Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Update

We thought we would just write something for this month even though there is really nothing new to write about.  Work has been busy which it always is at the beginning of the year.  It is especially busy now that I work with two organizations.  It is sometimes hard to juggle both ministries.   We are spending a lot more time in Cubulco since we are trying to make quite a few changes.  Some of the changes had to do with personnel and others had to do with structure.  We are running things differently and we hope that these changes with help make the projects of the mission function better.  We are trying to create an environment where the employees see this first of all as a ministry and not as a job.  This is hard to do, but we have implemented several things to try and reinforce this idea.  For instance in the education center we are getting the teachers to go and visit the families of the children who attend classes.  We encourage them to pray with them and encourage them in the faith.  Many kids come from troubled homes or from homes where there is sickness.  It is a great opportunity for the teachers to minister not only to the kids in class, but also to their families in their homes.  We hope that through this ministry we will attract some of these families to church, whether it is the Reformed church or another church.  The church is also a major concern of mine since we still do not have a pastor. In order to have a pastor the church needs to understand what this all entails.  They need to decide on a salary and on what they expect this pastor to do.  Up to now the church has been relying on the missionaries to do all that for them, but I told them that they need to decide and if they want I can guide and help them.  However, I have to push them a little to do this since they would rather not have to think about it.  They find it too complicated, but I told them that this is part of becoming a mature church.  The mission nor the missionary are going to do this for them.  We are expecting them to do it and if they do not do it they simply will not be able to have a pastor.  Thankfully some of the young people are stepping up and taking some initiative and showing an attitude of wanting to change and better the ways in how the church is run.  I visit Cubulco every other week to help the church with this process of providing for a pastor and to also teach on the Biblical concept of giving.  It is not that the missionaries have never taught on this in the past, but since the mission supplied the salaries of the lay pastor there was no need to really give, even though this was wrong.  However, a few years ago we put in place a plan in which we are reducing funding over a period of 5 years starting in 2011.  Now the churches seem to feel more of a need to give and we hope that they will start giving to God what belongs to Him.  Please pray for this process since it is slow and time consuming.  Also it is not uncommon to have resistance especially by the first generation members. 
On top of ministry requirements there are other things that require attention like getting new drivers licenses and residency papers for our two youngest.  In most developed countries these things are pretty straight forward but over here they are a work out.  It is takes so much more time and energy to do these things. because very rarely does it go smoothly and without some kind of complication.  But that is how things are and you have to learn to go with the flow.    
Our little Tristan

As to the family things are going good.  Lia's mom was with us for two months and she just left yesterday to go back to Canada.  We enjoyed having her around and the house feels somewhat empty without her.  The kids are doing fine.  Nico and Ellen both did very well on their report cards which we are happy for.  They really enjoy school and they play regularly with their friends from school.  Jesse and Tristan are also doing well.  We have been trying to teach Jesse Psalm 23 when it is time for him to go to bed.  After repeating the first few versus over a period of time we got him to say it on his own.  This is what he said which we found very cute.
"The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want
He makes me to lie down
in His bed and go to sleep".

For the rest we are having an electric gate installed as we speak so this will be a burden off our shoulders since it will allow us to get in and out of our driveway with out have to get out of the car to open and close the gate.  This of course makes you more vulnerable to thieves and carjackers.  Having an electric gate will reduce that risk, although nothing is fool proof.  Please pray for our continued safety since this is a daily concern for us.  Almost each day we ask ourselves the question, "will it be today that something happens"?  It is not a question of "if", but a question of "when".  While it is not nice to live on edge, it has made us keenly aware of the fact that life is short and that we need to live our "utmost for His highest".  We also have embraced the fact that God is in control of our lives and that if it is our time to go we can not do anything about it.  Some people might question why we would chose to live in a country as dangerous as Guatemala and I would answer with the words of Lia's mom.  As some know she and her husbands were missionaries in Irian Jaya and ministered to the cannibals.  The last station they worked in (Nipsan) had been destroyed once  while they were on furlough and the national workers had been killed and eaten.  When they decided to go back and work in this village again some people told them that this was not a good idea especially since they had small children.  Lia's mom responded with these words, "the Lord does not need an arrow to take my life".   This is so true!  The Lord does not need a gun, arrow, knife, or spear to take our life.  Sure the chances of that happening in a country like Guatemala is higher than in other countries, but when it is our time to leave this world we can not do anything about it.  While this gives us comfort we do ask that you pray with us that God will protect us.  Please pray for Guatemala that God will use the church as an agent of change.  The church is large in Guatemala (35% or more of the population claims to be evangelical), but it is weak and shallow.