Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Have you MET my husband?

It took a while to convince Rich that we should go on the trip to Guatemala.  In his words, "I just like to stay home and not go anywhere."  Which isn't really true, because he likes to travel.  But this was not a natural desire for him to want to go on a mission trip where we can't speak the language and we really had no idea of what we were getting into. 

I couldn't be more proud of what came of it, though!  The entire time he was guilty of being completely uncharacteristic for my quiet, reserved, shy husband.  He volunteered for TWO dramas, purposely sat near the teenagers on our bus, and asked to give his testimony twice.  At the first high school we went to, we were told there were lots of drug problems and such.  When we got to each school, we would try to mingle with the kids and visit.  I was much more apprehensive about doing this at the high school.  As I was trying to get up my gumption to talk to someone, I looked over and saw my husband already talking with kids! 

This is a picture of Rich giving his testimony at this same high school.  Our translator, Patricia, is next him.  He did a wonderful job!  His testimony mostly consists of having given his life to Christ as a child, but spending his high school years not really following the Lord.  He was in a bad car accident right out of high school and somehow walked off with only a scraped elbow.  This was one of the moments in life that God used to get his attention.  This is mostly what he shared here at the high school.

Our young friend, Brendan, who was on our trip with us also shared his testimony of a time where he wasn't choosing his friends wisely.  As a result of those two testimonies, a boy named Brandon came up to Rich and told him he was a pastor's son and hadn't been living for the Lord.  He said that now he wanted to change and start living for Christ.  Rich was so touched.  Lord, I pray for Brandon, that he would rise above his peers and have the strength to live for You!

We headed to a church on Sunday morning.  Our group split up and went to 6 different churches in the area and 6 of our men preached.  They asked that one other person from each group at each church would share their testimony.  Guess who spoke up in our group before anyone else could?  This is a picture of the pastor greeting Rich right before he got up to speak.

The church loved him!  One of the first things he said was that this was the first time he had spoken in church on a Sunday morning.  They were so responsive and accepting.  Our friend Bruce got up to preach after Rich and said he was ready to come forward if Rich had given an invitation :)

This trip was so amazing for me to see Rich come out of his shell.  Who knows what the future holds now that both of us have seen this new side of him? :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hawaii, but not really

While in Guatemala, we had the privilege of delivering a TON of handmade clothing to a very poor village in the town of Gualan.  A group of ladies from Morningstar Church here in Salem had been sewing these and they were beautiful!  The village, when pronounced, ironically sounded much like "Hawaii".  Before we left, we all joked about telling everyone at home that we went to Hawaii for our mission trip. Once we got there, our senses of humor were quieted.  I'd say this was one of the most memorable moments for me.  To see first-hand the poverty that these children are living in every day was heart-breaking.

We asked that the children try on their clothes to make sure they fit before we left their home.  That's right, these kind people allowed us to enter their homes.  This little girl was in one of the nicest homes on the street we were assigned.  If you notice, it's merely dirt floors and no doors.

This was a sweet story.  This was definitely the nicest home we were in.  It actually had doors!  This girl had a twin sister who wasn't home and we were able to find two matching dresses, of different colors for her and her sister to match.

This family came out very warily.  Mom was gone and they were all home with their sister.  You had to climb down some very steep stairs into sort of a cave.  I don't think any of these kids said anything to us.  I'm sure we were quite overwhelming to them - a bunch of white people speaking English trying to give them clothes!

This is our translator, Rosy.  She was amazing!  She is calling into this home asking if we can come in.  When I look at this picture of this family's "front door", I'm humbled that I've ever felt discontent with my own beautiful home.  Notice the clothes drying on the roof...

This was a kitchen with a beautiful view out the "window".

The medical team held clinics in several towns we were in.  They reported that most of the children had worms and many were very malnourished.  At least one mother, when asked what her child eats in a day, answered "a tortilla".  Not per meal - per day.  Before this trip I was apt to think that poverty everywhere in the world is the same.  This has shown me otherwise.  At least in my town, children are required to go to school and any children with anything close to a low income are provided breakfast and lunch.  All summer long there are lunch programs throughout town for low-income families.  Those same families have many government programs making sure they and their children don't starve.  I'm not saying we don't need to help those in need in our own town, but people in these other countries aren't getting helped by their governments.  Even just sponsoring a Compassion child can be the first step to putting feet to your faith.  To see the hungry and give them something to eat... "In as much as you do to the least of these, you do it to Me."  Matthew 25:40

Monday, July 2, 2012

Compassion child

One of the main reasons our church felt pulled to go to Guatemala is that over one hundred children in a certain Compassion center in Salama, Guatemala are sponsored by families in our church.  Our mission trip ended up being way more than just visiting this center, but it was one of my highlights.  Rich and I began sponsoring Yerlin about a year ago and have sent her a couple of letters and pictures.  I've told many people already, but I have always loved what Compassion does.  We had a sponsor child as long as I can remember growing up.  I've always wondered what it would be like to actually meet them.  I still can't believe I've done it! 

This is the sign that welcomed us to the center.  The children go to their various schools in the morning and then twice a week in the afternoon they come to the center for Bible lessons, physical activities, help with school work, etc...  They also usually come on Saturdays.

This is Yerlin's parents and grandfather!  Her grandfather actually works at the center.  This is pretty amazing, really, since a great number of the children have been abandoned by their fathers.  Yerlin is blessed to have believing parents and a stable father and grandfather.  Praise God!

It took quite a while to get this little one to warm up to us.  She is only 4 1/2 years old and pretty shy.  Her parents were shy, as well.  But by the end of our visit she was running up to us and hugging us.  

I mean, how cute is this little thing??  She was very much dressed up - in her authentic local dress.

This is Yerlin's class.  She is at the far left of the picture.  The younger ones had the largest class.

I wanted you to see the staff it takes to run the center.  These are the local staff that work every week to share Christ and enrich the lives of these needy children.

Compassion was amazing.  They provided a translator for each family that was there to see their sponsor child.  I was able to connect with a number of other children who are sponsored by various friends of mine.  One of the teachers (the lady in pink and black in the picture) took my list of children and gathered them all up for me to take pictures and talk to each one.

We were able to put on a VBS for a day for the center.  As I led songs, Yerlin didn't take her eyes off of me :)  At the end of the day, we were given one last half-hour to give her a gift and pray with her and say goodbye.  Her grandfather prayed for us and our family - a moment I won't forget!  It was truly a day we'll remember for the rest of our lives!

If you have even considered sponsoring a child but don't yet, or even if you do already and doubt whether it's worth it... doubt no more!  Your little bit of money a month is doing incredible things for extremely needy children!  If you are a sponsor, let me encourage you to write to your child.  Yerlin has 2 brothers that are also sponsored and they have never heard from their sponsors.  Never even one letter.  I know it's hard to make the time for it, but it really means a lot to those families.  I really think it takes the ministry to a whole new level.  Don't miss the opportunity!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guatemala mission

Well, I just don't know where to start!  My husband, Rich, and I got back a few days ago from our trip to Guatemala.  It was amazing.  We grew as a couple and as individuals.  We grew existing friendships and made new ones.  God stretched us and amazed us with what He accomplished through us! 

The whole group we traveled with was made up of a medical team, a school team, and a pastors team.  Rich and I were on the school team, so we usually went out in the morning to a school, returned to the hotel for lunch, then went to another school in the afternoon.  We sang songs, told stories, performed a skit, played games, gave testimonies, and shared the Gospel.  It was pretty amazing that the schools, mostly public, didn't care how much we shared about Christ.  Teachers and students alike listened and responded to our presentations.  We saw hundreds of children accept Jesus as their savior and even heard their prayers, since in their culture they usually pray out loud.  So sweet! 

This is the first school we went to on our first day.  The kids LOVED getting their picture taken.

I will need to spread this over several posts.  My heart and head are full of thoughts and I'm still processing :)  I can't wait to keep sharing with you of our experience!