Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Break in Cubulco

We spent our Christmas and New Year break in Cubulco.   AMG closed their central office for two weeks and the kids had a two and a half week break from school.  We wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life which is bad most of the year, but gets terrible around Christmas time.  It was nice to go to rural and "quiet" Cubulco.  We really enjoyed our time there although it was very busy.  Nico was busy most days from early morning until late in the evening meeting with people, preaching and teaching, and making decisions regarding the work.  There were several unexpected hurdles along the way which forced him to make some substantial changes.  One of the things you have to learn on the mission field is to be flexible and go with the flow as each day things can change.    Thankfully almost everything was figured out before we had to leave and go back to the city so that the kids could attend classes.
One of the highlights of our trip was the work we were able to do with the church.  Nico spent a lot of time with the "jovenes" (young people) of the church teaching them Sunday school and meeting with them at night.  We watched several Christian documentaries and movies which inspired the young people.  Many of the young people have expressed the desire to profess their faith publicly and have been attending the classes offered by the church.  However, some of them due to a number of reasons were unsure as to what to do.  Nico was able to meet with them over Christmas and answer some of their questions and counsel them in what it means to join the church.   In a church like Cubulco which is full of first generation Christians, many of the young people do not have good Christian role models.  Often first generation Christians have a lot of baggage that they can not get rid of which cause them to react to situations often in a cultural/traditional way instead of the Biblical way.  Often the church leaders say one thing in a sermon or in class and do the opposite.  Often the problems in the church are either caused by the leaders or get bigger because they leaders do not deal with them in the proper way.   For this reason it is common to see the second generation either leave the church because they view many of the first generation Christians as hypocrites, or they go to another church were people appear more "mature" spiritually.   Nico spent a lot of time talking about this with the young people trying to help them understand their parents and why they do not always provide the best godly example.  Nico also told them that they need to be aware of the limitations their parents and leaders have and to look for ways in which they can support the church by being more involved and taking ownership.  If they want the church to grow the young people need to step up to the plate.  
The young people responded to the challenge and just before we left we witnessed 6 young people publicly profess their faith in front of the whole church.  This profession of faith was not just stating that they agree with the doctrines taught in the church, but each also expressed in their own words their desire to follow Jesus with their whole heart.  We also witnessed the baptism of a mother and her teenage daughter, and the baptism of 3 children.  We were very encouraged to see the fruit of many years of labor not only by us, but also by other missionaries who have worked here.  If these young people stand fast the future of the church looks bright.  Please pray for them that God will bind them to His heart and hold them fast. 
Pastor Xicara
During our time in Cubulco we also were privileged to minister with a pastor and his wife who have expressed interest in working in Cubulco.  Obviously there are many details to be worked out like salary, housing, etc.  Also whatever pastor that comes down needs to be examined and needs to go through a trial period.  One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is to find someone willing to work for a salary that the church can sustain.  We have had pastors interested in coming, but they are expecting a salary that the local church might never be able to pay.  Some of these pastors think that their salary will come from North America, but this is not the case, at least not in the long term.  Initially the mission will help support the pastor, but the idea is that each year they reduce funding while the church increases its funding.  For this reason it is important to pay a salary that the church can fully sustain in 5-10 years and to involve the church in the salary negotiations.  Please pray for the church and these proceedings. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wishing all of you a Blessed Christmas and New Year

We want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.  May God richly bless each one of you and that we will always remember how He sent His Son into this world in order that He could rescue us from all our sins.
We spent our Christmas and New Years in Cubulco.  Lia and the kids spent most of their time making cake and selling it to people who came by the door.  The kids wanted money in order to buy certain things so Lia told them they could do so by selling cake.  The kids really enjoyed doing this and they did quite well for Guatemalan standards.   They would spend several hours each day in front of a little table by the front door selling different kinds of cupcakes.  It was amazing how many people came by to buy.  Nico spent most of his time working with the church and the other projects of the mission.   
We really enjoyed our time in Cubulco.    We did have one mishap though.  This happened to our accident prone son Jesse (sporting a Superman shirt) who was jumping backwards on the trampoline and fell off.  He landed heavily on his left arm and  unlike Superman he was in a lot of pain.  We took him to the mission hospital in town where they confirmed that the arm was fractured close to the part of the bone where it grows.  The doctor put a temporary cast on and told us that we needed to see a specialist in order to get a second opinion.  We tried to call his office but he was not answering his phone so a few days later we decided to drive to Salama (a one hour drive) to see the specialist.  However, when we got to his office there was sign on the door stating that he was out and would not be back until the first week of January.  So our trip there was basically for nothing.  A week after the accident Nico drove with Jesse and lil' Nico to the city to see a specialist there.  He looked at the x-ray and thankfully said that the break was common and will not affect the growth of the bone.  He placed a full cast on Jesse's arm and told us to come back in two weeks.  While we were in his office we took advantage of this doctor's expertise and got him to look at Jesse's legs which are not straight and lil' Nico's protruding chest.  With Jesse things are normal for his age.  Now lil' Nico's case is a little different.  He has a small curve in his spine and his body is not symmetrical.  The specialist sent us to have x-rays done of his back to determine what the problem is.  He believes it is not serious and something that can be treated with exercise.  We hope and pray that this is the case.  Please pray for our family and for our children as well, that they will grow up to be healthy and strong and also follow the Lord with all their hearts.