Closing thoughts from Tim:
I have served on several mission trips since high school. Among those trips have been Guatemala several times. I have served in Guatemala as both a member and organizer (I don’t like to say leader because I feel Christ is our leader, we simply pull it together for Him). A couple of months ago, Brad asked me to go with his team in February to serve. After praying and discussing the opportunity with my family, I accepted the invitation and February 1 quickly arrived.
We arrived in Guatemala on Saturday, February 1 and I met the team at the Guatemala airport. Brad met me with a hug, and I was introduced to Eddie and Ray. We arrived at the hotel, had dinner, then settled in to prepare for the week.
Sunday, we went to 2 different houses and met with families to install new stoves for them. One of the families had five members who accepted Christ during the visit. I knew God was awesome, but wow! We also attended a church that Juanito pastors. They had an anniversary celebration while we were there, and we had awesome time celebrating a milestone of the church with them. (Juanito lives in Tecpan, Guatemala and ministers with Bethel as an employee who serves in many capacities)
Monday, I was down for the count. I apparently ingested some bacteria in the country, and I was able to see all my insides that I never knew existed. I will leave it at that. This really bothered me as I love distributing wheelchairs and today was the distribution day. I was not able to attend and that made me feel worse. I felt that I was letting our small team down. While in the hotel room, I could not get comfortable. I couldn’t lay down, I tried to sleep while laying against the concrete wall which didn’t help. I sat for a few hours in a wooden chair, just staring at the wall, but that didn’t help. Finally, I was able to rest once the team returned. It was weird. During the time of discomfort, I was able to message with friends and family. Rick Fulton shared with me that he had once been on a trip and a member became ill. The member told him that “God didn’t want him to go on that day”. I then considered that statement and said well maybe there was a reason I didn’t know about. God did work though as 8 people accepted Christ during the distribution.
Tuesday, we began our day visiting with Luki and her family. Luki is a friend who Brad’s team tries to visit each time they return to Guatemala. To summarize Luki’s story, she had been struck by a vehicle while crossing the road many years ago. The officials pronounced her dead and placed a sheet over her body while they waited for the Guatemalan equivalent to a coroner. While they were waiting, a person on the scene saw Luki’s had moving. The official told others and the ambulance crew took her to the hospital. She now lives in pain from various injuries, but she still praises God.
Our second stop was with another friend, Lucy. Lucy is 60+ years old and has never been married. She has worked hard all her life and lives a simple lifestyle, as does most Guatemalans. Eventually, arthritis began to control her body and now she has great difficulties getting around. Where she does go, she does not hesitate to share about Jesus. When she goes to the store, to the doctor, to the bus stop, she shares stories about Jesus with whomever will listen. The living area of her house does not have pictures hanging on the walls. Instead, it has papers with different scriptures scribbled on them by her own hands. During our visit and prior to us leaving, Lucy us all to stand. She then closed her eyes and sang songs to worship and praise Jesus for everything.
We then traveled to a house to install a stove for a family. The mother of the family said they attended a Pentecostal church, but they had not been going for several months. She knew she needed renewing in her heart. Chris, founder of Bethel, gave the children some salvation bracelets that I had brought with me on the trip. (The bracelets had been made and prayed over by some children at First Baptist Murray) Chris then explained what each of the beads on the bracelets represented. After discussing the bracelets, three of the children asked Christ into their lives. When one of the girls sat down, I noticed a light shining a perfect circle on her chest. I noticed the light was coming through a small hole in the house’s tin wall and was shining from the sunlight. I made a statement to Chris to look at the light as it was now shining brightly in her heart since she had accepted Christ. He then interpreted my words to her, and she gave a big smile.
We then attended a men’s Bible study at the church we had worshipped at on Sunday. I had been asked to give a devotional time, so I spoke about having faith. I expressed that we should share our faith, be faithful to Christ and our families, and have faith in our brothers in Christ. All the faith will help us to keep moving forward in our Christian walk. One of the attendees to the Bible study was Rojelio, who accepted Christ on Sunday when we installed a stove at his house. It was a blessing to see this.
Wednesday, we went to a very remote area that took a couple of hours of driving up a mountain. At one point, the elevation was over 8,000 feet. Once we arrived, we had to hike down a large hill to get to the house build location. The family consisted of a father (not able to walk due to an 80-foot fall), wife, and a 9-year-old daughter (already speaks 3 languages – Spanish and 2 Mayan dialects). We built the house then moved the new furniture in. We had brought a new chifforobe, a small plastic table with chairs, and a new bunk bed with three levels. The family was very thankful for all the donations from winter hats and a backpack to a new house.
We then drove back to Tecpan where we had a meal that had been provided by the leadership members of the church. During the meal, one of the members stood up and shared a story about the man who had accepted Christ on Sunday, then attended the Men’s Bible study on Tuesday. We learned the man went to his home after the Bible study and told his wife how wonderful it was to now have friends who like to celebrate and share with each other. This testimony from the member was truly inspiring.
Thursday, we installed a stove for another family in Tecpan. While installing the stove, we noticed we didn’t have a level to ensure the ground was just right for the stove. We also noticed we didn’t have a cap for the chimney. This was not usual as all the prepared bags of parts always had the parts including the caps. This was significant because rainwater could enter the chimney and possibly extinguish the stove’s fire. We ensured the family a member of Bethel would return to complete the stove install by placing the cap on. The family was thankful and understood.
We then drove to Xepac, a small village approximately an hour and a half away. Once in Xepac, we were gifted by being able to dedicate a school that Bethel workers had built over the last week. The students were present and very excited about the schoolhouse. (The schoolhouse was approximately 48 feet long and 15 feet wide) All of the children received donated backpacks, school supplies, winter hats, and a bag of food for their family.
Since Thursday was our final day, we finished by driving to Guatemala City and stayed in a hotel close to the airport. It was during that time and most of the day on Friday that I was able to reflect on the week. I was serving and not focusing on the overall aspect of the trip, such as keeping up with the team. Sunday, it was nice to visit and witness a family accepting Christ.
Monday, God slowed me down and said, “Listen to me! I want you to serve!” He allowed me to be uncomfortable as I couldn’t rest on the bed, against a wall, or in a chair.
Tuesday, I was feeling better and was able to listen to the children accept Christ into their hearts. I was able to pay attention to the little details and show the light on the girl’s heart in an example she understood.
Wednesday, while we were taking the chifforobe into the new house, I found the keys to the locks of the chifforobe doors. I told Chris the keys represent Christ being the only key into Heaven. All other keys such as being baptized, actions, and different beliefs may fit into the keyhole, but Christ’s key is the only Master key that will unlock the door.
Thursday, while at the hotel, I found several amenities in the bathroom such as a sewing kit, shower cap, shaving kit, and a white comb. I have always used a black comb for my hair. Seeing the white comb immediately allowed me to think about the black representing the darkness and sin that we are subjected to everyday. The white comb represented the light and pureness that allows us to be clean and free.
Overall, several hundred donated winter hats were given to families and citizens of Guatemala. While some were perfectly handmade, some were purchased. I intentionally gave black winter hats to the school children. I then spoke with the education leader and teacher to please remember to tell the children to always remember the black hats symbolize or could symbolize their past by leaving behind the dark sinful past. The black hat can always be taken off just like their sins can be forgiven, they don’t have to be permanent. In the end, all the hats served the same purpose and that was to give much needed comfort and warmth to the recipients. When pictures were taken, we noticed people wouldn’t necessarily smile for whatever reason. When the hats were received, the same people would smile and giggle.
Over this week, I have learned that we are all too easy to say I don’t know how to share about Christ. He has opened my eyes and told me to look for the little things. I have not found scripture that says Christ’s forgiveness has to be shared by showing certain scriptures to people to get them to believe you, but it does help. With that said, we all have the opportunity to about the pardon He has given us and will freely give to anyone who wants it.