“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)!