Monday, October 5, 2015

You Must Go Now

Guillermo Paul, First CMA missionary to Guatemala
I have been back in Guatemala for two packed weeks now. From the first morning that I got out of bed there has been constant activity and I have enjoyed it all very much. The first week there was a conference for the CMA in Panajachel. I got to go and sit in meetings and listen to Pastors and leaders share their vision for the Churches commission to evangelize and make disciples in their own communities and in the world. It was a great time to meet many of the leaders in the Alliance from all over Central America.

On Friday, the 25th I took the last pastors that were still with us to catch a bus back to El Salvador and then went immediately to the airport to pick up a team from my home Church in the States. Life Church Morris sent 9 people to us and we were joined by a friends from  Morris, El Salvador and Guatemala. We were a very international team. While the group was together we were able to build a house and stove in Zapote the first two days and conduct a medical clinic and work on the Church building in Membrillal the last three work days.

Rudy looking at the river while it was rising.
The team was able to experience the joy of rainy season while we worked in Zapote. The first day while we were getting the posts set we could see the rain was coming. Because we have to cross 4 rivers with no bridge we started to pack up and leave as soon as the rain began. We were out to the main road about 45 minutes after the first raindrops fell. We drove through a lot of standing water but the rivers were okay and so we had no problem.

The second day was a little more eventful. At lunch time we figured the house would be done very quickly and we would be headed home. The sky was clear and there was not much work left to do. After we ate lunch we were making good progress but we could see a storm moving in quickly. Pastor Jose Luis told us we had to go NOW even though no rain had fallen yet. We packed up and hurried to get a few things from the Church and left. The rain started after we were in the vehicles and it was not raining nearly as hard as the previous day until we were almost out. You can imagine our surprise when we rounded the curve to the last river and it was about 2 feet higher than normal. We were stuck. We had made it to within a mile of safe travel and were were going nowhere.

We sat for the next 3 hours watching the rain pour down and the river continue to rise and fall. After about 2  1/2 hours it had fallen enough so that  people could cross by jumping from high rocks to other high rocks and we watched a steady stream of people do just that. Unfortunately for us, we could not cross that easily because the entrance to and exit exit from the river had both been washed away. The dirt ramps were gone. There was a 5' wall of dirt where the exit ramp had been. After the rain stopped a large end loader from the gravel company came down and repaired the road enough so that we could get through. We did not know how long we would have to sit but I think that I can speak for everyone when I say we were relieved when that end loader came and opened a way for us.

Heading to lunch in Zapote

In talking to the team we had, I think that it is safe to say that every one's favorite part of this whole trip was the people that they got to see and meet. My Church has heard many stories but they were able to puts names and faces to the people being served. They were no longer poor people or poor Guatemaltecos but they were people that had lives and families. They were people that felt and cared. They became real people to them. They now have a burden for and a love of these people that they did not know until after they met them.

Crowded work site. New house will be built on the left
If you are supporting people in ministry or are giving to organizations that help people, I want to encourage you to consider going for a visit or putting together a team to go work in the areas that your money is going to. It is a blessing to see that your money is going to transform lives and communities. It also helps you to have a vision for why some of us crazy folks want to be where we are and to continue doing the things we are doing. I believe God will reward your generosity and do not want to downplay that because it is important but I believe He also wants to fill your heart with love for people you have not yet met. Pray about it.

Line for the clinic
I also want to ask you to be praying for Guatemala and the people of Santa Catarina Pinula.  You may have seen the reports of the mudslides there. They have devastated the community. There are 125 confirmed dead as of this morning and 300 still missing. There is little hope of more survivors. Some of the town is under as much as 50' of mud. They are searching with dogs and digging with everything from shovels and hoes to heavy equipment. Many people have lost their families and all of their possessions in a matter of minutes. Pray that God will heal hearts and save many lost people through this tragedy. Also be praying that the people will have their material needs met as they try to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for all of your prayers, encouragement, for sending Church members to work with me and for your support.

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