Monday, January 17, 2011

10 Years in Guatemala!

Today is our 10 year anniversary of being in Guatemala.  We first arrived in Guatemala on January 17, 2000.  We spent 9 1/2 years in Cubulco after which we were in Canada for 1 year.   A lot has changed in our lives and in the work.  First of all we were a lot younger and recently married.  It was just the two of us and now there are six of us.  The Lord has blessed us with 4 children.  Also when we went to the field our Spanish was elementary and our missionary experience was limited.  Now while our Spanish is not fluent it is a lot better and we have a wealth of experience.  However, there is still a lot to learn.  
When it comes to the work a lot has changed as well.  The churches have matured and grown spiritually although there is always room for more maturity and spiritual growth.  The churches have also had to adjust to the fact that there is no longer a full time missionary presence.  While this is hard for a young church , it is also necessary for the maturation and development of the church.  It is very important for a church to be independent, self sustaining, and self propagating.   As to the translation project, it is nearing its completion.  Although we have not printed that many books, we are making a lot of progress.  Last year we finished the Achi hymnal.  Although there are many more hymns and songs that can be translated we decided to stop at 200 hymns.  We also have an education project something that we were not doing 10 years ago.  This project started around 4 years ago when we started hiring teachers and sending them to 5 rural schools who did not have enough teachers.  Each of these schools are in communities where we have churches.  The idea behind this project was three fold.  One was the obvious one which was to help the schools in the aldeas (small rural villages).  Many schools had only 1 or 2 teachers and they would have to take care of 60-120 kids from grades 1-6.  The second and third reasons for placing teachers in these schools was to teach Bible and Biblical values and to teach the Achi language.  We were noticing that for various reasons, parents in our rural churches were not teaching their children the Bible.  Many people in our churches can not read and write and because of that and the fact that they are new believers it is hard for them to teach their children about the Bible.  We also noticed that while the indigenous people spoke their language most do not know how to read and write in their language.  Again this is because most are illiterate.  We continue to work with the rural schools each year, but thankfully the government has also invested more money in education and are sending more teachers.  Most schools now have at least 3 government teachers: one for kindergarten and at least 2 for elementary.  Another education project we started several years ago was a learning center.  The idea behind the center is to provide a positive environment and place where children can go to after school in order to do their homework.  The teachers at the center help the children with their homework and also provide Biblical teaching.  
The Lord has blessed us and the work in many ways.  It has not always been easy.  I must say that in many ways these past 10 years have been the hardest years of our lives.  We have faced many challenges, and have been stretched in unimaginable ways, but through it all we have grown albeit not always willingly.  God has been good and we pray that he will continue to bless the work in Cubulco.