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Hola! Who turned on the cold? We came home fully expecting to experience the beautiful spring weather we were hearing about…instead I am in my winter coat and scarf, thermal PJ’s and actually contemplating wearing socks to bed (gross!). Ok, I am being dramatic and perhaps my tolerance for cold has been tweaked a bit by the warmth of Guatemala. I have to admit though that I am feeling seasonally disoriented since coming home. Unless I think a moment, my body and mind are convinced it is fall. You know, the feeling you get when you are convinced it is Friday, only to realize or be reminded that it is actually Thursday or, worse yet, Wednesday? This is the daily battle in my head…reminding myself of the month and the season, not just because of the weather but my seasonal clock is off or something….it is strange. I feel like I was in a time warp.
We have been back for a little over a week. We are thankful for having some time to enjoy our adult children and grandchildren and visiting our parents and siblings when their busy schedules allow. We enjoyed my grandmother’s 82nd birthday celebration this weekend where we were able to visit with a lot of family members we haven’t seen for quite a while!
Each time I come back from Guatemala, I tend to purge the closets and cupboards of “unneeded” items and experience a greater desire to “live simply so that others may simply live”. As many of you know, I dislike shopping of any sort because it involves spending money and wasting time trying to decide if I really “NEED” the item. I am “cheap”, as some call it, when it comes to purchasing “possessions”. I call it resourceful and responsible…hahahaha! In general I try to keep items to a minimum and use them for a long long time until they wear out, no longer work or do not fit (or smell real bad in the case of footwear). When it comes to being generous with spending time or money on others, many view me as a little “crazy and overly generous”. I call it trusting and faithful, it’s God’s money & time, not mine. This time as I begin the purge process, assessing all items as being essential or not has taken on a whole new perspective. The purge will have to take on the process of:
Step 1. it must go….Move to Step 2 only if the item is absolutely necessary.
Step 2: Is it light and will it fit in a suitcase? If no, proceed back to step 1.
Do you see where I am going with this?
For a few years Brad & I have been discussing, praying and mulling over the call to spend extended periods of time ministering in Guatemala (i am avoiding the words “move to”). I have been increasing my (and Brad’s) time & frequency in Guatemala to try meeting the call & vision we have had placed in our hearts by God. This travel/ministry set up has been working in the past, however over the last year it has become clear to Brad and I that God is calling us to do more than can be accomplished in a 4 or 6 week trip a few times a year. He is also calling us to be ministering more together as a couple through Recycled Lives.
This past trip, as we prepared to serve, we went with the specific plan to pray and listen for God’s clear will on what to do with our future and ministry together. We began the trip together with Kelly and Dave by attending a couple’s intercessional prayer retreat to assist us through prayerfully seeking God’s will and in listening for His voice among the often times deafening earthly pulls on our hearts. Following this retreat we spent the next 4 weeks continuing to pray and seeking God’s guidance (and I admit I also spent a bit of that time wrestling with God and Brad over what we were hearing). Brad and I came to the decision the last week of being in Guatemala that we should take a look at a few pieces of property that would perhaps fit the vision we were given for living & ministering in Guatemala. After just a few houses we walked into what we believe will be our new home (away from home). A complete sense of peace was felt and the Holy Spirit was clearly there. With every step of the process, from talking to the owner about financing us, our financial limitations, our need to wait to buy, etc….nothing was a problem! The owner even began to cry when we explained to her afterward that our purpose for the home would be for serving God and His glory. She obviously has been praying not just to simply sell this home that she clearly built with love but that it would be sold to the perfect persons that would love it just the same and that it would serve a beautiful purpose. The home will allow us the ability to live simplistically while also having the space and set up to host mission teams. It will allow us the ability to minister in a variety of different ways outside of mission teams including housing/hosting families on vacations with a mission, prayer groups, small group bible studies and perhaps even students. We are excited for the possibilities to serve God with this home!
Brad and I will be spending the next few months preparing for this big transition by selling possessions and doing fundraising to help acquire the funds needed to complete the purchase and furnish the home for our first mission team that is scheduled to arrive less than 3 weeks after we purchase it! We are looking forward to spending time with family and friends before we leave to complete the purchase in October. We are asking that you would please continue to lift us up in prayer in all the needs that come with taking this step of faith. Further details will come in regards to the any help our family needs in making this transition. We are laying it all at God’s feet and trusting Him no matter what (easier said than done of course!) Please contact us if God lays it on your heart to assist us in any certain way. As always, your words of encouragement are wonderful to hear!
Praising God for your answered prayers! Thanks for all of your love and support. We will keep you posted!
Founder & Executive Director
Thank you so much again for those of you that are encouraging us through prayer, support and loving words of affirmation. The time here has gone by so fast yet it seems like forever since i have seen my loved ones face to face back in minnesota. God has been providing brad and me with a tremendous amount of peace and confidence in the work we are doing for Him.
Here are the highlights of the past week (week 6):
*we installed a cooking stove for a family which ended up being a peace offering and a way to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus with the neighbors at the construction site for the 2nd home.
As i was working on the framing of the house it was high enough i could see over the fence. I noticed the condition of the outdoor cooking area being used by the family next door. God laid it on my heart to offer a cooking stove to the family. When we went to offer the stove and request permission to enter the property in order to nail up the siding of the house it became obvious there was a tremendous amount of anger and fighting that was going on between these neighbors. The woman was angry with us because we were helping someone she had a great amount of dislike for. This became an opportunity to minister as the stove created an avenue to show love and kindness even though she was being not so kind. It gave an opportunity to listen to her and try to restore peace while demonstrating withholding judgement and anger even when we may feel entitled to it. I was able to have a good conversation with her about my faith and motives and saw a change on her face and tone in her voice as i spoke with her about it being Holy week and the forgiveness Christ gives us even though we don’t deserve it. I know the problem still exists between the two neighbors but i honestly felt a change in attitude from her. We also had a discussion with the mother we were building for as well regarding hers and her teen boy’s attitude and actions leading to a lot of the problems in her community. We talked about God being a God of new chances for new lives. Please pray that there be peace and restoration in the future for these 2 families.
*Praise report! Someone donated $500 last week so we can now add the 10 families from the waiting list to the monthly food distribution! Praise and thanks be to God!
*we shared some American easter traditions with our friends and host family…with some guatemalan twists. We taught a lesson each time we used eggs explaining that eggs represent new life. We talked about the new lives offered to us through a saving relationship available through Christ’s sacrifice.
We decorated hard boiled eggs then made deviled eggs out of them the next day for breakfast. We made easter egg ornaments. We filled over 300 plastic eggs with candy and rode around the city Easter morning in the back of a truck and handed (sometimes tossed ) them out. We walked central park and handed more eggs out as well as some crocheted hats donated by someone from our church. We entertained some neighbor children with egg decorating and easter bags as well. We made easter baskets and hid them and eggs on Easter morning for our host family. It was a wonderful Easter week celebrating our savior Jesus and experiencing another culture’s traditions. We loved it.
*brad and i enjoyed taking in a few days of holy week celebrations including watching several processions , viewing the alfombras (carpets) and people watching….so interesting! Buses bring people from all over guatemala as well as el Salvador and honduras to see these processions over holy week! The number of people was like the minnesota state fair x 3!
*Clinic and Activity Center*:
The clinic roof is in progress with the materials donated or purchased. $1,600 is needed to help pay the workers to complete it. If you can help with a portion if this need we would praise God for it!
Brad and I completed the construction of the second home in Alotenango Guatemala. It was a tricky build for a family struggling greatly with interpersonal relationships. Brad and i were able to minister to them over the course of the week and love on the children and mother. I can honestly say i witnessed a great work of God on the mothers and oldest son’s hearts with demonstrating compassion, jo and love. We spoke the truth in love and honesty regarding problems we were noticing in parenting and responsibility. It was uncomfortable at times but necessary. Please hold this family in prayer.
*for all persons suffering throughout the world that lack physical resources but most importantly that do not know the saving relationship available through Jesus Christ.
*for the families we assist to not only know the comfort of shelter, water & electricity but the comfort of their Savior Jesus
*for support for the ongoing ministry work of Recycled Lives that I am blessed to lead and be involved in.
*for additional homes to be built for the long list of families that need them
*for Brad and me to continue to make decisions together in God’s will for our future ministry in Guatemala as a couple.
*for traveling mercies as we return to Minnesota tomorrow
Thanks for all of your love and support.
🙂 Shawn Johnson
Founder and Executive Director