Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life with Friends...

This blog is a little late in posting. Nancy and I are blessed to have the friends and community that we have here in Antigua. God is true to provide what we need. As a church that offers a haven for many people passing through, many come and go over periods of months.

When we first arrived Jim and Barbara Mikrut and their daughters came to Antigua for Spanish studies before they moved on to there missions work in Mexico. While they were here we became friends and have shared many point of commonality. They were on leave for a couple of days here in Antigua. It was great to see them after a couple years and share an evening with not only them (to the left) but Rusty and Tonja Johnson (to the right) as well.
Yea God!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Hand of God - Part 1

The work with the Tourist Police has offered several unique experiences for my life in Antigua. But this distribution project is by far the most incredible event that I have seen in my time here while working with the police - to date. If you are coming into this blog series a little late here are two links to help with the backstory.

This past week I went to visit my boss for the Ministry of Valor and Service in the National Police, Norma Hasbún.

She was the "queen bee" that appointed me as the Chaplain forthe Tourist Police - see blog article. Shortly after I was appointed she was part of a house cleaning dismissal for most of the upper leadership for the National Police (this part of the story will take too long). The possibilities for the Bibles began on her watch and after about a year and a half she was appointed back to her position, just before the arrival of the Bibles. Her plan for the distribution nationwide is what is being implemented.

She shared with me some incredible insight as to the new government and her plans for me as the chaplain for now all of Sacetepéquez - then she showed me the progress for the distribution and photos.

To date they have completed 25% of the country. With plans for strategic distribution through the end of this calendar year. Most distributions are small 25 and under. Some have been very large as part of big events including Luis Palau (who loved the Bibles) and also President Colom of GUA. I live here and most people that hear about the distribution are dumbfounded. Yea God!

Here are some images for this project...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Team Visit - Pathways G20...

Once again our home church Pathways Community has sent a team. This was certainly a first for us as to the timing. We have never hosted a team during the week of Semana Santa. However, these 9 brave souls came and helped. There week was somewhat a smorgesboard of activity with events including building building and painting with Brazos de Jesus, cleared land to assist in children's ministry for San Lorenzo El Tejar, and brought help and fundings raised to assist the Malnutrution Center (more on this later).
Thank you team, thank you Pathways for the good things you have done.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Handing Out Bibles...

During this past week, IDC was given the opportunity to participate in the Bible distribution begun this past February. You may recall 25,000 bibles have arrived this past February as gifts for the National Police of Guatemala.

As the Chaplain for the Disetur (Tourist Police of Guatemala) I was able to coordinate with the leadership for the department of Sacatepéquez in a large event for all of the men and women in this department to participate with. It began with a friendly game fútbal - 2.5 hours - followed-up with ar large group meeting that consumed 30 pizzas from Dominoes.

The most significant part of this was the giving of Bible to every officer that was present. In total a little more than 1/3rd of the men in this department were present. The remaining Bibles are being distributed station by station by myself with the escort of Official Guerra. The #2 man for the Department of Sacatepéquez. God never seizes to amaze me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Semana Santa - Again...

It is that time of year again. I was one asked why I don't invest more with the articles of Semana Santa. Let's just say I bought the t-shirt. Been there - done that. But as this is a component that makes our lives a little more interesting let me just say I will be glad when this time of year has finished. Two years ago Nancy and I invested in the experience and found it wanting. See the blogs...

It is my hope and prayer that people will see through the mirage and find Jesus Christ as he really is. I have included a perspective of April Clark. She is our worship leader. This is her recent update.
As I slowly make my way through the streets of Antigua, weaving through the throngs of people and vendors with their wares of brightly colored balls, cotton candy and various other baubles, I hear the mournful bellowing of the bass drum pulsing in the background. There is excited chatter from small children as they tug at Mom's skirt, pressing for an ice cream cone or other roadside treat. Cars are backed up in the streets, impatiently honking their horns as they wait for the procession to pass by. The windows of every other house are adorned with bright purple sashes, announcing that once again, it's time to celebrate Semana Santa.

This time of year is very different than other times in Antigua. Semana Santa is an age-old tradition here, where people come together to celebrate the passion of Christ. Sometimes as I watch the processions go by, and I see the grand floats carried on the backs of hundreds of purple-robed patrons, I feel a bit sad. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the grandiosity of the rituals, or impatient because of the overcrowded streets, but it's something more. It's a reminder of the spirit of ritualism and the spirit of customs. As I watch Mary pass by, with angels bowing at her feet, and Jesus, carrying His cross on His back, sometimes I want to yell at the top of my lungs, "Don't you know that He's alive? Don't you realize that He's not something to celebrate once a year, but He's someone to celebrate daily?"

For many people here, Semana Santa is just another holiday; it's a time to come together with friends and family, eat food from the various street vendors scattered throughout La Merced, and watch the processions. Many do not even realize the true meaning of this season and it's implications for all humanity. For me, it's a time to reflect on the price that my Savior paid for me over 2000 years ago; it's a reminder of how much He loves and cares for me. It's a reminder that for every stripe on His back, I'm healed, washed and cleansed. It's a time to remember that He bore my sins, so that I could spend eternity with Him. It reminds me that I should never take for granted what I've been entrusted with, and it encourages me to press on, serving Him with my whole heart.

We are going through a major transition right now in our church here in Antigua. We are in the process of covering our courtyard, so that we can hold more people in our sanctuary. God has been moving in such a mighty way here, and we are seeing so many people healed from hurts, addictions, and lives lived in sin. There is a feeling of change and the expectation of bigger things that are coming. We don't know what those things might be, but I know that our entire staff has been under great spiritual attack this last month. Although, we are all facing difficulties, we are encouraged, because we know the enemy is not happy with what we are doing. I ask for your prayers over our church, congregation and staff for God's direction, guidance and protection as we continue serving Him.

I pray that each of you has a wonderfully blessed Easter Sunday, and I will talk with you soon. Much love and blessings!