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Let His will be done in Guatemala

Thursday
Mar222018

We at Bethel are off to a wonderful start this year. There has been much need seen, and much that has been met. We have had the pleasure of hosting quite a few mission teams this year already, and many lives have been changed, including those who have come down to be a blessing and those who were blessed. With these teams, we have been able to build 24 homes, give away 180 food bags to families with need, give over 600 wheelchairs to those who’s mobility depends on it, but most importantly have been able to share the love of God and His Word to all of these precious ones. 

One family whose home we built comes to mind. Her name is Filomena and she has seven children. The main reason this family sticks out is because they live in Tecpan, which can get very cold, especially during the first few months of the year. We were in Tecpan for a few days before we built Filomena’s home, doing home visits and stove installations. While we were there, a chilly 20 mph wind came along and made us really stop and think about those we were visiting and Filomena. If we could feel the chill and the biting wind coming through in a hotel that was well built, how much more were they feeling in structures made of scrap wood and plastic. We were all very excited when we got to build her home; and she no longer had to sleep with the wind, the rain, and the cold going through. Filomena’s oldest son ran up to Juanito at the end of the build and very excitedly said thanks for the bunk beds that were put in. He would not have to sleep on wooden planks on the ground again.

Time and time again we run into situations that make us remember how incredibly blessed we are just by having a house that protects us from the environment, a warm bed to sleep in at night, and food on the table every day. We can look at these families and count how many material blessings we have compared to them, but at the same time, many of these families could also give a mile long list of their blessings - which most often includes you. 

Thank you for being a blessing!

 

Warehouse/Clinic wall going up!

Sunday
Feb112018

Brad’s Final Thoughts-2018

The 2018 trip has come to a close.  It was a wonderful team and God did so many amazing things during the week.  A couple of the guys have written their closing thoughts.  This is my chance to wrap it up until next year.

I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who donated money this year.  Seventy-two individuals and families financially supported our projects.  I cannot thank you enough for helping us, for having confidence in our team and making each project a reality.  This is the 9th trip we have been on.  I always wonder if people will get tired of giving?  As trips like this mature, it is easy for people to stop giving.  I was so encouraged this year by the outpouring of support.  Every donation mattered.  From teenage girls giving money they have saved to businessmen sponsoring entire house projects; family members who have continued to believe in us, to women who knit stocking caps or go to stores to buy sheets and bedding.  You share in the success of this trip alongside our team.  Thank you!

One of my goals is to break the implications of generational poverty.  I believe this starts spiritually, educationally and matrimonially.  I want to explain this through three families we worked with.

Spiritual

First, change must start spiritually.   You may remember “Francisco”.  He was the 89-year old coffee picker.  He had the hands worn from a hard life that I will never be able to fully comprehend.  His generation is drawing to an end.  It was a generation scarred by civil war where estimates are that 83% of the 200,000 people who died were Mayan.  They had to work hard, and had little, to no education.  His daughter (Marta’s mom) is struggling to feed and shelter her daughters. Good jobs are impossible to find.  They find work anywhere they can.  She is caught between caring for her older father and trying to raise her young daughters.  Then, there’s little Marta.  At 7-years old, her life is just getting started.  She is on the path of lifelong poverty.  No education.  No father to lead and love her.  No one advocating for her future.  If you remember, the family has never been to church one day in their lives.  Francisco never went.  His daughter never had that modeled, so she didn’t see the need.  Now, Marta is living with their choices.  It could seem hopeless to many.  But, I see hope. 

Where can this hope come from?  It’s not coming from the government.  It’s coming from an Eternal Hope little Marta now knows of.  I watched the movie “Woodlawn” tonight with my girls.  It spoke of the fact that each life matters.  God’s love is for each one of us.  No matter our age, color or nationality, God’s love truly knows no borders.  His Love is unlimited.  His Love provides a hope that can never be extinguished.  We visited their house to install a stove.  We left them with more than something better to cook their food with.  We left them with a love and peace that transcends all understanding.  Francisco’s hands are scarred by years of picking coffee beans.  Jesus Christ’s hands are scarred by nails that were meant for you and me.  He took the blame.  He took the punishment.  With His words in the beginning, He spoke all things into existence.  With His last earthly breath, He said, “It is finished”.  The price has been paid.  There is now no condemnation for those who call on His Name.  By God’s Grace, little Marta’s destiny has changed.  Not just for this life, but the life to come!

Education

Many children in America dread going to school.  If given the chance, many would probably stop going all together.  In Guatemala, education is a dream that seems so elusive.  While going to school is technically “free” in Guatemala, it is anything but that in reality.  The schools say you need a uniform, black shoes and a backpack.  If a family has to choose between food and school, school loses all the time.  If money is there, most of the time they would choose to send the son.  Opportunities for girls to get a good education are slim.  They typically have to go work in the fields to feed their families and send their brothers to school.  So, when we come across girls like Dorcas or Ingrid, we are passionate about helping them get into school.  Dorcas is a sweet young girl who has a mom that wants her to get a good education.  She just doesn’t have the money.  So, her older sister is working in the fields to help send her to school.  We need help with getting Dorcas sponsored in school.  For $50 a month, you will change her life, and that of her family.  I won’t try to relate this to the cost of a good meal or coffee here at home.  The simple truth is that there is someone reading this blog who can sponsor Dorcas or another girl like her (read about Ingrid) for the years ahead.  This will give her hope and possibility.

Marriage

One of the most heart-breaking aspects we come across is the lack of male role models in the families we work with.  Because life is hard, often times men will begin a family, but when difficult times hit (and they always do), the men often begin drinking and ultimately abandon the family.  They lose hope in providing, so they do the only thing they feel they can…run away.  It’s a vicious cycle.  They run to another woman and begin the whole thing again.  This isn’t only a Guatemalan problem, but around the world.  Men have lost the importance God has placed on their role in the home.  But, we have been blessed over time to work with several families where the man is still in the home.  And, while that is so encouraging, there is still a problem.  I’ve described the idea of “Oneness” before.  A man and woman love each other, but they cannot afford to buy the marriage certificate and throw the fiesta that will follow.  So, they simply live together and have children.  While I applaud the fact they are staying together, this is not the way God designed it to work.  It’s supposed to be one man and one woman in a lifelong marriage.  They are not just entering into a covenant with each other, but with God as well.  We all know that until real commitment is made in business or anything else, there is always room to leave.  Would you form a business partnership without signing a contract?  Would you begin paying for the mortgage on your new house if you didn’t have a contract that says it’s yours?  No one would.  So, why would we expect someone to stick with a relationship through good times and bad, sickness and health without true commitment?  We came across Felipe and Anastasia who were in this spot.  They wanted to get married, but couldn’t afford to pay for it.  If done the way they would culturally be expected, it would cost around $300 US dollars.  That’s about 150 days wages for many Guatemalans.  We are helping Felipe and Anastasia get married.  This will not only have positive implications on their own relationship, but I believe the future of their children and the choices they will make.

I love being able to go to Guatemala and see lives changed in many ways.  It is so refreshing to go into someone’s home, have an open discussion about what their challenges are in life and through your financial help and God’s Grace, help fix their problems.  They know they need help.  They are not afraid to talk about it and have you pray for their families.  They know this help is coming from God, and they are truly thankful.  How about your home?

The challenge for all the men on the team is to come home with our hearts broken by the pain and suffering we witness and make a difference here in our own homes and communities.  To dive into the lives of those around us and with God’s help, see lives and circumstances changed.  We were not meant to live life on our own.  We were meant for fellowship.  Fellowship with one another and with God.

If any of this stirs your heart and you would love to discuss any of it with me, please let me know.  If you have pain and hardship in your home or marriage and have no idea where to turn, I would love to introduce you to the “One” who can work miracles.  If you feel God is calling you to help financially by sponsoring someone’s education, please reach out as well.  These kids deserve a chance.  Please help make education a reality for these girls.

I also want to thank Chris, Ben and Emily Mooney.  It was a great week with you and I am already looking forward to next year.  Your ministry is a blessing to my life, and I thank you for your friendship.

To all who are reading this, thank you for your trust and thank you for your love.  Until next year, Dios te Bendiga.


Sunday
Jan142018

Partnering together to bless!

Therapist students and professionals partner together with Joni and Friends and Bethel Ministries to meet the need and share love in Guatemala. A team memeber with photography talent created and shared this video with us. Enjoy! What a great week!

 

Wednesday
Dec272017

Carrying His Hope!

Dear Family and Friends - as we always address you, because you are - Family and Friends!

2017 is coming to an end, and we want to end it with a note of thanksgiving. It has been a good year, hard at times, but good. There’s something that always happens to us at the end of the year. We look back and can only see one thing, the faithfulness of God, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those that were touched by Him this year. He brought many people close to Him, because He loves them. 
One of my favorite scriptures says that it is not by power, nor by might, but by My Spirit says the Lord. It is our prayer here in Bethel that this will always be the reality, that we will always trust and find rest in His goodness. 

We also want to thank you for your faithfulness to His calling on your life.  It has always been our desire to see people walk out their life in God by faith.  Thank you for every wheelchair given, for every food bag and article of clothing that brought relief and joy, for school supplies that enabled, and medical supplies that brought healing. For as you did this to the least of these, you did it to Him. 

So as we end this year, let us all find ourselves in a place of thankfulness and a place of rejoicing before Him. And let us go into the year of 2018 carrying His hope. 

Hoping you enjoyed a very 
 Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
With all our love and sincere appreciation,
Chris, Donna and the Bethel team

Wednesday
Aug092017

Exciting news to share!


We are breaking ground! Starting last week, we were able to bring in the machine to begin preparing the land for the medical clinic and warehouse. It is extremely exciting to be moving forward with this project, and we thank every one of you who has donated or prayed for this day.

While this is exciting, there are many other things that have been happening this summer filled with blessing. Many have given their lives to Christ. Below are a few stories that we’d like to share. 

 Isaias is a single dad raising two teenage daughters: Saida who is 15 and studied through second grade, and Damaras who is 14 and in fifth grade. Isaias rents and tends a field to grow corn.  Bethel visited this family at the beginning of July. Two weeks prior to our visit, Isaias had been encouraging his daughters to accept Christ into their lives. The girls were  unsure, but at the same time they had been having dreams that we would return to their house again. Sure enough, Chris came to visit with a team from Iowa. He walked through the door and asked if the girls had been baptized. They said they had not and made the decision to give their lives to Christ that day! They were baptized at Pastor Juanito’s church two weeks later. Throughout the rest of the week, there were several more who decided to give their lives to Christ and be baptized as well.

One of the young ladies that was baptized is someone we have known for several years. From the heart of a great friend and mission team member, Brad Clark shares:

Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”.  This side of Heaven, we may never fully see how God is moving in each of our lives, and those around us.  But, there are times God graciously gives us glimpses how He makes all things work for our good, and His glory.  In 2009, during my first trip to volunteer with Bethel, we built a home in Tecpan for a woman named Blanca.  Our team spent two days working “around” Blanca’s family, but we truly had no idea what God had been doing through many years, and much heartache in her life to bring her to this moment.  It wasn’t until the home dedication that we heard her full story.  While space does not permit me to share the whole story, needless to say, only a loving, all-knowing, gracious God could orchestrate all the events of so many lives to get us there that day.  There was so much joy that day for everyone involved.  That day changed my life in so many ways.  It made me realize I never wanted to miss what God was doing around me.  I want to look for it in everything I do.  It also showed me that whatever we think God is doing on a mission trip to Guatemala, it is actually so much more.  Blanca’s story would not end that day.

In all of the years we have returned to work in Tecpan, we would always visit Blanca and her family.  We wanted to continue to invest in their lives. Over those years, we saw Blanca’s family struggle.  Life is hard there.  Finding work, feeding her children…holding it all together! Bethel continued to help through love and sponsorship.  All of us prayed for them.  We knew as Isaiah continued to say in 55:10-11, that as the rain would come down from Heaven and accomplish its purpose, God’s Word will accomplish His purpose, and achieve what He intended.  God’s grace and redemptive power exceeds our capacity to understand.  Where we see brokenness, He sees opportunity.  To do what only He can do…save the lost and heal the brokenhearted. One of her daughters got married several years ago at a young age.  My heart sank when I heard the news.  I was concerned the cycle of brokenness would continue.  The young man seemed very nice, but I asked myself, “Lord, how would this end up?”  Chris recently shared the joy that has come to Blanca’s home.  God used the son-in-law I was concerned about, to bring the family back together again.  Blanca’s daughter recently gave her heart to Jesus.  In front of the church family, she was baptized.  Praise the Lord! 

Was this the outcome we had all prayed for?  Yes.  Did it happen the way we envisioned it?  Absolutely not!  Amazingly…this was even better.  More hearts were changed.  More glory has been given to God.  My prayer is that all of us look for how God is working in our lives and those around us.  He is the God of miracles! 

We’re certain that the angels were having a grand party those first couple of weeks in July, with more then 65 people giving their lives to Christ.

Many houses have been built these last few months, but there are always a few that touch our hearts to the core.  Glenda, Leidy, and Luisa are three sisters who are living on their own in Cuyotenango. Glenda is 16 and has been taking care of Leidy (14) and Luisa (13) since their mother died six years ago from tuberculosis. Their father lives and works as a security guard in Guatemala City, about four hours away. He sends the girls a little money every month for food and school: visiting them every few months. Except for this minimal support from their father, the girls are basically on their own. They were living in a run down house of rusted sheet metal and plastic that let water pour in during rainy nights. This last July, though, we were able to build them a house and a bathroom with the help of a team from Kentucky. It was beautiful to see Glenda, the oldest, break down in tears as a weight was lifted off of her shoulders because she and her sisters finally had a functioning roof over their heads. 


What a month! We have closed out July, and are heading into August with eyes and hearts wide open, ready to see what God will be doing in the upcoming weeks.

 Thank you dear friends for the wonderful enabling part you play; we appreciate you!

Love in Jesus,

Chris, Donna and the Bethel team