Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cross

Wondering what the call was about, I stepped outside during Bible study last night to find out. I have to admit that occasionally, or more often than that, when my phone rings and that familiar number reveals the caller I this good news or bad? I listened and responded through all that needed to be said and then heard the sweetest news. With squeals of delight I said adios and hung up the phone. Barely able to contain my happiness, I ran inside and shared the awesome news.

More people in Pueblo Nuevo, some of the men that have been working on Carmen's rebuild, have accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Some may wonder if this is really a big deal or why it is such a big deal to me. It's not like some revival was taking place and thousands came to Christ in a night. You can't even compare it to December 2009 when so many children in Pueblo Nuevo made the same decision. People accept Him all the time and I do not even hear about every one in Pueblo Nuevo. But every one matters. It matters to me. More importantly, it matters to Him. And because of that I will rejoice every time I hear of one or two, a hundred or a thousand.

More than 2000 years ago as Jesus was mocked, spit on and tortured, both physically and emotionally, as the nails pierced His flesh and blood poured from His body, as the cross was lifted and He looked out to see those that had crucified Him and those that loved Him, He had something on His mind.

It wasn't meant only for the Jews and Gentiles of His day, that generation or the few that would follow.

His final breath, "It is finished..." was meant for all that had been and would come. The gift of His sacrifice was meant to be taken personally. Because it was for all of us.

It was for you.

It was for me.

It was for a couple of men that live in a small village in Guatemala.

May we all remember today that the price that was paid for us so long ago was one we never could have paid for ourselves and may we each take it so personally that we have no option but to share it with others.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Clean Water Arrives in Pueblo Nuevo

I first wrote about the water situation in Pueblo Nuevo here last year. We always knew that the situation was bad, but after finding out the facts we could not delay our water filter program any longer. Providing a water filter for every family living in Pueblo Nuevo has become our top priority in addition to children's ministry and will remain our focus until every person in Pueblo Nuevo has access to clean water.

Each filter costs $50. If you are interested in providing a family with clean water, please visit our website and donate online.

Helps International is the organization we are working with to provide families with clean water. Helps has been actively making these filters since 1984.

A Helps International representative teaching us to assemble and work the filters and giving a lesson on the importance of clean water and good hygiene. Marco teaching how to assemble filters. "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:38

Marco teaching about Living Water to those receiving filters.

Just a handful of families that received filters. Twenty families in Pueblo Nuevo now have clean water. Approximately 180 families still need filters.


I think I've written here once or twice about how statistics, even though I am quick to use them, bother me and how important to me it is to put names with faces to personalize the plight of the poor and oppressed. I know off of the blog I talk about it often. And then I get to Guatemala again and I realize that yes, it is so very important to put names to those faces in pictures that we all see on websites and commercials, but it isn't until you put hearts with them, both ours and those in the photos, that it really all comes together. Adequately describing our developing friendships with women in Pueblo Nuevo is not something that I am able to describe. Carolyn, perhaps you should write a guest post to help me out.

The relationships that are forming and those that continue to grow are precious to me. Each trip brings about a new friendship and each ends with relationships that have been strengthened. I so love the children of Guatemala, especially the children of Pueblo Nuevo, and I always thought that it would be the children that would hold the biggest part of my heart in ministry. But their mothers now hold an equally large part of my heart. There are so many women in Pueblo Nuevo that we are blessed to be getting to know, to hug, to pray with, to love, but these three in the pictures below are so very special to me. I truly cannot express what they mean to me.

Tina and Carmen. (Wonderful cooks, by the way...the Guatemalan version of chow mein that they served to us for lunch was delicious!)

Marta. It wasn't until the last two trips that we began to form a friendship with Marta, but this sweet woman means a lot to us. Sadly, just a few days after we left, her husband died. Marta is now a widow and more children in Pueblo Nuevo are fatherless.
Tina, age 39. She is the mother of 5. She and her children were among the first to truly accept us. Tina is always smiling and full of spunk.
And of course, my friend Carmen. I will never forget this picture. She felt like she was not appropriately dressed in the picture we had taken earlier that day so she requested this one be taken. I first wrote about Carmen specifically last May here. I didn't know what it was about her that made me feel so connected to her and I still do not know what it is.

Maybe it is because we are both the same age.

Maybe it's because she shows more affection to children than most mothers in Guatemala and I love that about her.

Maybe it's because she has lost 4 children in 2 years, mostly recently just two weeks before we arrive last month.

Maybe it's because she so desperately wants another child in addition to the two she already has and has been unable to carry another, each pregnancy risking her own life. And I know what it is like to want a child and not be able to have one.

Or maybe it is all of this and so much more.

I knew when I was with Carmen in August of last year that we were certainly forming a bond that I would never have the words to explain and our time with Carmen last month was reassurance of that. This 32 year old woman that lives a very different life in a very different world than I do is so much more than a statistic. She is more than just a name to a face. She is a woman with a story. She is a woman with faith so strong that it makes mine look almost non-existent. She is perhaps the most loving, most humble person I have ever met. She makes me wish that we were neighbors. More than that, she makes me think about eternity and how incredible it will be one day when I get to spend eternity worshipping God in heaven with these people that He has used to change me.

I talk about her a lot now here on the blog and in every day life. I love my friends intensely, wherever they are. And she is one of them.


The damage from Tropical Storm Agatha that hit Guatemala last year and the devastating rainy season that caused massive mudslides throughout the country still effect many in Guatemala including some families in Pueblo Nuevo. Carmen's family had the most extensive damage and her home repair was scheduled to be complete during our December trip. Unfortunately, because we had to cancel that trip, the repairs have been delayed until now. Because she, like so many in Guatemala, lives literally on the side of a mountain, repair is not really an option. A total rebuild is necessary, but before that we had to figure out how to keep this type of damage from happening again. Obviously those living in Guatemala and contractors that do this for a living know more about how to build on mountains than we do. It is expensive to try to secure a home in areas like this and most people are unable to afford the materials needed to keep their structures from sliding. Even with the best possible construction, the risk of losing homes in Pueblo Nuevo is still great so as always, we are praying that this coming rainy and hurricane season will not bring any damage, loss of homes or loss of lives in Pueblo Nuevo and the rest of Guatemala.
Marco working out the details and ordering the first supplies for Carmen's rebuild.

In order to try to keep Carmen's home safe during rainy seasons, a very strong retaining wall had to be built. The wall was built using small stones, concrete and steel. First delivery The retaining wall was finished last week. It took 3 men, a contractor and 2 helpers that live in Pueblo Nuevo, 3 weeks to complete it. We do not have photos of the finished wall, but Marco says that it is "beautiful" and was "excellently done". Men in the village are now leveling the ground to rebuild Carmen's kitchen. All of the work should be done in the next month, just in time for rainy season to begin. I can't wait to see the finished work next time we are in Guatemala.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Children's Ministry

Children's ministry is an important part of the ministry of AAB. We cannot begin to express what a blessing it is to spend time with the children of Pueblo Nuevo each time we are there and it is a privilege to have watched them grow over the last two years, knowing that we will continue to watch them grow into adults. That is why children's ministry is so important. These children are the future of Pueblo Nuevo, of Guatemala, of the world. They are at the core of our ministry. Making sure that they do not become orphans, that they are cared for, that they grow into adults that are able to care for their own families and, above all, that they come to know Christ as their Savior is our prayer and our priority.

As always, greeting the children as they arrive and talking to them as they wait for their lesson and activities to start is fun... We are so impressed with Marco and Ledy's commitment to the children of Pueblo Nuevo. They lead children's ministry three afternoons a week in addition to their weekly prayer meetings, adult ministries and Sunday services. This is their first priority, second to their full time jobs outside of the church. Marco is a carpenter. Ledy is a Spanish tutor.
Most of the older children were able to recite their memory work for the week. They do not memorize just one or two short verses at a time. Instead they memorize long passages of scripture. This week's scripture memory was from John 3.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:18-21

I can hardly look at this child while he prays without crying. Every time I see this tears well up in my eyes. He was one of the many children that raised his hand and made his way to the front in December 2009 when asked if anyone wanted to ask Jesus to come live in their heart. For a while there was nothing different about him. He was just another child in Pueblo Nuevo that we loved simply because he was there. More than a year ago as he prayed, asking Jesus into his heart, I could have melted into a puddle because this is the exact sight I saw. His prayer was so intense and as he prayed I prayed that it was real...that he hadn't come just because some of his friends had and that he would grow in his faith every day. Every time I'm in Guatemala I get to see this again. The same intense, sincere prayer of a child. Faith that is growing daily. The picture of child-like faith.

Once praise and worship, the lesson and prayer time is over, it's time for activities and dinner. This time we planned games and challenges for the children. The jump rope and bubble blow contests were hits. Many children won jump ropes and bubble gum and each child left, after dinner, with goody bags of candy and fruit snacks.