On Mission Ministry

Update First Days - India Medical Mission

'A few pictures from the villages today!'

All is going well! Team well bonded!

Update # 2

Pray for a full day for us preparing for the medical camps, practicing songs with the college sponsorship students, taking the video of them singing, I am giving a sermon to them and volunteers and our other 3 members are all giving their testimonies, and we visit villages and pray for people. May every word and action be for Christ.
Blessings,
Tami

India Medical Mission Trip

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to you to ask for prayer for my up-coming medical mission trip to India. We have physicians, nurses, pharmacists, a physical therapist, a worship leader/videographer/photographer, and many nationals.  We will care for hundreds of people every day.

Our team leaves in a few days to visit the remote villages we have been ministering to for many years.

I have been told by our missionary that we will visit to see the woman we prayed for (the elder's wife who had been sick for 3 years) 2 years ago.  Please pray that she would be healed to glorify God and open heart to Christ in that village. We ask for prayers that a church service being planned on that evening will happen.

The elders and leaders in the villages in the last few years have started trusting us and asking us to "pray to our God to heal their loved ones." This is a beautiful opportunity to show Christ's love and light to them, and now that we are bringing a medical camp that will reach 14-16 villages in the area, we need your prayers that the Holy Spirit would move in the hearts of His people in India and move them to accept Christ into their hearts.

Please pray for wisdom and discernment for our team and for God's words and will to be made known to us at all times while we care for people and speak to them about our faith and show them Christ's love.  

Please pray that we would have extra measures of strength and energy, that we would stay healthy, and that we would have complete protection against the enemy, which we will claim constantly every day in Jesus' Name.

Please also pray for our visit to the village elder's home and pray over his second son and his wife who have long tried to conceive a child, please pray that God will grant them this desire if it be His will so that He would be glorified in the two villages as well.  

We believe and trust that Christ will be revealed in the hearts of His children as we cover all of these village families  in corporate prayer.

"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19-20

There will be many people that we will visit and pray for every day until we return from the medical camps in those villages; therefore we ask that you would keep us covered in prayer continually.  We pray that Christ would reveal himself to the families in these villages and that the Holy Spirit would move hearts to see, understand, and accept Christ into their hearts.  This is our greatest desire for these village families who we have long loved and prayer for.

Thank you very much for joining us in prayer and for loving God's people in India along with us.

In Christ's love and service,

Tami 

Tecate, Mexico STM trip - Easter 2016

Over the spring break, a team of 11 members from Venture built a meeting and prayer room behind the church at Vino Y Aceite in Tecate, Mexico with the help of several locals. On Tuesday March 29th  ,we met at church at 5:00am, packed the vans, prayed for the trip and headed down south. The drive was uneventful, but it gave us time to get to know each other better. We arrived and settled at Rancho La Paloma to prepare for our first day of work. When we woke up the following day, we discovered that it had rained overnight. The air was cool and crisp. We all did our devotions and grabbed breakfast before heading off to the worksite.

Once we arrived, we quickly got busy. Rob Berrett showed us what to do and everybody got working right away. We got most of the frame up and started on the truss framing. At the end of the first day, we were all tired and ran to get a shower when we got back to Rancho La Paloma. There was only one problem, there was no hot water in the beginning. So, some of us had to take a cold shower, brrr.

Afterwards we shared dinner with another church that came for their STM trip. The food that night was fantastic along with all the other food we experienced over the course of the trip like  Mexican steak and Fish tacos. Later, we went back to our building to debrief with Jim Brinkerhoff. Over the next couple of days, we continued our work and followed the same routine as the first day.

On the last day, we skipped dinner at the Rancho and headed to Puerto Nuevo, a small coastal tourist town along the coast near Ensenada. We did the touristy thing and shopped a little and enjoyed a seafood dinner. Most of us had lobster which was delicious.

Though most everything went smoothly, we had one little problem. We brought a drone with a camera that was missing the App software on a tablet or cellphone. We didn’t have a phone/data plan for Mexico or WiFi! It took us a couple of days, but we finally got the software on an iPad. We managed to capture some footage at the end.

It was such a blessing to work alongside the locals and their children and to build relationships. We had a great time working and talking together. God was truly working in us to build a place where people in Tecate can come to worship Him. On the last day, Saturday April 2nd, we woke up at 4:00am to leave Mexico as early as possible to avoid the long wait time to cross the border which could take several hours. Praise God for a safe and productive trip and for giving us the opportunity to work to further His kingdom.

Team: Jim Brinkerhoff, Rob Berrett, Heather Espy, Monisha Ferris, Randy Kreuger, Art Lee, Max Pansegrau, Tyler Jacobsen, Olivia Cunningham, Anya Ferris, Ian Ferris.

 

Heredia, Costa Rica STM trip 2016

The Venture CC STM team left for Costa Rica this past Tuesday. They reported of heartbreaking stories but a the same time they heard and witnessed how God was working to save the youth in the poorest areas of Costa Rica. Here is the first report from them:

Tuesday we arrived at night and we were welcomed by a member of Vida Abundante at the airport and he took us to Hotel Cibeles. Wednesday we went to Smiles with Hope to see the condition of the bridge and it was determined that it needed to be replaced, not just repaired. When I asked how was the bridge still in place, they answered "God is holding it". They are right. Smile with Hope is truly the hope for the Guarari's families. We met Patrona, a mother of 6, she lived a miserable life with an abusive husband, unable to find the strength to do something about it. She was poor, had 6 children and was illiterate. She had never read the bible until Smiles with Hope gave her the New Testament on audio. As she heard God's truth she gain His strength and was able to leave the abusive relationship. Three years later she can read the bible by herself, she was able to find a job and she knows she is a daughter of a King. Life is not easy for her but she trusts in God. You could see her smile of hope. That same evening after visiting Patrona I sat next to a pregnant 18 year old, she was terrified even to think about child birth but after teaching her about the labor process she was less nervous about it. It is amazing what Smiles with Hope bring to Guarari. They have painting, English, sewing, art classes, etc but most of all they learn about Jesus and how much He cares for them. Thursday I would call it a day of praise. Early in the morning we joined the Women's prayer meeting and we heard incredible stories about God's answer to prayers. What impacted me the most was a mother that prayed for her son to stop doing drugs, another that left the drug world and another praying in hope for her son's liberation from drugs. The amazing thing was that later on when we went to Smiles with hope to see their teen's club, I met a 21year old pregnant girl that praised God for keeping her clean from drugs for 8 months. She said that she had tried to stop doing drugs but she would do it again until she found her strength in God. She thanks Smiles with hope because they provide a safe environment for her. She take all the classes she can take there. The teen's club had opportunity to play and after that they listened to a session about values. That night we went to Jholy and as the youth was practicing the play a youth from the streets came into the theater and asked if he could participate because he is going through a very difficult time and thinks he is loosing his mind and needs to do "something". That is exactly what Jholy is, an opportunity for the youth to have clean fun, develop relationships with Christian friends and hear from God. The days are going by so fast but God is allowing us to share His love. Thank you Ivonne

 

Back From India

From Richard Chun:

Hello everyone!

Thank you for all your prayers and support for us!

We arrived safely back in SFO yesterday afternoon.

We were completely off the grid, so apologies for not being able to share any updates.

A group of 17 people split into 3 teams, were able to share the Gospel and plant 30 family churches in the Barasat, India area. We were also able to minister to 2 children schools which ODMS established where the children are unable to go to public schools.  Each school has about 50 kids from Kindergarten to 4th grade where the children learn basic academics and provide one meal a day.

I believe at least 500 children and adults were able to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, and possibly one third received Christ as their savior. At the end of the week, 9 people were baptized in a separate ceremony. I believe this is an incredible outcome, knowing that these new believers are risking their lives by openly professing their faith in Jesus Christ publicly in a muslim area.

Simultaneously, the Pastor of First Baptist Church in San Francisco (and member of ODMS) took the whole week to train about 30 family church leaders from previously established family churches in Kolkota, Sundolban, and Barasat. Teaching "from the Old Testament to the Cross"

Jiseong (from 678) did get a strange bug bite, as his foot got swollen and could not walk for one day missing the first children school visit, but God was gracious to have him healed quickly to join the 2nd day of ministering to the 2nd children school. I always choke-up when I see Jiseong play the role of Jesus Christ as he dies on the cross. (when we share the Gospel to kids)

Jiyeon (from Venture Highschool) mostly joined other India highschool girls in the family church leaders training. but was also able to minister to the first children's school. (and took over Jiseong's role of Jesus in our children's Gospel sharing the first day)

I give God all the glory for all that He has accomplished and allowing our family to join His harvest movement in India.

I thank Venture and the KR group for all your support in prayer and resources.

We will plan to share our testimony with the KR group soon during our Wed. gathering in the next few weeks.

Below link are some pictures from our trip.

https://goo.gl/photos/4j9cXRBakehsB4jq9

In Christ!

Richard, Jungrim, Jiyeon and Jiseong.

STM trip to India - February 2016

Richard C. and his family are on their way to India along with other people from other churches in the bay area on a short term mission trip as part of ODMS (Open Door Missions Society). Below is his email that talks about the trip and prayer requests (with some edits):

Hello my brothers in Christ! We are about to board our plane to India. We are joining a ODMS (opendoormissionsociety.org) mission trip. ODMS is a mission organization established by an elder at Emanuel Church about 20 years ago. A total of 5 churches are joining this trip. Mainly from First Baptist Church of San Francisco, Emanuel Church. Although our family went last year, this is our first time going as Venture Church members. All the participants are ethnically Korean. typical Korean pic before mission trip attached. We will be church planting in Barasat, India (about 3 hours north of Kolkota) sharing the Gospel to unbelievers in a muslim centric area. A man of peace (recruited through local ministry partners) will assemble local people from their community. We are targeting to have 3 teams share the Gospel twice a day to plant new churches. And on Sat.(20th) we will have a baptism ceremony for all who received Jesus as their savior that week. We are also having a miniVBS at two local schools which were established by ODMS.

 

Pls pray for our trip. Our prayer requests are below:

Our Bible verse and main prayer for this trip. 2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Pls pray for our safety and health Keep our health despite the hard environment of dust, heat and mosquitoes. especially from risk of malaria & food poisoning. Pls pray for the church planting efforts Holy Spirit, go into every village before us and prepare the road for us. So that we may boldly proclaim Jesus Christ and that those who hear, open their hearts to accept Him and to respond in faith. Bound all the dark spirits that interfere and may the Holy Spirit be in charge! Pls pray for the Muslims Bend the stubbornness and threats of the Muslims that live in Barasat, let the Word grow more actively that many people will be added daily to those saved. Pls pray for the established Churches Let the Family Churches planted in Barasat, grow strong and independent by fearing the Lord and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let these churches bear fruit 100 times, 60 times, 30 times so they they may grow into a church that is responsible for world mission. In Him The Chuns.

Trekking to the Unreached in Nepal

Namaste from Nepal. "Namaste" is the common greeting in Nepal. While it has various meanings, for those yoga enthusiasts out there "Namaste" is commonly known to mean "The spirit within me greets the spirit in you." But if you are a Christian in Nepal, you greet each other with "Jai Masi" - meaning "Praise be to the Messiah." So…

Jai Masi Venture Family!

My name is Marissa and I am a young adult at Venture. This summer, I had the privilege of trekking in Nepal with Venture's local missionary partners there. As many of you know, in 2015, Nepal received global attention when it was devastated by two major earthquakes and many other aftershocks. After the earthquakes, Venture started a Nepal relief fund to help our local partners (many of whom lost their homes, villages, family members, and congregation members) to rebuild and help their community. I was blessed to meet these partners and am excited to share what God has done through your generous gifts.

While the earthquake brought Nepal to the world spotlight, there is much more about this small nation that many are unaware of. Nepal is situated between India and China and is the home of 8 of the 10 tallest peaks in the world - Mt. Everest, Kangchenjunga, and Lotse, to name a few. Nepal has a diverse population of about 28 million people who are divided into 380 distinct people groups. According to Operation World, of these 380 groups, 93% or 354 of them are unreached by the Gospel. About 82% of the population is Hindu, 10% are Buddhist, 3.7% are Islamic, 3.5% are small indigenous religions, and a little over 1% are Christian (The Joshua Project).

In light of the earthquake and with these numbers in mind, I and my team of 3 American friends left for Nepal the beginning of this summer. The first 10 days, we trekked through the mid-western portion of the Himalayas led by two Nepali Christians who were the first and some of the only Christians in this area. As the first foreigners to ever trek this particular trail, we stopped at villages along the way to meet and minister to new friends, share the gospel, and provide medical aid. Pretty much every village we passed through was unreached, most of the people either Buddhist or Hindu. It was the first time many of them had ever heard of Jesus Christ and they were very intrigued by the idea of a good God who reached down to them in love. We stayed with families in their mud homes covered in thatched straw or correlated tin roofs and ate their regular diet of white rice and lentil soup with the occasional egg, veggies, potatoes, or noodles.

After traveling over unpaved roads by jeep, we spent the next 10 days in south Nepal – the flat portion of the country that is known for its intense heat, high crime rate, and dangerous jungles. Hinduism is predominant in this region and the caste system is highly adhered to. Our Nepali host had started a few schools and churches in untouchable villages to prevent sex trafficking and to minister to the people. We had sweet fellowship in a few of the churches, singing together, reading the word, preaching, eating a meal, and providing medical aid. The next few days we spent visiting village schools teaching proper hygiene and sanitation, providing toothbrushes and soap, telling interactive Bible stories, providing more medical aid, and playing games with the precious children. Those who had more severe conditions, we prayed over and saw God do miraculous healings.

Our last stop was in north Nepal to see Pastor Tara. His home was the epicenter of the last earthquake and the damage was devastating. His church is small and he has faced persecution in his area. The earthquake hit on a Saturday morning (Nepal’s Sabbath) during their church service. Pastor Tara lost his home, his church, his son in law, and many members of his congregation. At first, people in his community saw the timing as gods judgment on Christians, and alienated Pastor Tara. But after they saw his unexplainable self-sacrifice and service for each one of them during this time of chaos and devastation, many experienced the love of Christ and are coming to the Lord. Your contributions have provided the money for Pastor Tara to buy new land on higher, stable ground, lay a cement foundation, and buy and build a new church and home for his family and community. The funds also provided emergency shelter materials for many of the untouchable villagers who have been left without any help.

My summer in Nepal left me in speechless wonder at the power and provision of our God and of the faith of our brothers and sisters in Nepal. Continue to pray for Nepal: 1) for so many who have never heard of the Hope and Freedom that Jesus brings and 2) for our brothers and sisters who courageous love those around them and face persecution and opposition.

Jai Masi, Marissa Lee

Guatemala: We are home - and well!

We are home, safe and sound. And have had a few days of great rest and reflection! It really is hard for me to express our gratitude solely through words, but we are very grateful and feel very blessed by both your financial and prayer support. This trip, and it's success, is an answered prayer. I look back personally encouraged and in awe of the way God really does move! In and through us. Love you all, and thank you for supporting our adventure.

Monday, Day 13

Day 13 was just a relaxing kind of day! We cleaned up around the guest house and relaxed in hammocks while enjoying the company of each other!  We have had some great talks with each other sharing wisdoms as well as have begun preparing ourselves to come back. Please be praying for safety in our next few travel days! Tomorrow, we leave Huehuetenango for Guatemala City.  Along the way we will stop in Antigua for some sight-seeing and soveneir buying.  We are all excited to be heading home!  Yet, are in prayer that we would be good stewards of all that the Lord has taught us here.  It has been a special and personally impactful experience for us all.  Praise God! - Josh and Jesse

Sunday, Day 12

This is Sarah Peterson, the newest adult leader to the group, saying “Buenos dias!” from Huehuetenango! Wow, what a full day! So full, in fact, that I am writing this Monday morning. :) We woke up Sunday morning to a breakfast of waffles and fruit, prepared by the wonderful Gail. A handful of us have been sick with a cold, but God has been faithful in providing us rest, energy, and good food to prepare us for the last youth rally. After finishing our cleanup duties of dishes, sweeping, etc., Gail asked me to help prepare egg salad for egg salad sandwiches to take for our lunches. The rest of the team worked to make the sandwiches and prepared PB&J sandwiches as well. Once we finished making our lunches, we packed them in a cooler to take on the road as we headed to the youth rally in the area of Pichiquil near Aguacatán. The drive took about two hours as we headed through the stop-and-go, every-man-for-himself traffic of the city and then as we navigated the dirt roads and hills into Pichiquil. We parked the van and truck in a field downhill from the church and ate our lunches of sandwiches, oranges, cookies, and my favorite—chips. A couple of us stepped in an ant pile and got some bites from fire ants. In Cuba, where I was this time last year, they called these ants “satanitas” or “Little Satan”. We all had a good laugh about that.

After lunch, we headed uphill to the church to change into our church outfits and prepare for the rally. There were already many people there, preparing food for the people coming. As the girls walked back into cooking area, we saw the women preparing huehue bread and a rice drink. We asked if we could help and Joelle stirred the corn they were preparing, corn they said took four hours to prepare. It was VERY hot back there too.

The rally was so great—and different from the other two we did on Friday and Saturday. The area of Pichiquil was much more rural than the area of San Lorenzo. There were probably around 200 Mayan men, women, and children there for the afternoon service. The women all had beautiful skirts and blouses that they made themselves. The skirts all had a similar pattern and Edwin told us that this pattern is specific to this area, whereas the women of other areas will have a different pattern. The service started with prayer and a powerful testimony shared by one of the church members. He shared of God’s deliverance from jail, drugs, and alcohol. Our group then went up. Prior to singing, Kylie explained the lyrics of “Our God” and Edwin translated. As we were singing, we saw several of the church members singing along in English. Jun then shared his testimony of God’s sovereignty and becoming a Christian a year ago. How awesome is our God that Jun came to know the Lord a year ago and is now preaching the gospel with us in Guatemala! After Jun’s testimony, a Guatemalan acapella Christian quintet performed several songs. We met them as they performed on Friday, so we were excited to see them again. Following their performance, our group went back up to perform the song, “Oceans”. Jesse then shared a message on God’s perfect plan and our role in it. Edwin closed the message in prayer and 25 people raised their hands to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts. Praise God!

Following the rally, we were able to spend time with the people. God is so cool, as our limited Spanish has improved with practice! There were also many children excited to play with their new missionary friends. You don’t need to know Spanish to hold babies and tickle and play tag with children. :) We said goodbye and gave hugs and kisses to our new friends and prepared to head back home. It started to rain as we drove home to Huehue and Edwin surprised us with a dinner at a pizza restaurant. The acapella quintet joined us and it was a wonderful dinner of celebration and laughter.

We got home around 9:30 PM and debriefed up in the prayer room. We shared of how God used us even in spite of our weakness for this last rally. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God is so good—the power of Christ was upon us today and for this entire trip. With His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we have been made strong in spite of our human weakness. We are all so thankful for this. We are also so thankful to all of you for your prayers, support, and love, as you have joined us in God’s story for Guatemala 2015.

Love, Sarah and the rest of the team

Saturday - August 1st

After an amazing youth rally last night we were allowed to sleep in this morning and catch up on some much needed rest. Edwin took us to the nearby city of Chiantia where we went to the market and further experienced the Guatemalan culture and purchase a few souvenirs. We returned to the HueHue house and prepared for the rally in San Lorenzo again. We were excited to see that approximately 70% of the youth returned for the second night!! Once again Kiley, Joelle and Edward led the group with a few worship and we were blessed to hear testimonies from Hannah and Edward. Then Jesse delivered a wonderful message on the power and might of our God and that He is the same yesterday and today. He really encouraged them to put their trust in God. We walked away from the evening feeling really excited at what God is doing and were humbled to be a part of His plan in San Lorenzo. On the way home we encountered a little adventure and got pulled over by the police the way home. Fortunately, we didn't have any issues and they just checked to make sure the van was registered. We had a wonderful debrief in the evening and are excited to give our best tomorrow for our last rally.

 

Some recent visuals:

Yesterday's VBS program, with 200+ kids!

La Finca Vista Hermosa in Agua Dulce, our home for the previous 3 nights.

The team spent two mornings on the farm shuttling ALOT of dirt to several places along the mountain road that were in need of extra support.

Perfect way to end each night.  Debrief and prayer time around the fire.

A wild shot from tonight's youth rally in the city of San Lorenzo.  Jesse had fun connecting with these local boys.

Buenos Noches!

This is Jun Bang saying hello from Huehuetenango! We are back to our original staying place in Huehue and just finished the first of three straight nights of youth rallies. What a blessing it is to be in a place with multiple youth groups joining together to worship God together! One of the great things I am learning is that despite color, language or country barriers, we all serve the same God, read the same bible and make decisions each day to follow Jesus’ ways. More about the youth rally! The night started out a bit awkwardly as we struggled to engage in conversations with the different youth groups. However, when the warm horchata and bread came out, conversations lit up, along with laughter and singing. Once the youth rally started, our cook, hermana Rosie’s daughter and husband opened up in worship, and later followed up with an excellent quartet! Now as our stage time came, Joelle and Josh opened up with their testimonies of how God has brought them up to this point. In the mix was our worship team, lead by Edward, Kylie and Joelle, who sang “Set a Fire” and “One Thing Remains”. Then Jesse spoke to finish up the rally! He focused on our place in God’s great plan and how earthly ways create barriers between us and our perfect God! The night end with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters wanting to take pictures with us before we departed! Now we are back at home, just finished debriefing and eating left over lasagna! Please keep us in your prayers as we continue the youth rallies for the next two nights! Love y’all and thank you for your continual support! God bless!

-Jun

Thursday, 9th Day:

We woke up this morning to the sweet smell of pancakes. After everyone getting their fill, we were assigned by Edwin to walk a little over a quarter of a mile to a school down the road, with classroom materials. After dropping everything off, we realized many kids from the previous VBS were there, so we stuck around a little longer and sang songs together. After getting back, we went straight into shoveling dirt for an hour and a half. Lunchtime came around, and before we knew it, we were on our way to our next and final VBS. We get there and immediately realize there were 150+ kids when we were only expecting 50-75 kids. After getting everyone settled down, we were able to devise a plan that gave all kids a chance to participate in crafts and games without there being too much chaos. In the end, even with lack of space and materials, not to mention a third of the kids there only spoke a Mayan dialect called Mam, God stayed sovereign and allowed the kids to enjoy themselves. After coming home, we went on a hike that took us all throughout the forest of coffee. Constant breathtaking views. Afterwards for dinner, we had Sopa Verde (which is voted a favorite by most teams).   We ended the night with discussion and jokes around the fire as well with some prayer for the youth rally we have tomorrow.

  • Stefan

Wednesday, 8th day:

Today we started off the day with great scrambled eggs by our wonderful cook, Gail. After breakfast, we gathered together for a devotion led by Hannah. She shared her thoughts from the passage Revelation 3:14-22 and started a great conversation about God’s will for us. After a long morning of needed relaxation in our hammocks, we prepared ourselves for getting dirty. Edwin sent us to dig up dirt into bags. This dirt will be spread throughout the roads making them a smoother path. With country music playing, we got the job done. We were filthy with dirt mixed with sweat, but we were so overjoyed to come back to the kitchen to get lunch: homemade corn tortillas filled with cheese, black beans, and salsa. After lunch, we performed our respective kitchen duties and began to prepare for the upcoming VBS. After a short car ride in the open truck bed where we prayed in view of God’s beautiful creation, we arrived at the church. Kids began to show up, and the boys got some games started with the soccer ball outside. Once we began, we started with some Spanish Bible songs, followed by a lesson on the creation story. After that, we took the party outside where we taught the kids some relay race games, as well as freeze tag and duck duck goose. Jun did a cool display by folding and tearing up a piece of paper as he spoke about what he was making. The presentation resulted in the paper becoming a cross. We then made it back outside to begin a game of soccer, or as the Guatemalans call it, “futbol.” This was an amazing experience. As I was playing, it hit me how incredible this opportunity was. I was playing a sport that these kids love with people that I love in a foreign third-world country and this was what teaching kids about God is all about. Sometimes, all these kids need is just to be shown love and for someone to want to spend time with them. We then went back inside to color with the kids small wheels that told the creation story. This was a wonderful bonding time, we were all able to just sit on the ground with the kids, and even for those who don’t speak much Spanish, it was awesome just to sit beside them and color and pass markers around.

We came back to the house just in time for a wonderful dinner of “Huehue Casserole” and mango coleslaw. That was followed by an incredible time by the bonfire, making s’mores and catching Scott and Sarah up on all the inside jokes that have been made over the past week. We also had some great and meaningful conversations about the mindset we need to have as we’re working, and whatever is on our hearts regarding prayer requests we need based on our feelings. When the fire died down, it was off to bed for a good night’s rest for the recharge that everyone desperately needs.

- Kylie and Joelle

Guatemala Blog Day 7: Traveling to the coffee plantation

Is it bad to play soccer in Mayan ruins? Or is it worse to willingly lose a third of our team in one day? Since our team did both of those things, we'll say the jury is still deciding. The highlight of today was arriving at Edwin's coffee plantation. In this case, the destination was better than the three hour journey. However, our team caught up on some much needed sleep during that bumpy (though scenic) ride.

At long last, we arrived and unloaded our belongings at the beautiful plantation. The majority of the team relaxed, but an energetic few went for a hike in the plantation, taking a farmers' trail on the way back.  Later, we got to relax in hammocks, gently swaying in them before dinner. Overall, Tuesday was a great travel day, filled with picturesque places and accompanied by a terrific team.

Day 6 – Monday, by Stefan Campbell

This morning I was up by 6:45am, after only getting six or so hours of sleep. When I walked downstairs, I was hit with the scent of French toast, just like home. After a delicious breakfast we jumped into our work clothes and hit the road to Arenal, where we helped construct a floor for a pastor and lead our first VBS. We traveled in the back of a large truck and as we headed into the mountains, we were hit by some of the most breathtaking views. After the hour and fifteen minute drive up, we immediately were struck by how impoverished this community was. After introducing ourselves, and diving head first into using machetes to separate cement from the bottom of old tiles that were going to be repurposed to make the new floor, we started to develop relationships with the younger kids. After many broken and chipped tiles and a great forearm workout, we ate lunch and began VBS. We started off playing soccer in the grass fields for an hour and then began the activities. At that time, Edwin was leading a seminar a couple hundred feet away in their church building to equip pastors with message materials.   He was originally supposed to translate the activities directions, but since he became unavailable Mr. Davis had to step in and did a terrific job at translating. A majority of the youth were involved, most under the age of ten years old. The kids had a blast whether it was playing steal the bacon with a sandal or sticking stickers onto foam crosses. We ended with playing soccer, since the kids were so eager to play. At around 5:00pm we left, after praying for the pastor who had recently had a heart attack, and leaving one of our soccer balls with them. It is incredibly humbling to see the joy the kids got from something as simple a ball. The drive back was cold, but breathtaking. After a fantastic dinner, we had our nightly debrief. An incredible time, where the spirit clearly moved. Tonight is the last night for Sean, Virendra, Greg, and Laurah. Please pray for safe travels for them as they leave at around 2:00pm tomorrow on a bus back to Huehuetenango. (The funny statement of the day was from Jun) “There is a bug in my drink, should I still drink it?” Leader Comments: For the parents of our students on this trip I can tell you this – if you were here you would be blown away by the maturity and selfless service being displayed by each one.  As parents we want to know that our kids will step up to the challenge when faced with difficulties, or the unknown, or unexpected, or even something unwanted but required, and your students have.

Jun, Stefan, Kylie, and Sean have shown great courage and poise in speaking to hundreds of people in a foreign culture while sharing very personal and meaningful life stories, and then connecting with youth and kids in culture barrier breaking ways. Jesse has been an unusually bright light through preaching, through initiating prayer and thoughtful discussions, and generally doing whatever it takes motivate people to live out their faith in the smallest and greatest of ways. Joelle has not only lead in singing but also stepped up to do the lead teaching at the VBS we ran today. She also picked out a couple of kids who were being left out by the others and gave special attention and love. It completely changed the experience for those kids.

Hannah has been a model of kindness, resourcefulness, and prayer. Her ideas in discussions and in planning are valuable and insightful, and are beyond her years. She helped manage the VBS activities today in a way that kept us organized and fun. Josh and Edward as well as Sean and Stefan, took initiative in getting kids to come together over soccer and also helped manage the activities throughout the day along with Jesse and the others. For those of you who know how chaotic a VBS and be to run, you would be super impressed at how our team performed.

Furthermore, they put in hours of labor alongside a team of construction workers laying concrete and tile in the pastors house of the village we were visiting. Jun spent the entire day laying concrete and tile with the workers. Workers, by the way, who earn on average about $5 to $7 per day.

The evening discussions have been incredibly encouraging and relevant to issues that are critical to their lives. To listen to these young men and women engage with such intelligence and passion is a privilege to witness and be a part of. You should be proud – your kids are the REAL THING!

Day 5 - Sunday, by Edward Vertin: Youth Rally #2 Ixtahaucan

Day5-Sunday,by Edward Vertin: we started the day with some American food, pancakes! After the great breakfast we gathered for our devotion which was to be led by June. He discussed the story of the disciples on the boat in the storm, and how Jesus came to save them, walking on water! In our lives, the smooth sailing will sometimes end, and we will be caught in a storm. Jesus will never fail to show up, walking on water, but for us to also “walk on water”, we must get out of the boat. After our debriefing of our prieveous night at ixtahuacan, we prepared to return. Right after we left in the van, we had strong prayer together, to prepare ourselves for the coming event. On arriving at the church, the people were happy to see us. It was very cool returning because we could continue the relationships we started the previous night. We stood at the door and greeted the Guatemalans as they entered and the service soon began. Edwin started the service with worship led by Joel, me (Edward), and Kylie, followed by powerful testimonies led by Kylie, Jesse, and Shaun. After Edwin spoke, and the pastor led the congregation in prayer, we all conversed with the Guatemalans there. We spoke about faith and found many there are strong in their relationship with Jesus. We exchanged Facebooks so we could stay connected. It was truly amazing being able to have fellowship with such a different group of people. We returned to the guest house and met Gail for the first time, and enjoyed some tomato soup and grilled cheese. 

More pictures to be posted tomorrow......

Day 4 - God is @ work with an Amazing Youth Rally in IxtaHuacan - Eph 3:20

By Virendra Vase - The day started out with sow awesome Guatemala breakfast - ... After which we started our prep for the youth rally later this evening. We have been blessed by Edwin Martinez our host who led us in a time of "heart prep" having us reflect on the following statement "only what you do for God counts". So true !! We also reflected on Philippians 1 in our prayer room that overlooked a major part of HueHueTenango. After some more prep for our vbs (planned for Monday) - that was organized by one of our fearless leaders Greg Davis - how amazing it is to see how God works !! At this point we are not sure exactly how many and what ages the kids' are - which makes it a tad challenging. But the whole team jumped in with some amazing suggestions and now we are all looking forward to see what God will do in and through us on Monday when we do VBS in ...

After another great Guatemalan meal - we headed out to the church where we planned to have the rally. It was quite the drive to the Church - it took us around 90 mins of relatively rough roads but it was extremely scenic.

We started the evening out with some refreshments (huehue bread and oranges) to fellowship with the youth that came for the evening. It was amazing to see how social the kids were. Some of the boys even went and got a pick up soccer game going - how fun !! We even got together in the town square to pray for Guatemala !!

We then started the service around 7:30 with introductions and worship by the local band that really helped the various youth to enter the presence of the lord. Thanks to Edwin who helped get quite a few youth from various Churches and neighboring areas to the rally. Our team was so united and were confident in the lord.

Both Jun and Stefan gave their testimonies with such humility and clarity and encouraged folks to accept the Lord and grow deeper. Our worship band of Joelle, Kylie and Eduardo did an amazing job with a few English songs and I just sensed the spirit in our midst, Jesse exhorted us with a message from Ephesians and he was so articulate and calm and just spoke from his heart.

I surely give thanks to God for Jesse and his passion to see people grow closer to Jesus. We were blown away with the response of the youth who came in front for prayer. What an answer to prayer !

I have to say that it was extremely touching. The youth hung out for almost an hour after the service with the team, talking with them and taking pictures.

We wrapped up stuff after 10pm and then took the 90 min drive back home and then had some leftover Cossido (traditional Guatemala soup) Thanks for all your prayers !

Answers prayers - and praises !!

  • The team has gelled really well and have had great servant heart
  • We have kept safe and healthy (for the most part)
  • The passion of the members on our team is so contagious
  • Response to the youth rally exceeded all of our expectations !

Prayer requests

  • Continued health and safety for the team (a few of the folks felt a bit under the weather)
  • A continued outpouring of His love on us and the Guatemalans
  • For the second rally/service - on Sunday and the VBS on Monday

Day 3 – Friday, by Josh Davis

The day was quite eventful. The day started off with a late wake up, (thank you God) and with a great breakfast “ Muy Rico!” Followed by amazing quiet time and times of devos with the group. After the Devos and down time we adventured off to Hot springs. The ride was absolutely amazing with beautiful mountains and trees everywhere. We rode in the back of the truck with no seatbelts (Sorry mom!) Of course being some of the only Americans we were quite the attraction for all the Guatemalans. It was so fun to try and communicate with the people there and just give friendly waves to those passing by. As we hiked the last few parts to the hot springs we came across a many beautiful sites not to mention the goats and cows. The hot springs were extremely refreshing to sit and soak in. As the day winded down we gathered ourselves to plan out the upcoming rallies and events, while enjoying amazing conversation and a delicious Guatemalan dinner. Throughout the Day it’s so cool to see God work in us and those around us. We had great quiet times to clear our minds and surrender ourselves to God. As well as great conversation where we could talk out doubts, things we have been learning, and give encouragement to those who need it. It is truly special to see what God is doing in our hearts and hopefully the hearts around us.

Leader comment (Greg) – We’ve had a few days to prepare before the Youth Rallies start, and before we do a construction project and a VBS. The time has been extremely valuable to flush out some deeper questions and insecurities the kids have had about how they are going to be able to contribute.

There are some serious nerves as you can imaging about speaking publicly in front of hundreds, let alone through a translator. Fortunately, there is just as serious a commitment to follow through with whatever role they are assigned – even in the face of doubts and fears. This pushing through the inner battles is huge in their personal development and each one is excelling beyond expectations.