Sunday April 3rd began with the birds singing praises to the Lord. The cacophony of sounds was melodious. If birds went to church, they were having their worship service right outside our window.

We met for breakfast and filled up on a superb egg and spinach quiche, bacon, and fruit before we headed for the home of Ruth and her father. Ruth is 48 years old and works at Colegio Bethel. Ruth has always lived in the one room home with her parents.  Her mother passed away years ago, so she began taking care of her father. Within the last few years, she began praying for a home where she would have her own room and privacy. The Lord answered her prayer through the assistance of Keith Reed, and a home with 3 rooms next to the existing one room began to be built. All 18 of us barely fit in the one room as we listened to Ruth and her father share with us how grateful they were to be having a new home. Afterwards we went to the Sunday market. The local people come to the center of town and fill the streets with their booths or even just tarps laid on the ground. It is a mix between the Alaska State Fair, the Saturday market in downtown Anchorage, and the U-Pick Farm in Palmer. We saw and smelled! and smelled! the skinned goats hanging, chicken, and tubs of chicken feet, large bowls of whole fish and even bowls of just fish heads. Quickly weaving our way out of that area, we moved through to where the fruits, vegetables, eggs, clothes, and everything else you can imagine were on display. Our rule is the following: “If you can’t peel it, you can’t eat it.” It was very hard to pass up the fresh-fruit smoothies!

After the market and lunch, we divided into four teams and each team visited with three different families. A young student from Colegio Bethel and a translator accompanied each of our teams as we weaved our way through the steep, steep streets of San Pedro stopping along the way to visit different families. We asked questions about their families, occupations, and relationship with the Lord; we shared pictures of our families and life in Alaska. Before we left, we had prayer with them. We were reminded how blessed –how spoiled – to have everything we do in America.

After our house visits, we attended church at Iglesias Bethel. As they finished their portion of worship, Cody played the guitar and we sang, “How Great is our God.” It was a very special time as we took communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in San Pedro.

When church was finished and the fellowship subsided, we went out to eat at Mario’s Restaurant. We sat on an outside covered roof top and had meat, corn tortillas, and vegetables.

Monday, April 4:  The birds were wearing lapel mics today. Ok. Not really, but every day they seem to get louder and louder in their beckoning call to get out of bed. To grasp the beauty we wake up to, visualize how San Pedro sits on Lake Atitlan with tree covered mountains rising steeply all around the entire lake. The sun glistens off the still water in the morning as the fog burns off the water to expose the ducks playing and the occasional fish jumping. At night the little cities nestled on the side of the mountains can be seen as their lights dot the mountainside.

Colegio Bethel was started 26 years ago by Emilio Battz and his wife Esther. Today we were the honored guests as the elementary students began their school week with singing. The children sang as if they wanted the angels in heaven to hear them singing too. Breakfast burritos and fruit jumpstarted our work day. Most of the team worked on sanding railings and painting the clinic.  A few of the crew headed up to work on Ruth’s house, and Don continued to work on the landscaping project with Santos. I absolutely admit I was grateful not to be working with the bugs!

Shortly before lunch we spent time in both the junior high and senior high assemblies. While elementary starts at 7:30am, the older students don’t begin school until noon. After lunch we were back on work duty painting the clinic, and, Praise the Lord, we finished sanding the metal railings so they can be primed and painted.

We finished working, got cleaned up, and met back at the school with Pastor Emilio, his wife Esther, and Urias. They talked to us about the Mayan culture and the challenges they face here in San Pedro and throughout Guatemala.  Urias specifically shared with us the challenges and needs of working with the mountain churches. Antonio Batz, Emilio Battz’s father, has started 66 mountain churches and many of the pastors cannot read or write. Their training ministry is vital to equipping these pastors so they can shepherd the people in their village. Travel keeps them from reaching many of the people groups scattered all throughout the mountainous regions because the roads are too narrow to travel by car. They also face the challenge of over 29 dialects being spoken and none of them resemble the Spanish language. Our meeting went longer than planned but the information gave us a much greater perspective of the ministry here in Guatemala. After another belly-stuffing meal, a brief meeting about Tuesday’s schedule, and a decision to start our days earlier and work later so we can get everything ready at the clinic, we all dispersed to our rooms to get some sleep. We meet at 6:30am for breakfast tomorrow April 5.

To see more pictures from this team, click  here