Dillard Family Update

March 22, 2017

Thank y’all so much for supporting and praying for us! We’ve had a busy few weeks, lately!

We have a short-term team here with us right now and we have been traveling a lot between a few different countries doing ministry traveling throughout Central America with this team. They will be with us a few more days and we are praying their time and efforts yields many hearts surrendered to Christ. 

Thank you specifically for praying for our ministry program held in a dangerous village where we partner with the lady who teaches skills training. We have already been there a couple times and were able to meet up with a lady and her husband who continue the ministry even when we are out of the country. She recently hurt her knee in a bus accident, so the last couple weeks we were there, she wasn’t teaching her regular classes. Most recently, we had planned on having a couple guys share their personal business success stories this past week with the locals, but as it turned out, when we arrived at the agreed time, the two fellas didn’t show up. Several little kids came though and enjoyed playing with Israel. When the crowd we had anticipated didn’t gather, Derick and our friend who came with us, ended up sharing a Bible story and we closed with a gospel presentation and snacks for everyone. It was a beautiful “unintended” opportunity to share the gospel. Thankfully, the lady who teaches the classes will be there when we are out of country with the traveling team.  When we return, we will help host a ladies conference there later this week. We have asked the locals to compile a list of skills that people already have in the local area so we can work to help provide real life tools to help those we are called to share Christ with.

We learned that one of the young girls from this village who has been coming to the weekly skills training (painting and learning to make piñatas have been their most recent skills), died a few weeks ago. She was only in her early teens, but had lived a hard life. Her mom is in prison and the girl had a very hard time with this. She started having seizures and during one of these recent episodes she fell and hit her head on a rock and died. Most people say she died of a broken heart. It was a sad moment for the village. Praise the Lord though, that as a result of the ongoing work in this village, this girl had prayed to receive Jesus into her heart at the end of 2016. Because the girl didn’t get to finish her piñata she was working on when she passed, the other children are planning to finish it together in honor of their friend. Please be praying for the lady who helps teach the skills training and the children, who lost their friend.

On one of our recent visits to this village, I (Jill) was able to share my testimony and the gospel with 3 young girls, while Derick was speaking with some people and Israel was playing. I know these girls have heard the gospel before, but when I asked them specific questions about what it meant, they couldn’t answer. I left them with a gospel tract and told them when we come back we can talk further. I am praying these girls will not just a “head knowledge” of God, but come to a personal relationship with Jesus.

Derick has been able to go out every week with one of the pastors from a local church and visit homes to share the gospel and follow up with people who have recently professed faith in Jesus Christ. One of the young guys who used to come to the weekly soccer night we hosted during our last term has since professed Jesus as his Lord and Savior and is very involved in the ministry now! Seeing a life come to faith and be so transformed is such a beautiful and rewarding moment! During Derick’s recent home visits, they met this guy’s dad on the road and were able to share the gospel with him. We are continuing to pray for their family. Through these home visits, 2 people have prayed to receive Christ in the last couple weeks and several people have visited the church.

Israel and I make banana bread every week, which we send with Derick and sometimes we get to help deliver food to families in the area as a way to reach out. On one such recent visit, the guy’s first response when we handed him the treats was, “When is church?” We have found that little ways to bless people can go a long way! On this same trip to deliver the goodies, we stopped by the home of one family I had in mind, but they weren’t home so we continued into town to the little grocery store. We ended up running into this family and were able to give them a ride home. They have 3 little children and the wife’s sister and her baby live with them, as well. The sister has a brain tumor and will be undergoing surgery at the end of the month. During our last term here, I regularly met for Bible studies with these ladies and their little ones along with the pastor’s wife.

Early last week, Derick participated in a basketball tournament with guys from the local town, after meeting up with them in the square earlier in the week. He met one guy named, Marvin who speaks a little English and enjoys practicing it with Derick while they play basketball together. Last time we were here he found this was a good way to connect with guys in the area. He looks forward to continuing to build relationships connecting with them.

Derick was driving people home after church one evening when one of the older ladies started wheezing and coughing loudly and people around her were shouting for Derick to pull over. He was able to pull off the road and they got her out of the truck, but because we live in a rural area, they decided it was best to have the local medical person come check her out first, instead of taking her to the hospital, which is over an hour away. While he was on his way, I was able to use some of my things to check her vitals. Our friend (the local medical director) ended up giving her an inhaler and taking her home. This situation was a little scary, but thankfully she ended up being fine. The health director said it was likely due to all the dust and dirt on the road right now from it being the dry season. We really never know from one day to the next what may occur. Hopefully, sharing these stories gives you a glimpse into our ministry and lives here serving Christ.

Israel and I (Jill) have enjoyed fellowshipping with the local believers at the almost nightly church services. Israel easily makes lots of friends and since we live in a tropical area, they are so sweet to share their fresh produce with us (jocotes, avocados, mangos, bananas etc.).  Israel loves it and so do we! Last week, we were able to host the children from church in our home for children’s church and snacks. We also enjoyed meeting new friends at the playground in town while Papi (Derick) played basketball with some of the guys. We ended the evening with a yummy pupusa dinner at home.

Derick is continuing to preach weekly, and we have had several “divine appointments” with people where we have been able to share the gospel and pass out tracts as we go about life and ministry here in Central America.

  

Please pray with us for:

-Continued ministry with the short-term team that is here with us right now

-Continued health

-That God would go before us and soften peoples hearts to the gospel

-Wisdom in how to best provide skills training to people in the village we work in weekly

-The children who lost their friend a few weeks ago in the village where we do skills training

Happy Birthday Derick

March 9, 2017

  

I would like to take a moment and say happy birthday to my favorite person and the best hubby in the whole world.  I love and value you so much, babe!
I am so thankful to God for bringing us together. I could never have imagined how blessed I would be when God brought us together.
It has been an incredible journey, and I could not be more excited for what God has planned for us.
You are an amazing father to Israel, our future children, and an amazing husband. I am so thankful for your heart and sacrifice for our family.
Happy birthday to my husband, my best friend, my helpmate, and my biggest supporter.
Your Loving wife!
xoxo

Dillard Family Update

February 28, 2017

“Bienvenidos!” (“Welcome!”) We were greeted at the airport by several of our friends late one night last week as we returned to Central America. They all commented on how much Israel had grown while we’ve been gone and took turns holding him and giving lots of hugs and kisses. Israel was tired but managed to smile and speak a few of his Spanish phrases. On the drive home, Israel fell asleep, then he woke once we arrived back at the mission house (the same place we stayed last time we were here). Our sweet friends had decorated the outside of the house with balloons and a “Welcome” sign. Israel was excited to be “home” and play with some of his toys he hadn’t seen in awhile. He seemed to remember things about the house and toys.

The next few days were busy as we settled in and made a couple runs to the grocery store to restock on food and other items. On one of the runs into town, Derick was driving back toward home when someone in a car on the same road started honking at him. Derick asked the guy with him if he knew whose car it was, and he said he didn’t, but since the guy was still honking at them Derick decided to back up and see who it was. It was one of Derick’s friends! He was excited to see Derick and they chatted for a bit, then planned to get together sometime later in the week. This friend (a young guy about our age) was shot in the back in the capital city while working on his truck and is now paralyzed from the waist down. He speaks English since he grew up in the states and has only lived here the last few years. Derick stopped by his house a few days later and took him one of his favorites that he can’t find here, beef jerky! They had some good conversation and Derick was able to invite him to church again (we’ve brought him before). We are praying for God to draw his heart to him and for him to see his need for Jesus as we continue to develop a deeper friendship!

The first few days we were here, amidst the settling in and busy schedule, Israel and I (Jill) were battling coughs and colds and Israel developed a low-grade fever, which we quickly noticed was as a result of an eye infection (he first had this at the beginning of our last time here when he was only 8 months old). Thankfully it hasn’t been as bad as the first time! Israel and I were also welcomed “home” by a couple of fire ant bites (something we aren’t used to back home in NW Arkansas). Oh, and our second night here Israel decided to test out the instant hot water dispenser and quickly learned it wasn't a toy when some of the water came out on his hand. We cooled the burn and applied burn salve and he only had a little redness in the morning. We also made sure to turn off the hot water so this doesn’t happen again! Good health is something we learn not to take for granted living in a rural area in a place that doesn’t guarantee the same amenities we have back home. We frequently pray for protection from bacteria, accidents and other things that would complicate things or send us running to the doctor.

On Sunday, we were excited to get to see many of our friends at the regular afternoon church service! Israel seemed to love being immersed again in the Latin worship service and clapped along on the front row until the singing was complete, and then I took him out to play fútbol (soccer) with his little friends. At the end of the day he looked like he had had a fun time, he was sweaty and had dust and dirt stuck to him! lol 

Although the thought of a cold shower with year-round, summer-like weather doesn’t sound too bad, it normally takes some getting used to at the beginning. Israel wasn’t so sure about the cold shower, but he has outgrown the sink for sure now, so we had to try the shower. He held his hand in the water for a long time waiting for the water to warm up before we finally had to help him get in and quickly get cleaned up.

Derick had the opportunity to preach for one of the services this week (services are almost every day) and did a great job teaching about how to study the Bible and gave examples of ways the Old Testament points to Jesus being the Christ. We feel it is especially important to encourage believers to read their Bibles, since in the area we live in oftentimes even the Christians tend to rely on the pastor for their “spiritual food,” neglecting personal Bible study time with the Lord.

We look forward to reconnecting this weekend with the village ministry we regularly visited that continues to be a hot spot for violence. We will be looking to find local small business owners who may be able to come alongside us and share practical tips on saving money and getting a business up and off the ground in a difficult environment. A sweet local Christian lady has continued going into this village about every week to help continue the skills training classes while we were gone.

The house smells like banana bread right now as “mommy’s big helper” (Israel) helped me prepare the bread we will be delivering to our friends once it’s finished baking. This morning we worked together to get the laundry off the line and bring it inside. As my little Israel is running circles around me while I finish typing this update, I am reminded of my greatest mission field, my little family! Although at times life can seem overwhelming, I’m so grateful for my sweet, supportive hubby who reminds me that “God’s grace is sufficient” and encourages me when I wonder if my daily duties are enough.

We want to express our sincere gratefulness to everyone who has helped support us in our mission endeavors! We are so thankful for your constant support that helps us continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Please continue to pray for:

  • Continued health and security for each of us.

  • Upcoming U.S. short-term team who will be joining us for a period of ministry on the ground in a few weeks.

  • Evangelism and discipleship in our local area, that God will soften hearts.

  • Clear direction for next steps in the village with skills and business training.

  • New contact person for this same village since our previous contact person is no longer able to continue helping facilitate due to poor health. (Please pray for him, as they don’t think he will live much longer!)

  • Praise: the church we are working with has brought on another local pastor who has been able to help lighten the load (help with preaching and evangelism)!