Language study ... Learning to talk the talk up close and personal. It's been an intense season, but fruitful. Studies are progressing well, and we enjoyed many opportunities to be a blessing or minister to folks by putting our studies in action.
The coolest discovery about busting the language barrier, though, is realizing that you don't have to have it completely spot-on perfect to still connect hearts and open doors to minister. God uses you right where you are with just what you have... wherever you are. When you rely on the Holy Spirit, he guides your steps to meet people and gives words to have meaningful and insightful conversations with folks.
Folks like the field workers we gave a lift to while coming down the mountain one day. Or the ladies waiting for a bus at the top of the volcano another afternoon, who flagged us down for a ride, or the boys riding UP the mountain on bicycles who called out for a "pull." We soon found our clear-the-brain-mush drives along the mountain ridge to be a more productive way of meeting people and initiating deeper convos than in the marketplaces of Antigua, inundated with language learners all looking for a chance to practice.
And the conversations were delightful, filled with laughter and the sharing of hearts. Like what happened with the ladies waiting for the bus. It wasn't just weather and names exchanged. We learned about their businesses -- their relationship as mother-daughter-granddaughter -- that the daughter had just lost a baby boy three months earlier, but had four other children -- that they attended a wonderful church and were excited about a special celebration the next day to dedicate their new building, and would we like to come join them! Or that their community has no running water and they have to haul the dirty laundry to the public wells in nearby towns... and how God has blessed them with a pastor who is actively pursuing solutions to their community challenges... etc. At one point I stopped and asked if they could understand my Spanish, and they laughingly reassured me we were doing just fine. -- And Rod was encouraged by how well he followed our chatter. (Let's be real here, that's not an easy task for a guy in his OWN language!)
We're definitely gaining confidence, finding it easier to understand sermons at the local church we attend, to be bold enough to pray spontaneously with people in situations where a need makes itself known, as well as to press in with encouraging some "baby believers" in their faith via email and texting. Preparations for the work of ministry are paying off.
We have a few more months of study planned, but will be launching into a new area of outreach and ministry in 2017 as well as continuing with some of the ministry opportunities we've been involved with in Petén. More on that in a separate update. (Excited!!)
Thank you for continuing to journey with us to serve in Guatemala where and how God leads. We cannot do this without your financial and prayer support.
Rod & DeVonna Ishmael
Contributions and support may be sent payable to:
Crescent Lake Christian Center (CLCC)
1250 Saint Louis Ave
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024