So it has been some time since my last blog. A lot has happened and we have been pretty busy with the teams that were here during the spring. But now we have several weeks before the next team arrives so I have some time to reflect back on what has been a hard spring. (There is still a lot a work going on here. The feeding programs continue team or no team and our list of children in our programs is growing every day. There is also the day to day administration of the Clubhouse with things such as inventory, data entry and cleaning.)
I am going to try to relate several of the incidences in the order they occurred as best I can remember. And then you can decide for yourself if these are just a series of unrelated events or if something else is going on.
Shortly after arriving here in February, I met the man who was the Guatemalan overseeing the local workers building the youth camp, Clubhouse Camp Calvary. This camp will be a place for teams from the U.S. to stay while they minister to the surrounding villages where the name of Jesus Christ has never been heard. It will also be a training camp for young Guatemalans, teaching them to reach their own people with gospel of Christ.
This man had a seemingly meek and mild disposition. Kind of a “hat in my hand” kind of guy. But that soft exterior hid a much different interior. While he was supposedly bending over backwards to help us as soon as we were off site he was mean and abusive to the local workers. And these are the very people we are trying to show the love of Christ. It came to a point to where Mike had to let him go. Only then did we find out how badly he had been mismanaging the building of the camp and due to that the camp was already over budget.
The next Monday as we arrived to camp with a team from the U.S. ready to get some real work started we were disappointed to find several expensive and needful tools had been taken. The fact that we were going to have to find the money to replace the tools was bad enough but it also meant at least a day’s work was lost because of lack of proper tools. I don’t want to plant ideas into my reader’s heads but I think that as you read on you will begin to see the many parallels to the story in the book of Nehemiah. With the struggles he faced as he worked to complete the rebuilding of the wall.
A few days later the tools had been replaced and we were making some good progress. The camp was really taking shape and it was happening pretty quickly. We seemed to be back on schedule. We finished the day and we were starting to load the tools when Mike came running and said “We gotta go now!”. The panicked look on his face let me know something was seriously wrong and as we loaded up the vehicles I hollered at him “What’s wrong?” He told me quite simply, “The mission house is on fire.”
So we loaded up and headed out but then the truth hit me, we are at best, one hour and 15 minutes from the mission house. By the time we get there, it will all be over. And here we are racing over roads that are full of potholes and speed bumps (called tumulos here). So I was riding with Pat and he was calling Shane who was at the mission house and I was calling Zach who I also thought might be close to the fire scene. Finally, Pat gets through to Shane who tells him it was a grass fire in the lot next to the mission house and the fire department had the fire contained and there was only damage to an exterior plastic drainage pipe at the mission house. I relayed this to Mike so that we could all slow down and collect ourselves. By this time I imagine the stress level for Mike was off the scale.
That night, as I laid down for some needed sleep I made the stupid mistake of asking “what’s next?” Just then, I felt an incredible pain in my lower left calf. It started out like someone had stuck a pin in my leg and then it started burning like it was on fire. I jumped out of bed and hit the light just in time to see a scorpion disappear over the edge of my bed. I was mad. I tore the room apart looking for that accursed creature and I was going to rip it to shreds. Oddly, I never saw it again…yet. The scorpions down here for the most part are not extremely toxic. The just have a very painful sting. I have been stung by a hornet and I would say it was very similar to that. I had made the mistake that night of not checking my bed. In my fatigue I just plopped down on top of the covers and I must have rolled over on the scorpion. I am not making excuses for the wretched thing, if I find him, he’s dead.
The big one hit next. Carla, Mike’s wife and the real brains behind Clubhouse Guatemala was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. What a hit. I so admire the way Mike and the family handled it. The day they got the news, they secluded themselves into their living room and just had a time of praise and worship. Wow, what a witness. That is how we are to handle adversity.
Now Mike and Carla had to make a lot of plans. Carla needed to get to the states for treatment. But both of them insisted that the work of Clubhouse Guatemala MUST go on, no interruption. God, in His amazing foresight, had already assembled a team of people who could make sure that happened. It won’t be easy. It won’t be the same. But the work will continue and we will pray for the Parkers quick return to Guatemala.
A few days later we are back out at the camp. Mike is there directing things and again, a lot is getting accomplished (even with Mike there.). About 1PM I see Mike motioning me to come to the truck. I get close and I say sarcastically “That’s OK Mike, just sit there, I will come to you.” to which he replies “I can’t get out of the truck”. The look on his pale face told me something was not right and I immediately regretted my sarcasm. He was shaking and had become emotional which, if you know Mike, you know was not like him. He told me he could not think straight, he was very weak and needed to go.
Now a bit of a side line. Mike has this nice, blue KIA flatbed truck that he LOVES. He uses it for hauling stuff but he is very protective about it and he doesn’t let anyone drive it. I think maybe Fernando Jr. has driven it once or twice, just to move it or something brief like that.
So it was decided that Fernando would drive Mike back to the city for some care in Mike’s truck. I would ride along…for support? Anyway. Mike suddenly realizes that it is the last day of Bible School for the kids and Fernando is supposed to give the gospel presentation. Fernando tells him that someone else can do it. But Mike, suddenly thinking clearly, says “No, this is just Satan trying to keep you from sharing.” “You are supposed to share and you will, Satan will not win, Jim will drive me.”
Well that surprised everyone, most of all me. I have driven a straight shift but it is not my transmission of choice and this was Mike’s baby. But it was necessary so we prayed (for Mike and his transmission) and off we went. I have to admit, in all modesty, I did a great job. Mike accused me of “popping” his clutch but he was just jealous of my abilities. As we closer to town Mike started to feel better. It seems that his blood sugar probably got a little low and once he got some drink and food in him he seemed fine. I imagine the stress also contributed to his symptoms. I hope he will also see a doctor while he is in the states.
This has been too long of a post so I will wrap up. In the next few weeks I would be at the hospital 4 more times. A team member turned his ankle playing soccer, A team member fell and hit his head and dislocated his shoulder at the mission house, Mike’s daughter katie sprained her ankle falling UP the steps at her house and then finally one of the missionaries here, CC Harris, cut her finger on a broken glass while doing dishes.
So, a long line of delays and setbacks and yet I see the protecting hand of God as well. Work on the camp is continuing steadfastly forward. Missing tools have been replaced. The fire did not damage the house. I suffered no lasting damage from my sting. All the folks who went to the hospital have recovered or are recovering and we are still excited to see what God is going to do in Carla’s life.
I want to end with some verses that I read in my quiet time this morning. This is from 2 Corinthians 1:9-11
We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally–not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!
And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.
You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation–I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
And with that, I humbly ask for your continued prayers.
PS. I asked Mike to look over this blog before I posted it for accuracy. He said I had an event or 2 in the wrong order but overall I had it close. He also told me that Ray Parrott one our board members fell last week down the stairs and hit his head and has bleeding on the brain and now has vertigo. He goes Monday to see if they will have to relieve pressure. We ask prayers also for Ray.