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Guatemala is not a quiet place either. At least where we were. Horns, cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, car alarms. This is not a place of peaceful retreat. Like the rest of this world, it is a frontline of a battle, a battle being waged for the souls of people. And God is always at work in the battle. Jesus died for all people (yes that does include you), and God’s will is that all would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is an honor to see the Spirit at work in the hearts and lives of the people here.

So what else did I learn? You never feel quite clean, you risk illness if you consume the water, it’s never quiet at night when you try and sleep, we didn’t eat any meat for almost two weeks, powdered milk just doesn’t taste the same, my nose was capturing all sorts of black and brown particulates, and you have to sanitize the dishes thoroughly after washing.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.


Wrapping Up

We did fly out of Guatemala City on Thursday. However, we missed our connection and ended up spending the night in Houston. After spending the day at the Houston airport, we finally got home on Friday evening!

I am very grateful to have had this experience. It was amazing to see how God works through different people to accomplish His work. The Guatemalan missionaries are amazing servants of Christ. They love God and they love His people. I have learned so much from them.

Wednesday, June 2

Today the group went out to El Rincon. They had a major mudslide and much larger volcanic rock came down. I did not go with the group today because I wasn’t feeling up to par and I didn’t want to hold the group back.

I got a chance to do some reading, reflecting, play a game, fold some laundry, and help make dinner.

This evening for devotion time, we laid hands on Kevin and Ginny to bless them. It was really a very powerful time of prayer.

Continental is flying into Guatemala City as of today, so it looks like we are headed home tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1

It’s June and I’m supposed to be in St. Louis going to work. Instead, I am in Guatemala working. Today we went out to Amatitlan. Really we wanted to go to El Rincon, but we barely got to Amatitlan. We stopped and purchased water in baggies and brought some juice in baggies and clothes we sorted yesterday. We ended up in a traffic jam going there, but Manuel found another way to get into the city. We went to Chochi’s house and ate the lunch we brought, then we parked as close to the river as possible. We loaded up with the water and clothes and juice and walked. The scene that we walked into was incredible. The river and mudslides had just gone wild. There were logs all over the main road. Mud was everywhere. The people had made make-shift bridges to cross over the small ravines. Our first task was to distribute the items we had brought with us. Sandra gave the crowd the instructions and then prayed. The distribution as quite orderly. After our supplies were exhausted, we then split into about 4 groups to help families clean up the muck and mire from their homes. John, Renee and I went with Oscar to Amanda’s house. They back up to the Green River, which over ran their entire house. There was about 2-3 feet of mud, stones, wood and other debris just piled up against the back of her house. We made quite a dent in the mess. They had been working on it for 3 days or so. It is quite a disaster. The Green River is now brown. When we saw it last week, it was running very fast. Today it was hardly moving. The devastation is incredible. We worked for about 2 hours moving mud.

When we got back to the house, we found out that the Thursday AA flights we canceled. That group is now leaving on Sunday. We don’t yet know what that means for us. On a brighter note, Lori, Mike, Ben and Ben made it to Houston tonight.

Monday, May 31

Today is Memorial Day, but it is not celebrated in Guatemala. Today we helped out around the mission house. We cleaned bathrooms, floors, cabinets, etc. I purchased additional medical insurance for the group since we get to stay here for a few more days. We also put together hygiene kits, sorted clothes, cut out crafts, glued cards into journals and just helped out as needed. That pretty much filled up our day. Of course we had devotions and after devotions we played a game of Quiddler. I am on the 2nd chronicle of Narnia already. I’m glad I brought the whole series.

Sunday, May 30

It stopped raining! Agatha is breaking up and moving on! However, the water is not working in the house. This means no showers for now. We are taking a sabbath rest and just enjoying the day.

We ended up playing a game of Quiddler, surfed the net some, read a book, helped clean up, etc.

Manuel found a place that will come and fill the cistern, so we can flush toilets and hopefully take showers.

On Sunday night we were invited to George’s shelter to play BINGO with him and the boys. We had a blast! However, I had a hard time getting the Spanish numbers. However, Jose and Lindsey made sure I got them figured out. I ended up winning 2 games! John won the Grand Prize round.

Saturday, May 29

Raining, yes it’s still raining. Today we went to Antigua for brunch and sight-seeing and shopping. Agatha is just not wanting to leave! On our way to Antigua we saw mini-mudslides, downed trees, rocks on the road and water everywhere. We went to Los Palmos, a restaurant, for brunch. It was yummy! It was decided to skip the sightseeing and just do some shopping. Since it was still raining, it would be difficult to see much, plus we wanted to get back to Guatemala City before any roads were blocked due to the storm. During our shopping spree, we found out that our flight was canceled. We had a lot of fun at the little shopping area and found some great treasures! Mike, Lori and Ben P. stayed in Antigua to catch a bus to get to Belize City via Flores. Ben C. decided to stay in Antigua until his flight leaves on Wednesday. It was kinda weird to say good bye to part of the group. I hope their travels are safe.

Friday, May 28

This morning we awoke to everything covered in fine black sand!

Sandra led our morning devotion time. We started in Matthew 9:9-13 where Jesus called Matthew. He didn’t worry about niceties, He just said “follow me.” We also explored being a new creation in Christ(2 Corinthians 5:17-18), having a Spirit of Sonship and no need to be a slave to fear (Romans 8:14-15, walking as Jesus did (1 John 2:1-3, 6), walking together to share God’s Word (Philippians 1:14, 2:12-13) and how God’s Word is a gift to us and He is always talking to us through His Word (1 Peter).

We put a hold on our plan to go to the new settlement and instead helped clean off the ash (sand) on the driveway, sidewalks, roof and patio. It had rained overnight, so it was wet and heavy. After we got the majority cleaned off, we decided to go to the new settlement and at least do an abbreviated faith lesson. As we arrived, it was sprinkling, after all it is the rainy season. We had a couple of tarps, so we set those on the ground for the kids to sit on. We started with some singing. The the clouds opened up and it poured! So we took one tarp and held it over the other to cover everyone. We still sang and did our skit, but otherwise we kept it pretty simple and short. We all piled back into the van and came back to the mission house for lunch.

Around 2 pm, the sponsored kids and their families arrived at the mission house for Bible study. We split into 3 groups: adults, teens and children. We had so much fun singing with the kids!

The Guatemalan missionaries stayed afterward and we had Pizza Hut pizza for dinner. During the afternoon and evening, word started coming in about flight cancellations due to the volcano as well as the tropical storm named Agatha.

The evening devotion was especially bitter-sweet. Although we were debriefing to prepare to go home, we weren’t sure when that was actually happening. As of tonight, John and I are still scheduled for a Sunday departure. Mike, Lori and Ben P.’s flight was rescheduled for Wednesday. They don’t want to wait until then, so they are looking at traveling to Belize City tomorrow to get a flight on Monday or Tuesday.

Did I mention that it’s the rainy season and that Agatha is visiting?

Thursday, May 27

Today, we went to Amatitlan. We followed the same kind of schedule that we did in El Rincon. We had house visits in the morning and did faith lessons in the afternoon in an empty lot.

We went on visits with Julian, Kevin, Mike & Lori. The two homes we visited today were of families who were very stable, somewhat of a change from our previous days’ visits. Not only were the families units more stable, but they had a more steady income and larger homes that were well kept.

At the first home there were three boys with their mother, Melody. Melody and her husband have 6 children and 4 grandchildren.  I sat with Joel (6) and Hernan on the bed. They both had notebooks that they were drawing in. I asked Joel to draw me picture in my book and I drew our “casa” in his book. I asked Hernan to write his name. Hernan is in 3rd grade. No one in his family has gone beyond 3rd grade. We encouraged him to study hard. When we went started to share scripture with the family, the boys went and grabbed their Bibles to follow along. That was so neat!

The second home has 2 girls who are sponsored through Groundwork Guatemala. Alfredo and Fidelina have 5 children. We met Anna Lucia, 19, and Marina, 16. Anna Lucia is in the 7th grade and Marina is in the 8th grade. The parents had lived there for 35 years. The hospitality that was shown was unbelievable. Someone went out and bought a 2 liter of Pepsi to serve us. We got the biggest glasses and they were filled to the rim. They had a rabbit, guinea pig, duck, 4 cats and 3 cows. They sell the milk and also the cheese that they make.

We went back to the park area and had lunch at Francisca’s house. She made us a wonderful lunch of beans and rice. After lunch, we set up in the park to do the faith lessons. We started out singing and did the taco skit. The children went into a neighbor’s garage for their story time and craft. I stayed with the adults. During the time of teaching, the earth shook! Yep, an earthquake, because the volcano, Pacaya, was erupting! I even got to see the red fiery lava coming out of the top! Incredible! So that kind of distracted us gringos for a short time! The lessons were well received and afterward some of the guys played soccer with the kids. The smiles on their faces were awesome!!!

During our evening devotion, Kevin got a call from Ruth that ash was falling. We immediately checked outside and it was more like black sand falling from the sky. It has covered everything. We also heard what we thought was thunder, but it was actually another eruption. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in the morning.

Wednesday, May 26

Today we went to the village of Buena Vista. It is located about 2 hours southwest of the city. Buena Vista is a village in the middle of sugar cane fields. They have no running water, only wells. No electricity, but a few families have generators. The main street used to be the rail road tracks. In fact you can still see the rails in a few places as well as the foundation of the platform, the water tower and the trestle over the river. The homes line both sides of the old tracks. Buena Vista really is a step back in time.

We started the day with faith lessons. We had quite a large group and they kept coming! Our “patience” skit was a hit! I worked with the children after we split from the adults. We had a skit that illustrated the story of Jacob and Laban. Then we did the craft that Jamie designed. It was American tacos. They loved cutting out the pieces and putting them together and reading the verse, Psalm 62:5-6.

Then we went to the school and split into 2 groups. The kids from grades one to three were in one classroom and the kids in grades four to six were in the other. One group taught the faith lesson and the other taught the English lesson. Then we switched classrooms and did it again with the other classroom of kids. The older kids really knew their numbers in English. For the English lessons, we had them make a paper plate clock and went over the numbers 1 to 12 in Spanish and English.

After lunch we went on house visits. John and I went with Sandra and Lindsey to do some medical visits. The first visit was to a home where there was a 2 day old baby boy. The family was concerned that he wasn’t getting enough to eat, because the mom’s milk hadn’t come in yet. For the second day in a row, we met a young woman who was raped and became pregnant. This young mom was raped by her boss. She is 21. It is so sad to see the harshness of life.

Our second visit was to a family where there was a concern about bumps on a granddaughter’s head.

It was a privilege to see how Lindsey cares for people.

There is a young boy in the village, Minor, who is deaf and mute. He likes to give hugs and hang around the visitors. He hung around us most of the day. In fact, when we were getting ready to leave, his mom came to get him to come home and he didn’t want to leave.

Of course we are here during the rainy season (mid-May to mid-November), so it rained again today. Thankfully, we were ready to start heading back to the ministry house. On the way back we saw most of the volcanoes, including the one that is smoking. That was very cool!

Kevin and I got a chance to chat on the ride out to the site today. We discovered that we have friends in common. Small world!