Faithful Friends

Today was a day of joy and remembrance, of both new friends and old.  I want to start by saying thank you to a faithful friend.  Throughout the day, we reflected over the years we’ve been coming to Guatemala. So many stories and good memories!  One person kept coming back in many of those stories and memories, and that is my faithful friend Bill Wagner.  Most of our time has been in Tecpan, but we served together near the coast many years ago.  Looking back through old photos, Bill has always been there.  His calm demeanor and steady leadership have been a blessing throughout the years.  I want to thank Bill for his help in raising support, gathering donated items, helping lead the teams and working so hard on the individual projects.  Thank you for your friendship Bill.

Shelf Check

After our morning devotion led by David, we headed to the Bethel warehouse.  I remember this being a dream so many years ago of Chris Mooney.  He talked about his dream of having a place to store wheelchairs and possibly have a medical clinic.  While the medical clinic is still a future dream, the warehouse for storage is a reality.  We were all amazed at house organized and efficient Bethel is with this facility.  Bethel makes almost every part of the house we will build this week.  They make everything but the glass and stove.  It was fascinating seeing the workstations and people helping to create the pieces we will use, from the bunk beds to window frames and doors. Ben showed us the shelves where they typically store their wheelchairs.  We quickly noticed the shelves were pretty empty.  They desperately need wheelchairs.  They rely on volunteers like us to collect used wheelchairs and send them to be refurbished and given away.  They literally only have a couple of months left, and no containers scheduled for delivery.  Really inspires me to go home to Louisville and collect even harder.  If you can help us collect them in the US, that would be amazing! I saw my old friend Tulio at the warehouse.  Tulio is the son of Luki, who was the tough woman we worked with many years ago.  You may remember she was the one who got run over, covered with a sheet and left for dead.  When the paramedics came to take her body away some time later, she began to move.  They quickly took her to the hospital instead of the morgue.  She’s still one of the toughest women you’ll meet.  Well, Tulio is now on staff at Bethel and doing a great job.  So proud of him!!!

Crossroads School

One of the brightest spots for me today was seeing Bethel’s school they have on their warehouse property.  Going to a public school in Guatemala is a nearly impossible dream if you have disabilities.  Most are kept inside of homes.  Even if you could get to school, there would be no way of getting inside as they are not wheelchair accessible.  Joni and Friends Ministry helped Bethel start a school for children with disabilities almost three years ago.  It is called Crossroads School which is named after the city of Chimaltenango which has long served as a crossroads for people traveling throughout Guatemala. They currently have 13 students, each of whom are truly special people.  We had the chance to see the students learning.  It’s a wonderful environment.  Electricity can be sporadic in Guatemala.  A man who lives in Canada donated all the supplies to make the school energy independent.  I hope the school can continue to increase the number of children they can help.  What an amazing ministry opportunity.

The prayer of a child

We then headed to the home of Rosa.  She is one of the most joyous, and talkative people we have visited.  Ben asked about her life and she gladly told us her family story.  Her last name is Huracan which means Hurricane.  She is certainly a bundle of energy! 🙂 They have three children: Gladys (13), Kendall (11) and Naeli (3).  Gladys is such a sweet girl.  We asked if she goes to school.  She smiled and said she stays home with her mom and helps where she can.  She did n ot pass 2nd grade three times.  It seems as though after talking with the family that she has learning differences.  If you tell her more than two things, she cannot remember them.  She has a difficult time with numbers.  Sounds very much like learning differences.  Teachers may have the desire to help but don’t have the time or educational tools to help meet her needs.  This is heavy on my heart. I’m still thinking and praying about this.  Naeli is a sweet little 3-year old.  Very quiet but smiles alot.  It’s concerning because at three she still cannot talk.  This too weighs on my heart.  Kendall is eleven and has hydrocephalus, which I believe is fluid on the brain that does not drain out.  We did not get to see him.  Turns out, he was one of the students at Crossroads school.  We found out later he was in the bathroom when we visited. 🙂  They say that his head size is still doing well.  There are definitely implications to his current health. But, he is taking medicine to help.  It’s $40 per month.  We are planning on helping cover those costs.  Rosa who is the mom is truly a wonderful and joyous woman.  She loves her children but the weight of her son’s health concerns quickly came out when Ben asked about prayer requests.  We reminded her of how much a blessing he can and will be to her family.  She quickly agreed and knows how important he is to them.  We asked Gladys (13 year old) what her faith journey with God has been like.  She said the family used to go to church.  She loved the children’s activities they had.  When her brother Kendall was born with medical challenges, ut weighed so heavy on the parents they stopped going to church.  Gladys did not give up.  She kept going to church. She continued to pray and cry out to the Lord that her family would return to church and place their faith and trust in Christ.  Well, God answered that prayer.  Over time her parents did return to church and have renewed their faith in Jesus.  Wow…what a powerful witness to a simple, childlike faith.  As Kendall got older, the doctors said he would never walk.  She said that she didn’t have any money, so all she could do was begin praying. Two years later, against the odds, Kendall began to walk.  What a blessing.  Bethel is planning on returning to make their home more accessible in the future by making a concrete ramp into the home.

The dad walked up as we were leaving.  He was carrying a tree trunk he had just chopped down with his machete.  Wow, was he strong!  David took some donations over to the family.  He told the dad, “You carry trees, I carry blankets!”  Way to go David.  You’re strong too!!!

Wheelchair shop

We headed to Bethel’s wheelchair shop that is undergoing renovation.  This is their original location and still serves as an office for their staff.  Amazing changes going on.  I believe the building was constructed in the 40s.  As they began to open up the walls, they discovered one of the main support walls was adobe built on dirt supporting the entire roof and second floor.  The wall had a huge crack.  They were one earthquake away from devastation.  Praise the Lord they have fixed that.  They had only raised a portion of the funds needed for the renovation.  A woman reached out to Bethel to ask if they had any needs for the building.  They said yes, they still needed 44,000.  The woman wrote a check for 44,000 and mailed it to Bethel.  What a praise!!! On the wall of the shop they have a sign, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is!”  What a great reminder of how we should live our lives.  God goes before us in all we do.  When we tell people about His goodness and mercy, He is there softening the soil to make the seeds we plant grow.  He’s in charge of it all.  With God, all things work together for our good, and His Glory.

Sweet Lucy

We then made our annual visit to ur sweet, dear friend Lucy.  She is probably in her sixties, and has led a very difficult life physically.  She has terrible arthritic pain and her hands don’t function for her.  It is difficult for her to walk.  But, that doesn’t stop her.  She shares the Gospel with everyone she comes into contact with.  She sits outside her gate and sells fruit and tells everyone who passes by about Jesus.  Her dream is to have a small church built on her land to hold services in.  She is a deeply relational person.  It is difficult for her to make it to church.  She needs fellowship.  I asked her if she would sing for us.  She gladly said yes.  But, before she started, she told Ben to tell us “thank you for my teeth”.  We sponsor Lucy.  She needed new teeth.  She looks great and I’m sure that helps her sing.  She sang at least three songs.  Hard to know where one ends, and the other begins.  But, it is her form of worship and it made all of us thankful to be in her presence.  David said he will gladly be a janitor in Heaven. He just wants to be there.  We all agree that Lucy will be standing near the throne of God leading the praise and worship music.  I love her. She is a precious gift from God.

Early evening

We called it an early evening because we will be building the house on Tuesday.  Praise God they have already poured the foundation.  That is my least favorite thing.  Thank you for continuing to pray.  If you ever feel led to help financially with any of the sponsorships or needs I talk about, please reach out to me.  We really need your help. Dios te Bendiga, Brad

One thought on “Go out on a limb

  1. Bobby Sullivan says:

    So proud of you all! You are spreading the love of Jesus! What a beautiful sight to behold!

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