Heading Home…

It is currently 7 a.m.; we will be leaving the base in about an hour and a half to head for the airport. I think we are all heading home with some mixed emotions…so thankful for this past week that we have experienced in Guatemala, but unsure how to stay so focused on the Lord and away from all the things that distract us away from Him. We are excited to see all of our family and friends. We are excited to share all of our experiences throughout the past week and how God has worked in our lives. There is something sad about leaving too; we feel a strong connection to the people here, especially those people that the Lord really laid on our hearts…people that we may never see again.

Yesterday, we had a fun day in Antigua. We got to do lots of shopping in the markets and try Guatemala’s version of fast food: Pollo Compero. The markets are almost overwhelming, there are so many different things to look at! After we came back from Antigua we had a good amount of free time to pack up our things, play with all the sweet babies in the orphanage, and just gather together and talk. We had group devotions last night, which were very powerful; it’s hard to put it into words without being there to experience it for yourself.

This morning, we would just ask for prayers for safe travels on our way home: that we would make it on all of our flights (the airport closed on Saturday when the volcano Fuego erupted), that we would make it through customs without any problems, and that everyone would remember their passports 🙂 We have a long day of travel ahead of us, and we want to keep that focus that we are still on a mission trip, we still want to be serving the Lord faithfully no matter what He might throw our way today!

See you all soon, and we hope you are ready to hear all about our week here 🙂

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Medical Clinics

The past two days have been spent doing medical clinics in somewhat nearby villages (about a 2 hour drive). Some of you reading this have been here before and know exactly what that involves, but a lot of you probably have no idea.

Yesterday, we started the day with pancakes for breakfast, then personal devotion time. Then, we had to prepare for our next 2 days of medical clinics by sorting medications, packing beans and rice, making sandwiches, and sorting through gifts and toys to bring with us to the villages. There was a little time to check out the orphanage and cuddle and play with the babies and kids. We had group devotion time and singing before our lunch of soup, which was nice and warm for the chilly mornings we have been having. We left for the first village in the San Martin region at promptly 11:57:13.

On the way to the village one of the vans experienced some technical difficulties, but we were able to get it started again and continue on our way. We arrived in the village and unloaded our supplies; there were already people there waiting for us! Most of our group began getting out frisbees and other toys and playing and interacting with the kids. A few members of our group helped out in the medical clinic; in the medical clinic each family in the village has an opportunity to come and explain any problems they may be experiencing. Based on the diagnosis of nurses and Paradise Bound staff, the families are given medications varying from vitamins to antibiotics to various creams and painkillers. If the people have a larger problem that can’t be fixed or diagnosed at that time, they can receive information to receive treatment at a later date arranged by the Paradise Bound staff. The kids in the village loved having their picture taken, but most of all they love seeing the pictures of themselves! Frisbees were a huge hit with the kids, and I think we all were frisbee-d out by the end of the day. Nail polish is also a big favorite with the girls; Kevin even ended up with his nails painted…one hand pink and the other blue! After a fun afternoon of playing with the kids and interacting with the families that were present we showed them the Jesus film in Spanish. After the film, the members of our group came forward and sang a few songs and shared a few testimonies, which were translated into Spanish for the people to understand. Then we joined the crowd again, and Hermano Jesus, the pastor, presented the gospel. Hermano Jesus is a very powerful preacher, even though we can’t understand everything he is saying; the people were very engaged in his message. After his message, he gave people the opportunity to come forward and accept Christ as their personal savior. A large number of people came forward and accepted Christ, and we were able to lay hand on them and pray with them. It was a very powerful experience to see God moving so clearly and breaking down language barriers so we were able to communicate with the people! Before we left we passed out Spanish Bibles to the people, and gave lots of hugs to these new brothers and sisters in Christ. We loaded up all the supplies, only to discover that one van would not start…again. We all surrounded the van and laid hands on it and prayed, and the van started on the first try! It was amazing to see such a quick answer to prayer! They did tell us that we will not be using that van again until it gets fixed though 🙂

Today our schedule was much the same as yesterday, except we went to a village in the Patzun region. All of our food has been delicious, and today was no different as we had french toast and watermelon for breakfast; then we had time for personal devotions after breakfast. Since we had everything packed already from yesterday we had a little more leisure time this morning to hang out or spend time in the orphanage. We had group devotions prior to lunch, and a great message from Acts 16 to prepare us for another day at the medical clinics. Our lunch was chicken alfredo pasta and brownies, which we ate prior to leaving at exactly 11:57:13…again 🙂 We loaded in vans that ran without any problems, and arrived safely in the village. The rest of the clinic played out much the same as yesterday, just with different people to interact with. Each different village that we encounter gives us various personal experiences and touches our lives in different ways. I think all of us can say that we have felt Christ’s presence both in our own lives and the lives of these villagers over the past 2 days. We feel a connection to these new believers in Christ, even though we don’t know all of their names. It has been nothing short of amazing to see the Lord working so clearly and evidently, and I think we are all yearning for similar experiences when we return home.

This is just a glimpse at what we have experienced so far, but we will have so much more to say when we get home! Thanks for reading, and thanks for the prayers…we can feel it, and you are helping to make a difference too!

We made it to the base!

To say it in one word our trip has been AMAZING, but let’s go back to the beginning…

All of us Michiganders made it to Detroit safely and with plenty of time to spare; our plane was at the gate on time and we were all set to leave ON TIME.  We boarded the plane, and we waited…for fuel…for catering…for some sort of paperwork that needed to be signed, and then we were finally in the air about and hour and a half later.  We only had a 44 minute layover in Atlanta, and we were late; Chad K. was ready to make a mad dash to our plane and tell them to wait for us!  Long story short, we missed our plane to Guatemala, and got to spend a day in Atlanta…one extra night of warm showers and comfy beds!

Tuesday, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare; we all had seats for the plane and made it on board.  We had an uneventful flight and finally arrived in Guatemala, only 24 hours later than anticipated.  Our luggage all made it and we all breezed through customs without any issues.  Justin from Paradise Bound picked us up at the airport, and we loaded into a 15 passenger van for a 3 hour ride to San Ramon.  After, seriously, the bumpiest and most crazy road I think any of us has ever been on we arrived to the village.  The Iowa team was just finishing up the first day of building: with only 12 people they worked hard, and accomplished everything that we were supposed to accomplish as an entire team.  We got settled in, had a dinner of sloppy joes (or taverns as some of the Iowans call them) and some veggies.  At 8 p.m. we had devotions around the fire and sang some songs.  Some of the kids from the village came to listen to us sing praise songs.  We all went to bed…lulled to sleep by chickens and dogs…and prepared for an early wake-up and a day of work.

Wednesday morning…breakfast started at 6: chocolate chip pancakes and pineapple; then we had personal devotion time before starting on our houses.  Our group split into 5 groups of 3 and joined with the already-established Iowa teams.  We sanded and added another coat of drywall in our houses.  Then as an entire groups we headed up to the highest house on the hill and we began to add stucco to the outside of the house.  For those of you that have never applied stucco before it is quite a process, and very messy!  We had wheelbarrows full of stucco, people ready to go with trowels at each wall, and runners bringing stucco all around the house.  We all ended up pretty dirty, and if you were anywhere in the vicinity of Dan, you ended up with globs of stucco all over you!  We had the most amazing lunch…tostadas with a chicken salad type thing and fresh guacamole, and rice of course.  Then, each team went back to their house and sanded one last time, swept down the walls and floor, and painted the walls a nice turqoise color.  We had 1 gallon of paint to cover all the walls, which was more of a challenged for some groups than others 🙂  After the painting, we got to let our creative juices flow, and decorated all the walls with Bible verses in Spanish and murals of all sorts.  Work crews came and put the roofs on, and a bed was set up, then our houses were complete!  We had a little downtime then; some people played soccer, and others took a hike down to the river.  We had tacos for dinner with homemade tortillas, and devotions by fireside again at night.  We were all tired after finally working 🙂

Thursday…breakfast was eggs, beans and tostada chips, and watermelon; then personal devotion time.  We met as a group to talk about how the dedication process of our houses would go, and then we started up the hill to begin the process.  At each house the team that built the house would go inside with the family that would live there; they presented a bag full of gifts to all the family members.  Then each team member said a couple words to the family, which were translated into Spanish so they could understand.  After that, one of the Guatemalan Paradise Bound team members presented the gospel to that family, and gave them the opportunity to accept Christ as their personal saviour.  We were able to lay hand on the family members, pray with them, and give them lots of hugs!  During this whole process, the other people were outside surrounding the house praying, singing praises, and reading their Bibles.  It was a very powerful and amazing experience that I’m sure all members of our team will have plenty more to say about when they get home.  After we dedicated all 5 houses we headed back for a lunch of rice and beans, tortillas, and veggies.  Then we cleaned up our dorms and the bathrooms, loaded up our luggage, and climbed in the vans for our 3 hour drive, back down the crazy bumpy road, to the Paradise Bound base.  We made it to the base safely, but it was cold compared to the hot days we had in the village.  We unloaded all the stuff from the vans and got settled quickly in our dorms.  Then, we had Dominoes pizza waiting for us, with fresh pineapple, and pop!  The pizza tastes almost exactly like at home 🙂  We also had some warm showers, which felt amazing!

Even though I wrote a small novel, there are not enough words to describe our entire experience that we have had so far.  It has been so great to experience God’s love in such a special way and cross language barriers the ways that we have over the past couple days.  Now we look forward to medical clinics the next 2 days in some villages nearby.

We miss you all, but we are all doing well and having a great time 🙂