Friday, February 20, 2015

PLEASE PRAY FOR US!

As we ready ourselves for this Saturday February 21st departure (well, except Amy, Connie and a few others who are already down there), we made a list of some things to pray for moving forward.  Could you please keep these items in your minds and hearts?  

Please pray for:

1.  Our trip leaders: Tim, Carolina and Steve.  Pray that God continues to guide them on this very responsible and important journey.
May they continue to build upon the wisdom they already have.
May God protect their health: physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.
May God equip the team to truly be a support to the team leaders. 

2.  Our wonderful SEPAL team and other "on the ground" supporters.  We would list all of their names, but we're afraid I would miss someone!  We are so thankful and grateful to have such a wonderful group partner with on this joint mission!

3.  The pastors.  Pray that God helps them direct us in ways we can best serve their congregations and their communities.

4.  The people we are leaving behind in Minnesota and Tennessee: families, former Bridge Builders and others who will be with us in spirit.  Pray that God hears their prayers because we know they are praying for us!

5.  The Bridge Builders Team.  Some are new, some are returning for the second, tenth or twentieth time.  Please pray that God keeps us safe, healthy and spiritually ready to serve with humble and open hearts.

Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Missions Weekend

Preparations are already beginning for the 2015 BridgeBuilders trip to Guatemala! This coming weekend is missions weekend at Wooddale and we will be celebrating the worldwide involvement of our church and its members. The BridgeBuilders team continues to celebrate as we move into our 21st year of partnership with the churches around Lake Atitlan.

Come visit our booth at Wooddale this weekend for more information about the 2015 trip and how you can get involved. BridgeBuilders has many different ministry opportunities, from home construction to teaching English to medical ministries. Veterans as well as newcomers are welcome as we look to build our team for 2015!

Please continue to pray for the ministry, its leaders, and our partners in Guatemala. Please also begin to consider how you can be a part of the trip this coming February. Trip dates are February 21st to March 2nd and we would love to have you join us!

An informational meeting will be held on November 9th. For a complete schedule, application, and more information please go to: http://wooddale.org/trips/guatemala-bridge-builders

Continue to watch for updates on our blog and Facebook page as the trip approaches! We are excited about what God is doing through this ministry!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ending on a High Note


Our week of mission work is nearly complete. The medical and dental teams treated the last of their patients, who came to the free clinics via our local church partners and word-of-mouth. Although our teams serve these communities with limited equipment and primitive facilities, their work is highly valued and desperately needed. Stories abounded this week of other ministry team members discovering and transporting the seriously ill to the clinics for treatment.

 Our four construction sites are near completion with roofs installed and most cement floors laid over the last couple days. Tomorrow our entire Wooddale team of 35+ members will visit each of the four new homes to pray over the families and dedicate their homes along with local pastors.

The women's one-on-one team made their last visits with church deaconesses to encourage women believers in their faith and give them hope in the midst of poverty and suffering. Meanwhile, the men's addiction one-on-one team continued walking the villages praying over men they find in the streets. Their words are not always heard by these men, but we know our Lord is listening. We pray the men's' hearts will be open to the living Word and their lives  changed in ways they could not otherwise imagine or achieve for themselves.

The computer team delivered the last of their computers to our local church partners, while the water purification team finished maintaining and installing new systems. The soccer ministry team ran their last drills and played their last games. And the English teachers taught their last classes, receiving a grand farewell of hugs and kisses from students as the final bell rang and they headed home.

So many stories -- so many extraordinary people working together for a common goal to make miracles happen that only be credited to our God.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Word of God, Faith Stories, and Soccer


Soccer is Guatemala's national sport creating great long-term potential for a sports ministry to reach the children and their families around Lake Atitlan. Our ministry team is here to provide support for our Wooddale global partners SEPAL Ministries and a pastor-led group in Guatemala City, who recruited two ex-professional Guatemalan soccer players to serve as coaches at the soccer camp. Now underway, the camp has brought together three cultures:  Ladinos from Guatemala City, the local Maya people, and our American team -- all working together to bring the Word of God to 130 students per day. The Wooddale children on the ministry team have made instant cross-cultural connections since they are able to speak Spanish and are a natural for the game. This week each is presenting their faith story in Spanish during a daily worship service. Because these faith stories are present in Spanish, the Maya children are more attentive. Imagine the impact these young people can have for God's kingdom!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love, Suffering, and Hope

Our team is feeling the love of the Lake Atitlan Guatemalans in every ministry we're involved in, from soccer to one-on-one evangelism and home construction - and we're building bridges each day in every opportunity we have. The home construction team takes breaks from their work to entertain the children of the families who are receiving the new home, while the parents are busy or temporarily away. Our English teachers are receiving 'big' hugs from the kindergarten students and a heart-warming welcome each day as they entered their classes. And the Wooddale children in our soccer ministry are making new friends with the Guatemalan students.

The one-on-one team and alcohol recovery teams see another side of Guatemalan life. They too are warmly welcomed, but are witnesses to the societal problems and personal suffering of those who are struck with disease or who have lost hope in their grief of losing a loved one. Most pointedly, we learned of troubled young people who, in their distress, turn to alcohol and suicide only to be found on the street by family, friends or someone in the community. Alcoholism and suicide are serious problems that have the potential to diminish and destroy a generation and a people. Our teams who are ministering to these people are sensing a real demand for their service and have been requested to expand their efforts well beyond this one week. Planning is in progress.

No one knows the precise outcome of these efforts, but the seeds of hope we plant today have the potential of a beautiful and abundant harvest.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trucks, Planes, and Automobiles

Yesterday was a true adventure in travel transferring from our cars to a bus at Wooddale; to two airplanes; to a bus destined for Santiago, Atitlan; and, finally, to a small fleet of pickup open-air trucks to our lovely hotel The Posada.  Although we had visions of comfortable beds awaiting us . . . the wonderful aroma from the kitchen and a promise of a 'lite' dinner curbed our need for sleep.  It was a nice opportunity to enjoy each other's company in a relaxed environment and reflect on the miracles that abounded during our 16 hour journey and the divine intervention that carried us through the day safe and problem-free. Our group of 30, with at least 65 bags, incurred no extra baggage costs. We made our connection in Atlanta with only an hour between flights (our arrival gate turned was also our departure gate). And once we landed in Guatemala City, we were whisked through customs in record time.
And then we slept.



Monday, February 10, 2014

Final Preparations and Prayers

With less than a week away from our departure, the team's excitement is building with last minute preparations under way for our journey. Yesterday, in a circle of unity, we were commissioned in prayer and reminded of our role as servants of the Lord. As the hands and feet of Christ, we will work side-by-side with the people we are serving - equal in His eyes. Our prayer is that the work we do together will be multiplied many times over in the months that follow our mission; that God will be alive and active in the Maya people; and that they will be greatly blessed by the seeds we plant.

Prayer Letter: Bridge Builders Team in Guatemala 2014

We are a team of 36 North Americans, mostly Wooddalers, and 10 Guatemalans who will be serving 10 churches around Lago de Atitlan. Please pray for the following ministries:

  • Children's Soccer Program in neighborhoods and villages
  • Teaching English in the schools - two different schools and hundreds of children
  • Building new homes for 4 families - construction, safety and building material support
  • Church leader training - Elders, Deacons, Pastors
  • Computer technology - maintenance and refresh at all locations
  • Medical and dental clinics - working with Guatemalan dentists
  • Installing and maintaining more than 45 water purification systems
  • Home visits - one-on-one women's and men's prayer ministries

Here's how to pray for us each day:

Saturday 2/15:  Pray for travel mercies, protection and smooth logistics - especially getting through Customs. Prayers for our bus driver that he drives us with great care.
Sunday 2/16:  Ask God to humble and strengthen his servants as we prepare for the week and that relationships with our new team members grow and flourish.
Monday 2/17:  Pray for the courage to embark on our ministry efforts in Santiago with humility and love for the glory of God in that village.
Tuesday 2/18:  Pray for the community of San Pedro. Dear Lord, protect our Children's Ministry wherever they go this week.
Wednesday 2/19:  Ask for blessings upon the home-building teams, that the help they get from the local people will encourage them more.
Thursday 2/20:  Pray to God for regeneration as we minister within our base village of Santiago. Please ask the Lord to reveal to each of our ministries the meaningful ways we might become, through His Grace, a part of this community.
Friday 2/21:  Pray that our ministries in San Pablo be filled with gratitude as we share the love of Christ in homes; and offer medical/dental services to many who cannot afford healthcare. Praise God for our gifts and skills!
Saturday 2/22:  Praise the Lord as we dedicate all the new homes with the local pastors. May the love, glory, mercy and power of God be revealed to each family as they humbly accept this gift. Pray for safe travel to Antigua.
Sunday 2/23:  Give thanks and praise to God for time to rest and reflect in Antigua, including the morning worship service and evening meal.
Monday 2/24:  Ask God to bring our team, and the nine Guatemalan men traveling with us, home safely and pray that we can return to our daily lives with fresh perspective, a renewed sense of purpose, and a greater understanding of how He works in the world through us.

Thank you for your prayers and follow our daily reflections on this blog.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Special Call for Soccer Equipment

As snowflakes drift and swirl outside our windows, we are filled with a longing for the warmth and beauty of Guatemala - and for the opportunity to reconnect with good friends (old and new) in our mission to serve the Maya people.

Last Sunday we made a giant step forward toward our goal, packing everything from toothbrushes and vitamins to children's shoes and backpacks with school supplies. Thank you for all your generous contributions - Muchas Gracias! Those of you who still have donations to deliver, please bring them to Room 283 next Sunday, January 19 at 12:30 p.m.

New to our 'needs' list is soccer equipment, requested by our partner church pastors. We're kicking off a new sports ministry this year with six Guatemalan trainers, including ex-professional soccer players, to run our soccer camp. Guatemalans are high on sports - with soccer being their national sport. It's an exciting opportunity to spread the gospel and develop new relationships! But we need your help. These are the items we are seeking: used soccer tee-shirts/jerseys and shoes for kids. If you can donate these items or know someone who can, we would be extremely grateful for your 'swift' assistance.

We ask for your continued prayers for our mission team as we prepare for our trip and commence travel on February 15, returning on the 24th. We also ask for your prayers for our Guatemalan pastors as they work within their communities to lay the groundwork for our service - pray that may we be a blessing and encouragement to them, as they will be to us.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

We will soon be on our way!

In just a few short weeks the 2014 Bridge Builders team will be embarking on the 20th year of trips to Guatemala! 
Thank you so much for being a part of our team! At the moment, I am just re-opening and fine tuning the blog so it is ready to go...Doesn't every bus need a tune up after it has been in the garage a few months? 
Next week we hope to have this fully functioning and running....maybe we can even show you some pictures and update you on packing the bags of shoes, backpacks, toothbrushes....etc.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Last Day of Ministry

Today has been a bittersweet day! It was our last day of ministry and the focus was in San Pablo, one of the poorest towns around Lake Atitlan.  The dentists, doctors, women's one on one visitation, children's ministry and pastor care teams went there to minister, pray, help and bring the good news of Jesus to the people of this town.

One of the main reasons why Bridge Builders exists is because we want to build relationships with the people of the Lake area.  One great example is a young man named Timoteo that was born in San Pablo.  We met Timoteo around 11 years ago, he began helping our medical team translating from Spanish to Tzutujil and vise versa.  He has a heart for his people in San Pablo and through working with Bridge Builders he began to see the need for medical health care in his town.  He finished high school and enrolled in a "Nurse assistant" program, after that, he enrolled in a "Nursing" program and today we learned that he will be taking a two year program to further his Nursing career.

The beautiful thing about this is that he is doing this and comes back to San Pablo to help his people.  Many here will go and get further education and move away from their birth places, Timoteo wants to come back and help.  It was good to see him come in to the clinic wearing his scrubs.  What a great example of dedication and determination he has been to many of us!

Yes, it has been a bitter day because we are done with the work we came to do but sweet because we have met new friends and seen old ones.  It has been amazing to see God working in the lives of the people in the team, many of us did not expect to be used the way God used us this week!

Tomorrow we will be going to dedicate the 6 homes that were built and then will be traveling to Antigua for a day of reflections, debriefing and processing of all that happened during our time here.  Please pray for safe travels.

Thank you for jumping in to the Chicken Bus with us through your prayers and/or financial support, we couldn't do it without you!

Dr. Mark Solfelt with a "little patient" at the medical
clinic in San Pablo.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Church Service Celebration

Today we had a full day of ministry in our host town of San Lucas Toliman.  We did the English teaching here, the home visitations, the dental and medical clinic, the children's ministry and the Alcoholism and Recovery ministry.

We also had the water filtration team going to other sites that are a couple of hours of travel by car from where we were today.

We got our ministry bags, (thank you for praying!) which means, some of our ministries can get more supplies to finish their work. Please pray for the water filtration ministry as the delay in the ministry bags getting here meant they are behind in their filter installation and servicing.

One of the special things that happen during the trip on Thursday night is the Celebration!  The 10 churches we work with come to the host town and we praise together, pray together and learn together. Wooddale sends with the team a pastor.  We have Pastor Tom Correll with us this year and he preached on Daniel 6.  We learned that we need to "Pitch our tent" with God and follow his lead and say "we will follow you Lord" no matter the crisis or circumstances we face, He is there to protect us.  What a great time it was to see old friends and reconnect with them.  They all remember us and are grateful for the relationships we have and have build through the 19 years we have been coming to the Lake Atitlan area.

The church was full, many came from their towns by boat or bus, it is such a blessing to see all of them!!!

Tomorrow most of the team will be traveling by boat to San Pablo, one of the poorest towns around the Lake.  Please pray for a safe ride, a great time to minister to this special people and energy for the last day of ministry.  Thank you again for your prayer support, we couldn't fight the battle without it!!!

Have a blessed and rested night.
Buenas noches!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Experiencing God

Today we began our day with a wonderful reflection time.  We were given two verses, Psalm 43:3 that says "Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell" and Luke 6:12 "And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God."

Psalm 43:3 becomes more real when we have the view of mountains and how grand they are here in San Lucas.  We were encouraged to think about how we are letting God guide us and to spend time in prayer to Him.  Prayer becomes more important when we are doing God's work and we want to ask for your continued prayers for our health, safety and work here in Guatemala.

Today, the truck that we have been using broke down and it sounds like it will have to be towed to the city to be repaired.  Please pray for provision for this, as it will be costly.

Our bags were not yet released today because we need to have one of the people that is connected to one of the bags present at the airport with their passport.  That one person had to be the one whose name was on the bag that had been lost but now it is in customs with the other 32 bags.  Marty Leenhoust is that person and he had to travel today to the city with Davis, one of our Guatemalan partners.  They will go to the airport early tomorrow morning and get the bags.  Thank you Marty for taking one for the team!!! Please pray that the process goes smoothly and that the bags get released with no problems.

Tomorrow, most of the team will be traveling by boats to San Pedro.  We have a full day with visits, medical and dental clinics and children programs.  Your continued coverage in prayer is very much needed and appreciated!

Thank you for your support for the work being done in Guatemala!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Maltiosh, Hermanos!


"Maltiosh, Hermanos!"

This means "Thank you brothers" in Tz'utujil, one of the Mayan languages spoken around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  We have been hearing this all day today and will be hearing this all week long, as the people we meet are always so grateful for the blessings brought to them.

One of the blessings is the construction of homes that provide, for many families around the lake, a safe place, a roof and protection from the rain and cold weather.

This is Antonia Reanda, a widow and one of the first recipients of a home 19 years ago when Bridge Builders started coming to Guatemala.  We visited her and when asked how has this home changed your life? she answered, "It has allowed me to cook, go to the bathroom and wash my clothes without worrying about the rain or the cold.  How we take the simple things for granted and here Antonia said "Maltiosh hermanos" for helping me live a better life by having a roof over my head that allows me to be warm and do my everyday chores without the worry of getting wet or cold.

It was an exciting time for the construction crew to meet the families they are building for this year!  Many got more than what they expected, as children from the communities where these houses are came to see what they are doing, shared smiles and played with them.

It was a very busy day for all, and after dinner we were all tired and ready to go to bed and get a good rest for tomorrows work.

Please pray for our ministry bags, we were not able to get them out of customs at the airport in Guatemala City today.  Pray that tomorrow we get the OK to take them and bring them to the lake.  But God is good and he is always working, we have seen that today!

Buenas noches!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Celebration and Preparation

One of our Bridge Builder's veterans Rafael Iverson, that now lives in Guatemala and works here as a missionary, visited us today with a very special person in his life... his fiancee Keely, which he met here.  Rafael and Keely are both adopted from Guatemala.  Rafael was adopted into a family from Minnesota and Keely was adopted into a family from Indiana.  They both now live here, have a relationship with their biological families and minister to the people of their birth country!  What a blessing and a treat it was to celebrate with them their engagement and future wedding in March!

Today was also preparation day, we got together in our teams and planned for the week ahead.  The children's ministry got to meet Luis and learn the songs and bible verses they will be using to reach children of the Lake Atitlan area.  They will be using the "salvation bracelet".  They will make a bracelet with the kids with 5 colors, black (means sin and separation from God), red (the blood of Christ that forgives our sins), white (the color of our hearts after they have been cleansed with the blood of Christ), green (means growing in faith) and yellow (the color of gold, which is the promise of heaven and eternal life).

Some people in the team got to go on boats across the lake to Panajachel and do some shopping and "tourism".  Some stayed and walked around San Lucas and visited some of the homes that will be built and meet the families that will be blessed by these homes.

Tomorrow will be officially, our first day of ministry. Please, pray for safe traveling, as some will be going by boat to towns across the lake (San Antonio Palopo and Panajachel) and others will be traveling by pick up trucks... yes, in the back of pick up trucks! (Santiago, Tzan Chaj and Chacaya).

Will hopefully have some pictures to post tomorrow!

Buenas noches!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

We Made It!

After flying for almost 7 hours and traveling by bus for another 3, we have made it!!!
God was with the team as we traveled in three separate airlines to get to Guatemala, after a long day of traveling, we have made it to our Hotel in San Lucas Toliman Guatemala.  We are exhausted!!!

All but one of our bags made it, we were able to get our personal bags out of the airport but our ministry supply bags were not cleared by the immigration in Guatemala. We will not be able to get them out of immigration until Monday morning.  Although this might seem like a big road block, it is not, we have enough things and supplies with us to make it through our first day of ministry, praise God!

Continue to also pray for our health, Bill, our fearless leader, has a pinched nerve on his neck.  Also, two of our team mates were not able to come with us due to health issues.  Tom Siegert had surgery on his foot due to a torn tendon and Peg Weller had a skying accident in which she broke her shoulder.  We ask that you please pray for their continued recovery.

Tomorrow we will be working and organizing our ministries for the week ahead.  It is an exciting time to connect with our local ministry partners as well.  The Children's ministry will be meeting with Luis, a Guatemalan missionary to his own people.  He trains teachers to bring the good news to kids in an exciting way.  Pray that they have a wonderful time preparing with the songs and testimonies that they will be using to reach the kids that will be coming to see them.

Our dinner was very satisfying and we are off to get a good night sleep and rest for the work ahead.  Thank you for partnering with us in this adventure.  Until tomorrow, have a blessed night!

Buenas noches!