18 April 2014


I wanted to share a blog post from another missionary that I don't even know.
His name is Gary Shogren, and he is a missionary serving in Costa Rica.
I don't even remember how I received this originally awhile back, but wanted to share it because it is pretty much right on for every missionary I have talked to about many of these things.
It is not easy to be on the mission field. We, like most missionaries, will share exciting stories, amazing things we have seen God do here etc. Read through our blog and you will see a history of blessings, fun, accomplishments, successes etc.
It's all true.
But there is another side. Living in another country, culture, language while it is rewarding, interesting and challenging, it also can take a toll. It is hard to have that deep, understanding friendships you have in your place of origin.  The people you work with, interact with, serve with, worship with, love and cry with...they think differently.
We see a lot of emotional turmoil. We spend a lot of time with and loving young people that have suffered, and still suffer tremendously and have deep wounds and scars. We spend time with children that have cancer. Many don't survive.
Many times I think, we all have tended to put people in ministry on pedestals.
Pastors, elders, ministry leaders, missionaries etc.
They are all just the same as anybody else. Weak, scared, frustrated, with doubts, with fears. And often less likely to be able to share and be open.
The world lost a bright, driven young leader last week.
I lost a good friend.
We hadn't seen each other in years since we moved to Guatemala and he moved away also.
But we still communicated from time to time.
He's gone, and even more for how, it hurts. A lot.
But, another very good friend gave me the time I needed to just share the other night. Share my hurt, anger, frustration, and let me just say "I don't know anymore".
Thank you my friend, I love you.
This is Semana Santa, Holy week, and through all this, as I think on Holy week and what God did for me - us - I am even more committed to give my life for others, as Jesus did for me.
But I will continue to be weak, scared, frustrated, with doubts and fears.
Just like every other servant.
Please say extra prayers for your pastors, and ministry leaders. It is not as easy as it may look on the outside.

14 things your missionaries might like to tell you, but feel inhibited

NOTE: Many thousands have read this little article, thanks so much! May I invite you to share it with your mission board; your friends; 

Let me put on my missionary hat!
When Paul and Barnabas returned home from their journey, they “gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Your church’s missionaries periodically pay you a brief visit. They will tell you about their successes and failures, and thank you for your support.
 There are things your visiting missionaries might wish to tell you but feel they cannot:

 When we’re visiting you, we haven’t actually “come home.” We live elsewhere, and are temporarily visiting the place where we used to live. Especially for missionary kids, “home” is far from here. We are usually keen to get back to where we belong.

Don’t assume that we are up to date on all the latest U.S. culture.
"So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, and!...I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going...Of course, I wouldn't be caught dead voting for Chelsea..."
“So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, AND!…I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going…Well of course, I wouldn’t be caughtdead voting for Chelsea…”
We are aware that we look older-heavier-greyer-balder than the last time we passed through townEveryone at your church does, too, but it’s basic courtesy not to mention it!

Don’t spend our short time together telling me about friends who have taken vacations in our country of service. Like you, we just want to be listened to, and we hope you’ll ask us about how we minister in our country.

Please remember to bless our children. Missionary Kids (MKs) have given up their culture, language, pets, friends, relatives to go to the field. If you give them some treat while we’re visiting your church, even a simple one, your thoughtfulness will be remembered for years to come.

Our children are probably not sullen; they’re shell-shocked. They travel hundreds of miles and visit dozens of groups. They think and they dream in two languages. They don’t remember who you are. Still, they’ll probably be approachable so long as you smile and make no sudden moves.

We may be able to host a short-term team from your church. But then again, maybe not. Hosting a team takes months of planning. Imagine if a dozen foreign teenagers dropped by your home in America; they can’t speak the local language and they are more excited about going to Six Flags than they are about the mission. If you want to arrange a trip, have a clear goal, defined tasks, and sound financing and you’ll be welcomed back.

Missionaries believe in missions, in fact, many of us support other missionaries. You might suppose that since we have already “given all”, we feel no obligation to donate to missions or the local church. In fact, the missionaries I’ve asked report thatthey support other missionaries as part of their contribution to God’s work.

Don’t try to convert us to Multi-level Marketing (MLM) instead of traditional support-raising. We’ve already heard the tale of the new missionary who stood outside a factory gate and within an hour raised 100% of his support by recruiting people to Amway. And while some of us are “tent-makers,” using our work in another country as an entry for the gospel, that is not feasible for others of us.

We have worked hard to calculate the minimum necessary we need to live on the field. In many countries, the cost of living is much higher than in the US. We are also concerned that you wouldn’t understand the decisions we have made with our mission agency.

Don’t tell us we should re-negotiate the percentage that our missionary agency charges us, because you think they’re ripping us off. If we pay 13% to our board, it’s because of a slate of services that they render. If you make the generous offer to manage our affairs for nothing, please don’t be offended if we turn you down. The truth is, you could not possibly handle the business, insurance, retirement plan, communication, promotion, mobilization – let along evacuation in the case of earthquake or revolution, or knowing what to do if we’re kidnapped – that the professionals can, nor do it decade after decade.

No, we DON’T think the US church faces a relatively high degree of persecution. Not even if the cashier at the drugstore did tell you “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!”

Working in a new language is really, really hard. Yes, you picked up some Spanish from your vacation and can say, Por favor, ¿dónde está el baño? But could you say: The doctrine of justification by faith alone, a hallmark of the Reformation, runs counter to your notion that attendance at Mass is a channel for divine grace? And contrary to a popular myth, an adult can’t pick up a new language just like children do. There are scientific reasons for this: a child is hardwired to learn grammar, but past age 6 or 7, you can no longer learn a language so naturally. If we’re studying, for example, Arabic or Turkish, we will need years to become reasonably conversant.

We are Christians, not super-Christians. We do not have a special hot-line to God. We sometimes doubt our calling, and wrestle with questions of significance. In terms of basic emotional and spiritual needs, missionaries are like everyone else. The majority of missionaries do not return after their first year of service; so at any given moment, some of us are considering coming back from the field. We might welcome a chance to share in confidence what’s really going on with us.

“14 things your visiting missionaries probably won’t tell you,” by Gary Shogren, Ph.D, missionary and Professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica. 

17 April 2014


Semana Santa (Holy week) is something very special yet very different than in the USA.
Here, a lot of people take the entire week off, and no schools are open. Everything else pretty much shuts down at noon on Wednesday. Then traditionally, most everybody leaves the city for the beaches or family in the departments.
Literally by Thursday morning you can pretty much walk down the middle of normally busy streets.
The Catholic church has many many activities and processionals which are famous worldwide.
But it is a very low key week for the evangelical church. Sad, but it is how it is.

L to R - Óscar, Luís, Sandi, Sonia, Erika, Mike, Elizabeth & David
But for those that don't leave it is a time to relax and enjoy family. We decided to have a picnic with a family that is like our own second set of kids. In order of age they are: Erika, Óscar, Sonia, Luís, David & little Elizabeth. They are so close to us that Elizabeth calls Sandi, Grandma, and calls me, Abuelo.

Las 3 chicas hermosas Canil Gonzalez
 So we loaded plenty of supplies and our friend Sarah, loaded all the kids and headed to a park about a half hour out of town. It is a large park with lots of play area and a pool. 
These 6 kids don't get to be together often, as Erika and Elizabeth live at La Luz Brilla, Oscar lives in a dangerous part of town, Sonia and David live in a children's home, and Luis lives with us.
We were hoping to have the other girls from La Luz Brilla also but they had other commitments.

We got to the park and set to exploring a little, walking and the kids playing.
Then I went and got us a nice picnic area and got all the supplies out and ready. Then I got the fire going and ready for cooking. We were planning some Guatemalan Shukos! Basically a hotdog with the works, guacamol, onions, cabbage, mayo, ketchup, mustard, picante sauce!

Luis posing for a photo
 Once the fire was going Erika showed up to help and took over cooking, although once she had it going, as you can see above, Luis pushed her out of the way for a posed picture! Hahaha

What was really happening - Erika cooking
 But this is more the truth!
We did keep Luis around to help us finish though! 
He did a good job cooking onions.

How they finished
 Then it was time to chow down! We had a great time of laughing and eating!

Enjoying Guatemalan Shukos - and more!
 After the food, most everyone disappeared again and I ended up cleaning up and putting things away. 
It was okay, they all wandered up to the pool area so Elizabeth could play in the agua!
It didn't take me long to get up there and join them.

Elizabeth playing with Tio David
Elizabeth had a great time, water is her absolute favorite! 
Then, Luis being a little bored decided to throw his sister Sonia in the pool when she wasn't expecting!
So, in she went, cell phone and all! Fortunately it is a very inexpensive phone.
Then, just to be fair, Luis threw Sarah in the pool too!

Luis threw Sonia in...phone and all!
Everyone had a great day, it is a real joy for us just to watch a family that is split up be able to laugh and tease each other. And love each other.
We are so blessed to be involved in these lives, and many others as well.


We were super blessed the end of March to receive a visit from our daughter Maria!
We of course knew a few weeks in advance but it was a surprise for everyone else here in Guatemala!
Maria was struggling with a little homesickness the past couple of months and stressed with school, work and missing us. So, we hadn't planned it but we all decided it would be a good idea for her to spend her Spring Break here! It did not end up being a good idea...it was a GREAT idea!

I just find this a little creepy
 The plan (and her tickets) were for her to arrive Saturday afternoon, so she could join us for church Sunday morning, something she has missed almost the most, our church and worshipping in Spanish. There is just something special about it. Anyway, her flight left Seattle so late she missed her connection in Los Angeles. They scheduled her on a late flight to Atlanta, then one to Guatemala where she would arrive about noon on Sunday :( I looked online and saw a direct flight from L.A. to Guatemala leaving just after mid-night and arriving here at 6 AM. So she went back and asked and they put her on that flight!  So, she didn't arrive Saturday, but still arrived in time for church!

This is NOT creepy, I love this girl!
 She also was able to surprise her best friend Susana, just as she woke up! Susana at first thought she was still dreaming, then grabbed Maria in a huge hug! Susana then stepped back and said "Maria, you're so skinny......and WHITE!" Hahaha guess that is what a winter in Washington does for you!

 We had some great fun with Maria, and she was able to slow down and relax.
She even mentioned by the second day it felt like she had never even left.

Pizza party with Ernesto, Susana & the kids!
 We had some one on one time with Maria to discuss things she wanted to talk about, and she was able to visit some of her friends from high school.
One night when Sandi and I were not there, she had a pizza party with Ernesto, Susana and their kids!

Tia Maria with her sobrina, Elizabeth!
 She got to see many of the youth she was always involved with and got to bother her "little brother" Luis again. She also got to reconnect with Elizabeth who was just 14 months old when Maria left last year. It didn't take long for Elizabeth to be running around yelling "Maria, Maria".
We also spent a day in Antigua just walking, talking and shopping! Maria shopped like I had never seen her before! Shopping and taking pictures like a tourist!

Andrés leading special worship service of songs selected by Maria!
 Sandi and I had a conference with our Mission over the last weekend, but we left early Sunday morning so we could take Maria to our church one last time. Before she came Maria had sent me a list of worship songs she especially missed in Spanish. I gave them to Andrés, Maria's favorite worship leader, and he surprised her by singing them ALL for a special service for her!

Visiting with Wendy & Offy
 Sunday afternoon, which also happened to be Maria's 20th birthday, we went to Casa Kairos to vist Wendy & Offy, along with some other kids. We had a good time there, Offy has always been special for Maria and it has been hard for to only receive news of Offy without hugging her.

Maria's 20th birthday dinner with us and her little bro, Luis.
Sunday night, her last before a very early departure Monday morning, we took Maria out for her birthday dinner to a very Guatemalan restaurant, KATOK. We had a great dinner laughing and enjoying our last night together for awhile.
I am pleased that Maria seemed so relaxed when she left, and is ready to get on with school.
Maria told me, "you know papa, before when people asked me where I'm from, I would say, 'I really don't have a home', but now I realize that I actually have two homes!"
I love you dearly Maria, and miss you MUCHO, but I know this is your time, and you are going to make it just fine!


Been awhile for an update on Offy.
First we always give thanks for so many people praying for Wendy & Offy, we know because many ask about them regularly.
This is Semana Santa (Holy week) and the Casa Kairos is closed so I gave Wendy & Offy bus fare to go to Huehuetenango and visit their family for a week.
Offy, over the past couple of months, has been experiencing more frequent headaches.
Finally last week she had an MRI done and the tumor appears to have grown a little. That was actually presented as good news as it is growing slower than they thought. But, after they return from Semana Santa the doctors want to do another biopsy to see what is going on.
This is a little risky, as last time she had a seizure and it was touch and go for a bit.
Please keep them in your prayers, it is a hard frustrating journey right now.


March 2014 saw our annual visit of a team from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church from Denton, Texas!
We are so blessed to be connected with this amazing church and their visit each year is a highlight for us! 
This year was no exception as we were so blessed, and encouraged by their being here.

The team 2014 getting some surf and sun!
This year they brought a great team of 19 people including several younger ones, youngest was Macy at 8 yrs old! The young ones ended up being one of our biggest blessings also, great kids with BIG hearts! Over half of the group were first timers to Guatemala which is always a great joy for us to watch them, hopefully, fall in love with our home. 

The preferred mode of transportation! Mario style!
After a first day of visiting, and participating, at our beloved church, we took them out for a very Guatemalan, and wonderful, lunch, then a tour of some of the city.
Next morning we loaded Mario's bus and headed for Puerto San José, Esquintla, on the Pacific coast.
Our project was to be at Iglesia Tesalonica, surrounded by coconuts, almonds, marañón, mango, oranges, limón, banano, plantain, etc etc etc, it´s a tough job but someone has to do it!

These guys (and a few others) moved a LOT of dirt!
However, they definitely earned all of the 'fruits' of their labor! We began the foundations for 3 classrooms for the church. Some of the team dug all of the footing trenches and tied rebar columns and mixed concrete and poured the footings! The team funds also provided for most of the materials for them to complete the classrooms after we leave!

Also painted an entire church!
 While all that work was going on some of the team also painted the entire outside of the church!
It was hot but this team was amazing in all they accomplished, oh yeah, while building relationships with several people from the church and lots of kids!
They also were the main program for a kids night at another church, with songs, a devotional, crafts and fun!
Pastora Lisa also gave a message to a ladies group one afternoon at Iglesia Tesalonica.

Showing Seahawk pride with an amazing leader, our precious Brandi Lynn
 We returned to the city for a couple of final days, the first evening back visiting Casa Kairos, a ministry for children with cancer and their families. It is similar to a Ronald McDonald house as a shelter for people from far away whose kids need treatment at the main hospital here. The group shared, and heard several testimonies, prayed with the people and loved on them for a bit.
We spent a day of cultural experience (tourism) in La Antigua, Guatemala. A beautiful colonial town with tons of history. And tons of shopping!

Outing to the zoo with families from Casa Kairos 
 Their last day in Guatemala we took the bus and picked up all the families at Casa Kairos and treated them to a day at the ZOO! It is a pretty nice zoo and we all had a great time playing with the kids and just getting to know them a little bit and share a bit of life with them! Pretty simple day, but I know was the highlight of the trip for many.

Great great day at the zoo!
We had a final dinner at our house and an opportunity to thank our friends from St Andrew for the blessing they were to so many people here, and most of all I think for us!
We treasure our connection with St. Andrew, we love you guys!


Many of you that have followed us have heard of Blaine & Becky Anders.
They are a couple from Alaska that have come down to help us with projects each March for the last 3 years. Blaine is a carpenter and just wanted to come serve using his talents.
In 2012 they came for the entire month of May. In 2013 Blaine came early to study and little Spanish and then Becky joined him to help us with projects.
In 2014, Blaine wanted to come longer so he came in early February and then Becky arrived 1st of March.

New roof at Casita Benjamín
 The past two years they helped with projects of ours working closely with us. This year we stretched Blaine a bit more with other projects.
I had several projects for him to do at Casita Benjamin, the daycare down by the dump. Blaine was a little apprehensive having to work around a bunch of wild kids, but it didn't take long for them all to fall in love with each other!

Roof over classroom patio
 He built roofs over three different patio areas so they can be used regardless of rain or too much sun.
A HUGE blessing for the kids and staff at Casita Benjamin.
Blaine also did several small repairs etc and even made a step stool bench for the cook so she can reach the shelves without having to get a chair!

Farewell party for Blaine
On Blaine's last day at Casita they held a big farewell party for him with the kids giving testimonies, singing songs and presenting Blaine with a beautiful plaque to thank him for blessing them so much!
It was really heartfelt and beautiful time there that choked up both Blaine and I.


 Two of his first three weeks here were spent working at the Casita sandwiched around a week with a team in Huehuetenango. Then when Becky arrived, we took them to Puerto San José on the Pacific coast, where it is a bit warmer!
They spent two weeks working there at Colegio Genesis, a christian school we help there. Blaine built doors for 6 classrooms! Built doors from scratch with some basic tools we have here!
We then went to Puerto San José with a team of 19 from Texas to join them (see the next post) and then they returned with us to the city for a few days off before they returned to Alaska.
They have become very close friends which we value even more than all they do for us here!
Looking forward to their return in 2015!