Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Love Note

Joy, discouragement, love, hate, fear, confidence...  Life is a tornado of emotions, all of which I think I've felt over the last week or so of saying goodbye to a group of friends and a country we came to call home over the last 10 months, and in the middle of which I sit here, back home in familiar settings writing this note to you Kelley.  It's been a while since I've written you a love letter  which is a shame because through all the emotions I feel sitting here, one thing I know for certain is that I've never loved you more.  But what better setting could I create than the one I have now - moving from uncertainty to uncertainty but always being certain that we have a God that loves us and knows his perfect plan for us, and knowing that we have each other as we experience this world together.  In this setting I am writing this morning to try to express but just a hint of how much I love you and how greatly for you I'm thankful, because, without you, I don't know where I'd be, but I know it wouldn't be a place worth comparing to where I am now.

I am so thankful for the last 10 months we've spent in Guatemala, and through my admittedly tearful goodbyes to the relationships we made during this time it hit me that without the push from you I wouldn't have had the chance to experience the incredible things God had to show us in Guatemala.  Without your influence, I would not understand how to go beyond merely calling on God, but how to answer His call on our lives - up to this point, I've done well to think about and even express what I need from God, but not too good at responding when He calls me to act and enter into something different and bigger than what I've come to know as "life".  You see, I'm good at thinking, reasoning, acting logically and staying within the boundaries that are "acceptable" as an educated young American business-man; but you've helped me understand there's a time to think and reason things out, and a time to act and live things out. With this trip, I've took needed step from having a faith well thought out, to a faith well lived out.  And as we prepare for the next phase in our life, another strange city, away from our familiar circles of friends and family, I'm so thankful that God has shown us that our friends are truly everywhere and that I will have you, my wife and my best friend, by my side through it all.

I love you wife :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

You say Adios...

Today was our last day in the village, and boy was it sad. But amid the sadness there was also a lot of joy and Gregg and I are feeling so so loved. The local teachers that tutor our 1-6th grade students had a party for us, the junior high students performed a dance, all the workers went around and said amazing words of encouragement, we were prayed for, and we were given some beautiful gifts of remembrance. 
Since deciding to serve in Yalu, our goal has been to be a blessing in whatever way we could and although we were blessed far more by those we worked with in the village, it was very encouraging to hear that we were also a blessing to them. One of our worker's husbands told me, "God once told me that I would be able to see His work and sense His presence in the people that He brings into my life. Well I saw God's work and sensed Him in you and Gregg." Amen! 
Since today was so special to us, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...
Gregg and his boys

Being prayed for by our amazing tutors and 

Playing a crazy game of putting jello in the others
person's mouth

Amazing cake decorated by Barb and an awesome
book of letters, drawings, and other memories

Gregg dancing with our tutor group

Doctor Efrain saying a few words of thanks

Gregg and I trying to thank everyone through our tears

the amazing Chiquito family

Awesome teachers

We will miss everyone so much!
The phrase of the day was - 'No es adios, sino hasta luego' = 'It is not goodbye but see you later' and that could not be more true for Gregg and I. We have Guatemala deep in our hearts now and there is no way we will be able to stay away for too long. And so, in the words of Doctor Efrain, God bless and hasta la vista baby!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7 days and counting...

We have officially made it to our last week in Guatemala. Throughout the last few days we have experienced so many emotions I don't really know how I'm going to make another week. Today was by far the hardest as we found out the granddaughter of one of our workers died this morning. She was only 20 months old and from what we've been told it sounds like she died of diarrhea and dehydration - which we knew absolutely nothing about until today. As you can probably imagine this has been very difficult for us to process and accept. How does a baby girl become so sick that she dies without anyone having any warning? And how in the world did her grandfather who works with an organization whose main mission is to prevent things like this, not see the signs and tell one of us about it before it was too late?
In the midst of this sadness we have also experienced a lot of joy this week. We currently have an amazing short-term mission team from Wisconsin here serving their butts off for the people of Yalu. They have been conducting a medical/spiritual clinic, building stoves and bathrooms, having Vacation Bible Schools, washing the feet of women in our women's ministry, washing lice from the hair of 100 kids from the village, and much much more.
The emotional extremes of the last week seem to have sped up our grieving process for leaving Guatemala. We would really appreciate your prayers as we spend the next week saying goodbye to our dear friends and our life in Guatemala. Gracias!