If you have been to Chanco before, you probably know this sweet face. This is Marta. She lives with her mother, father, and two brothers at the top of a steep path bordered by a bean field. Her family professes to be Christian – some of the only believers in the village. Marta, her mother Elsa, and brother Anivel often make visits with the teams and are so generous and supportive in their efforts.
When we first reached Chanco this week, we heard that Marta was ill and we were very concerned. The whole group visited with her Monday and found her up and alert, feeling much better. By yesterday, she was playing games with us and the other village children. It was so good to have her there.
To many of us, Marta represents Chanco. She is a light in an often dark place. Through her trust in Jesus, we find encouragement that others will come to know Him. We can see fruit in Chanco – if only a tiny sprout making its way out of the soil. That’s why it’s so hard to leave.
The title above was Marta’s parting words to us this morning. In fact, I heard this from several children today. And while it’s heart-breaking to hear, it’s so good to know we’re welcome and wanted there. I’m thankful that others will follow us, and that we can confidently say that another team will be visiting in January, if it’s the Lords will.
Many visits were made this week, and the team is already comparing notes and strategizing about how we can reach even more people next time. Some of us have heavy hearts as we sit in Guatemala City tonight, hundreds of miles from Chanco, but we have joy in a God who is good and faithful, and we hope to take this burden for the lost back home with us to Mt. Pleasant. There’s certainly work to be done there, too.
Here are a few more snapshots of our last half-day in Chanco. (The visors were accessories in our “Sharks and Minnows” game.) Enjoy!
After a wonderful visit with the people of Chanco at their festival yesterday, we spent today visiting individuals in their homes and working with the children. We talked, played, and shared God’s love. Several of the people remembered seeing us at the festival and were happy to hear what we had to say. I’m convinced that God used the unexpected (for us) festival to bridge the gap and help the people bond with us even more.
It’s exciting to watch the team grow together as we pray and share with each other. It is my prayer that this fire will continue when we return home to share God’s love in our everyday walks. May our passion for missions grow even stronger.
Tomorrow we’ll have half a day on the mountain. Continue to pray for us – that God will use this time to the fullest and that the people of Chanco will remain open to us during future visits.
Here is a picture of a young man named Christian who suffers from Epilepsy. The College Team prayed with him this summer. He is growing in his faith and was a blessing to visit with. He was very excited to see us and welcomed us back anytime. This is just one example of the joy we’ve found on the mountain this week.
When the team was preparing for this trip, we had a feeling that something special would happen on this trip. We didn’t know what that would look like… until today… Festival day!!
Through some twist of fate (haha… God did it…) we just happen to be here in Chanco when they were having a festival to celebrate the promotion of the kids from the school year; the completion of the new road; and the birthday of the former mayor of Chiquimula. We were told that it would be a big celebration, and we were invited to attend.
When we arrived in the morning, we were asked to sing a song at the promotion event, so we grabbed our gear and headed down to the school house. There were about 40 kids and about 20 parents in the room… man it was tight. We sang Happy Birthday to the former mayor, and sang “Blessed Be the Lord” for the group. They all clapped along and enjoyed the time with smiles and appreciation. The Principal of the school commented that we are both involved in doing the same thing: teaching the people of Chanco. What a special affirmation of the work that is going on here.
After the morning celebrations at the school, we were invited to join them in their main tent where the Marimba band was playing. The community leaders, and the mayor all took turns giving speeches and giving and receiving plaques and hand shakes. It was very formal and yet very familial. After the speeches, they had a ribbon cutting celebration and the mayor was proud to give us a piece of the ribbon.
It was a great day for the team to see the whole community at one time. God put us in this place and time so that we could reinforced relationships with community leaders and simply be present during this historic event.
My personal favorite moment of the day was Renee dancing with the local women. Someone made the comment that she is on everyone’s cell phone in the village. What a great thing! God has most certainly reinforced our place in the community and I trust that many more people will recognize us when we come to their door to share a story with them.
Stewart started our day yesterday by speaking to us from Romans 4:4 and Hebrews 11:6. He reminded us that it is impossible to please God without faith. We need to sincerely seek Him and recognize He is there. God is pleased simply when we believe in Him and seek after Him.
During our morning, we visited folks in their homes and invited adults and children to afternoon bible studies. Please pray that we will have great attendance at our adult bible study on Wednesday. Eleven children came out to hear yesterday’s bible study, and we had a great time playing in the field.
Our team is invited to a celebration in the village today. We are so excited to celebrate with the villagers. It’s graduation for the school, celebration of the new road in the village, and the birthday of a former mayor.
Thank you for your prayers. We can feel them here in Guatemala!! We have been blessed with great weather, and we are so excited about our upcoming days here! Please pray that God’s Will will be done!
We are so thankful for all of your prayers and thoughts! We traveled to Chanco today, which went very smooth. We only had one delay and that was due to a bicycle race. We joked that we witnessed the Tour De Guatemala! After getting to know the team and sharing many laughs during the ride, we made it to Chanco. We set out around the village to prayer walk, stopping here and there to pray for various people and opportunities. The presence of the Holy Spirit was very real to us during our walk, and we are all very excited to see what God has in store for this village. While on their prayer walk, Larry, Stewart, & Gustavo ran into a man named Eusebio and were invited to coffee. They were able to spend some quality time with Eusebio and share different stories of God’s ability to save anyone no matter how old they may be. We are at the hotel and are settling in for the night. We are excited and prepped for tomorrow.
I feel so blessed and honored to be a part of this team. Being away from home is never easy, but I am enjoying slowing down and hearing God speak. It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to and through a person outside of their comfort zone. Please pray for the health of the team (few of us are fighting colds) and for God to use us to bring glory and honor to His Name.
Good morning from Guatemala City! It’s nearly 8:00 as I type and we’re waiting for the van to pick us up and take us to Chanco (with a slight detour to McDonalds!). If all goes well, we’ll spend the afternoon prayer walking and taking in the beauty of the village.
As the blog title implies, we’ve been talking a lot about finding freedom in Christ and the boldness that gives us. Through our evening and morning devotions, David and Larry encouraged us to follow the Lord’s leading and to find strength in His promises. Pray with us that we will be bold, that we will find favor in Chanco, and that the Lord will guide our steps there this week.
For the past two years, First Baptist and LifePark have partnered with International Mission Board workers serving within the villages of Guatemala, and their efforts have focused primarily on the small, mountain village of Chancò. Four to five teams go each year, building relationships with the villagers and encouraging the handful of national believers there.
Our fifth team of the year will be leaving bright and early in the morning for a week-long trip. The team includes Larry Zimmerman, Dave Matthews, Joshua Forrest, Stewart Hulett, Renee Pauley, and Jennifer Lively. Please cover the team in prayer. Pray for safety, health, unity, and clear vision. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide their every move and, above all, that the Kingdom will grow in Chancò!
Pray fervently as the team presses upon the villagers once again the hope that can be found in Jesus. Many there have heard His precious name, but have distorted and combined Mayan customs and Catholic traditions. They worship Mary and the Saints, put faith in good works, seek favor from local “religious” leaders, and have become increasingly apathetic. While they may have His picture in their homes, they do not have a love for Him – Him alone – in their hearts. Yes, indeed, it’s time to return!