He burst into tears for his daughter.

Visiting Esmerelda (in red) with her parents at the nation hospital.

Sebastian is a local construction worker who we have known for several years. He recently came to our house and asked to talk to Michael. As they chatted, he burst into tears and explained that his 18-year-old daughter with special needs had been severely burned in an kitchen accident. She was cooking on a traditional stove called a plancha when her blouse caught fire. She didn’t know what do so she just curled up on the floor as her skin burned. Thankfully her little sister saw the flames and quickly called her dad who put out the flames with is bare hands and then rushed her to medical care.
Here we during one of our visits with Esmerlda (in red) at the national hospital. Please pray for Esmerlda as she is undergoing skin grafts and the painful process of healing from burns. We pray that God will use us to show the love of Christ to her and her family.

She felt like she couldn’t go on…

Chichicastenango–When her family walked out on her, they literally took the house with them and left her alone with her three kids.

On that day, Sara (not her real name) lost her sister and her family, her mom, her bed, and even the tin roof that had kept the rain off her at night.

That night Sara had her own two girls and little son ages 9, 7, and about 3 with her, but she felt completely abandoned and that emptiness and hurt were destroying her.

It’s not exactly clear when the idea first came to Sara, but, soon after her family left her, she decided to put an end to her struggle. The best way she could think to do that was by swallowing the rat poison tablets that she found and put an end to it all.

She started by swallowing four or five of the poison tablets each day.

[Read more…]

Reaching Kids:

A Swing and …oops…a Hit

Children from the local elementary school playing on our tree branch swing set made from logs we salvaged after trimming back trees in our yard.

At the end of last year we had a request from a local school. They asked if they can come use our yard, swings, and play area for the elementary school kids during their morning break. For the past four years we’ve had a good relationship with them and we’ve even been invited to share the Gospel in this public school. so we said, “yes”.
This week, one of the little preschool boys, named Emerson, was excited about getting on an empty swing. As he ran to the swing, he didn’t see another child was in mid swing. They collided and Emerson was knocked over gashing his head.
After his mother arrived, we took Emerson, his mother, and teacher to the health center where he received five stitches to his scalp.
Thankfully, we are in good relationship with Emerson’s family and they stopped by in the afternoon to show us his stitches. He’s doing well. 
Please pray for a quick healing for Emerson and continued opportunities to connect with the local school and reach children with Christ!

Sharing Christ on the Airwaves

Michael was invited to teach about families on a regional radio broadcast from Chichicastenango with a local pastor named Carlos. The program is also broadcast via internet. After the program live program, Pastor Carlos called Michael to let him know he’d received a call from a listener asking for prayer in of all places…New York. It’s great to be part of God’s plan to reach people right where they are! 

Continuing to Light the Darkness

Pastor José reading his Bible under the solar lamp we brought for the church en La Hortensia La Antigua.

Since 2016 Reach World Mission has been helping to bring light to the literal darkness of villages and homes without electricity or where electricity is unreliable or expensive.

Michael, Hudson, and Carlos with a load of solar lamps ready to be delivered.

Loading up the lights for delivery to families in El Esfuerzo.

Our friend, Carlos (in red shirt) delivering solar lamps to El Esfuerzo.

In 2018 alone we’ve delivered 179 solar lamps to light homes. The majority of those went to a village called El Esfuerzo where a discipleship program has been transforming this poor village from a place of turmoil into a community of peace. Others went to families in the local area and Cuba.

Since 2016 we’ve delivered 356 solar lamps.

Along with the solar lamps that are now lighting homes, we’ve carried the Light of the world — Jesus Christ. We have found that caring for physical  needs opens a door to care for the spiritual needs around us as well.

Please pray with us that the Light of Christ will illuminate the hearts of the people living in the homes where these solar lights are shining.

Giving Our Best Gift to Jesus

 

Leading praise songs with the kids.

Since 2005, we’ve been connected with a Guatemalan ministry in one way or another. After moving to Guatemala in 2011, we started serving alongside the ministry of ASELSI. One of the biggest evangelistic events of the year is the annual Christmas Party.

Michael taught an illustrated message about the boy who gave his loaves and fish to Jesus.

This year, we were invited to lead the children’s story time of the event. Together Chrisi and I led the over 450 kids in the motions to songs about thankfulness and praising Jesus.

Hudson helping deliver backpacks to the children at the Fiesta Navideña

Then I shared the story of the little boy who gave his lunch to Jesus. We tied in the idea of how he gave his food to Jesus and how we have something to give to Jesus. We taught about how God gave His best to us and at Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus.

We taught how we too can give our best to Jesus, not just our lunch, but our lives, resources, families, work and all we are!

Many prayed with us as we led them in the prayer of salvation.

Delivering backpacks to the children from our Bible Study who attended the ASELSI Christmas Fiesta

Games: Balloon Stomp

Playing Balloon Stomp with the Little Disciples Bible Study

 

 

A great game for groups of 5 to 100+.

1) Use yarn to tie an inflated balloon to all participant’s ankle with a piece of yarn.

2) Explain the designated area (depending on size of your group)

3) Say “Go.”

4) Everyone tries to stomp on the balloon of everybody else.

5) When a person’s balloon is popped, they are “out” and must retire to the edge of the playing area.

6) Last person with an inflated balloon still on their ankle wins.

7) Be sure and pick up the balloon and yarn pieces

Variations:

Make teams with colors of balloons and play to see what team wins.

As more people get out, reduce the playing area by having those who are “out” circle up and hold hands to make the playing space smaller.

A “Sticky” Christmas Party

It was a “sticky” Christmas Party this year at the Little Disciples Bible Study.

Kids started showing up at 2 p.m. — some to play in the yard and others to help make Christmas cookies and practice their part in the Christmas drama.

By 4 p.m. things were in full swing and we kicked off with a rousing game of Balloon Stomp.

Chrisi led the crowd in exciting praise songs complete with get-your-heart-pumping actions.

Michael narrated the Christmas story while the little disciples acted it out complete with Mary, Joseph, Cesar Augustus, the innkeeper, the angels, and shepherds.

We followed up with the Gospel message and several children responded to accept Christ.

After a puppet play about the Nativity, we made a colorful silhouette nativity scene with Chinese paper and glue.

By this time the crowd had grown to 75 with kids parents, and curious neighbors. We served the traditional meal of Christmas tamales and added in the fresh Christmas cookies.

At the Little Disciples Bible Study our goal is to disciple these children and their families in God’s Word while making the learning experience fun and “sticky”.

Yes, we use glue for the handicrafts, but that’s not the kind of sticky we’re really after. We want the Word of God to “stick” in their hearts where we know it will grow and produce good fruit in their lives.

Please pray for us and the Little Disciples we’re raising up in Guatemala to keep sticking God’s Word in hearts and develop followers of Jesus!

Don’t Take the Bait!

Using a fishing lure and a make shift fishing pole, Michael taught the  kids at the Little Disciples Bible Study about avoiding temptations.  Afterwards we made a fish craft project that was provided by a friend who works at Home Depot in the USA. The kids loved it!

Here are some photos from the activity:

Escaping the Volcano: “We Ran In Every Direction.”

Delivering beds to survivors from the eruption

   We drove 2 ½ hours down the CA-1 highway and wove our way through a forest road and finally arrived at a small group of four new cement block houses. These were the homes of four families displaced by the eruption of Volcan Fuego (the Fire Volcano) that destroyed their old homes.

The families we had come to visit were glad to see us and the pickup truck filled with beds behind us.

It’s been nearly 4 ½ months since the disaster destroyed their homes, businesses, and all they had in their village of San Miguel Los Lotes that had been cozily nestled against the side of the volcanic slopes, but sat directly in the path of the deadly flows of rubble, gas, and ash that swamped over their town burying two story buildings up to the second story windows and killing over 200 of their neighbors.

We have been working with other ministries to help these families and others deal with their urgent needs and start the recovery process. Now that these houses had been built, it was time to furnish them.

Thanks to the generous support from friends and churches in the States, we were able to provide emergency food, transportation, supplies (diapers, water, etc.) along with three stoves and gas tanks, and eight new beds to help these and other families get back on their feet.

Hudson has a heart to help even if it’s a big load. He loves helping others!

Hudson and I helped unload the beds and then he played with Yeferson one of the young survivors while I chatted with these families to hear their stories and pray for them.

Here are some of the stories they shared with me:

Osman & Lidia

On May 31, 2018 Osman stood before the congregation of his church and preached. He was glad to have the privilege to teach as a lay leader in a small church that was growing and needed to expand to have room for the new parishioners in the village of San Miguel Los Lotes located on the slopes of a mountain about 27 miles outside of Guatemala City.

Osman taught about the 10th plague in Egypt and how the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt, their firstborn sons saved from death by the blood of the sacrificial lambs on their doors.

They didn’t know that in just a few days, destruction was coming to them.

On Sunday, June 3, the mountain was rumbling, but life was pretty normal, because the mountain was the Volcano called Fuego (Fire) and known for its occasional eruptions that hadn’t ever caused much trouble for this little village…until now.

This time something was different. The rumblings got stronger and videos of that day show the dark cloud of ash towering over the village shortly before the hot gas and rubble blasted through the village killing 205 people in San Miguel Los Lotes alone.

Osman was just a dozen or so yards away when he saw a rolling wall of rubble – a deadly hot mass of gas, rocks and ash called pyroclastic flow. It was rolling through the village, burning, burying and killing at a rate hard to describe. Osman ran.

So did their son Ángel. He was running around playing soccer with his friends on that Sunday afternoon when suddenly he had to run for his life.

Two of the new houses that were built for the volcano survivors. These were built by another ministry. We helped with furnishings and other needs for survivors.

“We ran in every direction,” they said.

Lidia is a woman who wears her sorrows on her face. Osman is her husband and as they both shared their story of escaping from the eruption, you could see the pain of loss on both of them.

They had lost their poultry business that day. Some 600 laying hens and about 800 meat chickens were consumed in the ash. They’d lost their home too, but more than anything the tears began to fall when they talked about the friends and family members who did not escape: The pastor of their growing church had been working at the church that day. He didn’t make it out. Many of their brothers in Christ didn’t come down the mountain either.

Osman and Lidia tried to go back and recover what they could, but all was buried they said — buildings, tools, vehicles. Gone. All buried beneath ash and rock that became like cement in the seasonal rains that soaked the region after the eruption. In some places you couldn’t even see the houses anymore, Osman said some houses that had been two stories tall, now only stuck out of the ash by about three feet.

All they’d worked for over decades was gone. But there was hope too. For them and their five children who ran for their lives that day, they got out alive. At first they had to search for each other at the shelters that were quickly established to help those fleeing the eruption. But they did find their family and were reunited. Now they are trying to find work, and get re-established in their new community miles away from their old home.

I prayed with them and encouraged them that their brothers and sisters in Christ cared about them and sent these beds to remind them of God’s love for them.

A screen shot from the video Jessenia’s son shot during the eruption.

For Jessenia, a 35-year-old mom of two boys, she showed us a video on her cell phone of that day. As roosters crow in the background, the silent clouds of ash towered over the village and her son’s voice rings out, “Mamá, it’s coming this way! It’s going to reach the sun! Come see! ”

Jessenia tells of how she and her husband put their 8-year-old son on his back and six-year-old Yeferson climbed on her back and they ran, just escaping the deadly walls of ash and gas that engulfed their town. Now, my son and Yeferson were playing together in the safety of their new neighborhood.

Doña Gonzalez told about how she ran to the main road to escape and saw the wall of rubble and ash rolling through the street knocking over the utility poles as it pushed down the road.

One of the survivors told about another who was stuck in his house when the flows engulfed the village, he somehow escaped but not until he said the house became hot like an oven and the metal sheets on the roof glowed red hot.

As we heard these stories of loss and fear, I reminded them that in the middle of the destruction that Satan caused through that eruption, God had preserved their lives. Like Osman’s sermon about the children of Israel and a night of terror for the Egyptians, God had preserved them and their families and He has a plan for them. We prayed for peace in their hearts, that those houses will be turned in to homes and that as they rest on the beds we delivered that they will remember God’s protection over them and be refreshed in Him. They were grateful to those who have never met them yet, donated to help them get their lives back in order.

Standing in front of their new home with Osman and Lidia

The village of San Miguel Los Lotes has been declared a disaster zone and is no longer livable since it is still in danger of further volcanic activity. Many of the missing were never found and have been declared dead by officials. The final counts by disaster officials in Guatemala is 332 people dead, but with nearly 3,000 listed as missing, that number seems questionable.

We have plans to visit Osman and his family in a few weeks to see how they’re doing and to keep encouraging them and sharing Christ with this group of survivors.

Please pray for Osman and Lidia and for Jessenia and the rest as they settle into their new homes, look for work and their kids start in new schools. Like anyone going through a major catastrophe, they need encouragement and like all of us, they need to be reminded that God cares about them and that they’re not alone.

If you would like to help us continue reaching out to families in Guatemala consider a making a donation here.