Thursday, October 23, 2008

Someone dared me to post this picture!
Of course, I'm not at liberty to tell you this person's name, but it's a female who is a musically-inclined RN, who drives a green Ford Escape named Nellie, and who hasn't posted for over a month, and whose initials are CM.

Of course, one doesn't have to accept dares, but I thought this one might be worth it.

I do have some more Guatemala pictures, by the way; I'll try to get at least a couple more trip posts up before too long.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guatamala 7 -- Lee Rickenbach and I went to the El Porvenir church here in Jalapa for tonight's service. This is the second of our Emanuel churches in the city of Jalapa. Pictured is the pastor, Medardo Andrade, opening the service with wonderful worship chorus that helped set the stage for a blessed service. The pulpit is made of class with a wooden edge around the top and is filled with flowers. No photos of the outside, since it's very rundown. They're neglecting it as they save money to construct a larger church building.

This is René Ortega, who has known our family for years, though he was just a young boy when we served here in the 1970s. His prelude, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," both sung and played, really set the stage for tonight's service.

This singing group presented two nice special songs.

This is the beginning of the preaching time. I'm giving greetings or making some other preliminary comments at this moment. I like the picture on the wall behind the platform, a man trying to "walk in the steps of the Savior."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guatemala 6 -- Just a couple of extras: First, here's the mega-bottle of Tiky that Maria found the other day. No, I'm not drinking it all! Kristin Duncan likes it, too, and Ronald, Anna, and Heidi Smith had a glass each to give it a try. It's a sort of pineapple flavor. There are two or three imitations around, but they don't even come close. The Tiky ads used to say, "Para la gente bonita" -- for the beautiful people. So I tell folks that I want some so that I can get better looking.

Okay, here's my new Einstein look, created just today. Formula: Wash hair the night before; use minimal amount of gel to comb it the next morning; drive down the highway with windows open. Ta da! Simple as that!

James Rickenbach saw me and said, "Einstein!" Then he told us that Einstein had once said, "When I think of the universe, I think of myself; and when I think of myself, I remember that I need a comb."

My wife says that she likes the "dry look." Really, Love?
Guatemala 5 -- This is the church Rudy Solís and I attended this morning, in a mountain town called Mataquescuintla; also called Colís, the name most people use. The parsonage is at the left.

The original church was pretty short, only reaching to the brick arch that you see here. When Rudy pastored here a few years ago they extended to where the platform is now and added space on the left side of the new addition as well. He tells me that on Sunday evenings the sanctuary is full.

These fellows played for the congregational singing and gave us a special song at the close of the service. I don't think they're the regular musicians at the church. They left after the morning service to be elsewhere tonight, and then are going for a two-week tour in Petén in northern Guatemala.

Rudy called for a special time of prayer at the close of the service, and almost all the adult attendees came forward. After the service ended, three young men came expressing interest in studying in the Bible institute starting in January.

We had a tasty meal of "pollo con crema" (creamed chicken with rice) afterward. Here's Rudy with his plate of food. We also had Tiky to drink, but I didn't take another picture to show the regular bottle.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guatemala 3 -- Time to do a quick update on my Guatemala visit. I spent most of my waking hours in this classroom from Monday afternoon through Friday noon. Trying to get 35 class hours into four days will do that to you! Lee Rickenbach shot these pictures for me, both with available light. We were having a pretty good class discussion when he came in.

The fellow at front left in the gray shirt and the lady on the right sitting in the corner will graduate at the end of this month. With my class they both have more than enough to get their profesorado diplomas.

On Friday afternoon we dedicated the new ACE teacher training center. The heavy gray clouds threatened rain, but we only got a few drops at the very end of the two-hour service. The top of the two-story structure at the rear is a classroom and was part of what we were dedicating. The other portion is a large classroom in a building to the right. This year they're having school in the large classroom, but the church that is sponsoring the school is to have a place of their own in another year, and this will become a place to train teachers and supervisors for starting school in other churches.

The Smith Family: Granddaughter Heidi at the left, with Anna and Ronald. Money came from Anna and her sisters in memory of their mother to help finish the building and remodeling of the center. Heidi's parents, Douglas and Naomi Smith, have been missionaries in Mexico and are now working at Northwest Indiana Bible School.

James and Rachel Rickenbach cutting the ribbon near the start of the service.

Ronald and Anna Smith unveiling the plaque that will be placed in the center, which has been named for Anna's mother, Rachel Wiles. Ronald and Anna are finishing 30 years with Evangelistic Faith Missions and have served in Eritrea and in Bible schools in the U.S. They wrote EFM's centennial book and Faith Hemmeter's autobiography, and are now working on Irene Maurer's book.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Guatemala 2 -- This is Sunday night, and since tomorrow starts the heavy teaching schedule, I figured I'd get another update on here before my time gets squeezed too much. Click on the pix to make them larger.

The church shown here is our "central church" in Jalapa. The two-story affair on the corner is the pastor's residence, which is also serving as church offices and a meeting place for the district and regional pastors' groups. The church is the pinkish part on down the road from the house with the sort of swept-wing thing that rises on the far end. The sky here is cloudy, but the light is good, since this was scheduled to be a 5:00 service. Notice that I said, "scheduled to be." It was well after 5:30 before we got started.

We got a pretty good surprise tonight. When the pastor got up to preach, he instructed a certain group of people to assemble in one section of the church. I was totally puzzled. Turns out that the Jalapa church is releasing a group of 49 people to go start a church in another part of town, a neighborhood called "Las Panorámicas de Jumay" and it will become our 4th church in this small city. Here are the 36 that were present tonight, lined up in front of the altar.

The pastor gave a short message before having them come up, and there was also time for the national church president, the regional leader, and the district leader to make their comments. Interestingly, we missionaries were left out, except that we were invited to the platform as witnesses. This is THEIR church!

This photo captures the moment when the national church president actually pronounced the changeover for these people from the central church to their own congregation.

Members of the local church board and the leaders who had spoken had a time of prayer and went up and down the line laying hands on the various people.

Lee Rickenbach praying for José Alberto Rivas, a retired pastor who is living in that neighborhood and will be part of the church. He says he won't be pastoring, but will probably be helping out some.

Afterwards they had bread, coffee, and tamales. Sorry, those of you who would like food pix, but I was busy eating and didn't get a photo! The tamales were good, though. And like I told someone tonight, in less than two days here I've already about had it all: Tamale, chuchito, and tortillas. About all I lack now is a Tiky, my favorite soft drink here.
Guatemala 1 -- Arrived in Guatemala City yesterday afternoon and met up with Lee and Sharen Rickenbach. Went to a Mennonite place where they were staying so we could load up their purchases and then head for Jalapa. The Mennonite guest place is well laid out and nicely landscaped, as you can see. (I think the photos will enlarge if you click on them.)

For those who got my first e-mail, here's the way the two buildings are constructed, so that a person only has to worry about half-flights of stairs in going from one floor to another. Saves a lot of tiring climbing.

Here's a neat combination tree planter and garden bench.

Look at the gorgeous flowers that hang down along this outdoor corridor. Very nice!

Close-up of the flowers. I wonder if they're related to the orchid family, the way they grow.

We had a late lunch at a buffet, where they had the first chocolate fountain I've seen. Too bad the chocolate wasn't very high quality, like a Hershey or Dove brand.

Here's the San Juancito church that we visited this morning. It was a promo service for the Bible school and I preached. This is the congregation (the building is different) where I held my first revival meeting in Spanish in Feb. 1974, and there are people who still remember it.

In front of the building and again below, Aroldo Bocanegra, who was one of my students in the school years ago. He and some others make II John 4 come alive: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth . . ."

Lee Rickenbach, urging the people to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers." He also made announcements about the school's upcoming activities and academic year.

Lee, Aroldo, and a student singing.

The congregation. The fellow in the orange shirt in the aisle and a guy in a black shirt behind him are taking up the tithes and offerings in bags fastened to the end of sticks. One bag is for tithe, the other for offering.

An "amiga," unsaved neighbor, wanted to have her three children dedicated. I don't know what others think about it, but I remember when our church here debated the issue back in the late 70s and we decided (I voted in favor) to allow such things, with the proviso that we make sure they understand that we don't believe this saves the child. Our hope is that it helps people take a step toward the Lord and that it gives God and the church an opening into their lives. Would it help any if we turned them away?

Delicious meal after the service: Chicken, vegetable soup (here called "caldo"), rice with chopped veggies cooked into it, Guatemalan style, tortillas (I ate 5), and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Yum!
I hope you've enjoyed this little journey through a couple of my days in Guatemala. I'll try to do this some more while I'm here, though I'll be very busy. Starting Monday I'm teaching a theology class that pretty much fills up the three middle days from morning to night, and fills big chunks of Monday and Friday, too.