WOW! What a week!!!

January 29, 2008

Wow!  What a week!  Thank you once again for all of your prayers!  It has made all the difference.  We have been humbled by the fact that God has used us in such powerful ways!  It is truly incredible! (I know I use that phrase a lot but it is so fitting!) 

We started this grand adventure a day late but we know without any doubt that is exactly how God planned it!  So many wonderful things happened because we were late.

  1. We were able to sleep in last Tuesday (the last time all week!) and missed the worst of the bad weather and horrible roads.
  2. We had an amazing adventure through 4 airports and a hotel!  There was so much laughter and we got to know each other much better even before the trip began.
  3. We also had the incredible blessing of having to do the dedication on Monday instead of Friday!  I thought it was the best way to do it.  It was awesome because we were able to do the medical clinics and then come back to our village. After being gone for a couple of days it felt like coming home.  🙂

We saw God moving through our trip every step of the way.  We simply could not have done this without Him.  It hardly seems possible that it was a week ago, when we were trying to leave Grand Rapids.  During our first devotions in the airport we started by talking about how we can stretch further than we thought we could, simply by focusing.  Ask a team member to show you what I am talking about!  It is fun!  We then talked about the fact that everything has a purpose, for example…when you see a nail, you look for a hammer so you can hammer the nail into something.  Many of us are fulfilling many different roles at once; wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, grandma, employee, business owner, nurse, teacher, volunteer etc… and we are able to do many things.  However, there are some things that we do that make our heart sing and others that simply leave us exhausted.  Just like you can use a nail for other purposes, such as, combing your hair, picking your teeth (although I wouldn’t advise that!) or scratching something… it was designed to be hammered into something!  We have all been designed for a purpose by our Creator.  This week we looked at ways we can embrace our current roles to bring glory to God. We had a long wait at the Atlanta airport but we were blessed with free hotel and food!  (The Dutch in us rejoiced!!)  Arriving into the Guatemalan airport felt like I was coming home but boy have they done a great job in the re-model!  Baggage claim was so slick and fast.  My heart soared when I saw Heidi, Dan and then Estuardo!  We are so blessed by these wonderful people.  We were finally here after months and months of planning God had brought us here.  Some of us looked a little shocked by that fact! 🙂

Our first devotions at the base were incredibly moving and powerful.  When I went on my secret spy mission to ask friends and families to please write about their ladies’ strengths, there was a bit of nervousness and apprehension.  However, the response was universally the same…they would come quietly over to me and either hand my the letters or whisper that it was in my church mailbox and then say, “Thank you for giving me the chance to tell her how much she means to me!”  Kevin had shaken his head at me when I brought down 25 mini packets of Kleenex; I think we only have 2 left!  Several of the women said, they were so surprised because they didn’t know who would write anything for them!  As we talked about our strengths and how God uses our weaknesses just like a cracked clay pot, the light of belief stirred in their souls.  Those letters had a profound impact on them.  Thank you for taking the time to write from your heart!  They will be cherished forever! 

On Thursday began our building day.  There were many nervous laughs and a few anxious tummies as we were getting ready to go however God had taken care of that too.  He allowed Satan to try and stop us several times but we honored God’s call and came anyway.  There were many on the team who had major things happen in their families before we left and had to make a difficult decision, to stay or go… they came!  The delay at the airport and Sya not being on our flight were all claimed by God so that He could show us how powerful He is!!  Then on the first night, Satan tried again.  I am positive that it was a last ditch effort to de-rail our team but in Christ we are victorious!  The rat that was in Sheri, Renee, Sya, Lynn, Deb and Maria’s room, picked the wrong group to mess with!  These strong ladies had overcome many fears simply by being here and that rat symbolized everything that was trying to keep them from serving here.  It did not work!  Instead it made them focus with a greater intensity on why they are here.  Sheri was not afraid instead she was furious at that stupid little animal.  🙂  There was much rejoicing when Dan and Estuardo killed it!  At that moment, we had conquered our fears and gave them to God, and He would honor that for the rest of the week!   

I will never forget the women’s faces when we pulled into our village, there was joy, fear, excitement all rolled into one.  As we piled out of the vans, there were children waiting for us, smiling and letting us take photos, and then we got the first glimpse of where we would be building.  Each team stood in prayer on their foundation and dedicate this home and family to God.  We had no idea how these beautiful people would enter our lives and hearts and we would never be the same!  The homes went up quickly and so did the relationships.  Senor Al, you would have been so impressed with our building skills, I know Dan was!!!  He has said we are the best women’s team ever (never mind the first and only!)    🙂

On Thursday our focus was on Loving Relationships.  We looked at Matt 22:37-38, Christ’s great commandment, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and the greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  love your neighbor as yourself.”  We truly looked at the second one and realized that not only are we called to love others but it impossible to love them if we don’t love ourselves.  We have each grown closer to each other as we grew closer to God.   

On Friday was a fun but tiring day…STUCCO Day!!!  We had planned that Dan was going to lead this but once again God’s timing is perfect.  I felt God leading me to use our Sunday’s message of Dreams and Passions.  God challenged us to look at our dreams and view the things in our life that brings great joy and excitement and then ask ourselves, how we can use them to bring God glory.  I challenged each woman to reflect on this all week as they reflected on their purpose.  Many of the women have found their ability to dream again and are passionate on making those dreams a reality!  This was a dream of mine, even though I had dreamed in detail for over 2 years, God used colors and details that astounded me! 

Our first medical clinic was incredible in its intimacy and the beauty of area.  When God prompted those precious 4 children to come forward, it was incredible!  Our 2nd medical clinic was a lot different and the harvest was so great!  The sunset, the stars and volcanoes all were there to remind us that God created all of this and we are His!  It is amazing to try and process all that has happened.

Yesterday was a wonderful way to end our stay in Guatemala. It was time to get our houses ready for dedication and occupation.  Before they could happen, however, we had to do some fine-tuning on the sanding of wall seams and nail holes after which we painted the interiors a rich, well, not really, green!  Totally awesome!!  Each building team had previously selected ways to decorate their houses.  Across walls were printed Scripture verses and vibrant flowers.  Two teams painted trees peppered with their hand prints in varieties of colors.

When the furniture came, blue plastic table and chairs, plus a bed frame and mattress, the families were invited in and the dedication began.  Each family received gifts specifically selected for them.  Whether it was the family of 7 children or the grandpa and grandma whose nest was empty, everyone was blessed and testified to that.  While Dan and Hermano Jesus presented the house, and more importantly, the Good News to each team’s family, team members were in their house or outside offering prayers for the new homeowners.  Pretty special! [One wonders if our homes had been prayed over – our lives, relationships and experiences would be more blessed.]

After a spectacular lunch of fresh tostadas spread with guacamole and onion, cheese and sauce, we headed up to a play area to have fun and games with village children.  Polishing fingernails, weaving pipe cleaners into “bracelets”, playing catch, listening to Maria tell a Bible story.  All these were wonderful ways to make connections with the boys and girls.  The time culminated with piñata time and millions and millions of kids converging on the candy that fell.  Amazing to watch. Dangerous to be too close. 🙂

Last night Dan finally joined our group and challenged us to become as the child bearing the fish and loaves.  Running and seeking out Christ, not listening to those who try to keep us from Him but offering ALL that we have!  Giving Him our strengths and weaknesses to be used for His glory.  Kneeling before that cross, hammering our dreams, passions, confessions we were once again reminded of His love for us.

I pray that you have been able to catch just a glimpse of our incredible time together!  I am so blessed that God called us to Guatemala.  Thank you once again for all of your prayers and support.  God has done mighty things through your prayers and this team’s willingness to serve. 

I simply ask that you continue to keep Dan and Heidi in your prayers.  Pray that they can get into the new mission base as soon as possible.  Where they are currently living is a terrible place for their family.  The school on the side of the mission is building yet another floor which will make this even more of a prison.  You can not even see the volcano any more!  They need to have a sanctuary for themselves so that they can be able to serve the Lord even more effectively!

I also ask you to continue to pray for this team of women as they go back home with new dreams and passions to bring glory to our Lord and Savior. 

I leave this blog with a challenge to you.  May you seek God’s will for YOUR life and ask Him where He is calling you.  Seek out the dreams that He has placed before you and with great PASSION pursue them!

In His Grip!

Kristy Van Wyhe

Good morning from Guatemala!

Wow!  Once again God proved His power and the victory that we can all claim as ours!

The day started early again as we got ready to do some shopping!  Dan made it work for us to get to the market in Antigua, which the women all apprciated.  After figuring out the money, getting directions to McDonalds and the stores, we were off.  It was fun watching everyone looking around at all the sights and then realize that the Guatemalans were having fun looking at us!  🙂 

After the traditional lunch of McDonalds ( I am so sorry Kev, but I didn’t get a McFlurry!  I will explain when I get home! 🙂 )  we headed to our 2nd medical clinic.  The first one we froze and this one we were HOT!  Being closer to the coast meant hotter temps, we all loved every moment of the heat (90 degrees) knowing the snow that awaits us!  The road to the school was impassible  so we used our Guatemalan flexibility to make new plans.  We set up on the “soccer field” and the medical clinic on a covered porch. 

We started playing with the kids while the medical clinic got underway.  This village was very sick.  There were only 3 normal diagnoses and the rest were quite ill.  They handed out many antibiotics, all bottles of cold medicine, infant vitamin drops, and many many others.  The villagers teeth were rotting and falling out, even the young children.  We decided that as moms, we could NOT give any candy out here!!!  They never missed it!

The rest of the team began building relationships through soccer, coloring pages, handing out Dirk’s bags, making necklaces,  reading books, painting fingernails, jumprope and of course getting mobbed everytime we brought out something new!  But it is ALL GOOD!

We never really had dinner because the film had to start long before the medical clinic was done. As the film began, there were many who were riveted to the  screen blowing in the wind.  It was a beautiful night with the stars being so clear and so close you could almost touch them.  It was incredible to think that had you been able to step out on your front porch in Michigan last night and looked up at the sky, we would have been seeing the same stars!

We sang our Spanish songs again ( a bit better tonight!) and the testimonies began.  Sue Van’t Hof started it off with a beautiful sharing of how she came to know the Lord. She was followed by an empassioned Deb Door who shared from her heart and the villagers were listening with their hearts.  I simply thanked them for allowing us to come. Then Hermano Jesus came out and WOW did he simply explode with the message that the Holy Spirit gave him.  He knew exactly where the people were and how to lead them to understand who Jesus Christ is.  We don’t preach religion.  We don’t preach dogma.  We share the love of Jesus Christ.  Pure and simple and with a firey Guatemalan preacher thrown in! 

The crowd was restless in the back, the ones sitting never took their eyes of him.  Midway through, I felt God calling us to pray for this village and for the walls to come down.  The team responded in beautiful ways and the Holy SPirit took over!  We felt the mighty rushing wind as the Holy SPirit came down and our old Papa (who loved to use crayons and color with the children) came running forward and placed his face at the foot of where the movie had been playing.  Wailing and crying out to the Lord He sought forgiveness.  Twyla was there immediately placing her hand on his back, praying for him.  Lynn came alongside her as well.  Wave after wave of people came forward, and the team surrounded each and every one! Hermano Jesus wasn’t done yet.  He felt the Holy Spirit cry out that there were more in this village that needed the Lord and wanted to come forward.  He cried out for Estuardo to go to certain groups and they then came forward.  There were additional ones who needed prayer long after we were done.  I have no idea how many people came forward but it was more than 50!  It was so amazing!!!!

We are off to the dedication day and fiesta!  Please pray for our families today as we offer the greatest gift…not the house but the everalasting security of salvation!  Thank you!!!

Please pray for us tonight as Dan leads the team in our final devotion!  Pray for clarity.  I am so grateful that I am on this team!  What an incredible time!!  God has been moving through the team as well.  Lives are being changed and I can’t wait until you can hear the many stories in person!

May God continue to dump blessings on your head!!

See you tomorrow night!

In His Grip!

Kristy

Buenos Dias de Guatemala!

January 27, 2008

Good morning once again from the incredibly beautiful Guatemala!  Last night was simply magnificent!  After a busy morning of getting 2 medical clinics, dedication bags for the families, the fiesta items and the entire medicine ready we left for our first medical clinic, minus one team member.  Brenda Banga decided to stay back because she was absolutely exhausted and she wanted to be ready for today.  After our Guatemalan prayer time (we are getting better and better at those) and praying over Hermano Jesus and me (because of my headache) we climbed into our next adventure! 

 The drive was beautiful and only about 1 1/2 hours away.  The incredible beauty of this country is stunning!  It was like driving through the mountains of Colorado yet there was such poverty all around us.  When we finally pulled into the town, the people were so excited that we were there.  In fact this is the same village that Kevin came to on his very first medical clinic in 2001!  Dan has been looking for it ever since, being a typical man he might have found it sooner but never asked for directions! 🙂  (Just kidding Dan!  He couldn’t remember where it was, and in fact didn’t know we were going there until we drove up!)

I stayed in one of the vans and slept for about an hour.  I woke up refreshed and rearing to go! 🙂  The rest of the team and many eager helpers carried in all the medicine, toys, candy, little bags, craft stuff and everything else we had brought.  They began by handing out the little bags that was Dirk Van Wyk’s dream. (A great big HUGE thank you to Dirk and all the women who sewed the 300 bags!!  They were such a blessing!!!  Dirk, the kids loved them just like you imagined they would!)The medical clinic was up and running and there were shouts and squeals of laughter from the children and team members!  After many games of hokey pokey, the infamous chicken dance, soccer, making beaded necklaces, playing American football,  jump rope, taking hundreds of photos, painting fingernails, singing and swinging kids around….the relationships were built!! 

 It has been such a blessing to have Maria and Tambrea here with our team as they are fluent in a way that we have never been before with a team!  They spent hours talking with the women and learning more about their lives.  Maria has been preparing for this trip all her life and the impact that she is having on the people of Guatemala and this team is beyond words!  Everywhere they go, the women of the villages ask them why are these American women here.  Don’t they have children? Jobs? Husbands?  Why would all these women come to Guatemala?  Maria and Hermano Jesus used that in their messages to the village.  The only reason we came is that we love them because Christ first loved us!  We want to share with them how much Jesus Christ loves them and how He desires to have a relationship with each one of them!

All of the afternoon interaction came together when we gathered in the school to watch the Jesus film.  We had to move it inside because it was sooooooo cold and windy!  So much for the hot January that we were told about!  (It has rained every day and is much cooler than normal! 🙂  God’s sense of humor!  We sat down with children all over us and watched.  They were mesmerized  by the story and were eager to hear more. 

After the movie we went forward to sing.  Of course, Maria and Tambrea taught us songs in Spanish and we did pretty good!!  Not the loudest but with much joy!!  The faces of the village as they realized they understood our words was priceless!

Dan had asked Maria to be the translator, which was an incredible blessing!  She shared her story and they didn’t take their eyes off of her.  She made a huge impact with her honesty!  Then Sya came up and gave such a beautiful testimony of her families heritage of faith.  Tambrea came up and again it was such a blessing that she could speak from her heart in their language. Last but not least, Carol Haan gave her testimony!  God used her words to share the love that she has for these special people!  Then Hermano Jesus began preaching!  The Holy Spirit came roaring around as we began to understand more and more of his Spanish.  When the altar call was given a little boy raised his hand and came forward with his cousin.  The two little girls that were on my lap had been weeping while Hermano Jesus was preaching and with gentle encouragement from me, the Holy Spirit and one of the girls step-mothers, they came forward. 

These four precious little children came forward and kneeled before their King and told their entire village that their Savior is Jesus Christ!  When the team surrounded them to pray for a hedge of protection to be placed around these precious lives, I don’t know who was sobbing more….them or us!

One of the little girls, Nuvia, tried to tell me something very important.  I understood that she wanted me to pray for her but I couldn’t catch all the details.  I found Heidi who explained that this little girls mother had abandoned her, and her father had re-married and has a new baby.  She was asking for prayer for her Papa, her new mom, her brother who is very rebellious and that she is living with her grandma, who will not like that she became a Christian.  Her step-mom is also a Christian and sought out Maria for the same prayers of protection! 

God is sooooo Good!  I am once again humbled by the fact that He is using us to do His glorious work!  Thank you once again for your prayers and support!  We feel them so much! 

 Today we are heading to Antigua to do a little shopping before we head to the coast for our last medical clinic.  Please pray for continued health and safety and that many lives will be changed for Christ!

In His Grip!

Kristy

Prayers for today

January 26, 2008

Hola family & friends!

We’ve been busy this morning preparing meds, packing all the goodies for our trip to the medical clinic this afternoon, and posting pictures & videos.  There is so much excitement & energy, although we have a few women who are not feeling well & resting up before our trip.  Please pray for health, strength, safe travels, and that many lives will be changed today!

Good morning everyone!

I have no words to describe the deep emotions that are going through me right now! (I will try to find them somewhere 🙂  since it is simply incredible to watch how God unfolds!) 

Yesterday was amazing!  (I really need to bring along  a thesaurus for better descriptive words then what I currently have in my brain!)  In the morning the entire team was  eager to get back to our village.  The excitement was contagious as we got ready to go.  Each and every person said pretty much the same thing,
“I can’t wait to see our families and see if our homes are still standing!”

Our houses.  How can I describe what those homes are like?  If I am giving simply the basic description of 4 walls, 1 window, 1 door, pink stucco, oh yeah and of course it is “plum” (Al you would be so proud!)  However, that would not begin to describe what these homes are.  They are a form of security that these people have never had.  THey are a tangible reminder that somewhere in the world people care about them.  They are a reminder that we can’t do it alone but look out and see what we can do as a team!

This team of women is remarkable in so many ways!  They all listened to the Holy Spirit as they were nudged (and in some cases SHOVED) out of the boat they were in and came in trust that they needed to be here.  This team was created long ago by God and I am so grateful that He allowed me to be a part of it!

The laughter and tears are so good!  We are constantly reminded that God is in control and we can rest in that assurance. 

It was incredible as the women looked at what they had done, even if there was a “little” extra mud on some, and felt good deep in their bones.  They had done it!!  They worked togther and achieved something that many people doubted would happen.  The look of satisfaction as they surveyed their homes gave me such a deep sense of contentment!

I took Deb Door and Lynn to find jorge and Gloria from last summer.  Jorge and Gloria had been our teams favorite but for Jason Door and Spencer VanderHeide they were extra special.  Jorge was about a year old when we were there last.  Jason simply loves that little boy and was always cuddling with this beautiful baby!  Gloria was the darling of our team and she would gladly give everyone a hug but for Spencer she would leap out of anyones arms and yell out “Spennnnnnccceeeerr!”  Jason and Spencer gave us pictures to bring back.  I finally found the house and as we knocked on the door, I hoped I would be able to communicate in an effective way.  The oldest sister was holding this big boy and as I asked about Jorge and Gloria, she said this is Jorge!  I couldn’t believe how much he had changed.  He is taller and thinner but as adorable as ever. Then the mama brought out Gloria.  (They had changed her clothes to be in more special ones!) And as I spoke in my broken spanish their eyes danced with recognition.  Of course they remembered Spencer and Jason!!!   I gave Gloria the picture from Spence and a little doll.  her eyes lit up and were so excited!!  The mama and sister  explained how much they loved our team and how those two were special to them.  WHen I introduced Deb as Jason’s mom, their eyes grew extra wide and said, “but jason is so biiigggg!”  🙂
WE gave them thepictures and when they realized that they got to keep them, they were so thrilled.  Mama said Jorge will now be able to remember Jason forever!!

Seeing the new base again stirred my spirit and passions once again.  This is not just a nice place but is NECCESSARY for Dan and Heidi to do more effective ministry!  GOd has this all planned and I can’t wait as we come alongside of them to make their dream a reality!!

Last night we did our devotions that I had planned to do on Sunday.  It was on Dreams and Passions and was one I am very passionate about!  🙂  Seeing this week unfold was my dream come true and it was so exciting last night to hear how others have found their dreams or have new ones that they want to pursue.  This group is going to move mountains and I am so excited to see what God has planned for all of us!

Today our mission shifts and we ask for your prayer coverage as we go out to do spiritual battle.  As Hermano Jesus presents the salvation message of Jesus Christ, pray us through and pray for the lives that will be changed!!  Maria and Tambrea have taught us 3 songs to sing in Spanish and we are eager to try!  Hopefully it will be more than joyful noise! 

The pictures are coming!  There have been difficulties getting them up.  Please have patience and pray for Karen as she has stayed up late each night to work on it! 

We love you and are so grateful for your prayers!!
In His Grip!
Kristy

The journey continues…..

January 26, 2008

Today was such an exciting day.  We worked so hard yesterday and everything is such a new experience.  But today was so exciting to go back to the families that we just met yesterday.

 You could sense the excitement of the day as we headed into stucco and sand.  We started out with sanding and a second thin coat of mud.  That’s when the real excitement began.  These families knew what was about to happen before we knew.  Dan gave us a demonstration on how to stucco and sent us off with our trowels and we all started spreading stucco on the homes.  That’s when it hit us – the kids.  They couldn’t help us enough!  They were the runners – they would literally run back and forth with the stucco on boards.  We just kept spreading it on & before you knew it, we had a beautiful pink home.

We then had time to play with the kids.  We found an open area and the kids came.  They watched as many women demonstrated & played games such as cat, cat, dog (didn’t have our Spanish translators nearby), London Bridges, & even the Hokey-Pokey.  It was very funny!  The kids just laughed – for many it was the first time we saw them laugh.  Of course, we hear a little of the laughter when we try to speak in Spanish or act silly. 

We had a wonderful lunch, prepared by Margarita and the women of the village.  The lunch was worth a week’s worth of wages for them.  It is nice to see Dan interact with the adults of the village and also Hermano Jesus and Estuardo, Paradise Bound staff.

We then took a drive to the (hopefully soon to be) new mission base.  It was wonderful to see the new living quarters and where it will be – high in the hills and surrounded by villages.  But yet we were reminded of the verse – “Come ye apart and rest awhile.”  We know this is a dream for so many to have this complex and God has been in this as it comes to completion.  We were reminded of God’s promises to us.  As we stood on the hill there, the most beautiful rainbow appeared.  It was not high in the sky but you looked straight out at it.

We ended the day with singing & devotions.  Tomorrow is a village medical clinic day.  We are excited & nervous.  Please be in prayer for us because Hermano Jesus will present the gospel.  We ask for safety in travel and that many will come to know Christ.

Team 1 – Las Edificadoras (builders)

Sya, Deb, Jill, Kim, Kristy, Renee, Tambrea, Heidi

Good morning everyone,
It has been incredible to see the way God is using each one of these special women to build not only homes but relationships with eachother and the beautiful people here. Yesterday was a big day and every one worked hard. The teams truly were just that….teams. They encouraged, laughed, and truly worked as one.

There was a lot of fear and apprehension yesterday morning as we loaded up the vans. Not knowing what to expect and still not really believing that they were actually going to build a home. Thhere was a lot of nervous laughter as we left but when we arrived in the village and saw the beautiful children waitingeagerly for us, tensions melted away. Walking into our little compound and seeing the 3 slabs of concrete, that were soon to become the homes that will make a differance here and an avenue to share the love that Christ has for them, was very humbling! Many of our team were in tears as we prayed on the foundation that God will put His hedge of protection around this special family.

Watching the women as each house grew, was something I will always cherish! Some of them looked truly astonished that they were indeed building these homes. They couldn’t believe how fast it was going and were so proud of their hard work!

My team had the great honor of having Heidi lead us through the building process. WHAT A BLESSING SHE IS!!! In her quiet, encouraging voice she quickly got each one of us involved. Even when we messed up (nothing big, just a few too many screws or a little extra hole in the dry wall -) she would laugh and say,”No problem…the mud or stucco will hide that!” And we would move on! She is amazing and we are all blessed to have her. At night she has been joining us for the team time, while Dan stays with the kids. It has been a lot of fun and it is going so well!!!

Today is going to be a big day as we get the stucco and hopefully if the weather cooperates start the painting in the interior. Dan is actually trying to figur out ways that we can still do a little shopping, go see the new base and visit Kevin’s little girl, Analy! I just trust that God will make whatever we need to do, work out!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! It is so clearly evident that God is doing exactly what is the best and that we are so excited that He is using us!!

In His Grip!
Kristy