This is where
someone is waiting; or not.
Notes from Guatemala experiences
This is where
someone is waiting; or not.
Every team is different. We tend to want to “repeat” experiences because they blessed our lives and we want “more” of the blessing God is giving. So it’s important to remember that each team is new, unique and specifically equipped to join in what God is already doing in the places and people we encounter. Every time!
God calls us by name. The Spirit equips us for what we are to share of our lives. Each expression of the Spirit is the presence of Christ among us. I thank God for bringing this team together for God’s glory and our transformation. A special thanks to all who have traveled with us in prayer, in hope and in love.
We voiced our thanksgivings during the last night devotion at Bambu. I call it “The Report” because God gave us these beautiful minds that are designed to think, order, process and grow. So…this is a glimpse of that sharing.
The second floor of the building is up, aluminum is next and the room will be finished next week. Pastor Manuel’s work crew is amazing. We are so thankful to God for equipping the local people to do this amazing work. For us to be in a supporting, collaborative role is blessing upon blessing.
The John Wesley Clinic is freshly painted, cleaned and READY to accept teams that want to come and be involved in the healing work of Christ in Guatemala. Salud y Paz is in charge of the use of that clinic and arranging medical missions. We pray for blessings to occur in that place often.
Two days spent with the children of this special needs school connected our hearts in much deeper ways. The stories are numerous but one to share is this. An older student at Halo initially showed up there unable to speak and having been isolated all of her life because of her disability. She came with a paper in her hand that had Jose Pablo’s name written on it. He welcomed her in and during her experience of love, grace, teaching and acceptance, she has learned to read and write. And also to express the depths her life sorrow for healing. God bless the work that is happening in Halo Guatemala. It IS the work and grace of Christ healing the vulnerable one student at a time.
The medical mission concluded Tuesday afternoon after having triaged and treated 423 patients over five clinic days in the communities of Las Mantanita and San Antonio. Can you imagine the blessing of these encounters? Doctora Jenny and Nurse Practitioner, Mitzi provided healing and hope through their care. With the help of the Salud y Paz translators of Jose, Elsa, David and Luduin we were engaged in the healing of body, mind and spirit. Beautiful experience. One story from the last day is of a 6 year old child with cerebral palsy that had never been diagnosed or explained to the mother. She believed she had done something “wrong” to cause his CP. A word of hope; an affirmation of love & caring; a prayer before leaving….these are the moments we see God changing lives forever. Changing us all.
The team installed 20 stoves in the communities where Pastor Manuel’s and Pastora Catalina’s churches are well established. This labor love offered the team “in home” time with families they loved to meet. On the last day of stove installation there was time to revisit those homes were installation was complete.
What did they see? Women cooking with joy for their families. I was able to visit one that was near the John Wesley clinic. She was SO HAPPY! And dinner looked fabulous! Some of the comments: “Now I won’t have smoke in the house anymore!” “I can boil water faster”. If you can just imagine the way this changes a family’s life; it is trans formative in every way. Blessings.
In the moments between work this team experienced so many “God moments” we cannot count them all. Singing in the waiting rooms; playing ball in the backyard; hearing Kum By Yah being sung like a choir or Alabare bursting out as if the whole world needed to hear the praise to God…amazing. The heat of Mazatenango is nothing compared to the joy and grace of Christ so alive in that land and people.
This mission team is incredible With 7 people from Central Presbyterian in Princeton, Kentucky and 10 more from Franklin First United Methodist Church; along with Adolfo of Guatemala who took care of us all the time with transportation, advice, help and friendship; and Miguel, a local Guatemalan friend who worked beside us every day,
Felipa and Carmelina cooking for us, Doris arranging for us…..this team has joined God here. New friends have bonded forever. Spiritual gifts have bloomed and blossomed. Being the “body of Christ” has shown us all how beautiful it is when every person simply offers what God has give them to share: presence, preaching, encouragement, leadership; helping; singing; playing; building; communicating; ordering; cooking….it is endless.
We celebrated communion together before leaving Mazatenango. We celebrated Christ. We celebrated being involved in the presence of Christ on earth. We celebrated the work of the saints of God who have gone before us and the many that will come after us. Our hearts are full of love and thanksgiving. May all of this increase with Joy. Let it be.
One of our morning devotions by Joe Holmes invited us to consider that the reason why we came may not be the reason we are here. I loved that teaching; it is SO TRUE! This team has been so open to be surprised…to learn something new…to be changed. One of our team members, Emily Browder, has been wanting to come to Guatemala since she heard about Ezekiel who attends school at Halo Guatemala. (you can read more about that story in the Guatemala 2011 category on my blog). So when Emily and a few other members of the team spent 2 days at Halo this week, she was very disappointed when Ezekiel was not there! She had come so far, to meet this young boy and to communicate with him in sign language.
Last day at the John Wesley Clinic in San Antoino. Our work is wrapping up and a few team members are “hanging out” in the waiting room as we continue to see patients. Emily B is one of those team members. And guess who shows up?? Ezekiel, his mom and several of his brothers and sisters! My view from the triage room allowed me to see the Joy coming from Emily hands, eyes and face as she and Ezekiel spent the afternoon talking, laughing and learning from each other. This was so much better than seeing him at school in a classroom with many others. God provided exactly what was needed at just the right time. We continuet to be humbled, grateful and overwhelmed by the goodness of Christ.
Part of our spiritual practice as a team has been sharing each day, “what did you see?” On Sunday, Pastor Manuel invited Pastor Ken Godshall, one of our Kentucky team members, to preach. Pastor Manuel leads a Iglesia Metodista in San Antonio where much of our time is being spent this week. The relationships with Pastor Manuel and his family, the John Wesley School, the community, etc. go back many years. The church continues to flourish; it is all beautiful.
Pastor Ken preached from the 9th chapter of John and shared the story of Jesus healing the blind man. We were all reminded of what it is to be spiritually blind as we considered what it might be like to be physically blind. We have encountered many people with vision problems at the clinic. Do you remember your first pair of glasses? When you found out the leaves on the trees were individual beautiful leaves that create the fullness of a tree’s shape? Those first glimpses open up a whole new world…
I met Rut Noemi in worship. In our English language that might be “Ruth Naomi”. We sat together. I had in my hand a song sheet that our teams have been carrying around for many years. Sarah McGinley, one of the first people from our church to worship at Pastor Manuel’s 15-20 years ago, created these music sheets for us. And about 4 years ago two of our team members translated each song so that the song sheet has both English and Spanish lyrics. These sheets have been a lifeline for me on several occasions. Rut Noemi was looking over at the paper in my lap. And this is what I saw:
God is bringing cultures together for God’s glory. What once separated us (distance, language, culture, shape, size, abilities, money, etc) is being removed so fast it is like water being held in our hands….it just overflows and slips through. Rut Noemi wrote her name in my journal and we began to pass notes in church. (Please don’t tell Pastor Ken). We agreed that she would take the sheet and teach the songs to her amigos. They are Spanish songs so they will know most of the tunes. With the lyric sheet they can learn English words from familiar songs, just like we learn Spanish by singing the songs of this culture.
Sometimes it doesn’t take the formality of a class or the expense of a teacher. It doesn’t always have to be perfectly arranged or even complete .Sometimes it is seeing what God has given us in a specific moment and sharing it with someone who has the curiosity and desire to see more.
Sunday worship was awesome. Our team sang in Spanish as part of our greeting from the KY and TN churches; their children sang for us. We all lifted our voices for prayer, for praise, for Joy. Our common bond is the One we worship, and oh how powerful that bond continues to be! A line from our prayer in Ephesians comes to mind: “so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, adn his incomparable great power for us who believe.” – Ephesians 1:18-19)
Many of us have someone in our lives that is going blind or has already lost their sight. All of us have spiritual blindness. And isn’t it wonderful to know that at any given moment in our lives, we are invited to see what the LORD is doing right before our eyes. Let it be.
Our theme for this mission is: “Open our Eyes Lord!”
Our prayer comes from Ephesians 1:17-21, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheiritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for those of us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
And indeed….our eyes are being opened….insights and revelations are emerging…questions are rising…new ideas are bubbling forth. And we give thanks.
Visions come fast and unfold slowly; God is faithful with both. I am thankful for the long history of Tennessee teams that have established relationships, schools, clinics and churches in this area. And I am deeply grateful that new people continue to rise up and meet needs.
This is this team’s first “medical mission” together. It has been 8 years since our church was involved in a medical mission beyond dental care. We got our feet wet by setting up a clinic in the community of La Mantanita in an Evangelical Pentecostal church building. Pastor Nicholas has been serving there for 28 years. We set up reception, triage, two exam rooms, a pharmacy and waiting area. In our two days there we triaged and treated about 140 patients. Jose and the Salud y Paz team were fantastic with us. Pastor Nicolas is the father-in-law of Pastor Manuel at San Antonio so it was nice to make the connection. It is humbling always to discover how welcoming everyone is to allow us to be in their communities and in their lives.
Our third medical mission day took us to familiar ground. The John Wesley clinic building in San Antonio received fresh paint, a thorough cleaning and general attentive care to prepare for the medical team’s arrival. Adolfo helped prior to the prep team and Steve, Joe, Rachel and Adam followed. When we set up yesterday we are blessed to have this great space!
The front yard of the clinic was full when we arrived on Saturday. And it continued to be full as we treated 91 patients. Many will wait to be seen on Monday. This mission team is working as if they have been together for years. I am reminded of how it works when following Christ is the common thread running through a gathered group of people; it is different: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yoruself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to te grace given us….” (Romans 12:3-6a).
It amuses me how quick we have all become to “specialize” and forget that God uses our gifts in a variety of ways; some of which will surprise us. Gretchen’s chemistry background has been awesome for the pharmacy, while her expertise as a mom has been calming for many mothers who bring their children. Jenny being an Urologist has still prepared her well for general medical. Annie B.’s interest in medicine allows her to float from triage to assisting docs to pharmacy with ease. Lori’s attention to detail make setting up pharmacy a joy….the list goes on and on. I am loving doing vital signs and triage all over again! Mitzi emerges from her exam room each day with a look of pure joy.
The medical team saw 91 patients on Saturday. God is so good!
The prophet Isaiah spoke words that echo through my ears tonight: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclain salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7.
We heard good news today. We witnessed peace proclaimed. We know that our God reigns. But it came in surprising ways. It was the Guatemalans whose feet brought good news to us…
At Halo Guatemala our team saw children with special needs helping each othere with tenderness and love. A blind child was guided by one who could see. A deaf child was able to experience loud laughter and joy through the smiles and touches of friends. A boy confined to a wheelchair was lifted up by his friends. Salvation and peace!
On the construction site when our team showed up and asked if they were needed, the Guatemalan work team gave them something helpful to do: carry blocks, brick and tons of sand up the height to the second story. What amazingly good news for us to be carrying their bricks and supporting their labor. Indeed, our God reigns!
The medical team was blessed when patients returned to the clinic today just to be with us, to bring neighbors or grandchildren, to hear once again that they are worthy of our care and they are loved. When Paul was on mission in Rome, he quoted Isaiah: “How can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)
We thought we were taking vitals signs and writing down weights. The “patients” thought they were coming to a clinic. But what really happened today is the sharing of good news. And indeed, how beautiful were the feet that brought that good news! God is so good!
This Guatemala mission team arrived in stages, almost the same way we do life: one day at at time. Four arrived on Monday, ten on Wednesday and three today. Travel adventures and busy North American schedules make for an interesting experience! it is good to be here. It is good to see friends. It is good to introduce new people to Guatemala. It is good to be with a team of people who want to honor God with their lives. I am grateful.
There was a teenage boy that watched us through the window most of the day. We were holding a medical clinic in La Montanita, about a 20 minute drive from our home base. He stood in the small space between the building next door and the church where we were working. All day. Every now and then he would reach up and stretch his long arms on the bars that covered the window. Maybe he was curious or maybe he was dreaming. Or maybe it was simply a place to be today. It helped to see him because the last time teenage boys hung out and watched us work inside the church, they ended up helping us by week’s end. We’ll see what becomes of this young man.
We experienced wonderful things today! The medical team triaged and treated 71 patients! Woohoo! They worked like a dream team. Pastor Nicolas Morales hosted us in his church. Makeshift “exam rooms”, a pharmacy and triage station transformed the worship area into a clinic. I had to laugh at God’s humor. I stuffed a copy of John Wesley’s Primitive Physic in my backpack this morning “just in case” there was a moment to read. There were no moments, of course, but it still seemed an appropriate resource given our situation. Wesley made his preachers carry a copy of the Primitive Physic in their saddlebags. After preaching the Sunday sermon they were to administer medicine and remedies for the congregation. So as I worked triage and my medical background came rushing back into full view, I laughed at the window God gave me today. So much grace and blessing in this!
The construction team had the pleasant surprise of being “outsourced” by the locals. Pastor Manuel’s church members came out to work and put their hearts and hands into the building of the second floor room site. Ultimately this will be a computer lab for the students. It is so good to see local people who care about their community putting in the time and work to make it happen. Our work team supported them and then installed stoves in homes around the area. I can’t wait to hear their stories at dinner.
We all look through windows. Today this team looked through a window to see another country and culture. We have asked God to open our eyes this week. To open our eyes personally, as a team and as a church. Something is happening that we need to see. Pray that we are open enough to discern. Pray that as God gives us wisdom and revelation we will follow with courage and grace. Let it be.