Thursday, July 30, 2015

If we want to receive love, we must be ready to give it away.

I am sitting at the school in Membrillal this morning watching the Capital Church team play games with the kids and I am thinking about the last 6+ months. I am watching the kids and seeing how much they soak in loving attention from any older person that notices them. I find that I constantly am the victim of hugs, fist bumps and pile ons. I am so grateful that God has opened the door for me to spend so much time at this school and to get to know the kids. They have taught me much about life and about myself. I have learned what our relationship to our heavenly Father is supposed to be. I have come to understand in a much greater way the need we all have to experience love from someone stronger and wiser than we are. It is the very reason for our existence. We draw a sense of security from knowing that we are loved by someone that knows more and has more strength than we do.

When I go to the school every kid knows my name and most or the 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders clamor for my attention. They are saying “Do you notice me?” You cannot get away from the feeling that your attention is of vital importance to some part of their lives. Sadly, by the time that they get to 4th Grade many of the kids, especially the boys have begun to retreat from many of the adults. They still will interact but it is not with the same degree of enthusiasm as the younger children. It is obvious not just that they are getting older but that they are also closing their hearts a little bit to people. They are not as receptive to the attention that they craved just a year or two earlier.

Many of the children in this community come from single parent homes for several different reasons. Others come from homes with alcoholic or abusive parents. Many come from loving homes but they have a dad that is gone several days at a time to make a living in a low paying job in another region. The reasons that the children have come to isolate themselves from authority are numerous but the results are usually the same. They are not limited to this small community in Guatemala but are everywhere. Kids that feel abandon, neglected, abused or forgotten will gradually begin to shut down to receiving love.
I am beginning to see that through much of my life I have done the same thing. Where I once craved attention from authority figures and older people, I eventually began to resent them and try to stay under their radar. I developed a mistrust for their attention to me. I became defensive and did not want to be accountable to them. After all, who are they to tell me what I can or cannot do? This attitude did not show up in 4th grade but I suspect that it start to take root then. As I felt the sting of criticism from one of my teachers and began to develop my first ulcer. I am sure that it progressed as my parents, out of love and concern kept me from some of the things that other kids were doing. While today I can see that their motives were for my benefit and protection, at the time I just felt resentment. I felt like an outsider and it became a self-fulfilling view. The more I felt that way, the more I acted in ways that separated me from the people that I wanted to be like. There were times that I resented everyone and was angry at the world but only my family saw it of felt the resentment because a good Christian guy does not act out how I was feeling and to show it would just bring more isolation and resentment so I wore a mask.

For most of my adult life I have been actively involved in youth ministry. I loves kids and wanted to pour into them. It has not been until recently though that I have learned that what they need from is that I learn to receive the love of Jesus and allow that to fill everything I do. When I am doing a difficult or dirty task, I have learned to remind myself that I am l a son loved by my Heavenly Father. When I am spending time with the kids, I have learned to ask Jesus to fill my heart with His love, not just for them but for me. I realize that a person that is lives in and is aware of love filling their lives is able to serve much better. I have begun to serve from a desire to see the love that is filling me more daily to fill others too. Jesus loves us and it is in receiving that love that we are really able to show the world the power of God to bring transformation. I want Him to use me not just to transform individuals but towns and a nation so I need to live continually in the awareness of His love.

Jesus wants you to experience His love in real and deeply profound ways. He wants to fill you so that you can go and pour into others. He wants to use you in ways that are beyond anything that you can imagine and bring fulfillment to your lives. I also have come to believe that you will never experience more of God’s love until you let Him show you an outlet to release it. Love cannot flow into our lives unless we have a place for it to flow through. What is your outlet? How is God leading you to share His love? Are you called to join me or others in foreign missions? Maybe He is calling you to visit the sick or elderly in the hospitals and nursing homes. Possibly you are called to reach out to the young people in your community or lead an exploratory Bible study or Alpha group for your neighbors. I do not know what the specifics of your life or but I know this, If you want to receive the love of Jesus Love cannot flow into our lives unless we have a place for it to flow through. What is your outlet? How is God leading you to share His love? Are you called to join me or others in foreign missions? Maybe He is calling you to visit the sick or elderly in the hospitals and nursing homes. Possibly you are called to reach out to the young people in your community or lead an exploratory Bible study or Alpha group for your neighbors. I do not know what the specifics of your life or but I know this, If you want to receive the love of Jesus you need to let Him show you where to give it away.

I will be returning to Guatemala on September 20th and will be followed a few days later from a group from my Church. I need to raise about $2,500 in order for that to happen. I already have ticket to go but need my return ticket and living expenses for 2 months. I would like to ask you to pray about partnering with me in this. God is faithful and I know that He is the one that has called me to what I am doing. He has always provided for my needs but He often uses people. I do want to make it clear that this is only for my personal living expenses. I am glad to provide you ways to give to our projects also but that is not what I have asked for here. In the tabs of the blog there are tabs for ministries that you can give through to support our schools and projects.
Thank you all for your prayers and support in the past and I would love to get together with any that would like to hear the stories and see the pictures of what we have been doing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Friendship, Ministry and Life

The last few weeks have been busy and filled with lots of work, friendship and fun. Early last Saturday we took the team from Hinton to the airport and said goodbye to our friends. They continued working right up until Friday evening. Because of their hard work, computer desks were built at both schools, one of the walls of the Membrillal Church is closer to completion and the playground on the Church roof now has a roof of it's own. They kept going right up until it was time to pack up and go home.

This team has become real friends over the last 2+ years. It is always good to spend time with them and work with them. They encourage me to work more, try harder and be more available to people that come to work with us. I am thankful for them and am already looking forward to their return next year. I am hoping that they are able to bring back a few more of their team from past trip.

While Hinton was still here the His Hands Support Ministry team came to begin the evaluation/registration process for the Membrillal school for next year. Because of the financial concerns at the school, they left with some unanswered questions but they still took time with each kid as if the expansion for next year is going to happen.The kids love the visit from them each year and there are always lots of hugs his week. I have to admit that I had a good time with these crazy ladies myself, though I might have blushed a few times.

My favorite part of the time with His Hands is that I get to spend more time with the kids at the school than any other week in the year. While I drive them around, I also got to interview kids and to play with them during their free times. I was able to laugh with them, get high fives, hugs and fist bumps frequently and occasionally pulled around the playground. This is an important week because it reminds me that I need to keep my focus on the kids and communities that we serve and that the call is to make the love of Jesus known to them. Sometimes this can get lost in the business of the work when we are doing construction.

I am excited for the future of both of the schools here and for the Churches that serve the communities. As I get to spend in these communities I see the heart of the Father for the people that live in them. Looking at the kids, I see the need that we all have to know that we are loved by a perfect Father and that this love is perfect, unconditional and free. If I can see His love in this way, I am sure that it is way greater than I an fathom. If His love is this great for them and for me, then He is going to bring breakthrough in the lives of the families in Zapote and Membrillal. He is going to bring healing and and deliverance to them and as long as I am obedient, I am going to get to see it.

Than you Jesus for your love to me and for that same love reaching to the communities that you have led me to.

Soon I will be returning to the States for a few weeks and while there I will need to raise the funds needed for my return. I will be spending another 2 months here this year and will need to raise $2,500 to $3,000 more to complete the year. Many of you have been a part in my funding already this year and I am grateful for that. I would love a chance to talk with many of you and share all of the things that we are doing here. The vision is much bigger than one person, Church or group and all of you can play a role. Thank you and see many of you soon.
Interviewing families for Source of Hope

Joyful faces of kids at play

Monday, July 6, 2015

To say last week was interesting would be an understatement. Friends from the Hinton Alliance Church from Hinton, Alberta are here for a two week stay and we have been doing everything that we can to scare them but so far they have come through very well. We took them to work into Zapote to work most of the week and it has created some interesting situations.

 On Monday as we were returning from work, the skies opened up and the rain came down  at probably and inch or more an hour rate. About the time that we got to a straight section of road where we could go a little faster the wipers quit working and I could not see to drive but I also could not see to safely pull over So I continued the last 6 miles home with the help of others telling me what I could not see. We made it but my knuckles were white. I was able to get them fixed when we got back.

On Tuesday We went back to Zapote. The drive is downhill the whole way and finishes with a 5 mile dirt and gravel road that requires 4 river crossings. When we came out of the first river the brakes went out. We still had to go 4 miles to drive into Zapote and 25 miles to get home. I had to drive home pumping the breaks so that I could have any break pressure but still the pedal was close to the floor the whole way. Once again we made it home safely.

On Wednesday we had to split the team up. While a few went into Zapote to work on the next house we were going to build I kept half of the group at the Church to work on projects around there. We had to have the mechanic work on the breaks. The break fluid had become contaminated, the pads were cracked and the shoes were completely worn out. The ones that went into the Zapote got to see a show. Fuego, the volcano that we have to drive around to get to Zapote began erupting. We could clearly see the smoke and Ash from 20 miles away. They were only 3 miles from it. In the evening we all went on the Church roof to watch the lava as it shot a few hundred feet above the cone. It was a spectacular show.

In spite of all of the adventures, God protected everyone and we got home safely each night. We also were able to build 2 houses and 2 stoves as well as get the playground at the Church painted with 2 coats and get a roof over the upper level. This team, like the team from Risen Life, works hard from the time they get to the job until the time that we are finished. Not stopping has  allowed us to accomplish a lot for being a team of 7. They have been working hard. The good news is that we still have a second week of work and that will be mostly focused on the Church at Mebrillal.

I am so grateful for the many people that God has brought into my life in the last few years. This team from Hinton is now here for the fourth time and they have become great friends over the last few years. It is always great when they come and we enjoy having them come visit and work with us. It is always good when teams come but it us my favorite when they come back.
Ash shooting several thousand feet in the air on the next day after it calmed down.