Our trip to Guatemala from New Year’s Eve to January 9, 2011 was a life changing experience. I expected that but I guess what was unexpected has been the ways that my life has changed. I’ve changed a number of seemingly small things. For example, I have more or less given up caffeine. I’m not completely sure why. I have changed my shower habits. I used to leave the water running while I shampooed, washed and shaved. I now turn the water off except when I’m getting wet or rinsing. We took our showers in a similar manner while in Guatemala to conserve water. I have a new view on water, it’s importance in our lives and the recognition that water is something we take very much for granted. You just can’t do that in Guatemala today. There, water can make you very sick unless you take the proper precautions, and sometimes even if you do. We take so many other things for granted as well, food, safety, warmth and health. I am still wearing the hand-woven Guatemalan bracelet that one of our trip leaders, Steve Loth, gave to each member of the team to symbolize our unity in serving the people of Guatemala. I try say a prayer for those who are still in Guatemala each time I look at it. It helps me to remember my native Guatemalan friends as well as the missionaries such as Heather Nielson, our nurse friend who is helping to run a clinic for two years in Guatemala. I have also started to meet one on one, on a regular basis, with several Christian friends. We share in fellowship and talk of our Christian experiences. I find it is helping me to grow even stronger spiritually, although there are still days when I seem somewhat distant from God.
Another incredible thing that continued to happen during the trip is that my relationship with Jan continues to grow and deepen. We are talking more and more about our joint and separate spiritual growth. We are sharing items from our devotions with each other and discussing them. I remain a very fortunate man to be married to this wonderful woman. She came back from this trip with a strong desire to concentrate her efforts in helping to offer mission opportunities to families with children. I’m hoping she will share that with you here soon.
I am overweight and my wife has been urging me to exercise for quite some time. I kept telling her I couldn’t find the time. She recently lost a significant amount of weight after starting to exercise regularly. Not long ago, she stooped so low as to ask one of my friends from church to encourage me to start exercising. The joke turned out to be on her as he asked me…right in front of her, while telling me she had told him to do so!!!
Jan and I are intending to go to Guatemala again at the end of the year if all goes well. I am investigating the possibility of adding the dispensing of prescription glasses to our medical team’s mission but that’s a story for another time. The trip is somewhat expensive, especially for two of us, so I have been trying to figure out a fundraising method. God helped me to come up with a way to work some exercise into my life and to raise funds for the trip at the same time. I will be bike riding (both stationary and real bike) and walking the 2831.9 miles to Lemoa, Guatemala and plotting my virtual progress on this map so you can follow. The distance between points A and B is the distance I have traveled so far. When I wrote this I had logged 261.2 miles. At a penny, a mile, that comes to no more than 28.32 but you can pledge any fraction of a penny per mile or any amount that the spirit moves you to. I will turn any funds above our expenses over to the team to cover some of the entire group’s costs. You can pledge by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will not require the actual funds until the group has worked with Christ United Methodist Church to set up the finances in a way that will make this tax deductible. This will occur in the second half of the year. The checks will be made out to the church with Jan’s or my name on the memo line. I continue to be amazed at how God finds ways to help us do God’s work in our daily lives if we just try to listen to Him.
My hope for you today is that you recognize God’s blessings in your life. That simple step will start you an a path to a wonderful relationship with God!