Monday, October 24, 2016

An Empty Building and a Long Walk that Ended With an Open Door

This map is the top 1/3 of Guatemala, know as the department of Petén. We live in and our institute/farm is locate in the dark blue region in Petén. It is called San Fransisco.
We often talked about reaching Petén, but our focus is unreached Kekchi villages, so if any of those fall outside of the boundaries of Petén, that's ok too. Pastor Eli, the dean of students, heard about a village named Santa Maria. It is in the department of El Quiché. If you are keeping track, that is actually 2 departments below the Petén.
 Well Jimmy is really practical, so the thought of spending resources to travel that far drives him nuts. He'd rather have infrastructure and branch out over time. He knows though that the Holy Spirit doesn't always work in geographical order.

It's hard for me to know exactly how long it takes to travel to this village. In the States people describe distances by minutes or miles. Here it is by price in a microbus. I think it takes about 10 hours in a micro and then a 2 hour walk after that.

 A family member of someone from this village told Pastor Eli about it. He said that there was a man in the village that wants a church so bad that he built a building next to his house, but no one will come and start one. He and his sons go in the building once a week and pray. It's a hard place to get to. You could build a church there, but it isn't going to be a big fancy concrete one like the ones you see on the side of the main road. This pastor would be making a sacrifice. But there are at least 35 other villages after that 2 hour walk, just like this one, with no work at all in them.
About where it is on google maps
  This past Tuesday, since it was during our 2 week break in between semesters, Pastor Eli, Pedro (3rd year student), and Mateo (2nd year student) went to check it out. They had a guide that met them once they got off the micro. He walked with them half way but then got scared. It is dangerous to just show up in a closed Kekchi village without being invited. This guy wasn't from there, plus he was taking strangers there. He made up a story about hurting his knee so that he could turn turn around and go back. Later we found out that after he turned around he ended up really hurting his knee. He was in so much pain that he had to pay for an injection at a nearby clinic and then he ran out of money to be able to get back home... poor guy!
Mateo & Pastor Eli
On the way there, they would pass people along the road. When they would find out where they were going, they would tell them, "Make sure you take all your food and water with you, because that village isn't going to give you anything!" So I guess this village has a reputation. The 3 men were so muddy from the long walk, that when they got close, they bathed in the river and changed clothes to clean themselves up before arriving.

Once they arrived in the village, it was pretty late. The first house they came to, was Augustine's house, the man who had built the building for a church. Well we all know that was God! He gave them coffee. Everyone came out to see who they were and why they were there. There was a big town meeting with everyone and the town council. The people were very cautious because they had been exploited by different groups beforehand who were trying to steal land from them or promised them social projects and then never returned. They had a long meeting and asked lots of questions. Pastor Eli focused on the fact that they were not there to ask for anything or bring them anything other than the message of the Gospel. Pastor Eli told them about the institute. Thankfully he even had a business card stating he was the dean of Students at IBQ (KBI) to make his story sound more legit. (Business cards and ID cards are very important here.) The village decided together that it was ok and that they could come back and teach them more about God. (I would like to interject here that none of the angry meetings Jimmy and I have ever been in, ended with, you can come back, lol!)

          The next morning they went around to every single house and filled out a survey. It basically asks them what they believe about God. There are 80 families in the village and through the survey they found out that the only Christians in the village are Augustine's family.

  So basically there is a man in the middle of nowhere, seeking God and God is sending Him someone to help disciple him. The students have done survey trips before, but there was something different about this one. Jimmy spoke with Mateo to see if he wanted to go back and if he could see himself working there after he graduated. Mateo said, "It's definitely worth it because there are so many other villages around there too." Jimmy also asked if the people were really interested in knowing more about God or trying to get something from the farm. Mateo said, "No, there are people there who really want to learn more about God!" Mateo wanted to be the guy heading up the outreach into this village. It is neat to see God match up personalities and gifts the students have with the villages that He leads them to. He seems like a great fit. In some of these more closed villages it might be that someone like Mateo goes in, starts a work and then one of the young guys from that work comes to the institute for 3 years and returns to their own village and then Mateo can move on down the road. That way their pastor is eventually an insider. 

Some more good news is that they found out there is a new road into the village that they had not known about before and one truck leaves from there at 3AM every morning. It's going to cost us $200 a month for passage for two guys to go every 2 weeks. They will get there late on Saturday nights, teach all day on Sunday, leave at 3AM on Monday to get back for school on Tuesday at the Institute.

Please pray for the village of Santa Maria!
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