Sunday, March 8, 2009

a day in the life...

We started the day off heading to a meeting with our new landlord in the village of Magdalena. As I walked the streets with my family we noticed our neighbor (named Magdeleno – yes, named after the town) in the street with his grandson, trying to saw a tree stump in half. (typical everyday sights, blocking traffic!)

They were using one of those long old-school saws with handles on both sides, where 2 men push & pull from each end… Magdeleno, who is probably 70 years old or so, was working this saw with incredible strength and agility, but after a couple minutes was clearly exhausted. So I jumped in. The first 90 seconds I was strong as an ox, although the dull saw wasn't doing much. 10 minutes into it I was pretending that I hadn’t completely lost my breath and that my back and shoulders felt wonderful. About 20 minutes later we were sweating bullets but had sawed the stump in half. Victory! Just a typical morning in Guatemala…

Then a short meeting with the landlord, sorting through a list of items…

Off to a key ceremony for a home we had built for the Marroquin family. What an emotional time. Such a privilege to be a part of this home building ministry that God put in the heart of the Journey church community in Jacksonville, FL. So much more than building homes… God is capturing hearts and stirring up this community. We hung out, laughed, shared the gospel, played guitar, sung songs, prayed together, and finally gave this family the keys to their new home. To finish it off, we enjoyed some delicious homemade tamales cooked by Maria Luisa. A beautiful time…

Next we met with our friend Maximo, a crippled man who lost use of his legs 25 years ago following the war. He sits in a wheelchair and carves images into small pieces of wood. We had struck a deal a couple weeks earlier on some of his artwork to sell in the teamhouse. Continuing to define our arrangement, what should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking another 45. (typical Guatemalan style.) Our prayer is that our visitors will buy his items, and in doing so help him sustain a small business…

Then to the next jobsite, which is for a 65 year old man named Claro. We hung out with Claro and the construction team for about an hour, mostly shooting the breeze and goofing around. We did manage to get a small business meeting in, as the construction guys gave me a little “petition” for a pay-raise. God help me use wisdom… are they trying to squeeze me for little more, or are they honestly sharing with me that they should be making a little more? I would truly hate for them to be underpaid. Will be praying on that one...

As we’re leaving the jobsite, we’re approached by a woman asking us to help her son. Brian is 10 years old and has problems in his kidneys, some kind of Hepatitis. He seemed to be in pain. His mom explained the ongoing problem and how they cannot afford to keep taking him to the doctor. We told her we would be praying for him, and considering how we can help. Our friend Mario Mendez, who is a pastor in Magdelena and has lived there his entire life, warned us that these are difficult decisions. He said the people will lie about these things for money, and once you do it the first time, the flood gates will open. Oh God… give us wisdom. I will not adopt a “policy” that confines you and squashes out our ability to let the Holy Spirit lead us. At the same time, we cannot be viewed as the Santa Claus of the village that gives every time we’re approached. I pray for your wisdom Lord. How can we decide who to help without your guidance?

From there, it’s off to visit our friends the Ixcajok’s. 2 hours can slip away in no time hanging out with friends. Luterio attempted to show me he knew a couple songs on the guitar. That was awesome. In tune or not, I loved listening to him sing praise to God while everyone else joked and visited. We played ball, wrestled with the kids, enjoyed lots of conversation – some serious, some light-hearted. These are the relationships we have been praying would form. Thank you Jesus…

Lastly, we’re dropping Amy back off at home, and saw Cesar, Lilian and their daughter Stefani walking along the street. This is a family we built a home for a couple months ago. It was great to catch up with them. A great sense of warmth fills the heart when you receive a hug and the words “we miss you” from a local family. We miss them too, as we haven’t seen them in a couple weeks…

At various points in the day, I felt like time stood still. One of these examples that I remember is while hanging out at Claro’s house, I noticed my son Jake sitting up on a hill with Jorge, one of the construction workers. They were pitching rocks down the hill, and chatting. It looked like a genuine conversation, and Jake was getting along fine with his Spanish. My heart thanked God in that moment for calling us here. I also thanked him for our children – the way they adjust and mold to fit whatever environment God puts them in.

Another time this happened was at the Marroquin family key ceremony. After all of our singing sharing, and celebrating, Maria Luisa asked if she could share something. With tears flowing, she told us how she could have never imagined receiving such a blessing in her whole life, and that the only thing she feels in her heart now is a desire to serve others. Wow… could her response to God’s blessings be any more biblical? Praise God…

At 6:00 it was time to head home – back to San Lucas. As we prepare to relocate this week to the village of Magdalena, we praise God and look forward to living there. It will be great to not have to “drive in” and “drive out.” This is our home. This is where God has called us to live out our faith and embrace community.

There are challenges and struggles ahead, this much I know. But today was a good day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

transition

For us, one word seems to be congruent with our following of Jesus: transition.

Probably the case with everyone, just in different forms. If it’s not physical relocation, it may be with relationships, trials, spiritual growth, etc. It’s certainly been those for us too.

But it’s also been a lot of physical relocation-style transition.

6 months ago we moved to Guatemala, into the “pueblo” of San Lucas. We know that God placed us in this town with purpose. Friendships were made that were critical in His plan to get us where we are now. Deep relationships were formed that we trust will continue.

We thank God for our initial 6-month transition. We arrived to find that our neighbors (who we love) spoke perfect English, a true blessing when you change cultures the way we did. We lived in a townhome with a washer/dryer and a hot water heater. More tastes of home…

This next transition is yet another step in the direction of immersion in the culture. We long to live amongst the people God called us here to help, in the villages we spend all of our time. The whole deepStream “thing” is that life is ministry – that our ministry flows from our everyday. That God’s timing is not always our own. That ministry is not something we create, or set out to “do.” That we live, and minister, all in the same breath.

So… in order to be true to that belief, we are relocating into the village that we believe God moved us here to work in… live in.

If you’re able to pray for us, here are a couple things to add to whatever else God puts in your heart.

- for God’s protection over our family, and the kids
- for kerrie’s patience and strength to endure a more drastic adjustment
- spanish! without good spanish, we will struggle living in this town, as there are no english speakers
- for the villagers to receive us well

We’ll be making the move over the next 2-3 weeks. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.