There were some major volcano eruptions, in June, from “Fuego” that is located near Antigua/Esquintla or the other side of the capital. It is about 5-6 hours from the ministry center and even we got some ash falling. 500 families had to evacuate their houses and most are living in shelters. Many died and rescue efforts are still on-going to dig out homes from the ash and lava sludge that flowed into inhabited areas. Many were injured and burned as they made their escape from the flowing lava and boiling water that flowed in their streets. I am grateful to say that assistance has come from all over Guatemala to reach out to those affected by this, as well as international assistance. Servant Ministries sent a full pickup of food for 150 families, Bibles and New Testaments, clothes and medicines. One of the drivers that we use a lot, Miguel, transported these items and spent a day ministering to them at one of the shelters. Please remember these families in your prayers as they have to start their lives again from nothing and deal with the loss of many loved ones.
This was our 18th consecutive year of having a town VBS at the ministry center. We have done this every year since we purchased the property where the ministry center stands in Camotan; even while we were still under construction for building the center.
This year was very successful. We started our first day with 187 children and finished our last day with the full allowed quota of 300 children! Word gets out and the attendance increases daily. The team oversaw the crafts and yard games and had some assistance from some Guatemalan youth. My sister, Jeanne, oversaw the “Jesus Game” over on her side, also with some assistance from local young people. A professional clown from the capital had a joint time with all the children each day and then a separate class time with the smaller groups, as they rotated to each of the four activities.
On the last day, after the joint time together, the children are given almost a two-hour time frame to choose how they want to use points that they have accumulated from their attendance and participation. There is face painting and food sales (250 bags of popcorn, 400 jello bags, 15 gallons of drinks, 210 popsicles) that went in less than the first hour. There were three big blow-up inflatables that are always “favorites” of the children. We rent these from the capital and our local children would seldom have a chance to use something like that. We also always have a store that carrying a selection of a few thousand items; including candy, stuffed animals, balls, cars, hair trinkets and other small items. The children love coming in to make their purchases.
The children were very receptive to the teachings that they received. Colorin (our clown) prayed with them daily and he said that all the children raised their hands to show their desire to have Jesus in their hearts. It is seed planted in the hearts of so many, both churched and unchurched, that we pray for continual growth and fruit to be manifested. The children enjoyed their time but the seeds that are planted in their hearts are what it is truly all about!
October 29, 2017 was a day that we had long been waiting for! It was the day that we dedicated the Camotan church!! It was a day of celebration! The process from the time that we had purchased the property until we had our Dedication Service was 6 ½ years! It took the work, sacrifice and labor of many people to bring us to this point; both people in Guatemala as well as many donors/churches/individuals from the US.
Our main service was held in the morning at 9am, with about 300 in attendance. There was representation from all of the 9 Servant Ministries churches. A team from Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina was present. Some of the team members had been involved with almost every phase of the construction over the past 4-5 years. The team finished up some last-minute details inside the church and built a roof covering outside that will serve as a place for the youth to have their Sunday morning classes. There was a flag ceremony, marching in with flags from Guatemala, United States, the Christian flag, a Servant Ministries flag and one from Israel. There was a special praise and worship band from El Progreso (where Pastor Marcos is originally from). Pastor Hardy, from Lighthouse World Outreach Center from Monroe, GA gave the message. We gave a breakdown of the progress of the church construction, with each phase, and showing pictures of the entire process. It was a time of true celebration, for God’s faithfulness, to bring us to this point. The service lasted 3 ½ hours😊!
We ate our lunch at the church and then had a short break before we began a special activity for the children. A professional clown came to share with the kids and cake and refreshment was served to 280 people (including the adults). The children had 2 piñatas to break open and all received a bag of candy.
After another short break and having dinner, we had an evening concert with a Christian band from Chiquimula. We had about 80 in attendance for that. They did a great job!
It was a long day but a very happy one! The church is almost 100% done inside but still has to be plastered on three of the outside walls and painted. We will put together some numbers and let you know what is lacking to complete the building, but we will be holding all church services at the new building now. Thank you for all of your prayers, support and participation to make this long- term dream become a reality for the Camotan congregation!
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.