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.
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.
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