See, we are flying standby and there are 2 windows where the flights look good. If we take the earlier one, we miss out on a week of school and we just really don't want to do that. If we take the second window and miss it, we stay here for Christmas and there's no reason to do that. So, we are shooting for the earlier date and are planning out that week to study Spanish in the states. We're getting 'homework' from our teachers and committing to speak to each other in Spanish and, well, learn more. But we find it funny how much we want to stay. Sure we want to see our family. We miss them and you and everyone else with a dull ache that, honestly, doesn't seem to go away. But God has brought us here and here we are. So here is home.
If you get the time, read Psalm 107 . Verses 8-9 go like this:
8Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
9For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
Isn't God amazing? "He has satisfied the thirsty soul". WOW. How awesome! Praise Him. I mean, He's just good.
So, a week from Monday, Lord willing, we leave home and visit the US. It's weired to say that.
Oh, and by the way, to those who read our blogs...thank you. Your encouragement is deeply appreciated.
We love Guatemala. But it ain't perfect. There are things we like a lot and things we don't like so much. There are things we love and, well, things that make us want to cuss.
This morning we wanted to cuss.
5:15 - Deacon wakes up. This is normal. If he wakes up then, Jenny nurses him and he usually sleeps until 7:00 or so. Or he wakes up at 6:30 and is up for the day. No biggie.
5:20 - Jenny returns to bed and Deacon is screaming pretty good. We give it a few minutes.
5:22 - I go get Deacon, make sure he's not dirty, cuddle and sing to him and lay him down.
5:25 - I get back in bed.
5:27 - Deacon is now quiet. Yeah. We start to doze off and warm up. No heat here.
5:29 - We hear a loud pop.
Pause for explanation:
We hear lots of noises. We're in a city. We hears trucks rumbling and pigeons on the roof. Cats run all over the tin roof (that musical has more meaning now) and make a lot of racket. Oh, and in Xela, its tradition to set off fireworks on someones birthday, typically at 8:00am and 8:00 pm.
5:29 - We hear what sounds like an artillery barrage or a volley from WWII gunships thunder through the pre-dawn air...must have been 40 or 50 booms, not pops mind you, booms. They don't mess around.
5:29:30 - Deacon is up again. Jenny goes this time to settle him down.
5:30 - More booms.
5:33 - Jenny back in bed. Deacon is asleep.
5:34 - Happy birthday Guatemalan person! Deacon is crying again.
5:45 - Jenny is back in bed. We're both pretty angry. I think, given the opportunity, I would have literally beat up whoever set those off. Seriously.
6:00 - my alarm goes off.
Ah, and I just heard more booms. Deacon is napping. Sigh. Oh, wait...still is. Bueno.
Today is a day for giving thanks. It’s also a day where our family is spread quite thin. We eat today in 5 different houses, in 2 different states and 3 different countries. We wanted you all to know that we love you, that although we are separated by geography, we nonetheless give thanks for what could in no other way be described as the most amazing family God could have given us on planet earth.
Today we will eat a $55 turkey with three other Americans, a good handful of Guatemalans and a Dutch girl. But we will be thinking of you. We know that God is good and He has demonstrated Himself to us in such a way that we could never deny who He is. And yet we would be flippant if we said that our joy and thanks were not today mixed with a pinch or even maybe a dash of sadness. You are and always will be our family and today, more than most days, we miss you.
We give thanks to the Lord for each one of you and how marvelous God is in you. Oh, that you could all see yourselves as He does and, by His grace, as we do too. We embrace the tension of thanking God and longing for another time where distance and time will no longer matter. Where the table never gets too crowded and the rolls never burn and the pecan pie is even better (if that’s even really possible). There is a table set for us in heaven where the Lamb gives thanks to the Father and the Spirit shines glory back to the Son and we share in all of it together.
But today, we miss you and missing you just makes us love you all the more.
A psalm, for giving thanks
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
I have some tummy critter but I finally started antibiotics and that seems to help. Thank you for all you who pray for our health. Just because I've got a few problems in the plumbing doesn't mean God's answering no. Jenny and Deacon are great. Its just life in Guatemala.
I tell you what. Life is good. I don't mean its easy or happy, although there are moments of that. What i mean is that God is good and He gives me life. So whatever life He gives, it's good. I think I want that on my tombstone, "God is good." Wouldn't that be interesting? Anyway, today we stop speaking English except at night. Not easy. But we ain't gonna learn Spanish speaking English all day!
Oh, we bought a turkey yesterday. Butterball. How funny is that? And turkey here is almost as much as steak. No T-day in Guatemala.
This is our bedroom and bathroom there through the door. No window in there but we have a skylight (meaning a hole in the ceiling where light comes through the corrugated fiberglass).
This is our kitchen. The fridge used to electrocute us but its fixed now. Those blue bottles are purified water. Don't drink from the tap! Oh, and that green thing on the table is our cooking range. The window looks out to the laundry. No oven, except the microwave oven. Jenny bought the great looking place mats.
This is Deacon's room, obviously attached to the kitchen. We are going to put up some sort of divider, but it works. That window looks out into the 'living room'
This is looking out of the kitchen through the living room. If you go right, you go to our bedroom. That's Marissa (the Coreano's daughter) on the left and Deacon crouched to pounce and the boy in the window, his parents' run the guesthouse. That's carpet!
So sorry it has been so long since the last post. Apparently my blog was down but Jenny's was working. So I switched to blogger beta (I felt a little pressured there) and maybe things will be ok now.
We are in our apartment! I'll post some pictures soon. This is an amazing country. beautiful, beautiful, and just wonderful. We have just about unpacked all our things and found a place for them. Oh, and if you touch the fridge without shoes on, you get shocked. Pretty badly. We're working on that.
So we have been in Guatemala now for over 2 weeks. We just got to the guest house in Xela (where we will be living) on Monday and moved in tuesday night. We have internet access here (wireless - so strange) but that only works when the power is on. Which has been for only about 3 hours during the day.
Ok. Here's a few much needed looks at our new home country:
A few Mayan girls near a waterfall...which you can't see.
This is Lago de Atitlan, a caldera lake. The team stayed there for a night. Yes, that's a volcano :-) They make Deacon roar.
This is Comitancillo, where we stayed for 3 nights. The Casa is there and many of the sister churches are near there.
Jenny took this from the truck. Imagine a whole valley like this. Beautiful.
Ok. Just wanted to give you all a look at our new home. We love you all and hopefully will be able to blog with more regularity now. We start language school next week! Pray for us. We are not too scared, but we are excited too. It's raining and cold here now. Oh, man, rain sounds great under a tin roof. Wow. More tomorrow.
It will be Deacon's first trip like that and we hope all goes well!
It's only about a 25 min drive from where we are. We're very excited to get out and meet with the folks we came here to serve. VERY excited. Please pray Deacon naps!
Oh, and for those who are praying for our health, God is answering with a resounding "YES". We're doing great. Please keep praying. Hopefully some pictures later of our little jaunt out.
Oh, on another note, it's strange to watch the election results from another country. I'm not near as upset about the Democrats victory. Speaker Pelosi. At least the ads are over for you folks.
It seems contrite to say that we have experienced a lot of contrast but it's true. We have experienced it culturally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. We have gone from Guatemala City where the sports bar in the Marriott has 70 inch plasma screens and menus in English to the guest house in Comitancillo where the Mayan language Mam is clicked softly deep within the throat and there are no menus or plasma screens.
We have been ecstatic and distraught all in the same moment. We know nothing of the culture or language. Spanish looms over us like an iceberg - unavoidable, immovable; while Mam thunders in the distance. How will we learn a language that has only been written for 20 years?
We left the western comfort of Guatemala City where the TV in the hotel played Gilmore Girls in English and my credit card could buy me anything to drive in a 4x4 through the almost heavenly beauty of the western mountains where tiny, beautiful, red-brown children ran and waved. As we ascended the mountains our hearts soared at the opportunity before us: teaching grace and hope to a people who will teach us far more than we could imagine.
I have never experienced God's mercy so deeply as this past week. We have prayed for Deacon to sleep and he does. Prayed for safety and been kept safe. God has gone before us and with us and beneath us and above us and yet He has not made it easy. Easy is overrated. Hardship over glamorized. We have in this one week done nothing more than obey our Father and be sustained in our obedience.
Last night I was discouraged and tired and just plain old emotional. It was annoying. I haven't even been through that much. But God knows how much each man can take and He has given me enough. I turned to the Psalms and began to read the 92nd. I can't even remember what was in it, but as I read aloud and alone I wept as the Lord, my Father, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Counselor ministered to my soul. He whispered something to me as I read His Word and he healed me, filled me and reminded me Who He Is. There were no trumpets or lights, no earthquakes or parted seas. Just the Father, the Son and the Spirit working in the deepest part of a man in the quiet whisper of heaven.
And that was enough. And always will be enough. Forever.
And that's week one.
I'd never driven a diesel, much less in Guatemala, but no one got hurt and a veteran missionary was there to give me pointers (which I needed a lot of).
Jenny and Deacon were in another vehicle because the one I was in didn't have seat belts in the back. The both got car sick and threw up and that was really, really hard for just about everyone, especially Jenny. Deacon had one bout and was happy after. Jenny was sick for 4 hours until we finally stopped in Xela at a guest house and she was able to rest for a minute. It's really hard to do your 'job' when you can't take very good care of your wife and baby. not fun.
But everyone is ok and tomorrow we go into the mountains again. This time with Dramamine.
Thank you to all you folks who encourage us. We, like everyone, never get enough. Just FYI, though, we're not perfect and this is a really difficult time. The Lord is holding us up, though, and that's about all we can ask for.
Oh, by the way, read Psalms 90 and 91. Teach me, O Lord, to number my days and remember Who protects us all the days here on earth.
We're here in Guatemala. God is really good and yet our time has been...weird.
We had a hard time with our bags leaving DFW but by God's grace and the INCREDIBLE kindness and generosity of the Farney's, Tolemans and Shoemakers, we have our bags. Thank you.
We landed in Guatemala with enough luggage to stage a coup. The Coreano's picked us up and have been the only reason we're fed and have a place to sleep. Seriously. We ate at Chili's the first night. No kidding. I had the Monterrey Chicken. Weird, huh?
We have cell phones now and I'll put those on our website soon. We've been really busy trying to get things done. Some things (like the phones) have gone unbelievably well. Other things, like getting stuff done at the Embassy, have been hours spent doing nothing. Welcome to Guatemala!
Tomorrow we pick up a team of folks to take to their Sister Church in the mountains. We will drive a lot tomorrow. I will actually drive a pickup truck from Guatemala City to Xela ("Shayla") then to a town called Comitancillo (Comi). Jenny and Deacon and I will stay in a guest house while the team goes to visit their sister church. I don't know Spanish or Mam or the culture or anything and being away from Jenny for a few days right now is not the best idea. Pray that God guides me as I drive. It will be an adventure.
We should be back in Xela next Monday where we will settle in to our new apartment in a guest house near the language school.
We're doing ok. I tell people that we're hanging in there and that's about it. We're tired even though we're sleeping pretty good. This whole deal is pretty stressful I reckon. I can tell you that the e-mails we have received have lifted our hearts. We have felt your prayers. I cannot explain it, but it is very real. God is very much with us and He is so very good at lavishing His mercy on us. Please pray for us, however. Our adventure has only begun.
To those who read this blog, we love you. Thank you for loving us and praying for us. God's goodness is most clearly seen in retrospect. Praise Him as we look back and forward to all He has in Guatemala.