Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guatemala Day Nine - The Return Trip

I wanted to write one last time to say thank you for all the prayers; the support that Due West has given us over the past seven years; and all the comments about the blog. We had some late nights trying to get it done. Thanks to all who allowed us to post pictures and a big thanks to Melanie for staying up even later than I sometimes to make sure the message was posted and the pictures were in.

Our last day was an early rise, a long ride home and it was a welcoming site as we touched down in ATL. One of the last gifts was the sunrise we about 4:30 in the morning as we headed to the airport in Guatemala City. Posted the only shot I got. I'm sure there are some better ones (Mike and I were back with the luggage and it was a tough shot to get from the back) :).

I'm sure you have already heard many stories and be prepared to hear many more. Plans are already in the works for a Mission Fiesta in August. We will let you know more about that in the coming weeks.

Until next time...Vaya con Dios!
The Guatemala Mission Team

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guatemala Day Eight –“There’s no way this mission is already over!”

It always sneaks up on you…the last full day in Guatemala. We have prepared for months to be here and then the week flies by. The mood tonight is of disbelief and mixed emotions. So many are excited about going home to their own bed and getting a shower, but then we have enjoyed this time together so much they don’t want it to end. There were a lot on the agenda for today and we were able to accomplish them all.
This morning we woke pretty early to leave for Guatemala City to worship with the homeless in the city there and to reach the lost in the area. It is an area of drug addiction, prostitution, and violence. We were also prepared to serve breakfast to them and provide a medical clinic to the homeless.
It’s always a long ride into Guatemala and we didn’t leave exactly when we wanted to. By the time we got to the city plans had to be modified. We ate breakfast first which is very different from past trips. We had always worshiped with them first, served them and then ate. It did give some of us time to set up the clinic and pharmacy while worship was going on.
The day was a blur… We were eating one moment, worshiping or doing set up the next moment, and moving people through the clinic the next. There are always some very interesting cases when we go into the city. You will see evidence of knife fights, drug abuse and malnutrition. We go where the need is and there is certainly a lot of need in Guatemala City.
As soon as we had started we were finished so soon, and heading back to the mission house. We always have a wonderful last night. The Allan Family always sends us off right. We have the equivalent of a fiesta, with a mariachi band, fireworks, a wonderful meal and lots of dancing. It was sad to have to say goodbye to all the people we have grown so close to in the past week. There were definitely tears of sadness as we said goodbye.
To close out the night Dale provided the final devotion and shared with us the message he spoke to the congregation here in Guatemala when he visited in March. It was a moving testimony that really spoke to why we are here in Guatemala. Dale had a near death experience here in Guatemala his first year here. You would think that would keep him away, but as he tells it that was his “awaking experience” and drew him closer to God. Dale shared much with us tonight and yes…more tears.
It is time to draw this mission trip to a close. We have had the amazing opportunity to touch the people of Guatemala and the Holy Spirit has certainly touched our lives during this trip. Thank you so much for all the prayers and support. It is the 3,000+ back home that have also made this trip what it is.
Thank you and God Bless,
Chris Moss and the Guatemala Mission Team

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guatemala Day Seven – Pews to the Church

Today was not just an ordinary day…but what day in Guatemala is?
Today we held a medical clinic in the mission house. This was a first last year and quite the success. We did not have the turnout like we did last year but some wonderful things were accomplished through the medical team, the dentistry, the hair washing crew, and the prayer team.
One of the new ministries begun today was the foot washing team. Asa, Alex, Bubba and Jordyn stepped up a washed the feet of those who had come through the clinic. As one was washing the feet of the person another was praying for them. You can see the joy in their eyes as others washed their feet. Some said they were not worthy, much like the disciples when Jesus washed their feet. I was able to witness one exchange between a student and a little boy while having his feet washed. Something I am sure he will remember for a long time.
While the medical team and other ministries were hard at work, the pew builders took about the full day to transport the pews to the church. We were able to convince Tom (with Elizabeth’s help) that it would be a good idea to go ahead and use the pews in the church unpainted. The wood will dry out faster and it will help to protect them. We had a pick-up truck to make the deliveries. We were only able to take four at a time so it took seven trips to get it all to the church. Once the pews and the communion table were in place it was such a wonderful transformation. People from the community came by to see the work we had done.
To close out the day we transported the whole group to the church and had our evening devotion in the church with the new pews. We had Morgan sing Amazing Grace again to start us off. Then we all circled around the pews and prayed over the pews “Guatemalan Style”, which is all praying at once. After the prayer we had a devotion from Alex, Ashley and Libbi. I wanted to share with you one of the closing comments Ashley made that I thought was a wonderful example of our purpose here on earth. “A steward might not own a ship that they work on, but they must care for it and its passengers as they do. Christ gives us our time, wealth and health; what we do with those is important because we don’t own them. These are given to us here on earth. A big part of how we use those is in service. Service echoes a Christian lifestyle. Christ taught this in Matthew 25.”
Tomorrow we will be heading into Guatemala City to worship with and feed the homeless at the Mary Magdalene house. We will then hold a clinic in the city before coming back to the mission house to get ready for the return trip home. It is sad to say that tomorrow is our last full day, but we are anxiously anticipating our return home to see our family and friends!
Thanks for all the prayers!
The Guatemalan Mission Team…
A birthday message from Jennifer Klann- HAPPY BIRTHDAY Steve-o! I love you and miss you! Come home safe! Love J-Bug

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guatemala Day Six – This Was the Long One Folks

You would think that going back to the same place and working on the pews again would mean, well, “same-old, same-old”. Far from the truth friends…It was a day of many blessings, completed projects and worship. Dale said that it is days like this that create the memories of the trip, and that is very true.
Today was a very long day for our medical team that returned to the same town as yesterday and the word must have gotten out of all the great work they did there. There was a much larger crowd today and the team had to put in overtime. We’ll get to that in a minute …The pew team had a monumental day completing not only the pews but also made a communion table and cross for the church. Check out the pictures below. Today was really a finishing day. Most of us were sanding pews either by hand or with power sanders. With the extra time we had a few of us took the time to pray for those who would be using the pews as we sanded each one.
The pew team also had a great opportunity to meet with Elizabeth as she came to see our work. Elizabeth is Tom’s wife and a huge part of this ministry. She shared with the team about their ministry and how it is so dependent on others. The Allan family have so many stories of how God has provided…they just had to have faith.
The medical team had a full day today. It really does not bear repeating in detail what the medical clinic was like since, for the most part, it was a carbon copy of the day before – only much longer with many more patients. We’ll touch on a few highlights.
The newest ministry this year has been praying for each patient and their family as they leave the clinic. We thought we were doing a pretty good job of this until we had a guest translator today named Carlos. Carlos is actually an ordained minister and works for a very large church in Mixto, Guatemala. Carlos showed us how to learn more from the patients on where they happen to be in their walk with Christ. Surprisingly we found that some of the folks were not believers at all.
One particular lady who only found out today that she had severe type 2 diabetes, ultimately, through a discussion with Carlos decided that she would accept Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. The prayer that was said over her after that resulted in many tears flowing and a grand awakening that she truly is loved by Jesus and with His help she can tackle this newfound problem.
The hair salon continued operating on all cylinders. With a couple of new helpers they saw even more customers and did some even greater creative styling. I think we may even be ready for feet washing. Maybe you will read something about that tomorrow?!
As the teams reconnected we shared a wonderful meal and then headed to Embaulada for the Wednesday worship service. Not only did we have a wonderful Children’s church time with Stuart and Derek as the stars of the show, but we also had a great number of students get up and sing for the congregation. Asa and Joe provided the acoustic music and then Jessica, Alex C. and Libbi sang first. Next up was Ashley and Jenn and then to finish our time Morgan did a wonderful rendition of “Amazing Grace”
Tomorrow we will have a medical clinic here at the mission house and the pew team will be transferring the pews to the church!
Keep the prayers coming!
The Guatemala Mission Team…
Here’s a birthday wish from Alex Chambers: HAPPY BIRTHDAY mama. I love you and miss you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guatemala Day Five – And the “Real” Work Begins

We knew this day would come soon… that we would actually get started on the mission we were called to do here. We have had some fantastic days of mission work so far, don’t get me wrong. We have all been anticipating the start of the clinic mission and the pew builders have gotten into a grove and were anxious to finish the work we had started.
The start of the day was early for the pew builders. Not only did we need Alex and Bubba cutting the legs and frame of the pew so early in the morning, we also needed a crew building a table before the medical team left for the hair washing crew. They were the best “Cut-ups” and it couldn’t have been done without them. Once the remaining team members were in place it was like a pew factory. Charlie and Montie had a plan to move production up to make sure we saw our goal achieved. The personal touch was not over looked as the team made sure that everything was made with the realization that these pews would be used in the church in Embaulada. Once the “cut-ups” had the boards cut Chloe and Joe were part of the leg and frame assembly team and Ron, Mike, Montie and Ken were assembling the frames. Matt and I did finish work while our fearless leader, Charlie, was a master of all.
We all worked well past lunchtime as we waited for the medical team to return. With great determination we now have 20 eight foot pews and 2 four foot pews almost complete. There was some extra time today so Matt and Mike routed the back sides of the pews which was an added bonus to the work we had already done. The remaining four pews should be completed tomorrow if the additional materials that we need make it to the mission house. We will also spend the rest of the day doing detailed work and lots of sanding.
The medical team had its first day today. We were driven to a town named Barcenas in which our bus driver acts almost as the mayor. Mocholon is a big man by Guatemalan standards and carries with him a larger than life presence. We were to operate this clinic in his neighborhood. All of the people that we were to see were his friends, family, and neighbors. The building we utilized was the community center which was attached to the local school.
The set up went unusually smooth – possibly owing to the fact that we rehearsed the whole operation the night before. Everyone knew their job and knew where to go.
Entry gate control was led by Janet, Derek, and Stuart. The crowd that came was very organized and generally respectful of each other. They even let the elderly ladies first in line. They were led to the triage table which was run by Sabine, Asa, Jennifer, and Jordyn. This team was smooth as silk as they took down the vitals and annotated the symptoms of the patients. After that they were led to either Cindi, Jon, or Tom. Cindi generally took the women that were in need of women’s care and possibly pap tests. Jon and Tom took the rest. Assisting these professionals was Carolyne and a host of translators associated with the Allan family and the ministry.
At the same time Kathy was taking dental hygiene patients. She was assisted by her local friend named Carmelina.
After the comforting care they received from these professionals the patients were led to the pharmacy where they were given their prescribed meds by Melanie and Caroline as well as vitamins and pills that would treat pinworms. The last stage in the process was led by Morgan and Dale who gave each patient four bags of food (frijoles, sugar, flour, and sugar) as well as a hygiene kit and possibly a beanie baby for their children. Their most important job was to spend some time praying with and for each patient and their family before they left. They also promoted the hair salon which was located a little bit away at Marcholon’s garage.
The hair salon was led by Carolyn who had a team of talent to include Alex, Jessica, Libbi, and Ashley. They cut and washed hair and de-liced if necessary.
We’d like to think that all members of today’s team heeded the admonishment of Jesus who said in Matthew 20:28 said, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
After the medical team finished for the day, they rejoined the pew team at the mission house for a wonderful late lunch (one that would pretty much carry us into the evening…so good). Then with a combined team we left for Embaulada to help out with the Children’s club. It is an afternoon program that gives the mother’s in the community a time for Bible study while we took the children out to play. We gave piggyback rides, played some of the local kid’s games and had a pretty intense game of soccer.
This has been a wonderful day with so much accomplished for the Lord. We here in Guatemala appreciate so much the prayers and the support we have received. God is doing great things through your missionaries here in Guatemala. Please continue to let others know what is happening here and the work we are doing. Most importantly please keep the prayers coming as they are certainly felt and appreciated.
Looks like tomorrow will be a mirror of what was done today; however, we will still post an update of the day’s events tomorrow!
The Guatemala Mission Team…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guatemala Day Four – Zip Line and Boating and Shopping…Oh My!

What a wonderful day we had…so many new experiences in a place of such beauty. Again we will post pictures but I guarantee that the pictures will not do justice to what we saw. I know that I took about a hundred pictures and each time I looked at the pictures it just wasn’t the same as what I was seeing ahead of me.
We started off with a wonderful breakfast provided from the hotel we were staying in. It was a big breakfast with eggs, beans, fresh orange juice and some of the best bread ever. After breakfast the team split up into three groups for the morning. One group went zip lining; one group took a boat ride across the lake to Santiago and another group wanted to take another crack at bargaining with the locals shopping.
The boat crew of approximately thirteen (lucky number), loaded into a boat to cross the lake to a different city, Santiago. The water was a jade green and the morning offered up calm waters so the boat ride across was a calm one. As we approached the other side of the lake it brought us closer to the volcanos so we took the opportunity to take closer and clearer pictures as the clouds started to pass from the peaks of the volcanos. Santiago is an old city with cobble stone streets, street markets and a church that was built in the 1500’s. The boat crew took the opportunity to see the sights and maybe catch a few bargains as well. We found ourselves spending too much time in Santiago and with an approaching storm we needed to head back to Panajachel.
I’ll hand it over to Mike Morton to write about the zip line adventure…A group of 9 went on a zip line adventure this morning. The adventure started with a trip to the Atitlan Nature Reserve in Tuk Tuks. The Tuk Tuk drivers had as much fun racing to the Nature Reserve as we had riding. Once there we all attended a zip line course. We then took a hike up through the forest to the start of the zip line. The hike was beautiful as we walked over multiple suspension bridges across a river and the base of waterfalls. We also got to see spider monkeys along the way. Someone commented that the hike would have been sufficient but we also got to go on the Zip Line. The zip lines ranged from very long to short and fast. All had a magnificent view of the lake on one side and of multiple waterfalls on the other. After the last zip line we were all presented with our diploma for successful completion of the Atitlan Nature Reserve zip line. We walked back to Panajachel instead of taking the Tuk Tuk’s and got to see wonderful views of the lake that we missed while riding the Tuk Tuks.
The rest of the team spent the day shopping and seeing the sights in Panajachel. Not only were so great bargains found but they found time to eat and take so very interesting pictures of the locals.
Soon we found that our time was coming to a close in Panajachel and we were loading up the bus to head back to the mission house for another three hour trip back. We closed out the night with dinner, devotion and time to write a blog.
Tomorrow we will be off to bring glory to God with our hands and feet. Continue to pray for the mission team as we reach out to the people of Guatemala!
The Guatemala Mission team…

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guatemala Day Three – We Did What?

We will get to the “what” in just a few minutes… But first we want to share with you our wonderful morning in Embaulada. It started off with a lack of power. The storms last night took a tree down so we awoke with no lights and no hot water. Some heard the tree fall and the transformer “pop”. We were not too concerned about the lack of power because we were heading to church anyway.
One of the difficulties of staying in the mission house with 32 missionaries is getting everyone from place to place. Most of the transportation was to get the church goers to the church on time. So most of us were taken to the church to the church by pickup truck driven by the very talented Mike Morton. A few others decided to hike in to Embaulada for the service.
It was wonderful to see the church sanctuary complete, and to have our second service there. The boys (Alex, Asa, Bubba, and Joe) helped lead a few praise songs and Dale got the rest of us up there to introduce ourselves. Dale also introduced the new cub scout packs and shared with the congregation the importance of the Scouts and how it can help develop strong leadership in the church and the community.
The students led by Janet took the kids out for children’s church time. They shared with the kids the story of the Prodigal Son. They had a wonderful skit and really got the kids involved in the story. They also had a wonderful craft prepared by Kyle back home. We finished the craft time just as the church service was finishing up. We closed our time in Embaulada handing out food supplies of rice, cornmeal and beans. We also gave out beanie babies to the kids.
And now for the “We Did What?” moment… we were finally given the go ahead to make the trip to Lake Atitlan in Panajachel. For some of us this has been a six year wait. The trip was a “3 hour tour” on a chicken bus. It rained on us for a majority of the trip and some of the windows did not close all the way so a few got a little wet. The trip was worth it though. We will post a few pictures but I am sure they will not do it justice. The sight was really breathtaking as we came down the mountain toward the lake. With three volcanoes in the backdrop of a beautiful lake the mission team was taking pictures every moment they had to capture the sights they were seeing.
As we made our way through the town we found a wonderful little hotel called “Rancho Grande”. Nice little villas with a nice bed and showers. We took a few minutes to settle in our rooms before we took in the sights of the town. All wanted their first stop to be down by the lake so that we could get our team photo. After that it was time to shop and eat. Some of us are serious shoppers and event the serious downpour wouldn’t stop us.
Tomorrow we are staying in Panajachel until 2pm shopping, taking boat rides and even zip lining! We will head back to the mission house with a possible stop at the Mayan ruins.
Keep the prayers coming!
The Guatemala Mission Team