Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summary of the first 8 months of 2016

My Church came to visit and work for a week. Thank you Life Church Morris.
This is not the sexiest title but I thought that it was time to review the first 8 months of the year. It has been very busy and we have all been through some tiring weeks but we are grateful for all that God has allowed us to be part of this year. I wanted to give you a brief summary and then let the pictures share the story.

This year we built about 5 houses in Zapote. I cannot recall the exact number and built about 10 stoves.  We replaced much of a home in Magdelena that had water issues and built another house and stove in Escuintla, a new town for us to work in. Just this would have seemed like a busy summer a few years ago but now it is barely a start. We had so many other projects we worked on that I am not sure where to start. I will try to break it down by location.

In Membrillal we had a lot of work at the Church and school. Our biggest task was to finish the walls and the drainage system and then put the trusses up and the roof on. This task was heavy, time consuming and occasionally dangerous. I cannot count how many buckets of concrete and mortar we had to lift over our heads to finish it then we had to raise the trusses. That is the part that might have been dangerous but they are up and the roof is on. We also painted the outside of the school, replaced the netting around the playground with chain link fence, installed the office doors and worked on walls on the second floor.

In Zapote we had just as much to do. We needed to pour concrete in an unfinished part of the playground and install drainage to eliminate standing water and mud. In the process we found that much of the existing drainage needed to be replaced. We also needed to repaint the school,inside and out because the volcanic dust and frequent rains (not to mention dirty little fingers) turn everything black in a short time. We refinished all of the doors and white boards also. Our biggest task was the first floor flooring. Initially it as rough concrete with a skim coat of smooth cement over it. That is a normal process here. For some reason though the skim coat did not bond and it had many cracks so the decision was made to break off the skim coat and to tile. Several teams took hammer to cement to remove it all and to begin tiling the first floor. The rooms and hallway are complete but the cafeteria still needs to be finished.

Along with all of these things, we also hosted a medical clinic in Membrillal and helped a Kid's Alive team with another one for a week in Zapote. We had after school programs and Bible school programs run by a few teams. We had street fairs in San Lucas and Membrillal, and a few other evangelism events and a food distribution to needy families in the schools. Most of all, we have 300 kids in our schools and 600 people in the Churches that hear the proclamation of the Gospel every week because of your ongoing support and work.

It was a long and busy year. I want to thank all of the Churches and groups that came to work with us this year. I hope that you enjoy the pictures

Program for kids in Membrillal

Trying to break up a rock to big to move.
(It eventually got moved)

This was a whole house but now is just a kitchen

Stove being built in the kitchen

The replacement house

Program for older students in Santo Tomas

Street fair in Membrillal
Can't hit me

Street fair in Membrillal

Mixing pegamix for the new tile
Tiling a classroom

Street fair in San Lucas

Sanding new chair rail

Painting around the tilers

Holding the ladder in place

Chris reuniting with Pastor Mario

A house ready to be torn down

The replacement

Before the work started
Replacing the drainage system

Ready to pour 

Poured new pad with drains

Painting outside a classroom.

Kids want in on the action

The finished product

Working on the second floor

Cutting the metal to make trusses

Finishing the gutter system for the Church

Welding Trusses

Getting in place to set the first truss

Truss going up (first attempt)

Got to get higher

Almost got it

Getting there

Success, only 4 more to go

Not for the faint of heart

It took a while but they did it.

Roof going on

Hanging out in Membrillal

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

I would like to share the direction of my thoughts over the past weeks and pray that they give you something to think about as well. I have been challenged by these same thoughts many times over the past  years and they directly relate to my being in Guatemala. Even though I often forget what I am about to share, God is faithful to remind me regularly.

Lat week my Life Church Morris family was here along with a medical team from HFL. Much like the team from Fox River and Three Rivers Churches, I anticipated this week on the schedule for months. It is great when friends come and many people have become friends here over the years because they continue to come and our friendship has grown out of that. Even more, when the people that I have worked and minister with in the States come to work with us in Guatemala, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation. It is always good to remember our shared past and also to see that there is still a future together in ministry.

Unfortunately these friends leave also. While I am where I am called to be they are called to a different life and a different ministry. We are all working for the advancement of the Kingdom of God but in different places and different ways. We have a common goal but not the same roles. Because of that, we cannot always be with the old friends that we love and cherish for the time being.

This is also true for our natural family. In missions, we do not get to be part of everything that goes on back on the home front. We miss birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals. We only get to spend time with those we love a few weeks a year. For some it is even less. Going where God calls means leaving behind many people, places and things that we love.

I am not writing to this to whine or complain. God has brought many new friendships and other blessings into my life. He has filled my life with lots of laughter and occasionally some tears. He has let me see and join in with people in their triumphs ans well as in their defeats. My life has been filled many times over beyond all I could ever ask for.  God is good. His plans are good but leaving and separation still hurt. Being reunited with family and friends, while a huge blessing just leads to another goodbye.

Now, on to what God reminds me of frequently. Paul told us that to live is Christ and to die, gain. He understood that our life on this earth is not about looking for comfort or luxury. It is not bout avoiding pain and suffering. Our purpose here is to be aligned with Jesus and to walk in His plans. We live here for the purpose of Jesus. He is to be Lord of every area of our lives. Sometimes that may lead us into painful places. Because there is sin in the world, people suffer. To be the hands and feet of Jesus means sometimes we suffer and other times we enter into their suffering. It also means that there will be times of separation from those that we love. We are not called to live for this world or to hold on to anything in this life. We are called to have the attitude of Paul who said that He counted it all rubbish or dung for the surpassing joy of knowing Christ.

When we start to realize that we are called to live for eternity and not the here and now, we are set free. We can become fearless in the face of danger. We can run at adversity. We are able to go anywhere, do anything and fear nothing because our current circumstance is temporary. God has eternity set as our destiny and as our reward. We are not holding fast to what we cannot keep because He is giving us an inheritance that we cannot loose. God has a plan and He is bringing it together but the focal point is not here and now. It is Jesus and eternity with all of those that surrender to Him.

We are all going to say goodbyes to people. We cannot hold onto them forever in this life. Some will move, change jobs or Churches. Others will just loose our bond of common interest. At some point, we all will die. We cannot escape the temporary nature of our relationships in this life. All we can really do is surrender to the purposes of Jesus and trust Him to work in the lives of those we love. We can obey Him and pray that He draws our family and friends to Him. We can live for the day that we will never have to say goodbye again. We can live for Jesus and for eternity. We can walk in obedience to Christ and in His power and authority in such a way that those who see us can come to know the reality of  Christ in us the hope of glory.

My blog title is "He Holds My Future." I cannot live for today because there is too much at stake. There are people that I love that will only see Jesus if I am willing to obey Him wholeheartedly. There is eternity and all of the promises of God that await. Me. I do not know about you but I am not willing to miss out because I demanded to much now. I want to live for the big picture, life unending and the rewards of my Father.

Are you living for a big enough purpose?