For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord: I sing for joy at what your hands have done. Psalm 92:4
These past couple of months have been both the hardest and then the best since Chris and I moved to Guatemala. So much of what we have seen God do in us through these last several months has been about growing our faith, teaching us to persevere and showing us that no matter what we go through, He is enough! He continues to equip us and prepare us for the journey. It has been a true dying to our old selves in so many ways. I described it to a friend that I feel like I am mourning the death of the person I left back home. And for a couple weeks that’s exactly what I did.
I struggled with doubts and fears that this person could accomplish anything here. I was struggling to be good at anything. I could hardly even carry on a conversation. I was always around people talking but often felt so alone. And of course, Satan was going to put in his two cents. He knows exactly where and when to step in. The battle was not easy but I am so thankful for it! “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2. I look back on the path behind me and see parts of me that have been shed. Parts that I am glad are gone. I feel lighter, less burdened, less concerned about what I can do and surer of what God can do!
I wrote a poem during a quiet moment at school in the midst of this time about being in the valley and looking to the mountain top. I visualized the beauty all around from below! The valley is never easy but if in God’s strength we pick our heads up, the beauty of His creation is still breathtaking and we are reminded of His promises in the midst of the storm as we look to the mountain top. In the poem, I thanked the Lord for what I would leave behind as I climbed to the mountaintop and left the valley. I am thankful for the changes He is making in me. But mostly I am thankful for how during those times we come to know our Savior differently. As our refiner, restorer, our knight and shining armor who is fighting for us. He teaches us to trust Him and to love Him like we didn’t think we could and to be a little bit more like Him through the trial.
Today I pray that I walk more humbly, that I see less of me and more of Him and that I have more faith that He will complete what He has started! Our journey is not easy, your journey is not easy…nothing we do for the Lord is. The battles will come, but as James 1:4 tells us that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It takes dying to self and dying is not easy.… many tears are shed…. sometimes it really hurts! I know this won’t be last of the trials we face. Not as long as we are on this side of heaven. But if we endure the process, remembering what we know about God, that He is with us and He is faithful to bring us through, even better than before, then the victory is ours…. And the victory is His….and together we will celebrate with our Heavenly Father!!!
And that’s what we did! We celebrated! Shortly after this tough trial, God answered some prayers in some specific ways. He brought a couple great friends/mentors into my life the same week. We encourage and support each other through similar and very different ministries! He also opened the door for a project that we have been praying about that has the potential to help so many in the village economically! And as if that was not enough, He blessed our ministry with the best golf tournament we have ever had!! This will ensure that the children that continue at Liberty will be able to study next year!! I love how His best often follows a battle!
We have been looking for a project for the young adults that are not in school due to various reasons. Many have been out of school too long when we started the scholarship program or did not have the grades to continue their education. Others have had to stay home to care for their younger siblings while their parents work during the day. Others simply chose not to go to school. They lack hope and purpose in their life and are left vulnerable to society. We prayed for a project for these young people and God answered!
We started this project with three young girls in the village and took them to Antigua, Guatemala to learn to make “canastas” (baskets). We originally planned for a teacher to come to the village, but God opened the door for a great opportunity for these girls to leave the village and see other parts of Guatemala. They experienced their country and their culture like they never have before. They we able to experience the beauty of the city and see the vibrant culture of their country. We wanted to give them the opportunity to travel and to see the culture from a different perspective. To open their minds to the joy of learning a new trade and then seeing these canastas being sold in the market places. We want them to explore their God given talents, to create and even dream.
We stayed at a beautiful, little coffee farm only five minutes from Antigua. It was a great experience for these girls, for all of us! They worked very hard to learn and they each made a beautiful canasta. We visited the market to get ideas for future projects and Lizeth, our host, taught them about the importance of quality when making the these baskets. We will now bring back what we have learned and teach others in the village. Our instructor, Evelyn, will be coming to the village this week to continue to help these girls build on what they have already learned and help them in teaching some of the other girls and possibly boys, as well. We are believing that the Lord has great plans for this project! Please pray with us that the work of our hands will be filled with success and we may be fruitful in all that we do. Pray that all who work on this project know that all we have comes from the Lord and that without Him we can do nothing. Pray that He will guide us and give us success in this project and may all we do honor His name.
Our 6th Annual Mt. Comfort Guatemala Mission golf tournament was a huge success.We exceeded our goal! We thank you and these teens thank you for all your support! All the children that are currently in school at Liberty will continue their education, they will continue to dream of being secretaries, accountants, doctors and mechanics because of your generosity. And all those currently in the sixth grade will have the opportunity to continue their education!! Muchas Gracias! Thank you so much to all those who helped. Thank you, Falling River Country Club for always being such a great host. I also want to especially thank my sister, Pam Mayberry, who put so much into making this the best tournament ever!
Chris and I also served with an amazing team in a medical clinic this past month from World Help. Chris worked several days with an eye team doing vision exams on several hundred people out in the villages and then he spent an afternoon serving the employees at Hope of Life doing these same exams. It is an amazing thing to witness a person whose everyday life is blurry and out of focus, be able to see clearly for the first time in their lives. After receiving her glasses, one elderly woman came around praising the Lord and shouting thanks to Jesus that she could see! It was beautiful and she was so grateful!!
Chris and I continue our work here in the school, the village and the “Asilo” or elderly home here on campus at Hope of Life. This new project is exciting and is going to keep us even busier. But we are so ready to see what God has in store!! Chris and I both learned how to make the canastas as well. We are already working together with the girls on their second canasta. The girls were so proud of the first ones they made. It has given them the confidence to know that they can make something of value, something beautiful and be able to sell it to bring home money for them and their families. One of the girls took hers home and an American from another team visiting the village saw it, loved it and bought it from her. She was so excited and proud and ready to get busy making the next one!
We also attended the Liberty College Anniversary Dance Contest that several of the teenagers from the village were participants. It was for their Bible class and some of the dance performances were very creative and dramatic. We also attended a youth conference with about thirty teenagers from the village at Hope of Life that was put on by a group from California!
Thank you all for your support, encouragement and prayers. Please continue to pray for us; for strength, for courage, wisdom and discernment. Pray for us as we continue to learn the language and the culture. Please pray for the Mt. Comfort Guatemala child sponsorship program and that the Lord continues to multiply our sponsors as the needs continue to be great in the village. Please pray for the people of the village, Pastor Mynor, our church and for this new project!
If you would like to join us on the mission field, we are leading a mission team on January 6-13, 2018. If you would like more information, please contact us through the contact page here or email us a email@example.com.
Thank you for love and prayers!
Love In Christ, Chris and Paula