Hola amigos!!!! Hope all is well back in the states!! Tonight you will be hearing from Señor Josh Groteluesehen and Señorita Paige Fitzsimons.
Today was a very eventful day for our team. It was the first time that we actually "saw the volcano. It was huge" (From Señor J). It was the first day that we got to get our hands wet, for real and do what we have been preparing for as a team this past school year. We started our day off with a hearty meal of eggs, cheese, and sour dough sandwiches made by our hostess Ginny. After that we jaunted up the stairs to hear our devotion from Manuel. He is a Guatemalan missionary who leads the Guatemalan missionary team. Manuel did a devotion on using the talents God has gifted us with. It was motivating for us to hear both in ingles and español. It prepared us for not only today, but for the rest of the week and what is in store for us.
After the devotion we piled, literally piled up, in the vans to travel to El Rincon. It was about a forty five minute drive, so we got to see a lot more of the city, and even the outskirts of Guatemala City today. It was another eye opening experience for us seeing a new culture. In a way for you all to understand back home... it was roller coster on the road...for realz...
Once arriving in El Rincon we went to go meet a family. The family lives fairly close to the volcano Pacaya. The volcano had just literally blown its top off about two years ago and still smolders today. While being there we meet Margarita and Carlos. Their house had their own well which the strong men on this trip pulled up a bucket for us to dip our hands in to surprisingly find hot water. It was hot because it was boiling from the volcano. As a team we entered the house. It consisted of two rooms, made of metal sheets, and several beds in the back room. There we meet Carlos. Carlos came to faith about eight years ago, and he also lost his leg about the same time. Today Carlos is bed bound because of his legs and he has several bed sores. Through all this though he stays strong in his faith (fuerte en su fe), and what the Lord has planned for his life. Carlos gave us lots of encouragement for our school work and what the Lord has planned for us as well. He read to us Proverbs 5. Take a look if you get a chance. It's worth reading. Once we left the house we found out that it was where the baño for the day was going to be...
We returned to the community center where we stored our belongings, and split into three groups to go do more house visits. I (Paige) will tell you about my experiences at the houses I went to today. My group consisted of David Moldenhauer, Brain Muldowney, Lauren Busch, Mars Reck, and me of course along with two other Guatemalan missionaries. We visited a house that was off the same road as the one on which we entered the village. The women lived with her family and her daughter. It was great experience, and also eye opening to how the culture works. The women became very emotional and as a group we encouraged her to stay strong in her faith and have hope for the future. We had the chacne to pray over her and give her a hug. As a group we learned that hugging an emotional woman is good if it is women hugging each other, but if a man hugs it is not as good and even frowned upon. David still stepped up though and gave her the hug that the poor women desperately needed. (He did this before we really knew about the whole culture thing...) After we finished at that house visit, we went down the road a litter further to another house. Her name was Carmen and she was having hard time understanding that it does not matter where you worship Jesus, or how big the congregation was or how beautiful the church was. We told her what mattered was that Christ was in her heart, and that she stays strong in Him no matter what. Later in the day while we were having our "worship service," Carmen came up and taught eveyone a song, and sang for us. It has been great to see another culture and how Christ is still so present, even though the culture is so different from ours. People are not afraid to show how much they love God, and how emotional they are about praising Him. I have found it interesting that while one person is praying eveyone else is saying their own prayers to themselves. Women who are old are still worshiping God by raisng their arms, coming up front and just being in awe of Christ. It has been a great experience so far for me.
Hey you guys, its my (Josh's) turn to type now. So after we split up I went with Deaconess Betsy, Kyle Salesky, Hannah Maske and Michelle Rodriguez. Oscar was our leader and translator. We went to visit Marco. He was an older man, had a bigger family with lots of kids and was very nice. When we first saw him he was wearing a cowboy hat, but then it disappeared somewhere (I don't know where). We met in a narrow alleyway next to the house. I was shocked we could fit so many people in a small alleyway. He was very strong in his faith, and his only concern was that he might not be able to encourage his family to remain strong in their faith. He also was not a church attender so we encouraged him that he should join a church since he already is part of God's family. The best way to describe him is to quote him. He said that he must trust God first, doctors second. It was remarkable how strong this man's faith was. I could not understand a word he said because I learned all this through translators, and yet his love for God was apparent even before I heard the words. The way he said the words showed his love. It truly amazes me how people with so little are the ones who appreciate God's blessings so much. They only have words of praise and joy for God, not anger or frustration. Yet here in America I struggle so much not to get angry with God even though I have so many blessings. These people have taught me far more than I have taught them. I hope that the lessons I have learned here last when I get back to the States because I want to live my life in thanksgiving, the way that these people do every day.
After we were done with the house visits, we reunited in the community center. There we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with chips and cookies. After we finished eating, we had a 20 person long shoulder massage train. It was incredible.
Then came the people, and there was a lot of them. (Do not fear, reader, Paige is back in control of the keyboard!) Unfortunately, however, there was no father figure in the crowd. This has been something evident to not only Josh and I, but to our whole team. We have learned that this is a big portion of the life style here in Guatemala: 65 % of men leave their families. This has made life difficult for the children and the mother. This is a trend we have noticed a little bit back home, and it makes us want to find or make sure to have a strong, male Christian influence in our lives.
When everyone showed up we started with music! This included the band that you read earlier! Lauren on the ukelele, and me on the guitar. Thankfully, we had Jamie and Brian, because they had the courage to sing with microphones in front of everyone! We are thankful for it because otherwise it would have been Josh...(do not tell him I typed this.) For those who love music dip your musical skills into a few of the following songs that we sang today (pero en español... but in Spanish!):
Peace Like a River (Paz como un rio)
This is the Day (Este es el dia)
Lets us give Thanks to God (Demos gracias al Señor)
Josh is back! I don't have much time, but I just wanted to say that they sounded great!!!
Paige is back... After we did our music we split up into groups of children from three to ten year olds. The group that Josh and I were part of was the older children from eleven to eighteen. Kevin has told us that today was the first day that they had split the chldren up like that and that it worked out really well. Kevin also informed us that in this age group, the girls would start to have babies, so it was super important to get a message across to them, and to encourage them to stay strong in faith to God and one another. The Bible study was on encouraging one another. We have learned that the Spanish phrase for encouraging each other is "Nos animamos." The memory verse is Hebrews 3:13 for those who would like to look it over and memorize it. After we finished we regrouped and had a chance to play with the littler children. They were super great. They were finishing up their lunch and started to have a tickle fight with us Americans. It was great to see them having so much fun, and wanting us to interact with them as well. At one point they cornered Lauren and all you could see were her shoes! David liked to play peekaboo through the broken window with the children. I decided to play "hair monster" with the children...do I need to explain anymore? On the trip back, a few things happened that Josh and I feel like you would enjoy hearing about: Uno, the vanful of people have decided that David is a two year old...yep, we said it. He can not be one, though, because he can speak. Dos, Jamie has a spitting problem...she spit/spewed her water all over David due to the fact that the Deaconess was attempting to speak with an accent. Tres, there is a whole lot of pollution in this country...
We arrived back at the mission house around dinner time and had a dinner that was prepared by Ginny. It was a nice home made meal! After that we prapared for tomorrow and had devotions led by my co writer Josh! He did great! The team is awesome and the theme of encougarement is truly shown in everyone on the team. Tomorrow we will be leaving the house around 7:00, so we are going to be up early visiting Bueña Vista, which is about a two hour drive, and we will be doing the same type of things that we did today!
Here is an original prayer from Josh and I:
Dear Father God,
Thank you so much for today. Thank you for the people we meet and the lives that have touched us in so many different ways. Thank you that we have had the opportunity to touch thier lives as well in whatever way that we can. Thank you for the examples here of servanthood. Lord, we pray for Carlos and that everything will heal quickly and relieve him in his time of pain. Lord, be with those children and families that we met and protect them, strengthen them, and keep them in good health. Thank you for Ginny and Kevin, and the Guatemalan missionaries who have been a blessing to us and the people here. Be with us tomorrow and we pray that we will have safe travels, and a good time. Thank you for this group of people that Josh and I have been able to work with. They have been a blessing to us in so many different ways. Continue to be with us and keep us safe in whatever we do! Thank you most of all for sending your son to come and die for us and that He took on the suffering and pain that we can only imagine. Thank you, Father, for so much. Amen.
Josh and Paige