Hello everyone! I can hardly believe that tomorrow I will be on a plane headed for Guatemala. I don’t think the trip will seem real until I am actually in Guatemala!
My trip began about two years ago when my sister returned from the first Hillcrest Guatemala trip. As I listened to her stories and saw pictures, I immediately decided I wanted to go at the next opportunity. I can already see God’s hand as He has worked to bring our team together and I hope to see God use me and the team to further His kingdom. I have always believed in God, but have gotten too comfortable in my faith. Guatemala allows me the challenge of putting my faith into action by serving others and sharing Christ. I want to come home with the knowledge that many people were added to God’s kingdom.
I want to thank everyone for their support of our team; whether it be financial, in prayer, or more. It is so appreciated!! I ask for continued prayer as we go throughout the week. Please pray for team unity, for health and safety, and for open hearts. I am so excited to see what God has in store!
Great plans in store for you this week Laura-praying for safety and opportunity to share the love of our Lord!
Tim and Jane Vrieland
We are praying you have safe travels to the base tonight! Sleep well too, you’re going to need it! 😉 Remember to write everything down, pray constantly, and eat lots of delicious food (like pineapples & guacamole & tortillas). Be the hands and feet of Jesus this week! Praying that you are filled with His love and share that love with your Guatemalan brothers and sisters. We love you so much!! Can’t wait to hear your stories.
with you in spirit,
the fam bam ❤
Well, it’s now real because you’re in Guatemala. Now, you get to have your own experiences, develop your own stories, take your own pictures, and see how God is working through you.
I’m very proud of you for taking this huge step out of your comfort zone and I’m very excited to see what God is going to do through you, to you, and for you.
Keep your eyes open to the wonder of God around you.
Keep you ears open to hear how you can be the hands of feet of God to the people around you.
Keep you heart open to let God’s love flow into and through you.
And, because you’re my daughter, please be safe. 🙂
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Hello again! 🙂 So much has happened in the past two days, and I’m tired but happy. Yesterday, I got to take my first flights! Flying is fantastic, but a 7 hour layover is not so exciting even though Atlanta is huuuge. I even got a pin with little wings on it for flying for the first time 🙂 We got to the base very late last night, but were up today ready to go build houses!
Today, the Lord heard our prayers and granted us safety on the mountain roads and a full day completely free of rain!! My group is building for a small family who was waiting on the road for us to arrive and seemed very happy to see us. I’ve decided building is not my calling. However, I stuck it through and we left today with a drywalled house and a porch. I’m getting pretty decent at mudding! Word got around that we had dulces, and the children swarmed 🙂 I enjoyed playing volleyball and jump rope and bubbles so so much. The children are filled with such great joy that you can’t help but feel it yourself! I am so glad that I can understand almost all of what the children say, but can only pick out words from the adults.
At lunch, Kevin pointed out the pine needles under our benches. Apparently, the Guatemalans picked pine needles and spread them across the ground so we would not have to walk on the dirt. Such a act of kindness was so overwhelming to me. Also, Guatemala itself is so incredibly beautiful. It’s not everyday you can walk on the porch and be almost level with some clouds!
God has been so great to us so far and I am so excited to continue sharing His love. Please pray for another day of good weather, as tomorrow we need to stucco the houses.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
Oh dear sister, this warms my heart!! I’m so glad that you had safe travels and a good first day of building. Keep on showing the love of Jesus to everyone!!! Can’t wait to hear more of your stories.
covering you in prayer,
Laura. I loved reading about your day and looking at all the pictures posted! I’m so glad you and Nicole are there to keep Amber in line! Praying God will continue to give you good weather, good health, and great experiences with the people there and with your team! And could you please remind Amber to post on her blog so we can here from her as well! Keeping you in our prayers! The DeGraafs
Hello Laura! I just looked through all the pictures from the first building day. You look like you are learning some new skills! I’m praying for safety, good health, and that you are a blessing to those around you. Continue to have amazing adventures! Love you so, Mom
The internet has been fairly stable, so I’m able to post again!
Today was stucco day and it was beautiful weather- sunny but with a refreshing breeze. We started the day mudding and sanding drywall and painting the inside of the house a light teal green. Painting is much more my thing!! We attempted to communicate with the families, and basic spanish is definitely enough to start building relationships. The families all provide a covered table for our backpacks and fresh fruit. The watermelon and pineapple are sooo good here. So. good. For lunch, we had tostados and the food is again amazing.
After lunch began the stucco! We traveled from one house to another, with one half the team placing stucco on the house and the other half taking stucco from wheelbarrows to the ones applying it. The system worked well and we cruised through the houses, and many times the family members jumped in to help. I asked some of their names, but I can’t seem to pronounce or remember them! As we got to our house, the last of the day, I saw that the husband (Gonzal) was just watching us apply stucco. Yesterday, he helped us a ton while building and I wondered if he would like to help again. I brought stucco and a trowel and asked, “quieres hacer este?” and he jumped right in! When our house was finished, Gonzal took the last wheelbarrow of stucco and began to put it on his old house to fix holes. I was so glad that he was able to take part in the making of his house.
Our roof was placed on, and we only had one hour to paint (I need at least four times that long to do what I want)! We placed Isaiah 40:8, a verse from Proverbs, and Psalm 121. We added some pictures, like a flower vine and steps leading up to a cross. The family came in and told us that they would like all six of our names on a wall along with more crosses (a GREAT sign), so we made a sun with our names and “may God bless this home” inside it. Around the sun we covered our hands in paint and placed them on the wall as the rays of sunshine. I asked Marta and Gonzal if they wanted to place their hands on the wall, and Gonzal took it up! We were scrambling to finish our house and clean up before we left, but I left feeling accomplished and ready for dedication tomorrow. I hope and pray that Gonzal, Marta (wife), and Keli (daughter) will accept the Lord tomorrow, and I also pray for continued weather and health.
Hasta luego, Laura
Mom and I LOVED the picture of you and your flower vine painting!! We knew you would love this day. 🙂 It’s right up your alley. The house sounds absolutely beautiful and I know the family will be grateful for years to come. You’ve truly blessed them with your talents today!! So proud of you, as always. 🙂
Praying so fervently tonight that Dedication Day goes well and many souls are won for the Lord. I pray that you and the team will be filled with spiritual strength tomorrow. Put on the armor of God and go fight the good fight!!!
much love & prayer,
Hello Laura! I was so excited to see that you posted again. I really like hearing about your experiences and seeing all the pictures. You look as if you are filled with joy. Praise the Lord for that! I’m so glad you got to use your artistic talent a bit today. Dad, Kerri, and I will be letting the prayers rise for dedication day. I’ll keep praying for safety and good health for everyone on the team. I miss you but I know you are exactly where you are supposed to be this week! Love you, Mom
I hope your first day at the med clinic went well!! I can’t wait to hear all about it (and the trip there & back, because I’m sure that was interesting). I’m sure the Lord is using you in such incredible ways, even if they aren’t easy to see right away. Today I’m praying that God continues to give you safe travels to and from these clinics. I pray that you and the team will be free from sickness. I pray that the people you meet come to know the Lord on a deeply personal level.
Keep shining your light Laura bear!! Enjoy playing with the children. 🙂 Let the Lord lead you to where he needs you!!
much love & prayer,
your favorite sister (daughter number one) ❤
Laura, ¿Cómo pasa el español? The first med clinic can be a challenge at times but God is the source of energy and endurance. Your skills in Spanish are very good I am sure of that. Dios te bendiga.
We’ve gotten back so late the past few days, and my experiences require a clear mind in order to capture everything. Even with a full night of sleep, the past two days are extremely hard to put into words. But, I’ll do my best.
I was very nervous for dedication day, especially when I realized my house was the first to be dedicated. My nervousness went away a bit when, on the way there, Julian jumped out of our van to take a picture. Kevin did not realize he was gone, simply drove away, and didn’t know he left Julian behind (it all ended well)! Just thinking about the experience makes me smile. When we arrived at the houses, I was blown away by fireworks, pine needles everywhere, fresh flowers, balloons, and streamers that all the families set up for the occasion. We took pictures in front of our house and with a quick prayer, headed inside. First, the family was able to give us their thanks, and both Gonzal and Marta were very gracious. We then passed out a suitcase full of gifts like toothpaste and brushes, bags, duct tape, cooking utensils, and more. The team members were then able to give their experiences. I don’t remember what I said, but I know that the family realized it was from the heart and very true. When Noah gave his testimony, his tears brought forth a strong reaction from Marta, who also began to tear up (apparently quite rare) and gave him a hug. After, we transitioned into the spiritual side of things. The family was given basic gifts of soap, salt, and beans, which were all connected to Christ. As Hermano Jesus took over with the message, I could hear people singing and praying outside through the window. God was with us, as both Gonzal and Marta accepted the invitation of Christ. We got on our knees and said the salvation prayer and prayers of thanksgiving for the new souls won. As I looked up, I could see tears in both their eyes and both praying. In that moment, it became so real that all the work we did was for this moment and God was victorious. I cried.
The rest of the morning was filled with with prayer, Bible verses, and songs as we asked God to take away distractions, fill the people inside with understanding, and for the Holy Spirit to change hearts. Every person accepted!! A widow named Dominga accepted, but had some doubts. She was raised being taught religion as a practice, not as a relationship. Please pray that Dominga feels peace to let her old ways go and will accept a new relationship wholeheartedly. By the end, I was exhausted. But, as we were thanking God at the last house, a little girl came next to me, watched me, and proceeded to place her hand on the wall and pray as well (can we talk about a melted heart?) When we returned, we had an awesome worship time complete with communion. I cried. again. Needless to say I looked awful the next morning, but hey, the Lord looks at the heart!
I was lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of the village days. We had some extra time before we left, so we wandered down to the orphanage and I held children and my heart melted again. Their joy gave me a bit more confidence for the day to come. We hopped in the vans and drove for like three and a half hours and wow I don’t get carsick but it was getting close. Once we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the heat. It was incredibly oppressive for someone who hates heat. We unloaded the meds from the van, and I was already making a plan that I would just follow Nicole around with the kids. However, she volunteered for the med clinic and I was on my own (a terrifying blessing). I hopped on to a game of throwing around a volleyball, and found that I can’t remember or pronounce 70% of the kids’ names, but could communicate basic sentences with them. I grew to know Ashlyn, Rosy, Josaline, Daniel, and Oscar fairly well. I jumped rope, painted nails, colored pictures, threw tennis balls, caught volleyballs, and smiled. Their simple joy is so infectious. Abby Brummel played with a girl named Ana, who invited me along to go throw a tennis ball on the soccer field. We played for awhile as she babbled in rapid Spanish, but she soon invited us to go to the other end of the field. For some reason, I felt like I shouldn’t go. I said my goodbyes and started walking towards the main courtyard. As I did so, I saw a man sitting and watching the soccer game. I stopped and talked with him, pleased that I could carry a simple conversation (at least I thought I was, maybe I was making no sense haha). I could not pronounce, spell, or hope to remember his name, but had the privilege of watching God work in him that night. He started out in the way back of the group as the Jesus film played, and progressively moved closer and closer until he sat on the front steps. We had a powerful time of singing and testimonies, and stood in the crowd as Hermano Jesus spoke. When he began the alter call, the team was encouraged to put their hands on someone. I sought out the man I had talked to earlier, went up the steps and put my hand on his shoulder. I prayed for an open heart and acceptance, and was able to watch as another missionary spoke directly to him, and watched as he stood and walked forward to accept Christ into his heart. I think I cried. I gave him a Bible and a hug, and I pray that he continues to find God.
Now, let me write about Daniel (yes I know this is long- it’s two incredibly powerful days shrunk into one post!). Daniel was a little boy who I played volleyball with at the beginning and had a sweet, high voice of which I understood very little. But when he said “corre!!” and motioned, the language barrier meant little as I chased him around in circles. I need to get in shape. But later, as I sat with the team watching the film, Daniel ran up and just flopped down against me, talking in rapid Spanish again. He would try to scare me by sneaking up behind me. When night had fallen and I was listening to Hermano Jesus, Daniel ran up to me (no clue how he found me in the dark) and ran circles around me, grabbing each of my hands as he passed them. Leaving him was very difficult, so I found him before we left and he gave me a huge hug. When we prayed as a team, he held my hand and said “amen!!” right after we all said it. I thought I wasn’t so much a kid person, but wow do the Guatemalan children find their way into your hearts!!
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement- they are working! Also, happy father’s day! Dad, I hope you have a great day even though you can’t enjoy my presence. 🙂 Thank you all so much again, and please pray for continued endurance for today.
Laura, thank you for the Father’s Day well-wishes, the card, and the gifts. I am very much looking forward to your return when we can celebrate this wonderful holiday as a complete family.
Thank you also for letting us hear and feel God’s gift to you in the experiences. I love hearing your excitement when you’re open to God’s leading. Imagine the excitement God must feel every time some says “I believe”.
We miss you dearly and look forward to your return. Rest well, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to God’s leading and direction, and be safe.
Wow, wow , wow! Reading this left me in awe and a bit teary eyed. I’m so thankful you are letting the Holy Spirit work in you, and that you are being the hands and feet of Jesus. I can’t wait to hear more about your experiences when you get home. I’ll keep praying for safety, and good health for the team. Praying for endurance today for all! Love you so, Mom
Oh my dearest Laura, reading your story and seeing pictures of you and your buddy made Mom and I both a little weepy!! I absolutely cannot wait to hear all of these stories from you. 🙂 Praying for relief from the heat and continued safety for you my dear!! I am so so proud of you for opening your heart to the Spirit’s working and sharing the love of Jesus with people that need it so desperately. I hope you have another incredible experience at the med clinic today too. Hug some children for me!! I can’t wait for you to get home, but I’m also so confident that the Lord has you exactly where he wants you! I know you will have the strength to do what God has planned for you! Letting prayers arise for strength.
Laura, your gift of writing had blessed all of us! Thank you so much for sharing your fears and how God helped you overcome them. You are His hands and feet and are doing so well. Praising God with you as I read your words about the med clinics. Those were the things that scared me too! Yet some of my most incredible memories come from them. Praying for you and the team as you have your final worship tonight. Enjoy Antigua and make sure to ask Kevin about his secret to the perfect day in Antigua. …hint it starts and ends with McDonalds. ..;-)
In His grip, Kristy
Hey Laura bear,
Enjoy Antigua today!! I can’t wait to see what you bring home. 🙂 I pray that your final worship tonight is an absolutely incredible experience. Sing extra loud for me. 🙂 You have broken through many boundaries this week and expanded the kingdom of the Lord and I am so beyond proud of you. Sending prayers for safe travels tonight and tomorrow. We cannot wait to see your smiling face and hear all your stories! Lean on the Lord for strength as these next hours will be exhausting. See you soon!!
your best buddy,
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