Monday, April 30, 2012

An Extended Home Visit

I couldn't have imagined a better experience. Several people came to know the Lord. We had an awesome worship experience. We rebuilt a house. We built a roof. We installed walls and doors. We spent time sharing our faith and living out the Gospel. It was awesome!

The highlight for me was the 2 1/2 days we spent with a family of 14 in desperate need of better living accomodations. I thought going to Guatemala that we were going to work on the roof. Little did I know that meant roof plus the walls that support it. The family went from looking at us with a bit of distrust to smiles and true feelings of togetherness in the Lord. On the last day, the father knelt and prayed with two of the team members. The women in our group got to do several home visits where people were saved, but the guys were working on this house. The fruit came on the last day when the father was praying. I was so involved in working that I failed to realize we were doing an extended home visit!

Another thing that I will treasure forever was spending time trying to communicate with members of two different families. My Spanish is poor at best, but I had a blast trying to converse with the children. It solidified what God had been saying to me for a while that it doesn't matter where you're from, people are just people. We all have basic needs and we all are in need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I also thought it was great that the trip wasn't just focused on helping others but was also about working on our own walk with the Lord. I enjoyed the recaps each night, hearing what God was doing in and through each person. I pray that I have the opportunity to return to Guatemala.

This post was written by Chris Button of Huntsville, Alabama, who traveled to Guatemala in March of 2012 as a mission trip participant.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Humbled to be a part..

The following post was written by Laura Dunham from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Laura and her family participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, I want to say that God orchestrated a phenomenal team for this trip-including our wonderful translators! God used each of you in different ways to teach us & to grow us in faith! We came home with new, sweet friends-something we didn't anticipate. I cherish the spirit filled, real talks I had with members of the team. So thankful to have been around God seeking people who desire to know Him more and live for Him.

I wasn't sure what to expect on the trip. I knew I wanted to serve- the key word is "I." I did have prayers and hopes for the trip, but wasn't sure how it was going to go. God used the trip to talk personally to me, to confirm some things He has been doing and working on in my life and also to encourage me and confirm me as I parent my children.

We wanted to take the children so that they could be exposed to what we talk about and what they hear preached on Sunday mornings. The boys were resistant to going. At the end of our trip, they didn't want to leave. They now ask "When can we go back?" They want to do it more of it! When I asked them what impressed them the most, they talk about having joy apart from our circumstances and being broken by the pain and suffering they witnessed. When Natalie speaks of Guatemala, she is full of emotion- not only due to what she saw but for the people there. God is developing a heart for the nations in them! I can't wait to see how He grows it.

Personally, I had many moments in which were highlights for me:

-being the recipient of the warm, friendly smiles in the faces of the children and adults I got to meet and talk with

-watching Benji being a part of one of the PE classes, seeing the boys playing with him and the HUGE smile on his face as he played with them (he was scared to go and had been prayed over by his small group before and during the trip)

-meeting Alma and watching how she has adapted and learned to get around in her home despite her physical limitations- and doing so without complaints or a poor attitude, actually with a sweet smile on her face

-playing ball with Mark Antonio; that was really a sweet time. An 18 year old boy, who didn't want the Americans coming to help his family, playing catch with me and his younger brother, laughing and smiling.

-seeing Juan, that father of the large family, laughing with Caleb one day

-food bag deliveries/home visits- watching it unfold, seeing God work, being a participant mostly in observation, praying over women and feeling inadequate to offer up words of encouragement on their behalf but trusting the Spirit to intercede on my behalf for them, loving every minute of it

-Tabitha House- hanging out with so many children who are craving love and attention, not being sure I had anything to offer and then being obedient by sharing some things I don't normally share with a group on women who I can't communicate with, being the recipient of a huge blessing and being able to pray over some sweet women who, more than likely, depend on God in a much more mighty and powerful way that I do

I don't feel like I did much, but I feel like I received so much. I came home heavy hearted. Satan tried mightily to sabotage the intimacy that developed with Christ, the desire to want more of it and the trust that grew over the week. Two kids were throwing up & one had lice. There must be something that went on that God is going to use & is using for His glory....humbled to have been a part of it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Maria's Room

The guest blogger today is Lee Griffin of Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife Laurie participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

Many thoughts and memories come to mind but one that comes to mind in particular involved Maria, the elderly lady from our construction day/night near New Jerusalen church. She was so happy to see us and kept showing us a picture of her and a teenage American girl who had apparently visited her on a previous mission trip. Anyway, Bobby, Chris and I built a “room” which was essentially a box with a door around her little bed. When she was brought back to see it, she sat on the bed and wept. We had to put in the door hardware but she didn’t want to leave her new room. It brought tears to my eyes thinking how a little material item (to us) meant so much to someone when brought in the name of our Lord.

The beautiful children at the school where I got to spend half a day were fantastic. So open and friendly! Also, the power of prayer evident during our trials in getting the house built was amazing. I am certain that we would not have gotten through the communication barriers to complete the job had not the hand of God been upon us. Also, the bonding and fellowship among a group of believers that largely didn’t know each other prior to the trip was a wonderful blessing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reflecting on Guatemala

This post was written by Melissa Kuenzli from Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. She traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip with her husband in March of 2012.

Wow! What an amazing time of worship, fellowship and service we had with you all! Our week started with an amazing Sunday worship service. The Holy Spirit was powerfully felt in that place. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Lillian, who is studying English. We passed notes so we could get to know one was cool! Her first note started out like this...."I love Jesus. Do you love Jesus?"

The top 3 things that keep coming back to me as I reflect on my week in Guatemala are:

1. Spending the day with the kids at Tabitha House and then sharing a beautiful time of fellowship with the moms in the afternoon. Prompted by the Spirit, we shared our testimonies with them and they shared theirs with us. We shared things with these ladies that surprised us...I personally was surprised at what the Spirit prompted me to share. God can and does use our past for His glory.

2. During the home visits on Thursday, we got to see God work in a mighty way as the Gospel was shared and received by an entire village. Our first visit that day was to a woman who was already a believer but struggled because she was the only Christian in her community. She asked for prayers of strength because her family was against her faith. As we left her home and prepared to visit the next...we were surprised to find out that our next visit was just outside her door on her front porch...with her family! This was the family we had just been praying for to receive Christ. Charlene did an amazing job of letting the Holy Spirit speak through her as she spoke of God's love and forgiveness and his gift of Jesus Christ. Each home we visited that day accepted Christ. It was truly amazing to see that God had been there ahead of us preparing hearts, that God was there with us as we shared the Gospel, and that God will continue to be there as discipleship continues through the amazing people of the church of Lantana.

3. The growth and cohesion that developed in our small group. We all have such different backgrounds and different personalities and God uses us all for His Kingdom. I enjoyed getting to serve alongside you all and getting to know the ladies in our group on a much deeper level.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our Back Yard

This post was written by David Dunham of Chelsea, Alabama. He and his wife, Laura, attend The Church at Brook Hills and are the parents of four awesome kids, Natalie, Jacob, Caleb and Benjamin. Their family went to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, let me begin by saying this was the most amazing mission trip I have been on. I really appreciated One Way’s emphasis on early morning Bible study and evening briefings to keep one’s proper perspective on why we were on the trip. It is very easy to get so busy doing that you miss what God is doing and His blessings. To begin a week of servanthood by worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ was phenomenal. The Spirit of God was palpable; you could feel the unity of the believers in the Spirit. Although we didn’t know the language, there was no sense of embarrassment or worrying about anyone looking at you. I spent most of the worship service crying like a baby. We as the “American Church” have a lot to learn from our Guatemalan brothers and sisters. Like Brother David Platt began his sermon this last Sunday, “Our worship of Christ is a reflection of our belief in Christ. What we think about Jesus will determine how we worship Jesus.” Worship reflects belief. Well, those brothers and sisters in Guatemala left no doubt Who their object of worship is.

This was the first trip Laura and I have gone on together and the first for our entire family. The boys and I were blessed to share the pool house with Bobby, Dave and Andy. I can’t begin to tell you guys how grateful I am to you. As a dad that tries to teach and live as an example to his boys, it was awesome to have such Godly men to reinforce the Gospel and the importance of missions to my boys. Every topic was a reinforcement of this, so, thanks again Bobby, Dave, and Andy.(Bobby and Dave were participants from Georgia and Andy was from Huntsville.)

As for how the trip affected us as a family:

Laura and I have tried to explain the physical and spiritual need of other parts of the world to our children - how a great percentage of people of the world (outside the U.S.) live on less that $2 a day. Nothing drives that home better than witnessing it for yourself.

Benji commented, “It made me sad that these kids were living in a dump; I wanted to cry.”

Natalie said, “My favorite part of the trip was meeting Alma. It was sad for me to say goodbye to her; she gave me strength when I saw her struggle.”

Caleb said, “The people we so humble. They didn't have anything, yet they were joyful.”

Jacob exclaimed, “They have nothing, but they are happy. They are happier than we are and we have everything!”

Wow... what insight! My children got to see poverty vs. abundance. These are the lessons you can’t teach; they have to be experienced. My kids got to see that kids are kids anywhere you go. Despite the language barrier, they were able to play and just have fun with the local children. It impacted them that these kids had little, but they had joy. I think they understand that “things” don't make us happy. God, family, and relationships are what is important and give us joy.

As a result of this trip, our family has decided to become more intentional. We are going to get to know our neighbors and live the Gospel for them. We don’t have to get on a plane and go around the world to share the Gospel (although some of us are called to do just that). The nations start right in our own back yard. And who knows, around the world may just be our back yard one day.