Monday, June 20, 2016

Home from Guatemala!!

Feelings of missing the tiny things in Guatemala, like having to drink water from the jug, not being able to shower with hot water every day, not flushing toilet paper in the toilet, having quiet time set aside each morning, riding in the back of a pickup with tarp covering us for rain, and even not using a cell phone for everything are some of the things I miss. I'm not gonna lie, when I first got home, a few of those things were so refreshing and awesome-but I miss them now.
What an experience we had the last two weeks in Magdalena! I saw kids using Spanish with their host families, hugging Guatemalans in tears, sewing or making jewelry with those same women in COMMUNITY with them, helping lead worship, encouraging their teammates when they may have needed it most, sharing their hearts during team times at night, giving of themselves to help Guatemalans whether at their work are or host family, genuinely caring for niños en Guatemala, playing soccer with kids on their shoulders, visiting Guatemalans in their homes and praying with them, and worshipping with 2 other teams from Louisianna and Fresno and playing UNO with them!
I am SO proud of ALL the kids on my team for the things mentioned above as well as the love they showed to each other! Parents you should have seen how much they valued one another by their smiles and support, even on the days they weren't feeling the best!
Once again, I feel privileged and blessed to have been their leader. God is smiling down on this team right now, enjoying family! I already miss you!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mid-week June 15, 2016

So many stories flood my mind as I reflect on the last few days that we have been back at worksites.
Our weekend was a great time of anticipating what was to come. Your kids have shared some deep felt stories and testimonies of their time here. They have shared a love and appreciation for their host families- they not only provide food and nourishment, but really care for them, their health, and their lives! Magdalena is so special! Did you know that when we have team time at night- it usually ends at around 8:15 or 8:30 and it is already dark? The host dads from each home wait for us outside of our meeting place to make sure we get home safely- like our personal bodyguards? The host dads form 3 different groups that are in charge of waiting for us to walk out and they bring us home for the short walk. Wow! The devotion that they have to us and the love they invest in us is incomprehensible. Relationship eps are being formed even is there is language barrier. God is good and is being revealed here.
I want to thank you parents, for allowing me to take your kids here- to experience this place that I love so much. I had a visit with TJ price and Brian Fabrie at their host home yesterday. Their host mom, Iris, shared her testimony and they asked if I could come and translate for them. She is an amazing woman with an amazing testimony about how God saved her from a life threatening brain cancer that was sure to end in death for her at the age of 15. Her testimony was that God was the ultimate healer ad that although the doctors said that she wouldn't ever have children because of the string medication eps ape was on, she had 2 kids. She quit taking her medication, prayed and fasted for a month and a half believing that God would cure her. Her next cat  scan revealed that her cancer had disappeared! She truly is a woman of God, and I am thankful to call her a dear friend. She truly cares for and takes seriously her role as host Mom, follows the dietary guidelines set out by Students International, and her husband, Ezeqiel, is so hard working and caring as well. What a blessing it was to be there yesterday afternoon!
We are now in our morning quiet time, and have been studying the book of Daniel and how he was honored by God and lived by His word. He prayed diligently and Gospd showed his favor on Him, not only in the lions den, but in his life. What an awesome start to each day we have had!

Blessings to you at home!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New week, great team, and lots of fun!

Hello parents! We are all doing well. I hope that you have been able to see pictures on both Facebook and the SI Guatemala page! I have been blessed by your kids, and their willing hearts to serve.
We went zip-lining on Saturday, and the kids tested their fear of heights and saw the beautiful scenery provided at the hill overlooking Antigua. The ropes course was called Circo del Aire, with 13 different stops along the way. The last distance was the longest, and the students had the option of going traditional zip line position, or "Superman" style, as if they were laying on their stomach with their arms extended out. There were a few of those, the daring ones. I can't talk, I didn't even do the zip line, haha. It looked like fun, just climbing that ladder gave me the chills as I watched all my students climb it! Yikes!
After the kids all enjoyed themselves on the 2 hour or so zip line, we ate lunch in San Lucas, on our way back to Magdalena. We ate at McDonalds! Here McDonalds is quite nice, in difference to the states. After that, we returned to Magdalena. We had a few hours of free time, and then ate dinner in the Community Center.
On Sunday, we attended church at Pastor Mario's. Church here is long. We heard the Sunday school kids come up to sing, and share. We three leaders gave a welcome from our home church or school, and our 3 teams went forward to sing 2 songs to them. We sang Abre mis ojos, oh Cristo, and 10,000 reasons. After that, we heard a sermon by Pastor Mario as he spoke on the book of Daniel. Sra. B translated. After lunch, we all went to Antigua for the afternoon, and ate lunch at Pollo Campero, a KFC - like chicken place here. Afterwards, we all went to the market and bought a free things. :). We ate dinner at Luna de Miel and Fernando and Marianela joined us! They both look great!

We are ready for a new week at ministry sites and look forward to how a God is moving the team! Prayers are appreciated for us all here!

Friday, June 10, 2016

End of the first week today- Friday!

Thirsting for water and food, runny noses, and dirty smiles, I addition to inviting each of us, at different times into their home with dirt floors. People in the Él Gorrion area are so proud to share of themselves, and delight in our presence. presence. Being there for the people, that is what we are learning, to lay aside the conditions, the smells, the sights for Him. From that comes a joy unexplainable.
My goal is to become more like that. To lay aside the material things of this life to be "present" for what God has for me. Hearts on the team are being broken for things they have never seen before, for what hurts Gods heart. As I sit this morning and hear their voices of all 3 teams here, my heart is overflowing with joy that my students are HERE! And healthy! God has been good. I am so thankful for the many blessings of seeing your kids actively playing soccer with the kids, of entering the homes of those in need, of carrying small snotty faced children, and extending love here. How I wish that you could see your kids, and see the smiles on their faces. Yesterday a student said to me, "oh, Sra. b, I'm DEFINITELY coming again next year", three boys at the end of each day, giving hugs and thank yous to me for allowing them to be on the trip.
I see and hear great things from each site and today the women's social work site and a few others are going to El Tablon, an impoverished area where they hope to hold a triage medical clinic, hold a women's  Bible Study and sell some of the items made by the women in El Gorrion as well as share with them how to make them as well.
Yesterday, I saw a great example of Americans rush for time and the Guatemalan need for relationship. When I was washing clothes in the river with the women, I noticed that when our site leader asked if we could join in, they seemed to not really want to do that and in my American mind, I thought TIME. I wouldn't want to give up my momentum of finishing my pile of laundry. When my site leader asked if they minded, they said, "of course not, go right ahead, here's my daughters shirt." They thought, RELATIONSHIP.  So, there we went, each of us, taking our turns at scrubBing those clothes with a large bar of soap, all of us laughing at our poor attempt.  We made some friends that day, and as we were walking away, I stood looking down at them still washing their clothes and said goodbye. They waved, and I snapped a picture of those beautiful women. Hope you had a chance to see that one on Facebook. :)
I am so thankful for our adults on the team, Michael Kornelis, Ally Kornelis, Pam Moore, and Lisa Colburn helping in different areas...leading worship, taking pictures, updating the blog when I can't because of no Wifi or whatever. All of us are at separate sites, so we different things each day. Wow! What a great experience it have been so far!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Orientation day!

Our day began with worship and prayer, as each day here will be. We sat in quiet time studying the book of Daniel and reading and rereading. Our first team time the other night I encouraged the kids to apply this trip to their lives, to soak it all in, and journal their thoughts. The kids were given around  35 questions to journal throughout their stay here, and that night we shared our questions and answers. I asked for 6 kids to share, and we doubled that! What a great start to the trip- the students are already open to sharing with each other- tiny steps that will lead to bigger and better things, I can already feel it. Wednesday night we have team time again and the kids are going to be asked to share their testimonies. Team time is in the evenings is just our team, not the other ones joining us- we meet all together in the morning for devotions and quiet time.
Yesterday afternoon we had ministry site orientation and met with the ministry sites that we were assigned. I was able to see kids in prayer with their site teams and physically we walked to where we would be working! The Women's social work site, the group  I am in with Charlize Guess and Pam Moore, was humbling. They have a new location in El Gorrion, and do sewing and jewelry making with the women. Women are ministered to through Bible study once or twice a week. We plan to have a prayer walk with the women as well as. Is it another community, El Tablon,  this Friday. The women have small children that come to the site and we are able to read and play with them while their mom works, in addition to connecting with the women. Sheny is the new leader of this site and I am excited to see what is going to happen this not wek and a half! Sites begin tomorrow.
You will be hearing about a  ministry site spotlight over the  next few days!
We went to the Community center last night for dinner that was prepared for us and we targeted poverty and how it must feel for those eating rice and beans, every day, sometimes for multiple meals a day. We viewed a movie on poverty as it is experienced here in Guatemala and how there are multiple layers of poverty, economic, bodily/hygiene, societal, political, spiritual, and educational. Each type of poverty affects another in some cases, and when it is experienced early in life, can lead to a drastic cycle that never ends. When asked "who are the poor?" We all thought about that question and answers were given like "a lack of basic needs materially, educationally, monetarily, a supportive community/family, etc..."  Students International attempts to address this issues and transform the community By working alongside them where they are and providing support. Will you pray for us as we face this challenge?
Hearts are being broken and students are already drawing nearer to Him through this experience. One of my boys said to me tonight at dinner, "My host family is great, this experience has already been amazing!" And we haven't even begun worksites yet!
As I reflect on seeing faces that I saw just after one of the most difficult times of my life last year, I see how Gods hand is in it all, already! Will you join me as I thank Him for this wonderful group of kids I have here and for His hand of guidance over the years?" I am in awe- thank you parents for "loaning me" your kids for these 2 weeks! We are blessed!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Home Away From Home At Last

We made it! At this moment all members of our team are accounted for in Magdalena Milpas Altas. This was not the case only one hour ago. After passport hiccups at the airport in LAX and a baggage ordeal in Mexico City, all members have arrived safely and we are praising God for answering our prayers so faithfully-and expediently!
Yesterday was a day of traveling and recovering. When the group arrived in Magdalena we enjoyed plenty of free time to get used to our new homes away from home, shower, and rest up for the work ahead. Today will be spent in orientation where we learn more about the expectations in our worksites and how to serve God best while we are here.
We received our personal devotionals today that we will be using each morning before work. We will be exploring the book of Daniel and his role as a Spiritual Mentor for us today. This morning we reflected on Daniel's life and how he was forced to suffer for the sins of others. However, despite his difficult situation, God gave Daniel the power to respond with strength and faithfulness as he chose to continue to draw nearer to the Almighty God. These next couple of weeks already show much promise of some serious spiritual growth for us all!
Continue to pray for us as we continue to stretch ourselves, learn, and advance the Kingdom. Please specifically pray for strength of body and mind, for compassion, and for health. Thank you for all of you praying for us already; your prayers have been faithfully answered thus far!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Feelings of anticipation..

Said goodbye to the first part of my team on Saturday at the airport LAX. Their shirts look great! I can't wait to have them all on as the other 16 of us go to the airport on Sunday. We will join them on Monday morning with our host families in Magdalena! Ahhhh! The time has come..YESSS!
I do have a bit of anticipation and sadness knowing that the last time I saw many of them, my other family, in Guatemala, I said goodbye to them through tears and complete sadness. My Mom's passing at the end of our trip last year was VERY difficult and I will never forget the people there that made my hurt easier because of the words and love they showed me.
Bring on the changes! I won't be living with the family I have stayed with the past 10 years (9), but will continue to see them as they are still working with SI. Our team has their flight pattern figured out, insurance cards are printed out for them, host families arranged, and site placements given! Phew! What a lot of work that is put in to an outreach like this! Thank you to the staff of SI for organizing and preparing for us to be there. We are truly thankful for you and your work. May we be a blessing to you as we serve alongside of you there, as you will be to us. :)
I have received news from my team already there in Guatemala and can I say RAIN? Yes, today it was raining and hard! I hope you had a chance to see the video that Ally Kornelis posted, it has only rained one day while they have been there, but be prepared with umbrellas and such :)
Language school has been great this week, and tonight there was a salsa dancing class..oh how fun!
We will meet them in just a few days...pack light and be prepared to bring along a r-few donation suitcases. Everyone is allowed ONE bag of up to 50 lbs. IN your carry on, (it can be up to 25 lbs, like a backpack) take along a change of clothes.  Be sure to follow your packing list in the SI team member manual! If you dont have one, you can find it under resources on the page you registered with at :)
Friday is the sendoff bbq and it will be held at Cheryl Price's home. Bring along a side dish or salad, I believe all the hamburger is accounted for. Be prepared to swim! Your parents and mentors are invited!
If you have any questions, send me an email or a text and I would be happy to help you with any questions you have.