What a blessing to be able to get together with other Mennonite missionaries living in Central America.
Henry and Millie Buckwalter came from Lancaster to lead us in a study about "Drawing Near to God." Sheila Yoder from Goshen Indiana came to be my interpreter. How God worked that out is nothing short of amazing. I was so glad to have her there with us and re-kindle our friendship.
The rest of the retreat participants included the Groffs who work with K'ekchi church leaders in Guatemala, the Horsts who created a half-way house for orphans trying to matriculate into jobs and independent living near Telgucigalpa, and Matt Keiser and his dog. (They work in Las Laureles...some pics of this place are below). Others included the Gingrichs who will help to host short-term mission teams, the Eby family who works in Las Laureles and in La Ceiba at an orphanage, Steve Shenk (not pictured) and Amos Stoltzfus who is our new EMM administrator. The 6 day retreat was bathed in prayer. The Lord gave us direction and encouraged us. We all walked away refreshed.
|This was the view from our lodge. On Friday, many of us walked to the top of that waterfall. Can you imagine?|
|This is the view from the "rope bridge". Gorgeous.|
|I love laying down and looking up at the trees.|
This is Las Laureles. It is the garbage dump for the city of La Ceiba. The people who live here try to make a living off of recycling the junk that comes to the dump, plastics, zinc roofing, metals, whatever they can.
The dump site keeps growing higher and then is somewhat leveled and seeded. This is the current active pile.
Matt has been working here for 5 years or so. He relates to the children and families, started several football (soccer) squads that compete against the wealthier La Ceiba teams. He leads Bible studies from time to time and also does some tutoring. We spent Saturday afternoon here. You can read more about Matt's work at Matt's blog.
It's sad that the Jehovahs are making such inroads in the deaf community. Where are the Christian workers?
I wanted to tell him I will come back. I will be your friend. I can teach you about Jesus. Maybe then you can teach other deaf people...but I just hugged him and prayed God would take care of him as I walked away down the hill to catch up with our group. Belize is too far away to make a visit to him "every day".
Thank you EMM for arranging this retreat, and also thank you to Phyllis and Galen for all the work you put into the organization.
Beloved friends, there is so much work to do to prepare the harvest. Is God calling you? The rewards are much greater than the sacrifices.
Grace and Peace,