Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reasons to Give Thanks on My Birthday

I can think of a multitude of things to be thankful for on my birthday this year. Here are just a few:

I can't thank the Lord enough for Wilf and the kids. I am so thankful for the joy they bring to my life. And I am very mindful of that especially this year.

I also thank the Lord for the playmates the kids have here. They have some great times together!
A very special gift for me on my birthday, was the opportunity to see Nate with his new classmates. His class at school wanted to have a party for him to welcome him. So they came over on the afternoon of my birthday and it was such a joy for me to see him playing and interacting with some kids his own age!Playing link tag...
His class brought a cake and drinks and when they discovered it was my birthday, it became a birthday party as well! (yes, those are some sort of pickle on the cake!)
I thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve Him here for this year. Having a birthday in Guatemala is not something everyone can "brag" about :).
So even though I missed my family and friends, I thank so many of you for your calls, e-mails and facebook messages (I joined facebook just in time!).
And above all, I thank the Lord for His love and grace and mercy to me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ladies Bible Study again and the Obreros Visit to the City

Again this week we took the ladies Bible study group on the road. We had a smaller goup this week so I was able to ride in the cab of the truck this time. I wasn't necessarily more comfortable since I was sharing the back seat with three other people, but at least it was cleaner!
This week we visited a family who live a good hour's drive from town. We traveled on very rough road way up into the mountains.
Pedro and Rosa (there are a lot of Rosas here!) live right off the "main" (only) road so we didn't need to hike at all.
Kris is standing in the family's front yard. The family has a one room, adobe brick house with a kitchen attached. The little wooden building behind Kris is for storing corn.

This is the kitchen. I tried to take a picture of the inside, but it was too dark. There was a huge pile of corn in there as well as an open fire.

Pedro and Rosa have three children, but I wasn't sure which children were theirs! There were quite a few kids around, nieces and nephews or more distant relatives.
There isn't much in the way of entertainment for the kids-at least not the kind of entertainment that we are used to. They have no electricity, no games, I didn't see any paper, pencils or coloring books. There certainly wasn't any lego, dolls or anything like that! These girls were content to watch the cows being herded down the road.

As honored guests, we were invited to sit inside the house. The entire family sleeps in the one room, and there was only one bed (don't picture the bed looking anything like your bed at home!!) so the children would sleep on the floor, or the benches we were sitting on.

Above our heads, the corn was hung to dry.
Once again it was a great opportunity to visit people in their homes.
Wednesday, Wilf and Nico headed to the city with the Obreros (the Bible teachers). Since our family and the K's will be leaving in June, the church needs a pastor. We had suggested to the Obreros that they join the Presbyterian denomination. The denomination is fairly large here and not only would they have fellowship with other believers, but they have hopes of getting a Guat. pastor as well. Wilf and Nico went with the obreros to the city to meet with some members of the Presbyterian church.

There is one paved road from Cub. to the city. As the crow flies, we are pretty close to the city. Of course all the mountains make it difficult to actually get there!! We always take the paved road, however now that it is the dry season, this other route is faster. Wilf said that the road is rough, but the scenery is beautiful. Apparently you can see the two volcanoes that surround the city as soon as you get out of our valley!

Before the meeting with the Pres., they took the Obreros to visit the zoo! They hadn't been to a zoo before, and many of them didn't even know the names of some of the animals.

Here are the Obreros! Two of the men are involved in the church in town (one preaches on the radio each day), and each of the others has the responsibility of the church in their village. Please pray for them, as Satan is never content to leave church leadership alone! Pray that they will be bold and wise as they seek to work the truths of Jesus's teaching into the lives of many here in Guatemala.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Landslide Update

We thought we'd give an update on the landslide that happened at the beginning of January.
On the first Sunday in January, over 140 people (mostly men) from the villages that Wilf frequently hikes to were making their way through this mountain range to catch some busses that would take them to the coast to pick coffee. At that exact moment, the whole side of the mountain gave way, sending most of them to their deaths.

That Sunday evening, several people from one of the villages came to our home and asked if we could help them find 3 of their family members whom they knew had likely been caught up in the landslide.
At three the next morning, Nico, Ken, and Wilf left to make the drive out to the landslide area, arriving there at dawn. Many other people were also beginning to arrive, anxiously looking for their loved ones. The army had the area blocked off, as sections of the mountain continued to fall. As bodies were found, we were told that they would be brought out to us. Eventually we were told that bodies would be brought either to a hospital morgue, or to the local cemetery. We did a lot of running around, looking through survivor lists (which were mostly wrong), and searching through hospitals and morgues.
Eventually, we were able to identify two bodies of the three missing relatives. We brought the bodies back with us. (Getting back home about 24 hours after we left!) The third body was never found.
This week Wilf had the opportunity to go back to one of the villages that was affected by the landslide. Twelve men from the community had set out. Only one young man returned. He was (and continues to be) badly injured, because he was buried chest deep as rocks and debris continued to fall. Wilf had the opportunity to meet with him and his extended family. It was a good visit, but sad in many ways. The young man's father suffered from polio as a child, and both of his legs are quite affected. Two of the young man's sisters lost their husbands in the landslide. He himself has two little children. Wilf was thankful for the opportunity to pray with this family, read scripture with them, and share the hope that we have in Christ...that no matter if our bodies give out at a young age, or an old age, our souls are eternal, and that we can be sure of our eternal destiny because of the life and death of Jesus. The truth of the Hope of the gospel is even more precious when explained in such difficult circumstances.
Pray for this family, and for all affected by this tragedy, that Christ would use this sad event to bring many to Him.
It has also been a real reminder for us of how quickly this life is over...and of our need to use every opportunity for God's kingdom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ladies Bible Study

Our ladies Bible study group usually meets in different church member's homes around town every week. This week was different as we took the group on the road and into the mountains!We started off by car and I had my first opportunity to ride in the back of the pick-up. It was quite the experience! The road is not paved and is badly in need of a grading job. We were not only jerked around terribly, but every time another vehicle passed us, we would be covered in a cloud of dust! But the scenery was beautiful and this is the way that almost everyone travels here as vehicles are very scare.
After about 20 minutes on the road, we pulled off to the side and found the trail we needed to take. I wish I could describe for you what the trail was really like! It is impossible to see in the pictures, but we were bascially hiking straight down the mountian side for about 30 minutes. We had traveled pretty high out of town and now we needed to hike down to Miguel and Rosa's house. I don't think I have ever climbed so steeply before!
Kris and Nate are wonderful hikers and led the group both there and back! I think Nate could have done the whole hike over again. We were all dressed in our good hiking shoes, but the ladies here just wear flimsy little sandals and yet they never slipped on the steep and rocky terrain! In fact, on the way back up, one of the ladies even carried Ellen on her back for part of the way!

At last we could see the house in the distance. The approach to the house is beautiful. The family was out watching for our arrival. You can just see the house in the distance in the picture below. I still had to climb down one last time and then up again to reach the house. Taking this picture, I could already see Nate snaking his way up to the house on the other side.
We were warmly welcomed by the whole family. Miguel and his wife Rosa live here with their older married daughter (her husband is working at the coast). Miguel and Rosa have six children and most of them are still quite young. The married daughter has five of her own children already! They are all boys except for one girl who is about 13. There certainly were a lot of boys around and it was impossible to tell who were Rosa's sons and who were her grandsons!
The house is very simply, but very neat. The yard is full of all sorts of animals. Cats and dogs of course, but also turkeys, chickens, pigs and more.

The ladies served a mountain coffee, which is a popular beverage here.
Above is a picture of Lia with her house helper, Maria (sitting besides her). The other lady in the picture is Marcella. Marcella helps us in our house three times a week. It is really wonderful to have her! She is a faithful member in our church along with her three children (sitting beside her is her youngest daughter). Sadly, she has been a widow for many years. Her husband was killed in a bus accident when her youngest daughter was just a baby.

Our hostesses with some of their children. I have a new appreciation for these ladies! They faithfully come to church on Sunday and that is no small undertaking-as I now experienced first hand! The daughter must carry her adorable, but very heavy baby on her back as well. It is so difficult for us to imagine what life is like for these people. Becuase of where we were born (by God's perfect plan), we enjoy so many privileges and blessings!
Have you ever read Country magazine? They always have a section entitled "View from our House". Well, this is the view from Miguel and Rosa's house. Sitting on a piece of board on their front "porch" (just hard packed dirt), they look out at this breathtaking scene.
It is a reminder that God is an awesome Creator, who is in control of all things. In an earlier post, I wrote about a terrible landslide that happened not too far from here. In the center of the picture above, on the furthest mountainside, we can see the spot where many people were killed.
I love Isaiah 40 and I was reminded again yesterday not only of the goodness and greatness of the Lord, but also His might and power and justice.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor
is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary. And the young men shall utterly fall,
but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength:
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40 :28-31

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We're Back!

We started off our trip by spending Sunday in the city (our plane left early on Monday morning). Sunday morning we went to a large Presbyterian church. Some of the youth from this church, as well as the Pastor's wife (in the picture above, along with her husband and son), came to help us with our vacation Bible school back in December. It was a real blessing and encouragement for us to worship there!
Monday morning we flew to Mexico and were met at the airport by Wilf's parents, who had arrived in Mexico themselves just a few days earlier! We spent the first night near the airport, then we headed out on a road trip!!
We had a wonderful time and thankfully everything went very smoothly. The kids were great for all the driving we did! It was a great adventure for all of us as well as a opportunity to meet up with some of the Mexican migrant workers and meet their families

We visited quite a few different places where Wilf and his family had spent time in the past. In one city, we meet up with an old family friend and had a great visit with her.

Friday evening we arrived at the mission. Wilf's parents have a cozy apartment above the mission and it was wonderful for us to be there again! Wilf and I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico during the summers during our first years of marriage. We were in Mexico the summer Wilf's parents moved into this apartment. But we hadn't been for over six years, so it was great to see it all again!
Close to the mission are several large and beautiful parks. That is something we really miss in G.! We sure enjoyed strolling through the parks. :)

Another highlight of our trip was worshipping with the Christians in Tepic. There are some people we knew from six years back, but many new people to meet as well. Sunday they had a potluck lunch after the service and it was a great time of fellowship!
We were really encouraged and rejoiced to see the Lord's work in the believers there.
Last but not least, we were greatly blessed to spend time with Wilf's brother Rich, his wife Ange and their family. Rich and Ange have been working in Mexico for over nine years and have five beautiful children. Their children happen to be all the same ages as ours, so the kids had a marvelous time together! How I loved to see them playing together!
Rich and Ange were wonderful hosts and we were greatly blessed and encouraged as we spent many days in their lovely home.
This past Wednesday morning we headed home. It was a long and very tiring day. We left Rich and Ange's at 6 in the morning and arrived in G.C. after ten that night. With five young kids it was quite the day!!

Our adventure wasn't over when we reached the city. On Friday (after two cancelled appointments the day before :Z), Kristen finally got her cast off, and Wilf had dental surgery for a tooth infection. We finally made it home Saturday afternoon! We thank the Lord for His goodness to us! He protected and cared for us. He encouraged and strengthened our hearts.
Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray as we take up the work again.
"O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!"