September Ministry Update

Isabella & Margaret

Our new baby, Isabella, is 5 months old and continues to grow fast!  She’s a bundle of joy and energy, and we’re so blessed to have the new addition to our family. 

Margaret loves being an older sister, and loves to play with and help her little sister.  She enjoys learning to read, and is also very excited about her new glasses and about losing her teeth!

Celia’s Internship

Our school year ends in just a few weeks, and Celia, Sandra, Ana, Karla and Margaret are very excited about the upcoming vacation!

Celia is a senior in high school, and a graduation requirement is an internship.  She’s studying to be a preschool teacher, and for her internship she helps teach in a school near our house.  So every afternoon after she finishes her own classes, she goes over to put what she’s learned into practice. She’s very excited about graduating at the end of October!  Please pray for her as she begins her job search.

Ana is finishing 9th grade and has a big decision about what major to start studying next year.  Sandra is finishing her junior year in high school and will start her teaching internship next year, and Karla is finishing up 8th grade.

Pablo

Our Monday night Bible studies are still going well, and one man reached an exciting milestone.  We met Pablo a few years ago during our Sunday morning breakfasts that we give out to people in our town’s central park.  Many shoeshiner boys and poor come over for the meal, and we also get to know many who struggle with alcoholism. 

That’s how we met Pablo, and last year he started coming to our Monday night Bible studies, too.  He’s now following the Lord and this summer reached one year of sobriety!  We’re very happy for him as he’s now also going to a local church, holding a steady job, and back with his wife.  It’s amazing to see a transformed life. God is so good!

Please pray as we continue to reach the people of our community in Chimaltenango, Guatemala!

Volcano Hiking

We hiked a new volcano in July.  It’s much higher at about 13,000 feet and is the one we can see looking south from our house.  We camped at the top and watched the attached active volcano spew lava all night.  It was an incredible view!  It was also a new experience for them as the temperature was close to freezing and it was very windy, making it the coldest night that our girls have ever felt!

Thank You!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for us!  We’re so grateful for God’s goodness and for all of your help.  We’re so blessed to be able to serve the poor, lost, and less fortunate here in Guatemala.  And even as our family grows and the expenses that follow, it’s such a help to have all our needs met. It’s a rare privilege to be able to do what we do.  Thank you!

Here are a few prayer requests for upcoming needs and events:

  • Pray for Celia as she looks for a job after graduation.  And pray for Ana who is finishing 9th grade and needs to pick a major to study next year as she enters high school.
  • Pray for our Monday night meetings, that we would be able to reach new shoe shiners, alcoholics & poor that need to know the Lord.  Pray that it would be a great time of reconciliation, growth, and following after our Heavenly Father!
  • Pray for our various end-of-the-year activities.  We spend about $500 for Christmas parties with the shoe shiners, children at Casa Shalom, and our own kids that live with us.
  • Pray for the kids that will come to live with us in the future.  We will be talking to some during the upcoming break from school about coming to live with us next year.
  • Pray that all of our financial needs would be met.
  • Please pray for Yuliza and her family as her father is terminally ill.

Thank you so much and God bless,

Brent, Yuliza, Margaret & Isabella

April Update

Meet Isabella Joy!

We’re so excited to announce that our daughter, Isabella Joy, was born on Wednesday, April 10th! She weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19.5 inches. She’s been healthy and is sleeping well, and Yuliza is recovering well. Margaret is very excited to have a new baby sister and wants to help her learn new things every day. So our family continues to grow, and we’re so blessed to have all six of our girls!

Baptisms

Last month we had the privilege of baptizing two of the shoeshiners who have been regularly attending our Monday night Bible studies. Victor is the older man, and he was so excited that he invited his wife, children and grandchildren that live far away in the mountains to come and celebrate with him. And Pedro is the young man, and he is very excited to be seeking the Lord’s will for his life. It was a great honor for Ronald and I to be asked to baptize them!

Thank You!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for us! We’re so grateful for God’s goodness and for all of your help. Here are a few prayer requests:

  • Pray for Margaret, Celia, Sandra, Ana and Karla as they adjust to having a new baby in the house, and for Yuliza and I as this is a very busy time for us with a lot less sleep.
  • Pray for Margaret and our girls that they continue to do well in school and also that they would grow in their relationships with the Lord.
  • Pray for our Monday night meetings, that we would be able to reach new shoe shiners, alcoholics & poor that need to know the Lord.
  • Pray that all of our financial needs would be met.

Thank you so much and God bless,
Brent, Yuliza, Margaret & Isabella

January Ministry Update

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This newsletter is going out a little later than I planned, but here are some pictures from the activities and happenings here in Guatemala.

December 10th: Monday Night Christmas Party

We had a fun party with our Monday Night Bible Study group with piñatas, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire, and a movie.

December 14th: Christmas Party in the Park

We served 150 typical Guatemalan holiday meals of tamales, bread and a fruit cider called “ponche”.  A friend lent us some bounce houses for the children, and I shared about the true joy of the season. 
It was a great time to celebrate God’s love and provision throughout the year and to fellowship with the people in the park that we serve on a weekly basis.

December 14th: Serving the Homeless in Antigua

We took another 100 tamales the same night to Antigua, where there’s a large homeless population. We enjoyed spending time with the people, playing with the kids, praying for their needs and passing out the meals.

December 25th: Christmas

Christmas in Guatemala starts early at 6 AM on the 24th as we begin making a huge pot of tamales. The process continues through the day until they’re ready in the evening. We spend the day with Yuliza’s family and invite all our current and previous children to join us. The main celebration begins at midnight Christmas morning with lots of fireworks, we eat the tamales, and then we make a bonfire in the street and enjoy goofing off, eating and spending time together. Margaret had a blast this year, staying up until 2 AM. Around 4 AM we crashed and slept late, and then went out to watch a movie together in the afternoon.
We had hoped that Julio, Alfonso and Alejandro, who had lived with us before, would come and join us, but they didn’t make it. I was very excited to be able to see them, but we’ll keep trying to invite them over.

December 26th: Our 9th Wedding Anniversary

Yuliza & I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary the day after Christmas, and we spent the afternoon in Antigua enjoying all the Christmas lights with Margaret. I’m so blessed to have such an incredible family, and we’re so excited to meet our new girl in April!

December 28th: Christmas with Casa Shalom

We served 150 tamales with the children and workers of Casa Shalom. This is the Christian orphanage where Yuliza and I were working when we met each other 12 years ago, and we typically visit and spend time with the kids on a monthly basis. We brought bounce houses and played soccer and basketball with the kids and had a great time together!
One part that really blessed my heart was that over half of the cost of all these Christmas activities was provided by the young adults who have lived with us over the years. Flora, a girl who lived with us and got married back in April, brought her new in-laws to see the orphanage where she grew up, and we had a good time getting to know them better.

January 1st: New Year’s Celebration

The New Years celebration here is quite similar to Christmas: lots of food, fireworks, and fun until the wee hours of the morning! We cooked a turkey and a ham and had a great time hanging out together. Edwin, Jenifer, Cesar and Carlos came to join us.

January: Luke’s visit, girls are back in school & lots of construction

My good friend Luke came from Austin to visit for two weeks in January and we had a great time hanging out, fishing, cooking lots of foods, and hiking a volcano. 
The girls are all now back in school. Celia is a Senior, Sandra is a Junior, Ana is a Sophomore, and Karla is in eighth grade. Margaret started kindergarten and is thrilled to be back with her friends. Sandra also just turned 21 and we enjoyed celebrating with her. 
And the road construction in our neighborhood started about 3 weeks ago to install sewer lines. They had to dig a trench over 15 feet deep in some parts, and they made it very difficult to walk down the street, as you can see in the pictures above. In the process, the water pipes were broken, so we didn’t have water for about two weeks. Luke had a busier time than planned helping dig us out! The progress is slow, but most of the holes are mostly filled in now, and the water was reconnected this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our car to the house soon!

Here’s a video to give an idea about what the road work is like

Thanks so much for your continued support and prayers over the years! As we start another year, we’re so grateful and humbled to be able to serve here in Guatemala. We’re excited to meet our new baby girl in three months, and Margaret is so excited to soon be a big sister. She loves rubbing her mommy’s tummy and talking about possible names. 

We’re also proud of our girls and love to watch them grow up. Our prayer is that we consistently model their Heavenly Father and His incredible love for them. We pray that they grow to love and trust Him, and that they seek His will for their lives. His love has transformed my life, and has filled me with peace and hope. We’re going to be spending the next few weeks studying what the Bible shows us and teaches us about His love, and we’d appreciate your continued prayers for them.

Thanks and God bless, 
Brent, Yuliza & Margaret


Fall Ministry Update

In the United States, the leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and you’re getting ready for Thanksgiving. Here in Guatemala, this season marks the end of the rainy season, and also the end of the school year! We’re very proud of the hard work that our girls have put into their education this year. Thank you for all your support to make it possible!

As we look toward the next school year, which starts in January, we’d like to do something different. We’d like to find people who will sponsor each of our girls and help us with the costs associated with raising, feeding and educating each of them. Currently, most of their expenses come out of our personal budget.

SchoolingFoodMonth Total
Karla$30$60$90
Ana$70$60$130
Sandra$85$60$145
Celia$75$60$135

Each girl has different monthly expenses associated with her schooling, which is specified in the table to the right. This page includes more detailed information about how the money will be utilized. It also costs $2 a day to feed them, which is $60 a month. If you, or someone else you know, is interested in sponsoring one of our girls with all or part of their expenses, please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated and a huge help to us.

Celia has just turned 20 and is going into her senior year of high school. She grew up in the orphanage Casa Shalom, and has been living with us for 5 years. We’re so happy and proud of her!

Karla is the scientist of the group and is always curious about something. She is also Yuliza’s shadow. She’s been with us for 3 years and will be going into 8th grade at the charter school she was accepted into.

Sandra came to live with us this year, and she’s been such a blessing to our house. She quickly became everyone’s best friend, and she has excelled at school. Next year she’ll be entering 11th grade.

Ana is Celia’s sister, and we’ve known her a since she was an infant at the orphanage. She came to live with us two years ago and is the goofiest of our family. She’ll be going into 9th grade next year.

Breakfast & Dinner with the Shoe Shiners

We continue to serve 100 breakfasts in our park every Sunday morning as a way to get to know the shoe shiners, homeless and other people who live and work there. And on Monday nights we have a Bible study and dinner together.

Our niece Heidy and our girl Celia are now taking the young kids to their own class, and it’s been a HUGE help to me! A new group of men who struggle with alcohol have started to attend regularly, and we spend time talking to and praying with them.

For the fifth year, we are planning to celebrate Christmas with everyone in the park and serve their traditional tamales to 150 people. If you would like to help us out financially with this Christmas party or with the expense for the weekly meals, please let me know!

Under Construction

Our neighborhood continues to grow and many new houses are being built in the area. So we’re getting sewer lines installed in the streets! The entire project will hopefully only take 2 months, and it’s all being dug by hand. So we currently can’t drive to our house and have to walk and carry food about a quarter mile to our house. But this will be a great improvement for us! (our house is on the right in the picture)

Thank You!

Margaret had a great year of preschool, and is excited to start kindergarten in January. She’s just turned 6, and she’s very excited that she’s soon going to be a big sister! That’s right, Yuliza is expecting another baby in April. We are very excited!

We’re blessed to be able to serve in Guatemala, and we’re so grateful for your continued generosity through the years. If you would like to sponsor one of our girls or our meals with the shoeshiners, or if you know someone who would, please let me know. Thank you so much!

Please pray that God would continue to fill us with His love and wisdom as we minister in Guatemala. Please pray that both our past and present children would continue to seek the Lord’s will for their lives. And please pray for all those that will come to live with us in the future, that our home would be a place of refuge, peace, hope, discipleship and love.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers!

Brent, Yuliza & Margaret

2019 Child Sponsorship

As we look toward the next school year, which starts in January, we’d like to do something different. We’d like to find people who will sponsor each of our girls and help us with the costs associated with raising, feeding and educating each of them. Currently, most of their expenses come out of our personal budget.

Each girl has different monthly expenses associated with her schooling, which is specified in the table below. If you, or someone else you know, is interested in sponsoring one of our girls with all or part of their expenses, please let me know.  It would be greatly appreciated and a huge help to us.

To calculate the school costs, I added the cost of books, school supplies and materials, uniforms, a school registration, and a monthly tuition (charged 10 times). Those add up to a year total, which I then spread out over the 10 school months in the column titled “Year/Month”. Finally, we spend $60 a month on food for each of them. And the “Month Total” is the school costs plus the food costs.

We also spend $100 a month for the weekly breakfasts and dinners that we provide to the shoe shiners and other people in our park. Please let me know if you, or someone else you know, is interested in sponsoring someone. Thanks!

Summer Ministry Update

Potters-Home-Summer-2018.pdf

Back: Ana & Karla. Middle: Celia & Sandra. Front: Margaret

Ana is 16 and is in 8th grade. Karla turned 14 and is in 7th grade. Celia is 19 and is in 11th grade, and our new girl, Sandra, is in 10th grade. She came from the small town of Patzún where she was trying to pay her way through school on her own, but couldn’t afford high school.

It’s been a busy Spring!

We’ve had the privilege of hosting 3 groups in our home this Spring. The ministries to the shoe shiners, street kids and homeless of our town continue to grow and reach new people. 

The volcano that erupted is about 13 miles from our town, but does not present a threat to us. All we got was some volcanic ash over our car and house, but it was washed away by the rain a few days later.

All the girls are doing well at school. In fact, the love and unity with the girls has continued to grow and increase. Teens typically show some bad attitudes, and especially so when they come from broken homes. But our girls love being together and love living in our home. It’s so wonderful to have such a great relationship with each one and feeling like a family!

Welcome Sandra!

Sandra is the newest member of our family, and we just love her happy and goofy personality. We’re so happy that she’s here with us!

Margaret started school

Margaret started pre-school this year, and she goes to school with our other girls. She loves making new friends and going to school like her “big sisters”!

Yuliza is teaching English

Yuliza enjoys teaching English at our girls’ high school this year. Celia and Sandra feel more connected to her as a mother and now as a teacher.

Flora got married!

Flora grew up with us and moved out on her own about two years ago. This April we had the privilege of being her parents in her wedding with her new husband Leonel!

Rick & Susan Banda

Our Pastor Rick and his wife Susan visited us for two weeks. They shared so much love, wisdom, and experience with us, our girls, and our family. It was great to have them here! They and their church have been such a huge help to us, and our friendship with Rick & Susan has grown deeper and deeper.

Pastor Rick baptized Yuliza’s niece Heidy.

 

Team from El Shaddai

We had a six-person team from El Shaddai church in Bethlehem, PA visit us in June. They joined us in the various ministries and orphanages that we’re involved with, and we also visited a refugee shelter for the survivors from the volcano that erupted. 

We visited families that had lost family members, but the most impressive part was when we prayed for them, the people gave thanks to God for His goodness and provision! It really humbled me, and I pray that I could have their same heart and attitude.

Pedro

One shoeshiner who has been very involved in our ministries came with us to visit Casa Shalom during our monthly trip. He gave up a lucrative money-making time shining shoes in order to support his family and meet his own needs, and he came with us in order to spread God’s love to other children.

This is my dream: That orphans, street kids, and shoe shiners are so filled with God’s love for them, that His love pours out of them and into the less fortunate around them, so that all would know what a good, loving and perfect Heavenly Father we have!

Thank You!

We’re blessed to be able to serve in Guatemala, and we’re so grateful for your continued generosity through the years. Thank you so much!

Please pray that God would continue to fill us with His love and wisdom as we minister in Guatemala.  Please pray that both our past and present children would continue to seek the Lord’s will for their lives.  And please pray for all those that will come to live with us in the future, that our home would be a place of refuge, peace, hope and love.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers!

Brent, Yuliza & Margaret

2017 Ministry Recap

PottersHome-December2017.pdf

Our Children

This year we had five kids living with us who were in school. Karla, our youngest, finished 6th grade. She has been accepted to a magnet school that she will begin in January. Celia finished 10th grade this year and is studying for a preschool vocational degree at her high school. Her sister Ana came to live with us this year, and she was in 7th grade. Alfonso studied at a computer programming focused high school for 10th grade, and we received a new child, Julio, in March who also was in 10th grade. We’ve known Julio since he came to Casa Shalom when he was 5 years old, and this year he turned 18 in April.

It’s been a blessed year with the kids. All of our physical needs have been met, and we always had enough food for everyone. In fact, it’s been amazing to watch our kids grow so much! We had more financial needs this year with all five in school, and they were able to grow more prepared mentally for the future. A Christian psychologist friend of ours offered her services at reduced rates, and we’ve seen progress as our kids work through the emotional baggage of their life circumstances. And last, but not least, we have been blessed to have the spiritual help of a pastor friend of ours who has been coming over weekly to lead Bible studies with the kids and to encourage them in their spiritual walks with the Lord. It’s been a great help to have his wisdom and expertise in teaching Biblical truths. Our hope is that all of our teens understand the great importance of having a personal relationship with the Lord.

Unfortunately, close to the end of the school year, we had serious problems with our two guys, Alfonso and Julio. They took some attitudes and actions against the girls and against our family, and they are no longer living with us. Alfonso had been with us for 3 years, and we’ve known Julio for a long time, so it’s been incredibly sad to have them gone, but we are trusting and praying that God will continue the work that He started in their hearts. We ask that you join us in prayer for these two guys, too.

As we’ve mentioned previously, Flora had found a stable job last year and was able to move into an apartment. And this year Carlos found a job as a guard at our teens’ school and now lives there. We see them both regularly, and it’s great to see them stable, happy, and seeking the Lord’s will for their lives.

The Shoe Shiners

We continue to serve the poor and needy of our community in Chimaltenango by serving breakfast in our central park every Sunday morning. We give 100 meals every week and use the opportunity to share God’s love with the shoe shiners, street vendors, alcoholics and people living on the street.

This year we’ve received a permanent place to have our Monday night Bible study & dinner together, and we typically have 30 people come. It’s been fantastic to be able to meet together weekly at a permanent place, and now we can split off the young children into their own class which has allowed better interaction & discussion with the older group during the Bible study time. And we’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know the kids and families much better.

On the 21st of December we will have a Christmas party at the park with everyone, and we’re expecting 150 people. And then on December 27th we’re visiting the orphanage Casa Shalom for a Christmas party with the children.

Thank You!

We’re blessed to be able to serve in Guatemala, and we’re so grateful for your continued generosity through the years. Thank you so much!

Our daughter Margaret turned 5 last and is such a cheerful and fun daughter. She loves mermaids, Paw Patrol, stuffed animals, and her new bunny, Zoe.

Please pray that God would continue to fill us with His love and
wisdom as we minister in Guatemala. Please pray that both our past
and present children would continue to seek the Lord’s will for their
lives. And please pray for all those that will come to live with us in the future, that our home would be a place of refuge, peace, faith, hope and love.

Prayer requests:

  • Pray for Alfonso and Julio.
  • Pray for our end of year activities with the orphanage and shoe shiners.
  • Pray as we seek new children for our home before the new school year that starts in January.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers!
Brent, Yuliza & Margaret

Month of Prayer – Update

Thank you so much for praying for us this past month! We received so many wonderful emails, and it’s been very encouraging and uplifting for us.

It’s been a really busy month, and I want to let you know about everything that’s been going on here while you’ve been praying.

Our Kids

All of our kids are doing well. This week is exam week for the end of the first quarter of school, and so everyone’s studying hard.

We hiked a volcano last week

We did have an issue about 3 weeks ago where I had a problem with Alfonso because of his behavior, and to be honest, I didn’t handle it well at all. I was tired and frustrated, and I didn’t control my anger. He ran away and went to stay with his mother for a few days. Fortunately, we were able to talk about everything, and I was able to apologize for not acting correctly. He’s been back since then, and I think that God used the situation to allow us to have some good conversations about everything. Please pray for Alfonso as his heart is so broken because of his parents’ actions. I would also appreciate your continued prayers that I would have more wisdom and patience with all of our children.

We’re also talking to a new boy who might join our family named Julio. He is 17 and, like many of our kids, grew up at Casa Shalom. But he left the orphanage 2 years ago and hasn’t been living very responsibly. We’ve been talking to him for many months, and he’s realized that his actions are causing him a lot of problems and he wants to start over. We had a long talk again with him yesterday afternoon, and he’s thinking and praying about everything. Please pray that God would direct Julio and us with this big decision, and we hope that he will come to live with us.

We had a young woman named Keila visit us for about two weeks. She attends our home church in Austin, Texas where she works with their women’s rehabilitation home. She wanted to come to visit us and see what we do with our kids, and it was great to have her here to love our kids.

Keila came with us to celebrate Tony’s 12th birthday at Casa Shalom

Our Monday night meetings with the shoeshiners are going well, and fortunately we have received more help with some new volunteers and a bunch of the helpers who had left are coming back. I would appreciate your continued prayers as it’s still a lot of work of food preparation and energy to work with them. Monday night was extra special because a young boy named Fernando asked to pray to receive Jesus as his savior! He’s 9 years old and just started to come this month to our Monday night meetings. Thank you for praying!!! I’m sorry that I don’t have any pictures of him, but I’ll try to get a picture soon.

And here’s another answer to prayer… We bought a van! We found a 2007 Mitsubishi 12 seat van for sale at a price that we could afford and bought it about a week ago. It’s fabulous!!! Thank you to everyone who provided the money to be able to buy it! It’s a huge blessing to us.

Los Gozosos (“The Joyful Ones”)

Many of you have probably already heard about the tragedy that occurred in a government run orphanage on March 8th when 40 girls died in a fire after being locked in a room together. It’s truly a terrible and heartbreaking story. Here’s a story about what happened on Reuters.

The orphanage, which is located about 40 miles east of us, is being shut down by the Guatemalan government, meaning that new places have to be found for roughly 700 children who are now without a place to live. Please pray for all the orphanages who will be receiving these children.

In our town there is an orphanage for children with special needs called Los Gozosos. They are taking in 10 special needs children from this orphanage which doubles their number to 20. We’ve gotten to know the orphanage well over the years because our friend Diamond, who has stayed with us several times over the last 3 years, volunteers there. And we’ve gotten to know the director Maureen well, and she’s truly an inspiring lady with a huge heart to care for these special children.

Los Gozosos always struggles balancing their budget with all the costs associated with running a home that cares for kids who have lots of extra and unexpected costs. They’re converting some classrooms into bedrooms for the incoming children, but they need a lot of financial help to buy additional beds, medicine and food. Their webpage is at www.losgozosos.org.

Yuli, Margaret and Alfonso playing with Helen & Daniel at Los Gozosos

So here’s my request: Would you consider supporting this vital ministry? I know that money can be tight, so if you were planning to send support to us, could you send it to them??? They really need the help. Here’s their online donation page.

Thank you again for your prayers these past 30 days. It has meant a lot to us, and we need them! Thank you for your generosity allowing us to buy a van and for supporting the work that we do with the kids.

Brent

February Prayer Letter

A little over a month ago I sent out a newsletter (which you can find here), but I want to ask for your prayers. Would you consider praying for us daily for the next 30 days? There’s a lot going on, and I desperately desire to be in the center of God’s will for the ministry that He’s given us.

Like, seriously, could you mark on your calendar to pray everyday until Sunday, March 12th???

Here’s a quick update and topics that we need prayer for:

Our Kids

The new school year started in January, and we’re really happy that Celia’s younger sister, Ana, came to live with us. She finished sixth grade last year, which is all that is offered in their town. It’s so great to have her with us now!

Please pray for her adjustment to living with us. Please pray for Celia and Alfonso as they’re in new high schools, and for Karla who is in sixth grade. One wonderful thing to see is how Karla’s worked so hard to befriend Ana and help her to feel comfortable. They quickly became friends!

Our oldest boy, Carlos, received a new job this month as a guard at the school where Celia attends, so he now has to stay there. It hasn’t been easy for him to be away, but it’s great to have a more stable employment.

Please pray for us as we try to care for all of them, and pray as we teach them about God’s great love for us and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Him. It’s so hard for kids from orphanages and broken homes to feel the security that God loves them and cares for them. I really want to see our kids experience the peace that comes from Him.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:17b–19 (NIV)

Shoeshiner Ministry

We started weekly meetings on Monday nights in January with the shoeshiners, and it’s been great to have more consistent time with them. We have roughly 20 who are dedicated to come, and I’m privileged to be able to share the Word with them each time. We also feed 100 people every Sunday morning in the park, so we’re cooking a lot for those activities.

A group of teens and young adults help us a lot with the activities, but have been having a lot of problems this year. Some are just tired or preoccupied with their own life’s busyness. Others are fighting and some have fallen away because of sin.

I’m trying to have a more active role in discipling some of them and ministering to them as a group more regularly. I understand that they’re young in both age and faith, and I hope to help them mature in their faith. Working with them has really consumed a lot of time and emotional energy this past month, so I’d really appreciate your prayers for me.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1–2 (NIV)

Our Family

A common topic of conversation in the States with people my age is how to have a good balance between work & home. And I struggle knowing how to balance the two since my work is largely in my home. Our kids would love to have my attention every second that they’re here, and they get jealous with each other if one feels like I’m helping another more with homework.

I’m so incredibly blessed to have a very dedicated wife who has the same heart as me. She’s been working with the the kids nonstop today on all their homework and school projects. And Margaret is so sweet and happy. She just loves everyone. But I really ask your prayers that I can always be mindful to spend enough time with my family and not overcommit to helping others at the cost of not helping my own wife and daughter.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”  Philippians 1:9–10 (NIV)

Other Prayer Requests

  • A van. We’ve been looking for a long time, but we haven’t found one that will work well for us.
  • I’d like to start construction on the girl’s house this year. It would be great to have them here on premises instead of renting a house down the street.

Thanks so much for your prayers; I hope to send an update in 30 days about everything that’s happened!
Brent

2016 Year Ministry Recap

Our Children

Karla, our youngest girl, turned 12 years old last year, and she’ll be going into 6th grade when the new school year begins in two weeks. She’s been a true joy to have with us, and we’re happy to have her in our family.

Celia just turned 18 and she finished 9th grade. This is a big accomplishment here because many children are not able to go to school this long. So they have a big graduation ceremony, and she’s the first one in her family to finish 9th grade. This month she starts vocational training to be a preschool teacher. Alfonso is now 17, and he also finished 9th grade last year. He is also about to start 10th grade and will receive training in computer programming. In some ways he can be our most challenging child, but we’ve enjoyed seeing our relationship with him grow tremendously during these last few months. It’s wonderful to watch him start to fully understand how much we love him.

Flora is now 23, and she is working in a store near our house. This has been her first year to be working, and she enjoys making a salary! She transitioned into her own apartment about two months ago and now lives about a quarter mile from us. It’s wonderful to be able to continue help and counsel her, and to see her continue to seek the Lord’s will for her life. And Carlos is now 26, and he continues to work at a pure water distribution company. He’s such a sweet and easy-going guy, and he continues to seek the Lord’s will for his life.

The new school year starts in two weeks, so right now is the best time for our home to grow. We’re currently talking to two families about caring for their kids and giving them an education, and in both cases we’re receiving resistance to the idea by the parents. We’ve met the kids through the orphanage, Casa Shalom, and they’d really like the opportunity to go to school. But they’ve been sent back to their parents by a child-services judge, and the decision is up to the parents. Please pray for God to work on their parents’ hearts so that they can come to live with us.

 Shoeshiner Ministry

2016 was a very exciting year for the ministry to the shoeshiners and homeless. We continued to meet them every Sunday morning to share food and God’s love with them. And we started a bi-weekly meeting on Monday nights to have a more formal Bible study and dinner together. It’s been so great to get to know them better, and to have a more focused time of ministry with them. Every Sunday we feed 100 people, and 20 come on Monday nights. We now have a better place to hold our meetings, and this year we’re changing to weekly meetings. It’s a much bigger time and financial effort, but it should provide more consistent attendance.

The teens and young adults that we have helping us are very dedicated, and they raise the majority of the finances through people of our community. I hope to continue to minister with them and to them. It’s so easy to get so focused on the physical needs of the people around us that it’s easy to forget about their much greater need of a Savior.

Trip to Texas

In early December we were able to take a trip to visit our home church in Austin, Texas. We had a great time staying and fellowshipping with our pastor and his family, and it was so wonderful to reconnect with lots of old friends. The trip was extra special because our dear friend, Edwin, was able to go with us. He grew up at Casa Shalom, and I was his houseparent when he was a teenager. It’s been great to work with him these past 12 years and watch him grow into the man he is today. (Goofy story: I was so shy to talk to Yuliza when I was trying to get to know her, and Edwin helped me!) During our trip Edwin was able to visit his mother who lives just south of the border in Mexico whom he hadn’t seen in many years.

Thank You!

We’re blessed to be able to serve in Guatemala, and we’re so grateful for your continued generosity through the years. Thank you so much!

Our daughter Margaret turned 4 in November and is such a joy to have. She’s as happy and playful as a child can be, and she’s become a aficionado of slides. We can’t pass one without her wanting to try it out!

Please pray that God would continue to fill us with His love and wisdom as we minister in Guatemala.  Please pray that both our past and present children would continue to seek the Lord’s will for their lives.  And please pray for all those that will come to live with us in the future, that our home would be a place of refuge, peace, hope and love.

Two big prayer requests for January:

  • Please pray for the families of the kids that would like to come and live with us.
  • Please pray as we search for a van. We’ve been generously donated the money, but finding one has been challenging. It would be a huge help to both our children as well as the shoeshiner ministry. We currently drive a small sedan.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers!
Brent, Yuliza & Margaret