Monday, July 21, 2008

"He has shown strength with His arm." Luke 1:51a

Mikayla, Grant and I went to serve their school Omaha Christian Academy the other day. We are moving into a new school facility in October so there are ample opportunities to find a local mission project for the kids. We have been so busy this summer that this is our first time to go. We were allowed the privilege of sanding two door frames and then washing 37! Every once in a while one of them said, "Mom I can't reach a spot can you get it for me?" I did not think anything of it. Immediately I moved to the spot they needed reached and took care of it.

As we continued working, I started to pray in my heart to God. Ever so sweetly I heard in my heart, "Tara do you see how lovingly you are willing to stretch your arm out to Mikayla and Grant in their time of need?" I said, "Yes, LORD! It is no problem for me." "Tara, I too show my strong arm to my children in their time of need!"

I paused for a moment and basked in the wonder of our Father. There is nothing out of our reach that His arm cannot reach! There is nothing that is too hard for His strength! He is ready and available to show His strong arm in our behalf. Do we pause and ask? How long do we try to work through it on our own? How long do we strive and strain when it is simply solved with a request for help?

O Father, forgive us for not asking sooner! Forgive us for sometimes not asking at all. I am always amazed at how you meet me in the simplist of places. I love you Father! Help me to seek You first in all things. In Jesus' Name, AMEN!

Is there something out of your reach today? Why don't you ask the Father to stretch out His strong arm in Your behalf.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This morning as I sat through the worship service in church my heart and mind saw Jesus in Guatemala. Scenes from our mission trip rolled as a movie scene across my mind. One day Molly said that the music playing in the background made her feel like she was in a movie scene. In my mind I replayed the movie on my personal DVR. This reminded me of the verse in Malachi 3:16 that says, "Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another , and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name."

I read this verse in the airport in Guatemala as we waited for our plane to leave. We spent nine days together talking of the LORD, praising the LORD, serving the LORD, and submitting to one another for the LORD's sake. He watched us and listened. He heard all we said and did. He will not forget. He has written His own book of remembrance because we meditated on Him. What a sweet God we have!

As we communicate and gather we remember. Remembrance is so valuable. It is crucial. We must not forget! In the days and weeks to come, we need to remember the GLORY of the LORD and how we met Him in Guatemala.

I read this verse yesterday morning and thought this is Chris, Donna, and Dick. "A bruised reed He will not break and smoking flax He will not quench..."Matthew 12:20 The Father allowed us to learn how to love through acts of service in such a way that Jesus was the center.

Father, we ask YOU now to reveal to us how we can go and serve in love sacrificially and through prayer. Encourage us to motivate one another in love and acts of service that demonstrate that YOU first loved us. We saw this in Chris, Donna, Benny, Cindy, Saul, Hannah, and Dick. We can only pray that others will see this in us here as well.

Help us to never forget. As YOU read YOUR scroll of remembrance help us to read ours too! Let us be Jesus in such a way that when we see someone with smoldering hope that we seek to ignite them in the fullness of Your All Consuming fire! In Jesus' Name, AMEN!

I love you all so much! Thank YOU Father such a rich experience!

Friday, July 11, 2008

What did I learn from Guatemala? As I ponder our mission trip and all the Father accomplished, I realize this trip taught me in a greater way the value of missions to the team. While in Russia on a mission trip, God revealed to me that every mission trip has three separate ministries occuring. Obviously, the people you go to minister to, but while there I realized the team needed and received ministry as well. I also recognized that those left behind lived vicariously through the team. I have known this, but the Father used Guatemala to help me live this.

I don't even know if I know how to put this in words in such a way that anyone will understand except the team. We had such a sweetness about us that our time together brought laughter, tears, prayers, healing, encouragement, hope, restoration, relaxation, sweat, and yes... even silliness.

As I sat with the team around me all I could think about was how to make this their best mission trip. How can I bless them? How can I minister to their souls? How can I be Jesus to them? I know I am not the only one that thought this way. Listening and hearing each day how Jesus met them face to face and watching them experience the reality of Christ as alive and real became my hearts desire. My sweet Greg always challenges me and our kids to ask good questions. If you know me well, I can talk all about me. I have to consciously make myself ask questions of others and stop my mouth from talking. My two favorite questions I love to ask all the time and drive my kids nuts with are "What is your favorite thing that happened today?" What is the hardest thing that happened to you today?" Or "What did you like most or dislike most?"

One night at dinner I began asking this of our team. WOW! Such honesty is not always easy, especially when it is you answering. I can still see Molly bend over and try to pass on the question to another, but finally opening up and jokingly say, "I don't like questions!" Then sharing her heart. I can see Carley's eyebrows raise as she smiled to tell us how much it meant to her to play soccer with the kids and have Pastor Juanito say to her "FOOTBALL!" Which is soccer in Guatemalan.

We saw some tough stuff! Even the dogs were depressed in Guatemala, but this did not keep the people from being loving, gracious and kind. Learning how to express ourselves and share our hearts each night became very precious. What typically might have ended in a few minutes each night turned into hours.

Rhonda... our resident planner. Set up a night for all the ladies to gather and do facials and foot massages! At one point many of us had green face masks on while Pastor Jim came by to check on Molly. Our giggles sealed us as sisters.

The night of footwashing with the women and men has become a great memory for me and I have heard several say it is their favorite night. But for me my favorite night came when Pastor Jim led us in the LORD's supper. The room we were in was so dimly light that Chris held a candle over the Bible as Pastor Jim read it. Pastor Jim asked Chris to pray for us as the closing prayer and when he looked up he said, "I want to go around and pray for each person." Blessing upon blessing!

Jim and Chris went from person to person laying their hands on their heads as Chris prayed. In our time together, we(meaning the women)were able to share intimate things privately that no one knew. We sat in awe as Chris not knowing these truths prayed exactly what needed to be prayed into each persons life. I wish I could remember the details of each prayer. I cannot. However, I do remember that there was a theme to each persons prayer. For example: Tiffany was called to remain in the light. Mikayla had goodness prayed over her and through her.

As for me... I am still pondering what was prayed. Only a few select people in my life know the deep call I feel. Chris nailed it on the head. I never spoke to him of this. It scared me! It affirmed me! It touched me. As he prayed, I was so focused on the prayer that I did not think, but once he walked away I wanted to weep. How is it that HOLY GOD allows us to serve HIM? He trusts us with so much! He trusts us enough to allow us to go on the mission field daily. We do not know have to leave the country or travel far. HE TRUSTS US RIGHT WHERE WE ARE AT! Each of us have been given a trust. How are we responding?

It was obvious that each of us were greatly impacted by the prayers prayed over us. Courtney... a very rare quiet lady in the LORD. Held a look upon her face that said, "The deep has called out the deep." Chris affirmed her in the call to be a missionary by saying, "Don't be surprised if you become a missionary." She leaves in September to go to China to study medicine. She is praying about full time mission work. Please pray the LORD's presence upon her and protection.

As our stories unfold and we face reality at home, it is my prayer the LORD will help us with the transition back. It is hard. It is so hard! Once you have experienced the divine service full throttle facing reality and the mundane at home can seem so unattractive, distracting, a nuisance or even routine. I have prayed a guard upon our team. Because we are called both near and far. Father, may our lives never be the same. Allow the right change to take place to put us in further service for YOUR Kingdom to each other right were we are! Let us be the VERB in the moment since YOU ARE I AM ALWAYS!

I will miss our evening gatherings of sharing and caring! It blessed me beyond compare! Somehow, we always moved to prayer. Beloved, missions is everywhere! How will you serve today? Have you asked Jesus to see HIM? If not, do so! His face is everywhere! Even right where you are! In Him, Tara

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flip this house! In this moment in Guatemala we met Jesus through physical strength!

Chris looked over his shoulder as we drove through incredibly bumpy mountain roads beaten by the rains and said, "Today, we will lift an 800 pound house!" HUH? Yep! You heard me! Grandma's house fills with water every time it rains. It also faces the wrong direction. The first time Chris and Dick went to tell Grandma that they were building her house she actually blew them off. She was tired of people promising her things and never following through. It was the first time they saw Grandma not be her sweet self. I wish you could have seen her face when we finished her house! WOW!

Before our arrival they built a two foot concrete wall with cinder blocks. Our task was to lift the 800 pound house and turn it facing the opposite direction while sitting it perfectly on the blocks. I remember thinking how will we get 20 people to do this in unison. DUH! ONLY GOD!

Now, I am very smart! I knew I wanted to be next a very strong man so I made sure I was close to Pastor Jim this way I can help his strength! :) Okay, so now you know the real me! One... two... three... we lift and turn and sit it perfectly on the blocks. We screamed and shouted VICTORY! Grandma stood there with tears in her eyes. It WAS INCREDIBLE! POWERFUL! AWESOME!

Our men set about creating the concrete floor while we painted her children's home down the long muddy road. In which Pat, Dick and the children had a snake that was grey cross their path while walking between the houses. YES, it was poisonous! EICK!

When Dick drove back and forth between the two houses many of our people climbed on his bumper and side running boards while they held onto the roof luggage rack! Dick loved to gun the vehicle through the mud. Squeals of delight burst through the village.

It was on this day that we drove to another town to take me to the doctor. We thought we were going to town in order for me to get treatment, but GOD had another plan! On the way there I asked the Father, to please open and close doors as HE saw fit and that if I was not to be treated in Guatemala then shut the door. I asked HIM for a divine appointment because I did not want to be away for the group. I have this selfishness in me that wants to be a part of the excitement and going to the doctor did not fit into this as far as I was concerned.

Dick loaded the car up with children: Ronnie (who is in a wheelchair), his younger brother (never caught his name), Jessica, Kimberly, and Clara. Pat and I sat in the back with the girls and Dick sat in the front with the boys while the little guy drove the car for Dick! We had so much fun! I fell in the love with the girls. They were so tiny. If I remember correctly Jessica is 12. The same age as Mikayla, yet size wise she looked to be only 6 or 7 in American size. I kept saying all week THE GIANTS ARE IN THE LAND! We are enourmous compared to the Mayan people and the Guatemalans.

Guess what... the clinic was closed. We could not reach them by phone either. Okay... so we went to the pharmacy. The were four in a row. Dick chose the fourth one for me to visit. Honestly, my being there was not incidental. We were there for Pat. See, Pat is praying about full time ministry in Guatemala. The owner of the pharmacy asked to pray for Pat. She prayed asking the Father to bring Pat back to Guatemala and rebuked the evil one from getting in her way. This lady knew nothing of Pat, yet she prayed exactly what Pat needed to hear. Her prayer was such a powerful encouragement for Pat, Dick and me. WOW!

As we left the pharmacy with meds for me and holy meds for Pat, Jessica grabbed Pat's hand and said, COME! As she pulled Pat down the street, there before Dick stood a young 20 something man with a blanket tied around his head in a knot to create sling that he carried his mother in on his back. Can you imagine? He walked around town with his mother riding on his back in a homemade sling. My mind keeps revisiting this scene. Talk about a sacrifice of love and even if it is not down in love... think of the physical burden of carrying someone on your back using your neck muscles and forehead to bear the weight. Her legs were crippled. Goose bumps are riding up and down me as I reflect on this memory. Humbled by his devotion and love for his mother I stood amazed. They had a small dish in the their hands seeking out hand outs to survive. Dick told them he wanted to help them with getting her a wheel chair. This is part of the Bethel Ministry International ministry. They provide wheel chairs for those that cannot afford it.

He kept telling Dick, "No money" I think Dick had to say it was free at least three maybe four times. It finally registered on his face that it was free. This is when I remember him sitting his mother down. Either the weight of her body too much to bear for so long or the shock of the burden finally being lifted forever too much to ponder. I do not know which it was, but I can only imagine the sense of mental and physical relief he felt.

Then Pat knelt over and shared the love of Jesus Christ with them. I stood there watching two amazing people use their gifts to the fullest measure through Dick and Pat. I knew Pat belonged in Guatemala. She has a compassion and understanding that is needed to make the LORD's name great. Dick has a compassion but does not have the language. Pat interpreted for him and I stood there in awe of GOD! WOW! There is nothing like watching a child of GOD bless HIS name with their acts of service. Humbled I thanked the LORD for my infection and the blessing that I was able to go and be there with them at this particular moment.

We went and bought Pepsi's for the kids. WOW! The boys guzzled theirs gone in a moment and no one burped! How is that? Where as the girls took tiny sips and saved it with guarded anticipation for further sips. Clara looked at me and used sign language to pat her pop as if it was precious. We take for granted the simple pleasure of a drink! One of the girls when we arrived at home shared her pop with one of her littler brothers... he guzzled it! She took a simple sip and then shared it. This is very rare for them to ride in a car or drink a pop. O GOD forgive us for how we take so much for granted! Forgive us!

Please pray for Grandma. She has stomach cancer. Rhonda prayed for her healing! Tears flowed generously as Rhonda's prayer lifted to heaven. Her cancer is most likely do to drinking impure water. Grandma deals daily with free flowing bowls. Please forgive me for the bluntness, but you must understand. Even going potty is something we take for granted in America. I could tell you all our potty stories, but I won't! Let's just say this... we are blessed!

Saturday, July 5th proved to be the day that Jesus made it very clear to our team we need to develop an attitude of gratitude. It was by far the hardest day with the weather because the heat was unbearable! Carley is who stepped up to the leadership role on painting the house. When all were exhausted and ready to quite, she encouraged the group to see how far we could make the paint go and we did. We were able to even paint the back of the house one coat. This was huge! We did not think we had enough paint. But GOD stretched it and HE used Carley to stretch us! Way to GO!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Joy of the LORD is my strength and HE washes feet too! More from Guatemala. Jesus came in strength, not physical strength, but spiritual strength.

JOY! Choose joy! What most will not know as they read this blog is that Rhonda on our team was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer two weeks before our trip. The doctors gave her freedom to go and she is scheduled for a lumpectomy on July 30. I must share how Jesus met me through Rhonda. Well... actually I think everyone who met Rhonda or is near Rhonda meets Jesus regularly.

What is joy? I believe it is joining Jesus in our heart even when we do not understand or like what we know, see, or experience. This is not self denial or stuffing of thoughts or feelings, but realizing that the only way you can get through the circumstances is to release to HIM and then let go. Rhonda is my hero! She lived JOY for us in Guatemala! I want to take the time to share true JOY through RHONDA!

Two words describe my fun memories of Rhonda... YES and I SAID FUN! Because with Rhonda everything is fun! My two words are tears and singing. Well, maybe I have more than two how about dancing? Yeah, I will start with dancing. As we were buidling the house for Juana and her family music on the radio played with an upbeat Latin American tune. Rhonda could not contain the joy within her and grabbed Mikayla's hand and started dancing on the concrete floor we built two days earlier. I decided to join in and grabbed the daughters hand to dance with her while Gina grabbed another to dance. Our dear missionary Chris informed us that dancing is perceived as a sin. OOOPS! We were uhm-- shocked! It is hard to contain JOY that bubbles out of someone. I told Rhonda not to worry. He did not say anything when she danced! It was when I got out there! So Rhonda danced in the spirit I must have danced in the flesh! Please laugh out loud! No harm was made! The family was laughing too! Such is the life of a missionary... learning what is acceptable and not!

I do not know how many mornings we awoke to love notes posted on our doors from Rhonda. A scripture here, a word of encouragement there! It was exciting to see what she might do to make someone else feel special. Mikayla awoke with balloons all over her door on her birthday. What Mikayla does not know is that this was the second morning balloons were placed on her door. Rhonda did it twice because she did it one day early. On the morning we were to leave, Mikayla and Tiffany followed in the footsteps of Rhonda. They stayed up late the night before and wrote a sweet note with a scripture for each team member. Proof positive that who you hang out with impacts how you behave. We all need to choose Rhonda's to hang out with so we can be more like them. One thing is for certain, I am humbled my daughter spent significant time with the entire team!

One night Rhonda set up a night of feet washing so we might bless one another. She invited everyone back to her and Steve's room. Yes, we crammed 18 people into their hotel room. She brought the supplies for us to scrub, wash and lotion feet. We set up two chairs and began with the daughters washing their daddies feet. Without anyone speaking different people gathered others and before we knew it all feet in the room were washed. Both the young and old. As the feet were washed we read the Bible. People chose favorite verses and we read and prayed allowed. Sweetness fell on the room as well as pure joy. The HOLY SPIRIT filled us up and Jesus smiled as we read HIS word and ministered to each others very tired feet. On this particular day we worked in very exhausting heat to paint a house, lay another concrete foundation and we did something incredible, but I will tell you those two stories in the next blog! Anyhow, everyone needed a little TLC for their weary feet and minds. Blessed indeed! Why? Rhonda chose to minister to others instead of focusing on her self. She chose JOY!

As the evening ended, we gathered Rhonda, Steve and Carley in a circle and we prayed. O my... the prayers prayed while we were in Guatemala. Well... when we get to heaven you will need to go and watch the DVD! The power of prayer is amazing. Imparticular Chris' prayers blessed our team. It seems we were trying to find ways to get him to pray! As Robbie says, It does not matter that I do not understand him when he prays in spanish I am blessed. As he prayed over Rhonda I experienced something I never experienced before. I will confess something. I scratched behind my ear on the first day and it became terribly infected... no grossly infected. EICK! Such is the life of serving with dirty fingers! WASH YOUR HANDS! It was bad enough we tried to go to a doctor on Saturday to have it lanced. He was gone so a pharmacist made ugly faces at my wound and sold us some meds! Anyhow, while Chris prayed over Rhonda I felt three sharp pains in my wound. IT was extremly painful and hard to turn my head because of the infection, but after he prayed it stopped. Gina and I went to our room and I showed her my wound. It broke open! A holy lancing occured. THe next morning all pain was gone. The wound was still there, but the infection was releasing. Because of Rhonda the LORD allowed me to experience a second hand healing. Don't think I am crazy, Gina, my roomie will testify how nasty it was and then changed. We await with great expectations in how the LORD will accomplish HIS healing in Rhonda.

On our last day as we drove home from the lake Rhonda, Cindy, Molly and I sang the whole two hours back. Poor Deb in the back, we kept her from sleeping! Robbie chilled out with her head phones and Jim and Chris were in the front joining in periodically. Chris gets easily drastracted and takes his hands off the wheels while driving. All of us fell in love with his crazy antitics. As I think of the Joy of the LORD is my strength, I see Rhonda lifting her right foot up in the van to the Hokey Pokey or wiggling her shoulders to the beat of another song. Praise continously poured out of her lips.

I started calling her my wonder and awe girl. She is so filled with the wonder and awe of GOD that I am blessed to just be near her. Jesus came to me through Rhonda with silent tears as we prayed, joyful singing all through out the day, and continously saying, "I AM SO BLESSED!" Rhonda... we are the blessed ones! We were allowed the privilege to reap the blessing of JESUS upon you!

Help me Rhonda, Help help me Rhonda!... Help me Rhonda yeah... get joy in my heart!

Jesus digs in Guatemala...

As we drive through the incredibly lush mountain side I am astounded at the hard work that surrounds our view. Es una vista muy bonita... it is a pretty view. The mountains are covered with a patch work quilt of crops. Some precariously posed on steep slopes. How might a man, woman, or yes even child stand to work the land? How do they do get water to it? How do they get their crops back up and then down? Hard work! The Guatemalan people we met may be poor financially in our American eyes, but they are rich in industry and work ethics.

Our team as well encompassed people that are industrious with incredible work ethics. In fact, astoundingly so. In order for us to build the house we first had to lay the concrete. This became almost like a work dance. Yes... I definately would call laying concrete a dance. It must be perfectly timed and pursued with passion. Chris and his son-in-law Saul showed us how to do the dance. I must confess I stayed away from the mixing. Not because the fear of getting dirty, but because I feared I might mess up such a precious commodity by mixing it wrong! We had to make sure no dirt got within the mixture. This is a little difficult since we are mixing it on top of dirt.

The first step of the dance began with sand thrown with in the frame of the home. Shovel full after shovel full. As our team shoveled the pile grew. The next thing we know Saul, small in stature compared to us Americans because of his Guatemalan descent, put us all to shame. I believe he shoveled about 5 scoops to our one. With power and swiftness he filled the spot fast. The second step required the concrete on top of the sand. More shoveling. ALOT of turn taking. One thing is for certain we are proud of our men! WOW! They were incredible and tireless. There is nothing more respectful than watching men work hard and seeing the joy for the fruit of their labors. Mind you we women did our part too. Some shoveled. Deb, Carley and Tiffany got in when they began to form a volcanoe and helped form a perfect volcanoe for mixing. Over and over the team shoveled sand, concrete, rock, and water to form volcanoes to mix the supplies to form the exact consistency to make concrete. As each time the volcanoe form took shape Rhonda and Robbie would throw water into the volcanoe hole. Then everyone with shovels mixed it up. This was done many times over and over. We were the concrete mixers! At one point they needed more rock. Gina and I picked up the shovels as they counted 48 scoops of rock! Scoop throw! Scoop throw! It was so much fun having them cheers us on. Words of encouragement flowed freely amongst us.

As I think on these moments, I realize the value of the ant. We teased several about being an ant. They never stopped. All of our men definately fit into that category and so did Courtney and Carley! I saw Jesus dig sand, concrete, and rock as our team formed volcanoes! I know Jesus digs that HIS children dug for HIM! I dig HIM, don't you? This is why our team traveled so far to dig in dirt. We know that Jesus digs it when His children serve Him through serving others! Even while digging in sand, concrete, rock and water to build a firm foundation for a simple home about 15x9 in square feet.

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4, 2008

I think I have messed up on my days on this blog site... one thing is for certain while on a mission trip time and dates are of no importance.

Happy Fourth... truly the fourth. We finished the house we started today. Wow! Jesus the carpenter has soar shoulders tonight. Jim, Chris, Rick, Steve, and Saul worked non stop until 2:30 without a break to eat or anything. All the girls helped, but we did not work as they did.

The mother of the home greeted us with an embroidery she made for each of us. YES, for two days straight she sewed to create for each family a banner that she personally hand quilted. Jesus sewed.

At one point, Mikayla became very sick to her stomach and I needed to take her to the van to lay down. I must confess... I sat there for a brief moment in complete selfishness. I do not want to sit in the van while every one else enjoys the mission trip serving. AS if serving my daughter is not a mission trip. Quickly I realized my littleness and confessed. I then took out a piece of paper and began to pray. As i prayed for Mikaylas healing, the team building, and then for the salvation of the community a little boy came to the window asking for a dulce. I told him, solamente uno... only one. I went back to praying then a little girl came to the window. Una dulce. Solamente uno. After she left I decided that the next child must receive a witness before any candy goes out the window. In pops the little guy from early looking with sad little doe eyes as if I robbed him by only giving him one. I talked with him the best I could with my broken preschooler spanish. I asked him if I might read to him about JEsus and he said yes. GOD allowed this selfish person to sit in a bus while her daughter slept to read a spanish tract to a twelve year boy. He listened and did not leave even when his friends made fun of him through through the other window. Suddenly, a cloud burst over us and rain fell hard. He said, Adios as he reached for the tract. He did not leave until I finished reading how to receive Christ as Savior. JEsus met me in my selfishness. HOW can I be so blessed!

We now sit in a dining hall in Santa Lucia waiting to paint tomorrow. AS we arrived tonight we saw a luscious pool resting under palm trees. Tempting indeed. We put our feet in as we waited two hours for our clothes to arrive grieving no bathing suits. I sent Ben to ask if we might swim in our clothes and they said yes. I was the first to dive in. YES... I did. Soon Courtney and Jim joined me. YES... JEsus even swims!

July 4, 2008 from Guatemala,

I must share a few JEsus moments that happened on July 2, but I did not put them down. THere were so many that I saved a few for another blog because they deserved special attention.

Did you know JEsus plays soccer? Well... He did in Guatemala. Carley and Steve gathered children in the village and pulled us all into a game of soccer. We had so much fun and so did they. Many came out just to watch us play.

We visited a widow of six months with four preschool children... one only 3 months old. Her husband was hit by a car on the way to work early one morning leaving her to struggle in providing for her family. Her face broken and sad welcomed us to her home. Dick told us of her toddler daughter and how she screamed whenever a gringo came to their home in the past, but now she welcomes them. At one point I caught a glimpse of Pastor Jim carrying this little tyke. Her dirty little face rested only inches from his and the sweetness of her cherubim like cheeks proved too much. I saw Jesus kiss her sweetly twice and hold her with gentle care loving on her as a daddy. AS we left he slowly put her down... not wanting to leave.

July 3, 2008 from Guatemala... Hermano Pedro

More snap shots of JEsus for you to see.

Jesus has a way of appearing quite unexpectedly. When our eyes are open He meets us in those around us as they serve Him. As our mission team serves in Guatemala this summer Jesus came to me in many faces. One face I will never forget came through a man that serves sacrificially. Dick Rutgers is our missionary with a passion for the children of Guatemala. As he prepared us for our tour of Hermano Pedro Orphanage, he told us of the children and their stories. He named them by name and their suffering they know. As I stared at the wrinkles surrounding his eyes, I realized each of the indentions shined joy and compassion, as I have never seen. My breath caught because I felt I looked at Jesus as He said, Let the little children come to me as He called each of them by name. He then showed us his favorite people. Each of us walked the halls with the echoes of a sweet devotional Robbie gave focusing on the truth that GOD created each of them in the womb and it was very good. We met a young man that wrote with his toes. His toe writing is better than most doctors. Can you imagine the determination and perseverance it would take to learn how to write with your toes? Would you have that kind of determination? This young man does. Humility washed over me as I realized how easily I give up on tasks that honestly I should stick with.

A young child name Moises with an incredible mind locked in a body that cannot perform demonstrated that a great mind is not determined by the shape of ones body. We met Jesus as a teacher named Ninette. Daily she teaches skills sacrificially to people that most would not even give a second glance, much less believe they can learn. Yet, she teaches faithfully important skills to provide liberty that sets captives free! We spent the day playing and singing. We even took 9 of the children to Pollo Campero for chicken at lunch. Molly, Mikayla, Tiffany, and Carley brought laughter to the house. I watched Jesus play ball with a child that could not throw a ball. Jesus also ran crazy all around the courtyard through our beloved missionary Chris. As I watched the young man laugh when the ball touched his hand I was reminded of the wonder of the gift of simplicity. How often do we rob ourselves of the joy right at the tip of our fingers? This time it was through Molly, Mikayla, and Carley that I saw Jesus playing, he blew bubbles as squeals rang out through out the courtyard. At one point when the children needed changing the courtyard was empty of all but the team, the quiet seemed eerie. How many days and how many hours does this courtyard stay this quiet? How many days and nights do these little ones wait to have someone come to sing and play? Suddenly, it occurred to me that Jesus waits! Jesus waits with expectation for love, laughter and touch. Did He not say, what you do to the least of these so also you do to me?

July 2, 2008 from Guatemala,
As we awoke early to deliver food to families Robbie and I talked about the trip. She told me that she asked Jesus to let her see Him here in Guatemala. Today, I will Provide you with photos of Jesus as seen through my eyes in Guatemala.

We delivered meals to seven households. It will be impossible for me to share with you the powerful impact of what we have experienced. I can only pray that what I do share with capture your heart and enable you to see Jesus in a greater way.

As we pulled along a fence facing the most incredible mountain view of crop patterns splattered across the hillside we caught glimpse of the type of house we finish on Friday. The house is ten by sixteen with an equal size porch. The lady of the house greeted us with warmth as we delighted in the hand dug water well until we found out that a man had to climb all the way down to dig it with a shovel and climb back out. IT was deep. She informed us that her son will turn 13 on Wednesday and that she possessed no food. She ran out. Humility caused all of us to stop. Jesus appeared to me when we finished praying. As I walked out of the little covering of her porch, I heard someone bawling. I turned to see Robbie bent over as sobs rocked her body.
Pat comforted Robbie as she wept. Tears welled in my eyes, because Jesus wept. Shivers ran through me because I saw Jesus weep over the suffering this little family experienced through Robbie. Then as I glanced at Pat I remembered the scripture that GOd is the GOD of all comfort and compassion. HE patted his son on the back and comforted him, reminding him that HE has a plan. Jesus stood on that mountain side as His Father comforted Him. I know this will stretch many in their thoughts, but isnt this why we are here? To be His hands, feet, eyes and ears. You cant go if you cannot feel the heart of GOD. Please know I have permission to share these stories.}

Visualize the entire nineteen people on our team along with a family of five surrounding a diabetic man on his bed within this same type of home as we sang Amazing Grace. I could not help myself. I opened my eyes to peak at the people praying and then during the song. Jesus was in the house mightily. THe shivers are revisiting me as I remember. He sat as a man feeble and weak. Celebrating the health and liberty received through accepting JEsus as Savior just a while back and then receiving the powerful prayer of the saints that enabled him to rise out of a bed thought to be his death. Jesus rose His hands in praise through Gina as we sang Amazing Grace. HE peered around his mothers arms staring at the white gringos filling every moveable space in his small little home with eyes wide with wonder and awe.

As I journal I realize JEsus came. He preached, He healed, He prayed, HE blessed, HE received and HE gave.

In the home of a blind widow named Margarita Jesus saved! We all piled in into the home and talked for a while. Needs were expressed and prayers exalted the throne. Suddenly, Chris, our missionary looks at one of the visiting daughters and says, Do you want to be near GOD again? AS we stood there she recommitted her life to Christ. Please pray for her. She is broken over her past and needs to know the love of Christ. Jesus held her and hugged her through our sisters. JEsus touched and even kissed.

JEsus even disciplined while we were out today. A little boy found a horse roaming the village on a long rope. He brought him home to see if he might keep him or maybe he thought his mom would not notice. I do not know which, but he was told he must send the horse home! Okay,Greg, mom and dad... I never brought a horse home!

Jesus gave dulce... candy. Mikayla, Tiffany, and Molly walked the streets with dumdum lolipops, while Rick and Courtney handed out gum. Need I say they brought more laughter to the village. I do not remember who said it, but we were told that what they handed out may be more than what they might receive at Christmas.

I have so much more... how do you tell the intimate the divine the sacred. My words seem so inadequate for what we have seen and experienced. As we lay down our hearts are satisfied... I guess the snapshot I want you to see of JEsus is this last one.

A tiny toddler with coal black hair sprouting two piggy tails about two inches long walked around a corner to see our massive group of people roaming her street. I offered her a dumdum and she screamed and ran. I have that affect on little ones. Slowly, I peered around the corner to see her mother and asked permission. Her mom said yes. Slowly she walked up to me and Robbie as Robbie handed her a dulce. As she turned and ran to her momma she giggled. Robbie, turned and looked at me and said, Did you just hear JEsus giggle? Yes, Robbie I did! JEsus is giggling today.

I love you.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Okay, I am going to push the edge and see if I might capture todays moments in Guatemala. We traveled up GODs glorious mountains 6,000 something feet on a dirt road suffering the beating of heavy rains. As Chris gunned the van up the mountain we jerked all over laughing at the roller coaster ride we endure.

At one point I ask Chris about his ministry and while climbing the mountain he looks back, talks to me and keeps driving up as we begin to tease him to drive the van. He is an amazing man. The first snap shot I want you to see today is a man that serves with joy and celebration the people of Guatemala in Jesus Name. Chris leads Bethel ministries here. They build wheelchairs and houses. How about that. Listen up and get ready to find your place of service. There are needs here. BIG prayers needs. There are issues right now with deliveries because of new government. There is a stop on the shipments for the houses. Please pray for the shipments to begin again. They only have four houses left to build a home and then they will have to wait. The stop on shipments will also affect the wheel chair ministry. Please pray the Lord will open the doors swiftly.

We began our day in the wheelchair ministry offices. I have taken pictures of more wheelchairs and parts than we can count. STunned by the sheer numbers of people that will be given freedom as they are given life in a wheel chair. WIthout these some will never leave their ten by ten square home. Or never know the joy of riding to town to work. Powerful indeed. I saw a room filled with the tool the LORD uses to release captives from bondage.

Upon entering the village the sites overwhelm you. Gracious people welcoming us with buenos dias. The family smiled graciously as the crew of nineteen entered their small space. Their current home is built with cane poles or corn stalks with a tin roof to block out the nightly rains. The hands of Jesus went to work immediately. Rick and Courtney our father,daughter duo went to work on relocating the electrical pole. Chris just mentioned this must be done and they did it. No questions asked just faithful obedience to serve. There is something tremendous watching a father and daughter serve hand and hand in hard labor for the glory of the LORD.

Steve, Rhonda, and Carly move wiht gusto and laughter in all they do. Proving without a doubt that the joy of the LORD is our strength. I think we could play a game in Guatemala called WHEREs STEVE? One moment he was using an shovel and then I looked up and he was on the roof. Then the dirt with a trowel. The next thing I know I hear that he went down to the school. The children were lined up in two lines and he ran up took the ball and kicked in and out doing soccer drills. Much to the surprise of the children. I keep waiting for them to shout THERE ARE GIANTS IN THE LAND. We are so tall. They are so small.

Gina and Tiffany were not afraid to pick up the shovels and rake the dirt. I think the most amazing thing of all is that all were so willing. So hard working. When one got tired another swiftly picked up. I let you know the labor side, because MEN hear this... YOU NEED TO BE HERE TOO! The need more muscles.

At one point Pastor Juan and Saul were working tirelessly when the ladies brought out a bend for us to sit on. Crazy...WE had to sit. We could not sit, they brought it. So they worked and we sat for a few. Pastor laughed when I cracked a joke that we were resting while they slaved away. THat is when I realized he knew english.

The group is separating food right now for us to go deliver to the people.

This has been incredible. We have had the privilege of being Jesus hand and feet. We have worked and labored to give a strong foundation for a home. The mother and girls watched our every move. Can you imagine?

We also were able to hand out candy in the streets. Robbie celebrated this privilege.

I will sign off for now.

I love you and all is well on the mission field in Guatemala.

I will try to do this as much as possible.
in Jesus.

Kodak moments from Guatemala. It always amazes me when I must sit down and write a few notes to let my people at home know all that God has accomplished in such a short time. It is impossible. In fact, I must begin with that it is a personal prayer goal of mine for me and Cultivating Hearts ministries to go on one international trip a year... Why? GOD radically meets you in the face and shows you what is most important.

Here are just a few faces I want you see that will forever be snapshots emblazoned in my heart and mind as I reflect upon Guatemala.

My first face is Mikaylas. (Forget punctuation and grammar I dont know how to use this computer.) Anyhow, in the airplane as we were about to lift off she was so excited she could have flown the plane just with the joy bubbling out of her. SHe knows the power of God working in her and the love she has for the people here. To live it one more time made her squeal with a delight that makes my nose burn. There is nothing like doing the will of GOD.

My second snap shot is off Pastor Jim in the Houston airport as we borded the shuttle. The doors shut on him. His hand lifted to stop the door and his face registered a look of complete shock. I lost my team already and we are only in Houston.

My third and now most precious is of Robbie. She has wanted to on a mission trip for as long as I have known her. At the airpĆ³rt Pastor Julio, Lily, Genesis, Denise, and Wanda came with Pat to welcome us with love from Guatemala. As I introduced Robbie to the family she prayed for as she packed the bags every prayer burst out in tears so full that the well proved to run deep. Only the God of deep could bring forth such love so intense. Robbie found release for a longing finally answered. I am weeping now as I write this. Father, I pray I am allowed the privilege to not only lead teams someday but to always bring along a first timer.

My fourth face is the face Leo. Mare and Leo opened their home the first day to feed us lunch in a ten minute notice. Their hosipitality shames us in America. We stayed with them in November. LEo has cancer and it has mastestisized. Forget the spelling. You get the idea. Anyhow Jim and Pat gathered us in their living room and Leo knelt on the floor as we prayed. The snap shot I want you to receive is Leo kneeling on the floor as we prayed over him. HIs head bowed and when Pastor Jim finished praying he said, to God be the glory. This is our first day!

A day to renew old friendships and begin new. O yeah we did go the mall with Chris the missionary and his son at night. We ate icecream. This is so important. You must try icecream in the new country. Tomorrow our ministry begins full swing and we will start building the house. I cant wait.

Hasta Luego mi amigos. A Dios Gloria!