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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!