Once You Plant Green Spaces…

Can you imagine! Less than 2 years ago, when the little church out in La Lidia was holding 3 services/week, it was averaging 6 people. Six! Less than a month ago, they peaked at one service at 100 people. D70_5480-2 Every Sunday, a children’s program has 100-150 kids come. For many, this is their only nutritional meal of the week. More kids would come if there was available transportation!  A Bible study has been started for those parents that just used to wait around and hope they got fed too.  Now, 4 or 5 people from this community travel into Guizaros (in San Jose) to help provide leadership as the ministry there undergoes a restart. The daily feeding program is growing as well as the women’s ministry. In fact, the comedor in Guizaros has needed to hire a part time cleaner to ensure that the general cleanliess including food prep areas are promoting good health. As Linda and I have come along our leadership team members with training and direction in both communities, this has allowed our leaders to follow what God has laid on their hearts to do. This means transformationally changing the community. Through their actions of faith, their personal relationships and vision, God is working.

D70_5445-2Along with with people growth, infrastructure has to grow too. In La Lidia, a team from University Drive Alliance from Lethbridge, Alberta, built a structure where the activities in La Lidia could still happen and not depend on dry weather (difficult in this area).  One of the community transformers has had his house rebuilt by members and donations from the community. Any strong wind would have blown it over! The church has a new roof replacing one that was rotting and full of holes. In Guizaros, some landscaping has been done to assist with water drainage and a wall has been started in the classroom building  to establish a permanent room to teach sewing. New bathrooms have been added. And most noticeable, a little sod

Hisilicon K3

was laid and flowers have been planted. Most of the kids thought the grass was artificial as one day there was nothing, the next there was green grass!

I read on FB comment on day that said, once you plant green spaces, you are planting for the future. And that is what is happening.

Floods, Greenhouses and 550 Bolsitos

At the bottom of this Canyon is the C&MA National Women’s Ministry 2014 project. It will be a medical clinic and women’s shelter serving the Tarahumara people. This is where 50% of children do not reach the age of 10 due to medical and nutritional issues. This is where almost 100% of girls are abused in one form or another by the men in their life (fathers, brothers, neighbors). This is where a woman gives birth by clutching a tree limb and pushing. Recently, we partnered with eMi Latin America to design a culturally-relevant building to address these needs. Your giving to the Tarahumara Project will partner your attitude of serving with this project.Flooding..15 minutes earlier, this road was passable. We were traveling through northern Mexico to the CopperCanyon and the road to Rio Chico, our bed for the night, was flooded. After waiting an hour for the water to recede, we put our truck in 4×4 and went for it. Thankfully, the truck had a higher clearance and so we had a bed for the night, not a truck seat.

Flooding seems to be a theme lately.

In this last month, a trip to Calgary and High River was part of the 25k kilometres of travel I did. The Western Canadian District invited me up to come alongside the High River Alliance Church leadership. It was a privilege to spend time with Pastor Chris and Owen and share their journey with them. What a path of frustration and grieving the people of High River walking. Many are working towards a semblance of normality as they are able to get back into their house but for many, this is an ongoing struggle. Psalms 29 says “The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And all in his temple all cry “Glory”. The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to this people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Did you know that for every 2 stacked tires, 5 kilos of potatoes can be harvested! Not only does this work in small growing spaces, it is used towards recycling. This is only one of many “green” approaches to agriculture that Gerson, our agricultural cooperative leader is learning about. Recently, our two communities of ministry, La Lidia and Guizaros, went through a tough time of putting food on the table for the children’s feeding programs. As a result, our prayers have been answered as our leaders are now thinking “sustainably” in their problem-solving. This has evolved into a project of building a greenhouse for each community that will work towards nutrition and the food supply situation. Each greenhouse will also provide life skills training. This cooperative will establish strong community ties and involve the sharing of God’s blessings and Biblical truths in every-day activities. One lady from Edmonton came with family and friends to Costa Rica for a wedding and used this opportunity to encourage the group to give towards supplying seed and greenhouse construction supplies. This turned out to be a substantial amount. What a blessing knowing we can move forward with this project!

Later on this fall, every Alliance church in Canada will receive a packet of information in a red, white and blue cloth bag (bolsito). I don’t know what information will be sent but I do know it will be sent in a bag with the colors of the Costa Rican flag and made by the ladies in our sewing cooperative in Guizaros. 550 bags…Can you imagine? It’s exciting knowing the ladies are gaining new skills and receiving financial renumeration for their work that will help put food on their tables and clothes on their families. These ladies are part of a women’s Bible Study that through the efforts of a Canadian Alliance church, we bought sewing machines and started a cooperative that joins these ladies together in many ways. It is a light in their community.

For those who are giving to GAF, the national C&MA fund that supports the living expenses of international workers… Thank you.

 

 

Transitions can be So Difficult

photo Lorraine Hjalte
photo Lorraine Hjalte

I have been reading every update I can on the disaster situation (from floods) in southern Alberta but more specifically in our town of High River. The whole town has been evacuated and thousands have been displaced creating refugees. It has affected my parents, my sister and her family and many, many friends. As an ex-firefighter for the community, I just want to return and help. This situation is so much bigger than the “big” floods that have occurred in the past. It is amazing the different ways that people are responding. Many are looking outside themselves and looking to help and assure the person in need. Others just don’t have the coping abilities to understand what to do next. While others are forming to bring a court ruling to allow them back into the middle of a fluid disaster zone. Talk about a sense of entitlement!

Slave Lake
Slave Lake

There are so many parallels with the Slave Lake fire situation where Linda and I were able to respond and be in the thick of things. Being there when town was opened up for  people to return and seeing the desperation and frailty on the faces. Being a listening ear because people needed to talk their most innermost feeling out. Hauling fridges and freezers filled with rotted food that created an unbelievable stench. People trying to find out what insurance covered and what it didn’t. There were so many affected, who lost houses and belongings; and yet they were the ones to turn and help the next person in their time of need. So many people deeply affected and hurt.  In our work of community development where this type of crisis lives itself out every day, we have learned that no matter how rich you are or how poor you are, a disaster of this type in High River puts everyone on the same footing. How a person chooses how they will respond respond to a crisis directly reflects on their character and values. Life is a daily race. How you compete and finish this race of life is vitally important. Don’t let the daily distractions (ie. on “things” you have lost) affect how you compete. I want to leave you with an excerpt of a blog of a friend of mine.

photo Lorraine Hjalte
photo Lorraine Hjalte

At the finish line on this dramatic day were the announcers and many, many people. Some friends, some family, but mostly people from the city gathered to cheer the athletes on and home. This made me think of Hebrews 12:1 and the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Jesus himself said: “I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:20, NCV) and Zephaniah 3:17: “He will take great delight in you; in his love… will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV). What a song! Can you hear it?

10 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1; ESV)

Encouragement from the Scriptures:

29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31; ESV)

Think about the encouragement given to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11: “Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown” (The Message).

Not only were they encouraged to keep a tight grip, but also not to be distracted. Why? I do not think they were meant to just keep a tight grip or hold of things for the sake of keeping a tight grip on things. I do not think they were instructed to remain in the same place or position but rather, as they are encouraged, not to become distracted. They were encouraged to press on or continue growing and going about their purpose.

Trust me, I know, there are times in our lives when all we can do or feel we can do is hold on and not even sure how tightly at that!

There are things that happen in our lives that can cause us to stumble, perhaps lead us into thinking about giving up, but at these times, possibly more than ever, we need to endure and “press on toward the prize” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). When we feel there is absolutely no strength left in us, we must look to Jesus and draw on His strength to sustain us. He is able to keep us from tripping, stumbling or falling (Jude 1:24)… but if we do fall, may we have the strength, courage and obedience to get back up again and start afresh: “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16; NLT).

Friends I want to encourage you, no matter what and I mean no matter what has happened in your life, perhaps happening in your life right now or anything that might happen in the future. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2; NASB) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). May our desire increase, our preparation be more specific and focused and may the fruit of our discipline and obedience equip and empower us to endure until the very end! Let us not give up but live the abundant life Christ has in store for us!

Cecilia’s Story

SK_89Cecilia is an amazing woman. She is a Tica (Costa Rican) who lives in a very poor community in San Jose, CR where many Nicaraguan immigrants have settled. There is a pattern of among men of adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse and family neglect. When they can find work, most of the salary is spent on what the men desire, while the needs of the family are secondary. As is common in many third world countries, the wives, often with no work skills, are left alone with the children and have to make do.

Both angered and frustrated by the pattern she saw, Cecilia began feeding the neighborhood kids out of her own kitchen with whatever beans and rice she could scrape up.  The Lord’s hand has been upon her ministry in some crazy ways.  People who heard about what she was doing would stop by and donate food.  A woman decided to buy a piece of property in the community and give it to Cecilia to build a new community center.  More recently, a radio show decided to have a radio-thon to raise funds for Cecilia.  Some money was raised and Cecilia and her husband were able to salvage some materials for a basic shelter that has served as the community center for the past few years.
Recently, more and more kids have come to have lunch at the center.  Out of the lunches, a vacation bible school program has developed to teach the kids about Jesus.  The women of the community also gather weekly for a women’s bible study.  From the women’s study, a sewing coop started as a means for the women to earn an income apart from their husbands. The sewing coop has now grown from one day/week to 2-3 days/week.  For many, it is a safe place in a dangerous community. Cecilia and her leadership team want to reach out into the community in even bigger ways using the “community center” as the central point.
_6However, the shelter that currently functions as the community center is in desperate need of improvement.  It was literally constructed out of found materials, branches, and bamboo.  Since no kitchen is available, all the cooking is done at Cecilia’s daughter’s house two doors down and carted to the center.  They run an electrical cord from her daughter’s house to the center for power.  The site drops off steeply to the river below right above where the kids play football, run, and play.  For a while now, they have been in real need of a new building.
Recently, eMi (Engineering Ministry International) provided a design team (for free) fromPlan View_Diagram the US and completed a simple design for a new community center made out of prefabricated panels that would be very affordable to construct.  In addition, a new site design was completed that added retaining walls, play areas, and a small futbol field.  The necessary building permits have been given and the actual building process of the main room (salon) is to start. Actual cost of building the ‘Salón Communal’ is less than $10,000. That funding has been given. Further funding is required to complete the bathrooms (Baños – beside the aulas or classrooms), 3 small classrooms, a small community soccer field (at the bottom) and to complete basic property security. All of this provides greater opportunities to transform the surrounding communities for Jesus.
This is an amazing story of hope out of darkness.  One couldn’t imagine that such a tiny lady as Cecilia would be capable of bringing about such profound changes in the community.  Yet Cecilia doesn’t talk to anyone about anything without talking about Jesus.  Her deep love for the Father is what compels her in all that she does.  Currently her daughter, Carmen, is taking over the ministry in this community and Cecilia has moved to La Lidia, an even poorer community about 3 hours east where she has started a similar community ministry.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you would like to help out financially with the completion of this community center in Guizaros, you can donate your giving to either 1. any Christian & Missionary church and mark your cheque SunCompassion – Costa Rica or 2. go on-line at this page, fill out the page and choose Costa Rica.

We are Live!

This is the first official blog on our new site. You may ask of all the names out there to choose from, why livepassion.ca? Because we want to live our passion, what God has instilled in us because of the personal relationship we have in Him through Jesus. Because we want to live our passion, that God has prepared for us, everyday. Have you ever wondered why God has you in this or that job, living through this or that circumstance, and experiencing life in this or that way? I remember over the last 25 years, as I worked in a seemingly non-linear pathway, I asked myself those questions often. I am continuing to learn that I need to live my passion, and trusting in God that He is directing my steps. Now I can look back and say… AHA! that is why I experienced this or that. Daily, it allows me to live my passion deeper and fuller. I just wonder what will tomorrow be like!

The pictures on the website header are of a few of the people that cross our path in the various countries we have been in. We get to learn passion from people like them.

A brief update of what is happening with us. The project of building a women’s shelter/medical clinic in the Copper Canyon of northern Mexico is advancing. This project was chosen by the National Women’s ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance for its 2013/14 fund raising project. I was with the video team recently deep in the Canyon as the video was put together to share the story to the churches in Canada. An engineering ministry (eMi) is donating an architect and design team to design the building. This will occur this August.

In Costa Rica, in the barrio of Guizaros, we work with Cecilia and her family. We are able to move ahead with plans to revamp their community ministry centre and how they use their land. Again, eMi donated a architect and a earth engineer to make a plan. We hope to start building the first phase in May of this year with money that has been donated.

As many of you know, we had the privilege of teaming up with some donors from Canada to get 50+ kids into elementary school that otherwise would not be able to attend. We were able purchase uniforms, shoes and school supplies. This resulted in a problem, but a good problem. There were not enough text books for all the students so we were able to help supply these books for 20 kids.

Linda continues to send out weekly prayer needs and she is grateful for those who have chosen to join the team in this way. It is gratifying to see the prayer requests go both ways and be part of seeing God respond. If you would like to be part of this let us know. It’s not hard, you talk everyday. Now you’re just adding God to the equation and watching Him work.

What do you think of the website? Let us know. Add a comment with your thoughts to the “What is J & C?”

We Have Proof…

We have proof…that God is at work! Our last two days of work needs it’s own blog to describe how we have seen God at work, literally!
We left for the Limón prison to be with a team from the Alliance “jungle” church for their weekly visit to a men’s high-security jail. They expected to have 2 baptisms. When we got there, 6 men wanted to be baptized. Here is Linda’s description of what happened. (Sorry, no pictures as I couldn’t take my camera in).
What made me come alive yesterday was walking into the Limon Prison & stepping into what could’ve been the New Testament! What an experience to witness a Christ-movement. Wow!
We were invited by our Alliance Sarapaqui Pastors to attend a baptism of 2 men from their prison ministry & God began moving in their hearts before we even came. Two men were to give their testimony & be baptized but God had other plans. Yesterday not only 2 were dunked in a  40 gallon barrel but 20!
My mind was thinkin’ “this must be what happened when Christ would come into a town, preach & started baptizing”. Well, the same movement happened yesterday with Pastor Rodrigo preaching & inviting men to radically change their lives, & proclaim that they are Christ’s. What started out as 2 became 6, & as the men heard the Pastor & Curtis praying for them, saw these prisoners make a proclamation of faith, it had men passing the small bucket outside to get more water so that MORE men could be baptized as well.
I had so many thoughts racing through my mind & heart this afternoon. Yesterday I experienced what salvation, in a very dark place, looked like. I saw GRACE in action, I saw tenderness on hardened men as they sang or stood in adoration after the ceremony, I could almost hear the angels rejoicing over not just 2 but 20! Tears flowed down my face as I thought of what Christ would do for one lost sheep but He brought 20 home!!
This was a day that my heart resonated loudly & saw the power of the Spirit move in these men’s hearts. I didn’t understand all that was said (it was all in Spanish) but I could see the impact of the presence among these men today.
My last farewell to these men as we left the prison was seeing them clasped together in cuffs to be taken back to the barracks. What were freed men in Christ today are still chained men to their consequence of their sin.

The next day, we visited Cecilia and her family. If you have been following our adventures, you know who she is. If you don’t, you need to look at past blogs. She moved to a community called La Lidia. 
La Lidia is a community far from nowhere. We drove a really bad road to get there, past fields of yuca, pineapple and banana. If you can find work, you find it as a laborer in one of these fields. It’s common to get up at 3am, cycle to work by 4am and work till 4pm. Lunch is very short as you would rather keep moving in the heat that just sitting there. All for $10/day. Houses are made of plastic over a wooden branch frame or if you have the skills to make a house from tree, you make a makeshift building. 
Cecilia knows that these people need Christ. She has become a mother to many. Yesterday for the weekly kid’s program, there were 70 kids. She told me she gets as many as 130. It’s a day filled with music, games and Sunday School. (Then there is the women’s ministry…another time)
Many come everyday just to hang out and get food. I do not know how she does this as the family makes about $400/month. The kids are loved and and taught Biblical values and morals. I had a blast. For hours, I played foose ball on this old table that we would normally use for firewood! The kids kept repeating my name so they could get the pronunciation correct. Living conditions are so poor. A 13 year old girl has basically lived on green plantains (cooking bananas) for the last 6 months. I talked with two boys who have absolutely nothing, even food and they rely on Cecilia and her family. Most of these kids cannot read. Those that can afford to go to school (about $150/yr), still can’t read and they certainly don’t get the 3 “R’s”. Most of the kids are barefoot. At the mininum, 70 pairs of shoes are needed for the kids that are at the local school.
Cecilia, her husband Marcos, and their son and wife, Gerson and Rocio, have the biggest hearts. Wow! They hope to add 6 computers + English + more reading + more math…. to their program to give the kids a future and hope.  Please pray for them as they will be hosting 4 different Christmas parties for about 650 kids this month. She says “God will provide” and He does. 
Can you help? You are part of the answer! If you can help financially, support for food or schooling or shoes or a Christmas fiesta, email me at suncompassionla@gmail.com and we can work together to help out.

Guatemala to Columbia

Linda and Cecilia with the police

It’s been a busy fall and God has been very faithful (no surprise there). We took Cecilia (from Costa Rica) up to El Salvador to meet with other like-minded leaders who work very hard in their communities with their own ministries. She fit right in and it was great for her to know that she is part of a larger network of Christ-followers who want to change their own community for the better.  One of the six police officers guarding us during the meetings was baptized! Nicaragua was a great time meeting with C&MA pastors from all over Central America. This meeting was extra-special as 5 Alliance churches from Peru partnered with 5 churches in Central America to help with leadership development and training of pastors. It is so encouraging to see strong national churches coming along side their weaker brothers.

Bird feathers from a Mayan witch doctor stuck to the cross

In Guatemala, I joined a mission team from Stony Plain Alliance for 5 days up in TacTic. This was a great time for me getting to know some of the people from Stony Plain. I got to see missions through their eyes and it made me see things in a brand new way. I also got to see this ministry that several Alliance churches support. I spent time with the leadership and made an evaluation for future possibilities. This area had a weird mix of Catholicism and Mayan god worship.  Afterwards I took a bus in Guatemala City where I spent time with Pastor Merari of Iglesia Galilea. I also sat in a workshop for pastors that presented some ministry perspectives from the book When Helping Hurts. I really enjoyed sitting down with Merari and dreaming of future opportunities. We talked about some leadership development of pastors in the area of community development and how we could come along side the community initiatives they have started.

The barrio I visited filled with the poor and disenfranchised.

Columbia was another 9 day trip. The first 5 days was South American C&MA Leaders/Mission conference. After talking with many pastors from Columbia, I was convinced that Columbia’s need for church training in initiatives of community development is vital. This was strengthened when I spent the next 4 days in Bogotá with the jefe of one of the largest community and development banks in the country. It grew out of the need in Alliance churches and now serves1300 people in small business loans and small business training. I visited a couple of the projects up in a barrio overlooking the city. It was the highlight of my trip as I met another “person of peace”. Someone who has a love of Christ for their community and is doing unbelievable things with being the “hands and feet of Jesus” to the poor. And through this, the Gospel is being shared. Her name is Lucy and she has the same heart as Cecilia. Wow!

Have you ever heard of the Leadership Matter Course? Hands down, it is THE best leadership development course I have been part of and its coming to Canada (Alberta) in the spring of 2014. It is filled with extremely practical and hands on learning that cements your leadership abilities into practice. Linda and I spent 12 straight days with 25 other learners here in CR. The trainers come from all over the world. An Amazing time.

Visited a maternity ward where 2 babies less than 2 hours old
were abandoned

December is fast approaching and for most, that means busyness too. We will be part of sharing Christmas with needy children from several communities. Jordan is able to come for a month and he will be a big part of this. Pray for these opportunities to share Christ with the kids and their parents. This weekend, we will be going to a baptism of a couple jail inmates. Very exciting to see them choose to express their relationship in Jesus this way. Also pray as we continue to work with the pastors from Sarapiqui in the use of resources and how to add a component of sustainability to their community outreach. Briana and her boy (Paul) will be coming down Boxing day so we will have the whole family together. We welcome Brem and Donna Frentz as the new VP of Global ministry (our bosses). Thank you for your continued support. We rely on you for partnering with us prayerfully and financially. If any of you want Linda’s weekly prayer letter, drop her a line at L7doell@gmail.com.
PS There will be a new website coming out where we will have a blog. Coming soon!

Plans CAN Change!

Food store just across the central valley from us

My plan was to write an update this morning but my lead-in has now changed. A 7.6 earthquake happened about 1 hour ago about 120 km. west of us and at a depth of 20km (very shallow). I have heard reports of cars bouncing (on their tires), buildings creaking and groaning and trees down. Communication lines are down due to the excessive use of the phone lines so there are no reports from Sámara (western Costa Rica) where the epicentre was. Pray for the people in the area. I was driving down our valley at the time and did not feel it though I saw many people out on the street. One person motioned for me to slow down and I was trying to figure out why. Now I know. Linda heard the whoosh of the sound that a earthquake makes as it came down our valley. She said the ground was rolling for about 30 seconds. I am waiting to hear from some partner organizations about the need for a direct response.

Cecilia

There is always an adventure. We have several more on the immediate horizon. One of our corner stones in our community development philosophy is called CHE (Community Health Evangelism). Our focus over the next year is with the continued development of a leadership network. Linda and I leave for a regional meeting of CHE leaders in El Salavador on Friday for 5 days. We are taking Cecilia, a local who has tremendous potential with us to introduce her to like-minded people. It will be her first time in a plane. You may have remembered me talking about her previously. She has a huge love for God and a huge desire to impact communities around her through feeding programs/VBS programs for kids and starting women groups that study the Bible. Pray for Linda and I as this is totally in Spanish with no opportunity for English. I have been asked for a 20 min presentation. Wow! Pray for a deepening relationship and future ministry focus with Cecilia.

We are back a few days and then I am off to Nicaragua for the annual Alliance pastor’s retreat for Central America. Linda is staying home to man the fort. We are traveling by bus up to Managua. Another adventure but I am looking forward to spending some time with the guys and getting to know them better. There are 22  of us. Thankfully it’s not a “chicken” bus.

Playing with the kids in Guatemala

Days later, the adventure continues as I travel to Guatemala. Linda will be staying behind to be a “Mom” for the Derksen girls as the parent are in another country.  There are several Canadian Alliance churches who have partnered with Impact Ministries in Tactic, Guatemala. Impact focuses on working with the Mayan population and having an impact on the poor and uneducated. I will join Stony Plain Alliance for several days before taking a bus down to Guatemala City to meet with local Alliance pastors that I am praying that doors will open where we can partner with them and empower them in some of their local community development initiatives.

Columbia is next as I travel to meet with Latino Alliance leaders for several days. Afterwards, I have been invited to travel north of Bogota through the mountains to visit churches where the national Alliance church has been part of an organization that provides micro-loans to the poor. I am looking forward to learning from their experience and seeing how God has used this valuable community development tool in so many ways.

Drug Rehab homes for a 1 year stay

Thank you for your continued support through prayer and giving.  If you want to be part of Linda’s prayer letter, contact her at L7doell@gmail.com. There is always a need for financial help. One Alliance church donated a sum that is directed to helping a local CR church with their community development focus in working with a drug rehab program. We have many ways that you can help. Ask!

Guatemala, Mexico and More

Things are frantic around here as we plan and pack for 1 month of traveling. We have to pack for the heat and humidity of Mexico and the rain, dryness, heat, snow, cold and mosquitos of Canada. We have regional meetings in Mexico (that’s where the biggest group of International Worker’s live) and then we travel up to Canada for General Assembly in Winnipeg but more about that later.

Last I wrote, we hade two trips ahead. One to Guatemala and a return trip to the Tarahumara of Mexico. First, I had gone to Guatemala to join in a week-long YWAM-sponsored course on micro-loans focusing on the poor of Latin-America. This course was arranged by a local Alliance church, Iglesia Galilea. They have a focused community development program with schools, smokeless stoves and building new housing structures. We were shown a Mayan village where they have a strong ministry focus. This village gets shut off every raining season because there are 4 rivers to cross to get there. I had a great time playing with the kids at the local school. A special part of this course was that many from the community and local government attended so they could in-turn help their community. And they all were presented with a clear message of the Gospel and the Biblical theology of why you help others in need!  It was all in Spanish so I lasted pretty well through the first 3 days before my brain just didn’t want to work anymore. The course was informative and I was able to take away many highlights.  I had several outside meetings with other ministries that could lead into strong partnerships. I love how God brings these people into my path. It happens over and over. We also spent some time in Antigua. It’s a beautiful place to see.

On our return trip to the Copper Canyon, Linda and I brought in another $18,000 that many of you gave to the Global Emergency Relief Fund of the C&MA. Based on our last trip, this will buy about 14 tons of food that will be distributed to about 1700-1800 people. We did not have an Alliance Men’s work team to help us so I was wondering how we would be able to separate the 100lbs sack of food into 1 kg bags without a big group. When we were in Guacayvo, the kids came through and I think we were ready to distribute earlier than when the adults had helped :).  After providing a hot meal and Pastor Tomás giving the Gospel to the group, we gave out food to about 225 families. This was less than last time as it was reported to us that many were sick and could not make the hike. We went to the second village, the same area as last time, but we went a bit further in to a more central meeting point. At one point in the traveling, we crossed over a dirt airstrip and we were told this was a drug cartel airstrip. Here we fed about 180 families. This was also less than less time but many of the males had been literally taken by the military to “volunteer” to fight forest fires. For both villages, we were joined by a Dr from Virginia who was on his 18th volunteer trip in to run medical clinics. We also  were with 2 contractors who were doing an evaluation of water systems and buildings and drew up plans for a possible improvement project.  Again what a blessing to be part of this humanitarian aid. Pray as we plan for the next step. I am looking to take an agriculturist specialist and a Geologist/Water specialist as we look at finding a local spot to drill a well and provide much-needed water and build into the ability to expand their agriculture ability.

We will be in Winnipeg for a week for General Assembly C&MA. I have the privilege of being a co-presenter along with two other members of the world-wide Justice & Compassion team. Linda and I have 3 other speaking engagements that you are welcome to come to. At High River Baptist Church on June 28 at 7pm. At High River Alliance Church on July 8 at 10am and at Brooks Alliance Church on July 15 at for the morning service. And we get to spend time with family and friends!!!!

Alliance church with house at back

I want to leave you with one story from Guatemala. This was back in the woods near the Mayan village we went to that gets cut off by 4 rivers. We were getting a tour by a local Alliance pastor through the community and saw the church which Linda said it looked like an outhouse; but it was a building donated from a local owner. At one point, I had asked the pastor about his family but he didn’t answer me. Later, our guide told us this story. This pastor and his family had been living outside of the community. Their young son, less than 10 years old, was found dead on the river bank outside of the community. He had been sexually abused and then killed. The community took an active role in helping and they found the man who had done this. It turned out that several kids had disappeared in this community and everyone had their suspicions who had done it but nothing had been done judicially. Remember, we are back away from any large towns. This is also a culture that went through many years of civil war and the scars run deep. This time, the man was taken to the police and he is now in jail. Here is the scary thing. If the evidence against this man disappears, the local police have no reason to keep this man jailed. The family of this man have made several threats against this Alliance pastor, his wife and 2 remaining kids. If this family is killed, (remember the recent civil war) then there is no evidence against this sexual predator. If the family is killed, he is released back into their community.  The family is the only evidence that this child was killed in such a way. So they have moved to live immediately behind this little church for safety. This pastor says he will not move away. God has him and his family there for a reason. Please pray for his safety and God’s ability to work through this dangerous situation.

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