Today our mission team arrived home safely in Toronto. Thank you for your support and prayer!
Our time in Chajul has been inspiring. Thursday evening we had a simple chicken and black bean dinner at the home of the Presbyterian minister before retiring to our hotel.
Friday, in Chajul, was an extremely busy and emotional day. We began the day by taking the bus to a tiny village outside of Chajul that has just started a Presbyterian church. The church has a congregation of 8 families and the first Mayan female minister. She told us her emotional story of divorce, poverty, desperation and leaving her children in Guatemala City to find work in the rural fields of Guatemala. She and her small daughter lived on coffee for a year because they could not afford food. Finally, she spoke of turning her life around and finding God before accepting her calling and the challenge of starting this uplifting, little church.
They were so appreciative of our clothing and donations for the children of the church. She spoke of the difficulties of starting the church. How members of other churches accused her of being incapable of preaching the gospel because she was a woman and divorced. Because of these accusations, 5 families left her church.
In the afternoon, we went to the Presbyterian church in Chajul. What a wonderful story they can tell. The church was started 15 years ago and now has a congregation of 400! They are in the process of building a school, next to the church, which should open next year.
Finally, we made a pastoral visit to a 92 year old woman in Chajul. She is the oldest person in Chajul. We sang some Spanish hymns and English hymns for her and prayed for her. It was a very moving experience for everyone. We began the last leg of our journey to Panajachel this morning at about 9:00 am. However, before we left we were fortunate enough to have the 4 archeologists who were staying at our hotel kindly offer to show us what they have been doing in Chajul. They took us to a little house with walls over 500 years old. On the walls, underneath 500 years of painting and plastering, were ancient painting done by the Mayans in the 1500’s. It was truly an amazing sight. We hopped on the bus and made our way to Panajachel.
Well, we are starting the next leg of our journey. Today, we head out to Chajul. I’m sure that everyone on the Mission team will agree that it has been a wonderful 4 days in Coban. The people have been so welcoming, warm and appreciative of everything we have done for them. But, we are the ones who are truly blessed. That we can come to this country and help is an awesome privilege. We worked in Coban as a construction team and the gardening team, and both teams felt the satisfaction of “to give is better than to receive “.
One of our team members and veteran mission-team members, Sandra Hamlyn, wanted to share this: “What a joy to be back in Guatemala again. On our arrival, Pastor Philip took us on a tour of the church facility. When I walked down and saw the building that we had started two years ago, I was moved to tears. The John Knox School of Theology had been officially opened two weeks prior. There is still work to be done, but with the work and love of so many people, the building is a symbol of God’s love to the people of Coban.”
Our hotel in Guatemala City faced the main square. A huge open space; gardens and pathways surrounded by prominent buildings. The Parliament and, as always in Central American countries, the Roman Catholic Church dominated the one side. The church was impressive. The three sets of doors were large enough for giraffes to easily walk through. The pillars were massive and the dome above the Communion table seemed to be over 100ft high. This monument, built to the glory of God in 1534, was also built with a different purpose in mind. It would be clear, to the local people, who was now in central control. The church may have been built in what once was a key gathering, or even worshipping, site about 500 years ago. The people were told to join this new power. Much blood was shed but, in the end, most Guatemalans did become Christians. There are now many sincere and devout RC Christians in Guatemala. In fact, there were about 100 believers wandering and praying in various parts of the sanctuary even though there was no formal service taking place.
About 100 metres from the square, the Presbyterian Church building stood. It was established in the late 1800’s. After being in the cathedral, it seemed so small. It was a beautiful sanctuary - very simple - in a typical reformed fashion. The words “Dios es Amor” printed under the cross at the front.
Compared to the 100 worshippers in the RC church, there was one man in the sanctuary. He had some sort of wood polish and cloth and was making the wooden wall under the cross shine. What care and effort to do something that may not be noticed by many. Was it necessary?
In going to Guatemala as a Mission team, the question may be asked if us - is our trip making a difference? Is it necessary? Is it the right use of so many resources and time of 13 people? We may not accomplish much, but we pray that, in some way, our little act of devotion glorifies God. That it shines the light of Christ affirming the truth “Dios es Amor” - God is Love, for we travel here to live this message.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Hola Amigos. The Guatemala mission team is on their way! We left Toronto about an hour late on Thursday. We arrived in Mexico City for our 10 hour layover at 4:00 am on Friday morning and finally arrived in Guatemala City at 5:00 pm Friday evening. We all had a good night’s sleep (except one of us who had a roomie with a snoring problem) and woke up fresh this morning and looking forward to our adventure and doing God’s work. At 11:40 am, after breakfast and a greeting and orientation at the National Presbyterian church of Guatemala, we left Guatemala City for Coban.
At the National Church, they provided us with information on the Presbyterian church in Guatemala as well as information on the country.
Our lunch stop was uneventful, but trying to get everyone back in the van is like trying to herd toddlers!! Between those of us who left their hat at the table, those of us who decided that they did, in fact, want an ice cream and those who decided to take one last bathroom break, it took about 30 minutes to get everyone loaded into the van and back on the road. The last 100km of the journey (or 3 1/2 hours of driving) were uneventful. We arrived in Coban at 5:45 pm and went to the manse for a wonderful welcoming dinner.
I have been blessed to experience the beautiful cliffs on the Ring of Kerry. I also loved the town of Killarney's statue devoted to Christ as the king of their city. Plus, the most beautiful Cathedral I've been in so far was in Killarney.
I managed to meet a farmer in Killarney who enlisted me to fix his fence. It was good that I was there, as he had a bit of an accident when stones had fallen on his head as he was trying to hold up the fence post. We developed a good friendship, and I stayed two days helping him a little bit and in return he blessed me with giving me a local tour. I found the 1200 year-old beehive style church building fascinating!
Further North in Doolin, I was blessed with a very authentic Irish traditional music pub night.
Both the pubs and the churches in Ireland have been beautiful, as are the people I've been blessed to spend time with. I've gone in Jesus' name, I've learned a little of how to be a more selfless person through the people I have met, and I've heard God speak through the people of this fair land in powerful ways. I have now crossed the border in the Northern Ireland and I am about to meet the local ministers.
Joy in Christ,
This week's post includes some of the photos of my journey so far! I left from Dublin to Enniskerry and then walked the Wicklow Way all the way to Glendalough. Some of the photos below show the beautiful monastic ruins I saw on my way.
I have seen a lot of sheep, a lot of rain, and even a tiny bit of snow. I've slept outside most nights but I'm doing great. Wonderful hospitality has been given to me by the Irish. The Lord is great.
In Jesus name, Pastor Tim.
Hello friends! After 30 hours in Dublin I have not seen the sun yet, no surprise to our Irish friends. One of my highlights so far was St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Anglican Church in Dublin. I went to Evensong today and enjoyed hearing the beautiful music. I also saw St. James's Gate Guinness brewery and some of the colourful pubs of Ireland, as well as a beautiful garden - spring has sprung in Dublin!
I was also delighted to meet someone yesterday in a local pub; this gentleman had lost his wife three weeks ago and we had a great discussion and developed quite a friendship quickly. Thank God for opening the door to meaningful conversation. In Jesus name we go.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
As I fly out for my Irish pilgrimage this evening I will dwell on the vow I have made before my congregation and my family. I will be reminded of this vow as I feel my shaved head (my girls will shave it today) for weeks to come! I’ve inserted some of the words from my sermon yesterday, in particular the simple three part vow I have made. Joy in Christ be yours in abundance!
- Pastor Tim
1. To go in Jesus name
2. To go seeking to become more Christ-like in my service of others
3. To go ready and open to God changing me
- I will hike, explore, read and learn from people I meet, but there is more to it
- I seek to set a tone as I begin this venture - to sanctify it – make it sacred
- It must start with a confident assertion in whose name I go
- I go in Jesus name
- I need to know for what purpose I go
- Mark 10:35-45: Do you want to be great? Be a servant.
- Christ went to serve sacrificially
- I do not go to find personal happiness, to test my physical limits and see how far I can walk in a day, or to simply escape busy life
- I need to go with an attitude to become more Christ-like in service of others
- Acts 18:18 - Paul left the brothers and sisters in Corinth and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken.
- I am no apostle Paul!! We don’t know the particular vow he took, but I do want to take this trip very seriously
- The Great Commission is for us… let us all hear the sending words of Christ
- GO! for the Missio Dei – the Mission of God - continues through you
Closing words from a hymn of St. Patrick (patron Saint of Ireland)
I bind unto myself the name, the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation; salvation is of Christ the Lord!