Exciting report of my mission trip to Guatemala
Last month I had the incredible opportunity to lead a group from our church on a week-long mission trip to some small Mayan towns in the mountains near Lake Atitlán. You may recall that I first visited there last October with our pastor to see if we should develop a relationship between our church and a native ministry there. Throughout the intervening months God has gradually led the way as we prepared for our church’s first overseas mission trip in several years. Gerald and I were on the receiving end of a few visiting church groups when we lived in Mexico, but almost all my own short-term mission trips have been carried out alone, so organizing such a trip was a new experience for me! Ours is a large church with close to 1,000 people, and my desire was to get as many people (of all ages) as possible personally involved. The result was truly amazing!
The children’s ministry, women’s ministry, and several other groups took up special collections for specific needs, and a huge bin in the church foyer was filled with many varied donated items enabling us to take 12 large suitcases (also donated) weighing over 500 lbs in total!! I was able to give a complete set of my Sunday school curriculum and other children’s ministry resources in Spanish to each participant at the children’s ministry workshop that I taught for 3 days (something none of them had ever attended before). This photo shows us unpacking the suitcases in Guatemala. Monetary donations enabled us to pay the checked bag fees for all the suitcases; provide lunches for all participants at the 3-day children’s ministry workshop (over 50 each day); provide a special meal at the Happy Tummies program for kids and guests (over 50 in all); provide a bag of staple groceries for 3 home visits (along with large bags of the donated items we had brought). In addition, Real Life Church paid for the construction materials to build a much-needed new storage room at the Impacto compound.
The attached Trip report shares more of our experiences on the trip, along with some photos, but what I want to really praise God for is how His presence and guidance was so evident in so many ways throughout the trip. I watched team members step out of their comfort zones and be so blessed as God used them in new ways; and new friendships were forged despite language barriers. Personally, I noticed new challenges in teaching a 3-day workshop in Spanish – as the last time I did so was almost 20 years ago!! But again, I was reminded that it’s not about achieving perfection but rather to develop a relationship with the people – which was confirmed when after the end of the workshop I was detained for almost 30 minutes by participants wanting to take photos with me!! I am so thankful that God used me to inspire and encourage so many others to focus on sharing the Gospel with children and disciple the next generation. The first photo shows an example of a bible skit (David and Goliath) – with volunteers from participants. The 2nd shows a teaching at Happy Tummies.
The following photos show ministry at two Happy Tummies groups where children receive a nutritional meal, bible teaching, and help with homework after school each day. Our team is already eager to return, and we plan to do so next year. We are also planning other ways during the year to continue developing the relationship with our news friends there. I encourage any of you who have not gone on a mission trip, and who are able to do so, to step out in faith – PRAY and ask the Lord to direct your steps as you seek to do your part in the Great Commission! There is NOTHING like connecting with other brothers and sisters in Christ around the world! Blessings, Shirley.
Pastor Sika in Togo – We just learned that heavy rains and flooding have prevented Pastor Sika from leaving his house in Lomé for the past two weeks. His neighborhood has never been flooded like this before, and much of Lomé is underwater. The Joseph Project cornfields (several hours away to the northeast) have also suffered due to excessive rainfall but it is hoped they will be able to save the harvest, although it will likely be smaller. We keep everyone there in our prayers and trust the Lord will sustain and protect them, and provide all that is needed to recover from this inundation. In such poverty-stricken areas, such flooding brings huge risk of disease, polluted water supplies and weakened buildings. The 1st photo shows the flooding beside Pastor Sika’s house, and the 2nd shows the JP cornfield with one of the older boys who will soon be moving to Lomé for an apprenticeship.
Finally, we remember that our dear friend Michael Mwanikha in Kenya celebrated his birthday June 10th rejoicing in Heaven with Jesus. Our thoughts and prayers are with Irene and the children as they continue his incredible ministry that has blessed (and continues to bless) literally thousands of people of all ages across East Africa. We miss you, Michael! This is one of my favorite photos of Mike in action – sharing the love of Jesus with special needs kids at a mobile clinic.