Sunday was a day fill with a mix of things to do as well as a day filled with mixed emotions.
After a great breakfast we spent time in personal devotions, updating our blogs, sorting tools, fellowshiping with one another and packing our bags for the the return home. Around 10:30 we left for the market place in Antigua to do some shopping. It was fun to what we called “dutch down” the vendors in price. They would start out at list price, we would offer them around half of that and eventually meet somewhere between the two amounts. Everyone was able to pick up a few souveniors to take home with them. We came back to the base later in the afternoon and spent time playing cards, relaxing and fellowshiping with each other.
Later in the evening we came together for our final devotions. We sang songs of praise to our Lord, spent time in His living word, talked about the God sightings over the past week and shared events that had an impact on us. Feelings of joy and happiness to sadness and fear were shared from the hearts of many in the group. The questions that was asked is how has this past week changed us. Will we become “normalized” when we return home or with all that we experienced this past week change us? Will we work for Jesus or with Jesus? Finally we spent time pondering if there was anything holding us back from having a deeper relationship with our Savior. This devotion was powerful and moving as the Holy Spirit was present and active.
Guatemala is a wonderful place, the people are very kind and the scenery is breath taking. A big thanks for Dan & Heidi and the staff of Paradise Bound for the work and time they spend taking in groups to do the work of the Lord.
Today we had long drive to our next clinic. We had a brief devotion of singing and sharing of God sightings. Every day they are becoming more visible…..so we had a lot to share today. We headed out at 10:30 to start our 4 hour drive to a very remote village. Luckily the majority of the drive was on a fairly nice highway….except for the last few miles. This road can only be described as incredible. Up steep hills and extremely rocky terrane. This village was closer to the coast and a lower elevation (our base is at 6000 ft.) After setting up, similar to the Day 4 clinic, the people started filing in. Through the night, close to 300 people came through the line in need of medication and vitamins. Dan Smith commented that this village was on of the most needy visits he encountered with more medication being distributed than vitamins. A group of us also were involved with the kids that came. We were busy with soccer, nail painting and just general play time. (see the pictures tab). At the same time, the Hermano Jesus was setting up his equipment for the Jesus film and his message. One difference this time around was that these people are of a Catholic background with many other rules and interpretations acquired from over the years. Bringing the word about a loving and forgiving God who wants to bring us to a personal relationship with Him may not go over well. Hermano Jesus felt that nerviousness going into this also. We all prayed on the way there and also individually/collectively with Hermano Jesus to help prepare him for presenting God’s message to them. The energy in the air was like that of a prize fight between good and evil. Our Lord prevailed again! Hermano Jesus delivered a powerful message and our group shared 5 testimonials (this time we were almost fighting for the microphone to share testimonies). Along with tears and hugs, more than a dozen people stepped forward to commit or recommit their life to Jesus Christ! Our God is awesome! New Testiments were distributed and individual prayers of healing were given. Once we loaded the vans to leave, a group from there village escorted us out down the very rocky road, making sure that we didn’t encounter any problems. Even though we didn’t speak their language, I truly feel we made friends this night. We left at approximately 10:30 pm and made it back just before 1 am.
First things first. Thank you God for answering the prayers of many. Pastor Tim woke up feeling well enough to join us in all of the days activities. And thank you to everyone that lifted Tim up in prayer. After breakfast and personal devotion we gathered together to sing songs and spend time in God’s word, John 21: 15-17. We discussed the type of love that Jesus has for us. Dan then challenged each of us to look at the love we have for Jesus. This helped us prepare our hearts and minds for the day ahead. We then filled medical supplies, medication, vitamins, beans, rice, toys and bibles for the village we would be setting up the medical clinic. After a great lunch at the base we headed out to the village. We arrived to what appeared to be a 4 or 5 room school. We set up the medical clinic in one of the rooms and it didn’t take long for local families to start showing up. Nine people from our team worked in the clinic and the rest us interacted with the adults and children. We played soccer, colored pictures, threw frisbee’s, painted nails and braided hair. We then showed the Jesus film and a message was preached. Then the invite was given to anyone who felt called to commit their life to Jesus. More than a dozen came forward and probably for the first time in their life ask Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior. Words can’t describe how powerful and moving it was to be apart of this life changing event. The Holy Spirit was working in the lives of many in this village well be for we arrived today. Thanks be to God for transforming the hearts, minds and souls of those who seek Him. Praise the Lord!
We were up again at the usual time to finish the houses and presenting them to the families. Dan Smith did warn us that things will go on today to distract from the God sightings for this dedication day. This was confirmed quickly when Pastor Tim came down ill overnight and couldn’t make today’s trip. The weather was beautiful with clear views of much more than we could see in previous days. After our 2 hour drive, we started on final sanding of the dry wall, then painting of the interior. At the same time another crew from our group was finishing the roofing on the houses. Each of the houses were personalized with scripture and colors as a gift to the families. Once lunch was over, suit cases of gifts were brought to the houses, to be presented to the new home owners during the dedications. During the dedications, the houses were bathed in prayer as Pastor Hermano Jesus and Dan Smith presented the gospel to the families. It was the highlight of the week by far! Seeing tears of those accepting Christ, hugs of gratitude and even a foot washing from a team member will undoubtedly be etched in our memory for life! During devotions tonight, Dan again challenged us…this time by asking “…if we could devote 3 days to these families, building relationships and seeing them receive the gospel, would you (we) be willing to do that to others that we know in our life?”.
5:30 came too quick this morning…..but we made it on the road before much of the traffic, which made for a much nicer ride. Today we started on the second coat of mud on the walls, then the real fun started. All 3 houses needed to be covered with a coat of stucco, lots of red stucco. This is where all involved were covered in red paste by the time it was completed. Lunch today was rice and beans (yesterday was beans and rice…). This actually is very good! Throughout the day, the kids were following us, learning our names and becoming more comfortable with the visitors in their neighborhood. The afternoon included assembling and attaching a porch on the front of each house. We didn’t enjoy the cloud cover like the day before, so it was very hot…at least to work in. Once we were back on the base, we had another wonderful dinner and devotion time led by Dan. He’s been challenging us on familiar bible stories, revisiting them and asking “What’s really going on here?”. Today we have been challenged with the question “Are you working for Christ or with Christ?”.
Where to start? Here we go. Up at 5:30 and on the road at 6:45. Two hour drive to the most remote village I could ever imagine. Very scenic, beautiful country with mountains as far as could be seen. Two 4-wheel drive vans packed with our group and tools. Once at the site we broke into three groups. Each group will build a home in three days. Today we built the walls, hung the drywall and applied the first coat of mud and we hung the cement board on the exterior. It was a long day as we finally arrived back to the base at 7:00. It was a very rewarding day as we established some relationships with the families we are building the homes for. Tonight in our devotions the question was asked where did we see God. As I sit here I wonder if we should re-phrase that question to “Where did we not see God”. He was everywhere we were today. From the beautiful country to the look in the eye’s of the little children in the village as we passed out candy. For thoses of you that have been here before, you know what I’m talking about. God is Great and worthy to be praised!
Watch here for updates and pictures from Team Vriesland January 31-February 7, 2011.