Friday, July 23, 2010

San Miguel

Well, haven't posted in a couple of days. The power was out for a whole day and that knocked the internet out as well. Yesterday, Thursday, was a long day. We've had a great time of ministry this week in the Village of San Miguel. It's located about an hours drive out of Guatemala City.

The people are beautiful. We're working in the middle school in the village. Our main work has been doing vacation Bible School with the kids. The school has class till about 10:30 am and then they let us take over the class rooms and do Bible School. Some of the teachers have even participated. I don't have the final numbers but we've had around 100 decisions for Christ through the VBS.

Along with VBS we've been doing some construction projects at the school. We've been completing a kitchen that the school can use for meals. Right now they use a large propane stove that they keep in a storage room and then pull it out into the courtyard to use it. When we arrived the walls for the kitchen were up and we've added the roof, concrete floor, sidewalk and an outdoor sink for the kids. There is still some work to do, but another team is coming in next week to hopefully finish it up.

We've worked alongside of a Guatemalan construction crew. We've been mixing concrete by hand and hauling it by wheelbarrow and bucket. It's been hard work but very rewarding. We've also painted the school, cleaned the rooms a (including the bathroom which probably should have been condemned), and we built a block wall that will help secure the school in the off hours.

We've met so many wonderful people. The people of Guatemala are kind and generous people. I'll right more later, but we're soon to head out for our last day of ministry. We're doing VBS and a huge block party.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day One continued

Just a brief update on today's activities. We went to San Miguel for our first day of missions work. Our teams meshed wonderfully well. There are two guys from Union Baptist in Knoxville, 20 from Mt. Pisgah Baptist in Niota, and our group of 13. We also have interns who are working with the ministry (college students) and interpreters. There is about 40-45 involved, total.

We have morning devotions on our own. Pastor Gerald Perry gave each person a devotional guide to use for our morning quiet time. Some ladies from Mt. Pisgah do the cooking and we had a wonderful breakfast. We left the mission house around 8:30 am on a school bus. I can't describe the traffic and the roads we traveled on to get to the village of San Miguel, but my prayer life improves each time we go somewhere.

When we got to the village of San Miguel, school was still in session. They dismissed not long after we arrived. There are about 250 kids in this school; grades are 4th - 7th grade, but students ages vary. There are some children 11-12 years old that are in second grade. Many of the kids have to work to help the family survive so they only go to school when they can.

For VBS we divided them up by grades and sent them to different stations - some went to Bible Study, some to Crafts, some to music and some to recreation. After about 20 minutes they would rotate. During the Bible study today, the Gospel was presented and 34 kids made decisions for Christ. (PTL!) Tomorrow we will be presenting the Gospel during crafts as well.

Our folks are doing a great job with the kids. Some of them have really bonded with the little ones. During the morning a man came by selling cotton candy. He must have had 100 bags on a stick. Scott Hayes and Mike Percival from Union Baptist bought him out and they were a great hit with the kids after that. All-in-all things went exceptionally well. The interns and interpreters keep things running smoothly and everyone is getting along well.

Hopefully, next time I'll get to write about the afternoon work and the evening devotion and fellowship times, but sleep is calling for now.


The mission trip is going great. This morning's post was a little hurried so I wanted to catch up on a few things - but first the good news, we had 34 decisions for Christ during VBS this morning! Praise the Lord His great work. I'll share more about the activities of the day later.

Yesterday we spent most of the day in the city of Antigua. It is the oldest city in Guatemala and at one time was the religious and political capitol for all of Central America. It was the home base for Catholic Missions and was the capitol for Guatemala until the early 1970's. It's a beautiful city nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. At one time there were 38 catholic monasteries in operation in the city and the surrounding area. In the early 1700's sever floods damaged many of the churches. An earthquake in 1972 nearly destroyed the city and the capitol was moved to Guatemala City.

Antigua is a tourist city and we saw people of many nationalities. We spent most of our time in the open market in the city center. We would think of it almost as an upscale flea market. There were hundreds of merchants with beautiful products. You could purchase just about anything. They even had an open air meat market, but we didn't visit it. The people were very friendly and generous. We were warned about picpockets and we had a guide with each group, but we never felt unsafe.

Traveling to and from our destinations is a different story. There are not many "road rules". I've seen a few traffic signs but once you get out of the city, there are almost none. One phenomena that we've learned about is "painted trees". We noticed that many of trees in the countryside that were close to the road had white paint on them. We learned that the paint is reflective paint so that cars can see where the trees were at night.

Another phenomena is cattle along the side of the roads and the medians. Farmers tie their cattle to posts or trees alongside the roads to graze. Since most of the countryside is mountains, there is not a lot of places for cattle to graze.

I wanted to catch you up on some of the cultural stuff in this post. I'll update you more on ministry in later posts. Thanks again for the prayers.

On the Field

The Internet has been sporadic at best so I haven't been able to post. We arrived Saturday about 8:30 Guatemala time (10:30 Talbott time). When we arrived at the airport we soon discovered that most of our luggage did not come with us. Out of 26 bags, we had only 9. Fortunately most everyone had a change of clothes in their carry-on, so we survived. Luggage finally arrived Sunday; we got the last bag about 9 pm last night.

After breakfast yesterday (Sunday) we went to a mountain overlooking the city of Antigua. There is a giant cross, and that's where we had a worship service. We sang a couple of hymns and Mike gave a devotion from 1 Corinthians on using our spiritual gifts to serve the Lord.

After church we went to Antigua to get acclimated to the culture. We had lunch at McDonald's ( I know, right?). They have a little different food on their menu. They had Apple Pie, but they also had Pineapple Pie and fried Cheesecake. I'm planning to petition the American McDonald's for these wonderful treats!

After lunch we spent a few hours at the local city market improving the Guatemalan economy. The market was like an upscale flea market where you could bargain with the merchants. It was a great experience to interact with the people.

We had a great supper at a local restaurant called Las Palmas. Antigua is a tourist town so many of the resraunts were good for us to eat at.

We returned to the mission house and got our luggage organized. Mike Heffner led in devotion from 1 Corinthians 15. After a time of prayer we organized supplies and got ready for the next days work.

I'm posting this on Monday morning and hopefully I'll have some more to write after a day of VBS and construction in the Village of San Miguel. Thanks for your prayers.