Monday, August 18, 2008

guatemala update - august 18, 2008

Over a cup of coffee, Kerrie and I are sitting here wondering how so much could happen in less than a week.  The majority of the last 5 days is a blur in my mind.  It has been jam-packed chaos, running from one place to the next.   Getting somewhat settled into our home, trying to learn our way around the area, running back and forth to the markets and stores, setting up utilities, school orientations, language school registration, back to the airport to pick up George (our dog), and so much more.  Not that big of a deal…unless you can’t read street signs, and don’t speak the same language as the condominium guards, store clerks, market vendors, internet company workers, gas company workers, cell phone salesman, airport guards, propane guy, and the neighbors!  In all fairness, we could have used our friends for help, but we decided to not ask for hand-holding, to venture out and learn the hard way - by experiences, trial, and error.


Mixed in with the chaotic fog of the last 5 days, there have been some wonderful moments where time has seemed to stand still.  God has spoken to us here.  We have felt his provision, and his protective covering over us.  And we have been blessed to receive some specific, sweet expressions of his love.  I want to share just a couple of them with you.

When we visited Guatemala in April, we visited 4 potential places to live.  We chose the one that seemed the least excessive, with the least amount of luxuries.  It is the one closest the poor areas that we felt we’d most likely spend our time.  It was the fourth place we looked at, and when we drove up the entering street, and walked in the door, it just felt right.

Having not exercised in over a week, I got up this morning and headed out for a run.  I decided to explore the mountains behind our complex, and see if I could find any trails.  I followed the road that passes our townhome and winds down the mountain. I turned the corner of a path and was shocked to see a paved basketball court, beautifully staged in the side of the mountain.  I couldn’t believe it.  I stood there staring at this scene that just didn’t seem to fit.  Based on the location and surrounding environment, I would have never expected to see basketball courts at this specific location!

Behind the courts, there were a couple of openings that appeared to be hiking trails, so I threw on my mp3 player and starting running.  The trails wound down, up and around the mountain.  I had to stop occasionally - partly to catch my breath - but mostly to look down the mountain and enjoy the incredible views.  I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest.  As I soaked in the scenery, I realized the song “Made to Worship” was playing on my headphones.  Over the next 20 minutes, I jogged the trails while worshipping our Lord of Creation with every cell in my body.  I was humbled by his gift of the basketball courts and the beautiful trails, and feeling so incredibly loved by Him.  I think I actually came close to a heart attack – probably a combination of being in such awe of God, completely absorbed in the moment of worship, and being excited to share the experience with Kerrie and the kids. 

Needless to say, when they saw everything, they were blown away.  As we hiked the trails, Kerrie prayed, and eventually broke down into tears – sharing with us how loved she felt by Jesus.  She loves mountains, trees, warm days and cool nights...and she felt as if Jesus was literally handing her some of her favorite things, and enjoying her appreciation of them.

In another time and place, a basketball court and some hiking trails might seem rather uneventful to me.  But today, this experience that we shared with God was huge.  This week has had a few difficult moments, and today brought a smile to our faces and lifted our spirits.  The fact that we had no idea (and never would have expected) this area to have such simple “amenities” made it that much sweeter…

One other thing we wanted to share.  To put this in proper perspective, you need to know that we have been praying specifically for God to connect us with a Christian family or two in our neighborhood.  The deepStream way of life has been so special to us, sharing life and seeking God with neighbors - and we have been asking God to please bless us with some neighbors to share life with.

Today, Jake ran inside to tell me some boys were playing soccer outside and he asked if he could go play.  Not even thinking about it, I said “sure.”  About 20 minutes later, I walked outside to make sure he and the guate boys weren't playing star wars with machetes.  He was all the way down our street, playing with 2 other boys about his age.  The 3 of them had made a triangle and were simply kicking back and forth.

I walked down and met the dad, Winston.  He did not speak any English, but we did our best to talk for about 10-15 minutes.  I have no idea what he said to me, and he had no clue what I was saying to him.  It was comical.  Finally, he pointed to me (as if to say “hold on”) and ran inside.  He came back out with his wife and he was pointing at her saying “English, English.”  She introduced herself…in very understandable English!

We talked for about 10 minutes.  Her name is Maria Fernandez, and she shared about her family and church…very sweet and soft spoken.  She asked where we were from, and why in the world we moved here from Florida.  After sharing briefly our reason for moving here, she was filled with excitement.  She told me how much her country needs the love of Jesus.  She said she is in a ladies group that meets twice a week, and they are looking for ways to help the local poor.  She asked if she could help us in our ministry, and said her group has collected clothes and food to help but they didn’t know where to start.  I was trying to hide tear-filled eyes at this point…

Just a little while ago, we were finishing up dinner and saw Maria drive by.  A few seconds passed, and she reversed back and stopped in front of our house.  We met her at the door, and invited her inside.   I introduced her to Kerrie, and she greeted her with a kiss.  After some introductions, she explained…  “I stopped because as I was praying today I heard the holy spirit’s voice speak to me.  He said to come tell you that I am yours to help you.  He said ‘the new Americans on the street are my people, and I want you to serve them the same way you serve me.’  So I am here to tell you that I am here to help you and serve you, just as I serve my Jesus.”

In hindsight, Kerrie and I must have looked hilarious as we stood there frozen in disbelief.  I looked at Kerrie and saw her eyes tearing up.  Maria’s eyes were doing the same.  God knows it doesn’t take much for me to get choked up anymore…

After 5 or 10 minutes, our new friend in Christ hugged us and went on her way.  We were left, again, in awe of God. 

As a family, we sat and thanked God for our neighbors, for our home and the beautiful creation surrounding us.  The perfect timing of his kindness touched us today.  Today, we felt blessed for obeying His call to Guatemala.  Today, we had specific prayers answered.   Today, we are closer to our Lord Jesus than we were yesterday.  God, let that encourage us to run harder after you!

We all start school tomorrow - Kerrie and the kids at CAG, and me at language school.  As we prepare our hearts and minds for school, please pray with us that we may seek God new each day.  That the awe we have already experienced would give us confidence in our calling here, and that our hearts would be open to allowing God to take and use us however he wants to.

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

reflecting

To our friends and family:

We have been so busy preparing to leave, there have been few opportunities to stop and reflect. But Kerrie and I have had a few of those opportunities recently, and we just wanted to let all of you know how much you mean to us.  

There is a selfish, worldly fiber in all of us that occasionally doubts God, challenges him, or doesn't like some of the things he calls us to do.  We have all been there before, and following him to Guatemala has had a share of those moments.  Whether its leaving good friends and family, entering into so much uncertainty, dealing with pride issues (this list goes on), Kerrie and I have had some wonderful wrestling matches with God in the last couple months.  But we stand here today more devoted him, more in love with him, and clinging to him like never before.  

Strangely enough, its in these places of uncertainty and confusion that we can find the most comfort in the person of Jesus.  When we are struggling in this way, and we finally let go, giving in to a life of faith...that's when we wake up and find ourselves wrapped up so tightly in his loving and protective arms.  Then his extraordinary love for us, his promise to never let go of us, takes on a whole new meaning.

We will miss you all so much.  We have not taken for granted our relationships with all of you.  In the last few years, memories of laughs, tears, prayers, worship, meals, and joy fill our hearts and minds as we depart for a new chapter of life.  We will hold tight to those memories...  

Thankfully, God reminds us frequently not to get caught up in our temporary status here on earth, no matter how great it might be.  This may sound crazy, but turning 33 soon, both Kerrie and I feel like we are running out of time to make much of our king Jesus in the short life he gives us.  

Lets run hard after him together - and come before him exhausted having done all we possibly could to bring his kingdom to earth!

Love you all -
Brock & Kerrie