May 9, 2017
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.
-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!
April 17, 2017
As some of you may know, Derick's grandpa passed away last week. Thank y’all so much for praying for us and for all the encouraging words. We miss “Paw Paw” a lot. We had just talked with him a couple of weeks before he passed. Thank you for your continued prayers for the other family members and us, including his wife of nearly 62 years. We are comforted knowing that Paw Paw is with Jesus (& Derick’s dad, Rick) and we will see him again one day
Although the past few days have brought sadness to our hearts, we’ve also had reason to celebrate, since Israel turned 2 years old just a few days ago! We celebrated over the last few days as a family and then yesterday with friends from church. We had about 20 of Israel’s friends come to the “hospitality house” (the home the ministry we work with is letting us stay in) for snacks, fellowship and a piñata.
Like I (Jill) mentioned in our last update, we had the privilege of working with a short-term team from the states for about 2 weeks. The ministry we work with sends down several teams a year that each have different focuses. This team’s focus was women’s ministry. Several ladies from the states come every year to put on women’s conferences, as well as do evangelism and ministry. Some of the areas we helped in were the children’s ministry, evangelism and Derick helped lead team Bible study times. It was an exciting time having the team here and also meant lots of long, fruitful days and travel.
On one of the recent home visits with the team, several of the ladies and I were able to talk with one young momma (her little boy and Israel are about the same age) who used to come to church but has since stopped coming. We were able to clearly present the gospel and explain to her that “being a Christian” isn’t about just “praying a prayer for God to take you to heaven,” being a “good person,” or even going to church every week. We shared our testimonies and reiterated that being a Christian is about asking Jesus to be the “Lord” of your life (letting him take control) and also asking him to be your Savior (take you to heaven one day). She was very attentive to what we shared; yet she wasn’t ready to commit her life to the Lord since it would most likely cause strain in family relationships. Please be in prayer for Velma that God will continue to soften her heart.
As a part of our ministry here, we have become more focused on youth ministry in our local area. Many times, if the hearts of the young people aren’t directed toward Jesus at an early age, they will turn to the violence or street life. We have had many opportunities since we have been here to come alongside the local church in reaching out to the youth and being a part of their lives. Derick has been able to preach and encourage the youth who are Christians to share their faith. He has also been able to teach ESL classes a couple of times with a few guys and do some math tutoring. Last weekend we joined the youth for a special outing to the beach. Derick has also continued to build relationships by playing basketball and participating in tournaments in the local square.
Israel and I made Easter/Resurrection Day cookies that we shared with people in the community along with a gospel message. It is common here in our area for people to focus on the suffering of Jesus and lose sight of the hope that we can have through salvation because Jesus rose again. We wanted to highlight this important reality this last week on Easter Sunday.
The pregnancy is going well thus far, as we make it into the home stretch now. Little “Samuelito” (as the locals call him) sometimes wakes mommy up at night now with his active kicking. We look forward to returning home soon to prepare for the birth (before we can’t fly anymore!).
Please be in prayer for:
-Brenda: a young, Christian momma with a 2-year-old little girl. Her husband left her after her health declined due to a brain tumor that came back right before their baby was born a couple of years ago. She is awaiting a call from the hospital any day now (as soon as a bed is available) when she will go in for her brain surgery…she doesn’t know what her outcome will be. She has been told she could die, be in a permanent comatose state, or not be able to speak.
-A young momma from our area who just lost her husband 2 days ago to kidney failure. They have a 2-year-old little boy.
-Continued wisdom and open doors in our work with adults and youth affected by violence.
-Our continued health.
-More fellowship opportunities with local women in our home (Lord, willing I will meet for fellowship and Bible study with some ladies the middle of this week.)
-Follow-up with people who have heard the gospel and softened hearts.
-Israel is back to normal after a somewhat scary 5 days of him running a fever and not feeling well. (Thank you to those of you who sent comforting and encouraging messages our way!) We were also blessed by one of our local friends bringing us a meal during this time.
April 6, 2017
It's so hard to believe our little Israel is already 2 years old! He loves playing play-dough, basketball, soccer, football, killing bugs, reading books, eating food and running with Daddy! Israel, we pray you will grow up to love Jesus and serve others! You are a sweet little guy and we love you so much!
-Mommy and Daddy
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
-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