Dear Friends and Family
We have been back in Guatemala almost two months now, and sometimes it feels like a lifetime. With all the devastation of the hurricanes, flooding and landslides we have had some busy times. There is always a certain amount of stress involved in some of the decision making, in prioritizing the requests and even in how to access to certain areas ... very difficult and some areas, very dangerous because of the terrain and landslides.
It might be hard for you to imagine when in North America, generally, there is very good infrastructure. When a natural disaster happens, there is plenty of equipment and manpower to step in and fix it. In Guatemala only the areas of highest priority get the equipment and manpower first. Everyone else waits, or tries to fix it by hand, and sometimes they wait for months, and sometimes it never gets fixed.
Many of you sent additional funds to help with relief efforts and we thank you so very much for that. We have been able to offer relief in a variety of ways. We have provided food and medical to individual requests, and we have provided food and medical to other ministries for their own areas. I think almost every shelter in the area of Coban, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Tactic have had the benefit of Gleaners Soup. The food, medical, and seeds have gone by car, truck, helicopter, boat, raft, mule, and by being carried on the backs of men. We have met and worked with some amazing Guatemalans during this process, those who love their own people and their country. It is an honour and privilege for us to join them.
For many villages, it will be a long road to recovery. Not only many homes and all their personal belongings were lost, but crops of corn, beans, coffee and cardamom were lost, and for many of them, their storage of corn and beans that keep them going until the next harvest was ruined.
The invitations to show the Jesus Film and The Hope in the villages have begun again, and both films were recently shown in two remote villages in which food was brought after the floods, both showings were to a packed audience.
We are moving ahead with Pastor training. We’ve made a connection with a fellow CTENer, Pedro Samuc, who has been working in Bible translation into the indigenous languages starting back in 1982. Meeting Pedro was such an answer to prayer. He is mature, he is humble, and he comes with some incredible skills to bring to this Pastor training project that the Lord has put before us. He is indigenous himself, and he said his heart is for those mountain pastors who have little opportunity to increase their knowledge and training of Biblical principles.
We met with him and Sergio, Chris and Leah and ourselves and it was decided in the end that it might be best for the first three months for them to be taught how to study the Bible. Pedro will undertake those classes and Sergio will translate into Q’eqchi’. We will then assess the program from there.
Currently, a number of applications are out in the communities, and once we receive them back, a decision will be made on the admissions. We are very excited to undertake this venture.
We have often thought “who are we, (just regular people) that God would take us and use us for His purposes, through our failings and our weaknesses and give us such joy in the doing”. We see, as we have taken little steps of faith over the years how He has been with us all the way. It’s as we look back, we see His provision. This gives us the courage to keep moving forward. Such a great God we serve.
Although hard at times, missing family and the ease and familiarity of home, we do love this life He has called us to and how He has grown us and is growing us still into the image of His son. We know it will be a lifelong process (we are far from perfect) and we don’t know what tomorrow brings. But by faith, we take the next step with Him.
A verse that encourages us often is from 2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.
Please pray with us for the Lord’s purposes to be achieved in this Pastor training.
How beautiful on the mountains are
The feet of those who bring good news,
Who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
Who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and your New Year full of joy and wonder.
Denis & Eileen Nogue