Just Another Day in Paradise!

Paradise, Guatemala, is real

When people come to Guatemala with us, many are struck by the beauty of many of the out-of-the-way places we visit. For me, it never gets old—especially when getting a break from our winter weather here in the Midwest!

To give you a taste of this, I thought I’d share with you a few pictures from a recent trip to the jungle with my new friend Aden Shorney. Aden has attended Westside Family Church in the Kansas City area for many years and is currently working as a volunteer with the youth group at the Speedway campus of Westside. In January, Aden will be on his way to Concordia, Kansas to study wind turbine mechanics. As an avid duck hunter and fisherman, he wanted to experience some of the wilds of the Guatemala jungle. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Aden shares a love of running. As a former cross country runner at Johnson County Community College, he jumped at my invitation to take him on a few of my favorite runs and he took it all in stride on a couple of days of roughing it on some spectacular hikes to some of the Kekchi villages where we have worked for more than a decade. Hope you enjoy our pictures.

 The first morning in the jungle, I took Aden out on a run near the town of El Paraiso (Paradise), and we saw this waterfall. Yep, it was just another day in paradise!

The first morning in the jungle, I took Aden out on a run near the town of El Paraiso (Paradise), and we saw this waterfall. Yep, it was just another day in paradise!

 After seeing the waterfall, we decided to jump in and found that the cool waterfall fell into a hot spring!

After seeing the waterfall, we decided to jump in and found that the cool waterfall fell into a hot spring!

 As we soaked in the beauty, I looked up to snap this picture.

As we soaked in the beauty, I looked up to snap this picture.

 A few hours after being in El Paraiso, Aden and I are looking from a tree-house above the waterfall called Las Conchas. Don’t tell his mom, but later on, we jumped off the 30-foot waterfall in the background!

A few hours after being in El Paraiso, Aden and I are looking from a tree-house above the waterfall called Las Conchas. Don’t tell his mom, but later on, we jumped off the 30-foot waterfall in the background!

 another view of Las Conchas

another view of Las Conchas

 Aden pauses to admire this view of the river El Chiyu from right above the falls.

Aden pauses to admire this view of the river El Chiyu from right above the falls.

 The next morning we met with a gathering of pastors in Sepoc. As I look around the circle, each man represents a church that has been started in the past 15 plus years. This day, Cesar is leading a discussion about how, with the opening of a new road, it is more feasible to connect with a Kekchi Baptist association only 3 hours away for training and encouragement.

The next morning we met with a gathering of pastors in Sepoc. As I look around the circle, each man represents a church that has been started in the past 15 plus years. This day, Cesar is leading a discussion about how, with the opening of a new road, it is more feasible to connect with a Kekchi Baptist association only 3 hours away for training and encouragement.

 After the meeting in Sepoc, Aden and I, along with three other men, hiked about an hour up and over a mountain to Ochul Choch. Here Aden is happy to get up and start our first day of hiking.

After the meeting in Sepoc, Aden and I, along with three other men, hiked about an hour up and over a mountain to Ochul Choch. Here Aden is happy to get up and start our first day of hiking.

 It’s almost impossible to capture the perspective of how steep this trail gets. I’m looking almost straight down to take this picture of Aden and our friend Cesario, who is carrying my backpack.

It’s almost impossible to capture the perspective of how steep this trail gets. I’m looking almost straight down to take this picture of Aden and our friend Cesario, who is carrying my backpack.

 On one of the lower flat sections of the trail, I was grateful that this was the “dry” season, and we had virtually no mud to slop through. Behind Aden is Cesario, Lorenzo (pastor of the church at Ochul Choch), and Pedro.

On one of the lower flat sections of the trail, I was grateful that this was the “dry” season, and we had virtually no mud to slop through. Behind Aden is Cesario, Lorenzo (pastor of the church at Ochul Choch), and Pedro.

 We stopped for a break in front of Lorenzo’s house.

We stopped for a break in front of Lorenzo’s house.

 Once we made it to Ochul Choch, our friends wanted to see if we were interested in riding a horse and then playing soccer!

Once we made it to Ochul Choch, our friends wanted to see if we were interested in riding a horse and then playing soccer!

 Aden jumps in to play before it gets dark and the church service will begin. Soccer has been the primary evangelism tool used by our Kekchi churches to reach new villages with the gospel.

Aden jumps in to play before it gets dark and the church service will begin. Soccer has been the primary evangelism tool used by our Kekchi churches to reach new villages with the gospel.

 A Kekchi worship service begins in Ochul Choch. The song leader calls out the songs to the base fiddle player and the marimba team. Lights are provided by a gasoline powered generator that is rumbling outside.

A Kekchi worship service begins in Ochul Choch. The song leader calls out the songs to the base fiddle player and the marimba team. Lights are provided by a gasoline powered generator that is rumbling outside.

 As the service began, one of the mothers hung her baby on a hook where she slept soundly the entire 2 and a half hour service!

As the service began, one of the mothers hung her baby on a hook where she slept soundly the entire 2 and a half hour service!

 Lorenzo helping lead the children as they sing for the congregation. After this I got involved in the service and forgot to take any further picks!

Lorenzo helping lead the children as they sing for the congregation. After this I got involved in the service and forgot to take any further picks!

 Aden was fascinated by all the critters around us. Here is one of our gecko roommates. Unfortunately he couldn’t save us 15% on our car insurance!

Aden was fascinated by all the critters around us. Here is one of our gecko roommates. Unfortunately he couldn’t save us 15% on our car insurance!

 The next morning, and only a few days before Thanksgiving, these turkeys were grateful that they were from Guatemala!

The next morning, and only a few days before Thanksgiving, these turkeys were grateful that they were from Guatemala!

 After spending the night hanging in a couple of hammocks in the church, Lorenzo and his wife and daughter show us where they are working their fields.

After spending the night hanging in a couple of hammocks in the church, Lorenzo and his wife and daughter show us where they are working their fields.

 Lorenzo looks over his field of cardamom. These bushes produce a berry used to make perfumes. He and his wife sell this for money to give to the church.

Lorenzo looks over his field of cardamom. These bushes produce a berry used to make perfumes. He and his wife sell this for money to give to the church.

 Going under the cardamom plants, Lorenzo wants to show us how they harvest the berries.

Going under the cardamom plants, Lorenzo wants to show us how they harvest the berries.

 Lorenzo’s wife is picking the berries off the cardamom as they grow out of the base of the plant.

Lorenzo’s wife is picking the berries off the cardamom as they grow out of the base of the plant.

 Here is a piece of chocolate cooked in a hut in the jungle.

Here is a piece of chocolate cooked in a hut in the jungle.

 Here is the cacao fruit. When it is peeled the beans come out white as seen in the basket.

Here is the cacao fruit. When it is peeled the beans come out white as seen in the basket.

 Once the cacao beans dry, they look like this. Then they can be cooked into a drink or mixed with sugar to make what we recognize as chocolate!

Once the cacao beans dry, they look like this. Then they can be cooked into a drink or mixed with sugar to make what we recognize as chocolate!

 This bridge will allow the construction of a road that will cover much of the ground we hiked on our last day in the jungle.

This bridge will allow the construction of a road that will cover much of the ground we hiked on our last day in the jungle.

 This swinging bridge that has handled foot traffic for many years may become obsolete in the near future. Watch out for that first step! It’s a doozy!

This swinging bridge that has handled foot traffic for many years may become obsolete in the near future. Watch out for that first step! It’s a doozy!

 Coming out of the jungle, Aden reflects on his week in Guatemala, and he admires one of Guatemala’s several mountain ranges of volcanoes. This one is near Ipala, Guatemala.

Coming out of the jungle, Aden reflects on his week in Guatemala, and he admires one of Guatemala’s several mountain ranges of volcanoes. This one is near Ipala, Guatemala.

10:02 PRAYER

Thanks for your continued prayers. Please continue to pray that God will send forth laborers into his harvest fields—especially for our Kekchi friends in Guatemala. Pray that the connections with other Kekchi churches will bring encouragement and support to the more remote churches we have worked with in the past few years. Also pray that our churches will influence others to use Play. Story. Eat. tools like soccer evangelism in other places.

ENGAGE

This coming week, Bill Burrows and I will be visiting Joel Wentworth and friends in the Sandhills of Nebraska. If you are in that area, we look forward to seeing you!

I know this is last minute, but I still need two or three people to work with cowboys and ranchers January 10-17 in Guatemala and another two or three to go to Honduras with me January 24-31. Please contact me ASAP if you have interest.

INVEST

Keep those cards and letters coming! Your giving is making a difference.

CLICK HERE FOR THE EASY BUTTON TO INVEST.

As we look at the coming year, we have several mission opportunities that we hope to share with you. Stay tuned!

Love y’all!

Steve

 All cleaned up and heading home! Aden and I are grateful to you for your prayers during our time in Guatemala.

All cleaned up and heading home! Aden and I are grateful to you for your prayers during our time in Guatemala.

Thanksgiving Flows From Guatemala to You

Hi everyone! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving! If you are like those of us in Kansas City, you are thawing out after a blizzard blew through on Sunday. Brrrrrrrr!

 Jacob Burrows and Melissa Hochheimer about to be tied into a knot, crushed, and eaten… Sorry, I meant married!

Jacob Burrows and Melissa Hochheimer about to be tied into a knot, crushed, and eaten… Sorry, I meant married!

But all in all, we have a lot to be grateful for in the Daybreak International Play. Story. Eat. world. For starters, I got home from Guatemala just before Thanksgiving, and Bill and Joyce Burrows celebrated the wedding of their son Jacob to his new bride, Melissa, right before Thanksgiving as well.

 Melissa & Jacob Burrows and Joyce & Bill Burrows

Melissa & Jacob Burrows and Joyce & Bill Burrows

Photo Journal - November 2018 Guatemala Trip

Beyond that, I am thankful for two successful projects to encourage our Play. Story. Eat. groups and churches in Guatemala. The last time I reported to you, we had just begun a week of activities with a Kansas City based team from LifeQuest Church in Belton, Missouri, and a couple of us from Nall Avenue Baptist in Prairie Village, Kansas. Every day of that week we changed venues to work with different people groups. All told, we touched base with 12 of our Play. Story. Eat. groups, covering the gamut by playing and having spiritual conversations with children, youth, women, men, and the elderly. Each day we figured out a way to join others who are learning to play, tell their faith stories, and eat together in a way that helps them become the church to one another. This team worked hard and had a great time learning and experiencing the Guatemalan culture. Here are a few pics of that team in action.

 Seated around the table from left to right, our Kansas City team consisted of Erica Whittington, Ty DeMint, Joe Cooper, me, Jeff Kroenlein, and Tim Goulet.

Seated around the table from left to right, our Kansas City team consisted of Erica Whittington, Ty DeMint, Joe Cooper, me, Jeff Kroenlein, and Tim Goulet.

 Here are the staples of the Guatemala diet—beans, eggs, and tortillas. The eggs can be fixed almost any way you like, and this meal can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here, Ty was loading up on the green hot sauce!

Here are the staples of the Guatemala diet—beans, eggs, and tortillas. The eggs can be fixed almost any way you like, and this meal can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here, Ty was loading up on the green hot sauce!

 A new Christian Rancher group met near Pedro de Alvarado, just a few miles from the El Salvador border. This group had been meeting under a tree, but thanks to a donation from Cross Creek Baptist Mission in Oak Grove, Missouri, they had just recently put up a tin roof to shed the water for the rainy season.

A new Christian Rancher group met near Pedro de Alvarado, just a few miles from the El Salvador border. This group had been meeting under a tree, but thanks to a donation from Cross Creek Baptist Mission in Oak Grove, Missouri, they had just recently put up a tin roof to shed the water for the rainy season.

 Tim Goulet (center) is teaching Ty and Erica how to make balloon figures. Balloons were a huge hit for all ages every place we went.

Tim Goulet (center) is teaching Ty and Erica how to make balloon figures. Balloons were a huge hit for all ages every place we went.

 Joe helps keep everyone supplied in balloons at a senior citizens center near Quesada, Guatemala.

Joe helps keep everyone supplied in balloons at a senior citizens center near Quesada, Guatemala.

 Ty shares a moment with a little girl in Quesada.

Ty shares a moment with a little girl in Quesada.

 I’m doing my best to translate Tim’s instructions on making a sword with the balloons to a group near Pedro de Alvarado.

I’m doing my best to translate Tim’s instructions on making a sword with the balloons to a group near Pedro de Alvarado.

 Jeff, Erica, Ty, and Joe hang’n with some new friends at their home in Las Bolsitas, a village where a new church has been started. It’s also the home of “Tigra” the dog who bit me nearly two years ago!

Jeff, Erica, Ty, and Joe hang’n with some new friends at their home in Las Bolsitas, a village where a new church has been started. It’s also the home of “Tigra” the dog who bit me nearly two years ago!

 Tim speaks to a youth group in Santa Rosa de Lima through a young interpreter from that group.

Tim speaks to a youth group in Santa Rosa de Lima through a young interpreter from that group.

 Erica stirs up the mixture of a home-made cleaning solution that women near Quesada, Guatemala, are selling to supplement their family income.

Erica stirs up the mixture of a home-made cleaning solution that women near Quesada, Guatemala, are selling to supplement their family income.

 Cesar gives a gift on behalf of our group to a leader of a women’s group near Quesada, Guatemala, to serve as seed money to buy materials for a micro business multiplication project that makes and sells lotion for women.

Cesar gives a gift on behalf of our group to a leader of a women’s group near Quesada, Guatemala, to serve as seed money to buy materials for a micro business multiplication project that makes and sells lotion for women.

 Erica teaches some ladies how to make a dog with their balloons.

Erica teaches some ladies how to make a dog with their balloons.

 Ty and Jeff get in on a group exercise at the senior center in Santa Cruz Narranjo.

Ty and Jeff get in on a group exercise at the senior center in Santa Cruz Narranjo.

 Ladies at the senior citizens center in Santa Cruz Narranjo perform Guatemala’s official dance.

Ladies at the senior citizens center in Santa Cruz Narranjo perform Guatemala’s official dance.

 Jeff enjoys a moment as one of the regulars at the senior citizens center in Santa Cruz Narranjo invited him to dance.

Jeff enjoys a moment as one of the regulars at the senior citizens center in Santa Cruz Narranjo invited him to dance.

 Ty shows us how to play a game unstacking and restacking cups. Cesar is directing the time keeper to start the stopwatch.

Ty shows us how to play a game unstacking and restacking cups. Cesar is directing the time keeper to start the stopwatch.

 Cesar loves to have groups play Connect Four while they wait for people to gather.

Cesar loves to have groups play Connect Four while they wait for people to gather.

 Erica expresses gratitude to one of the workers at a senior citizen center near Quesada.

Erica expresses gratitude to one of the workers at a senior citizen center near Quesada.

10:02 PRAYER

Thanks for your prayers for us during our time in Guatemala. Pray now that the seeds planted will sprout into strong groups where those who follow Jesus will live so wholeheartedly and contagiously, that their groups will grow and multiply.

ENGAGE

I need two or three people to work with cowboys and ranchers January 10-17 in Guatemala and another two or three to go to Honduras with me January 24-31. If you are interested let me know right away. Beyond those two groups, we are looking at doing a variety of mission projects with you in 2019. Any interest you might have, please contact me.

INVEST

This is the time of year many ministries count on to cover their operating budgets for the entire year. We are no different. In fact, many of our greatest expenses come in the first couple of months of the new year when giving can typically drop off. So thanks in advance for keeping us going. Your giving makes a huge difference!

CLICK HERE FOR THE EASY BUTTON TO INVEST.

Thanks again for your prayers and support. In the next update, I plan to share some spectacular pictures taken from a trip to the jungle with Aden Shorney, a duck hunting enthusiast from Basehor, Kansas. Stay warm!

Love y’all!

Steve

Where A Dog Bites... God Plants a Church!

Greetings from Guatemala! I am here with Jeff Kroenlein, Joe Cooper, Tim Goulet, and Erica Whittington of LifeQuest Church of Belton, Missouri. Also here is Ty DeMint from my home church Nall Avenue Baptist of Prairie Village, Kansas. We’ve only been here a day and a half and already have some stories we are excited to share with you.

“Day of the Dead”

Yesterday was the last day of the “Day of the Dead” celebration that happens November 1 and 2. On these two days, everyone goes out to the cemeteries to have a picnic with their families. If you could imagine our Memorial Day combined with Halloween and the Fourth of July, you’d get the feel of it! To get the full experience, we walked through a local cemetery to see it firsthand. Cesar parked outside the cemetery in the truck while I led the team through the maze of people. Because I have been in this region many times through the years, several people spotted me who knew me already.

 Our first day in Guatemala, the team paused in a cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” celebration.

Our first day in Guatemala, the team paused in a cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” celebration.

What I didn’t realize yesterday was that just by walking through the cemetery we would make an impact in people we saw today! Hang with me, because this story involves a dog bite of 2 years ago, a children’s event we did today in Cesar’s hometown of Amberes, and a pineapple we bought at the cemetery!

Amazing children’s event

In two different church starts within walking distance of Cesar’s house in Amberes, Cesar had arranged for the pastors of these churches to bring some children from their villages for a Play. Story. Eat. morning for kids. Sixteen children came from a brand new house church. About 45 came from a church that has been going several years in another village.

 My friend Tigra, who bit me nearly two years ago.

My friend Tigra, who bit me nearly two years ago.

Tigre

Part of our team walked with Jose, pastor of the new house church, to where he had arranged for us to gather children and bring them to our event. As Jose led us up the trail to this house, I noticed that we were hiking along the trail that I liked to run. In fact, yesterday, Ty and I ran this trail on our first morning in Guatemala. When we got to the house, I could hardly believe my eyes! This was the very same house where, two years ago, I had been bitten by a dog! If you have been on our updates for a while, you might recall the dog bite story where that very same dog had been vaccinated two months prior by a US veterinary group!

Sure enough, “Tigra,” my friend, was there to meet our group! She calmly walked around us as we talked with the family.

 In front of Tigra’s house, I took this picture of our group before we hiked to Cesar’s house.

In front of Tigra’s house, I took this picture of our group before we hiked to Cesar’s house.

New House Church

About 50 yards from Tigra’s house is the new house church where Jose is working to reach families through a weekly children’s gathering. Yesterday two of the sets of parents had accepted Christ with Jose when he was getting permission for the children to come to our event. As we walked the trail with the children, they mentioned that they had noticed me running through the village from time to time and had even seen Ty and me yesterday morning.

When I got back to Cesar and told him that the people from the house where I got bitten are a part of the new church there, he put his hands on his stomach and shaking his head he laughed. “Esteban, we need you to run through all the villages around here. Everywhere you get bitten by a dog, we can start a church!”

At the children’s event, we had a a great time. Tim taught the children how to make dogs and swords and hats out of balloons. Jeff did magic tricks. Ty, Erica, and Joe told stories. And all got snow cones and a hot dog.

 About 60 children came for our children’s event at Cesar’s house. Here they sat for instructions before breaking into three groups.

About 60 children came for our children’s event at Cesar’s house. Here they sat for instructions before breaking into three groups.

 Alejandra served us our Crazy Pineapple.

Alejandra served us our Crazy Pineapple.

Crazy Pineapples

During our time together, several of the children mentioned that they had seen us at the cemetery talking to people they knew. At one point yesterday, just outside the crowded cemetery, we bought a “Crazy Pineapple.” It’s when they put cayenne pepper, chili sauce, lemon, and salt on a perfectly good pineapple! Little did we know that Alejandra, the lady serving us, would be the person that Cesar had hired to make snow cones for the children today at his place!

When we connected with her today, we found out that she is a believer who wants to serve God. We had a chance to encourage her to make a difference with her friends who don’t know Jesus.

 Ty, Joe, and Tim enjoyed the pineapple.

Ty, Joe, and Tim enjoyed the pineapple.

10:02 Prayer

Sunday, we will be near Moyuta, where we started a Christian Rancher group that did the trash project earlier in the year. Monday we work with young people in Santa Rosa de Lima, Tuesday we work with women’s groups near Quesada, and Wednesday we plan to be with older folks in Santa Cruz Narranjo. Please pray for our team this week.

Engage

If you have an interest in a mission trip, please let me know. When I get home we will be looking at the calendar to nail down the dates for January through August of 2019.

Invest

Thanks for your faithful giving. We had just enough to cover the expenses for the next two weeks of activities here. Muchas Gracias!

Thanks again for your prayers. I hope to share more stories from this trip!

Love y’all

Steve

From Kansas to Guatemala God is Moving

Thank You, Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas!

Bill and I had a great time with the good folks of Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church in Hays, Kansas, October 5-6th. We both witnessed the work of God in the people of Cornerstone. They are so responsive to God’s work in their lives. We are excited to see how God uses them to love Hays and central Kansas. Special thanks go to their pastor, Jason Murray, and their team of warm and hospitable folks.

 Bill and I enjoyed our time with the great folks of Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas. What a great weekend!

Bill and I enjoyed our time with the great folks of Cornerstone SBC of Hays, Kansas. What a great weekend!

By the way, several of them have already started our 3-week Play. Story. Eat. trial with some friends. Pray that this sparks a contagious faith in them and that they would want to continue. Also pray for them as they team up to reach out to a nearby apartment complex to build spiritual friendships with the residents there.

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

We have two teams that are preparing to head down to Guatemala.

November 1-8, a group from LifeQuest Church of Belton, MO, and a group from Nall Avenue Baptist of Prairie Village, KS, will be teaming up with Cesar Gonzalez to touch base with several of the newest PSE groups. From women’s groups to Christian Rancher groups to a senior citizens group, the experiences and settings will be varied. The most unusual day will be November 2nd when we go to the cemetery for the annual “Day of the Dead” tradition. This holiday is like our memorial day mixed in with the fourth of July. Whole communities pause to go to cemeteries and remember the dead, eat a lot of food, and play games. Pray that during this time some of our team will have a chance to share their faith story.

November 8-15, I will be joined by a young man from Westside Church of Shawnee, KS, for a quick trip to the jungle. On the way, we will drop in on some Christian Rancher groups. While in the jungle, we plan to visit two of the newest Kekchi churches. In the last couple of weeks, one church baptized 10 people and the other 8! As always, pray that the Lord of the harvest will multiply His laborers for His great harvest.

 Here’s a picture of the first baptisms in Sepoc 13 years ago. This church is now the leader in the region in helping other churches get started. I hope to get pics of their recent baptisms. Stay tuned!

Here’s a picture of the first baptisms in Sepoc 13 years ago. This church is now the leader in the region in helping other churches get started. I hope to get pics of their recent baptisms. Stay tuned!

 This is one of my favorite jungle pictures of all time. It captures a new church reflecting on the significance of the baptisms they have just witnessed.

This is one of my favorite jungle pictures of all time. It captures a new church reflecting on the significance of the baptisms they have just witnessed.

INVEST

Thanks for your continued generosity. Your gifts advance the work of building spiritual friendships to make disciples! Below is our easy button for investing.  

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

You may be noticing that churches of all kinds and all sizes are using us to train their people to use their talents and interests in unique ministries of building spiritual friendships. If you would like for us to come to your church to coach or train a group, let us know!

Love y'all.   

Steve

PSE Training Camp Events in Hays, Kansas and Norfolk, Nebraska

From Valentine to Norfolk to Omaha…

In a moment, I want to highlight an upcoming Play. Story. Eat. training event, but before doing so, I am busting at the seams to share what has happened in the past couple of weeks with some of our friends and family in Nebraska.

First, the Turner family wanted me to thank you for praying for them at the passing of Lawrence Turner’s wife, Sue. For me, her homecoming celebration was truly a wonderful time for many of us to get together in her hometown of Valentine, Nebraska.

A few days later, on September 20th, our son Josh and his wife, Kristin, who reside in Omaha, Nebraska, welcomed little Landon Michael into the world, and all are doing great—even Josh! If you are keeping score at home, this is our fourth grandchild—the third born in the past 12 months! (See picture at the end of this update!)

In between Valentine and Omaha, I had the privilege of staying with David and Perla Martinez in Norfolk, Nebraska, to see the churches and ministries that David is leading to reach Hispanics in Nebraska. Besides his Norfolk congregation, David has been catalytic in seeing other Hispanic churches started.

 David Martinez speaks to Companerismo Cristiano, his congregation meeting at Northern Heights Baptist Church in Norfolk, Nebraska.

David Martinez speaks to Companerismo Cristiano, his congregation meeting at Northern Heights Baptist Church in Norfolk, Nebraska.

 The Companerismo Cristiano congregation hung around to take a picture with me after the service.

The Companerismo Cristiano congregation hung around to take a picture with me after the service.

I had the privilege of speaking to the church on Sunday, and after the service a young lady came up just beaming from ear to ear. “Do you remember me?” she asked.

“You look familiar, but help me out,” I replied.

“My name is Julieta,” she revealed. “I sat next to you on the airplane from Guatemala to Dallas in June of 2017!” After introducing me to her daughter, sister, and mother, Julieta reminded me of how she was originally from Zacapa, Guatemala, but has made Norfolk, Nebraska, home with her family. Since Zacapa is one of the areas where we are trying to get some Christian rancher groups going, Julieta may be helping us get in touch with some of her family back in Guatemala. Stay tuned for more on that story!

 In a fun surprise, I got reacquainted with my airplane friend, Julieta, here with her daughter after the Sunday service in Norfolk.

In a fun surprise, I got reacquainted with my airplane friend, Julieta, here with her daughter after the Sunday service in Norfolk.

Besides connecting me with his congregation, David arranged on short notice for me to speak at a pastors gathering of the Northeast Nebraska Baptist Association about the Play. Story. Eat. method we use both in Latin America and in the U.S. Thanks to the positive reception, we plan to be back in December for PSE training in both English and Spanish for those in that region.

 At Primera Iglesia Bautista in South Sioux City, Nebraska, I got to hear about God’s moving in the churches in that region, and they allowed me a chance to share the Play. Story. Eat. story.

At Primera Iglesia Bautista in South Sioux City, Nebraska, I got to hear about God’s moving in the churches in that region, and they allowed me a chance to share the Play. Story. Eat. story.

Upcoming Training Event in Hays, Kansas!

And that leads me to what’s coming up. On Saturday, October 6th, from 9am to 3pm, Bill Burrows and I will be doing a Play. Story. Eat. Training Camp in Hays, Kansas. Location is Cornerstone Southern Baptist at 1605 East 29th. Let us know if you’d like to come. For those in that region, contact pastor Jason Murray at (336) 978-8460.

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for more laborers to be sent into the harvest with Hispanics in Nebraska, and pray for the training events coming up in both Kansas and Nebraska.

INVEST

Your giving continues to keep us moving and shaking and is strategic to helping us see that every person in the world has a friend who loves Jesus. Below is our easy button for investing.  

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ENGAGE

Besides our upcoming training in Hays, we plan to be in Pratt, Nebraska, for the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists annual meeting October 8-9. If you are planning to go, we hope to see you there!

Keep those cards and letters coming!

Love y'all.   

Steve

 Landon Michael Reed arrived off the assembly line September 20th weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. Nola and I got a chance to approve of Josh and Kristin’s hard work!

Landon Michael Reed arrived off the assembly line September 20th weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. Nola and I got a chance to approve of Josh and Kristin’s hard work!

Barb's Story ... a Testimony of Play. Story. Eat. in Kansas City

As I write this update, I am preparing to head up to Valentine, Nebraska, for the Saturday homecoming celebration of Sue Turner, the wife of longtime friend, Lawrence Turner. Following the funeral, on Sunday and Monday, I plan to spend some time with David Martinez and his church in Norfolk, Nebraska. David is a catalytic church planter of Hispanic churches in Nebraska and is recruiting pastors and leaders to start churches all over Nebraska. Currently there are about 5 of these, and more are coming.

As I get my bags packed, I want to say thanks for your continued support in helping Bill and me continue to move about the country. This year our travel budget has about doubled on stateside travel as we respond to help our friends use the Play. Story. Eat. process in their ministry contexts. So thanks in advance for helping us!

Barb’s Story…

 Barb & Dick Cates

Barb & Dick Cates

Today I want to highlight Barb Cates’ story. When Barb’s husband, Dick, worked for Cardinal Health, he looked like he was in perfect health. Having been a semi-pro catcher in his younger years and a weightlifting enthusiast, Dick was a powerful man. But due to a snafu when Dick was saving a patient by holding a leaking artery, a surgeon accidentally cut into Dick’s finger while working on an infected Hepatitis patient, Dick’s career was over and his health radically changed. Today, while Dick’s Hepatitis is cured, he now deals with the deteriorating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Last year Barb retired from her full-time job as a high school teacher and is caring for Dick at home as they have had to adjust to their new reality.

During the past couple of years, they have opened their home to a Play. Story. Eat. group. And despite the curve-balls that life has thrown them, they have found that they can minister to others even though they can’t get out as much.

I’ll let Barb tell you a bit of this in her own words…

My husband and I have received many blessings in our walks with Jesus Christ over the years. We have learned, prayed, and served alongside some wonderful fellow Christians. We have engaged in Sunday School classes, prayer groups, and prayer partnerships in hopes of connecting in meaningful ways with others as well as enriching ourselves. Often though, our interactions with others have remained on a comfortable surface level of interaction without delving into a deeper level. We have engulfed ourselves in the business of church life and the social pleasantries that go with it without meeting some deeper needs.

Five years ago a fellow church member, Bill Burrows, decided to get to know and befriend my husband, Dick. They began walking a park trail once a week and talked as they walked. Eventually the weekly visits were conducted in our home, and I was able to join them after my retirement. Over the years, Dick and I have been able to share with Bill the difficulties of transitioning into retirement and confronting the increasing debilitation of Dick’s Parkinson’s disease.

Using the process of Play. Story. Eat., we have been able to open up and address these needs of intimacy with the Lord. Weekly we share our blessings and concerns. We focus on one command in scripture and relate it to our lives, and we commit to obeying the Word in real ways for the next week. This process has allowed us to develop meaningful friendships with others. Though our range of influence may have decreased because of our circumstances, we have been able to find new ways to be a vital part of the Lord’s kingdom. Play. Story. Eat. has helped us to live more genuine Christian lives.

A couple of weeks ago, Barb shared her PSE story with her Sunday School class and is looking to share with others how doable the process can be for people like her and Dick. In the past year, several other groups have started naturally out of the consistent witness of Barb, Dick, and others in the group. We pray that God will continue to use them in a great way!

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for Lawrence Turner and his family as they mourn the passing of Sue. I’d also appreciate your prayers for me as I travel to visit David Martinez and his heroic friends starting Hispanic churches in Nebraska. And please lift up Barb and Dick Cates—praying especially for strength for them as they continue to love and serve the Lord in this era of their lives.  

INVEST

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Are you curious about how God might use you in ministry right where you are? We’d love to have a conversation with you! Send me a note, and Bill or I will call you.

Talk to you soon!

Love y'all.   

Steve

When It Rains, God's Blessings Pour...

Rain, Rain...

I don't know what the weather has been like where you are, but just a few weeks ago we were hot and dry here in Kansas City. At the peak of our heat wave, Ray Gurney called me from Guatemala. As you might recall from our last update, Ray had gone down to meet the president of Guatemala and be at the mayor of Chahal's big ribbon cutting for a road and the completion of several water projects in the region that we had helped with.  

"So how did it go?" I asked Ray, expecting a good story of how he met the president.

"It's gone really good!" Ray said as I could hear the rain bouncing off a tin roof in the background. "But it's been raining a lot here, and the president couldn't make it, and the whole celebration got delayed, so we left." My heart sank as Ray told me this. The whole premise for Ray going to Guatemala was to be there for this big honor, and now it sounded like it was a washout. I felt bad for Ray. But before I could verbalize an apology, he continued.

"But the pastors gathering this morning went really well," he said. "I didn't understand much, but Cesar told me that the president of the Baptist Kekchi Association was there. I'll pass Cesar the phone and let him explain it."

"Hola Esteban!" Cesar yelled trying to overcome the continued downpour in the background. "Remember the president of the Kekchi Association we met a couple of years ago at the radio station?" 

"Si," I responded, remembering a visit we made to a group of Kekchi Baptists in another part of Guatemala where we had tried to talk them into partnering with us to support our Kekchi friends with their training and Kekchi materials. But nothing had come of it, and we figured they weren't interested. 

 Ray snapped a picture of the president of the Kekchi association of churches inviting our pastor friends in the jungle to join their group.  

Ray snapped a picture of the president of the Kekchi association of churches inviting our pastor friends in the jungle to join their group.  

A Kekchi Association is Born... 

"Well, he showed up at our meeting. I didn't even know he was coming. Today, he offered to make them a part of their convention of Kekchi churches, but our pastors were leery to agree without talking with us. When I suggested that our pastors organize their group as a regional association that voluntarily works with this Kekchi convention, they opened up. I think they were worried about this guy being an outsider trying to take over their churches. Anyway, I gave them my blessing to decide as they wished. In the end, they agreed to organize an association and begin relating to this new group. I think it was a God-thing we were there. When it's not raining so hard I'll call you back to tell you more."

 Cesar's note on some spare calendar pages inaugurated the new Kekchi association of churches and their gathering dates for pastors and leaders. 

Cesar's note on some spare calendar pages inaugurated the new Kekchi association of churches and their gathering dates for pastors and leaders. 

Since that conversation, the Kekchi Association has been formed. One of the Kekchi pastors from another region has come to be a catalytic missionary pastor of two of our churches needing leadership. In a couple of weeks Cesar will go back to the jungle to follow up on this new development. 

After debriefing with Ray later, he said, "What an honor to be there at the beginning of a brand new association of churches!" When it rains, God's blessings really do pour! 

 Ray Gurney poses with the nucleus of a new church in Sejux, Chahal, Guatemala, standing under their church's new roof.   

Ray Gurney poses with the nucleus of a new church in Sejux, Chahal, Guatemala, standing under their church's new roof.   

 Thanks to Ray's church, Crosscreek Baptist Mission, since Ray's visit, this congregation has been able to finish their construction and get the box for hookup to electricity that just recently came to their village. This photo was sent to Cesar yesterday to show that they had just finished constructing the outside walls of their structure. 

Thanks to Ray's church, Crosscreek Baptist Mission, since Ray's visit, this congregation has been able to finish their construction and get the box for hookup to electricity that just recently came to their village. This photo was sent to Cesar yesterday to show that they had just finished constructing the outside walls of their structure. 

A Shout-out to FBC Muldrow, Oklahoma! 

Both Bill and I agree that the recent Play. Story. Eat. training camp event that we did the weekend of August 18th at First Baptist of Muldrow, Oklahoma, was our best one yet. Rick Deason, the pastor of FBC Muldrow, shared with us that as a result of the training, approximately 25 of the 75 regular attenders of the church agreed to doing a three-week Play. Story. Eat. experimental group with a friend. "I believe this stuff works for churches like ours," Rick said. "We are excited."  And so are we! Thanks, Muldrow, for having us! 

 Rick and Karen Deason, far left, gather with a few of our friends from Muldrow, Oklahoma, who are dedicating themselves to being "a friend who loves Jesus" in their home town.  

Rick and Karen Deason, far left, gather with a few of our friends from Muldrow, Oklahoma, who are dedicating themselves to being "a friend who loves Jesus" in their home town.  

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray that God would continue to send forth laborers into His harvest fields. Whether it is Chahal, Guatemala, or Muldrow, Oklahoma, we believe that at the core we are all the same, and we all need friends who love Jesus. May more of us step up to His calling of being that friend who is willing to go anywhere anytime. 

INVEST

Several of you have given generously since our last mention of our needs. Thanks! And keep those cards and letters coming! You are making a big difference. Each gift, no matter the amount, is like a personal word of your encouragement to me. I am grateful to you and to God. If you haven't had a chance to give, below is our easy button for investing in our mission.  

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In September we will be gearing up for the fall schedule of PSE training and a Guatemala trip. October 5-6 we will be in Hays, Kansas, and October 18 we will be with a group of cowboy church pastors near Waco, Texas, where Greg Moore, pastor of Top Hand Cowboy Church has invited us to come down and be with them. We will announce more specifics as we go, but the plan is for us to make several stops between Kansas and Texas during that October time frame. If we come near you, we would love for you to have us over for dinner!  :-) 

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

The Crazy Days of a Play. Story. Eat. Summer

The last time we updated you, it was the first day of summer. And now, a little over a month later, a lot has transpired.  

In June and July, both the Burrows and the Reed families went on separate vacations in Canada. For the Reeds, it was our first vacation with all our sons, their spouses, and our three grand-kids! What a blast! But there is a lot more that we haven't told you! 

 The whole Reed clan poses for a chilly group picture during their Canadian vacation in June.  

The whole Reed clan poses for a chilly group picture during their Canadian vacation in June.  

"I need you to come meet el Presidente!!" 

Those were the first words Cesar spoke when he called me a few weeks ago. "Esteban!" Cesar continued excitedly. "The mayor of Chahal has invited us to come for their big celebration of the road opening," Cesar explained. "Our presidente is supposed to be there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the mayor wants to recognize those who helped with the various water projects in the region."

"When is it?" I asked.

"August 8th."

"Oh man!" I countered. "Nola and I will be coming off a trip celebrating our anniversary, and I have a leadership conference and a Guatemala team training I would have to reschedule."

Ray Gurney to the Rescue!

After a day of trying to figure it out, I called Ray and mentioned my dilemma. "Steve, that week I am actually available. I'll go!" 

As I write this update, Ray is en route with Cesar and Elba Gonzalez for Chahal. Ray's church has been one of several that have been instrumental in collecting money for these water projects, so I am excited that he will get to be there for this occasion. 

 The water project in Sepoc was recently completed. The water is pumped from a spring below up to a couple of containers above. 

The water project in Sepoc was recently completed. The water is pumped from a spring below up to a couple of containers above. 

 From the containers on the top of the hill, the water drops by gravity to the village of Sepoc. Here the workers turn on the faucet for the first time in their village! 

From the containers on the top of the hill, the water drops by gravity to the village of Sepoc. Here the workers turn on the faucet for the first time in their village! 

PSE Training this Month...

While Steve and Nola celebrated their anniversary last week, Bill Burrows was hard at work doing Play.Story.Eat. training in Avilla, Missouri, and Muldrow, Oklahoma. He and I will be at First Baptist Church in Muldrow on August 18th for a PSE Experience Training Camp.

Your Summer Gifts are Vital 

Many have asked us how our funds are holding up this summer. Given the fact that we have not done a painting project like last summer, we are at a much lower ebb than we have been all year. So your giving makes a huge difference. Keep those cards and letters coming! 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray this week for Ray, Cesar, and Elba as they attend the celebration in Chahal. Pray that God would get the glory and that other churches would be started in the jungle as a result of the word getting out about these water projects.

INVEST

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Would you like to know how PSE groups can be "hands on" in helping with a community project? Though we don't mention all that our groups do, know that there are likely others interested in what you might be interested in. Got an idea? Give us a call or drop us a note! 

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

 August 4th Nola and I celebrated our 34th anniversary in Chicago around a work trip for Nola.

August 4th Nola and I celebrated our 34th anniversary in Chicago around a work trip for Nola.

Little Things Add Up Quick

REVIEWING THE VITAL BEHAVIORS

In three previous updates, we shared vital behaviors we want to engage in as we follow Jesus. 

#1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations. We want to help Christians feel confident that they can initiate a spiritual conversation with anyone, anywhere. 

#2: Be "Story Ready." We want to help believers to have four types of stories ready to share at any time. 

#3: Engage in Obedience Training. We want to encourage each other to follow God in specific acts of obedience every week. Last week we talked about how a few cowboys in Honduras were "riding their bulls" of obedience. 

Today I want to share a story of how one simple act of obedience can compound over time and cause growth that we might not think possible.

How many times have you eaten dinner with your wife? 

A few months ago in a PSE discipleship group, one of my friends was considering the Bible's admonition of "Husbands, love your wives." To get to an act of obedience, he pondered what he should do. He thought about the reality that he and his wife were microwaving their own meals separately on different eating schedules. "How many times have you eaten dinner with your wife this year?" came the prompting in his mind. As he strained to remember, he could count those instances on one hand. 

So to his group of PSE friends, he pledged to invite his wife to eat dinner every night that week. He went home and made his pitch. "Would you like to eat dinner with me this week?"

"Okay," she agreed. And they ate together each evening. 

"How'd it go with your commitment this week?" came the question at the next group meeting.

"Pretty good," he answered. "We did it every night, but it was a little awkward and quiet. We haven't talked much lately, and I struggled to have anything to talk about."

"How about getting a fun list of conversation starter questions to help?" came a suggestion. 

"Sounds good," he said. "I have some stuff on my phone I can use. I will continue to eat with my wife, and I will find a question that I can throw out to get us talking."

The following week my friend reported, "We had some really good conversations."

"Great!" encouraged the others.

"But in asking the questions," he continued, "I realized that I wasn't listening to her very well. A couple of times my mind drifted when she talked about something I wasn't interested in. So this week I am going to eat dinner, I will ask a question, and I will seek to listen to everything she says and not judge her or get sidetracked or distracted."

The next week he reported that he had a few moments of wanting to drift, but that he hung in better to the conversation. That week, the scripture challenged everyone to pray.

"I've had trouble praying with my wife," my friend chimed in. "This week, I will invite her to pray with me after we eat our meal and do the question. I will pray for whatever is concerning her, and if she is open, I will ask if she would pray for me."

"How's it going with your wife?" I asked a few weeks later.

"Great!" he said. "We feel more connected than we have been for years." Then he paused. "I don't think people realize the power of doing this process. It seemed so small to start with. But over time it grew and gave me momentum I didn't think was possible." 

What small act of obedience might God be prompting you to do this week? 

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray that our groups would be full of men and women like my friend who will take small steps of obedience consistently enough to see positive momentum in their relationships and in their walks with God.

On a separate note, Marcos, a friend from Agua Blanca, Guatemala, died this past Saturday. Their family called Cesar to pass the word to us. Marcos was a part of a group that came to Nebraska for the Valentine rodeo and was instrumental in our involvement in the big Agua Blanca rodeo the past couple of years. Pray for his friends and family. 

 Here is a group picture of the Guatemala delegation that came to Valentine, Nebraska, for their rodeo in August of 2015. Marcos is on the far left. 

Here is a group picture of the Guatemala delegation that came to Valentine, Nebraska, for their rodeo in August of 2015. Marcos is on the far left. 

INVEST

Thanks for your investment in seeing people's lives change. You are making a difference each time you give!   

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ENGAGE

Are you engaged in an environment of growth like the one described in this update? If not, contact us at PSE, and let's see if we can help you and your friends get some momentum in your walk with Jesus.

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve

I'm Not Going to Kill Anybody This Week...

(Editor's note: this is the third and final installment of a series on what we do to make disciples of Jesus.)  

VITAL BEHAVIOR #3: ENGAGE IN OBEDIENCE TRAINING

In a couple of previous updates, we shared two vital behaviors we want to engage in as we follow Jesus. To review, here they are again.   

#1: Initiate Spiritual Conversations. We want to help Christians feel confident that they can initiate a spiritual conversation with anyone, anywhere. To review that update, it was titled "How do you catch fish?" 

#2: Be "Story Ready." Also, we want to help believers to have four types of stories ready to share at any time. If you missed that discussion, check out the update titled "Make a Life-Giving Connection Today." 

Now, for this third habit we may need to brace you a bit. This one will require the most discipline and the most help from others. We believe it is crucial to anyone, no matter their spiritual level of maturity, to engage in if they want to be a disciple of Jesus.

#3: Engage in Obedience Training. 

When I think of obedience training, I picture a well-trained dog or horse. The more obedient and responsive they are to their master, the more they do things they never dreamed possible.   

 In 2006, at a ranch near Jalpatagua, Guatemala, horse trainer, Byron Garwood, worked with a troubled horse that had never been saddled before.  

In 2006, at a ranch near Jalpatagua, Guatemala, horse trainer, Byron Garwood, worked with a troubled horse that had never been saddled before.  

 Within a couple of hours, Byron had the horse saddled and was riding it. This demonstration opened many invitations for us to go to cattlemen's associations all over Guatemala to talk about doing church for cowboys.  

Within a couple of hours, Byron had the horse saddled and was riding it. This demonstration opened many invitations for us to go to cattlemen's associations all over Guatemala to talk about doing church for cowboys.  

In a similar way, God wants to train us so that we can do things we never would have imagined.  

In the Bible, in what has been called "the great commission," Jesus charges his disciples with these challenging words. 

"Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." Matthew 28:19-20

In the North American church, I believe we have done some of what Jesus asked us to do in the great commission. But with regard to our methodology, it's like we left out one word--obey. We "teach them everything Jesus commanded." But we don't "teach them to OBEY everything Jesus commanded." Sunday after Sunday we hear good sermons. In Bible study after Bible study, we learn all kinds of good stuff. But we have been educated way beyond our obedience!   

WHAT BULL ARE YOU GONNA RIDE? 

For that reason, in our Play. Story. Eat. groups, when we learn a scripture or a teaching from the Lord, we want to take a few minutes to ask "what am I going to do about it? What do I need to do to obey God?" In the language of our Christian Rancher groups, we ask, "What bull am I gonna ride as a result of what we just talked about today?"

I'll never forget what David, a cowboy from Poncaya, Honduras said after hearing the Bible story of the prodigal son. "What bull are you gonna ride because of this story?" I asked. David answered quickly. 

“Well, my bull is real clear for me. I'm not gonna kill anybody this week!" When we chuckled, David stopped us, almost pleading with us. “No, you guys! I'm serious. You can ask my wife. Things have gotten so bad with one of our neighbors that this morning I told my wife, 'either I'm going to kill this person or we are going to have to move.' But after hearing this story, I am certain that God does not want me to do that, and I believe He wants me to go talk to them. I don't know what I'm going to say. But that's the bull I have to ride this week."

 David, a rancher from Poncaya, Honduras, shares his first act of obedience to Jesus in a Christian Rancher group. "I'm not going to kill anybody!"

David, a rancher from Poncaya, Honduras, shares his first act of obedience to Jesus in a Christian Rancher group. "I'm not going to kill anybody!"

Last week I spoke with Esteban Hernandez, a friend who has been meeting with that group, and asked about David. "Has he killed anybody?" I asked.

"No!" Esteban said, laughing. "He hasn't killed anyone. He cleared that problem up with the neighbor, and he and that group are still meeting, and they are continuing to ride their bulls of obedience."     

10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)

Pray for David's group in Poncaya, Honduras, to continue in bold acts of obedience to God. And pray the same for the more than 100 other groups in our network of friends. Ask God to help us make more inroads in the United States with people longing to live more obediently to Jesus' teaching as well.    

INVEST

Your continued giving means so much. Thanks for your partnership. We couldn't do this without you.  

THE EASY BUTTON FOR INVESTING IN PSE

ENGAGE

Are you engaged in obedience training? If not, we can help. Contact us at PSE, and let's see if we could help you and your friends get some momentum in your walk with Jesus.

By the way, I still have a few bags of coffee left. Just let me know.

Talk to you soon! 

Love y'all.   

Steve