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Wind wind wind wind wind

Ok, so the first week here things were… nice.  I had a hot shower (which I did not expect), a little bit of solar electricity (which I also did not expect) and a warm camper (again, no expectation).  Well, last weekend we sprung a leak and the hot water had to be shut off, so it’s been sponge baths all this week.  Then the solar kept cutting out, which isn’t a huge deal because we don’t use a lot of electricity, but it still made this week a bit more primitive out here.  And then the wind… oh the wind!  NEVER in my life have I felt wind like this.  On Tuesday afternoon it ripped a hole in my dearest camper.  It’s totally fixable, but with the crazy 900 mile-an-hour gusts I haven’t been able to pop it back up.  So I’ve been on the couch.

Anyway, enough of that.  This week I’ve mostly been working on winterizing Betsy’s rummage shed so we can reorganize, throw out weather-damaged items and fit more stuff in there.  I really love Betsy, the work here, the land and the animals, but I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed with the stories.  People’s lives here are just so hard and broken… I find myself praying a lot more.  It’s heavy.  So again, I bring that before you all.  Please join me in prayer for freedom and commitment to obedience.

I don’t have much time before this coffee shop closes so I’m going to share a story with you.  Every single day I’m amazed at how hard Betsy works despite her physical limitations.  She gives everything to this ministry… physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially!  When her and her husband established this ministry they named it The Widow’s Mite.  And about seven years ago her husband passed away so it truly is now a widow’s mite.  Last night I woke up at 5am wide awake.  That hasn’t happened since I’ve been here so I started praying.  While I was lying there in bed God brought the scripture of the widow’s mite to mind and I began praying for Betsy.  Well, through a random God-appointed coffee shop conversation last week I got invited to a church in Flagstaff and I made the trek down.  Super awesome church!  Loved the worship, the people and the word!  But the really exciting thing is that during the sermon the pastor read the story of the widow’s mite!  He was talking about compassion and giving, and about how God enriches us so that we can be generous… not so that we can simply be enriched.  And how giving is not about the amount, but about the heart.  Anyway, there’s so much to tell and I have 8 minutes left!!  I was just hit so hard with the reality of what Betsy is doing.  I’ll leave you with this…

The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:41-44)

Peace & Much Love!

-Saul

P.S. I’ll post more pictures as soon as I have the opportunity.

Bearizona

Friendos,

I finally made the trek down from the middle of nowhere to get on this Internet thingy.  It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything on this blog, but I figured it’s worth a try…

Danford Dan

I left Illinois on Saturday night (the 6th) and arrived here Tuesday afternoon.  Although I lost a ton of gas mileage due to the ton (literally) of pop-up camper being pulled, my car drove wonderfully!  Thank-the-Lord!  I camped one night and had to stay at weird/awesome motels the other nights because apparently campsites out here are seasonal and close the first of November.  Oh and regardless of what the name may imply, NEVER stay at the Luxury Inn in Amarillo, Texas!  Hahaha.  However, the El Rancho Hotel/Motel in Gallup, New Mexico is a diamond in the rough.  Cheap and super unique!  Quite a few old movies were filmed in that area so a lot of movie stars from the 40’s and 50’s stayed there, including Ronald Reagan and Audrey Hepburn.  It was such an incredible trip out!  Once I got to New Mexico and Arizona I wanted to stop at every single exit.  I hung out with Danford Dan in Tucumcari, New Mexico (my favorite stop by far) and Alfred in Holbrook and even stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.  Again, too many stories…

El Rancho

So now, the reason I’m here… Widow’s Mite Mission: Widow’s Mite is a ministry that provides food and clothing primarily to Navajos that are in need, but is open to anyone and everyone.  It’s located 25 miles north of Flagstaff and approximately 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon.  Actually, when Betsy was giving me directions to her place, she told me to drive 25 miles north on 89, stop at the hay barn and ask how to get to Widow’s Mite.  Turns out I had to hang a left just before the barn and drive down a dirt road for a couple miles to get to her place.  Other than a few stragglers like me and random friends and family that drop by to help, the mission is run almost completely by Betsy Frazier.  Her husband passed away in 2003 and she’s nearly blind, but daily gives her whole heart to God’s work.  She definitely reminds me of Grandma Huber!

Widow's Mite

On the grounds there are two large semi-truck trailers that are used to store clothing (truck loads of clothes come in once or twice a week) and sandwiched between them is a building that functions like a thrift store.  The sign above the entrance reads, “Betsy’s Closet.”  Up near the house is a structure with a tin roof and fenced in sides that is primarily for rummage items.  All the clothing and shoes in Betsy’s closet is free.  Whereas the rummage stuff is sold, but for authentic thrift store prices… like 25 cents or 50 cents!  In addition, every other Wednesday the mission receives a truck load of food from a food bank in Flagstaff, which is free for anyone to come and take.

Sideyard

I’m here to serve Betsy so… from unloading and loading food and clothing to cutting fence and stacking logs for Betsy’s wood stove to catching turkeys and feeding rabbits/chickens to cleaning solar panels and filling up the water in the batteries, I’ve done about anything and everything.  However, by far, my two favorite activities are: (A.) opening rummage boxes with Betsy, seeing what treasures are inside and organizing them with her; and (B.) reading to Betsy.  I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it.  Her eyesight is so bad that she can’t read scripture, devotionals or books… and she’s soooo hungry spiritually!  So I’ve been reading devos/scriptures to her in the mornings and Crazy Love (Francis Chan) to her at night, and she just lights up!  I’m so overwhelmed by her heart and her hunger!

Backyard

On a more solemn note, please pray for the people here.  There a lot of broken stories and lives… almost more than anywhere I’ve ever been.  My heart’s been pretty heavy today.  And I would love it if you would join me in prayer.  Specifically for Navajo families, for Betsy’s family and for wisdom/discernment for me.

Man, this is getting long.  And I don’t even feel like I’ve touched the tip of the iceberg.  Oh well, hopefully next week.  A few last things… the second night living in my pop-up camper is started snowing… what?!!  And the third night it got down to 17 degrees!  But with my propane heater and some candles to read by, it’s been more than cozy.  Also, I love turkeys.  Ever since I arrived, there have been five large turkeys following me around.  Almost every time I look up they’re in a half circle in front of me just gobbling away.  Hahaha!  Best friends forever.

Turkeys!

Anyway, talk soon.  Much love…

-Saul

Bad.

Spanish.  Skateboarding.  Chess.  Even working out.  You name it.  Most everything that I do here… daily, I don’t do well!  Ok, let’s be honest, I’m pretty horrible at all of them.  At least compared to who I’m living/hanging with.  And soccer, the one thing I’m confident in, I’ve only played once.  Hah!  I know those might seem like small things, but they add up.  I’m being stretched.  I can’t just sit around.  I’ve got to stomp the board down or I’ll wreck.  I’ve got to think four moves ahead or I’ll lose the game.  I need to study/prepare so weekly Bible studies will connect with these Guatemalan teens.  I HAVE to speak Spanish with my instructor cause she doesn’t speak English.  I can’t default to English.  I can’t default… in general.  I must overcome my fear.  However, I think it’s one thing to overcome fear for the sake of personal achievement, and another to overcome fear because you’re being humbled over and over… and over again.  You know, for the sake of pride or grace.  I’m finding that everyday I have to throw myself on the grace of God, the graces of my Spanish teacher, of John (teaching me Chess), of Isaac (teaching me to skate) and so on and so forth.  This morning we listened to a podcast sermon in which the preacher quoted James 4:6, “But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”  And it hit me… I’ve been waaaaay too comfortable with my own pride, so where I’m at right now is GOOD.   It’s good and humbling.  I’m so thankful for what God’s doing right now!  He opened my eyes a bit more today and I love it!

I hope this blog made sense…

-Saul

The Extreme Zone

Ok, I’ve been gone for almost two weeks now.  Guess it’s about time I write something…

I arrived in Guatemala City last week to find that my luggage hadn’t.  Fortunately, just before landing, I read the verse in Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything,” and was strangely prepared for something to go wrong.  Thank you Lord!  The Reynolds were there though and we took the five hour trip back to San Cristóbal Alta Verapaz, a small town in the mountains of northern Guatemala.  The next day I headed to the youth center with John.  Alright pause… two things I must elaborate on: the Reynolds and the youth center.

The Reynolds are amazing!  There’s John & Donna… the parents of course.  Kiara is newly married and her husband goes to medical school in Guatemala City.  Isaac is a 16-year-old skater.  And Silas is a gunslinger… haha, really, he has some cool bb guns/pellet guns/air soft guns and we’ve already shot several items!

Zona Extrema is the youth center.  It is translated as The Extreme Zone.  I am in The Extreme Zone!  The youth center is the Reynolds primary ministry tool here.  They’re renting a building right near the town square and they’ve filled it with foosball tables, ping-pong, a pool table, a half pipe and endless other games.  The crazy thing is there’s really no place like the youth center anywhere in San Cristobal.  There might be a pool table and foosball table in one or two bars, but that’s all!  So it’s really drawing in a lot of kids.  And I’ve already seen the wonderful relationships that the Reynolds and several other co-laborers have built with the youth.  It’s obvious that God’s doing a great work here!

Needless to say, my first three days were spent enjoying the youth center and reuniting with the Reynolds.  My luggage finally came on Thursday (Feb 12), just in time for me to unpack and repack for our trip to Belize for a wedding.  We planned to leave early Friday morning but the Reynolds’ Jeep was having brake problems so we ended up heading out on Friday afternoon… using public transportation.  Three bus rides, a hotel stay and a boat trip later we arrived to help set up for the wedding.  I DEFINITELY got a taste of the Guatemalan travel experience!  After working the rest of Saturday and attending the wedding on Sunday morning we took a bus north and grabbed another boat ride… this time to Placencia, a beautiful peninsula on the coast.  Since we were already in Belize, we thought we might as well spend a couple of days on the beach.

At first I was a little concerned about arriving in Guatemala just to take off again.  Concerned I might be missing some part of ministry.  I was definitely restless.  Brennan Manning says in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, “… there is only one thing God asks of us—that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough.  That is the root of peace.  We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek.  When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it. As Merton said in the last public address before his death, ‘That is his call to us—simply to be people who are content to live close to him and to renew the kind of life in which the closeness is felt and experienced.’”  God used that book to call me out… that week to call me out… to remind me that He needs me to be close to Him, and to seek Him.  Something I’ve allowed the busyness of life to quell in my preparations for this trip.  The ministry will happen… once I’m satisfied with simply living close to Christ and delving into prayer.  “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil. 3:8).  That week of travel turned out to be a perfect part of God’s plan for my time here.  And not just for what He taught me, but as much for the fellowship with the Reynolds and Maria, a fellow missionary in San Cristobal who went to Belize with us.  We all really bonded and had a great time together!

We arrived home on Thursday night and dove right back into ministry at the youth center on Friday.  Cool side note: Isaac is an incredible skateboarder and I promised him that I would drop in on the half pipe before I leave in three months.  Well, despite my complete lack of skateboarding experience, I’ve already mastered skating rim to rim on the half pipe and I tried to drop in like 8 times.  I’ve wrecked every time, but apparently just taking the leap is the hardest part.  Haha!  Me skating. Who would’ve ever thought!

Well, I think it’s time to say goodbye for now.  I should probably do this more frequently and in shorter spurts.  Before I go though, a few prayer requests:  I start Spanish classes on Monday and I’ll be taking them for two hours a day, five days a week.  In a week, I start leading a youth Bible study on Monday nights.  And I might speak a couple times at their Tuesday night service.  Exciting stuff!

You are all cherished daily in my heart and I can definitely see and feel your prayers.  Much much love!

-Saul

(I’ll try to get some more pictures up soon)

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