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The following post was written by Laura Dunham from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Laura and her family participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, I want to say that God orchestrated a phenomenal team for this trip-including our wonderful translators! God used each of you in different ways to teach us & to grow us in faith! We came home with new, sweet friends-something we didn't anticipate. I cherish the spirit filled, real talks I had with members of the team. So thankful to have been around God seeking people who desire to know Him more and live for Him.

I wasn't sure what to expect on the trip. I knew I wanted to serve- the key word is "I." I did have prayers and hopes for the trip, but wasn't sure how it was going to go. God used the trip to talk personally to me, to confirm some things He has been doing and working on in my life and also to encourage me and confirm me as I parent my children.

We wanted to take the children so that they could be exposed to what we talk about and what they hear preached on Sunday mornings. The boys were resistant to going. At the end of our trip, they didn't want to leave. They now ask "When can we go back?" They want to do it more of it! When I asked them what impressed them the most, they talk about having joy apart from our circumstances and being broken by the pain and suffering they witnessed. When Natalie speaks of Guatemala, she is full of emotion- not only due to what she saw but for the people there. God is developing a heart for the nations in them! I can't wait to see how He grows it.

Personally, I had many moments in which were highlights for me:

-being the recipient of the warm, friendly smiles in the faces of the children and adults I got to meet and talk with

-watching Benji being a part of one of the PE classes, seeing the boys playing with him and the HUGE smile on his face as he played with them (he was scared to go and had been prayed over by his small group before and during the trip)

-meeting Alma and watching how she has adapted and learned to get around in her home despite her physical limitations- and doing so without complaints or a poor attitude, actually with a sweet smile on her face

-playing ball with Mark Antonio; that was really a sweet time. An 18 year old boy, who didn't want the Americans coming to help his family, playing catch with me and his younger brother, laughing and smiling.

-seeing Juan, that father of the large family, laughing with Caleb one day

-food bag deliveries/home visits- watching it unfold, seeing God work, being a participant mostly in observation, praying over women and feeling inadequate to offer up words of encouragement on their behalf but trusting the Spirit to intercede on my behalf for them, loving every minute of it

-Tabitha House- hanging out with so many children who are craving love and attention, not being sure I had anything to offer and then being obedient by sharing some things I don't normally share with a group on women who I can't communicate with, being the recipient of a huge blessing and being able to pray over some sweet women who, more than likely, depend on God in a much more mighty and powerful way that I do

I don't feel like I did much, but I feel like I received so much. I came home heavy hearted. Satan tried mightily to sabotage the intimacy that developed with Christ, the desire to want more of it and the trust that grew over the week. Two kids were throwing up & one had lice. There must be something that went on that God is going to use & is using for His glory....humbled to have been a part of it!

The guest blogger today is Lee Griffin of Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife Laurie participated in a mission trip to Guatemala in March of 2012.

Many thoughts and memories come to mind but one that comes to mind in particular involved Maria, the elderly lady from our construction day/night near New Jerusalen church. She was so happy to see us and kept showing us a picture of her and a teenage American girl who had apparently visited her on a previous mission trip. Anyway, Bobby, Chris and I built a “room” which was essentially a box with a door around her little bed. When she was brought back to see it, she sat on the bed and wept. We had to put in the door hardware but she didn’t want to leave her new room. It brought tears to my eyes thinking how a little material item (to us) meant so much to someone when brought in the name of our Lord.

The beautiful children at the school where I got to spend half a day were fantastic. So open and friendly! Also, the power of prayer evident during our trials in getting the house built was amazing. I am certain that we would not have gotten through the communication barriers to complete the job had not the hand of God been upon us. Also, the bonding and fellowship among a group of believers that largely didn’t know each other prior to the trip was a wonderful blessing.

This post was written by Melissa Kuenzli from Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. She traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip with her husband in March of 2012.

Wow! What an amazing time of worship, fellowship and service we had with you all! Our week started with an amazing Sunday worship service. The Holy Spirit was powerfully felt in that place. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Lillian, who is studying English. We passed notes so we could get to know one another.....it was cool! Her first note started out like this...."I love Jesus. Do you love Jesus?"

The top 3 things that keep coming back to me as I reflect on my week in Guatemala are:

1. Spending the day with the kids at Tabitha House and then sharing a beautiful time of fellowship with the moms in the afternoon. Prompted by the Spirit, we shared our testimonies with them and they shared theirs with us. We shared things with these ladies that surprised us...I personally was surprised at what the Spirit prompted me to share. God can and does use our past for His glory.

2. During the home visits on Thursday, we got to see God work in a mighty way as the Gospel was shared and received by an entire village. Our first visit that day was to a woman who was already a believer but struggled because she was the only Christian in her community. She asked for prayers of strength because her family was against her faith. As we left her home and prepared to visit the next...we were surprised to find out that our next visit was just outside her door on her front porch...with her family! This was the family we had just been praying for to receive Christ. Charlene did an amazing job of letting the Holy Spirit speak through her as she spoke of God's love and forgiveness and his gift of Jesus Christ. Each home we visited that day accepted Christ. It was truly amazing to see that God had been there ahead of us preparing hearts, that God was there with us as we shared the Gospel, and that God will continue to be there as discipleship continues through the amazing people of the church of Lantana.

3. The growth and cohesion that developed in our small group. We all have such different backgrounds and different personalities and God uses us all for His Kingdom. I enjoyed getting to serve alongside you all and getting to know the ladies in our group on a much deeper level.

This post was written by David Dunham of Chelsea, Alabama. He and his wife, Laura, attend The Church at Brook Hills and are the parents of four awesome kids, Natalie, Jacob, Caleb and Benjamin. Their family went to Guatemala in March of 2012.

First, let me begin by saying this was the most amazing mission trip I have been on. I really appreciated One Way’s emphasis on early morning Bible study and evening briefings to keep one’s proper perspective on why we were on the trip. It is very easy to get so busy doing that you miss what God is doing and His blessings. To begin a week of servanthood by worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ was phenomenal. The Spirit of God was palpable; you could feel the unity of the believers in the Spirit. Although we didn’t know the language, there was no sense of embarrassment or worrying about anyone looking at you. I spent most of the worship service crying like a baby. We as the “American Church” have a lot to learn from our Guatemalan brothers and sisters. Like Brother David Platt began his sermon this last Sunday, “Our worship of Christ is a reflection of our belief in Christ. What we think about Jesus will determine how we worship Jesus.” Worship reflects belief. Well, those brothers and sisters in Guatemala left no doubt Who their object of worship is.

This was the first trip Laura and I have gone on together and the first for our entire family. The boys and I were blessed to share the pool house with Bobby, Dave and Andy. I can’t begin to tell you guys how grateful I am to you. As a dad that tries to teach and live as an example to his boys, it was awesome to have such Godly men to reinforce the Gospel and the importance of missions to my boys. Every topic was a reinforcement of this, so, thanks again Bobby, Dave, and Andy.(Bobby and Dave were participants from Georgia and Andy was from Huntsville.)

As for how the trip affected us as a family:

Laura and I have tried to explain the physical and spiritual need of other parts of the world to our children - how a great percentage of people of the world (outside the U.S.) live on less that $2 a day. Nothing drives that home better than witnessing it for yourself.

Benji commented, “It made me sad that these kids were living in a dump; I wanted to cry.”

Natalie said, “My favorite part of the trip was meeting Alma. It was sad for me to say goodbye to her; she gave me strength when I saw her struggle.”

Caleb said, “The people we so humble. They didn't have anything, yet they were joyful.”

Jacob exclaimed, “They have nothing, but they are happy. They are happier than we are and we have everything!”

Wow... what insight! My children got to see poverty vs. abundance. These are the lessons you can’t teach; they have to be experienced. My kids got to see that kids are kids anywhere you go. Despite the language barrier, they were able to play and just have fun with the local children. It impacted them that these kids had little, but they had joy. I think they understand that “things” don't make us happy. God, family, and relationships are what is important and give us joy.

As a result of this trip, our family has decided to become more intentional. We are going to get to know our neighbors and live the Gospel for them. We don’t have to get on a plane and go around the world to share the Gospel (although some of us are called to do just that). The nations start right in our own back yard. And who knows, around the world may just be our back yard one day.

This post was written by Charlene Boatwright, a participant on the mission trip to Guatemala March 3-10, 2012. Charlene is from Summit Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama.

There was no better way to start the week than with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters in worship on Sunday. Translation was not needed as we felt the Holy Spirit in our midst as we worshipped our Lord together.

Being able to share Jesus in the schools with the beautiful, well behaved and attentive children was a complete joy. Tabitha House was amazing, and not at all what I expected, which was sad and needy children... which is a testament of the terrific job they are doing there with these children and moms. A huge reminder that at the end of the day, although circumstances may vary, we are all very much the same, with the same wants, needs, and struggles.

Watching our men on the construction projects was so inspiring, knowing that each one of them was doing all in their power to make the lives of the families better by the changes they made, from a small wall to a whole house. They're home visits were so much more than just construction projects, and in that final hour at the home on Friday, when the dad knelt to pray and received Christ in the middle of the home they had reconstructed, was worth all the sore muscles and frustrations of the week.

The home visits was the highlight for me....from the grandmother and grandson that accepted Christ on Monday, to Wednesday when the family where the father was blind, and was so desperate to hear that he could be forgiven of all his many sins, and to watch the repentant tears turn into tears of joy while we prayed together, and the pastor held and encouraged him and committed to sheppard him and his family. When we were leaving he promised to look for us in heaven because he wanted to see our face and to thank us for coming to share with him. (That was worth every sacrifice to make our trip possible). On Thursday when we went to the community that our teams went one house to the next was truly a picture of Ruth gleaning in the fields at harvest, I have never felt that more than that day. The church members as well as the Holy Spirit were already at work. When we started at the first home of a believer who really needed encouragement to continue in her faith because she was alone in her family and community in her beliefs, that soon turned into a day of rejoicing on earth as well as in heaven. When the very next visit was her very elderly parents and her sister as they accepted Christ, and from there, home after home people came to receive Christ, and as we left each home, I will always remember watching her face and she smiled and walked behind us to each and every home. It was almost hard to focus on the next visit for wanting to watch the celebration of their decisions. Our teams lead 16 to the Lord that day in that small area....that's a church plant in my book!

The many visits that these gracious people welcomed us into their homes, and listened to us share Christ and His love for them, and although there were some that did not receive Christ, I know that every visit was God appointed, and the seeds were cultivated, and in His time those sweet people will come to accept Him as their savior. It is most encouraging to know that the church there is doing the work of spreading the gospel and making disciples, and that all the visits will be followed up on. Although we know we will go back, as this was just the beginning of a relationship with the beautiful people of Guatemala.

It's early Saturday morning, and the guesthouse is stirring with activity. People are packing to go home...others are studying God's Word...some are just sharing life for one last time. Three of our girls are already sitting at a gate bound for Miami. Our hearts are full.

For the first time EVER in mission trip history (well at least with One Way), there has not been ONE person on the trip to complain...not once. No complaints when God has changed our plan for the day to His plan. No arguments while we waited patiently on His timing. No huffy breaths when we were stuck in traffic or couldn't get somewhere on time. No whining about food, bugs, lodging, other participants...none. Can I just get an amen or perhaps a chorus of angels singing?

The Bible reminds us to do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing so that we may become blameless and pure children of God. Wow...I've seen that lived out this week. And, my heart overflows with gratitude for this team. They have shown the love of God in so many ways this week. They have been the hands of feet of Christ. They have seen God's glory revealed. They have listened and learned.

While there were many lessons taken away from this week, some of the ones I remember are these: (1) God told me not to speak and I obeyed. (2) God showed me that I didn't have to be in charge to accept what He was going to do (3) God told me how to be a more loving wife and mother back home. As I listened to the ladies share the lessons God taught them, I was overwhelmed that He is kind and patient with us as we learn. He is gracious to teach us, over and over, from His Word!

While I am sad to leave this team, I know that they will be a part of our extended family now. God has done a marvelous work in our lives and has allowed us to be a tiny part of His plan here in Guatemala. All praise and honor and glory to Him alone forever and ever!

Just three weeks ago the Antonio family of 12 lived in a 15 x 15 room with a larger outdoor area for cooking and gathering. Twelve people...one bed...kids with disabilities...a baby... The walls were rusted tin, and the house filled with water every time the rains came.

A team came (from Alabama and Georgia) and used new tin to construct a home suitable for a family. The children had NEVER seen new tin...they kept looking at their reflections in the new wall. The father took off work to make sure he helped build his house. On about $50 a week he provides for his family. He and all of his family gave up their food so they could buy Pepsi for the crew. Their gratefulness was overwhelming and humbling.

God showed Himself faithful in their lives and drew them to Himself. The father gave His life to Christ because God drew him to Himself. Juan saw men and women living out their faith in a way that ministered to his soul. And now he is a brother in Christ.

Fast forward to this week when our group tours their home. We stand on dirt floors surrounded by dirty children, a tired momma, a weary father, two turkeys, numerous dogs and cats and a team humbled by God's provision. The father describes how he is going to concrete the floors this week so that the water will no longer flood their home. (Concrete was provided by the generosity and obedience of fellow believers). Juan is beaming as he shows us his new home (something we would consider a shack in the United States).

Move ahead two more days and I find myself riding up the mountain to Sacajvilla again...this time with Pastor Morales and one of our team members, Grace Ann. Most of the ride is quiet as we anticipate the joy we are about to experience. A box truck is following close behind us with four full sized mattresses inside. The iphone charges to make sure we can record God's work in action. The family has NO idea. We are told this bit of news on the way. My skin bristles...and my stomach starts to form butterflies.

Pastor Morales allows the box truck to turn down the dirt road first, and we slowly get out of the car. We tread carefully down the wooden steps into their home and find Juan on his knees smoothing concrete in one of the rooms. Children appear suddenly (I think I counted 9 the first time) and there is a sense of anticipation. The formal greetings occur and I can't even hear what they are saying. Grace Ann begins to video the event so we won't forget...I don't ever want to forget.

Pastor explains that I would like to share something. My mind blanks and God reminds me that He provided for them...just tell them that. I obey. God has provided some new mattresses for you...would you like to see? They all follow up the steps and down the road to the back of the truck. As I hold one daughter's hand, another daughter, Gloria comes beside me to hold my hand so tight I can hardly move. The smile on her face is HUGE...I think her cheeks are going to burst. She clings to my left side and is about to overflow with excitement. Juan stands patiently looking to see what's inside the truck. They have never seen new mattresses...EVER. The workers part the doors and my mind explodes. I have never witnessed such unadulterated joy before. Smiles and thank you's all around....Gloria tightens her grip (can a young girl break my hand?)...she looks up at me and doesn't say a word. Her face was beaming, and I think it stayed that way for the next hour.

Juan says that he is worried about how much money we spent, and he is reminded that God provided, not us. He is overcome with gratefulness. We are humbled to witness God's divine plan for the Antonio family.

The workers carry all of the mattresses into the home and stack them in the kitchen area. We all watch (yes, 30 eyes staring at them) as they assemble on the mattresses. They explain to Juan how to set up each set. We wait for them to leave so that we can all really see what a new mattress will mean to their family.

As soon as those workers hit the door, the children sheepishly sit on the bed. They are amazed. They are seeing something for the first time in their lives..a new place to sleep that doesn't involve dirt or cardboard. I am reminded of my selfishness and lack of gratitude for everything God has provided. And, God shows me PURE joy as Gloria bounces up and down on the end of the bed.

We stay with the family for a while and there is always a child close to the new mattress. I catch a couple of kids pretending to sleep and giggling as they see me watching. At one point six kids have found a spot on the bed and are the smiles are still glued to their faces.

For Americans the amount of money spent was very little...but it was the obedience of believers who gave of themselves that made a difference in the life of this family. Last night they slept...really slept. And God reminds me that He never sleeps nor does He slumber because He has a people to reconcile to Himself. I am one thankful child right now.

It's the end of another day here in Guatemala, and the team is tired...worn out from the ministry opportunities we have been able to be a part of today. But alas, we debrief the day anyway...why? We talk about the day and process what all we have seen so that people can SEE and HEAR God's work among His people. Oftentimes we miss what God is doing because we are too tired to even think about it...just too busy to even mention it. So we meet and talk about the day.

The first question I ask is this: "What is the one snapshot you take away from today?" And they almost clamor over one another to tell what God did in each of them and with the group today. Amanda talks about their last home visit where the dad had just lost his job. A food bag (full of oil, sugar, oats, milk, rice, beans) was a blessing to the family who didn't know where their next meal would come from...God provided. Sara tells the group about holding a sweet two month old baby while listening to the grandfather describe how hard life has been after his stroke. The man yearned for the opportunity to be in fellowship with other believers but had been unable to go due to his health. There was a great longing for biblical community...God provided.

Natasha describes sharing the Gospel message at a school at Sacajvilla. The children said missionaries don't come there often, and they wanted to know about Jesus. They WANTED to know...God provided. Erin tells about a home visit where a lady was encouraged by believers. She needed to hear God speak to her....God provided. Loree describes many home visits where people were Christ-followers but had left the church. They were all longing for restoration...God provided.

God is our PROVIDER. He provides us what we need...not what we want. He draws us to Himself, and He brings Himself glory. What a day of seeing God's name lifted high, His followers encouraged, and His great glory proclaimed.

Complaining is not for her...not our Alma. She NEVER complains or grumbles..well, almost never. Sometimes she does complain that the pain is too much or one of her siblings is pulling her hair or she really needs to go to the bathroom. But, she perseveres. Sweet Alma is 14 years old and is confined to a wheelchair. From her waist down doesn't work....so she can only move her upper body.

Yesterday, we had the privilege of walking into her home. It's a great honor to be invited into a home in Guatemala, so we gladly went. Alma was lying on her bed. Let me stop to describe her bed so that you don't get some pre-conceived idea. There's a straw mat which is slowly coming apart at the edges because animals and siblings are pulling at the loose strings. Then there are 2 foam squares which are covered in an old cloth lying on top of that..maybe one inch thick. Something has been gnawing on one of those as well as foam is scattered about her head.

Chickens and cats come and go in the house and walk all over her. Some cats lie down beside her as if they are somehow guarding Alma. She pets them and smiles. But, she is in a lot of pain. You see, she went ot the bathroom several weeks ago and fell. She has to pull herself on her arms to the steps and then scoot her body down a full flight of concrete stairs. She fell going down those steps. And she was wounded on her rear. She is on round 3 of an infection.

A few of us stayed to help clean the infection yesterday, and I have to tell you that I almost vomited in front of everyone. This is not a band-aid sized infection. It is the size of a doughnut but about 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep. It looks like a doctor just shaved off part of her and sewed up what he could. Can you imagine? How is she supposed to keep that clean?

But, she doesn't complain. Instead, she smiles at us and sings a song about faith in the Lord. I cry. We all cry. She has unspeakable joy. That only comes from the Lord. What are you complaining about today?

Just three weeks ago the Antonio family of 12 lived in a 15 x 15 room with a larger outdoor area for cooking and gathering. Twelve people...one bed...kids with disabilities...a baby... The walls were rusted tin, and the house filled with water every time the rains came.

A team came (from Alabama and Georgia) and used new tin to construct a home suitable for a family. The children had NEVER seen new tin...they kept looking at their reflections in the new wall. The father took off work to make sure he helped build his house. On about $50 a week he provides for his family. He and all of his family gave up their food so they could buy Pepsi for the crew. Their gratefulness was overwhelming and humbling.

God showed Himself faithful in their lives and drew them to Himself. The father gave His life to Christ because God drew him to Himself. Juan saw men and women living out their faith in a way that ministered to his soul. And now he is a brother in Christ.

Fast forward to this week when our group tours their home. We stand on dirt floors surrounded by dirty children, a tired momma, a weary father, two turkeys, numerous dogs and cats and a team humbled by God's provision. The father describes how he is going to concrete the floors this week so that the water will no longer flood their home. (Concrete was provided by the generosity and obedience of fellow believers). Juan is beaming as he shows us his new home (something we would consider a shack in the United States).

Move ahead two more days and I find myself riding up the mountain to Sacajvilla again...this time with Pastor Morales and one of our team members, Grace Ann. Most of the ride is quiet as we anticipate the joy we are about to experience. A box truck is following close behind us with four full sized mattresses inside. The iphone charges to make sure we can record God's work in action. The family has NO idea. We are told this bit of news on the way. My skin bristles...and my stomach starts to form butterflies.

Pastor Morales allows the box truck to turn down the dirt road first, and we slowly get out of the car. We tread carefully down the wooden steps into their home and find Juan on his knees smoothing concrete in one of the rooms. Children appear suddenly (I think I counted 9 the first time) and there is a sense of anticipation. The formal greetings occur and I can't even hear what they are saying. Grace Ann begins to video the event so we won't forget...I don't ever want to forget.

Pastor explains that I would like to share something. My mind blanks and God reminds me that He provided for them...just tell them that. I obey. God has provided some new mattresses for you...would you like to see? They all follow up the steps and down the road to the back of the truck. As I hold one daughter's hand, another daughter, Gloria comes beside me to hold my hand so tight I can hardly move. The smile on her face is HUGE...I think her cheeks are going to burst. She clings to my left side and is about to overflow with excitement. Juan stands patiently looking to see what's inside the truck. They have never seen new mattresses...EVER. The workers part the doors and my mind explodes. I have never witnessed such unadulterated joy before. Smiles and thank you's all around....Gloria tightens her grip (can a young girl break my hand?)...she looks up at me and doesn't say a word. Her face was beaming, and I think it stayed that way for the next hour.

Juan says that he is worried about how much money we spent, and he is reminded that God provided, not us. He is overcome with gratefulness. We are humbled to witness God's divine plan for the Antonio family.

The workers carry all of the mattresses into the home and stack them in the kitchen area. We all watch (yes, 30 eyes staring at them) as they assemble on the mattresses. They explain to Juan how to set up each set. We wait for them to leave so that we can all really see what a new mattress will mean to their family.

As soon as those workers hit the door, the children sheepishly sit on the bed. They are amazed. They are seeing something for the first time in their lives..a new place to sleep that doesn't involve dirt or cardboard. I am reminded of my selfishness and lack of gratitude for everything God has provided. And, God shows me PURE joy as Gloria bounces up and down on the end of the bed.

We stay with the family for a while and there is always a child close to the new mattress. I catch a couple of kids pretending to sleep and giggling as they see me watching. At one point six kids have found a spot on the bed and are the smiles are still glued to their faces.

For Americans the amount of money spent was very little...but it was the obedience of believers who gave of themselves that made a difference in the life of this family. Last night they slept...really slept. And God reminds me that He never sleeps nor does He slumber because He has a people to reconcile to Himself. I am one thankful child right now.

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