Monday, 14 July 2014

Day 8/9

Yesterday morning started off a little bit later than the rest of the mornings. We got to sleep in! (About 15 minutes) After breakfast, we went to the morning church service at the school in Chamche. It was a lively service filled with uplifting worship and prayer. The sermon was on Matthew 11:28-30, which speaks of us picking up God's yoke and working and learning with Him, and receiving rest during our weary/trying times. This sermon came at a very good time for us, as we are near the end of our trip, and getting ready to continue our respective and collective journeys back home. The Hermano (Brother) that shared the sermon with us connected the passage to a young bull representing us living our lives before we give our lives to Christ, and being distracted by various things in the world and not wanting to work because he is being distracted by the cows in the next field over. The young bull is castrated to remove his impulses due to hormones and becomes an ox, ready to learn the ways of a working oxen. The young ox is put into a yoke with the older, more experienced ox to learn how to work. At first, the young ox tries to get out of the yoke by moving one way, and the farmer pokes the ox to get it back in line. The ox stays in line for a little while and then moves off course again, and requires continued guidance to get back into the right direction until it figures out that he needs to stay on course. The quicker the young ox finishes his work, the quicker he is able to go into the pasture and rest. We are like that young ox. Jesus calls us to walk along side him in His yoke. When we accept His invitation, and give up our selfish desires, we start on the path with Jesus. We are wild at first and keep going off course. We get prodded back onto the right course, and eventually we figure it out and we stay on course and walk with Jesus, who gives us hope and peace.

After a hamburger lunch at a restaurant close to the guesthouse, we went to do some more home visits of our new sponsor children from the Purulha and the Vida Nueva schools. These were children that people on the team decided to sponsor while we were here in Guatemala. There were eight children in total, so we split up into two groups to go to the two communities. Amongst all the homes we visited, there was a large range of living conditions; from houses with brick walls, cement floors, and tin roofs to houses with wooden walls, dirt floors, tin roofs, and no doors. Through this experience we realized how joyful and thankful they were for  the small gifts that we give them and how unsatisfied we are with what we have, and how spiritually lacking we are compared to the faith that they have.

We ended our day with a team debrief with Les. We shared a "feeling word" and experience from our week the stuck out to each of us. We ended our meeting with a time of prayer in small groups.

This morning we started off our road trip to Antigua by stopping at the school in Purulha, where we did our VBS, and joined the morning devotion. We were able to have a final goodbye with our kids at the school. At the end of the devotional, all the kids gathered around us to pray, and gave us handmade flowers and lots of hugs. Then we piled into the vans and started our four hour drive to Antigua. we continued our day with a walk to a coffee shop-Fernando's and  finished our day with dinner and a short walking tour of Antigua.

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
            ~Matthew 11:28-30

Dios te bendiga,
Devon, Keli, Angela

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Day 7

Today was the day that we woke up at 7:15 which was the latest we have woken up all trip! With a good night sleep and some pancakes in our stomachs, we headed out at 8:30 to make our way to the Tactic Market, after hearing the rules for the scavenger hunt. Given a list, 100 quetzal, and two hours, we traveled in groups through the streets of Guatemala. At 11:00, we come back to the guest house and reviewed what we all got from our journey. Then we had lunch, which included meat and fries and banana bread. following that, we gathered all our donations and traveled to the hospital in Coban to hand out care packages, Bibles and to pray for the people there. It was a very powerful trip! Before we went in, Oscar told us some stories about people in the hospital and people who had been turned away because of things that would have taken a few hours to fix in Canada. such as pneumonia and appendicitis. It broke my heart. Fortunately, as we moved to the maternity wing, we went in to see the premature babies. Two years ago, some of the babies were able to be held by the missionaries because they had been abandoned. I have never been so happy to not hold a baby in my life. There were no abandoned children! When we had finished, we slowly made our way back to the Guesthouse. But we wondered what was going on when we passed it and continued into the city. We turned around, and slowly swerved our way back to the guest house. When we pulled up, I saw, out of the front of the window, balloons and streamers. As we got out, we sang happy birthday to Roswitha as a string of firecrackers went off! She walked into the entrance of the guest house and the caretakers, Hugo and Claudia and Oliver and Julie, said “Happy Birthday Roswitha!”  Then out of nowhere music started, and as we looked for the source we spotted three men standing behind a big version of what looked like a xylophone, a Marimba! They played for a good hour, maybe two, and as they played we had a fabulous dinner with more ribs and rice and salad and hot pineapple juice followed by cake. To end off the day, we went upstairs to debrief what had happened in the past 3 days. Both Les and Rita came to talk with, and challenge, us before we head to bed. 

  • Courtney

Friday, 11 July 2014

Day 6

Day 6 - Tactic

Blessings from Guatemala. We started our day a bit earlier than the others, we started with some worship and devotion time. We then joined the others for a delicious breakfast, made again by our gracious hosts.

We as usual are shoved quickly into the vans and sped off to our morning activity, which today was a ancient mayan sink hole. It is still used in the present day by witch doctors for rituals for the local people. It is a hard but short hike up to site of the sink hole, while at the top Oscar our guide gave an inspiring lecture about the history of the sink hole and power it had and how the people used it for all sorts of life problems. The amazing part of his lecture is, since impact ministries has built a christian  school along the road to the sinkhole all the local witch doctors have been saying that this place is losing its power and very few people use it anymore. In the architecture of the school they placed the windows of the chapel specifically on the road side, so when people use the road they can hear gods praises up and down it. As we descended into the sink hole you could feel the damp and smell the smoke from fires and candles in the air, you could feel the darkness of this place. When we were all at the bottom we were encouraged to open our hearts and let God shine his light through us, we sang praises to God and prayed together. We then took time to go alone and pray over the sink hole and have the Lord work through us to undo the dark power in this place. When we regathered from our time some among us shared that they had accepted christ in this time. We rejoiced together for these among us, there was also sharing of hardships and trails. We gathered and prayed together for all among us. This was a very exciting time, we really came together as to team to uphold one another.  We then accended out of the pit with feelings that the lord works in amazing ways, even when such a place have such a dark history. God has overcome the darkness.

From the sinkhole we came back to the guesthouse and ate some lunch. It was amazing as usually.
Straight from lunch we headed straight back out to the school to do our last day in VBS. It was hard thinking of this as our last day together I didn't want it to end, The children are so amazing and loving it is so easy to be around them. Well once you get out of the van there are usually 2 or 3 hanging off of you or pulling you to come and play with them. We started with songs of worship, the kids love the actions and are always dancing and clapping. we then moved into the study it started with a drama called sin chair, which taught the children how we can get stuck on sin but through christ we can be free from it once again. Our memory verse was next which today was John 3:16.  Raquel and the children had a lot of putting all the words in the right order even the children's teachers got involved. it was a lot of fun. The final craft together was a bracelet with six different colour beads representing salvation. The kids loved that we all had something that could match, and i was glad i could have something everyday top remind me of them. Game time is always a blast, we pulled the parachute out today and the kids absolutely couldn't get enough of it and we also played blob tag. a lot of fun. We finished our VBS firstly with the kids favourite song, one with lots of actions and dancing of course, and then we asked them to gather in the middle and we prayed for them, to my surprise they then insisted of praying for us. Kids with such  faith is inspiring, it brought tears to my eyes. We finished off the whole event with a massive hug line leaving the chapel. You can never have too many hugs in one day.

We then came back to the guest house and got ready for the much anticipated game of soccer against the teachers of the school where we worked. We first met at the school for some fellowship time where we played games and hung out, was a lot of fun and learned some new games. They also prepared dinner for us and we shared the meal together. After eating we headed over the local soccer field and the ladies started off the matches. I want to go through play by play for you all, but that would take far too long. After a long and well played game the Guatemalan woman came out on top by a goal. Then the mens game began we played 5 on 5 with goalie, man was it a good game everyone was playing great. After a tie in regular time we moved into a 20min ext time. It was such a close game, The Guatemalan's again came out on top. Giving us the chance to redeem ourselves we moved into penalty kicks. we moved all the way to the 8th kick when they finally got ahead. It was a great game played with lots of heart. We appreciate the opportunity to play with our brothers from here. It was back to the guesthouse and to bed after that.

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Ben Cornelsen

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Day 5

Day 5 - Tactic

Today we woke up somewhat later than what we normally we woke up to but nonetheless it was still pretty early. We started our day off with another delicious breakfast made by our caretakers at this guesthouse Claudia and Hugo and then we headed out for our day. 

It began with us going and visiting some child sponsors that are connected to our group and I learned that in Guatemala people show up unannounced to others houses because it shows genuine interest in the company of the hosts rather than being invited and generously accepting. Each host was so kind to us, offering us almost anything to make us comfortable in their home. The first home we visited was a small girl named Elvi who is sponsored by Emily's aunt. She goes to one of the christian schools in the area that was built by Impact Ministries and she lived with her cousins and aunts because when her dad left they did not have a home. It is amazing to see the amount of faith that these children have in the Lord regardless of the troubles they have and almost every kid you see is like that. After that, we went to another house with another kid where the mom ran a store inside her house. Most people in this city, I am not sure if all of Guatemala, who run a store run it in the front room of the store and out the front windows so that the mothers can stay at home but still have a job. She offered us some delicious blueberry popsicles before we left to do our children's ministry in Purulha.

We always start with worship singing, prayer and then a memory verse for the kids. We then go into groups of 10 and do a craft that goes with the memory verse. The first day we did "God loves me" and then filled a paper heart we created with strips of paper saying "God loves me because..." and we filled it in. Today we created a person on a piece of paper made of a bandaid, googley eyes and crayons, one of the girls drew me and showed her friends where they all laughed, I think they were making fun of me. The kids are always laughing and smiling and it always makes me smile to see them sing with all their heart and how tightly they hug you and don't let go, and you don't want to let go either. They are all so energetic and enthusiastic when it comes to the activity, it seems like everyone is enjoying it and the activities we do are always enjoyable. The kids are amazing and I am sad that tomorrow is the last day we get to see them because I would love to do this all summer. 

After that we went to a cell group where they had a special Evangelism night where our group performed some songs and a drama skit. Courtney, Ben, Devon, Raquel, Keli and Jordi all did such an amazing act, although it had no words it had a very powerful message. 

Today felt like a long day, but looking back it went by in a flash. I am excited for another day tomorrow, for more home visits and the last day of VBS, God has shown me more than expected so far and we are only have way through our trip.

-Mark Goertzen

Day 4

Day 4 - Tactic

We awoke to another gorgeous morning here in Tactic. Clouds misted over the peaks of the mountains and musky air filled our lungs. The beauty of this land is so overwhelming, I spend most of our bus rides gazing out the window in awe of God's artistry.

Our first stop was Chixim (shi-sheem) Cathedral at a high place overlooking the village. Chixim is the corn god originally worshiped by the Myans. When the Spanish landed in Guatemala they immersed the people in Catholicism but not in a way we would expect. They believe that as long as someone complete's their 7 sacraments they get into heaven. It does not matter if you even know what you are doing or what other religions one partakes in. I know that for me, the atmosphere in the cathedral was extremely heavy and it was difficult to find how Jesus was present in such a situation as this. Our spirits lifted though after we prayed as a group about who Jesus is to us.

Today was the first day of our VBS program for the kids at the school in Purulha. Before we began out prepared program they had a special welcome for us. The gates to the school opened and as our vans entered the kids cheered at the top go their lungs and bombarded the air with firecrackers. Everyone was instantly awakened by the excitement and many of us were overwhelmed to the point of tears. They had made a sign with our names on them for each of us and entering the chapel they welcomed us with a chorus of popping balloons. I can't express how blown away all of us were. This welcome was so unexpected and any sense of exhaustion we had was thrown out the window. Passion and love for the Lord was evident once again in the kid's uproarious singing. Then came the time when the kindergarteners and other younger grades came to pray for us. I had three kids come over and smother me with hugs and they would not let go. As the leader of the worship time prayed I could here them whispering their own prayers for me and once again, I was brought to tears. I buried my face in their embrace and breathed in their scent of smoke and musk. We were then split into different classes to meet the kids, play games, and be prayed for once again.

After lunch it was our turn to welcome the kids into the chapel and begin our program. Everything went extremely well. They were all open to participate in every game, listened with admiration to  our skits and Bible stories, and where gracious in our inability to adequately explain the craft to them in a language they could understand. Many relationships were formed between specific team members and kids and all of our faces, both kids and team, were vibrant with grins as the afternoon came to an end.

We experienced out first cultural activity tonight. The secretary of the school in Purulha, Evelyn, graciously invited us into her mother's home to teach us how to cook a traditional Central American meal. I'm not sure what it was called but we made deep fried corn dough stuffed with cheese and topped with a cabbage salad, tomato sauce and a chili salsa. We were all so blessed by Evelyn and her story and so thankful for her mother's willingness to have such a large crowd over.

Our evening definitely ended on a good note, our hearts and stomachs full, ready to rest and be blesses by another day spent with the kids here in Tactic.

-Emily Plett

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Day 3 - Tactic

We all woke up energized and ready to see what God had in store for us.  The Sun shone brightly into the new guest house that we were all staying in as we shuffled into a group to pray for our breakfast.   It  is amazing to see how our team works together to make sure that we are all ready to go by 7:15am.  Dishes clean, bags packed and we piled into the two Impact Ministry vans about to embark on our first day in Tactic.

Our destination?  Impact Ministries school founded by Les and Rita Peters.

This beautiful blue oasis shines like a beacon of hope for the people of this town.  Parents or guardians can send their kids to a place that they know they will be safe, fed and educated.  The children there saw us, smiled and some even came to to grab our hands.  We were taken directly into the main hall and sat in the back with translators placed into our ears.

Like a wave of blue water, the 250+ students in their blue sweaters flowed into the hall, quickly filling up the seats.  There was a small introduction and then the miracle happened...  they all started to sing.   Their music filled the hall with such passion and grace.  Many in our team began to cry with tears of joy as they were swept into the music and the presence of God with these children.   Les Peters was translating the music for us all, but in a way, we didn't need to hear the translation as the music and song transcended language.

It is a miracle to think that this small town in Guatemala has embraced the Lord.

As if the song and music wasn't enough, we were guided out of the hall when it was done and we all dropped to our knees as the entire procession of youth came and embraced us each.  Over 250 young boys and girls looked us in the eyes with a big smile and hugged each one of the team.

More tears flowed.

We were now greased up with love.  Perfect tools to do the Lords work back at the compound.   It was a work day after all.  The team fell quickly into their jobs without even being told what to do.  It was as if God was guiding our hands to lift concrete blocks into place and shovel gravel into wheel barrows.  Hard work...made easier by hearts lifted by the grace of God.  It also helped that Germany won against Brazil.

By the end of the day, we were spiritually and physically exhausted.  Our beds called to us.  We slept peacefully and dreamt beautiful dreams.

-Mark Kinskofer

Monday, 7 July 2014

Day 1 & 2

Day 1 & 2

Well, yesterday was a FULL day of travel that started with us meeting at YVR at 3:30am.  The day was largely uneventful in terms of travel.  Everything went smoothly as we hoped, and we arrived on time to the welcoming smiles of Les & Oscar of Impact Ministries.  

We spent the 1st night at SETECA, a large seminary in Guatemala City, and again, it was largely uneventful... ...until about 5:30am when a few of us were wakened by a little bit shaking.  Turns out there was an earthquake up in Mexico, and the tremors were somewhat noticeable to us.  Nothing alarming though, and certainly not outside of something we experience in Vancouver sometime.  

The morning brought us our first real taste of Guatemala - literally - as we enjoyed and excellent breakfast at the seminary of: Salsa, eggs, black beans, and some type of drink that no one knows what it was - tasted good though. :-) 

Les brought us to the Central Park in Guatemala city for the morning.  We had a chance to enjoy some of the architecture, accompanied by Les' stories of history, politics, and the Spiritual movements that have occurred within Guatemala's history.  He did a great job of helping fill in the context of people we'd be serving and relating with during our time here. 

After a long drive, we finally arrived at the Guesthouse here in Tactic.  It's a beautiful place to stay, and it was especially fun to experience for those of us who got to work on it last time we were here.  The courtyard that we spent digging out and re-filling with topsoil last time is now a beautiful garden area!  What a joy to see all the changes here, and to see what has developed on top of the small bit of work we did here.  

At our orientation meeting this evening, we were also blessed when Oscar presented us each with a specially made plaque, bracelet, and pen, that had been personalized for each one of us by some of the kids here.  As it turns out, in addition to all of you, 150 kids in one of their schools has been praying for us as a team!  What a blessing and a joy to come and relate and serve with our brothers & sisters here.  

Tomorrow is an early morning, and a full day of working hard on a new wood shop they are building.  

Thanks for your prayers for all of us and for the ministry of Impact.  

good night. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Heading out soon!

Hi Again Friends

Well, we're getting down to the wire here and about to head down to Tactic, Guatemala, again with Impact Ministries.  There are 21 of us heading down, and we'll be serving together in Children's Ministry, hard labour, and sharing in an evangelism service with one of the local churches.

We will again be posting blogs here, hopefully for most days, about all the activities and adventures we'll be up to.

Please hold us in your prayers as we serve and relate with the folks in Guatemala.