Joy Joy Joy

Doris (VIM Coordinator), Pastors Juan Pablo and Mario Chanchavac of the Executive Committee of the National Methodist Church

I have learned to trust the nudging of the Spirit in my life.  Still, when those nudges are affirmed by others who are in prayer and discernment it is the greatest thing in the world. It reminds me of how big God is, and how powerfully God will move when we are all praying.  Today was a day of much joy.  We were visited at the La Toma School by pastors Mario Chanchavac Alvaerz and Juan Pablo  Ajauel. These two pastors are leaders on the National Exectutive Committee of the Methodist Church in Guatemala. They are in the group that received and accepted my proposal to return for this 2 week period of teaching.  Doris, who is the Coordinator for the Volunteers in Mission (VIM) office of Guatemala brought them with her to view the work of the mission teams and to see the work we are doing in the school.

Chester, Mario, me, Felix (local pastor at La Toma community), and Juan

This was a very moving experience for me to hear Mario share the conversation and discernment his group felt when they read the proposal.  It would seem by all accounts that God was stirring them as God stirred me.  Mario and Juan both spoke of their belief that something has started that has never happened before and is only the beginning of something very big.  They prayed with me and put it all in God’s hands.  Mario expressed the deepest gratitude for my church, Franklin First United Methodist, in sending me back for this special time.  I was so humbled and so grateful. 

The concrete project gets major attention today!

When we arrived at the school today the students were working hard on the concrete project so that it can get completed.  This is the way things work. 

We taught two classes while all the others worked. Our students today were 4th grade and one of them, was a repeat from the class we did last month.  It was great to be reunited with them and to see how happy they were to welcome us back.  I think Chester really did most of the teaching today.  It is good how it is evolving.

Session with the teachers

We had the most wonderful opportunity to meet with Ana, the Principal, and the teaching teams of the school.  The group is 19 in number. We had one hour and were there to offer encouragement and any leadership or team building.  We began with an exercise I often do with new groups to learn about their context and then get them thinking outside the box.

Ultimately we end with placing some priority to their dreams. This also gave us a good idea of what their thoughts are for the future of the school.   While I won’t list it all here, I think it is nice to know that the top three ideas for improving the school are:

1.  Each class having its own classroom (they currently share)

2.  A teacher on site to teach the Bible and how to use it for their lives.

3.  A kindergarden for the little ones AND (a tie on this one) a teacher for physcial education.

The Life Journal in Spanish

We wrapped up this session by giving each teacher a Life Journal and encouraging them to use this as a spiritual practice as a team. They can also use these lessons to teach the children.  We prayed with them and made plans for the remainder of the week.

The hospitality has been so wonderful. Last night we went to church (a prayer service) with Hanniah, who is a teacher at the school. The church is within 5 minutes of the hotel. And then she took us to a local sandwich place and I ate more things I did not know. It was good.  The stomach ache I had two days ago is much better today!  They think I am beginning to grow used to the food.

Gloria with her children: Douglas, Luis and Ana. Gloria is due next month with the next little one to join this great family.

On the way “home” for the day we went with Doris and the pastors to visit Douglas. He is a 6 year old boy in San Antonio community who recently had eye surgery in Gautemala City. This was arranged by Norris (the man responsible for the TN Missions teams that have beenc coming here for so long) and another pastor were instrumental in raising support and making this come to pass.   We went to Douglas’ home and met his family. It was very nice to meet this young boy as we have heard of his story from many. He has been prayed for and loved by people in Tennessee.  Douglas has eye cancer and this was his second surgery with an expected second prosthesis once healed.  I understand there are hopes of a dog to assist him in the time to come. 

On a note of confession because I am always so adamant about only drinking water (no carbonated beverages for me).  The act of hosptiality here is to offer a pepsi, coke and some flavored soda. I’ve had to sip MANY since I arrived.  They are all in glass bottles. I have learned that the kids can guzzle down a pepsi in nothing flat and they have learned, I think, that if they hang around me when someone hands me a pepsi there is a good chance they’ll get to finish off the bottle. Today it was Daniel, Elvia and Edwardo that helped me out on the heavy drinking:)

This sticker on our delivery from Biblica Direct in Guatemala is for mom. Mom, in a funny typo somewhere in the ordering process, the name Lester got added; it made me so happy to see it, I just had to include it today.

One last thing.  I have finally learned how to buy Bibles in Guatemala with ease! A lesson well learned. We accepted a new delivery of 8 cases at the hotel today.  Once these are shared we will have given 326 Bibles to people who can read and write.  This includes the older students (4-6 grades), the teachers and the church leaders.  I am so thankful for the generosity of our church! Having the Bibles was critical for our work.

Everyone is very thankful for the Bibles. God is using the faithfulness of the church to put this resource in the hands of those who hunger for spiritual nourishment.  I am humbled and awed at the great provision.

We are all experiencing the love & friendship with one another that comes so generously when Christ is at the center.  To encounter it is a gift beyond words.  Jesus said it was that simple: “love each other like I love you.”  Let it be.

9 thoughts on “Joy Joy Joy

  • What a wonderful unfolding of God’s story!! I read each post as if on tip toes to see what happens next! Yea for the LESTER name….. a sign for sure!!! Blessings!

    • Diane, Chester returns his love and greetings! I miss you too and hope the presentation went well last night. I know it did…the story is beautiful every time you tell it. The pictures you sent have brought much joy to so many. Give Russell my greetings. Love to all.

  • Vona-
    As we said our prayers for you tonight, we ended it with our customary “and please take care of all of our friends and family”. I said to remember to pray for “Pastor Vona” on her quest. Connor said, “Dad, she is our family too”. You can’t realize the wake of goodness that flows from you and affects so many. I really didn’t realize the impact that you had on my children.
    You often quote about preaching the gospel everywhere you go and if necessary…use words. This journey that God has chosen for you touches so many and on so many levels. As I read your blogs, I think back on my day and wonder how I could have made it better for someone else. Or.. how can I be better tomorrow? These beautiful children and their families don’t need to know English for them to “hear” your selfless love. You don’t need to know Spanish to understand their joyful laughter or to interpret the appreciation in their eyes. Sitting here in a comfortable room I can feel your story. I can feel your connection. Thank you for sharing these experiences with me. Thank you for being you.

    • Denny,
      Thank you so much for these kind words. It is so humbling. I could picture Connor and hear his voice. I miss all of you! It is just amazing all that God is doing here. Every day I am surprised all over again. It is all just as it is supposed to be – but who could have ever dreamed of it???? Only a God that is bigger than anything we can ever imagine….

      My love and greetings to your family and to everyone. Keep sharing the story because it is all of ours to share. Thank you for reading the blog!


    • Mom, I love you. Thank you for your prayers and love. They make me strong and courageous in everything. And thank you for teaching me so that I could teach others. This is all very much a part of your story too.


  • Vona,
    Great job ! The pix are great! Have you been able to see if Ezekial has recieved his book?
    Take care,

    • Hi Thomas,
      We have connected with Ezekial and his brother, Brandon, and have an invitation to visit in their home on Thursday (tomorrow). The family does not have a book yet but the teachers are teaching him and we are still working on knowing for sure where the book is. So.. it is an unfolding answer:)
      I learned yesterday in the session with teachers that there are others with deafness at the school. Still finding out more each day.
      I have only had one day of terrrible stomach aches and Chester and I both miss your cooking!!! We have eaten a lot of sandwiches:)

      Love and Peace to your family.

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