Big News!

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!
Shawn
Founder & Executive Director
Recycled Lives

Guatemala week 6 March 2016

Hola!
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!

*General update*:
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.

Prayer requests:
*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

Guatemala Week 5 March 2016

Wow 5 weeks!

*March mission team:* Kelly & Dave departed bright & early this past Tuesday morning (3/15). Their first flight was delayed 2 hrs which was a blessing in disguise…it got them on a direct flight(vs another connecting flight in Ohio) to MN and even arrived home earlier than originally scheduled! It was encouraging to be told by Kelly when she attended Wednesday evening activities at First Baptist Church how many people told her they are praying for Recycled Lives, for me & Brad & our family. I definitely feel the prayer covering. Thank you so much!

It was a wonderful 2 weeks serving alongside Kelly, Dave & Brad. We experienced a lot & ministered well together.
Here are the highlights:
*the team played baseball for hours & served over 100 plates of the local favorite meal: rice, tortillas and beans in San Gabriel (community surrounding a garbage dump )
*The team spent an evening popping 16 batches of top secret kettlecorn (60 treat bags) and provided a movie activity with the kids and moms in San Gabriel another day. The kids enjoyed a dinosaur cartoon movie & being loved on by the team
*the team attended a weekend prayer retreat and learned more about spiritual warfare and battling in prayer. We prayed for the ministries of Recycled Lives and for the 7 spheres of influence for the communities we are actively working to fight the grips of poverty.
*we built a 12×16 foot home with an attached sheltered kitchen with cooking stove for Miriam, Jose (7), Gabriella (3 1/2) and Daniella (6 months). It was 5 hard days of labor but it was amazing, sore backs and all! Sponsoring a home like this costs around $3,000 for the materials, labor & transportation. Any amount donated can help the next family receive a home!
*the team ​performed the Recycled Lives’ monthly food distribution for 130 families. There is consistently at least 10 or more families that come every month in hopes that there will be extra food. Some months we have a few extra packages, sometimes not. Would you consider sponsoring a year of food for these families so we can add them on the list? It would cost $450 ($38/mo). We want to add all 10 families at once to be fair and also need a commitment to help for at least a year. (Changing quantities of food purchased each month poses problems with our food distributor/order and also with the families as we only add families to the list when we can promise consistent help for the year. Please let us know if you can help with this need.
*following the food distribution the team enjoyed serving a hotdog BBQ with the San Gabriel community. It was a blast!
*on sunday we swam in a sea of people while spending a day in downtown Antigua taking in the craziness of 1,000,000 people (seriously) watching a holy procession which is a parade with one very large float the size of a large boat. It is carried by 100 persons wearing purple and white tunics, one block at a time before switching to another 100 people. People make alfombras in the streets along the procession route (they are carpets of various items such as sawdust, colored sand, pine bedding, flowers, fruits or veggies.) It is very beautiful and also a very interesting tradition.

*Clinic and Activity Center*:
We are in awe & praising God that a local Guatemalan cement company donated 240 sacks of cement for the construction of the clinic. This is a huge thing for a company in Guatemala to make such a donation!!! God is blessing this project one beautiful step at a time! Please continue to lift this need up in prayer.

*General update*:
Brad and I began the construction of another home in Alotenango Guatemala on Wednesday (3/15). We expect the home to take 4 to 5 days and will take the weekend off of building to give ourselves & the workers the weekend off from the heavy labor. The home construction has been very different as it is on a very narrow strip of land for a family of 7. Please pray for us as we work in tight quarters and create the home as we go as it is on a “pie shaped” piece of land from 8 feet wide in front to 6 feet wide in back by less than 30 feet long. There will be an area in front of the house where we will create a covered kitchen/storage area and toilet. It is going to be challenging but we are confident we will be blessed as we work! Please pray for the family to see the value of hard work and be released from feelings of helplessness and dependence upon the help of others.

Prayer requests:
*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. That during this holy week we can shine even brighter as we serve.

*for the families we assist to not only know the comfort of shelter, water & electricity but the comfort of their Savior Jesus

*for Kelly and Dave as they adjust to returning home and process their experience.

​*for Brad and I as we construct another home and prepare to minister over holy week to the communities God calls us to

*for support for additional homes to be built for the long list of families that need them . 2 homes could be constructed each month if we had the funds.

*for our family back home, for care to be found for our Grandson Leon.​ *****PRAISE REPORT: Brad and I were baptized on a Palm Sunday 13 years ago, our daughter Jordon felt the Holy Spirit call her to be baptized while attending Palm Sunday service this past Sunday!!!! I cried with joy when receiving this exciting news! Thank you so much to those of you that thought of recording her testimony and baptism and sending it for Brad and I to enjoy seeing and hearing! (we will view the videos that have been sent as soon as decent internet is available!)

*for Brad and I to continue to make decisions together in God’s will for our future ministry in Guatemala as a couple.

*for me to continue to learn and be able to speak spanish so I may minister more directly to the people I have been called to serve

Thanks for all of your love and support.

🙂 Shawn Johnson
Founder and Executive Director

Guatemala week 4 March 2016

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4​ ​weeks ​that I have been ​here in Guatemala. It is a ​strange mix of emotions for me to feel so at peace & joyful in what I am doing yet knowing that my heart misses my family back home. ​ ​I​t certainly is the blessing of peace described in Philippians 4:7 …..peace ​which transcends all understanding. I know i miss my children, grandbabes, family, friends, church… the “normality” of daily life yet i feel i am exactly where i am supposed to be​,​ doing exactly what i am supposed to be doing.

Here goes for week 4:

March mission team: Miriam, Jose (7), Gabriella (3 1/2) and Daniella (6 months) received their home on Friday after 5 hard days of labor from the mission team and this family.

​We are so blessed to have grown as an organization in which we have the tools we need & dedicated construction guides that are patient and loving and enjoy the hard work. We were also blessed to have Wilmer, a young father and the nephew of Miriam, who was helping his Aunt with the home construction. We definitely needed his strength to mix cement and help carry blocks up the hill to the construction site. He carried 5 blocks at a time on his back up the hill to our 1 or 2 blocks! He & and wife wept when he received payment from our team for the help he was giving to his aunt Miriam. ​He was not expecting it. The family cried as our team presented them with the home and blessed the home with prayer and worship. The team sang the song “Holy Spirit you are welcome here”.
Throughout the construction we enjoyed connecting with the family as we worked and were also were blessed with a beautiful view of the volcano Fuego which has been active daily with ​frequent ​ash plumes and lava at night. ​The construction site was visited every day by wom​e​n lining up requesting homes​, help for their children for school and for food​. The need is so greatly overwhelming for us but for God it isn’t. ​We are p​raying ​God moves hearts to help us ​continue ​construction and mission work in this community​​.
​The team performed the monthly food distribution in San Gabriel for over 130 families. We spent 3 hours portioning and weighing 1,100 pounds of beans and rice on sunday afternoon and distributed the food on Monday. Following the food distribution we enjoyed a BBQ with the community. We had exactly enough hot dogs for everyone that came! Kelly and Dave left for home this morning at 4 am and are traveling as I write. I am so thankful for their support of me and Recycled Lives over the past several years and it was a blessing to work as two married couples as a team.
Clinic and Activity Center Construction:

​We are p​raising God as another generous donation was received that we can begin construction on the roof!​ ​We are still seeking funds to see this dream to completion but each week we are yet another step closer. Please pray not only that the funds continue to trickle (or pour in) but that the volunteer help needed (25 people) is obtained the day the cement needs to be poured for the roof. It will take a lot of extra hands for an entire day of heavy labor.​
General update:

​​Tomorrow Brad and I will begin construction of another home in Alotenango Guatemala. The home construction will be difficult as it is on a narrow strip of land for a family of 7. Please pray for us as we work in tight quarters and create the home as we go as it is on a “pie shaped” piece of land from 8 feet wide in front to 6 feet wide in back by less than 30 feet long. it is going to be challenging but we are confident we will be blessed as we work!

Prayer requests:
​ ​
*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 Kelly and Dave as they return home.

​*for Brad and I as we construct another home and prepare to minister over holy week to the communities God calls us to

*for our family back home, for care to be found for our Grandson Leon.​

*for me to continue to learn and be able to speak spanish so I may minister more directly to the people I have been called to serve

Thanks for all of your love and support.

🙂 Shawn Johnson
Recycled Lives’ Founder & Executive Director

Guatemala week 3 March 2016

Hello!

Thanks to each of you that have taken the time to email message me &/or comment on Facebook posts with encouragement over the last week! Having the team here certainly has sped the time forward it seems and a lot has been accomplished!

Here goes for week 3:

Spanish lessons: I continued lessons until the team’s arrival last wednesday…the lessons have now transitioned into application and practice. Our usual translator has been sick with bronchitis so has not been well enough to join our team and perform translation. This has forced me to apply & use what i have learned and has provided me with the confidence boost i needed that i can maybe figure this out. Many of the people i encounter have been patient with my slow and limited vocabulary. The good news is I can usually figure it out enough to understand what is being said & give a somewhat toddler like response….

Clinic and Activity Center Construction : Diego continues to oversee the daily progress of the center. Step by step this dream continues to come true to have a center where we can provide space for health care & mission teams to serve out of.

March mission team: Kelly and Dave arrived last week and our team of 4 is complete for this mission. We have enjoyed spending a day serving hot meals to about 100 people & playing baseball for a few hours with about 40 kids in the San Gabriel (the community surrounding the garbage dump).

Friday we were able to visit & taught a family how to make Recycled Lives’ top secret kettle corn through gifting them with the tools and supplies needed to add this product to their small home business of selling sweet breads & other foods. It was a blessed visit. This family has been in our care program since 2011 when one of my mission teams built them a home. We have assisted this family through high school for their 2 boys, helped them when the father died of diabetes (some of you may remember the story of Lorenzo from the hungry feast event). They struggle hard each day & the mother i a suffering from much grief and anxiety. Please pray with us for her & the teen boys.

Over the weekend we enjoyed receiving training in intercessional prayer through a couples prayer retreat hosted by a YWAM (youth with a mission) missionaries. The entire weekend was centered around prayer, worship and fellowship. It was a wonderful experience…well, except for the 4hr long switchback mountainous drive & throwing up as a result of playing the game “beanboozled”. A jelly bean game we thought would be a blast to entertain our missionary host’s 5yr old son. It involves spinning a dial and eating (or trying to eat) the selected color jelly bean. The bean has the potential to be a good or disgusting flavor….my selection was chocolate pudding OR canned dog food….yep, my lovely teammates were kind enough to record my instant gag and wretch response to the potent alpo flavor jelly bean i shall never forget. As soon as someone gets decent internet connection i shall be haunted by the video memory i am sure…

We shared many good laughs, shed tears, learned, experienced amazing prayer & rooftop worship times and enjoyed some much needed fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters who were equally desiring connectedness to Christian fellowship.

General update: we started home construction on Monday for a single mom with 3 young children. Please pray for them as well as any observers and helpers to experience Christ’s tremendous love through witnessing the work we are doing.

Prayer requests:

*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 my entire family as I am away, I miss them dearly. leon (our oldest grandson) is in need of a care provider as he can no longer attend yet another daycare because of his special needs /behavior. Brad and i watch him quit a bit cor this reason so when we are away it is hard when this situation arrises. Please pray for the right help for him and for the anxiety and frustration that stirs in him over things he experiences in daily life.

*for me to continue to learn and be able to speak spanish so I may minister more directly to the people I have been called to serve

Thanks for all of your love and support. Blessings,
Shawn
Recycled Lives Founder & Executive Director