Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working in Matochos

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take our son Nico to a place called Matochos (a rural village 2 hours east of Guatemala City) and work along side a work team from the US. It was a father/son kind of work team as there were several fathers and sons on the team as well as several of the other AMG missionaries brought their sons. We spent 2 days working in Matochos replacing the roof, mixing and pouring concrete, setting up a playground, and doing general clean up. It was an enjoyable and special time for us missionaries to be able to spend this time working along side of our sons. It was a good opportunity to teach some of these boy some basic skills and techniques that will make work easier. The boys worked quite hard and did a good job. For myself it was an opportunity to put to use some of my construction skills and it felt good to work hard with my hands. There is some thing fulfilling about working with ones hands, rather than sitting behind a computer. I hope that we will have more opportunities in the future to do the same thing.


Now Available in Guatemala!

(I wrote the following article for the WD Magazine that recently came out, but since some of you do not get the magazine, I thought I would include the article in this blog).

Perhaps many of the readers of the Word & Deed magazine are familiar with some of the work that missionaries Fred and Arlene Jonkman have been doing in Ecuador. One of the largest parts of their work has to do with a Sunday school curriculum that they translated into Spanish to help Latin American churches.
The History:
When Fred and Arlene Jonkman went to Ecuador as missionaries, the task of translating a Sunday school curriculum from English into Spanish was not part of the plan. They had other plans, but it was not long after they started working with the local church that they realized there was a real weakness in the Sunday school program. Their children complained to them that they did not enjoy attending Sunday school. They soon saw that classes were unorganized and unstructured, and the reason for this was that the teachers often did not have proper materials to guide them. They realized that they could help the church in this area and approached the leaders to ask them for permission to help with the Sunday school program. The leaders agreed so Fred and Arlene started translating a Sunday school material that was used in the Free Reformed Churches in North America one that Ricky Pronk had translated from Dutch into English. As they translated each lesson interest grew not only from their church but also from other churches. Soon these churches started requesting copies and asking for workshops on how to organize a good Sunday school program. As the demand grew the Jonkman’s realized that it would be better and cheaper to have the curriculum printed formally into two separate books (OT and NT). It was at this moment that Word & Deed came into the picture and provided the funding for the printing of these books.
The Guatemalan Connection:
What is the Guatemalan connection in all of this? Well, as the “fame” of the material grew, so did the demand for workshops. Initially the demands came from churches in Ecuador, but eventually word spread to other Latin American countries and the Jonkman’s started receiving requests from churches in countries like Peru, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. They visited many of these churches doing workshops and promoting the materials. Eventually a request came also from Guatemala through Word & Deed and the Free Reformed Missions work in Guatemala for the Jonkman’s to come and present their Sunday school curriculum to a number of churches in Guatemala. The Sunday school material was already being used to some degree in Guatemala by the Free Reformed Missions project in Cubulco, and two projects that Word & Deed supports which are the radio program of the AMG hospital in Cubulco and the AMG run “la Palabra” school in Monjas. We arranged to have Fred and Arlene come in April and May of 2011 and do seven workshops in different parts of the country from Guatemala City to Monjas, Coban, Cubulco, San Felipe, and Xela. Several of the workshops were done with AMG teachers and staff and the rest where done with various Presbyterian churches and seminaries. Although the trip was tiring, as we had to drive many hours each day to make it to our next engagement, it was fruitful as we had close to a hundred requests for the material.
Now Available in Guatemala:
The result of the tremendous interest shown in the curriculum was a decision made together with Word & Deed to have the books printed in Guatemala and be made available for distribution. The books will be available in January of 2013. An exciting development in recent months has been that AMG has decided to use the curriculum in possibly all of their 28 schools and formation centers in 2013. I will be teaching several workshops on the use of the books in the months of January and February of 2013. Also the AMG School in Monjas that has been using the curriculum has given glowing reports of the impact that the curriculum has made in their community. May God bless the use of these books for the growth of the church in Guatemala and other Latin American countries! 

(Update: Since writing this article, the books were delivered to me. It took longer than expected, but several weeks ago I received the last 100 books. I have taught 2 workshops so far and have also sold over 100 books. AMG is using the books in all of its projects and have purchased some 75 books. Last week I attended a meeting of Presbyterian pastors and sold quite a few. They encouraged me to write the Presbyterian Synod asking for a time slot at their next general assembly in order to promote the books. They are very excited about the material and think that they will sell very quickly. Once we have sold a good number of OT books we will print the NT book. However, we will need some more funding for that.)