Guatemala Mission Trip – May 2016

For many years Cesia has been traveling to Guatemala with Dave and Jackie Cunning and the gang from STJI (Sharing The Journey International), a medical missions non-profit that provides Craniofacial surgeries including, cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, lesions removed and disfiguring nasal fractures repaired. They also have added a dental clinic program as well as a water purification treatment system that they provide and install at local schools in the region of San Cristobal. Each system installed is able to treat 10,000 gallons of water daily. And of course, most importantly, the opportunity to share the Gospel with everyone whose path they cross while they are there serving in some capacity.

IMG_3101One in every 600 children in Guatemala is born with cleft lip or cleft palate. Children born with this deformity are unable to nurse, and because their families often cannot afford formula, they begin to starve. Depending on the severity of the cleft lip or palate, the child may require up to four surgeries. Many cases involve much more than just closing up a gap, including orthodontic treatment, bone reconstruction, speech therapy and life-long monitoring for ear infections and respiratory problems, which are common among cleft lip and palate kids.

Each time Cesia returns from one of the trips, they usually travel there 2 or 3 times per year, she would share with us the stories of the people they have come to know and love, as most children will have surgical procedures for a number of years. She would describe the town, the hospital, the interpreters, the doctors, nurses and support staff from varies cities in the US, however many are from Calvary Chapel Central Bucks, our former church when we lived in Pennsylvania. Of course we could only visualize in our minds the people and activities she described to us.

I thought back to the summer 1966, at the age of 11, when my friends and I would listen to a Phillies baseball game on a transistor radio. We could only imagine what the players looked like, the field and all of the goings on that occurred and we believed it was just as we imagined. Low and behold in the summer of 1968 when we traveled by bus and el-train to our first game we were completely overwhelmed with the sights and sounds, nothing even close to what we had envisioned. That day was a day where you could go down on the field before the game and meet the players up close, see the dugouts and look around at the enormous stadium the game was played in.

IMG_3162This year Cesia was in Guatemala with Jackie from May 7th to June 4th and I was able to travel there from May 21st to May 28th. It was 1968 all over again. The many places, people and surroundings she shared each year was nothing like I had imagined. Poverty stricken towns, polluted rivers and waterways where most families live alongside and plant their crops. The hospital was like something out of a 1950 Tarzan movie, low lighting if they worked, old equipment, torn bed sheets, limited supplies and very difficult working conditions for the doctors, nurses, dental staff and support personal.  But what a heart these individuals who traveled with STJI had for all that they interacted with while there. I fell in love with the outreach opportunities we all were able to bring to the parents, children and hospital staff. Praying with the families before they took their children into surgery was one of my favorite times we all could participate in. The stress and tension as their child was carried away could be felt by all, however the joy on the face of the parents and the tears flowing down their cheeks when their child was taken to the recovery room and they were able to see the surgical repair is a memory that still brings tears to my eyes. What a blessing to see men and women traveling to another country at their own expense, giving up their vacation time and being away from their families in order to help repair birth defects and healing of hearts that were broken a long time ago.

IMG_3112One day I was able to go to a local school with Gary Ries and our interpreter Kevin as one of the water treatment tanks was in need of repair. When we arrived about 40 kids ages 10 to 15 came over to see what we were doing. Of course I was not able to do anything, Gary was the mechanic. I bet if you gave him a wagon and a few other items he could turn it into a race car. Kevin and I were able to share the Gospel with them for 20 minutes or so and the teachers just sat off to the side smiling at the ‘Gringo’ and his interpreter. I then said ‘I am just a fat gringo but I bet there is not one kid here who can score a soccer goal on me’, well that is all they needed to hear and we picked teams and played for about an hour. Each time someone made a good pass I would yell out ‘my man’ and all the kids would yell ‘my man’, then when someone scored a goal I would yell ‘my main man’ and they all would yell ‘my main man’. After the game we got into a circle and we prayed for them to ask Jesus to continue to be a big part of their life, asking the Holy Spirit to dwell with them and we prayed for their parents or grandparents, their future education and always trusting in God. Hard to leave that day but……

In closing I really tried not to name anyone as I didn’t want to leave anyone out but what a great group that was there this year. From our morning devotionals, interacting at the hospital and in the community throughout the day as well and seeing the doctors, nurses, dental and support staff, Rudy and the other support staff from Guatemala all giving their best each and every day was amazing to see. Whether it be a medical, humanitarian or a church planting/gospel outreach mission’s trip, the core component is reaching the unreached peoples groups or those unsaved and introduce them to Jesus. I know when these families look back years from now they won’t remember the bus ride to the hospital or the rooms they slept in or the food that they ate, they will remember a Christian organization came to their country to show God to them in some form or fashion. Amen and amen. Please check out the web site at www.stji.org if anyone is interested in supporting financially or going to Guatemala on an upcoming mission’s trip.

Francis

 

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Christmas Parties in Panama

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HORCONCITOS ROAD CHURCH CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY

Saturday, December 15, 2012 a “Birthday Party for Jesus” was held at HRC. After praying, singing and reading about the birth of Jesus the ‘Garfield’ piñata was hung and seeing the little ones blind folded trying to bust it open was fun for all. We struggle to put into words our reaction to seeing the young lives praying and giving thanks. This will always be a very, very fond memory as we look back on our time in Panama.

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BOCA CHICA CHURCH CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY

The following day, December 16, 2012, the “Birthday Party for Jesus” was held at the Boca Chica Church.  As with the event in Horconcitos, we will cherish the fond memories of the little ones giving thanks to God.

The Lord bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.
Yes, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 128:5-6

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HRC – FIRST BABY DEDICATION

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

008What a special morning it was when Maria brought Nellie before the Lord and the church fellowship on November 25, 2012, to dedicate the child to the Lord.

In 1992,  Maria met a lifelong resident of Horconcitos, Omar Teteira while he was working in her native country of Costa Rica. He brought her back to Horconcitos. Maria was 12 years old at that time.

After 3 children and a very volatile relationship due to abuse and various vices they both indulged in Maria and Omar parted ways.  The children Carlos, Marybel, and Mabelis moved in with Omar’s mother, Lola. Their ages now are 20, 15 and 13 years of age respectively.

Maria then moved in with Pincho Gutierrez, Abilardo‘s son.  Pincho and Maria have three children together, Kenny 5, Juan Carlos 2 and Nellie six months old. Two years ago a friend from Pennsylvania, Jackie Cunning, was visiting and Maria felt compelled to share with Jackie her feelings of despair and anguish. Maria said she felt a “demonic presence” around her and was always fearful whenever she was at home with her children, seeing and hearing strange things. Jackie and Cesia shared scripture, prayed and Maria accepted the Lord shortly after.

DSCN0927The transformation in Maria’s life is beautiful to see. She has dedicated herself to the Lord, is raising her children in the Word and fully engrossed in the church fellowship. Although Pincho is out and about, Maria is faithfully praying for him. She believes God will touch him and the family will worship together some day.

Lola, Marybel and Mabelis have been part of the fellowship these past two years and last summer the Lord touched them all and a family was healed and restored, and now they are in each other’s lives daily. Amazing Grace how sweet…….!

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” – Joel 2:25

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Begerano Family – Doers of the Word

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22

DSCN2293Pictured at left is the Begerano family. You may have read about them in the post Calvary Chapel Seneca Falls visits Horconcitos Road Church.

Marcelo and Fredeminda, standing in photo side by side, have been together 16 years and have had six children. Their son Alexander passed away September this year.

Standing behind Fredeminda is Amalia, referred to as “wife number two.” Marcelo and Amalia have three children together. About ten tears ago while up in the mountains they started a relationship, as they all are from the same tribe, and they have all lived together as a family these last nine years.

Last year while visiting family in the mountains, they attended a Seventh Day Adventist Church for a period of weeks. The pastor informed them that the living arrangement was “not Godly, and un-biblical” and he asked them to pray about it since they had accepted the Lord at that time and started reading the bible.

Since Alexander’s premature death they have not missed a Wednesday or a Sunday service in Boca Chica. We have gotten very close to all of the family these last few months.

Marcelo asked to speak with us a few weeks ago. They asked our opinion of their living arrangement and what the pastor in the mountains had said. We told them we were in agreement with the pastor; we prayed with them and shared scripture with the whole family.

In response, they since have asked each other for forgiveness and Amalia and her three children have decided to move back to the mountains when school finishes December 15. Marcelo has promised to send financial support to them.

We plan to go up to the mountains with them in December. We can drive to a certain point and then need to walk 5 hours up to their village. To make this easier, we will be able to hire a horseman to ride alongside and carry up the supplies.

I cry when I see the faith of this family in action how they allow God’s word to minister to them and their hearts are changed for His glory.

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” Matthew 8:10

“A Faith not worth testing is a Faith not worth having.” – Alan Redpath

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Jorge accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior

DSCN2039Pictured sitting with Cesia and I are Jorge, his wife Silvia and their baby ‘Bebi’. They have three other children, Roger, 7 , Claribel, 5, and Jorge who is 3 years old.

The children have been coming out to the Saturday kids ministry for over a year. Abuela (grandmother) Paulina brings the children as much as possible to the other activities at the church since she is a committed Christian.

They all are indigenous and were raised in the mountains here in Panama and were brought up with soothsayers, witch doctors and extreme Pentecostal ‘Slain in the Spirit’ doctrines.

On Saturday October 6th at the end of the children’s ministry when we all gather to pray Cesia will ask if there are any special prayer requests from the children. All three of Jorge and Silvia’s children asked for prayer for their father saying “he was having a hard time with a lot of things.”

That night Jorge, Silvia and ‘Bebi’ came over to our house. Jorge explained that earlier that day when his children came home and told him that the whole group of children had been praying for him he broke down and cried. He wanted to hear more about how he could have Jesus be a part of his life. His mom and wife have been telling him many things which made him curious.

For many years he has attended local churches off and on but he said it only was an emotional and temporary feeling he would get. The many things, he was dealing with were sin and regrets, the same that had plagued all of us before we asked for forgiveness.

As Cesia and I shared the gospel with him he seemed tentative at first, however as time went on his demeanor changed; a relaxed atmosphere seemed to engulf him. God was working on his heart and he accepted the Lord. As we all prayed together we thanked Jesus for His grace and mercy. The picture above was taken not long after.

O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You. – Psalm 84:12

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Horconcitos Road Church Picnic

DSCN2044HRC invited members from the Boca Chica Church as well as new friends from Las Lomas to the church picnic held September 30th. The daughter-in-law of Pastor Ray Torrey, Calvary Chapel Seneca Falls, was born in Las Lomas and her mother, grandmother and various family members and friends took the bus to Horconcitos that day. What a blessing it was to have them with us.

During the service the food was being prepared behind the sanctuary for all to see and smell and many times heads would turn and noses would twitch in that direction anticipating the ‘food’ fellowship.

DSCN2045The children came out after the service and shared a song and a bible verse that they had learned and these future worshipers and spreaders of the ‘Word’ made us smile.

A good time of fellowship was had by all and seeing visitors feel welcome at the church is really God’s handiwork in front of our eyes.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 9:10

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A road traveled to a home fellowship

AblelardoAbelardo (Abie) Gutierrez was born and raised in Horconcitos. He married Damaris and became a father to Tatiana and their son Jose “Pincho” completed the family. Local farm work and labor in the fields composed his work life for many years.

In 1986, work as a wood cutter in the Darien Province, next to the Colombian border, among the Kuna tribe became available and off the family went. New Tribes Mission, a U.S. based missionary program, was building churches and schools for the indigenous Kuna Indians.

In 1990 Abelardo worked for the director Joe Goodman and a close friendship ensued. Many times Joe shared the gospel, and gave Bibles to Abie. About this time in his life Abie says, “I was not ready to submit, I was an alcoholic all my life and didn’t want anything to change.”

In 1993 three of the New Tribes missionaries were kidnapped by Colombian rebels, a ransom demand for one million dollars each was not met and the men were never seen again. Abie’ still has a poster that was posted throughout the region and he fondly recalls his friends David Mankins, Marcos Rich and Ricardo Tenenoff who gave their lives for the cause of the gospel.

The Gutierrez family returned to Horconcitos in 2001 with Abie working part-time while drinking full-time.

In October 2010 when the Saturday children’s ministry started six of Abie’s grandchildren attended. When HRC started to function as a full time ministry Tatiana and his daughter-in-law Marie were attending.

In early June 2011 on a Tuesday morning Tatiana came and asked Cesia and I if we could come to their house because her dad wanted to speak to us. The previous Thursday Abelardo had decided to stop drinking and had been detoxing for five days at home. He had not slept for five days,, heard voices and communicated with them, and was given to rants. During the night Abie would chase “beings” from the property with his machete.

He told us that on Sunday night he, “tried to come over around midnight to speak with us but five large ‘demonic type beings’ blocked the path to our house.” He then ran to the center of town, climbed up the outside of the Catholic Church to the steeple tower and tried to ring the bell. The police were able to convince him to come down and they escorted him back to his house.

I’m not sure what he saw or what spoke to him, it may have been demonic. I did explain to him that alcohol detox can cause hallucinations, DT’s, etc. I also told him that the most important thing was the acceptance of Jesus Christ into his life and with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he would be living with the power of the Almighty God inside of him.

Three hours later Abie accepted the Lord; what a transformation in his life! His wife also accepted the Lord and even though there have been trails along the way Abie’s faith, and that of his family, has continued to grow strong by trusting in the Lord.

We called Joe Goodman at the New Tribes Missions office in Florida and he and Abelardo were in tears when he explained to Joe that he had accepted Jesus into his heart. This story has many more details and experiences too numerous to record now but the testimony of one man’s confession of sin and regeneration is amazing.

The result is that a new home fellowship has started in the Tambarindo area of town and it is led by Abelardo Gutierrez. Is our God great or what?

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you did not know” – Jeremiah 33:3

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Señor Julio Flores

Senor FloresTwo years ago we saw Señor Julio Flores walking down the street talking to himself, carrying a pile of twigs. Out of his ears and nose was long grass that he had placed there. I waved to him and he waved back. Town folk said he was crazy, unstable and drunk.

We stopped and spoke to him a number of times and he was intoxicated each time. Sarah said, “I am going to pray for him, all he needs is the Lord.” We gave him a Bible. We also gave him rice and beans a few times and put the word out that we would like to make contact with him sometime when he is sober.

Six weeks ago, he was walking by church on a Friday afternoon during youth group and Cesia and I had an opportunity to share with him. He accepted the Lord an hour later and has been faithfully coming out to the Tuesday night men’s fellowship and the other Bible studies.

He believes he is 69 or 70. Cerro Iglesias is where he is originally from, the same mountain region where the Marccuci Family lived (see An Example of God’s Power to Restore). Julio is from the Guaymi Indians and came to Horconcitos 5 or 6 years ago. An old couple took him in allowing him to sleep in the back of their house and he would tend to their property.

He stated he lived with a woman a long time ago and helped raise her daughter but has no biological children of his own and family members are but a distant memory. He said, “I am so happy to have friends now, a church where I am learning the Bible and a place I can call home”.

After church on Sunday he said, “Professor (that what he calls me) I slip once in a while with alcohol.” I said, “I know,” and he smiled and raised his eyebrows. I also said, “we have been praying for you but we have also been keeping one eye on you.” He laughed so hard, got tears in his eyes, and said he never felt this well. He wants to pray more as he knows God sees everything, even when it is dark.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17:17

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Calvary Chapel Seneca Falls visits Horconcitos Road Church

Pastor Ray Torrey, his wife Kathy, son Josh, daughter-in-law Julie and his two grandsons, Tristan and Liam, have visited Panama each of the last 4 years since Julie was born and raised in Las Lomas. Las Lomas is 22 miles from Horconcitos, minutes before you enter into the city of David.

Their first stop when they came to Panama was Calvary Chapel La Chorrera since they met Pastor Bert Almazan two years ago and have spent time ministering/preaching there each time they visit. Pastor Bert informed us that they would be in Panama and would love to stop by and visit the Horconcitos fellowship (Pastor Bert has filed paperwork for HRC to become a Calvary Chapel Fellowship, we will keep you up-dated).

What a blessing it was when we met Ray and Kathy, it seemed like we had known them for years. An immediate brotherly friendship developed. Pastor Ray taught the Thursday evening and Sunday morning services (8-23-2012 and 8-26-2012) with Cesia interpreting. Ray, Kathy and Josh came back for the Tuesday night men’s study and Josh interpreted for Ray (Josh speaks excellent Spanish and teaches at CCSF Christian School in New York) which was a blessing for us but I know it filled Ray with an unspeakable joy to have his son by his side while preaching God’s word.

Ray came Sunday with a beautiful message of death and resurrection, the joy and promise of eternal life and amazingly God knew in advance why he had Ray share this powerful message. The Begerano family lost their 9 year old son Alexander to leukemia late Saturday night and they came to church Sunday morning because “God would want  us to be here to worship and pray,” they told us. The faith of this family shows us the glory of God’s word in action and application.

The Begerano family is indigenous and in their culture men live with 2 or 3 woman as their wives. Alexander’s father, Marcelo, has 10 children with 2 sisters, he and Alex’s biological mother Fredeminda were in David’ Sunday morning retrieving the body for burial.

In the picture is Amalia his other wife with 9 of the children and the 15 year old daughter is holding her baby son, she also has a 3 year old daughter. After the service the church body prayed for the family and through the tears they blessed us all with their words of thanksgiving and praise to God.

We had gifts left from our Christmas party that we gave them and shared our hearts, prayers and comforting words. The joy and peace Cesia and I felt with Ray and his family and the prayers and words of encouragement they shared not only with us but with the church fellowship was a testament to God’s word. Ray and his family are true servants of the living God we worship.

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in Heaven,
Your faithfulness endures to all generations,
You established the earth, and it abides.
They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all are your servants. – Psalm 119:89-90

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Calvary Chapel Santa Fe Springs visits Horconcitos Road Church

This gallery contains 16 photos.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 89:1  A missions team from Calvary Chapel Santa Fe Springs came to Panama for missions/outreach work … Continue reading

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