From Chiquimula to Antigua

Today ended our time in Chiquimula. We drove from Chiquimula to Antigua which was about a five hour drive. Here in Antigua we will be spending the remaining day with the Whites who live here in the city. This trip has been an awesome experience and we’ve seen God do a lot of great things both in the lives of many people in Guatemala, but in the lives of our team as well. We have all noticed God growing each our our confidence. Some of us, me included, came into this trip a bit fearful for various reasons, mine being that I haven’t shared before. But God was faithful and his spirit gave us the words to speak the truth about Him confidently to the people. Also, praise God for the work he has been doing in the hearts of the unbelievers we were able to witness to. Some of them we have no idea how it impacted them but we clearly saw it impact others, who realized their need for God. That was great to see, but I also really enjoyed our time with different believers. We went to give them encouragement and I think we can all agree that their stories really gave us encouragement too. One woman and her husband moved away from their home because a church really needed a pastor. So the woman and her husband felt called to step up, so she and her husband were willing to give up their home and move onto the church where their was a small shed in which they now live and can hardly fit. It is extremely modest even by the Guatemalans’ modest standards. Other people in the village ask them why they would stay in such a small shed like that but they were willing to do anything for God, and that was encouraging to see. And they had so much joy. They know that God is worth it all and that he is the only thing in life that matters, and they are willing to do anything for him. And they put complete trust in God that he would produce fruit in a church and an area that hadn’t been thriving very much spiritually. It really encouraged me seeing the example that they set, an example that makes me examine myself and think about how I can be more like them and put more trust in God so that I will be willing to do anything for him, even when it’s incredibly hard. Thanks for all your prayers and please continue to pray for the Guatemalans, that what they heard about God will sink in and that God will give them a desire to follow him.
-Luke B

Our Day in Nearar

What an awesome day our team had!  It was truly a picture perfect day as we drove through the majestic mountain ranges to the town of Nearar to make home visits.  Our team of eight divided into two teams this morning to visit with some of the people Pastor Rafael suggested. 

Our team visited a young man named Luis who was about 18 years old.  He told us his brother had passed away last week and his mother and sister were away from the home.  Two team members gave their personal testimonies. As I began to share the prayer of faith with Luis, suddenly I felt something grab the corner of my skirt. Turning quickly around, I discovered a hog had clamped his teeth on my skirt so I paused my prayer while I grabbed it from his mouth. Thankfully, I was able to resume where I had left off in prayer.  Everything turned out splendidly.  Luis prayed the prayer of faith and accepted the Lord as Savior.  He smiled when I told him that he was now our brother in Christ.  Miguel, our translator, gave him a Spanish Bible to read to help him in his newfound faith.  

Later that afternoon, we worshiped with the church of Nearar, Iglesias Bautista.  It was a sweet time of fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Three of our members gave personal testimonies and we sang praises to our Lord and one member of our group spoke a message about the power of prayer.  Afterwards, the children were given homemade jump ropes which thoroughly delighted them.  

We truly enjoyed our day in Nearar and hope to return for another visit in the future.  The sun was slowly sinking below the mountains casting shadows on the valley below as we made our descent on the winding road back to our motel.  I felt like today was the highlight of our time spent in Nearar. To God be the glory!

-Carmalyn

Be sure to check back tomorrow for pictures!

Entertained by Angels

1C0101EE-3209-49BE-85EC-2B36293EE6FB.jpeg“Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1-2). We are far from angels, but I was honored to be accepted into the homes of so many believers and non-believers today, and to see God’s commands being lived out.

We began our day with a delicious buffet breakfast. Carmalyn then nourished our souls with a wonderful devotion. Today the team was split into two groups so that we could visit more people. As we traveled up the mountain we passed many children heading to school and adults going to work. Even though the location and language is different, the needs of all people are the same. Not money or even health, but a heart surrendered to God.

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We traveled up the mountain for quite a while, over rutted roads and passed dust coated trees and homes. My group’s first visit was with a man who for 7 years had been so depressed and anxious he developed a phobia of leaving his home. He could not even travel down the mountain to the church he taught in. I was encouraged that though his mind told him daily to give up hope, he preserved and God healed him of his phobia. This man once again leads his church. For anyone who has ever dealt with depression, it can sometimes seem that there is no end in sight, no hope for mental healing. Yet, God is with us always. On a side note, it happened to be one of his daughters’ ninth birthday and we got to sing and play with her before moving on. The teams then came back together for a quick sandwich lunch before heading out again, this time together.

Our next visit was with a girl of 17 and her mother and sister. This young woman suffers from an unknown disease but one that resembles crippling arthritis. She is nearly completely bedridden and often in pain. Her mother continues to pray for healing for her daughter even though the father tells her to give up hope. She refuses to lose faith, not necessarily for healing, but in God’s sovereignty. At one point she even said, “I will continue to serve God even if my daughter dies.” This small family worked together to support one another. Even the younger sister, the only family member who could read, would read to her mother and sister from the Bible. What a beautiful display of love, trust, and obedience to God.

From there we visited the family of our translator and mission partner, Miguel. We spent some time speaking with his mother and sister and playing with two of his nephews. When we finished there we went down the road a ways to a woman who though is not a Christian, continues to open the door to the missionary groups that have come to see her over the years. Even though this visit ended the same as many before, her rejecting Christ, I was encouraged that she allowed us to speak with her and that one of her adult daughters was at home to hear about God. This reminded me that God seeks us even when we are not seeking Him, that no matter how long it takes for us to realize and accept God’s love, He is always offering it.

At this time we made our way back to the hotel for an early dinner of quesadillas and papas fritas, french fries, yum! We then headed into a town nearby to participate in a church serve. Jill bravely shared her testimony, Savannah expertly told the story of the Woman at the Well, and David wonderfully preached on how our emotions are tied to the things we devote ourselves to and how God should be our one and only devotion. 

It was a long, dusty, beautiful day. We surely rejoiced and where glad in it. Please continue to pray for our team as we set out for another day of mission work. Pray that God will allow us to be encouragement to the believers we meet and use use for His will to be done. Also pray that God will open the hearts of the nonbelievers we encounter today. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.

Grace be with you,

Sally

God is with us and He is for us

Hi family and friends,

We have arrived and have had an encouraging first day in Guatemala!

Our flight from Charleston was delayed yesterday, which resulted in us missing our connecting flight in Atlanta. The next flight wasn’t until 6:11 pm, so we knew we were in for a long day! Our layover flew by. We filled our time with rest, reading, a handful of stories and a devotional from Dave, some shopping, and fellowship. It was a sweet time, and I feel like we all grew closer as a team.

Dave’s devotional was on worry, and it was so timely. As this trip approached, some of us found ourselves worrying about different things. But God tells us multiple times NOT to worry or be frightened. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. God is with us and He is for us, and that is such an encouragement to the team as we go out into the villages of Guatemala this week.

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We spent Sunday night in Guatemala City and planned to head to Chiquimula the next morning. Before leaving for Chiquimula, we spent time in prayer and in God’s word. Liz’s devotional emphasized the importance of pulling away and being in constant communication with the Lord. Today’s time in the mission field was spent in two separate believers’ homes. We got to see their place of worship, hear testimonies, and get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ. During our travel time, team members shared their testimonies. This was a great way for us to get to know each other on a deeper level and discover ways we can encourage one another this week.

Continue to pray for us as we share the gospel and work to uplift fellow believers in Christ during our time here.

In Christ,

Jill & Savannah

Guatemala January 2020

Guatemala Team Cover pics

Hi church!

This January, we are sending out a team to serve in Guatemala from the 12th through the 18th. The team consists of Dave Matthews, Jill Ussery, Carmalyn Miller, Eric Meeks, Sally Smith, Luke Bruner, Savannah Hallman and will be led by Liz Bruner. They will serve alongside our global planters David and Regina White and their boys, Cruz and Ben.

Guatemala Whites
The Whites

This team will be serving in familiar areas such as Chanco, Nearar, and villages outside of Chiquimula. We have been partnering with missionaries in these areas for about 8 years now. During that time, many teams have had the opportunity to visit our partners, share the gospel with nonbelievers, and encourage brothers and sisters in Christ. The January team will be encouraging believers within individual’s homes, schools, and churches. As they go along, they will seek to share the gospel with nonbelievers they cross paths with in pursuit of the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

As the team gets ready to go to Guatemala, please keep them in your prayers. Here are a few specific ways you can be praying for them:

  • Pray that God would prepare each team member’s heart. Ask that their time in the word and in prayer would be encouraging and spiritually nurturing as they prep for the work God has in store for them in Guatemala.
  • Pray for finalizing details concerning trip finances and flights.
  • Ask for God to calm the nerves of any of the team members who may be anxious about the trip. Pray that He would give them His peace and increase their dependency and trust in Him.
  • Pray for the people of Guatemala, that God would soften their hearts so they will be ready to hear and receive the gospel.
  • Give praise to God for the obedience of the members of this team and their willingness to serve. Ask that God would raise up others in our church to participate in missions, working together to spread the seed of the gospel to all nations.
  • Pray for safe travels as they head out Sunday morning, January 12th.

We are all called to participate in missions in one way or another. That may not always look like participating on a team, but may be through giving and praying. Giving enables the members of this team to be able to go serve in Guatemala, and praying encourages and supports the team in miraculous ways as God hears each prayer. So thank you for supporting our teams whether it is by giving or through prayer, or both!

Check back for daily updates from the team to read about what they are doing in Guatemala!

Final Thoughts from Guatemala

On Friday, we spent our last day in Antigua with the Whites. What a wonderful city! We enjoyed chocolate museum and coffee plantation tours, beautiful architecture, and even witnessed volcanoes grumbling. This whole week, God’s beautiful creation has been on full display. The countryside with the mountains, rivers, and streams reminded me of Psalm 104. (Take a minute to read it here.) His creation which he spoke into existence now reflects his glory.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to bring my family so they could experience the great commission to take the gospel to the nations. It has been wonderful watching my wife and children interact in the local villages. We have experienced so much in the different villages we visited. One thing is the same, the need for the gospel. The families in Guatemala struggle with the same brokenness and sin as we do –  and what a joy it is to tell the good news of the gospel and how it changes lives! What an experience it is to share Jesus’ love with an entire family for the first time in their lives and see the Spirit at work. That’s what has been on my heart all week. This trip has really grown my family and challenged us to love even more and bring that love back to where we live and work.

Because of his great love for us, we can go and love others. That puts the gospel on display for others to see. And, now that we’re back in the States and settling into our normal routines, that’s what we will endeavor to do each day.

Enjoy these photos from the last few days, and thank you so much for your prayers for this team. They were felt and very appreciated. It was a fantastic week!

 

 

Through the Eyes of Children

What a joy it’s been to have the James kids serving with us this week! Their sweet smiles and willing spirits helped break down many barriers as we visited in homes, and certainly as we shared the gospel with  more than 120 children in the past 3 days. Here’s a little take-away from each of them. I pray that as you read this you’ll  consider how the Lord could use you and your family in a global missions role.

 

 

Hey, this is Maggie (14), and this is my first missions trip with the church. I have experienced many new things as I’ve traveled all the way to Guatemala. On the second day we visited a more rural village and went door to door sharing about Jesus, and we invited many of the kids we saw to join us at one of the homes in the afternoon. We shared about Daniel in the lion’s den. I bonded with many of the kids and showed them God’s love. Through all this I witnessed many lost people in the villages, and I feel that our group showed light to the darkness in the village. I enjoyed and loved witnessing my mom, Dossie, share about God through her story. This definitely made an impact on many people in the village. Overall this day was my favorite. I feel that many of the kids were engaged in learning about God. In my time in Guatemala I have learned so much about another culture and I learned more about God, and I am excited and grateful I was given this opportunity to come to Guatemala.

Hey, this is Henry (12), and this is also my first missions trip with the church. There were a lot of fun experiences while I have traveled in Guatemala. I have seen a lot of beauty and I think of God when I see it because it is his creation. The kids on the trip had a lot of energy while learning about God and doing activities with my dad, Benjie. Each day, we played a game where my dad pretended to be God. We would blindfold one of the kids and then they would try to find God, but it was hard so we got another kid to play Jesus, and he would help the blindfolded kid find God. So in all we had a fun trip and grew in God’s word and it was probably the best opportunity I’ve ever had.

 

Hey, this is Allie (11). This is my first missions trip with the church. We visited many villages and homes. I thought the scenery was very beautiful. It looked like the kids had lots of fun playing with my dad and listening to all the bible stories. I thought it was fun seeing the kids play the game where they would blindfold a kid and the other kids would try to tell the other kid where God was, but then a kid would be Jesus and direct the other kid to God. I thought that was a great way to show the kids there is no way to the father except through Jesus. On the last day of mission work I got to pray for a lady and her family, so I prayed for her home and her needs because her home was not as advanced as ours. It was harder for her to get her food and her water. On Wednesday, I did a devotional about putting the full armor of God on every day. This taught me that we need to always be prepared to read our Bible and go out and share the gospel. I have had a great time here in Guatemala!

(The WiFi is pretty weak in our hotel tonight, so we’ll have to post more photos next time!)