Monday, February 27, 2012


I have been putting off posting for a couple of reasons. One being that I am aware that next to no one reads anything here (not a complaint, just an acknowledgement of reality). And those who do read posts here are generally folks who I update through other forms anyway. The second reason, and probably the more controlling of the two, is the fact that I find it difficult to have any real "updates". That is to say, what I do day-in and day-out changes very little, is likely of little excitement to anyone, and very non-missionary-ish to the public at large.

I have a number of friends who serve in a variety of different ministries both here in Guatemala and around the world, and I try to stay updated with their work. When I read what they have to share, I am painfully aware that my work is not theirs. And I'm not trying to compare or say some missions are more important than others; we are all doing our part to advance the Kingdom. But let's be honest, there are certain activities that people want to read about and be a part of; those that seem like true missions. Things such as building wells and houses and churches; providing medical services; evangelizing; feeding people; being there when people give their lives over to Jesus. Those are all huge and exciting things! And they are all activities that people can take pictures of and show others back home and get them to rally behind. They are activities that others can point to and say: "There's a mission! There are missionaries working hard for Jesus! There are people serving others! Look what they've done/made/fixed/etc!"

Then there is what I do.

Three days a week, I sit in a small office and try to help students, most of whom have no desire to be there, remember the different sounds the letter /a/ can make (again), or discuss why they have so many missing assignments (again), or look over goals that, regardless of how hard they've tried, they haven't met (again). I am NOT trying to say that what I do isn't important. I KNOW it is. I'm not trying to elicit a sympathetic response. There's nothing to sympathize with. I'm not trying to say that I'm not a "real" missionary. I have no doubt that I've been called by God to use the gifts that he's given me to be a small part of a select number of lives. But what I am trying to say is, from a missions standpoint, I have very few photo opportunities and even fewer "updates". So if you're wondering what I've done lately or what I'm doing or what I have to show, all I can say is: I'm just busy keeping on keeping on.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding Joy in Being Unnecessary

The first quarter of classes has come to an end. Unbelievably. I still feel as if I'm just trying to get the school year going, but apparently, 25% of it is already gone! The year started, as usual, with assessment of all elementary students in order to pinpoint those in need of early literacy intervention or a continuing need for strategic support. In total, I identified 14 students in need of some type of literacy support: nine in the lower elementary and five in the upper. This is the lowest overall enrollment I've had since beginning at CAG five years ago; and by far the fewest upper elementary students ever on my roster. This is a good thing! This implies that having provided early intervention is starting to make a difference. And that's an amazing site to behold and a great feeling to have in my heart. As my principal likes to put it, I'm really just trying to work myself out of a position. And, well, he's right. If all literacy needs could be identified, addressed, and overcome, CAG would have no need for me or my program. What a blessing it would be to not be needed! That is to say, what a blessing it would be for those students who now struggle to not have to face such hardships. As long as they do, however, and as long as God sees fit to have me in a position to assist them, I will. (But let's all keep praying that a day might come when I've no one left to serve.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Sound of Perspective

I jokingly helped a friend gain some perspective this week. She was lamenting the fact that her clothes dryer had left marks on a load of laundry, so I reminded her that at least she HAS a clothes dryer, unlike many others of us. This help was given and received light heartedly. Tonight, as I was lying in bed with a sick Sammy, planning this post in my head, I received my own not-so-lighthearted perspective. I was planning to share news of the first two weeks of school (which have included extensive teacher retreat and inservice time and the subsequent arrival of the students); the majority of which was going to center around the changes taking place at CAG and the toll those changes are taking on many of us. I wanted to try to share an honest view of what we are working through as a school to try to best serve our students, families, and staff. It has been a challenging and stressful start for many, to say the least. As I was, in my mind, putting together a prayer request list, I heard my perspective ring out loudly and clearly...several rounds of gunfire coming from just down the street, followed by a short pause and then several more rounds. As I squeezed Sam more closely and began praying, I quickly gained a better perspective on things like scheduling mishaps and an overcrowded nursery and communication issues that have been taxing us at school these past few weeks. While I am certain Sam, Javier, and I were not in any direct danger tonight, those shots were a reminder of all that we take for granted, even here in Guatemala. Most of us serving (or being served) at CAG lead relatively secure lives; with real homes, our own transportation, concrete walls and razor wire. But we also have much more than that. We have a safe place to go every day where we have friends in Christ who love us and uphold us; and who, despite the stresses and misunderstandings of these first weeks, are trying their best to serve one another. So tonight, I'm putting aside my prayer requests for those of us already in the body of Christ, those of us who should know better how to find appropriate ways to function as that body, and am asking you to join me in lifting up those who don't know such extravagance in their lives; whether here in Guatemala or in your own hometown.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A True Confession of Love

We do not feel awe and gratitude because we are commanded to do so; we give expression to our awe and gratitude by acting obediently.
Another school year has come and gone, and in looking back, I can again see God's hand at work, even in this year that was, by far, the second-most difficult I've had in 15 years of teaching. Launching right back into the school year last August and putting Sam in day care, proved to be more than I was ready to handle. Regardless of my good intention and desires, and even with reduced hours, I struggled and suffered daily. I told next to no one about it. And those I did tell only said it was "normal" to feel like I was cheating both my son and my ministry by trying to serve both at once. Knowing that it was "normal" didn't make it any better.

About mid-year, soon after my last blog entry, I suffered a breakdown and was sent home by administration to respite. Most of you who keep tabs on my work here probably did not know this. I am confessing it to you now. It was a very difficult time, indeed. With arrogance, I felt that I had to keep going in ministry (no matter how I cried over my baby each day) because I was the only one available to do what I do at school. I felt the huge weight of two important responsibilities pulling down on me each day, which usually resulted in feeling loathe for the work I love. I felt guilt in thinking about taking time away from ministering to others in order to minister to my own son. And for some reason, I thought and felt that I could, and had to, pull it all together myself.

The complicating factor for me was tied to the fact that I wasn't hating "a job" or "a career" or even just "work," but that I was wrestling with no longer finding joy in serving God. And I didn't know how to look to Him and say, "I know you led me here and have been faithful in providing for us here regardless of many hardships, but I just can't work for You anymore." I felt I had to fulfill a responsibility, not to CAG or the administration, or even the students, but to God Himself. And I never stopped to consider that God is perfectly capable of 1) hearing this confession from me and 2) continuing to provide for CAG with or without me.

It wasn't until just recently (and I mean like REALLY in, during the time that I have been working on this blog entry), that I have been able to realize; really realize, that God doesn't want us to serve out of obligation or guilt, but out of love...for Him and others. But that is exactly what I was trying to do: serve because I felt guilt in not serving.

Having taken about month-long break from teaching, I did return to my position, with even further reduced hours, and found a balance between serving at home and at school that was workable, if not ideal. And we finished the school year strong: with nearly 100% of students in the literacy program having met their year-end benchmarks! And that, I know, can only be attributed to God's grace and mercy. Clearly, He upheld my students and their needs throughout my difficulties and absence.

Love is not a feeling. It is a choice. And in this time in between school years, I am working at strengthening my commitment to the choice to love and serve. I have to be honest and admit that I am apprehensive about the coming school year, although I have made the choice to return again in August and have even agreed to provide some of the training to incoming staff. But I love God and the people of CAG; and especially my students. And choosing to love them drives me to want to serve them; in an honest way.

If you are inclined to pray for my ministry here, please join me in asking for God to further reveal Himself, so that I may gather strength in desiring to serve Him and in knowing how best to do so.

If you or someone you know is interested in helping support my work here in Guatemala, you can do so through my mission, Commission to Every Nation. Via their website, you can make a one-time donation or a monthly commitment to helping me serve others. All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated by both myself and those you help me to serve. If you have specific questions about my ministry or just our lives here, please do not hesitate to contact me at this blog or through email at:

Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Year for Praises and Prayers

A new year has brought us many new blessings! Praises and prayer requests from here in Guatemala:

PRAISES for a new place to live with running water 24/7, kitchen cupboards and drawers, closets, a covered area to park the car, and security! (all of which we were lacking at our last house) And for the ability to afford such luxuries, when so many cannot.

PRAYERS for those who have no place to live or only cardboard and lamina to call home, as is the case for a great majority of Guatemalans; those who have no clean water, and those who daily live in the dangerous world of the streets.

PRAISES for work that is fulfilling. As I continue my elementary reading program, (which will be increasing in size by at least three students this semester to nearly 25 kids), I remember that I am blessed to be able to have gone to school myself, learned how to do something I truly love, and serve God all at once.

PRAYERS for those who have no school, no work, and have not found the joy of knowing and loving Christ.

PRAISES that CAG continues to support my service by providing a safe, loving place for Sam to spend the hours that I am teaching.

PRAYERS for those who have no such place for their children or need to turn them to the streets to help provide for their families.

PRAISES for my further developing relationships with, and ministry to, my Freshman class. I am enjoying the challenge of mentoring young teens and am continually surprised by the love and appreciation they can show in return.

PRAYERS for those who have never felt love.

PRAISES for those who continue to recognize the importance of our ministry here and support our work, both financially and through prayer.

PRAYERS that others will desire to serve God by coming alongside us in our work.

PRAISES for Javier's opportunity to return to college to finish a degree he had to long ago abandon.

PRAYERS for those who continue to feel unfulfilled and incomplete; that they might find all they seek in Jesus.

PRAISES for a successful high school retreat (held this past week) where teens (and adults alike!) could set aside their daily concerns and focus solely on worshiping God while learning how to keep the Gospel the focus of their lives.

PRAYERS for those who have never heard The Good News.

While Javier, Sam, and I don't live lavishly here by any means, we are always conscious of the fact that so many here live with far far less than we do. Please be in prayer for these people and for the families of the children we serve at CAG who are the front line missionaries to them.

If you or someone you know is interested in helping support our work here in Guatemala, you can do so through our mission, Commission to Every Nation. Via their website, you can make a one-time donation or a monthly commitment to helping us serve others. All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated by both ourselves and those you help us to serve. If you have specific questions about our ministries or just our lives here, please do not hesitate to contact us at this blog or through email at:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Focus of Harvest Fair

I love Fall!! I miss Fall in the US, but I love it here. Even if I don't get to see the spectacular color show of the changing leaves, or feel the crisp autumn air, or wear my Packers sweatshirt while cooking up a batch of chili to enjoy during a Sunday afternoon game, Fall here gives me something even better: Harvest Fair! Each year at this time I am reminded of why I serve where and how I do. And, as I am usually caught up in the day-to-day dealings of ministering, I always need (and am thankful for) this special annual reminder.

We've just put on another successful Harvest Fair at Christian Academy of Guatemala. In the grand scheme or Fall festivals, it probably wouldn't win any awards. It isn't the biggest or best harvest fest I've ever attended. It doesn't have the best costumes or games or prizes I've ever seen. The food is pretty good, and the fellowship is comforting. But placed next to similar events back in the States, it's just another Fall festival. At CAG, Harvest Fair is an annual event organized by the school's student council and run by the secondary classes. It's always based around a theme (this year: Alice in Wonderland), and takes weeks of preparation, both in and out of school. And while all of this preparation is going on, I am generally worried, stressed, and frustrated. In the end, however, it always turns out just fine. So what's the big deal then? Well, for me, Harvest Fair always brings back the real "why" behind my ministry here: missionary kids.

During my time of being a missionary to the missionaries, I have encountered and endured challenges and ridicule, both from others and myself, in regard to the fact that perhaps what I'm doing is not a "real" ministry ... is not really "missions." But when I step back and look at an event like Harvest Fair, I KNOW that it is. Here's why: the children I am so blessed to teacher, mentor, love, and serve at CAG are here because their parents made a choice to leave behind the familiarity and comfort of home to come and serve others. While most of these kids would tell you that they are happy here, they would also tell you about missing friends and events (like a Fall festival) back home. They are here honoring their parents' Call, which may or may not be their own. They are sacrificing a "normal" childhood so that others may benefit from the service of their families here in Guatemala. And it is satisfying to be able to give back to them even something as simple as Harvest Fair.

In my Freshman class alone, I serve families from the following ministries:

University Bible Fellowship (pastoring)
World Vision Seminary (pastoral education)
Cathedral of Faith (church planting)
Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (medical work, feeding and education centers)
My Father's House (missions hosting, building, medical work, pastoring)
Wycliff (audio and video ministries)
Zion Fellowship (pastoring and Bible studies)

When I consider the hundreds (and likely thousands) of lives touched by just these ministries, it brings my ministry of providing educational support (including helping to put on a Fall festival) to the children of these families into a greater perspective; and my focus is again made clear. I have been called to serve those who serve others. And that is worth recognizing, praising, and focusing on EVERY day of EACH season!! Happy Fall!!! :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Year, New Me, New US!

Has it really now been five months since my last update? Unfortunately, the blog doesn't lie and it has been. And seeing as Sam is four and a half months old now, that would make sense. And here's a recent pic to prove as much:

My sincerest apologies for my disappearance and great thanks for your continued love and support in spite of it!!!!

With the obvious exception of having added our dear little Sammy to the mix, Javier and I continue our ministries at Christian Academy of Guatemala in much the same way as last reported. I am back to school part time this year, but somehow find myself working with more kids and staff than ever before (does this mean I've somehow become more efficient in my mommy-hood???). While I did graduate a number of elementary students from the supplemental early literacy program last school year, a large influx of new students requiring English language support have come under my jurisdiction this year. In addition, I have a new staff member dedicated to working with literacy support for middle school students, which is a long-awaited answer to prayer. And as my dearly-loved Class of 2010
has made its way out into the world, I have eagerly taken on the role of Class Advisor for this year's freshmen (Class of 2014 for those of you playing our home game). This class is made up of the very first group of kids I worked with when starting at CAG three years ago! They were just entering middle school (sixth grade) back then; and now they're nearly grown! I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to reconnect with this special group of young people! Our first big event, Harvest Fair, is soon upon us, and we'll be starting plans for it this week!

Javier continues his support to the school computer lab, being a presence for any and all requests of teachers and students alike. His patience and love of everything technology related are such great gifts! As our church continues in its search for a new pastor, Javier, in his role as Elder, has been both running the contemporary service each week AND helping to lead worship. He loves being able to serve UCG in both these ways. I continue to sing on the Praise Team, when time (and Sam!) allow. And although we have had to let go of our beloved
Messiah performance this year, we are hopeful to be able to participate in the church's Christmas cantata (...for which the rehearsals begin this week!!).

When I think over all that has transpired in these last few "lost" months, I feel supremely blessed. I praise God every day for fulfilling His promise of our beautiful son, Samuel Peter; and Javier and I are both, in turn, eternally committed to showing Samuel how to love God by serving others. We are overjoyed at being able to do so through our continued work here in Guatemala.

If you or someone you know is interested in helping support our work here in Guatemala, you can do so through our mission, Commission to Every Nation. Through their website, you can make a one-time donation or a monthly commitment to helping us serve others. All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated by both ourselves and those you help us to serve. If you have specific questions about our ministries or just our lives here, please do not hesitate to contact us here or through email at: