Thursday, July 12, 2018

A New Name

Before Rigo came to the institute he had been a Christian for a total of 3 months. He was 21 and up to that point had come to be known as a drunk. Being a talented mason he used the money he earned to buy alcohol. He grew up without a father, but had a loving mother. She taught him about Jesus, only he rejected it.

He got a job working on a church building. While he was there he was contemplating suicide because he knew his life was missing something and everything he was trying to fill it with was just making it worse. He began to remember the things he heard growing up. He realized at that point, that God was drawing him into a personal relationship with Him. He put his faith in Christ that day leaning over a barrel of water used to mix concrete at the job site. I think it is beautiful the way that God so clearly drew Him to Himself.
Rigo introducing himself the first day of classes.
 A lot of people didn't believe that Rigo could change, but after that day his entire life was different. He never drank again. When he heard about the Institute from a national pastor, he contacted Jimmy about coming to learn more about God. Jimmy asked him, "How do you know you are called to be a pastor, when you've only been saved for about a month?" Rigo responded, "I have a burning inside me to tell others what I know." Jimmy approved his application and he became one of our first students. 
The first group of students who came. I'm pretty sure Rigo's shirt was soaking wet in this picture because he had just washed it and we did not plan on taking this photo that day, haha! (He is the 1st one on the left.)
Despite never finishing the 3rd grade, Rigo dedicated himself to not falling behind and thus never failed a single class. Beyond his studies, he memorized Bible verses on his own time in both Spanish and Kekchi. That is what I always think of when someone mentions Rigo, that he knows a LOT of scripture. His passion for the Bible also led him to be a successful evangelist, winning several families to Christ in the village neighboring the farm.
After studying for 3 years at the institute and leading Juana to Christ, who would later become his wife, he began his new life of ministry in the village of Agua Negra this past June. He had shared with Jimmy his concerns about not having enough food to eat. He had been serving in his home church for a while doing mason jobs during the week to save up money for his first work. Even up to the last week before he was scheduled to move to Agua Negra he was thinking about postponing it two more weeks to have time for one more job, just in case they needed money. Well he decided to go.
I'm so glad that he did because the church had been preparing for their arrival. They had been calling Jimmy for months asking for someone who knew the Bible to come teach them. Rigo and Juana were greeted with so much love! The church had a big celebration. They had a special handing over of the keys to the church ceremony. They signed an official creed to make him pastor, Juana signed it too because she is very much part of the ministry, they are serving God together.  
And as far as them having food to eat, the members had gathered 12 sacks of corn and had them waiting for them in the kitchen along with a financial gift. Here they are praying a prayer of dedication in their new home. You can see some of the sacks behind them.
The people were so grateful that a trained pastor chose to move to their village (There is a huge need here!) that they all brought fresh fruit and vegetables to show how dedicated they were to treating their pastor well! This is when Juana started to tear up.
I am so thankful that God brought such a great couple and a village hungry to learn more about Him together. As passionate as these members are to know God, Rigo and Juana are just as dedicated to faithfully completing the task God has for them! 

A couple weeks later Rigo called and said that he had 7 chickens that members had given him to eat and that he felt bad for having such an abundance. Haha! I wonder if God is laughing too. He takes such good care of those who are serving Him. 
God has greatly blessed him, but more importantly He has given Rigo a new name. Before he was known as a drunk but now he goes by Pastor!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Life and Waiting in Line

It seems like so much time passed before this line formed. God has blessed this church! I was so thankful to wait in line for the Lord's Supper on Good Friday! I remember when it is was basically our family and the first 4 students who came to the institute. I remember before that working in villages where we weren't allowed to have baptismal services or form a church and I wondered if we were just wasting time. Now there is a big family of believers, who share their faith!
 This was the baptismal service the week before Easter. 
The girls on the right told their cousin in teal that she needed to put her faith in Jesus too. This is the second time I have seen a baptismal service where new believers get baptized along with other new believers they have already brought to Jesus!
There are a couple churches sprinkled around the villages next to the farm. In order for someone to "become a Christian" and join their church they have to pay over $1,700. That is the newest trend around here. The man in the photo above said, "I know your church is going to be more expensive than that, but it is worth it to me." Thank God, the Gospel is free and Jimmy, Elias, and Gerson got to tell him that! 
 There are so many people searching. I feel like this is a very important time for Iglesia Bautista Ak' Yuam. We are moving into our new building soon. We carried chairs over there to use it for the Good Friday and Easter services even though it doesn't have permanent lights or bars on the windows yet. It is in on the very corner of the farm property, closest to the villages, which makes it seem more theirs than the institute. Please pray that people who are so close to taking that step of faith will and for the members to continue sharing their faith! We want to keep growing.
The Good Friday foot washing service is always a favorite among the members. It builds community. It's not hard to wash someone else's feet, but it is very humbling to have someone wash your own.
The Art of Teaching class students built the tomb!
All the ladies at the farm got up before sunrise to start cooking breakfast for the church on Easter morning. We made beans, rice, eggs, salsa and tortillas.
Once the sun rose, more ladies from the villages came to help too.
 It was a beautiful service!
 So this is a moment in time I want to remember. What the devil whispers is a lie. Nothing for God is ever in vain. God can take what we might feel is wasted or not even close to enough and build something living... something that continually reproduces itself! That is the miracle we were celebrating on Easter - the miracle of new life, that's free and that only Jesus can give!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Wedding Day

Over half of the students at the institute are single. The lady they choose for their wife is crucial. We care about them so much! Besides having a happy life, we want them to live out the purpose God has for them. Their partner in life will be their partner in ministry too. We want them to have God's very best for their lives. We feel the same about the young ladies in our youth group. It's stressful at times watching all of these relationships unfold!
All of us on a boat tour last month. We might have teased them a little bit for sitting together!
Angelina was the cook at the farm and now is a student. We love her! She is such a hard worker and has a genuinely sweet spirit. Sometimes it is really hard to get to know people when they become part of the institute and I have to really work in the beginning at building a friendship with them. She wasn't like that. It's so easy talking with her. It's a delight! She has always been a comfort to me.
 Giovanni is a second year student. He was voted Best Christian Character by his peers last year. He is the fourth from the right, holding his plaque. We were excited for them both when they shared their intentions of getting married with us!
 They were married legally at the courthouse on the last Wednesday in February
The day of their civil wedding.
and then their church wedding was the following Sunday. All of the students helped prepare for the ceremony. I thought it was sweet that even the guys helped!
Hilda and Bonnie spent lots of time helping me build flowers!
Angelina was a beautiful bride!
Angelina with her parents
Both of their families were there to celebrate with them.
We were honored they wanted to have the ceremony at the church here. Giovani is not originally from Petén, so his family had to travel a ways.
Jimmy performed the ceremony. It was all beautiful! In a culture that pressures girls to start living with the first guy that gives them any attention, these two followed God's plan. They waited and honored God with their decisions. I feel like He is blessing them for it. We wanted to celebrate that!

 Afterwards Angelina's family had prepared caldo for everyone.
That part was a lot of fun! 
We just love them and can't wait to see what God had planned for them! The next semester started the following Tuesday. Pray for them as they continue with their studies and as they begin their life together!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

My Baby Girl is 6!

This year we decided to have Eden's party with her friends at school. It is common here to have parties during the school day.
  She has a wonderful teacher, Maestra Norma. This is Eden's second year in her class. The assistant teacher is wonderful too. I never posted this on the blog but Eden finished K-5, first in her class. I think that has a lot to do with having such a great, patient teacher!
She wanted a baby doll theme this year of course, she LOVES baby dolls. She picked out every detail. She is very opinionated... and I like that so far, haha!
We played lots of baby doll games. There were prizes so I don't think the boys in her class minded too much!

 I love this picture of Titus. He was determined to get a seat next to Eden. Once everyone started eating he kept sneaking snacks off all of her friends' plates!

Eden with her best friend, Emily
Eden's teacher told her that she could wear a party dress that day instead of her uniform since it was her birthday! She must know Eden very well!!

Eden wanted a baby doll cake with pink ruffles! 
 I'm just so thankful Eden has the opportunity to go to this school with these sweet ladies as her teachers. It has helped her so much with her Spanish (I think she speaks better than her brothers, but don't tell them;)
The party was on the day before her birthday since her actually birthday was the first day of the next semester at the farm and both Jimmy and I had a class that day. I thought it was sweet for Jimmy to come too. He and Eden have a very close bond! Since the next day was her birthday we had a little celebration that night in Santa Elena, at Pizza Hut with more of her friends that don't go to her school. We are very blessed to have so many sweet people in our kids' lives. 
I think the girl was thoroughly celebrated! 
For her birthday present from us, Jimmy and I made her some beds for her Barbie dolls. It was so much fun!
I am so thankful that God gave us a daughter. She is an absolute delight, just like her name means! I hope we stay close to each other and even more importantly that she stays close to God. 
This photo was from the day back in August when she put her faith in Jesus for herself!  
 Then she was baptized in October. So this was a big year for her! We are so thankful for God's great care for our little girl!
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