Guatemala

LEAVING FOR CHICHICASTENANGO

My class last year at ASESLI’s Bible Institute

Today, I am traveling to Chichicastenango, Guatemala, to be with our mission partners at ASELSI.

Our church has partnered with ASELSI (“Equipping the Saints International”), in Chichicastenango, Guatemala for a dozen years.

ASELSI has an impressive ministry among the Mayan people. Their medical clinic has been a wonderful means of outreach to Mayans who normally would keep their distance from outsiders. And their Bible training schools have spread to many parts of the country and beyond. More recently, ASELSI has added a therapy clinic and a school for children with special needs.

ASELSI is careful to keep the message and deeds of the gospel central to all that they do! You can learn more at their website.

ASELSI is headquartered in Chichicastenango, which is located in the mountains of Guatemala.  For centuries Chichicastenango has been a center of Mayan worship. This has put ASELSI in the middle of pervasive spiritual darkness. The spiritual warfare they encounter is distinctly visible.

Chichicastenango is at a key passage between the north and south, and boasts the largest outdoor market in all Latin America. On Thursdays and Sundays, thousands of Mayans take over the streets with booths selling all manner of goods. This in turn now brings tourists from around the world, which adds to the fun. It is colorful, noisy, at times overwhelming, and always fascinating to set out in exploration on Market Day.

One of the benefits of long term commitment with a mission partner is the opportunities it provides for growing relationships with people who are faithfully serving Christ. Each trip I give significant time to cultivating these relationships.

Another enjoyable part of these trips is sharing meals with God’s people, both Guatemalans and missionaries. It is meaningful to build upon existing relationships year after year and start new ones.

Most of my time will be given to these main activities:

(1)  Teaching the book of Romans at EBA (ASELSI’s training institute for pastors and church leaders)

(2)  Presenting Family Life seminars at ASELSI and in Churches

(3)  Spending time with pastors and preaching in their churches

(4)  Meeting with Eman Perez (the Executive Director of ASELSI) and the missionary staff at ASELSI

 Would you pray for this time in Guatemala?

 Ask God to fill me with . . .

wisdom,

humility

health,

energy,

and the power of God’s Spirit.

 Please follow my time in Guatemala via Facebook or Twitter (@pastorkylehuber), to read updates and prayer requests

I hope you will prayerfully taking this journey with me

A CELEBRATION IN GUATEMALA

Evelyn

Earlier this month I was blessed to be a part of a team from Greentree that went to Chichicastenango, Guatemala to be with our mission partners, ASELSI. While we were there we participated in the festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the physical therapy clinic established at ASELSI.

My first time in Guatemala was nine years ago when the therapy clinic was only a year old and treated children in a small multi-purpose room.  Today, they have a large, beautiful and well-equipped facility for the therapy clinic to treat adults and children.  God has taken the desire and efforts of the missionaries and workers at ASELSI and had accomplished more than I could have imagined only nine years ago!

At the 10th anniversary celebration I saw many familiar faces of patients and families from my previous visits.  One girl in particular is Evelyn. Evelyn is a now 21 year old young lady who was born with severe spastic cerebral palsy.

When the clinic workers at ASELSI first met Evelyn she had severe contractures in her legs due to being confined to her small home. Children with disabilities in Guatemala are frequently isolated, having no access to wheelchairs, unable to attend school, and often hidden due to lack of services and embarrassment by families.

What impacted me most about Evelyn when I first met her was that even though she had severe physical and speech limitations she had a great capacity and desire to learn.

In spite of very difficult challenges, Evelyn and her mother were determined.  Evelyn was determined to learn and her mother was determined to help her.

The workers at ASELSI understand that every person is created in the image of God has great value to God. Evelyn was treated in the therapy clinic and also enrolled in ASELSI’s school for special needs children.  She has thrived and has learned much and she knows the love of Jesus through His gospel.

To surprise me when I saw her again this year, Evelyn had been working hard to learn some phrases in English so she could talk to me!  With tears in my eyes, knowing how difficult it is for her to speak even in her native language, I listened as she spoke her name and her age, and asked me, “How are you?”, all in complete sentences in English.  Her determination to love me by speaking my language humbled me.

When I first went to ASELSI I believed it was to help the children there but God has also used them to help me to appreciate the value that they have before God and the potential that all of His creation has to be used for His good purposes.

There are people around us who we may not see as not worth the effort to love, serve, or share the Gospel. Maybe it is someone with a severe disability, a child with very difficult behaviors, or a cranky neighbor that everyone avoids.  But we are all created in His image and have value to God. We are not called to make judgements on who is and who is not worth the effort. We are called to love and serve others and God uses it for His good and His glory.

GOING TO GUATEMALA

Pointing to Chichicastenango on a map of Guatemala

As you read this, Debbie and I are traveling to be with our mission partners in Guatemala. That is unless you sleep in really late, in that case we may already be there.

Our church has partnered with ASELSI (“Equipping the Saints International”), in Chichicastenango, Guatemala for several years. I will be teaching at ASELSI’s Bible Institute and in churches. I also will spend time with a number of pastors with whom I have been building relationships.

Debbie who is a pediatric occupational therapist, is excited to be using her training at ASELSI’s therapy clinic and their Little Lambs School, which is for children with disabilities.

I hope you will follow our time in Guatemala via Twitter or Facebook. You are welcome to friend me or the church on Facebook, and you can find me on Twitter under pastorkylehuber

We appreciate your prayerfully taking this journey with us

IN CHICHICASTENANGO

 

Pointing to the town of Chichicastenango on a map of Guatemala

This week I am in Chichicastenango, Guatemala working with our mission partners at ASELSI (Equipping the Saints International). I am here along with an outstanding team from our church who will be serving in a variety of ways to help ASELSI, and reach to Guatemalans who don’t know Christ.

Chichicastenango is in the mountains of Guatemala, and for centuries has been a center of Mayan worship. Because the town is at a key passage between the north and south, Chichi has one of the biggest outdoor markets in the world. On Thursdays and Sundays, thousands of Mayans crowd the streets with booths selling all manner of goods.  This in turn now brings tourists from around the world, which adds to the fun. It is a colorful, noisy, at times overwhelming and always fascinating to set out in exploration on Market Day.

My week will be occupied by three areas:

(1)  Teaching and preaching (this includes two days of seminars on Family Life)

(2)  Counseling with students, pastors and staff

(3)  Meeting with pastors and ASELSI staff

Would you pray for our time in Guatemala?

Ask God to fill us with . . .

health,

energy,

wisdom,

humility

AND the power of God’s Spirit.

This week, my blog will be a mixture of “regular” posts and if internet availability cooperates – a few updates from Chichicastenango

GUATEMALA JOURNAL 8.17.11

This morning our team had devotions with the ASELSI staff. We started with worship, going back and forth between English and Spanish with all of the songs. I have found that I am moved within when I am participating in joint worship with our mission partners. There is something special about the weaving together of our languages and voices. It feels like a greater taste of heaven’s worship to me.

For my message I chose Psalm 27:1-3, which declares we do not need to fear when the Lord is our light, our salvation and our stronghold. Eman mentioned yesterday that were some struggles with fear among the ASELSI team, so I felt this would be a helpful word to all of us. Afterward, a couple of the people thanked me for the message and Eman asked if I could send him a copy. It was a great start to our day.

Later in the morning we drove to the city of Antigua, which has the flavor of an old Spanish colonial town. It is very different from Chichicastenango. Debbie and I have wanted to visit here for some time. There is a beautiful tree filled central plaza, huge old churches, even older ruins and plenty of shops to meander through. When you look through the open heavy wooden doors of the many cafes and hotels you can see lush courtyards inside. Debbie said we could spend days here just visiting these inviting places. We did stop Colleen’s favorite cookie bakery for coffee and baked goods.

Tomorrow is Colleen’s birthday so we celebrated at dinner by having cheesecake with a candle brought to our table. She has done an excellent job hosting us throughout out trip. We can see how she has been growing as a strong godly woman and a faithful worker. Most evenings Colleen would join us in the hospitality house, where we would talk or play games until fatigue took over. The fact that she will be coming home soon for a visit makes it easier to say goodbye to her.

However it was not easy to share goodbyes with the rest of the ASELSI staff. All of us felt our relationships with the staff have grown in significant ways. These faithful workers are a joy to be with and it is difficult to leave. Our church does not simply show up to carry out projects at ASELSI; we come to share life and ministry with them. John and Sharon have done a remarkable job in building a ministry that we are excited to call part of our ministry. We feel as if we are part of their team family. Carlos and Emily are becoming dear friends to Debbie and me. Eman and Jessica are growing into strong leaders. Whether it is the nurses, the office staff or the men who keep up the buildings and grounds, we enjoy all of their company and we deeply respect them.

If any of you have ever considered a trip to ASELSI you will not regret taking the next step of actually showing up!

Tomorrow we head back home, but it will be a long day of travel. Please pray for smooth and safe travels.   Continue to pray for Pastor Don Logan and his family, as well as for Benjamin and Manuella. Also ask God will bring much fruit from al that took place during our time in Guatemala; and pray that we will have God’s wisdom for how we should continue to grow our partnership with ASELSI and the Mayan churches of Guatemala.

GUATEMALA JOURNAL 8.16.11

The weather was beautiful today; sunny and mild with low humidity.  The women worked in the therapy clinic and the men went on home visits.  These are opportunities to share the gospel to families who have been coming to the ASELSI medical clinic.

My morning began by meeting with Benjamin and Manuella. On May 2nd, their two and a half year old son Christian, died after falling and injuring his head. Benjamin and Manuella have responded with grace, but the weight of grief is still heavy upon them.

Benjamin struggles with fear that he will not be able to protect the rest of his family. Manuella struggles with guilt that she did not protect her son. Their 5 year old son Andy has become quiet and does not like to leave the house.  I pointed out the faith they have manifested and encouraged them to keep a simple focus on Christ. As we prayed together, I told them I would share their need to all of you, for which they were very grateful. It was a hard visit, but I was blessed by it. Their grief was palpable, yet their trust in Christ was just as evident. Please pray for them.

Immediately afterward, I met with Miguel Angel. Miguel was an ILIO student when I first came to ASELSI.  I have been developing a relationship with him since then.  Miguel pastors a thriving church loaded with young people 20 minutes from Chichicastenango.  He is an engaging man and a natural leader.  In addition to the responsibilities of his church, Miguel has taken it upon himself to help other churches develop discipleship training.  Most churches have no idea how to equip people to grow in their Christian walk.  Preaching is commonly restricted to stringing together statements about praising God, with warnings against sinning.

I asked Miguel questions about the struggles and deficiencies in Mayan churches. It was quite helpful. There is no shortage of churches, yet communities are not affected by them. A major problem is the lack of biblical teaching that connects to life. In addition, believers are taught to be separate from unbelievers, so there is little evangelistic engagement. We ended by exchanging prayer requests.  I told Miguel I wanted to continue our conversation when I return in the spring.

After lunch I met with Eman Perez, who is the administrator of ASELSI and has taken increased responsibility from John Harvey. Eman is a gifted and gracious young man with strong leadership and ministry potential. We talked about ways our church can be a help to pastors and churches in Guatemala. As with Miguel, I have been building a closer relationship with Eman. It is easy to have good intentions that are not fulfilled, so Eman and I agreed to be in contact monthly. In these calls we committed to discuss ministry issues and our personal lives. We are both excited for this step of growth in our relationship.

We were still talking when the missionaries who work at ASELSI come to the Hospitality House for a Bible study. I presented principles on being gospel centered from the Wednesday series I recently gave at church. This is something that has been meaningful to me, which made it meaningful to share with them.

For dinner we all went to the home of Miguel Calgua. Miguel is in charge of facilities. He has a powerful testimony from the days of the Guatemalan civil war. He witnessed many horrors and a lot of death. Miguel is a strong evangelist who has a passion for sharing the gospel. We had a fun evening with his family. In September, Miguel will be coming to the United States for the first time. We are excited that he will spend this trip at Greentree! His great desire is to share the gospel. Pray that God will make his time fruitful.

GUATEMALA JOURNAL 8.15.11

I slept in a long time today.  The team was finished breakfast by the time I stumbled out of bed.  My body needed the rest.  It was a rainy morning, but it turned into a truly special day.  The Harveys are leaving for the United States later today, so we thought our scheduled 10:00 meeting was an ordinary team debriefing.

When we entered the room, many ASELSI staff was waiting for us.  John said they all wanted to express their thankfulness for the partnership of our church.  We then watched a video they made to thank our church.  It began with scenes from our teams ministering at ASELSI followed by an address by John and Sharon to our congregation.  The video ended with messages of thanks from all of the ASELSI staff.  I did not even try to hold back the tears of joy that flowed from my eyes and heart.  What a privilege to have such a ministry relationship.

Afterward the ASELSI staff laid hands on us and prayer for God’s blessing.  I was deeply touched by Carlos prayer for me.  Debbie and I have grown to love Carlos and Emily and we greatly respect their service to Christ.  They are a great team.  All of us left the room deeply touched and energized for the remaining tasks of our trip.

Fran Deibert and Debbie went back to the therapy clinic, while Steve Breunig and Ed Arentz began to tackle the next items on their “to do” list.  The middle of my day was something I really enjoy.  Carlos had scheduled me to meet with a dozen pastors in the region.  Some of these pastors such as Mario Xon are men who have become true friends over the years.  Others were pastors I was meeting for the first time.

My desire in this time was to encourage these men, and to grow in my understanding of the needs they face.  Whether it is in Belarus or Guatemala, I am continually seeking to improve my understanding of the churches in these cultures.  I have a big heart for pastors, so spending an afternoon with a room full of them is exciting to me.

Carlos asked me to begin by introducing myself and describing the ministry of our church.  I gave a brief overview of growing up in our church and the path that led to my becoming a pastor.  I described some of my weaknesses and the struggles I have faced as a pastor.  I wanted to be vulnerable before them as an encouragement to opening up themselves.

Pastor Jose and Pastor Lucas described problems of strong opposition from their villages.  Edwin brought up the lack of desire for growth in his congregation.  Rene and Antonio brought up difficult cases of moral failure and church discipline with their leaders.  With each case I would establish common ground and add a thought from Scripture and our experience.  One of the points I asked the pastors to consider expository preaching through books of the Bible.  Only one of them men has done this.  I was gentle, but also emphasized my conviction that it would be a help to their churches.

We shared a delicious meal and I showed pictures of my family and our church.  The men all seemed grateful for the time we had together.  Jose was an ILIO student the first time I came to Guatemala.  He told me that he still had my notes from the Romans course I taught and that the material continued to help him.  That was a wonderful encouragement to me!

The rest of the team made hospital visits, giving out gift bags we brought with us.  They shared the gospel and prayed with those they met.  Fran and Debbie visited the maternity ward.  It was a large room of women with newborn babies – except for one weeping woman whose child had died.  All the team found the people to be open to their visits and prayers.

We finished the evening having dinner with Colleen at Cofrades and playing Trivial Pursuit at the Hospitality House.  We enjoyed the time together and laughed harder and louder as the evening progressed.

Tomorrow I will speak before a gathering of missionaries, and meet with individual pastors.  I will also meet with Benjamin who works for ASELSI and his wife Manuella.  Earlier this year, one of their sons fell while playing and suffered a head injury, he died a day or two later.  Carlos felt it would be helpful for me to have this time with them.  PLEASE pray for all these activities and for all that our team is doing.

GUATEMALA JOURNAL 8.14.11

Note:  We had no Internet signal for the last two days so I will catch up today

I awoke from another good night’s sleep.  The mountain air settles well with me.  This morning we attended the missionary church.  This is an English speaking congregation made up primarily of missionary families.  On my last visit I preached because pastor Don Logan and his wife Heather were in the capitol having their third child.  This was my first time hearing him preach, and it was an outstanding message.  He handled Scripture adeptly and connected well with how we think and live.  I would be glad to have my family sit under his teaching.

After church we walked to the market.  Chichicastenango is home of the largest market in Central America and one of the largest craft markets in the world.  On market days (Sunday and Thursday), tourist come from around the world to walk the noisy, colorful and crowded streets.  It is a fascinating experience.  Dealing with the relentless young street vendors who follow and nag you for blocks, or haggling with a shop owner are part of the charm and adventure.

Unfortunately I was not feeling well by the end of lunch.  Actually I felt really bad, so as the rest of the team was shopping, I caught a tuk tuk back to the Hospitality House.  Tuk tuks are tiny three wheeled taxis that roam the city streets.  They are quick and cheap transportation.

When I entered the ASELSI compound, I was greeted by one of the three large German Shepherds that guard the property.  During the day, the dos are kept in pens.  At night they are let out to roam the property.  It would take a brave or foolish person to climb over the tall fence with that welcoming committee.  I make it a point to walk by the pen in the mornings and allow the dogs to smell my hand and get to know that I am one of the good guys.  As the dog bounded over to me, I called to him as if I was his owner and to my relief he responded obediently.

In the evening, Carlos picked us up for a service in a newer church on the edge of Chichi.  It was a tiny church, but the building was packed!  The building entrance was right on the highway, with steps leading down into the meeting area.  The negative to this arrangement was that exhaust fumes drifted down into the church. My stomach was already unsettled, and the addition of the fumes made me it worse.  I knew Debbie was praying next to me.  However as soon as I started preaching, I forgot about my stomach and was fully into the message.

The people of the church were very friendly; afterward even the kids came up and gave us hugs, which is not typical.  Debbie and I were encouraged by the percentage of young people who were in the church. The pastor is an older man, but he has several young men who helped to lead the service.  This included his son who is a student at ILIO.

At 10:30 we joined many of the missionary families at the home of Pastor Don Logan.  Don has been facing an intense period of spiritual oppression in his home.  It started with Don having panic attacks.  In the past two weeks his children have been waking up struggling to breathe and having intense fear. His daughters have described dreams in which someone is trying to take them away. This happens between 11:00 and 1:00 every night.  Don has also heard loud noises like moving furniture and sounds like a dog being violently harmed outside.  He sits up at night and waits.  He hears the sounds and his daughters begin screaming, but he doesn’t see anything.  Don said previously he would have listened to such stories with a lot of doubt, but now that it is happening to him, he and Heather are burdened with fear.

We all came to their home to pray for them.  Don was very humble and appreciated the encouragement and support that came around them.  He does not understand what is happening, but he knows he is need of God’s intervention.  Please pray for the Logans and their three children; Aiden, Allie and Olivia.  Ask God to remove all oppression and to fill their hearts with peace.  Chichicastenango has been a center of Mayan religion for centuries.  There is a lot of witchcraft and some evil practices that are hard for us to image.  We can be thankful that in everything and in every place that Christ is Lord.  That includes Don’s home and our own.

On Our Way To Chichicastenango

Debbie and I were out the door before 4:00 – that’s A.M. to join a team from our church who will be working with ASELSI, our missions partners in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  ASELSI is a Spanish acronym for “Equipping the Saints International”.

ASELSI has an impressive ministry to the Mayan people in the mountain regions of Guatemala.  The cutting edge of their ministry is their medical clinic and milk program that lasts for the first few years of a baby’s life.  This connection builds trust with the Mayans which then leads to evangelistic opportunities.  ASELSI also has an extensive Bible training program.  It begins with basic level Bible training in satellite locations throughout Guatemala (and now into Mexico and Ecuador).  Many of those who attend these courses have no more than a second grade education.

 

The next step for those who want to continue their training is to attend the ILIO Bible Institute at ASELSI.  ILIO (another Spanish acronym) now has three levels of training that each last two years.   ASELSI was founded by John and Sharon Harvey close to 20 years ago.  They have grown a ministry of breadth and depth.  Just as impressive is their commitment to raising up Guatemalans to lead the ministry when they retire.

I will be teaching at ILIO (our church sends down teachers twice a year), and spend time with pastors; Debbie will work at the clinic and the rest of the team will be involved in a wide range of ministry activities including evangelism, hospital visitations and construction help around their growing facilities.

Our church has been excited to develop a strong partnership with ASELSI.  In addition to financial support and sending down teams, we have also had a few of our young people serve internships at ASELSI.  Colleen McLaughlin began as an intern and now serves long term on the ASELSI staff.  She will be in charge of our team when we arrive.  Kate Kristeller went down as an intern last year and Amanda Paone will be leaving shortly for her internship this fall.  It has been very satisfying to see how God has knitted our hearts together and brought much fruit from this shared ministry.

My goal is to blog daily about my trip similar to what I do when in Belarus.  I hope you will follow along and stop for a minute each day after reading the blog to pray about what is happening.  Your prayer support is ALWAYS precious to me and it will mean a lot to the team.

 

For those who are interested in learning more about ASELSI, you can click on this link to visit their website.  If you go to the Team Gallery, you can see photos from Pastor Eric’s trip in May.