Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Visit of the Jonkman's

As those who have read our previous blog entries know, I went to Ecuador last year for a few days to see Fred and Arlene Jonkman who work there as missionaries.  They have been working in Ecuador now for some 13 years.  Initially they came down to work with some local Presbyterian churches to help them with teaching on family.  However, when they got there they quickly got involved in the area of Sunday school as they noticed that this was a weak area in the church.  Their solution in agreement with the the local church was to translate into Spanish some material used in our churches in Canada.  As they started to use this material other people and churches got wind of it and started asking for the material as well.   Fred and Arlene developed a workshop  and proceeded to visit churches and help them organize their Sunday school program.  Word continued to spread and they soon realized that it would be beneficial and economical to have the material translated and edited professionally and printed in book form.  Word did not only spread in Ecuador but also in other parts of Latin America.  They have done workshops in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico.  They are now in Guatemala and will be in Costa Rica next week doing workshops there.  They never imagined this.  It is amazing to see how God works!
After I came back from Ecuador I spoke to the Presbyterians about the material and gave them a copy to look at.  This was at the same time as they were discussing what Sunday school material to use.  They had some material, but where not very happy with it.  After looking at it they asked whether or not the Jonkman's could come down and visit their churches and schools.  That is how they got here.
Fred, Arlene, and their daughter Erin arrived on Tuesday the 26th of April.  On Wednesday we had a workshop at Verbena for all the directors and Bible teachers of AMG and local pastors.  Close to 50 people attended.  After the workshop we drove 2 hours to Jutiapa a town south east of the city.  On Thursday  morning we traveled an hour to the town of Monjas (Word and Deed Canada supports a school here)  and held a workshop there.  Around 15 teachers attended. After finishing in Monjas we drove 3.5 hours north to Coban to do a workshop there.  We had a near accident along the road, but God protected us from harm as a car lost control and veered into our lane, narrowly missing us.  We spent the night in Coban and the following day Friday held a workshop at the "Patria"(Presbyterian school).  Around 50 teachers and students attended.  That same evening we drove 2.5 hours to Cubulco and spent the weekend there.  On Saturday we went to an aldea (mountain village) to attend a special service.  On Monday we held a workshop in Cubulco and more than 40 people attended from different churches.  Monday evening we drove back to the city (3 hour drive) and the following morning drove 2.5 hours to the Presbyterian seminary in San Felipe, which is south of Guatemala City.  Around 30 pastors and students attended the seminar.  After finishing we drove back to Guatemala city and have a few days off before the next workshop.  The next workshop is in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's second largest city some 3 hours west of the capital.  It will be at the Presbyterian school "la Patria".  After that we have one more workshop planned in the city with the Presbyterian church for the day before the Jonkman's leave.  I will not be going with them to Quetzaltenango as they will be spending a few days with the Herfst's.  
Our trip has been very fruitful as many people expressed interest in the material.  People from all sorts of churches have expressed their desire to buy the material and run a better organized ministry to children.  We even had some Catholics buy the material.  We pray that God will use this material for the furtherance of His kingdom and the strengthening of His church here on earth. 

Intermissions Conference

Each year at the end of February or the beginning of March, there is a conference for missionaries in Guatemala.   This conference is attended by several hundred missionaries and their families.  We usually take over a hotel for 2.5 days.  In the past the conference was held in Antigua, a colonial town about 30 minutes out of Guatemala City.  Last year and this year the conference was held in Panajachel a town on the shores of the  beautiful lake Atitlan.  This is a 2.5 hour drive from Guatemala City.  The conferences are always nice to go to.  It is a time of spiritual refreshment as missionaries get an opportunity to be served instead of serving.  Teams come in from the States and take care of our children so that we can attend workshops and seminars.  A speaker also comes in and ministers to us from God's Word.  A worship team comes to lead the music and then others come to minister to us in other ways like counselors, hair stylists, massage therapists, etc.  We enjoyed the conference this year more than other years.  It was nice to go and actually know so many more people than in other years.  It was also nice to be with our fellow missionaries that we work with at AMG and just enjoy each others company.  We felt very blessed to be there and look forward to going again next year!