Letting Go

What a week it’s been so far. We arrived in Estes Park, Colorado on Monday to drop Taylor off at Ravencrest Bible School for the year. We spent a few days hiking through the Rocky Mountain National Forest being amazed by the beauty and variety of God’s creation. We hiked a number of trails including reaching the summit of Deer Mountain which was over 10,000 ft above sea level. It was a great time for Beth, Taylor and I to spend together before the big day on Wednesday…drop off day.

We arrived at Ravencrest just after 1:00 pm.  Pulling into the campus it was evident very quickly that 1) this place was even more beautiful than the pictures and 2) Taylor was VERY excited. 

We got registered, grabbed his books and then headed up to his room to unpack him and get him situated. He has four other roommates for the year from all over the world. One is a second year student from Canada, one is from Florida, one from France and one from Norway! They’ve got a nice size room to share (and a private bathroom in their room).  


We walked around the campus a bit and then lost Taylor as he was shown around by a couple of second year students (there are 7 of them).  No surprise to me it took Taylor about five minutes to make friends.  Within the first hour he had met just about everyone, knew their names and where they were from and watching him interact with them you would have thought they had known each other all their lives.  We met one second year student who shared a bit of his story with us – that he had come last year without really knowing what a relationship with Christ meant and that he year totally changed his life and his relationship with Christ. So encouraging to hear. 

We found Taylor and he showed us around a bit more of the campus – including an incredible view from balcony of the library that was truly breathtaking. 

Beth and I attended the parent’s meeting where Matt and Laura (the dean of men and women) shared what God has placed on their hearts for the upcoming year. The goals Matt has for these guys is so in line with our prayers for Taylor that it can only be a God thing. We were fighting back tears at times as we heard them sharing. 

This was followed by a delicious (and healthy dairy free, gluten free, nut free) dinner. We were able to get this picture taken in front of the water feature outside of the dining hall which I think will be one of my favorite pictures.

We then went into their classroom for a fellowship time of worship, introductions of staff and students and a devotional my the school president, Frank Cirone.  Hearing him speak was just that much more confirmation that Taylor was right where God wanted him. Frank spoke on Mark 3:13-14:

“And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach”

??Mark? ?3:13-14? ?ESV

He is any engaging speaker that grabbed your attention, he used Lord of the Rings references which I’m sure Taylor loved and he was preachi g out of the word. ??His main three points from the passage were we are to come to the one who knows us, grow with the one who loves us and follow the one who leads us. He challenged the students to let go of anything they may be still holding onto as they entered this year.  

We then watched Taylor jump into a game with many of the students and finally realized we had to say our goodbyes to Taylor – very teary goodbyes for Beth and I as we headed back down the mountain. Our last image of him is as we passed him he was standing on the side of the road outside the student center waving and telling us he loved us (More tears just writing this). 

God has confirmed in so many ways that this was his plan for Taylor and Beth and I couldn’t feel better about sending him out here. Over and over he gave us confirmations through conversations, teaching and watching him interact with others. The final confirmation for me came at 1:00 this morning. I was woken from a sound sleep and felt like I needed to pray for Taylor. As I was praying I sensed God tell me to read Matthew 25. I had no idea why but I did. Chapter 25 is three things: the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents and the final judgement.  Now, why I felt like I had to read these I didn’t understand but then I felt God saying each one makes a point: the first: that He has Taylor in a place where he will be preparing him, second that our investment in this year will come back with so much more, and third because of this year Taylor will have an opportunity its to know The Lord deeper and to serve the Lord richer and when the final judgement comes that Taylor will be with the sheep.  

God has Taylor on an incredible path…His path. It’s one which while we don’t know where it leads God does. He is directing Taylor’s steps and I can’t wait to see where it leads. 

We love you Tayman. 

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Kristen’s thoughts. . 

As we travel our final leg of this blessed journey, I’m physically and emotionally weary. However, I already miss the sweetness of the Guatemalan culture and the dear people who captured my heart. I left a piece of my heart in Peronia and am eager to return someday. I feel like I have a lot to process because I was deeply impacted throughout this trip. I’ve been praying the whole flight that God will cement memories and experiences that will push me closer to Him and produce fruit in my life. I’ve never really had much of a desire to immersed in another culture and found it a bit stressful when we were led to Guatemala. God used the experience to stretch and humble me, yet I’ve never felt so blessed. I saw Jesus and experienced His presence in a very real way. I pray that I will never be the same. I love my new friends in Guatemala and will miss the precious little faces that I got to kiss every day. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that we had to go and feel like I received much more than I gave. The people are rich with love, joy, and beauty. I long for what they have.

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“God Stories” in Gautemala and Beyond – Clint Adams

As we fly back from Guatemala, I bring back many memories of a tremendous week.  We taught the dear Guatemalan students and built relationships as we talked and played with them.  We had rich times in devotions and sharing. We experienced anointed times of bilingual worship and prayer.  We saw beautiful sites in Antigua, and struck many a deal in the marketplace.  We enjoyed times of laughter as we ate and rested.  We saw a fantastic group of teens show love, work hard, persevere through adversity, and go deeper with God.

For me, the most indelible memory will be the family visits.  We met children and parents with modest (at best) possessions and extremely difficult circumstances.  These families inspired me with their diligence and faith in God.  And God has provided and protected them in amazing ways.  I think of their stories as “God stories”, because only God could have arranged people and resources in such miraculous ways.

I wonder what God stories are waiting to be written back home.  I want to be close to Christ so that I can join him where he is working, and see him do the things that only he can do.

“My Father is working until now, and I am working.” – Jesus (John 5:17)

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Flight Reflections – Len Maher

Well we are into our decent into Atlanta feeling physically tired but spiritually full. Once again it is amazing that you head into a trip to bless others only to receive a greater blessing yourself. It truly is better to give than to receive. There are many things about this trip that I could write about, but two things that are fresh in my mind that took place yesterday.

God did an amazing thing regarding financing this trip. Not only did each teen and adult become fully funded which included a $100 donation, but we were able to bring down an extra $1000 for a total of $3200. We were given a couple of different options for where the money could go, and the group decided they wanted it to be invested into people and not projects.

On Monday, we met with the four 9th graders that would benefit from the gift so that they could continue their schooling since it was their last year at the Los Amigos school. They will be going to a Christian school which is 6x the cost of Los Amigos. It is humbling to think that God allowed us a front row seat to see how He makes things happen for his Kingdom. To be able to give them that gift, speak into their life and pray for them was simply incredible.

The other event was our presentations with the classes in the afternoon. We ended singing “Open The Eyes of My Heart Lord” in English and then they joined us in Spanish. Every time I experience worship like this, I can’t make it through. It’s just beautiful! You are overcome with emotions and this thought came to mind, maybe God has us wired like that? There is a wholeness or a fullness when the Lord of the nations is worshiped by the nations.

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.””

Revelation 5:9-10 ESV

All glory to God for a trip that He was in and we got to be a part of it as we lived Up, In and Out in Guatemala!

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A View From The Youth- Katie Adams 

        I’m sitting on the plane getting ready to take off from Guatemala City Airport.  It’s really weird to think about being in America again.  I feel like in many ways I have gotten really used to the Guatemalan culture.  I’m used to the extremely early mornings due to firecrackers, dogs barking, and the wind against the tin roof in the room we stayed in on the very top floor.  I’m used to cheek kisses, Spanish, and beautiful chocolate brown eyes looking back at me.  Most importantly, I’m used to being blessed by the amazing people of Guatemala every day.  It’s been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life.  I’ve been stretched in ways that I was not prepared to be stretched in and humbled in many ways.  Through it all, I saw Jesus so much this week.  Even writing this now, I’m overwhelmed by the grace I’ve been shown this week by people and especially God.  

       As I said, I’ve been really humbled this week.  I went into this trip thinking that I had it all figured out.  I’m leaving Guatemala knowing that I only have just a small grasp on the complexities of life and the goodness of God’s love and grace.  I thought that my own good deeds and abilities would be sufficient for this trip.  I found out rather quickly that believing that was far from the truth of the matter.  I thought going to a foreign country would bring out the best in me, I now know that it actually brought sin and other things holding me back from God to the surface.  For example, I realized the importance of family on this trip.  My whole family went on this trip.  Towards the beginning of the week, I sort of pushed my family away because I wanted to just be with my friends. This especially happened with my younger sister Karlee.  For many years, I’d put up walls of self protection in our relationship.  This led to us often having a rocky relationship at times.  It came to  point in the week where we were really struggling.  I felt that I had let everyone on the trip down, especially my family.  Though the struggle may not have been really obvious to others on the team, it was obvious to me.  God has started to break down those walls in my life.  I feel so much peace in knowing that Christ has redeemed my imperfections, because there are many.  I leave Guatemala knowing that Christ’s grace is sufficient for me.  That reality is so humbling and freeing.  

        I met one special girl named Estefani this week.  Estefani is five years old, in kindergarten, and has one the most adorable laughs I’ve ever heard.  I met Estefani the third day of the trip and immediately felt like I had been reunited with a life long friend.  Every time I was around Estefani, I forgot that I was over ten years older than her, we could barely understand a sentence of each other due to the language barrier, and  that we were separated by geography, race, and social status.  Estefani is one the best kids I’ve ever met.  Even though we don’t know about each other’s hobbies, family life, or best memories, we knew one thing without any doubt.  We knew that we loved each other.  Every time Estefani would see me at the school, she would run up to me and whisper in my ear, “I love you.”  I believe God let me meet Estefani to show me more about himself.  Estefani is loving, selfless, and always ready to greet you with a warm hug.  Estefani knows almost nothing about me, yet she was always ready to show me love.  I believe that this is how Christ loves us except that he knows EVERYTHING about and still greets us with a warm and comforting hug.  I believe that where words failed, the Holy Spirit stepped in. One verse that has really encouraged me this week is Romans 15:13.  It says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  It was so wonderful to sense the Spirit’s filling this week.  The people of Guatemala have such great hope in Christ, and this has encouraged me so much.  

        I have been shown such selfless love this week.  Every person I met sought to serve me first before serving themselves.  The hope we have in Christ has also been made so apparent to me.  I have been truly blessed by the people of Guatemala and the team that came down. I wish I could write down everything that happened in the past week, but that would be a very long post, so I guess this will do. :) I would like to thank everyone that prayed for the team this week.  God answered in ways I didn’t even imagine he would. Thank you, God, for Guatemala. 


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Thoughts As We Leave

It is our final day here at the Amigos School in Peronia. It has been a wonderful week full of smiles, laughter and the love of Jesus.  Of hugs and fistbumps, soccer and whiffle ball,  language challenges and communication that broke through it all. 
A week of fellowship, supporting one another, little sleep, crazy showers, 4:30 am fireworks and roach dances.  It has also been a week-long dad/daughter date (in maybe a weird way) and I am so thankful for this opportunity and especially for getting to experience it with Ally. 

The scripture I have been in for this week is Jeremiah 29, specifically verses 11-14. But to understand these I’ve spent a lot of time looking at he preceding chapters as well. The exiled from Judah had walked away from God, had stopped praying, stopped listening for God, stopped seeking him (see Jer. 25) and so that is why he sent them into exile. It was only after the seventy years had passed that he restored to them what they lost.  As I think on this idea of exiles and lost I can’t help but reflect a bit on this week. 

While we have seen all of these beautiful sights and sounds there is the constant reminder that we are not in the United States and that there are plenty of lost here that don’t know the Lord. We don’t go anywhere unless we are in a group, we can’t walk the short distance (approx. 50 yards) between the house and the school without an escort.  

 The home visits we made involved walking through the streets and were wonderful but there was always a need to maintain full awareness.  As a leader (and a father) I felt like I always needed to have one eye on the kids and one on my surroundings. You hear the stories of some of these kids and what hey have been through with the loss of a parent due to violence and your heart breaks for them, yet the strength and perseverance is a beautiful thing.  I can honestly say I never felt in danger – but I never felt 100% safe either. It definitely was “the safest most dangerous mission trip”. 

As I prepare to leave here I will remember the smiles, hugs, giggles and beautiful people we encountered. But I will also leave here with a heart that continues to pray for the people, the city and the region. For those in desperate need for the love of Christ and the hope that he provides. May the kids of the Amigos school continue to grow in Christ and his love and shine his light into a world in need of Him. 

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A View From The Youth – Andrew Jariga

Being our last day with the kids, many of us had a very sad but powerful day. Our work with the kids culminated in a series of presentations that were performed by the kids for their peers and families. Also during this time we had our final recess and said our final goodbyes. It is very hard to know that we will most likely never see these children again. God has helped relationships to form that should have never been possible considering the language barrier. I remember on the first day of the trip when Logan prayed that we would fall in love with the kids of the Amigos school, and God has powerfully answered that request. It was so cool to see the joy on the faces of our new friends as we played games together and passed out stickers and candy. We have seen many other prayers answered in the same way. Thank you for your faithful prayer. We will see you very soon.

-Andrew Jariga

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A View From The Youth – Nicki Almes

This has been one of the best weeks of my entire life. Some moments have been emotional, others have been funny, and some have been inspiring. All in all, I think I can speak for everyone on this trip when I say that we have definitely seen Jesus here.

These kids here are the most generous and giving people I have ever met. They are always so willing to give you anything they can and are so excited when they do. They have been so happy to give you everything, even if it’s just a balloon or a bracelet made out of pipe cleaners.

Although they don’t have much, they have so much to be happy about. During one of my classes, a kid shared that he was happy because he was alive and he had a mom and a dad. Another kid said that she was happy because her friend got a scholarship. None of the things that brought them joy were material things or based on selfishness. 

I have made so many friends here, regardless of the language. I don’t consider it to be a language “barrier” but more of a language difference, because it doesn’t prevent us from talking to and connecting with these kids on a personal level. I was able to talk with one girl for over 45 minutes. She didn’t know any English and considering I hardly know any Spanish, that was definitely a God thing. 

It is amazing to me to see just how much God is working in the lives of these kids. I came here to make a change in their life, but they also changed mine and I will always be thankful for that. The way these kids are living and the way that Jesus is shining through each and every one of them gives me so much hope. I feel so encouraged and so inspired by all of my friends here and I can hands-down say that coming here to Guatemala was the best choice I ever made.

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A View From The Youth -Charlotte Bates

In all honestly I was going to write this blog just to say hi to my mom but God has been speaking to my heart. Each morning we wake up to the sound of fire crackers which wasn’t as bad as the two birds fighting on our tin roof this morning :) but I feel like God is setting off fire crackers in my life. Today I was designated the poster child for seeing Jesus because I’ve said it a million times this week but I feel like God has just been pulling at my heart. I’ve seen him show up in the smallest of places from a little kids smile to him literally stopping the rain for us to walk home. This week has really set my heart in the right place. For a few years I have wanted to do relief work and God has been conforming my desires to do that. As I try to fix my eyes on God this week I realize my heart isn’t always following that. 

Romans 12: 1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

This verse has hit me hard today. I realize God has a perfect plan written out for my life and as long as my eyes are fixed on him it will be carried out. So often I get caught up in the moment and I don’t always set my mind on God and his will and plan. I realize today I think I know my plans for college and the rest of my life but God can change that tomorrow and it is his good, pleasant and perfect will for my life. I may not know what my future holds but I know who holds the answers to it. It is like driving I the traffic here. Wow… I don’t know why they even have stop signs or traffic lights. People are so focused on where they are going and they don’t care if they cut you off or almost hit the random people juggling in the road. As I got lost in the traffic I realized I was missing what was all around me. There were beautiful buildings and mountains all over but I had begun to miss it. Just from lifting my eyes I saw simple beauty in every street corner. That’s what God has been pulling at me to do is just lift my eyes to him and not the world around me. The Guatemalans have taught me how to live day by day and not worry about what’s to come because it’s all in God’s hands.

P.S.-  I love you momma!! 

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A View from the Youth- Jordyn Daerr

Let’s just start off by saying I absolutely love this place. Every where you go you are greeted with a hug and kiss, or for guys a fist bump. The children are so loving and shine so bright. They always have a smile on their face and are ready to learn what you bring to them. These past couple of days I have seen God in every smiling face. They are always wanting to help you out even if it’s just picking up something you dropped, they are right there to get it for you. 

Jesus has been everywhere. He shines through the kids as they are so willing to help and serve others around them. I have made a lot of new little friends but there is this one little girl that really melted my heart. Her name is Eileen that sure found a way to my heart. I got to spend tons of time with her and one day I told her I had to leave. So she gave me the normal hug and kiss, but it was just the normal thing, she whispered into my ear that she loved me and she said it in English. It brought me to tears. I never knew how much you could love someone you just met and barely know and can hardly have conversation with. 

Being here is nothing like I expected it to be, it is better than I could ever imagine! On the first day teaching was a lot harder than we had planned it to be. We had to change a lot of things but God was there by our side giving us patience and helping us work around and still get His word across. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us from here on out. 

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