The Providence of God

_LIN0961.jpgBy Jan Perry

We experienced God’s providential love through loving God and loving others…in Guatemala 2016

The mission trip that I thought “I” had decided to take proved to be something God had already orchestrated.  I was thrilled, at my age, to be able to do this, especially with Sara and Kim…three generations.

Shortly after the very first meeting in Scott’s office when 18 of us “signed up,”things began to make a downward spiral.  On three separate occasions from September to January, health issues arose in our family that seemed to be getting in the way of some of us making this trip.  Kim was waiting for a clear “go” from the doctors and we were waiting for Phil’s meds to begin their work.  Scott was dealing with stuff too.  Family members were concerned.  The advice was, “just keep coming to the meetings and work projects and see how it all plays out.”

On our third meeting, we discovered that a fellow (not from our church) was going to join us.   We discovered he was a doctor…relieved hearts all around…just in case we have health issues?  God’s Providence.

On April 16th, driving from the airport to our “hotel”, we saw sights that many of us have never seen before.  Devastating living conditions that we have only seen in pictures where we can turn the page or close the book, were in front of us every day.  We left the smell of clean air back in the States.

Without knowing that some in our group were experiencing culture shock, after breakfast on Sunday morning, Steve Wilson felt it in his heart to share his first mission trip experience and how frightened he had been.  And after a heart to heart with Sara, which led to her opening herself up to our group, she was comforted and encouraged by heartfelt prayers, was relieved and jumped in, ready to go on Monday morning.  God’s Providence.

We arrived at “Arca de Noe” (Noah’s Ark School) on Monday morning to begin our mission work.  Again, devastating conditions that most had never witnessed.  An old, cement school with a locked gate and bars on the open windows, definitely in need of severe repair that we certainly could not even begin to accomplish in our short time there.

Then, the children arrived.  Happy, joyful little faces with beautiful big brown eyes, hanging on the gate, waiting for it to be unlocked.  In they ran with open arms, giving hugs and kisses to complete strangers.  They ran off to their classes…dimly lit rooms with old, worn desks, one little lined notebook and one pencil per child…yet they were excited to be there.  We witnessed them praying before classes began and singing (loudly) about Jesus.

We cleaned classrooms, worked in the “cocina”, painted, helped prepare food for the children (and us) and played with the kids.  We witnessed people in their everyday lives that were the complete opposite of ours, serving with happy, joyful hearts.  People who “don’t have much” in comparison to what “we have,”loving what God has called them to do in circumstances so vastly different from ours.  We saw Jesus EVERYWHERE!

Most of us came home with a new family member (sponsor child) that we fell in love with.  The Wilson’s discovered a “twin” that needed sponsorship…God’s Providence.

We ALL came home with a heart full of love and joy…wanting our thankfulness for what “we have” to be even greater and our “wants” to be even less.  God’s Providence.

No serious illnesses…in Guatemala…or at home.  He knew that…that’s why He allowed us all to go.  God’s Providence.

We saw that even though we live totally different lives than our friends in Guatemala, we shared the love of Jesus.  THEY taught US about what the love of Christ can do…true happiness and joy in knowing Him…without a lot of stuff.
We experienced loving God, and loving others.  Every single day.  God is calling us to do this here in our own very needy community.  We need to reach out and demonstrate to those around us the love of God in the way we live, work, play and serve.  I am praying that we will find ways of seeking out the needy and those who don’t know Jesus and maybe feel hopeless, and bringing them some joy and happiness through knowing Christ.

 

When we are the purpose

IMG_5959.JPGBy Liz Grant

When it was suggested to us we write letters to God as part of our preparations for our mission trip, I thought it was a pretty cool idea. So I wrote a letter with all the usual stuff in it. When they were handed back mid week, I was reminded that I had written I was worried about missing the reason or purpose of my mission trip. I asked God for clarity in recognizing and acknowledging my purpose in this trip.

On the very last day , in the very last hours of our trip I received my answer. When the bus we had taken to the AMG headquarters was backing up to park, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Russ with tears in his eyes pointing to a yellow rose in full bloom growing alongside of the building. I knew without words what he was feeling.

Russ’s mom loved yellow roses…even now, you will often find one carefully placed on her headstone. In that moment of unspoken words I felt God’s love and the clarity I had prayed for. That it was always God’s plan at work, that everything was going to be okay. That maybe it’s not about holding on as it is about letting go. That maybe when we’re so busy looking for our purpose we forget that we are often…The Purpose. That maybe what God wants from us is just simply to believe.

The mission trip was a beginning for me, not an ending. I thank God for His grace and patience with me… and I thank Him for yellow roses.

Weird coincidences?

By Scott Linscott

We’ve been back from Guatemala for almost two weeks now. Today, our sponsor kit with a photo of Tanya’s smiling, 7 year old face looking at me. The first thing I noticed was that her birthday is Sunday. I quickly went online and sent my little girl a letter, some photos and a birthday gift that I imagine will arrive weeks too late. It will be easy to remember our girl’s birthday because it is one day after my transplant anniversary. I’m thankful for that timing coincidence.

_LIN0740There were a lot of pretty awesome “coincidences” on our trip. One of the young men travelling with us, Sean, was an instant hit with a couple little girls who would have been content to sit with him all day if they could. He and his brother Cameron are identical twins and I still have trouble telling them apart. Sean, Cam and their mom and dad came to Guatemala with their hearts open to finding another child to sponsor. Here’s the coincidence that I think _LIN1538is so cool. They met a set of precious little, identical twin girls and one of them was in need of a sponsor! The connection was instant. I could not help but cry when I watched Melissa tear up when they gave her a gift of a framed picture of the two sets of twins together. I have no doubt that God brought the Wilson family to Guatemala just for that connection!

We saw the “coincidence” of Steve impulsively sharing a story of his first mission trip and feeling scared and out of place. He didn’t know that some of our team was feeling those exact feelings and would find comfort in his words.

There was the “coincidence” of our team having Doctor Paulding with us and 1 year old twin boys (more twins) with respiratory and ear infections with no money for medicine. “Coincidentally,” Doc Paulding had the medicine they needed and was able to help the family.

There was the “coincidence” of even the paint colors exactly matching the colors of the new painting we began in our home church. When we finish the painting here at home, I have no doubt where our minds will be.

It seemed like each team member found at least one or two natural connections and spots where they knew they belonged, from alongside Mimi in the kitchen to teaching in a first grade class to being adopted by a group of third graders. The soccer games gave us chances to laugh and celebrate goals and a quick downpour let us dance in the rain.

I went to Guatemala mostly because I wanted people in our church to experience the joy of Christians in third world poverty. I hoped to find a connection with another child to sponsor since our little boy from Ghana is now a young man. I hoped for a little girl.

_LIN1396Tanya kept smiling at me when we played with the kids who needed sponsors. She was guarded and quiet but her eyes kept locking on mine. When the noise from a tug of WAR game (thanks Sara and Cam!) drowned us out, I figured I would come back later to see about sponsoring Tanya. When things settled down, I found out Tanya was going to be sponsored by our church children. I pleaded that Robin and I could have her and the church take another because of the connection I sensed. So, Jose, became our FBC child and I got Tanya.

Tanya scott goodbye 2When we went to tell her, the AMG staff member told me not to expect much of a reaction because “she is very shy.” As we explained that Robin and I would be her sponsors she smiled and wrapped her little arms around my neck and squeezed. She took my hand and we went to find Robin who was mobbed by her third graders. Tanya spent the rest of the afternoon talking to me nonstop and we read each of the Spanish children’s books I had brought. When the AMG staff member walked by and saw us, surrounded by other kids, he smiled and remarked about how amazing it was to see quiet, little Tanya so animated and happy. It was such a connection!

It was the same, Providential connection, that we saw with the Wilson family, the Grants, Maddy, Sara, the Lamsons, Jan, Kim and even with little Jose! I think God picked out those kids for us before we even got there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A message of hope

_LIN1601By Lorin Smith
I thought I could bring a message of hope to Guatemala. I had a strong grandfather’s image, a good testimony and desire to show some needed love to Guatemalan children. I was wrong about the message of hope. God is in charge of hope; He is the source of hope. I can only go where  He sends me. He uses Me.
I was a bad (naughty) grandfather. I gave a teacher a bucket of  sidewalk chalk. She wasn’t familiar with the stuff and just handed out a piece to each student. These second graders began to use it on paper. So I took a piece and drew a red heart on the wall, shocking the teacher. Then I wiped it away. The kids were now on the floor drawing on their papers so I got down and proceeded to copy what they drew by drawing with chalk on the floor itself. They were fast learners. I ran to get an interpreter to reassure the teacher. By then the floor was covered with chalk. She made me stay after school to mop the chalk off the floor.
Next I proceeded to buy my grandson a sling shot as a souvenir I was able to tell my testimony to Sam and a few women through him. God as been good to me far beyond what I could have imagined.
The hope thing actually happened,  We painted the front walls, some class rooms and an inside wall of the school. Now the locals can have more pride in their school and perhaps add improvements with their own efforts. We tried to hug every kid in the school. They cried and we cried on the day we left; all tears of love. Now there are nine more kids with new sponsors.
Guatemala went through thirty years of guerrilla warfare. Millions were killed. The surviving adults were raised on war, murder and theft. Armed guards, barbed wire and cruelty seemed everywhere. The hope is that we provided positive loving role models for these kids, especially by playing with them.
The average age in Guatemala is just over nineteen years old. They are all kids, teenagers with babies. Without any education all they can do is farm labor , picking coffee, or make cottage industry trinkets. What they need is education. There is a need for trades like electricians, masons and truck drivers. If you can’t add or read you are of little use in a retail business. We had less than a week to support this school.  We did what we could, but God will not return empty handed.
Our cup did indeed run over . We left shoes and a large pile of clothing, toys and  a table full of peanut butter and brown sugar. Add Jesus and they can have thousands of cookies for smiling kids with big brown eyes. We collectively poured about twenty thousand dollars directly into the Guatemalan economy.
  The good Lord supported us, but Satan erased my Spanish vocabulary. God provided the financing. We prayed for safety and protection; He protected us. We didn’t see any dreaded mosquitoes  nothing serious took place and  I lost twenty dollars from my suitcase but I was planning on leaving it in Guatemala anyway.
Rural Guatemala did not seem to have running water or sewers or even a welfare system. Seismic activity prevents it. If you want clean water collect lots of rain water. AMG, the group we were under seems to be the defacto welfare department for much of Guatemala. They rescue  the dump kids, the addicts, the abused  or abandoned kids, then feed them and school them and tell them about God.  There was lots of noise and lots of activity, mostly pushing small items for small profits. Guatemala city in contrast  had money and bigger businesses. It is comparable to Los Angeles with seven million people and nine tenths of the wealth of Guatemala but no skyscrapers. Guatemala is in general a tropical paradise with flowers, fruit and 85 degree weather but it is also dangerous with mosquitoes, volcanoes guerrilla  elements and drug dealers.
This short week long mission was one intense education, an awakening., God used us there and now we have  a message, a testimony of what we saw and witnessed.  Americans tend to put their trust in insurance companies. These Guatemalans have put all their trust in God and are happy. They are content with what the good Lord has given them.

A Few Travel Pictures

Received the following update through email today from Scott, but it was supposed to arrive last night to be posted with these pictures so here is the updated post. Hopefully we’ll figure something out and this will get a little smoother….

It’s really 9:30 our time though and we’re pooped. We met at the airport 17.5 hours ago.

Our ride to Oratorio got pretty quiet when we left Guatemala City. It is a shock to see living conditions, people along the roadside and the reality of poverty. Hopefully I will find a strong enough signal to post some photos tomorrow.

AMG has quite a week lined up for us. Tomorrow it starts with joining a church family nearby for worship.

Thankful for a safe trip

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In Guatemala, on our way to Oratorio

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In the Atlanta airport

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In Atlanta after the first leg of our trip

Excited to go back! By Dana Kelly

I first fell in love with the people of Guatemala, especially the children, on my first trip down there in 2003.

As I look forward to going back, thoughts and emotions fill my heart as I know I will be seeing friends and fellow believers again.  I am excited to go back!!  I would not miss this trip for anything.  Also being the leader for this group of almost all newbies, makes me concerned as to how all these first timers will process all what they see and do while down in Guatemala.  I remember the debriefing meeting we had in Guatemala after my first trip down there.  I was heartbroken for all the children who we were leaving behind and what was going to happen to them, but then I remembered the words of our Lord who said, “ He will never leave them nor forsake them.”  The idea that a lot of these children were attending AMG schools where they were not only getting fed physically, but also spiritually made the trip home a little better.  I thank the Lord for the opportunity to once again be His servant down in Guatemala.

By Dana Kelly

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