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.