It was another rough start to the day as we found out that Keegan McKee, a senior from Ridgemont, passed away from a car accident. It is hard being a pastor of a community that is in pain and being so far away. I want to be there with y’all, and pray with you, and mourn with you, and cry with you, and minister to you. I hope the Ridgemont community knows that my heart grieves for you and that I am praying for you. If I can provide three sources that can help you while I’m gone these would be it:
I believe all three of these engage the questions we have when we are in pain and suffering, and all three answer these questions with the hope of the Gospel. I found myself listening to Piper’s sermon earlier this week, and the thing I love most about Piper is that in the midst of tragedy, he never fails to preach the Gospel. I hope these resources can help comfort you and minister to you while I am away. I long to be home with the community that I love and serve.
Apart from the tragic news that we received this morning, we arrived at the work site surprised to see the roof already on. It was nice that we didn’t have to fuss with it or worry about anyone cutting themselves on the metal. So Gary and I began our day by leveling out some dirt and putting down stone for a walkway, while the girls began to stain the house. Now, let me tell you about this stain. It was water mixed with powder that we were trying to put on wood that still had sap on it. The stain didn’t go on very well, and it ran and flung everywhere. The group told us that last year Gary got more on him than on the house…well the same was true today. Gary was flinging it everywhere and just slapping it on the building. Although, he was definitely putting it on the fastest. But by the end of the day, Gary didn’t have a spot on him that wasn’t covered by brown stain. That man is one of the hardest workers I have ever met in my life, and it has been a joy to see him work this week. Here is a Gary Brill joke for you: “Gary Brill doesn’t put on sunblock; the sun puts on Gary Brill block.” (Okay, that one was cheesy).
After staining the house and taking a lunch break, Shelby and Andy, our translator, took kids down for ice cream. They began with only 10 kids, and Shelby said that just more and more kept coming as they walked to the ice cream shop. By the time they arrived they had to buy ice cream for 20 kids. Seeing the kids light up over such a little thing really puts your life into perspective. In America, we are bombarded with consumerism. “You need this, and you need that to make your life complete.” While these kids down here are completely content with ice cream and playing soccer with some Americans. These kids’ faces light up when you give them a high-five or just say, “hello, how are you?” While I know building the house is important, it’s the moments that we have had with these kids, building a relationship, walking to get them ice cream, playing soccer and jump-rope with them that have really made me fall in love with the Gospel all over again. While there is a language barrier (sorry Ms. Smith I’m not fluent in Spanish anymore), we have this connection of Gospel-driven joy. I want to pray for these kids, and I want to love them like Jesus does for as long as I am here. I’m really proud to serve a church that comes here and serves people they don’t know and love those people like Jesus does.
We finished the house by putting in the door and windows, and I must say we built a pretty good-looking house. As the girls took the kids for ice cream, Gary tightened up the frame of the house and cleaned out the inside with Ever, while Carlos and I built a stone stove. Y’all, I built a stove today! Carlos taught me how to do masonry work, and it was actually both hard and enjoyable, but I think I’ll stick with woodworking. With the completion of the stove, we were completely finished with the house. We took pictures with the kids and the family after we were done. We will dedicate the house on Monday when we will give the keys to the family, and they will unlock the house and enter their new home for the first time. I’m so excited for this moment.
As for tomorrow, since we are done building the house, we have a free day. So tomorrow we will be crossing off two of my bucket-list items. First, we will be going to a Coffee Plantation, and as all of you know, I am a HUGE coffee fan! Shelby has already agreed to allow me to get into the roasting business! So I’ll be bringing greens back and roasting them. Hopefully, if I am successful, I will sell some roasted coffee to raise funds for youth mission trips and other church functions. After the coffee plantation, we are going to ride horses up to the top of an active volcano! We also made a new friend tonight named Jenny. She is a missionary teacher here in Guatemala from Troy, Ohio. We had a great conversation at dinner sharing each other’s stories. Then we found out that she is a coffee lover too! So she invited us over for some cold brew at her house and had a long conversation about coffee. Shelby and I invited her to come with us tomorrow, and so we added another friend to share in our adventures. God has really been moving this week, and it has been such a blessing.
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!