Soaring, Flying,….

So we thought this morning would be another good moment to ask for a very specific prayer. We fly out of Guatemala in the afternoon, however, we are a little concerned that some or all of us might get stuck in Atlanta if the weather doesn’t clear up in our respective home towns. Please pray that our flights stay on schedule and that it is safe for us to return home. We are sad to leave this place, and to be separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ from another country, and another state.  However, we are excited to go home, changed for the better, to try and change our 2% Faith, 98% World lifestyle. As we go home reminded of what Christ has done for us, and what he has called us to do as a result of our faith in him, we are encouraged and energized to live our lives focusing more on Christ and less on the world.

We can’t wait to see you all. When you do, please ask us about our God sightings here in Guatemala, so we may share what God has done here in Guatemala, not by our power, but by his. We were all extremely blessed to see what God’s power can do over this week.

~Team Bridgeway/South Olive

(Written by: Melissa)

 

Day 5: Stucco on you

We woke up bright and early on Monday, because it was time for another build day. After breakfast and personal devotion time we loaded up the vans and headed back to the village that we worked in on Friday.

It was great to be back and see the families we were working with. The day was very sunny and promised be very nice weather. Most groups had to finish up sanding in their houses, and then we all meet up at one site to stucco. Stucco is a mud/concrete, and is succulent salmon in color. Stucco is used to waterproof the houses. It was mixed up in a wheelbarrow in small batches, much like concrete.

As a team we applied the stucco to the house. Some people were runners, and carried drywall scraps with stucco on them to the people who applied it to the house. When people needed more stucco, they shouted MUD! The appliers used trowels to apply the stucco to the house. When you apply stucco you have to start at the bottom, and work your way up. The cool thing about stucco is that it isn’t perfectly flat when you are done, it has streaks and bumps which adds a lot of character. If you work with it too much, it starts to dry and wall off the wall, so even if you wanted it perfectly smooth, you can’t manage it. The metal corners are very difficult to stucco, as the stucco is very wet at first and runs right off of it. Another difficulty was the highest parts of the wall, the stucco and trowel get heavy and it really strains your arms. The taller people in our group really put in a lot of hard work reaching the top parts. Glen shared with the group that at first he was not excited to be stucco-ing, but it turned out to be a great team effort. As he said during devotions, “That was so boss”. We had a total of 6 houses to do, and we worked long and hard to get them all done before lunch. We also painted the inside of the house so it could dry during lunch.

Lunch was delicious! It was 2 different types of tostadas and rice. One with guacamole and a tomato spread, and another with a chicken salad type spread. They brought out some pop for us to. During lunch we had some more time to play with the local kids.

After lunch we all returned with our build teams to work on painting decorations on the inside of house, personalizing them for each family. Many families requested certain Bible verses, and even let us paint crosses in their house. However, some families would not allow crosses to be painted on their walls. In these cases team members hid crosses within the art work. Many families liked to have flowers painted on the walls. In some of the houses the family helped to with the decorative paintings. The children especially loved to be involved in this part of the house building process.

We went home for the night, cleaned up, had dinner, and did devotions. The showers were in high demand as stucco is really hard to get off. A lot of people got sunburns today, as it was extremely sunny and when we stuccoed we were in direct sunlight. We sang worship songs and did God sightings. Some people mentioned how well we work as a team to stucco all of those buildings as a God siting. Others mentioned that the verses they wanted to put on the walls lined up with what the homeowners wanted on their walls. Another said that they worked in a cross in the stucco of every house. We had a short devotion about God asking us to go out of our comfort zone. They verses we studied were about Paul leaving the boat to walk on water towards Jesus. This is really relevant to the work we will be doing tomorrow, as praying aloud and preaching the gospel can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable. We sang another song, and prayed Guatemalan style to end devotions. Since we had such a long hard work day, Anya sent us to bed early.

A lot of the young people stayed up for a bit to play card games, because we finished devotions at eight. Most people went to bed around 10-ish.

Tomorrow we will be dedicating the houses, we are all very excited

~Team Bridgeway/South Olive

(Written by: Hailey, Glen, and Melissa)

Day 4 : Shake, Rattle, Roll

Today we began the day with preparing our bags and necessities for another outreach opportunity at a different village. Before leaving to serve in the village we did morning devotions. We discussed the meaning of forgiveness.

Psalm 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Anya, one of the Paradise Bound staff members, shared her testimony with the mission teams. What a touching experience that was to be able to have an insight to her story and how God has done incredible things through her. She truly is an amazing leader and asset to the ministry. She discussed the power of forgiveness and that even though it may be difficult to forgive the unforgivable, we will ultimately lead a much more Christ driven life if we choose forgiveness.

We were in for a treat as we made our trek to the village which was approximately 3 and a half hours away from our base. As we neared the village the road gradually changed to large rocks and dirt, essentially off-roading where the road continued to get smaller and smaller as we drove on. Once we arrived at the village we were greeted by very warm weather immediately. We unloaded our bags and medications to pass out as we did the previous day. Slowly the families started to trickle in and seemed to be a bit more reserved. We learned that the villagers homes are a lot farther away than the village in the Highlands and they had to make the trek up the hill in the hot weather. Our set up was on the very end of the road.

This particular area is much more higher in poverty, the school was not finished being constructed yet either. Dan explained he would love to install an air strip in this village so that it is much easier for mission teams to get to/from this area. One of the villagers who owns a lot of the land we served on, offered part of the land to Dan in hopes to expand the ministry. Please pray for Paradise Bound Ministries as they work on expanding their outreach base.

We did a lot of the same activities with the children/adults as we did the day before including soccer games, toss the ball, bracelets, braiding hair, etc. We were able to serve many families who made their way to our set up. The “Jesus film” played; however, this time we watched the film, sang praise songs, shared testimonies and listened to Pablo’s sermon about walking with Christ all outside in God’s creation. We noticed while we were there, there was ash floating down which we think was from the burning sugar cane. It was another incredible experience to witness so many villagers come to Christ and accept them into their hearts. It was so touching when the children came forward and opened their hearts to the Lord. A lot of the villagers, adult and children, initiated hugs after the alter call which was such a warming experience. We were so grateful to witness such an amazing God provided evening with the villagers and we hope and pray that they are strengthened and called even deeper in their walk of faith.

Dan, Ryan, and Dan G. decided to walk down the extremely bumpy, rocky roads to avoid the shake, rattle, roll aspect of our drive back home. We made it back to the base safely, cleaned up and to sleep we went.

Please continue to keep our team members in your prayers as well as the villagers we are serving. We really appreciate your prayers and support.

(Written by: Glenn, Melissa & Hailey )

Prayers Please

Hello!

Sorry we are behind on blog posts, we have been pretty busy. We will give a more in depth update later, however this morning we wanted to ask for prayer. Many of our team members have fallen ill over the course of this trip, and we ask that you would be in prayer for them as they get over the flu, and other ailments. Dan, from paradise bound, as also fallen ill, although we are excited to have Anya lead today’s activities, please pray that Dan is healed quickly.

They tell us today is a spiritual draining day as we dedicate the houses and ask if the families we built them for would like to accept Christ. Some of our house owners have already accepted Christ into their lives before we even arrived, while others do not want anything to do with it. Some families even have some people who are Christians and some not.

We ask for you to pray for these people as we dedicate their houses. To pray that they feel God’s presence and feel his love calling out to them, and for those who already believe to feel affirmed in their faith. Pray for our team as the day will be spiritually exhausting.

We miss you all,

Team Bridgeway/South Olive

(Written by: Melissa)

Day 3: Con toda tu corazon (with all your heart)

Today we got to sleep in a little bit because it was a clinic day. We had a breakfast of delicious chocolate chip pancakes and watermelon, they really spoil us here. In the morning we had time to do our solo time with God, and to visit the orphanage.

The orphanage is a cute building with many small children, from babies to young kids. Although most of us can’t communicate with words with the children it is amazing to see how open they are to getting to know us. There aren’t really words to say how great the women who work in the orphanage are. They work 48 hour shifts, because they live so far away from base. They take great care of the kids, and they are caring, strong women. Dan reminds us that loving on the kids is great and encouraged, but he also reminds us to love on the nannies too. Pouring love into them so they in turn can continue to pour love out on these children. (I think this is probably a concept all of us can apply in our lives back home as well.) Many in our group have taken this to heart, and change diapers, and do other odds in ends for nannies. Hopefully our help is making their days a little easier. The children bond quickly, and some even cry when team members leave. It is heart breaking to think that they don’t have a family to love on them, but it is reassuring to know that nannies provide a steady and happy life for these little ones.

The rest of the morning we packaged the medicines that we took down with us. We had assembly lines repackaging the medicines into individual portions. We made sandwiches for our dinner at the village and packed rice and beans to give out after the clinic.

Devotions led with worship, praising God and preparing our hearts for the day. We studied Matthew 28: 1-10. From here we discussed having faith in stepping outside of your comfort zone, essentially taking a leap of faith. Today’s devotion was very touching to each of us as we prepared to spread God’s love to a village in the Highlands. Dan expressed to us how much we would be stretched spiritually, emotionally and physically in which we need to seek Jesus and not have fear. God is with us as we go and spread His Word to His people and will always meet us along the way.

After devotions we took a very bumpy ride along the Pan American Highway taking all sorts of twists and turns, down and up the mountain and sometimes along the very edge of the mountain. We got to drive through a small town and saw all the different shops and got to people watch as we went. We stopped at a gas station to fill up, and they had a security guard with a big gun. This is common place in Guatemala, mostly as a precautionary measure. They have gas attendants here, that work on commission, so we got excellent service. After quite a long trip through the mountains, about two hours, we finally reached the village where we would set up the clinic.

Upon arrival, the families gradually trickled outside of their homes as we got off of the buses. We had dulces “sweets” ready to give to the kids as they LOVE their candy. Once we got a soccer ball out and rolling, the kids started joining in on the fun. Even our 70 year old team member joined in. Goes to show that anyone can serve in numerous ways. They are incredible soccer players to say the least. We definitely got schooled. Many team members received some bumps and bruises from falling on the the rocky grounds. It wasn’t the greatest terrain for soccer but it was what we had. In addition to soccer, many rounds of Pato, Pato, Gonso (Duck, Duck, Goose), ball tossing and tag going on. Nail painting, coloring, hair braiding and Futbol Americano were also some other activities played in the village. The little kids’ faces lit up with joy and their smiles widened as we took the time to sit and just spend time with them. Most of us do not speak fluent Spanish so it was amazing to see how we could communicate non verbally and still have strong connections.

It took some of the older community members a bit to warm up to us. The adults usually stood around the outskirts in the shade. The guys of our group did a great job of going and simply talking with them. Tom and Glen chatted with the same group of gentlemen for a long time. It was funny because the young adult men were questioning how old a couple of our team members were and guessed Tom V. was 101 years old. Eventually they even let Tom ride one of their motorcycles. The young men eventually joined in on the soccer games and were incredible.

During this whole time another part of our team was working in the clinic. There was a long line of people out of the door. There was a table full of medicine, and two sides to allow us to get through patients faster. There were a few Guatemalan nurses their who helped diagnose  the families as they came in and then our team members packed the necessary medicines for each family. At this time families were given a ticket for the rice and beans hand out later that night. Inside the clinic the team members got to know the families really well as they were explaining their medical needs to the nurses. The members also got to play with the little kids of the families as they were preparing the necessary meds and make connections with them. The med clinic lasted approximately two hours, serving many families.

As we ate dinner in the classroom, consisting of PB & J’s, ham and cheese sandwiches and various chips, the children were peeking into the window to see what was going on. It was difficult to see their sweet little faces pressed up against the window as we ate our dinner. The team was curious as to whether the people of the village were going to eat dinner or not.

After dinner the team members prepared to go to iglesia “church” with the people of the village. Once most of the village was there they showed a movie that Paradise Bound calls the “Jesus film”. It was in Spanish and covered the life, works, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Having been in Spanish and not being able to understand what they were saying, it was amazing to see the emotion and love pour out through the movie. After about 2/3rds of the way through the film, the power cut out. We all started to get a little nervous as a few people got up to leave. Someone ran to get Dan and he got the system back up pretty quickly, fortunately not many people had left. Some team members felt that this movie section didn’t go so well as many people were not paying attention, however after the movie they noticed a change.

Right after the movie our team went up to the front to sing praise songs. “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “Great I Am ” were on the playlist for the night. When worship was over Dan announced that 3-4  members would share their testimonies in order to share the power of God’s love and grace with the villagers. This was done because there is a preconceived notion that Americans live elaborate lives without any problems. But we all know that is not true. By having Dan translate each testimony the villagers were able to understand what was being shared.

Once testimonies were complete, the sermon kicked off. Which is also where the title of this blog post comes in. Pastor Jesus (hey-zoose) spoke to everyone in the room about loving God with your WHOLE heart and accepting him into your heart as well. Through a booming, passionate voice, Pastor Jesus gave a message that was so powerful that if the people were not paying attention before, were definitely paying attention now. After about a 45 minute sermon, the music cued for the alter call.

Indescribable. That is the word to describe what happened next. The Holy Spirit was felt throughout the church as it settled into each other’s hearts. Villagers and team members experienced something so moving that you would have had to be there to fully understand what happened. As the people of the village come forward, members of the team laid hands on them while praying out loud. Tears fell from the faces of everyone, souls were saved and the power of God was overwhelming. What an incredible thing to witness. Team members range in age from 16-70 and seeing everyone connect and engage on such a deep level with those around them just goes to show what an incredible God we serve and how selfless the members of our team are. Villagers of all ages came forward and cried out to God, dedicating their life to serving God and sharing his word.

After the powerful and moving experience shared by all of us and connecting as one we passed out Bibles to the villagers who openly accepted Christ into their hearts, in which they were extremely happy to receive. We shared a lot of hugs and tears of happiness before we left the church and loaded up supplies. We prayed as a team before leaving thanking the Lord for His goodness and providing the power to do His work in this village. We prayed for Pastor Jesus as having the power of the Holy Spirit move through you as such is a very emotionally and physically draining. We were so thankful to be a part of this village and their church, please keep them in your prayers as they continue their walk with Christ.

The ride home was still long, but uneventful. When we arrived back on base we had an hour to get down with our showers, because they only run the generator for short periods of time. Most of us were exhausted from a long, but wonderful day, so we went to bed pretty soon after all of us had cleaned up.

We covet your thoughts and prayers as we move on to a new village tomorrow that is even larger than today.

~Team Bridgeway/South Olive

(Written by: Collin, Hailey, & Melissa)

 

 

 

Day 2: The rains came down, and the walls went up

We got up bright and early at 5:30 this morning, and had a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs with a side dish of black bean dip and tortilla chips. It was a new experience for a lot of us, but it was very good. We got up early enough that many of us had personal time with God out on the patio in the early morning mist. We then packed up our bags and headed out to the patio to split into teams and pray Guatemalan style. For those who don’t know, this means that we all prayed out loud at the same time, but said amen as a group at the end. If you think about it the is really symbolic of how our team is working together this week, we all have our own jobs, but in the end we all are working for the same end. After prayer we loaded up the vans and headed out to the village.They always have groups pray before they get in the vans, apparently the only two times they forgot they ended up with car trouble.

The village we are working at isn’t very far, only a mile, but because we are in the mountains we needed to take a long and winding road to get there. This made our trip take about an hour. At some points the ride was a little bumpy, but the scenery was beautiful. We passed through a town where the children know that white Paradise Bound vans mean candy, so they shout “DULCES!” which is Spanish for sweets when they see our vans. Cal threw some candy out of the van I was in, and the kids went crazy!

When we got to the village we got right to work. Our equipment is color coated by our team colors. We have 6 teams, so in the end we will have completed 6 houses for 6 families. We parked a little ways away from our house locations, so we grabbed all of our gear and walked to our respective cement slabs. When we got to our sites each building team had a prayer time with the family they were building for. The walls went up quickly, and it was amazing to see how much progress we were making in a short period of time. We got to have a mid-morning snack, some groups had crackers, and other groups had fresh fruit. I heard it was delicious, bananas and pineapple. We had some intermittent rain towards the end of the morning, but thankfully it wasn’t enough to cause any trouble. By the end of the morning it felt like we had put in a full days work and we hadn’t even had lunch yet!

At lunch time the cooks from Paradise Bound came and made us a wonderful meal of rice, beans, and homemade tortillas. Before we dug in we had another prayer Guatemalan prayer. It is really cool to hear so many people talking to God all at once.

Over the course of the morning many of our groups had interacted with the local kids, mostly boys. Many team members handed out wooden cars to the children, they loved them. During our lunch break we played with the kids, and even helped them build ramps for their new cars. Kenzie made a game with the kids where they jumped off a ledge and she caught them after she counted to three. One time she teased a kids by saying, Uno, Dos, …Banana! After that all the kids took turns shouting different fruit names when they jumped to her. It was quite hilarious. Other team members, Ben and Elizabeth gave kids piggy back rides. A wonderful time was had by all.

After that we broke back out into our work teams and went back to work. Most of our teams were working on the patio at this point. It was good that most groups had the tin roof panels on by this point, because it began to rain again. In the afternoon as we got to stopping points more and more of our crew walked around and explored the work sites of other crews.

It was eye-opening to see what a village in Guatemala is like. They have small modest living spaces, and the area is quite dusty due to it currently being the dry season. Some of the houses we passed had small gardens, pigs, or ducks. Most of the area we worked in had corn fields in the surrounding space. As you can imagine corn fields on the side of a mountain are quite different then what either of our groups is used to back home.

We got as much work done as we could for the afternoon and packed up our tools and made our bumpy drive back to base. Many of us hopped in the shower ASAP, but first thing first was to take off our shoes so we don’t track any dirt, parasites, or other bad things back into the base. After changing a few people went down to the orphanage to visit kids. Most of the babies were asleep, but the slightly older ones were still up to visit with. Food was on the table when we got back to base, a chicken and rice dish, with a dessert of a chocolate chip brownie. It was delicious; something about hard work just makes food taste better.

After having some down time to get to know each other better, by playing games, and swapping stories. ( My favorites were some stories about 4-H, and dealing with pigs.) After our down time we all grabbed our journals and Bibles and circled up for devotions.

We sang a few songs with a CD and shared our God sightings for the day. At first the group was a little slow to start talking, but soon many people were sharing where they saw God. In the smiles of the children when we played with them, in the rain as it helped keep us cool and keep the dust down. Another person said  the kindness of the locals sharing their locally grown fruit at snack time, their willingness to share what they have with us truly showed God.

For our Bible reading we read Matthew 14:22-33. Dan told us that although this is a story that many of us are familiar with, that is was especially important to not assume we know everything about the passage. We practiced putting our selves in the story, and thinking about how we would respond, and how this story compared to our lives. He reminded us that the invitation to “Come” out on the waves to Jesus is still relevent today.

Tomorrow we head out to a clinic to hand out medicine, toys, and other gifts. We get to sleep in a little bit, and spend the morning sorting our supplies before we go. It promises to not only be another day full of opportunities to serve God, but also a day to see his mighty hand at work.

We are so thankful for all the thoughts and prayers from our family and friends back home.

Blessings,

Team Bridgeway/South Olive

(Written by: Melissa)