Happy Birthday Jill!

May 17, 2017

I am so thankful that God chose you to be my helpmate in life. You are a radiant example of the love of Christ. Walking through life with you has been one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced. I have seen the love and care you have shown your family, Israel, and they people we are working with every day. You make me a better person every day. I love you with all that I am and it is such an honor to be your husband!
Happy birthday my love!!

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." 
-1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

We received a phone call on Monday from a friend here in Central America informing us that one of our other good friends (a fellow Christian) had been murdered the day before and that his family had found his body down by the river earlier that morning! 

As you'll recall from our last email, we talked about these friends of ours who we'd had the opportunity to invite into the hospitality house for a meal recently as they have been going through a really tough time after the death of his grandmother and murder of his 20 year old cousin and then the stroke his daughter had when she received the news. Now they have been spending most of the time in their home for fear of being kidnapped or killed as violence has escalated in their area. 

Even though we had spoke with our friend and his family about the realities of the dangers here, and especially in their area right now, we were shocked when we learned of his kidnap and murder. We've had them into our home three times in the past couple weeks!

Last week at this time his wife was teaching us to make traditional food and we all enjoyed lunch together. The Saturday before, we fixed an "all-American" lunch (hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and watermelon) as a special treat since we knew how much our friend loved it. 

After our regular church service last night, Derick was able to attend the funeral service with some people from church while Israel and I (Jill) stayed back at the house. Typically funerals are held in a family member's home and last several hours into the night. Our friend's funeral was held in their area and Derick and some men from church were able to share some words of encouragement with the family and guests. We have cried and continue to grieve the loss of our dear friend. 

Please pray for our friend's wife, son, daughter, granddaughter and other relatives. Please also pray for God to allow the local church and us to reach out to their family and be able to love on and comfort them during this difficult time. 

We will only be here a little while longer, before we return to the States to prepare for the birth of our second little one, so please also continue to pray for God's strength and grace to carry on with responsibilities and make the most of the short time left here before our return. 

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end"..."He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" 
-Revelation 22:12-13, 20

The aroma of sweaty kids and stinky feet still lingers in the hospitality house (the place where we are living while we are here working on the mission field in Central America) a couple hours after everyone has gone, but we all had a wonderful time playing and enjoying refreshments together.
Although we try to make the hospitality house as inviting and comfortable as possible to those who may visit, we don’t easily forget the violence and hardships in our area that remind us of the reason we are here, to preach the gospel, encourage the church, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world. 
We had the privilege of having some of our friends, who have been going through a really difficult time, into our home this week for an American meal. They lost their grandma a few weeks ago, then 8 days later their 20-year-old cousin was brutally murdered as she was selling coconuts at a roadside stand. When our friend’s teenage daughter received the news, she immediately had a stroke! They continue to live in fear of being kidnapped or killed and now seldom leave their home. 
Twice this week, one of the ladies from church and I (Jill) were able to meet here in the house with a young momma whose husband recently left her with two children, one of whom has special needs. We were able to bless her with dinner, encouraging fellowship, and some gifts sent down by friends in the States. I look forward to continuing to reach out to her and let our little ones play together.
Derick has continued to preach once a week and Israel and I have enjoyed being involved in special music for several of those church services. A sweet girl on the last short-term missions team gifted me with a violin when she left. She said she bought a cheap one to bring on the trip and wanted to leave it with me once she found out I played violin and wasn't able to bring mine down here.

 

 Please continue to pray with us for:
-Continued financial support as we still need to raise additional support for the rest of our time here on the field as well as the time we will be home surrounding the birth of our second little boy due in early July. Thank you to those of you who are supporting us already! (Donate online: www.dillardfamily.com)
-Continued health. We have been dealing with seasonal allergies as the shift from “dry season” to “rainy season” is beginning.
-That hearts would be softened to the gospel and Christians would continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus. 
-Those who are facing difficult situations, that God would give us wisdom in how to best reach out to them. 
-The young momma who is still awaiting a call to the hospital for brain surgery. 
 
Praises: 
-We are very encouraged to see the local church growing and follow-up happening weekly as the local church and ministry we work with brought on another pastor several months ago who is able to focus more on evangelism and discipleship. 
-We continue to reach out to the local youth in whatever ways we can and enjoyed having several guys into our home for dinner last Sunday after a game of soccer on the sport court that the ministry we work with built. We look forward to continuing this outreach. 
-Velma has come to church multiple times recently and we have visited their home and delivered homemade baked goods a couple times since the first visit. Keep praying for her!

To see the rest of this photo album please click here.