Day 3 – Go With the Flow

Hello Friends & Family!

Today was our second day on the ground in Chanco, and it was a bit different than we had expected or planned. Not to say this was a bad thing, it just reminded us all that God is in control of all we are doing here. We had planned to stick to our usual schedule of visiting some homes in the morning, then having lunch, followed by story time and games with the kids, then finishing up with some more house visits.

However, as mentioned in the blog yesterday, Miguel’s brother passed away unexpectedly, so the funeral was prepared for today. When we arrived in Chanco, we went to Miguel’s home to pray with the family. We were surprised to see how many people were there, and we noticed all the similarities between the way we all grieve a loss of a loved one. There were many family members there, as well as many people from the community. They were all praying together and consoling each other, and some of the family were preparing a meal to all share together. Pastor Chad prayed over the family and we were able to share in their grief. We were really blessed to have this time, which reminded us that we are all people, under the same God. I (Courtney) was really touched by this moment, and felt that it was a great picture of the Gospel, nations loving each other, the way God imagined it… Overall, just a really sweet time.

Since we were still down one translator, we remained in two teams to visit the houses. This part of our morning was different than expected, due in large part to the fact that many of the people of Chanco were at Miguel’s home supporting the family. Our team tried a few houses, but found no one home. We were finally able to spend some time with one lady, but she was busy preparing lunch, and we wanted to respect her time. At this moment, we began to realize that God had other plans for our team, and I (Anderson) remembered the Lord once telling me that productivity doesn’t always mean fruitfulness. With that, we decided to pray and then head back to our lunch spot.
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The other team had a somewhat opposite experience with their morning house visit. They were able to meet with a family, and pray healing over the two boys in the family. Christian, the older boy, was having seizures, so Sharon prayed over him. Then Chad prayed healing over the grandson, who was born with a birth defect, not allowing him to hear. The family offered the team coffee and sweet pastries – which they told us were wonderful! (We were a little jealous, ha!)

After lunch, we played with the children and read the story of Moses and the Red Sea. The Children were really responsive to the story, and we actually had them act it out! Also, we had a few girls there today which was helpful! We then played jump the river.. again… so we think that game will probably stick all week. (We’re sensing a theme… and trying to find more bible stories about water!) This was a really sweet way for us to end our day in Chanco after having a tough morning.

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At this point we decided to give the community some space and head back to Jocotan. The funeral was scheduled for this afternoon, so we knew not that many people would be home. We wanted to respect them and not be pushy. Once we arrived back at the hotel we were able to spend time walking around the markets of Jocotan and see the city. Tate got a machete and we got donuts!

photo (2)(in the words of Chad, Awwww Yeaaaah)

Please continue to keep Miguel and his family in your prayers as well as the health of our team (nothing major, just stomach issues and scratchy throats).

Thank you for your prayers thus far. It RAINED last night for the first time in a month!!! Also, when we were praying with Miguel’s family they said that they could feel all of our prayers. There truly is power in prayer!

Good night, go Tigers, and go Guatemala!
Courtney Irvin and Anderson Wiksell

PTL – Praise the Lord…we in Guatemala and the FOOD is Awesome!

First off, let us tell you how much you are missing out. Don’t worry about the fact that we are telling people about Jesus, or building relationships with the Chorti people. The breakfast here is out of the world AMAZING! Breakfast consisted of tortillas, black beans, eggs with peppers,onions, and ham, fresh cheese, plantains, and sausages…oh did we mention TORTILLAS…fresh, hot, and good!

On a more serious note, we spent the morning as a team walking around Chanco and Las Piletas. During this time we intentionally prayed for the homes we would be visiting, the people we saw, and just the village as a whole. We stopped and prayed at both schools, the Catholic church in Chanco and the site of the new one they are building in Las Piletas, the community center in Chanco, and at the original church plant in Chanco.

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During lunchtime people retreat to their homes as the women prepare lunch. This leaves about three hours for us to eat and play with the kids. We hung out on a porch and enjoyed the beautiful weather and strong breeze. After a little nap we went to the soccer field by the school and did some story time and games with a few kids. We read the story of “Jonah and the Fish” to them from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Then we played sharks and minnows cause ya know…they are both about the ocean. Then the boys wanted to play jump the river which turned into jump rope which turned into limbo. After the team was thoroughly worn out it was time to do some house visits.

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We split up into teams and went to some of the homes that were identified by the college team as “followup” homes. One team went to Teressea’s house and another to Fransisco’s house. Great conversation ensued and both homes welcomed us to come back later in the week to share more. If you don’t know Fransisco is the village leader, and so it is very important that we have a good relationship with him.

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Even with this awesome day, some sad news was received.

One of our team members, Miguel (a translator, who lives in Chanco) found out that his oldest brother had passed away unexpectedly. This caught him very off guard and has brought a lot of sorrow to his family. We ask all of you to lift Miguel up in prayer and to also lift his family, brothers, sisters, and parents up in prayer.

Also, Chanco needs rain (none has fallen for a month). Their corn and bean crops are struggling. Please continue to keep the village in your prayers as these crops are needed for food to put on the table and monetary income.
Lastly, please also keep the general health of the team in your prayers.

And…it’s dinner time so the “David’s” have got to go!

Thanks for keeping all of us in your prayers!

-David Irvin and David Patrick

We have arrived

One of the advantages of a 6 am flight is that you get to see the sunrise. As the sun broke through the clouds today just after liftoff I was reading Isaiah 61: 1-3. The sun filtered into the darkness of the cabin just as I read the following:  “He sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Even early on in the trip God was assuring me that what we have been sent to Chanco to do was appointed and ordained by God.

We had a great travel day.  God was good and everyone has all their luggage.  Everyone is doing well tonight and we are expecting God to do great things this week in us and in Chanco.

Please continue to pray for God’s will to be done in and through us this week.  Pray for continued good health, boldness as we share and wisdom as we handle God’s word.  Thanks for all your prayers so far, we can definitely feel God answering your prayers for us.

Anne

July Guatemala Team

Hello church family! It’s that time again–another faithful team is heading to Guatemala on Sunday, July 20th to continue sharing the Gospel with the people of Chancó. The team will return on Sunday, July 27th. The team members are (picture from left to right): Anne Bond, Chad Moore, Sharon Goodson, Jordy Gandy, Courtney Irvin, Tate Goodson, Kristen Patrick, David Patrick, Anderson Wiksell, and David Irvin.

July 2014 Guatemala Team

The primary focus of this team will be revisiting 13 of the homes that the May-June college team poured into and built solid relationships with. These 13 homes welcomed the college team joyfully and attentively listened to the Gospel. The goal of the July team is to continue to pour into these families in hopes that they will hear and see in them the same message that they heard and saw from the college team–the truth of the Gospel. They will spend 2 days on the front end of the trip making initial visits in the homes, sharing testimonies, and building relationships. The next 2 days will be days to revisit those homes and intentionally share the Gospel with the families. 

We are so excited to see how the Lord continues to use this team as His instrument in bringing the harvest in Chancó. Please be faithful to lift up this team as they prepare to go and as they are on the field. The work is difficult, but it would not be difficult if something good wasn’t happening in Chancó! Pray also for the believers in the village as the team will spend intentional time pouring into Adán, Elsa, and Miguel. We know that true disciples will make disciples; therefore, this aspect of the trip is critical to advancement of the gospel in Chancó. 

In the afternoon, the team will also spend time playing with the children of the village. They will share stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Pray that the kids would be attentive and have hearts that understand the truth with childlike faith.

We’re excited to have a copy of the map that Ben Mason developed during the college team’s time in Chancó. This map will guide our team as they visit but will also be very beneficial to the leader of the village in the future. Here is a glimpse of the map–hopefully it will be helpful to you as you pray over this team.

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We are confident that the Lord will continue to work in the hearts of the people of Chancó. Thank you for being faithful to pray!

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

Jenna Hurst

Good Soil

Our college team returned home on Wednesday, June 18th. What a bittersweet day it was for us to say goodbye to a place we’ve come to love so much. I know everyone was excited to see their friends and families, but leaving Guatemala was tough.

Our last week in Guatemala was busy and eventful, and we apologize for not blogging sooner. We spent our last few days in Chanco revisiting homes and seeking to communicate the truth as clearly as possible. Although we won’t be the ones to see the fruit of our labor, we left encouraged and confident in what the Lord is doing and in what he has promised. We used the analogy often and the verse over and over, but we were given the privilege of sowing the seeds. The teams that have worked in Chanco and Nearar in the past have tilled the ground and prepared it for planting, and it was our turn to further the process by planting the seeds of the Gospel among the people of Chanco and Nearar. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 talks about the different types of soil that the seeds will fall on–some along the path to be devoured by birds, some on rocky ground where there is little soil, some among the thorns, but some among good soil that produced a hundredfold. We know that not every seed that has been planted over the last month will grow into a relationship with God through Christ, but we are confident that the Lord will raise up believers in both areas who will have a desire to see their people come to know Christ.

We were also given the privilege of working with the children of both villages during our time in Guatemala. We used the Spanish version of the Jesus Storybook Bible to tell the kids about Jesus. We loved how it constantly pointed to Christ with every story. We gave many of the books to the children, and our hearts were filled with joy when they would come back to tell us about a story they had read. Pray that the Lord would use those books to bring the children to a saving knowledge of who He is and what He has done for us. Pray also that their parents would be curious about the books and that they would be impacted by them as well.

Thank you for praying faithfully for our team. I think it is safe to say that the Lord has worked on our hearts just as much as he has worked on the people we’ve ministered to during this time. Please continue to pray for Chanco and Nearar and the difficult work there. We firmly believe that it wouldn’t be so difficult if something powerful wasn’t happening among the hearts of the people. Pray faithfully that the Lord would not only cause those seeds to grow, but that he would also continue to raise up laborers to send to the harvest. Just a few chapters before the parable of the sower, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). We’re being used as His instruments–what a privilege.

We are confident that our work has not been in vain–He who promised is faithful.

Jenna

 

And one last joyful picture from our beloved lunch & bible study spot–The Porch.

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High School Mission Trip – GO CAMP – FirstWave Students @ LifePark

“Tonight I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

Hearing students pray a prayer of repentance and faith, and then profess their new life in Christ to a group of 60+ of their peers will never get old.  Never. 

Last night’s worship service at GO Camp, here in Columbia, SC, was a celebration and a culmination of what has been a week of serving, worshiping, building friendships, having fun, sharing Jesus, (rarely sleeping) and so much more.  As it is always the case, one blog post cannot fully share the broad spectrum of ministry and Holy-Spirit-work that has happened all week.  We have been in Columbia from Sunday, June 15 until today, Friday June 20.  I am trusting that our students and adults who were here this week will share stories, learnings, growth, and how God has worked.  I do however want to share a list of some of the things that students participated in this week:

  • we stayed in the heart of Columbia, in a hotel and were able to experience much of the city
  • we enjoyed morning rallies that were fun and got students prepped for the day
  • we served at various sites for 4-5 hours a day doing: homeless ministry, servant evangelism, prayer/encouragement, children’s ministry, construction/yardwork, and served local churches and ministries
  • we rarely complained – no seriously I was blown away at how great our students attitudes were
  • we ate lots of peanut butter & jelly
  • we enjoyed some excursions like tubing a river, the zoo, museum or laser tag
  • we played late-night games and a crazy relay game called “Prepare to Die” (no body actually died, just for the record)
  • we worshipped each night through preaching and music
  • we had church group times where we encouraged, shared, prayed
  • we bonded more as a family – and last night 3 publicly professed that they believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
  • we did all of that and more - but really GOD did all the work and gets all the credit.

This Sunday at 11:15am in the Pier (student room) at LifePark our students will be sharing stories and ways that Jesus has worked in their lives.  I invite all parents and church family who would like to hear more stories to come.  As it seems to be the trend this week – I am rushing off to something else, our last gathering actually.  Please pray and thank God for the work he has and is doing in our next generation.  Pray for God to send out our students as missionaries who are living ‘life on mission’.

Filled up and ready to GO some more!  God send us out!
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His Ways are Higher than Ours

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:8-11

Many times over the past several weeks, this verse has given me comfort and confidence as we continued to work in Nearar. The days on the mountain, though they have been few, have been spiritually and physically taxing for our team. The need for the gospel in Nearar is great, but the hearts of the people seem to be hardened to the truth, and we’ve even had difficulty with being welcomed into their homes. It seems that they know that we are different–and there is a reason that goes beyond skin color. It has been a challenge for our team to remain positive and motivated to work in such a difficult place, but as we finished our final day in Nearar, I can confidently say that we ran that race with endurance and persevered until the very end. I am so proud to be a part of this team because we have gone boldly in the power of the Spirit and proclaimed the gospel to many who have never heard.

We can be confident that our work has not been in vain because of the promise of Isaiah 55. Just as the rain has covered the mountains lately and caused the plants to flourish, God’s word will fall among the hearts of the people of Nearar, and we will trust that it will accomplish His purpose. Although we’ve not seen much fruit from our labor, we know, just as the verse says, that His ways are higher than ours.

Today our team revisited a few houses and played with several children at the small church in Nearar. We had planned to have a bible study, but it turned into a time for the guys to encourage some of the believers that live near the church. Our team prayed over them and over the children, and I think its safe to say that leaving Nearar today was very bittersweet. Even though there have been challenges, we know that the Lord is working, and we feel privileged to have been given the chance to be a small part of what he is doing.

Continue to pray for these people–pray that they might know the truth of the gospel and that their hearts would be softened to those who bring it. Also, please continue to pray for our team as we finish our final week here. Pray for patience, wisdom, energy, and boldness as we go.

Jenna

Our Last Sunday in the Field

To follow Erik’s example, today is the last Sunday we will spend in the field. Everyday we grow one step closer to seeing our family and friends in the United States but one step further away from the family we have found here. It is bitter sweet, but we take heart in knowing that teams will return to love and share with our new family, that when we leave we will not be the last.

In Chanco today we accomplished quite a bit. Ben and Miguel went gallivanting around and mapped all but five houses, names of people included. The rest of us washed off the porch we have been using and prayer walked focusing on places that are often used around the village such as the Catholic Church, school, preschool, and the Community Center. Then we returned for our faithful lunch of PB&J sandwiches! Children began to show up and we began to play. The story we told the children today was “He is Here;” the story of Jesus’ birth. The kids are really loving these stories and actually want us to tell more. Today, only a few kids came so we were able to give each family one book! It was really awesome and I cannot wait to see how God uses these children and their love of God’s story to change the village. Please be praying for these children! (Names include: Marta, Anivel, William, Terry, Gabby, & Darlene)

Also, please be praying for Hugo. He is part of the family who owns this hotel and he has been so great to us, often surprising us with ice cream or other special treats. Hugo is also a great cook and uses all his resources to make sure we are all happy. Needless to say he goes above and beyond all that is asked or required of him. We want him to know Jesus though! We have given him a Spanish bible and worked very hard and our relationship with him, with every day the ground becomes more and more fertile. Please pray that the Lord would present the circumstances that would allow us to share the Gospel with him and that his heart would be prepared ahead of time. Ask God to please reveal himself to Hugo!

We go to Nearar tomorrow and it will be our last day there for the whole trip. Pray that our time would be well used and well managed. Ask that the people would welcome us and have open ears and eyes.

Thank you for your fervent prayers!

Hillary

Daze go by

The days have been long but the weeks have been short. It seems almost unfathomable to believe that from this point forward, every day we spend in the field is the last day of the week we will spend there (i.e., today was Saturday, and was thus the last Saturday we will spend doing ministry in one of the two villages).

I cannot speak for everyone, nor would I desire to, the unique voice of an individual is what continues to propel our culture forward (and for this I would like to thank God, the tower of babel incident, and Youtube), but I would like to comment that Jocotan and Chanco have become homes to me. I look forward to the mornings when we cruise up to the mountain as the mist rises among us and walk from house to house trying to pull the beautiful people of Chanco alongside us into God’s truth. The hotel has become a place of rest for all of us, and today the city itself seemed like home as I walked around with the translators, laughing, skateboarding, and watching some men on dirt-bikes race around a local trail.

As the weeks have progressed however, our difficulties in navigating the spiritual waters have increased. The longer we remain in the villages the more aggressive the Catholic leaders have gotten in pursuing their flock. We are careful to state that we are less interested in church titles, and are simply sharing our love for God and His word with the people we interact with. We make it clear we are not trying to jerk people right out of their churches, but that we are concerned that many people we have talked to are confused on several points of the gospel and believe that if they simply live a “good” life they will be right with God (a problem also prevalent in America I often assure them).  

This is the softest blow we can give, and we have been trying to give it precisely. But today we noticed that the Catholics had started to offer a Bible study on the soccer field directly across from the porch where our study had been meeting, at the exact same time. They also have started to hold events for the children, and very few showed up to play today, and even then only after the Catholic event had ended. It is very frustrating to feel as though there is an unspoken war between ourselves and the Catholics. It is clear that we are not dealing with a body who genuinely cares about their sheep and this breaks our hearts.

We laugh much throughout the day, and the homes we visit are still very welcoming. Please know that we share the gospel every chance we get, and please pray for us as the Catholic gears turn all around us, and against us. We need wisdom to handle the situation in love and respect. Thanks for praying, we are honored to be just one of the waves of the gospel that crashes onto the shores of Chanco. There are a few godly people here, and we are excited to see them rally together.

-e

Ephesian 2:8-9 by GRACE we have been saved!

One thing that I have become so thankful for throughout this trip has been God’s grace. I have definitely always appreciated this grace and what Jesus did for me on the cross but talking to so many of the Guatemalan people who rely only on a works based salvation has made me even more incredibly thankful. We talk to so many of the people and they know the story of Jesus. They know about God, and they even believe in having faith in Jesus. The thing that they just can’t seem to understand is grace. When asked how to get to heaven they reply saying good works I’ve done. Or when we ask if they are sure they are going to heaven or not they almost always say “only God knows”. Both of these responses always break my heart, because I want them to understand what Jesus has done for them and I want them to have full confidence in Jesus Christ. One of the main verses we try and share with them is Ephesians 2:8-9 that says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”. The Bible says it so clearly that it is by faith that we are saved. I pray that the people here will not just hear these words from the bible but that they will understand them and apply them and allow them to change their lives.

Another verse we have been sharing a lot is Colossians 2:13-14 which says “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” They can’t seem to understand that there is nothing we can do for ourselves when we are spiritually dead. Only Jesus can make us alive. And our debt is paid for and don’t have to try and pay it on our own, because only Jesus can pay it.

It is often really discouraging when the people we share with don’t understand the truth of the gospel. But we trust that it is God who changes hearts, and who opens eyes. He has a plan for these people and our job is to share the gospel and show the love of Jesus to them. It is so exciting for me to have this opportunity to share with the people, and to plant a seed in their lives. Even if we don’t see the fruit immediately, we trust that God is in full control!

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezekial 36:26-27

We are all so excited for the week of work ahead of us. We have formed really good relationships with many families and are hopefully going to be able to revisit them. We have already shared the gospel with some of them so we are excited to talk further about it with them. And we are hoping to continue to rebuild the relationships so that they will be able to see the love of Christ in our lives, and to see the joy we have because of the spirit in us. please continue to pray for our visits and that their hearts would be opened to the truth of the gospel.