Over the last several years, we have taken teams into the government hospital as one of their activities/outreaches. There is social medicine in Guatemala and no one is denied access to the hospital, but many times the hospital does not have what is needed to treat the patients. Families have to find a way to secure what is needed, or go without treatment. Most people try to go to a private hospital, even if it means borrowing money to make an operation or other needed treatments possible. One of the highlights for the team has been to go into the maternity ward. We have been receiving boxes from supporters in Florida that give us what we need to make up baby packs that include croqueted hats, blankets and clothing for babies….added to hygiene products that make a wonderful gift to the newborns. We take photos of the babies and print them out there so that mom has a remembrance of this special event; the photos being such a special blessing to the moms.
Recently the social worker from the hospital called us, to see if we could provide these baby packs to mothers that have no clothes to take their baby home in. We have seen that scenario when we have been at the hospital with teams. We have decided that this will be a step forward, to provide these “newborn packs” as an on-going thing. We are including a letter of congratulations and to share some scripture about our children being a gift from God and the great opportunity that has been placed into our hands, as parents, to move these little lives into people who honor and serve God. Lidia took the first packs this month and we will continue to make sure that the hospital has a supply on hand to fill this need.
Taking these trips is all about relationships. I got a chance to see family; both my son’s family with my two grandchildren and also my daughter. It is about seeing friends; those who I have known for a long time and some that I have met recently through their participation in a team that came to Guatemala. It is about meeting new friends; it is always fun to see how God arranges new acquaintances and see His purposes. I met someone in Texas, who has been wanting to get connected in missions, and has already signed up to be on two teams and plans to do three a year. It is always a blessing to have the private more quality time with people. I got a chance to stay with Doug and Sandi who have been helping with the Embrace program for almost a year, with someone who has worked on my web pages for so many years, to be with friends that have provided my ground transportation now for four years and others who took me in to offer me hospitality, to have three days with my Board of Directors to share and pray and plan, to have a dinner and so many other meetings with people who have been down and have a heart for what Servant Ministries is doing. I was not real good at remembering to take pictures all of the time but here are some of the faces of family and friends that I am honored to have in my life…in the following slide show.
We try to have an annual Pastors’ Retreat where we take our pastors and their wives away for 2 nights. Last year’s was cancelled due to lack of funds and this year’s almost got cancelled. It is a lot of funds for “retreat speakers” to cover along with their own travel expenses. I put out an appeal to people to join together and help us to make sure that this year’s activity was not cancelled.
People responded and thank God we were able to have a retreat. Two couples from the capital came to minister and teach for the retreat which was held March 7-9. We had 20 people in attendance. All of our pastors and all but two of the wives came. It is hard to express what this kind of activity means to them. The wives, especially, just don’t get an opportunity to attend something like this. People were touched and blessed! The fellowship and building of stronger relationships is always a good way to strengthen us as “a team that is working together” with a common goal…..to reach this area for the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think the idea of giving everyone a chance to help support an activity like this is a good one; people who are led can do “something” and together it is enough! A special heartfelt thank you; to all that made this activity possible . We will plan to have another retreat in early 2017, so please consider giving a financial gift so that we can continue to bless our faithful pastors in this way.
Our annual Night of Lights was held on the evening of December 14th. Give or take a few, we had 600 people come for the Night of Lights! Everyone received a raffle ticket as they entered; plus a candy cane and a Christmas message on a nice card. Hot coffee with chocolate was served to everyone; we went through 30 gallons and ran out. People walked around to enjoy the different lights and blow-ups that fill up the ministry center area. There is an area under our palm roof where the kids can have a hands-on and touch different stuffed animals that are battery operated and sing, dance and thoroughly entertain the kids.
We were blessed to have two choirs participate this year. Jeanne’s youth choir sang several Christmas carols in Spanish and did a great job. We also had about 23 children that form a choir from the village of Oquen that are overseen at our Oquen church and led by Diana Lubeck, a Bible translator that has been here for 40 plus years. They did all of their Christmas songs in Chorti and also shared a scripture passage out of Luke. This choir is a whole testimony of itself but suffice to say here, that it is something that is impacting their community.
After the choirs sang, we began our raffle. We had 150 raffle gifts and another almost 150 things (balls, toothbrushes, beanie babies) to throw out into the crowd. You have no idea how much the people enjoy this. It is a nice Family Friendly event for the Christmas season and a chance to reach out to the local town people. The aftermath is a lot of clean up but it is all worth it. My last words to the people were “Remember that Jesus is the reason that we celebrate Christmas!”