Many Thanks to Chris Moss for the late nights and many hours spent writing this blog so that our friends and familes could share in our Mission!
The Guatemala Mission Team
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Last Day – Homeward Bound
It is the last day and we are all heading back to Atlanta (literally, I am typing this as we sit on the plane). We are ready for rest, sleep in our own bed, and seeing family and friends. We are not going into much detail about the flight home, but we do want to post the devotion that Janet Holbrook wrote for this morning’s devotion. It is beautiful and really summons up the trip.
I Saw Jesus
I saw Jesus the other day…He was wearing a stethoscope and scrubs and listening to the lungs of a little girl to be sure she didn’t have pneumonia. He looked a lot like Dr. John (and Tom), but I’m sure it was Jesus. There was such concern and care in his eyes, and genuine love for His children.
I saw Jesus the other day…sometimes He was playing a guitar, sometimes drums, or He was even singing. And the crowds who came to see Him were caught up in the excitement of worshipping and praising God. He sometimes reminded me of Thomas, or Bubba, or Joe, or Alex, or Asa, or Sara. But I’m sure it was Jesus.
I encountered Jesus the other day… He was loading a truck with medical equipment that would be used to clean the teeth of kids who have never been to a dentist, and cooking equipment used to feed a mission group, and chairs for a worship service. At times He looked like Mike or Charlie, or Curt, or one of the young men from my church, but I’m sure it was Jesus. His brow was sweating and His limbs were tired, but He kept at his task, knowing that those in need would be served.
I saw Jesus the other day…he really looked very similar to Carolyn, Jessica and Cheryl Lee. But it must have been Him. He was tenderly combing the freshly cleaned and disinfected hair of God’s beautiful children. And I am certain that it was Jesus in the pharmacy this week, but Chris, Melanie and Caroline came into my view. But it certainly was Him because he so lovingly provided the people with the medication needed to make them feel better and bring some relief to their lives of hardship.
Jesus moved about in amazing speed this week… He was playing with the children, helping in the pharmacy, assisting the doctors, taking blood pressure, welcoming the patients and getting vital information about their pains and illnesses, all with a heart filled with unselfish charity and love. I know it was Him. He worked with unending dedication and the energy of youth, but he looked like Caitlin, Chris and Odie.
I saw Jesus the other day…He was working in the dental clinic. He tenderly cleaned children’s teeth, working to the point of exhaustion. It must have been Him. Who else could demonstrate such devotion to bring the Kingdom of God to others by serving so tirelessly? He sure looked a lot like our friend Kathy, a hygienist, but it just had to be Him.
Jesus was seen ministering to the women the other day. He gently administered to those needing screening for abnormalities. He resembled Chloe, then Lyndy, then Cindi, but it certainly must have been him. He calmed the ladies much like He calmed the seas and sought to save lives, both physically and spiritually.
I saw Jesus the other day…He was working tirelessly and behind the scenes, organizing a life-changing experience for a group of teens and adults. He encouraged them to pray, fast and bring his message of salvation to their world thru their witness, both orally and thru deeds. He looked an awful lot like Dale, sometimes like Chris, but surely it was Jesus because He was aglow with the spirit of our Lord.
I saw Jesus the other day…He had so many faces, but they all reminded me of a group of young people at my church. He played unceasingly with the children, tossing them thru the air, kicking the soccer ball with them, coloring, presenting a puppet drama from the Bible, giving them piggyback rides, washing lice from their hair, giving them shoes, sharing hugs, all to bring several minutes of joy and laughter into their lives. But it couldn’t have been anyone but Jesus because He loves His children so.
How could Jesus be in so many places? Because He has sent us, His disciples to be His body with all its many parts to carry on His work.
Thanks for all your prayers!
The Guatemala Mission Team
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Day Eight in the Land of Guatemala!
The Day started early once again. Do you ever have that feeling that you are in the movie “Groundhog Day”, only this time we are glad to be doing the same thing again. Once again we were up at 6am to hit the road at 7am. We know that what we were about to do will affect so many (and us as well). We also know the area quite well, and to those we will be ministering to. The Mary Magdalene House in downtown Guatemala is a place we have visited many times before. We were just there on Saturday for the concert and we were ready to go there for a worship and clinic.
Even though we were excited about this mission we are starting to feel the toll of a weeklong mission trip. Many are tired and a few are possibly feeling the beginnings of an illness. We will have to keep an eye on them. We were also supposed to wait and eat breakfast when we finished worship at the Mary Magdalene House. This, of course, did not do well for our energy level. The trip in was quiet and several fell back asleep. We could see a clear view of several volcanoes. Agua and Fuego were amazing to see. Fuego even had smoke coming out of it. From our elevation you are above the clouds so you get to see the volcano from a unique perspective. The volcanoes with all the clouds around them appear to be floating.
When we arrived at the Mary Magdalene House we were surprised to find only a few waiting, but once we set up the sound system and the breakfast was cooking, the crowd started to show up in huge numbers. The house was packed and the music really got them jumping. After worship with one of the local musicians and our own praise band again we were the servers for breakfast. They get so little but they are so appreciative. The amount of food we were able to hand out was like feeding the 5,000. It always surprising how many they are to feed with the resources we bring.
After breakfast and worship we finished setting up for the clinic. One of the bonuses for this clinic is that we had shoes that were donated by students in Thomas’ Spanish class. We were able to set up our own shoe store and hand out shoes to those who first came through the clinic to see the doctors. We had another great turnout and we stayed busy until after 5pm. It didn’t matter how many started off in line at the clinic, they kept showing up just when we thought we might finish early. I think the word got out again and so that really increased our numbers.
To close out our final night in Guatemala we always have a Fiesta to celebrate another successful mission. This year instead of having the fiesta at the mission house we were given an extra surprise. Tom arranged the party outside Guatemala city at a banquet hall. They brought in the Mariachi band “Pearls of Christ”, had a wonderful dinner, and then had some crazy dancing. Some of the boys had a contest where they put surgical gloves on their head and blew them up like a balloon (Howie Mandel anyone). Alex won popping his balloon just before time expired. We’ll have to post that one on You Tube.
Tom had some wonderful words to say about the team and then he presented us with a special surprise…the banner from the concert. We will be hanging that somewhere in the youth center! We also had a birthday to celebrate with Charlie turning 62 during the trip. All in All it was a full day and many memories were made.
Although it is sad to know we will be leaving tomorrow, we are excited to be coming home to see all of you! We want to give a special thanks to everyone on the Costa Rica and Guatemala Prayer Board who spent the whole week praying for us and keeping us safe. I know the prayers from those faithful and the many of our friends and family members kept us going.
For the last time this mission trip…God bless and Goodnight from Guatemala!
The Guatemala Mission team!
Day Seven in Guatemala…It Was Perfect! Day seven started early…up at 6am and on the road by 7am. What day in Guatemala isn’t a long day? You would think we would be tired by no, but the adrenaline seems to kick in this whole week. The early start had us heading into Guatemala City and to the City Dump. This is the part of the trip that is the most memorable for many. To see the poverty and how people work and live in such conditions to survive is surreal. The clinic is set up in a house right at the entrance to the Dump. A convenient location to serve the most needed patients. The lady who lives there is a good friend of Tom’s and is generous and is always willing to open her home to us. Tom knows a lot of people at the dump. One of the first places he ministered to kids was at the dump. He lived in a yellow house right at the entrance to the dump. The first view you get when you make the turn down the road to the dump really hits you hard. The amount of trash is amazing to see, but it is also interesting to see organization in the midst of chaos. Most of the people who live at the dump are there to sort and collect metals, plastics, cardboard and other materials to sell to middlemen who then turn around and sell it to businesses who need the materials. It is the Guatemalans response to “Going Green”. It is a great system of recycling. The only problem is that the people who do all the work to collect rarely get paid what they deserve. It keeps them in this place of poverty that is so hard to get out of. Sometimes it is not the sights that really hit you hard but the smells as well. Luckily, this year, both the ash collected from Picaya erupting (black snow as Tom puts it) and the cooler days have helped keep the smell down. In previous years the heat and the amount of exposed trash has really created one huge stench. It was hard to keep the windows open even if it meant better air circulation. Yesterday’s clinic went so smooth we knew it would be hard to compare to today, mostly because we had so much available space at the mission house that we were spoiled. Today was a different story. Being in person’s house offers only limited space. The most cramped was the pharmacy with all the medicines packed in suitcases sprawled out across a bedroom floor, second would be the blood pressure station which had some feeling claustrophobic. But we pressed on and we were able to see many patients in a short time. It was sad to see so many people in need of so much care. There was one ten year old girl who was pretty much raising her 3 siblings while her mom worked in the dump collecting trash. She has had to grow up and really take charge of raising them in such a harsh environment. One special moment was seeing Charlie hold one of the youngest of the siblings in his arms while she waited at the pharmacy. We thought he would never give her back. We had an opportunity after our lunch break to go inside the dump to see how the people survived inside, and to see the people working and sorting the trash. As we walked down the street it was odd to see a small village inside the dump. Tom said he could come back in a few months and the inside of the dump would look completely different. They are always changing and moving and relocating things inside the dump. A place that was so open and vast a year ago now had small shacks and even “Tiendas” (little shops) as a real functioning society. Right down the center of the paths between the shacks was a drainage (sewage) ditch. You really had to watch where you stepped. After the tour were returned to the house to see several dozen more patience before we packed up to go to the mission house. The night ended with devotion and a huge “Kemps” tournament. Oh to sleep again. Don’t worry friends at home…there are only a few more posts (days) left before we head home to see you all. We have been here for almost a week but it seems to have gone too quickly. It feels like we just got here despite all the long days and hard work. We do miss you all and we can’t wait to see you all real soon! In HIS service, The Guatemala Mission Team!
Friday, July 23, 2010
Day Six on the Guatemala Mission
Today was another first for the Guatemala Mission Team…instead of taking the team to a site for a clinic we brought the clinic to us. The people Embaulada, Santa Rosa, Gorion and other surrounding villages came to the mission house to receive medical treatment from the doctors, nurses and other specialist. We had a hair wash team set up just outside the mission house, the waiting room and triage were in the church tent and the doctors and pharmacy were set up in the mission house itself. It was one of the easiest clinics this week. The set up made things go so smoothly. The people were so nice and so appreciative.
One amazing story from the day was a mom and son that were receiving treatment, but the most impactful part was when Odie, Dr. John and several others prayed for the mom and son who were having problems at home. They prayed for the father, not only for the medical issues that he was experiencing but also for the stress it was brining to the family. They prayed that he would be healed and that he would come to the church. But the story does not end there… the father did return and he did see the doctors. One of the issues that they noticed was his eyesight. They were testing his eyes and thought that vision issues might be part of the problem. Caitlin noticed the exam from the pharmacy and mentioned that she had brought some glasses from home that the father could have if it would help him. They had the father put on the glasses to test the strength and it really made a difference. This is just one of the cool experiences we have had while here in Guatemala. We have many more to share when we get home.
Wednesday night is another night of worship here at the church. This time we did not go to the church in Embaulada but stayed at the mission house church in case someone needing medical attention came to the service. The praise and worship team once again did a great job, this time acoustic style. They once again rocked the house with “Tómalo” and played 3 other songs in Spanish. The cool thing is that they are getting so comfortable singing in Spanish.
After the worship time and offering, the youth and a few adults took the children for children’s church time and the rest of the team stayed to hear testimonies from the adults. The adults were blown away from testimonies and how amazing God has worked through their lives. The children’s church time was on Daniel and the Lion’s den. The youth did a puppet performance in Spanish with paper sack puppets with only one lion. We stopped the show so that the kids could color their own lion puppet to be a part of the performance as well.
Another great ending to another great day, good night from Guatemala and God Bless!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Day Five with the Guatemala Team Ok, so really we just posted day four but we have to move on quickly to day five while it is still fresh in our minds. This morning started off with the team waking up from the storm of the century…well it wasn’t that bad, but when you see one of your flip-flops floating away under your bed it does raise some concerns. We woke up with at least a little sleep behind us. Everyone was in a little bit of a daze. Even those who are early risers where feeling a little weary. We cleaned up and packed up before sitting back and relaxing or heading out to the beach for a walk or to just stare in amazement at the size of the waves coming in. Breakfast was the hometown favorite: eggs, beans and sausage and bread. By the time breakfast was over we were all ready to go home…I mean back to the mission house. The ride back to the mission house was a time to catch up on sleep for most on the bus. Mike and Chris came back in the truck with all of the equipment. Chris spent most of the time taking pictures while Mike drove (thanks Mike)! We saw some great scenery on the way back. The rain had finally left us alone and gave us a beautiful ride back. You can actually feel the temperature change cooler as you started back up the mountain. We were actually able to see the volcanoes as we headed back. Fuego and Agua were beautiful with rings of clouds around them and Picaya actually had smoke coming out of it. You may recall that Picaya erupted about 3 weeks ago. It was pretty cool to see something that you just saw make headline news right in front of you still active. Those who are alumni from 2 years ago will remember hiking up Picaya on our fun day. The late afternoon was a time to get cleaned up and prepare for the kids and moms to come in for the Tuesday program. Some took the opportunity to catch up on sleep while others found a book to read or some took the opportunity to listen to some music and just relax. Soon the kids were showing up at the mission house. A huge crowd came out to gather for devotion, music, an activity and to eat. The ministry here provides food for families and especially the children on Tuesdays and other days when possible. The youth along with the leadership of Janet led the kids in the “Hokey Pokey”, the “Chicken Dance” and somehow transitioned to praise and worship music acoustic style. Janet also led the children in a review of the Jonah lesson with our very own Jonah…Bubba. We finished up the Tuesday program with coloring and just playing with the kids. Tonight we had a special treat after dinner…ICE CREAM! Yeah ice cream! The rest of the evening is to relax (or write a blog), play some card games and the devotion. I feel tonight will be an early evening with another long day ahead of us. Goodnight from the Guatemala Mission Team!
(Our apologies for not posting this sooner… for the trip to the beach we had to pack light)
Day four started very early in the morning with everyone up at 5am…or 5:30am…but no later than 6am! We loaded up our “Chicken Bus” with medicine, sleeping bags, pillows and a change of clothes. Mike and Chris followed close behind in the little Toyota truck packed to the top (Beverly Hillbillies Guatemala style). The trip to the coast took about 2 hours with a little rain on the way down. Without an overcast sky you would be able to see some great scenery with four volcanoes in view (Agua, Fuego, Picaya and another one I can’t spell or say).
Once we arrived at the coast we were greeted by a huge throng of people waiting to see a doctor or our dental hygienist, Kathy. It didn’t take too long to set up the hair salon, triage, the pharmacy, the dentistry and the exam rooms. With so many waiting it was hard to get them through triage without some being a little impatient. Of course they had been there since 6am waiting. The hair salon did a great job working on the kids hair, most of which had lice and had to be treated. The little girls with long hair were especially tough. The triage team was there to get things started, writing down important personal information including what ails them. The doctors saw hundreds of patience (we estimated around 350, but the number might reach 700 by the time we tell the stories back home), and they took only a few minutes for a lunch break. Kathy also saw so many that I am pretty sure I saw her fall asleep while eating dinner. And the pharmacy folks distributed medications to all who needed them…and it was a lot! We are also blessed to have some wonderful men willing to fix anything including windshield wipers, dental equipment and a compressor. We had started around 10am and did not finish until after 8pm.
At night several had a chance to jump in the pool if they didn’t have a chance to go to the ocean or swim in the pool earlier. Others were so exhausted that they just collapsed in a chair. It wasn’t long after dinner that we were ready for devotion, a review of the day and a look at what’s was in store for us for the night. One of the challenges for this trip to the beach was accommodations. There was limited bedding so half the team had a bed and the rest had to get creative. Dale had brought air mattresses…ok maybe they were just pool floats for about 6 people to sleep outside under the covered patio, several of the boys found hammocks across the pool under a palm tree hut and several others had lawn chairs. Several were creative lining up stacked chairs and laying across them. They were the lucky ones. Those of us on the ground soon found out why they call this the “rainy season”. Shortly after everyone had their sleeping space set up the sky began to open up. It started off pretty steady but then the rains became heavier and heavier. Those in the palm tree hut were looking for rain jackets or a better spot under the roof. Those under the patio saw the pool water and the water around the patio rise. It became a mad scramble with everyone trying to make it to dryer ground. Pretty soon everyone in the patio area had to be on chairs or escape to the floor of a room to keep from getting wet. Mike Morton said that this would be a night to remember and it sure was.
Now on to day Five…
The Guatemala Mission Team!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Oh What a Glorious Day 3 Day three in Guatemala has come and gone and what a day it was. We have had such a blessed day, and it has been a day that we have all been anticipating for many years. For those of you who are Guatemala Alumni you may want to take a seat for this one…WE HAD OUR FIRST CHURCH SERVICE IN THE NEW CHURCH OF MONTE SION OF EMBALAUDA!!! It was such an emotional day today and you saw that in Tom Allen who was speechless as he stood to speak for the first time. He was brought to tears as he shared the history and vision of the church he has wanted to see built for over 17 years. He gave all glory to God and praised Due West and especially Dale Hajost for all the work that has been done. We were blown away by the praise band and the rest of the team helping with our participation from the “pews”. The first song was appropriately “O Happy Day”, and it seemed to set the tone for the service; a service of blessing and thanks to God. The band actually received shouts for an encore for a song they learned in Spanish “Tomalo” which is translated as “Take it All”. The youth along with several adults led the Children’s church time which was based on “Jonah and the Whale”. Thanks to the youth and Kyle Moore for a great Children’s Church time! Our afternoon brought us back to the mission house where we had a fantastic lunch. Students were going back for seconds. After lunch we made our annual trip to Antigua where we find that it is a shopper’s delight. Those who have been before know where to get the good deals and they take the first timers right along with them. We were also able to share in a meal in Antigua on our own. Some choose a steak house while others went the less expensive route of the local favorite “Pollo Campero”. So far we have had several long days. Today was one of them and tomorrow will be even longer. We will be heading down to the beach to spend the night but most importantly to hold a medical clinic for the locals down there. Another first for the Due West Mission Team. Good night and God Bless! The Guatemala Mission Team
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Day two in Guatemala started with a relaxing morning. A few slept in while others took advantage of the time this morning to read and have quiet time.
Most of the team was able to tour the new church and all of the work that had been done so far. It is so close to being complete that you can feel the excitement in the mission team.
The rest of the morning was spent sorting clothes and packaging rice, beans and sugar to hand out to the families in Guatemala City during the concert at night.
A first for everyone on the team happened today… we rode on a Mass Transit bus or as we like to call them “Chicken Buses”. Due to the issues with transportation we needed a large bus to get the team down the mountain and into Guatemala City.
Tonight we had our big concert that we have been waiting so long to do. We had the whole street blocked off and a stage built with scaffolding right in front of the Mary Magdalene house. Everyone was so excited to see the band on a huge banner in front of the house. It took several hours to get everything in place and to top it all off it was raining off and on pretty hard. It is Guatemala and it does rain so it is expected.
The concert was a huge success. Not only because the band did great but it also drew in many and we had a great opportunity to hand out clothes and food to the locals. To end an already long day we rode back to the mission house for devotion and bed time!
Friday, July 16, 2010
The Guatemala Mission Team has made it to Guatemala. We did have a few delays leaving Atlanta, but God is good and we have arrived at the mission house. We are enjoying the sounds of the rain falling on the tin roof. One of the sounds you get use to here along with the sound of large trucks downshifting as they drive down the hill pass the mission house.
The praise band took some time today working out the kinks and the technical difficulties. They were really starting to sound good as we shut down for the night. Tomorrow is the big concert in Guatemala City and we are really excited about that.
Another group worked on the vehicles to assure safe travel. Replacing brakes and mirrors…Thanks Charlie and Curt! The rest of the team sorted all of the medicines that were donated for the clinics. It is an annual tradition with this trip. You are basically taking mounds of medical supplies and trying to make sense of it all!
We are ready to turn in for the night. It has been a great first day. God has blessed us greatly! More to come tomorrow.
In HIS service,
The Guatemala Mission Team