladies. I really am praying that God would use these times to knit us all together so that we could encourage each other in our walk in a non-judgmental way. 
Over half of the ladies can't read. That is something I want to find more resources on, teaching people who grew up illiterate. I think their mind receives and organizes information differently and I really want to get better at presenting truths in a way that would be more helpful to them. For now I try to use a lot of wordless visuals. I want to do better at reciting verses together too. If you can't read, how would you ever memorize scripture on your own. With the kids on Thursday nights (half of whom can't read yet) we memorize a verse a week, during class, so I think I want to start doing that with the ladies. That would be part of God's Word that they could always have with them. 
Here is a before picture of our ladies room, when we first found this property:
 You can see it keeps getting better and better. My mom made curtains for our ladies room when she was down here. That helped a lot.
 Once we all get in the room together I usually get in a hurry and forget to take photos… I'm going to blame that on Jimmy because he is constantly making jokes about my class going too long! Here are a couple photos I did take of our class in February:
That month we were celebrating God's beautiful purpose for women, so we made flowers. Some chose pins and some chose hair barrettes. 
 I've seen several of these flowers worn since then! 
 When you think of it, please pray for our ladies ministry. I want to use my time with them wisely. Please pray that God will bless our moments together and do a work in all of our lives. Thanks!
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