Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kids Christmas Program

Nico and Ellen had a Christmas program a few nights ago for the school that they attend.  It was very well done as they had the school band accompanying them.  They were both quite nervous since they had to play "Jingle Bells" on the recorder.  Below you can see a couple of short videos of part of the program.  You can also play "Waldo" by trying to find Nico and Ellen. 

Blessed Christmas!

We just want to wish everyone who reads this blog a blessed Christmas.  We thank you for reading this blog and for supporting us and the mission financially and through your prayers.  What we need more than anything are your faithful prayers of intercession for us.  We pray that God will continue to place Guatemala and the work that we are involved with in Cubulco and AMG on your heart.  "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16b).  
Christmas in Guatemala is celebrated on the 24th.  The celebration especially starts around 10 minutes before midnight at which point in town the country erupts with fireworks.  During our 11 plus years in Guatemala we have always celebrated Christmas in Cubulco.  This year we decided to stay in the city and have a time of fellowship with other missionaries.  One of the AMG missionaries lives in a residential place with a great view of the city.  They rented a covered area and around 7 missionary families (most of them work with AMG) came together for a time of fellowship and refreshments.  We stayed until around 12:30 to watch the spectacular display of fireworks erupt from all over the city.  It was truly impressive!  We have seen fireworks in Canada and in other parts, but they are pretty "lame" compared to this.  To give you a bit of an idea as to what it is like just watch the video clip of the fireworks.  It started at around 10 minutes to midnight and ended around 20 after.  Again a blessed Christmas to all and may the Lord bless each one of you richly during this time of the year when we remember how the Father blessed humanity through the giving of His precious Son.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Burn the Devil Day?

December 7th is celebrated each year here in Guatemala as the day you "burn the devil".  It is a tradition here that started many years ago although no one seems to know exactly how and why.  It seems to be a tradition peculiar to Guatemala.  Basically what people do is clean house and get rid of all the garbage that they find in the house and around the house.  They make piles of garbage which can be small consisting of plastic bags and wrappers to mattresses and tires and at 6:00pm they burn it all and with it the devil.  The belief is that the devil and evil spirits "hide" in the garbage and cause all this bad "luck" in the lives of the people.  So in order for them to be able to begin celebrating Christmas and enjoy the Christmas season they "purify" the house of the devil and evil spirits.  It probably is also related to or paves the way for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which is celebrated the day after on December 8th in which people celebrate how Mary conceived the Christ-child being free from original sin.   With the devil "burned" or "gone" Mary can be free of sin in order to conceive.
This of course is contrary to Scripture, but it plays an important role in the religiosity of many Guatemalans.  Evangelical Christians of course do not practice this event, but the idea that the devil is responsible for a person sinning is very prevalent even in the minds of Christians not only here in Guatemala but all over the world.  So often you hear people say, "the devil made me do it".  Lia's grandmother would some times say "that poor devil always gets the blame".  Of course she did not mean it, but the point is clear.  We often try and blame the devil or something/body else for our fall into sin.  For instance, someone gets drunk and blames the alcohol or the devil.  The problem is not the devil nor the alcohol..... the problem is me. I am responsible for my actions and I must give account for them. Blaming others, Satan, or things can and will not save me. It will condemn me all the more and make obtaining salvation impossible.  Only when I understand that I am to blame for all my sin and misery (although maybe initially only in a small way) and who I am as a sinner before a holy God will I understand my need for a Savior and the importance that He take on himself the blame and punishment that is due me.  Please pray for the people of Guatemala and their many superstitions and religious customs that blind them spiritually and give them a false sense of security.  Pray that through the preaching of the Word and the working of the Holy Spirit people will be released from this spiritual bondage.

All of this reminds me of a song I came across recently by Downhere called "The Problem":

There's got to be some reason for all this misery
A secret evil corporation somewhere overseas
They're pulling strings, arranging things
It's a conspiracy

Or what about the ones who shape the course of history

What if we petitioned for one grand apology?
I'll write to my prime minister
You, write your president

Everybody's wondering how the world could get this way

If God is good, and how it could be filled with so much pain
It's not the age-old mystery we made it out to be
Yeah, there's a problem with the world
And the problem with the world is me

Some will say the devil and his legions
They put us in a headlock of submission
But they lost all power over me
A long, long time ago

And since I was a kid you know I've caused a lot of hurt

And no one ever taught me how to put myself first
It came so very naturally
But I'm not a prodigy

So I will look no further than a mirror

That's where the offender hides
So great is my need for a redeemer
That I cannot trust myself
No, I cannot trust my self
I dare not trust myself
So I trust in someone else

The sooner you can sing along

The sooner you can sing this song
The happier we'll be
The problem with the world is me

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lia's Birthday!

December 3rd was Lia's birthday.  She turned 36 although I guess you are not allowed to say a woman's age.  We did not do a whole lot with her as a family since she spent Friday and part of Saturday out in Antigua with 9 of her friends and women she attends a Bible Study with on Wednesday mornings.  They had a good time.  They also celebrated the birthday of another one of the women Rebeca. 
We (kids and I) are thankful for Lia and we hope that God gives her many more years with us on this earth.  We are grateful that she is a good mom and wife and that above all she loves the Lord.  We want to thank everyone who sent birthday wishes via Facebook or by email and for the birthday cards.