Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 2011 Newsletter

Just the Beginning

This last week was our two year anniversary of being here in Guatemala! We can't believe it's already been two years! It's been amazing to see all God has done in these past two years, we can look back and see how incredibly blessed we have been. Both here in the ministry and in the change God has done in us personally, and we know it's only just the beginning! There is so much we wouldn't have chosen to go through, but looking back we are amazed that those things, are what have changed us the most. We are also humbled that our thoughts of what God sees as important in ministry, have been so simplified. We have been blessed to see His heart of love for the people here, and we see more and more how all He wants is for us to be tools in drawing people closer to Him.

The Shoe Factory

The shoe factory is thriving, we've been able to give away hundreds of pairs of shoes to children in need. And just recently Family Christian Stores, who have become more and more involved in what God's doing here in Chichi, are now selling our shoes in several of their stores! It's been great progress for us, we've been able to provide more jobs in our local community and fund the giving away of more shoes!

Progress on the Girls Home

The girl's home is now painted, and basically furnished (I've included a picture of the finished product!), in fact last week we started a fire in the fireplace and had the first group have a time of sharing and prayer there. We are looking forward to completing the licensing, so we can open the doors to welcome that first girl! We have been in communication with Bethany Christian Services, who have offered to help us with professional staff as well as programs to help give these precious girls the tools they're going to need to lead whole, healthy lives.

A New Project

We've also recently started a new program, which has been something Andrew has been wanting to do since we've been here. It is now an option for the groups, that come here to serve, alongside the usual building of widow homes, to install very efficient wood cook stoves. We've been going back to the widow homes that are already built and installing these stoves, with great success and much positive feedback. It has, thus far, been an amazing project and the benefits of these stoves are economic, a widow will spend a large portion of her income on firewood (to heat the house, as well as to cook food). With this stove she will use 60% less wood per month. They also have health benefits, according to the medical community here in Guatemala, one of the major causes of the high percentage of upper respiratory problems, as well as cataracts, is the very poor ventilation of the typical stoves. These new stoves are well ventilated, therefore help to prevent these problems. Another benefit is that here in the mountains of Guatemala, about 9 months of the year, it can be both cold and damp, with this stove these widows will be able to heat their homes without the worry of not having enough money for other essential needs. Lastly we also get the opportunity to go back into these widows homes and once again share with them the love of Jesus and be a tool for the Lord to use to share His message of hope.

Our Staff

Andrew and I's main focus these past two years, besides all these wonderful projects, have been our amazing staff. We have had the God ordained opportunity to be involved in the many lives of the people who we work side by side with every day. That has been our greatest victory, to see them walking closer with the Lord and having more peace in their lives. To have the relationships where they have welcomed us into not only their work lives, but personal lives as well, to be a part of their joys as well as struggles. We couldn't ask to be more fulfilled in what God has set our hands to do. We once again want to recognize all of you who make it possible for us to be here serving. We couldn't do it alone and wouldn't want to. We love that we've had so many of you come alongside us.

A Possible Next Step

Something else we've been excited to share with you all is I've been praying about attending a midwifery program. It's something I've been praying about for a while now and am waiting for God's timing and provision. It's through an on line school so I would take classes on line and intern at one of the clinics either here in Chichi or in Quiche, which is the closest 'big' town to us. I've been very burdened for the women here, watching them often receive poor local prenatal care. Also we're always looking for an opportunity to be more involved in the community and for me to be able to build more close relationships with the women here. Please be praying with us as we seek God's heart in this. It would be quite an undertaking for us, so we only want to continue to pursue this if it is God's perfect will. We love and miss you all, and if you have to opportunity we would be so blessed to hear what God has been doing in your lives.

Monday, June 6, 2011

January Newsletter

We're home in Guatemala!!! And the sun is shining again!! The rainy season long behind us, we're very much enjoying the beautiful sun shining. The weather has been cool, especially in the evening, but it's been so wonderful to have everything dry, we've actually enjoyed having to build fires in all the fireplaces, and put extra blankets on the beds. We've become such Guatemalans that we consider 50 degrees to be cold!! It was such fun being back in the states for the holidays and experiencing real cold! In Texas we got close to a foot of snow, which was so unusual and tons of fun! We very much enjoyed seeing family, and being apart of the daily lives of everyone we love so much. We were in the states from November 20th to January 18th and we really tried to make the most of every moment. Andrew was able to work, and we were able to connect with so many of our dear family and friends. For all of you that we were able to spend time with, it was so refreshing and we love you all so much. We feel very refreshed and revived, ready to jump into everything God has for us this year in Guatemala. It was so amazing being able to come back and have our wonderful little home waiting for us, (which our sweet staff had filled with balloons, flowers, and welcome home signs, it felt like a homecoming)!! We so appreciate everyone who helped us finish our home, we want you all to know what an amazing blessing it is to us, and we couldn't have done it without all your incredible help!

Looking back over this past amazing year we're once again blown away by the heart of our loving Father. He has accomplished so much this past year and something we have talked about over and over is what an honor it is to be called to serve the Lord. Just like Paul said when he was speaking to Timothy about not neglecting the call but serving with perseverance. We desire to continue on this journey with joy and our eyes focused on the meaning of it all, Jesus Christ! Something we have returned to Guatemala with is a renewed burden for the souls of the people we have been called to serve, we very much believe in what the ministry here does, it's very helps oriented, however we want more than anything to see people's souls truly changed by the power of Christ. Andrew has been working with, and will be working even more closely with, Pastor Serapio, a local indigenous pastor who is an incredible man of God, to disciple the staff and also review much of what is being taught at our feeding programs. At every feeding program there is a discipleship class, and the Bible is very diligently taught, we are just wanting to make sure that the children are understanding what it truly means to be in relationship with Jesus. So it will be exciting to learn where the children, many who have been attending for more than six years, are spiritually.
Speaking of the feeding programs, we have just opened a new one in a village called Pacaxic. We are very excited about this move, especially in this community, because of the great need there. During the rainy season they were some of the most affected people. And because of their poverty they have struggled to recover from their great losses. We have loved being able to come in and be the hands of Jesus to show His great love to them.

The girls home is so close to being structurally finished! We're already talking about things like paint colors and furniture! We have been once again amazed to see the hand of God so clearly provide and bless this project. We have had several different individuals and organizations give tens of thousands of dollars to this project. It has to be true that this is as heavy on God's heart as it is on all of ours. We are praying that it will continue to be a smooth process as we work toward getting licensing and all the legal processes that are soon to follow.

We are thrilled to introduce our new group coordinators for this year, Bill and Kristen Gardener, with their two delightful daughters, Leah and Jenna. We will miss David and Maggie, who fulfilled their commitment and are moving on to the next season of their life. We bless them as they are stepping into what God has for them, knowing that they are following the lead of the Lord. That being said we look forward to how God is going to use the Gardner family this year, we are already so blessed by the smooth transition of this staff change, and thank God for his continued faithfulness to this ministry!