Answering the Call to Serve

Posted by Rick – 1/10/13

The 26th is fast approaching. Back to Guatemala! I like the sound of that! Who would have thought 2 years ago, I would be saying BACK to Guatemala. Prior to the summer of 2011, I would have been hard-pressed to find Guatemala on a map.

In July 2011, I traveled to Chimaltenango with a group to work with Bethel Ministries. Cliche though it may sound, the trip changed me. It was humbling to work with Bethel and see the many facets of their mission. Chris and Donna Mooney and their team have such a heart for the people of Guatemala. Our entire mission trip was a great experience. Afterwards, I knew that somehow, someday, I would be back.

Fast forward to August 2012. Chris and Donna came to the US to visit family, as well as visit some churches. One portion of their trip brought them to Iowa! We were excited to have the opportunity to reconnect with our friends from the south! While we visited with Chris, he explained how Bethel was experiencing a shortfall in wheelchairs and equipment due to supply problems in the States. Chris hugged me and said that he believed that I was to help with that problem. Now, this was one of those “chill run down your back” God moments! Less than a week prior, during my quiet time, I had been praying for God to start using me in a practical way to serve. Chris’ request was an obvious answer to the prayer! After sitting down with Chris and Donna, and with John and Jean Mitchell of “On His Path”, we said we would do our best to help.

Though it seemed lofty, our goal was to send a 40-foot-long shipping container full of wheelchairs and medical equipment to Guatemala in early November. With less than three months to coordinate, and a mountain of equipment to find, our task seemed insurmountable.

Flyers were posted. Newspaper articles and press releases were written. Ads were posted on Craigslist and numerous phone calls were made all in hopes of finding medical equipment to send to the Bethel. Countless prayers were lifted up throughout the process. Slowly but surely, a few wheelchairs and crutches at a time, God provided the equipment.Through much prayer, and the hard work of a team of willing ministry partners, we sent the container to Guatemala on November 6 . Our total equipment numbers are as follows:

126 Wheelchairs, 33 Power Wheelchairs, 246 Walkers, 214 Pairs of Crutches, 26 Canes, 16 Commodes, 64 Boxes of Miscellaneous Supplies and Donated Items. Several monetary donations were also received to aid the wheelchair ministry

It was amazing how God enabled so many different people to come together to make this possible! To use the words of one of our volunteers, “This project truly exemplified the Body of Christ.” Many people and ministries worked together toward the common goal of honoring God.

It has been a blessing to be a part of this equipment drive ministry. The Lord used it to test and strengthen my faith! Through it, God answered prayer after prayer. Just when I would get down, thinking we would be short of equipment, prayers would be lifted up and doors would open and donations would appear! God revealed His power again after Thanksgiving, when I specifically remember praying that I would get back in the Wheelchair collection mode. I prayed that the connections made in the past few months would produce fruit. Literally, 3 hours later, I received a phone call regarding a large donation of wheelchairs; that afternoon I loaded the trailer with 12 wheelchairs and other equipment! WOW!

We did, however, have one slight hiccup in shipping the container. Hurricane Sandy hit the day before we loaded the container, virtually shutting down the east coast shipping point. It was decided that we would pursue Plan B, and send the container to the Bethel by way of California. Though we hoped the container would arrive in Guatemala in time for Christmas, God had other plans. A dock worker’s strike in California forced all shipping out of that port to shut down, stalling our container for one month in a shipyard. Subsequently, the container was flagged to be checked by US Customs to be checked. As we here in Iowa learned of these events, we became very discouraged. One evening, John Mitchell and I, along with our families, specifically prayed for the strike to cease so Chris and Donna could get the equipment they so badly needed. The next morning, God answered our prayers! I received notification that the strike ended, and the container shipped! Even now, the container is on its way to Guatemala. Ironically, the container’s estimated date of arrival at Bethel is January 29 — three days after we arrive there for our mission trip. (I actually thought when loading the container that it would be kind of cool to be there when they received it……I had no idea then that I was even going South again)

During the process of collecting medical equipment, I made a connection with a Bethel Ministries partner in Louisville, Kentucky – Brad Clark. Brad and I worked together on coordinating the logistics of getting equipment he had collected for Bethel delivered to Iowa to go on our container.

Though Brad and I spoke frequently during the collection, I little suspected we would soon meet. Just prior to Thanksgiving, he contacted me with an invitation to join his small team of men from the Louisville area to travel to Guatemala in January. I was excited at the opportunity, especially considering that we will be able to distribute the chairs that we collected!!!

My first trip South was a mixed team of 10 men, women, and teenagers, which was great. However, I am excited about the prospect of this trip being a small group of men. I am also excited about the focus on this trip; how it will focus more on SERVING alongside Juanito to serve the people of his church, and to meet and serve alongside all the guys on this trip. I also look forward to serving my friends at Bethel Ministries!

I know God has great things in store for us!

To John, John, Brad, Scott, Tim and Keith: I am anxious to meet and serve with you all. See you in 16 days!

Dios te Bendiga

Rick (Ricardo) Fulton

PS: There are many opportunities to help Bethel. Please consider participating in our ongoing wheelchair and medical equipment drive, so that the people of Bethel Ministries might better be able to serve the people of Guatemala. Check out their website at www.bethelministriesinternational.com     If you have any connections for equipment, please contact Brad, myself or any of the guys on the team!  Thank you!

Amazing how God provides!

Posted by Brad – 1/5/13

Less than 3 weeks to go.  It is starting to seem real…almost!  This is always the hardest part for me.  Just like other things in life, when you have a lot of time until something happens, you are able to put it aside and just know you have a while to wait.  Inside of one month, it becomes much more difficult to be patient.  It begins to seem real.  Almost in reach!

It was so cool to see how God built the team of seven men we have going.  All from very different backgrounds and life experiences.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to serve alongside them all.  Fundraising is always the most difficult part.  You have a list of projects you hope to accomplish.  Sometimes it is a long list, as we are able to do so much in one week.  You never know what kind of support you will ultimately be able to raise, but you simply rest in the fact that this is God’s trip, to do His work, for people that He loves in Guatemala.  So, He is in control.  As always, He blows me away with His faithfulness to provide.  I have been so proud of everyone on the team.  They have been working hard, spreading the word about the trip.  Friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers have all come together to help us achieve the goals that we have.

It really is a team effort, and that team includes everyone who has helped us get to where we are today.  And where is that?  I am very happy to announce that we have officially reached our fundraising goal for the projects we hope to accomplish!!!  Exciting!!!  Thank you to everyone who has helped us.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t still use some financial help.  We always find needs in Guatemala that we did not plan on.  So, if you can help us prepare for the unseen, great.  But, it is such a relief to have this time as we approach the trip free to make last minute preparations, get packed, pray, read God’s Word and learn the words to some Spanish praise and worship music.  That’s right…we plan on singing along with Pastor Juan’s church in Spanish.  Won’t that be quite a sight (and sound).

Less than three weeks.  What a blessing.  I know that each man is excited to get down there and do the work we plan on doing.  Allow ourselves to be used by God to do His work, not ours.  That is always the best part.  We go down there with plans, and then we finally get to see what God really has in store for us. It’s not about accomplishing a list of items.  It’s about letting God use us as He wants to.

Praying with families.  Spreading the Word of God.  Loving those who God brings us into contact with.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Well, it could be better.  We could be flying to Guatemala tomorrow!  🙂

Dios te Bendiga (God Bless You)  And I really mean that!!!

The wheels on the bus go 'round-and-round'

Posted by Brad

The wheels on the bus go round-and-round…

Does anyone have the keys to this bus?

We leave for Guatemala in 81 days.  I know that may seem like a long time…but it’s NOT!!!  Between preparations for, and enjoyment of Thanksgiving and Christmas, those days are going to absolutely fly by. Don’t get me wrong.  I am going to enjoy every day with my family during my favorite time of the year.  But, I am so excited that January 26th is rapidly moving closer.

Our team of men has been growing since we started planning the trip.  I love seeing how God builds the team every year.  As of now, it looks like we are going to have six men traveling: four are returning, and two are new.  It is always exciting to watch people’s lives transformed in Guatemala.  I remember my first year traveling down to Guatemala to work with Bethel.  I had no idea what to expect.  I could visualize the projects they said we would work on.  But, until I actually got there, it seemed somewhat distant.   I know it will be that same way for the new men in the group.  Quite honestly, it is still like that for me as well.  Every year is new.  New projects, new people, new ways the Holy Spirit uses us for God’s Glory!  You leave the USA excited to see how we can bring Him Glory.  As the week progresses, you literally see the fire growing stronger in each man’s heart and soul.  By the end, you have a group of men ready to go wherever the Spirit leads.

I will make a quick plea for your help in raising funds for our projects.  We will be doing a 50 wheelchair distribution for the disabled, building a house, installing stoves, and distributing food and clothes.  All of these projects require funds.  We truly need the help of friends like you. If you are in the position to help in any way, please email me at bradups0301@yahoo.com

I once heard someone try to characterize the life of a Christian as dull, boring and predictable.  When you have been born again and truly make yourself available for the purposes of God, nothing could be further from the truth.  As I have mentioned in an earlier post, it is just as C.S. Lewis described in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series, “further up and further in!”  The more of yourself you give, the more He uses your heart, hands and feet.  Before you know it, the wheels are moving ahead in such a way that you couldn’t stop the bus, even if you wanted to…and I certainly never want this to stop! It starts with a little, and grows into so much more.  Thank you God for allowing us to be useful in Your service!!!

It’s all for His Glory!!!

Dios te Bendiga,

Brad

It just wasn't worth it!

Brad – Final thoughts – 2-13-12

“It just wasn’t worth it!!!”

Have you ever uttered those words?  “It just wasn’t worth it!”  I have…plenty of times.  I have used it to describe big events, and little ones.  To me, it describes the emotion of spending a lot of time doing something that you thought was going to be totally worth the effort, but in the end, turned out to be a waste of time.  Maybe it was a 2500 calorie chocolate dessert that looked great on the menu, but tasted like cardboard.Continue reading

Scott – Final Thoughts

Posted by Scott 2-6-12

Monday morning and all is well.  I’m back to work, and I’m 6 hours into the regular routine of the life God blessed me with.  My head is buzzing with thoughts of last week’s activities, but I am back in the “river” of my normal life, and it is pulling me downstream as fast as I can paddle.   Gotta put my heart into words before I’m swept away. For those of you who may have wondered why there were no blog entries from me last week, I wanted to let you know I was purposefully silent.  I was doing my best to listen (which I think I did not do to well). Continue reading

The Walls Break

Posted by Brad 2-5-12

Well, we are all safely home and trying to settle back in to our daily lives with our families. It is always a challenge to re-enter life here in the US, remembering what we saw, what God allowed us to experience and trying to never go back to the way we were before. I pray that God gives us all the strength to do that.

This morning at church, my emotional walls broke. Continue reading

On the road – Day 6/7

Day 6/7 – continued 2-4-12

Well, we made it to the airport. I was ready to sit down and write the blog. I looked to find wifi. I saw the “free” airport wifi. I think the reason it is “free” is because you can’t use it. In all the years I have been here, I have never been able to use it. Continue reading

On the run

Day 6 Posted by Brad 2-4-12

What an amazing day! I am going to keep it brief, as we are leaving the hotel for the airport.

We had an amazing day of visiting families, making friends, discovering needs and fellowship. We started the day by visiting a young man who has been suffering from arthritis. We listened and prayed. His father is a pastor who needs study materials to share the Gospel.Continue reading

Chairs of hope, hearts of joy!

Day 5  Posted by Brad 2-2-12 We started the day with a first for everyone in the group. We drove to Santa Lucia, near Antigua, and participated in a wheelchair distribution for 22 people. We were able to sponsor the distribution because of the generosity of our friends and family. Thank you for your support! […]

Continue reading

Blessings – Day 4

Day 4 – Posted by John – 2-1-12

How does one on a short term mission trip convey impressions from “the field?”

Considering the chasm of distance, language, borders, and culture, it can be challenging. From the comforts and confines of our American lives, it is truly “a world away.” It is perhaps impossible to imagine the reality of having to find firewood to cook the next meal, or living miles from town with no means of transportation to go to the doctor. Or that your country has recently emerged from thirty years of civil war. Or that every few years, hurricanes come that create such floods that entire villages are washed away, and with them all their earthly possessions.

Life is difficult here.Continue reading