The steps of faith we take.

Monday Burton, Paula and I left to head South.  We had the idea to see our current ministry partners and make a concerted effort to meet new ministry partners.

The trip exceeded every expectation that I could possibly have had.  The Lord saw the step of faith that we took in driving south, met us, and blew our minds. Pastors confirmed what others had said.  This ministries, these faithful servants, heck just the people of the villages felt abandoned, alone. They were left some time ago but rogue missionary groups doing unhealthy ministry and some were jaded.  Others haven’t ever been helped in ministry so the idea of a partnership was extremely foreign.  Praise God for these, sometimes tough, conversations.

Spiritual Warfare – We stopped in Dangriga, a Garifuna town (Garifuna info), where spiritual darkness, witchcraft, and the occult are prevalent parts of the culture.  I sat with Pastor Evans in his yard about the stories of demonic activity specifically related to the Dugu.  However, all is not at unrest. Pastor Evans finished our conversation by telling us that Sarah the most influential shaman, leader of the Garifuna faith, came to the know the Lord as the evangelical community in Dangriga took steps of faith to pray for and minister to her.  They looked past who she was, her condition, and looked to who The Lord created her to be.  She died knowing the Lord and since her passing, the Garifuna community has not found an acceptable shaman to take her place.  The battle is raging but Satan will not prevail!

Pastor Leonel and Bella Vista – We continued to the immigrant communities surrounding south Stann Creek District.  Here we met Pastor Leonel, pastor of Iglesia Emmanuel.  He told us about the community of Bella Vista.  Bella Vista is a community of Central American Immigrants fleeing violence, drugs, or simply a better life as day laborers in Belize.  Psator told us about the primary school in the village with 1000 kids.  The school was over-crowded and in disrepair.  But the thing that broke me was seeing in every house in the village 2 or so kids who were not in school.  Families literally had to choose who could go to school and who had to go to work.  Pastor Leonel shared his heart for those who are hurting, those who are working in the farm, those who have kids working farms.  He shared how they met a family from Salvador who fled because of an attack on the man’s brother.  The man now sells Pupusas as a fundraiser for the church, for his family’s income, and as a ministry to the village.  He leads the evangelism group and prayer ministry for Pastor Leonel.  AND, he had us, me Burton and Paula over for Pupusas on our way back from Toledo!  He is a man of God.  The Lord is using him and his family with Pastor Leonel to outreach and minister to Bella Vista.  The steps of faith we take.

Pastor Leonel, Paula and Burton

Pastor Leonel, Paula and Burton

a "typical" house in Bella Vista, Pastor Leonel's community.

a “typical” house in Bella Vista, Pastor Leonel’s community.

A story about Pastor Pop – Finally we reached Toledo and stopped to see Pastor Ustaquio Pop.  We first met him about two years ago, not even 30 years old and pastor of one church and planter of 4 others.  We had a great trip last year in his village of Silver Creek, a small Mayan Ketchi community at the foot of the Maya Mountain range. It was his village where a team focused on evangelism saw the largest spiritual explosion I have witnessed in Belize, as 250 people responded to God’s grace in His Gospel and surrendered to the Lord.  Pastor Pop is a man of God.  As we met with Pastor Pop, he shared with us that he desired for his family to participate in his outreaches when he went to visit the 6 churches in his network.  He had a motorcycle but that wasn’t really working, as his whole family couldn’t go and not to mention it was a little soggy during the rainy season.  Anyway, Pastor Pop said he couldn’t wait any more and he took out a loan for 7000 BZD from the bank.  He used 5000 of it to purchase a vehicle and 2000 to extend his shop at his house to help more quickly recoup the loan amount.  He took a step of faith and told me “Brother, I don’t know how I am going to pay this back.”  He said I just know my family needs to be united as we do God’s work.  I reached into my bag and pulled out a donation someone had given for the direct purpose of Pastor Pop purchasing a vehicle.  Here I was with Pastor Pop telling me his need was 6000BZD to pay off the loan or get close, and I handed him a check for the same amount.  God saw and rewarded Pastor Pop’s step of faith.  But that wasn’t all, Burt’s nephew organized a fundraiser some time back, a variety show with all proceeds to go to Pastor Pop and his ministry.  Gabe, Burt’s nephew, had served at Pastor Pop’s church in 2013 and heard his heart and vision and wanted to help. He couldn’t do much so he did what he could.  The amount the variety showed raised…1000 BZD.  From a donation and a variety show, Pastor Pop’s loan is taken care of.  The steps of faith we take….

Pastor Pop in his store extension

Pastor Pop in his store extension

The truck that was a HUGE step of faith for Pastor Pop

The truck that was a HUGE step of faith for Pastor Pop

Pastor Pop at the pulpit in church

Pastor Pop at the pulpit in church

A story about Guatemala – As I was sitting in Pastor Pop’s living room, a distinctly “mayan village” to my eyes I asked him “what villages are close to the border.”  He said “brother, we have it great compared to those villages.  Those people are in NEED.”  I asked him how far and after a caldo lunch and pastor harvesting and frying 3 plantains for road snacks we were off.  We past the last village on the map and kept going past where the road as good.  We passed beauty heading into more beauty and we quickly realized that “we weren’t in Kansas anymore.”  While the dress was not necessarily “traditionally mayan” the village life was.  We eventually made our way to the village of Jacate, where there is no running water or electricity.  Homes are dark and smokey.  It sits about 20 minutes walk from the border.  The villagers are almost all farmers and the local currency is that of Guatemala instead of the Belize Dollar.  We were there and honestly I was sick, really sick. We saw a little girl at well getting water for the evening and Paula went out to talk to her.  Pastor Pop and Burton were out searching for the pastor of the church we stopped in front of.  Paula and the girl start talking at the well and Paula motions for me.  The little girl is the pastor’s daughter.  We shuffle off to the house, carrying her water and I hear the familiar laugh of my friend Burt.  We sit and listen to Pastor as he shares about life, ministry and his challenges.  We are humbled, as always.  But that wasn’t the step of faith that I wanted to highlighted.   We asked Pastor what he ate he said “corn tortilla with dried chile (meaning pepper)”  He explained that’s what he had once a day, period and continued that only rich people eat rice.  Then a boy not more than 10 and his father came over and talked to Pastor.  They had been looking for work and Pastor was quite worried about that.  He told them to stay and that he would feed them and find some work for them to do.  This man had nothing, literally, and he was giving to these who to him were in need.  The steps of faith we take.

kids are not allowed to be kids in the village of Jacate.  those as young as 8 or 9 have to get to work to help feed the family.

kids are not allowed to be kids in the village of Jacate. those as young as 8 or 9 have to get to work to help feed the family.

One of the last villages on the way out to the Guatemala border

One of the last villages on the way out to the Guatemala border

Paula at the well with Pastor's daughter

Paula at the well with Pastor’s daughter

Pastor Pop took GREAT care of us, caldo and fresh plantain chips

Pastor Pop took GREAT care of us, caldo and fresh plantain chips

LOL – Laugh Out Loud.  Often on our trips we search for existing ministries to augment our local church partnership.  Often we look for orphanages, children’s homes or something of that ilk.  I had known that there was an orphanage (laugh out loud ministry) in Toledo and seen their bus around the airport from time to time.  I never knew where it was.  We were heading out of town and Burt asked for information about the orphanage from one of the 100 women in Toledo who he calls his mom (note: it seems Burton needed a lot of moms).  Anyway, we head out and show up to the gate. The gate to the orphanage is awesome!  We head into the orphanage and all I can say it that it was the first children’s home I have ever been to in Belize that felt like a home.  Literally it was a large home, kids adults babies teens, workers, all living in harmony, unity.  I had the amazing opportunity to hear Jervis (he and his wife founded LOL) share his story.  To summarize briefly, Jervis grew up in Belize City, at 8 he was involved with drugs and gangs, shortly after he had to flee the country due to legal charges against him.  He went to the States and the Lord grabbed a hold of him. Eventually he was shown grace and mercy through the Lord, mentors in his life who forgave numerous screw ups, and Belizean police (unheard of). Each person or group of people couldn’t come down on him because they saw the Lord had great plans for him. He with his wife and kids eventually took the step of faith to leave Colorado with a car and not enough money for gas (I say foolish, others say faithful!…Ahh to walk in that faith).  They came (back) to Belize and started LOL.  I sat for two hours and listened to him share the passion of allowing the kids to shine God’s glory through them as they discover, develop, and release their God-given talents/skills in His service throughout their country and the world.  This was NOT an orphange, not an institution.  This is a place of hope.  Hope born out of faith. A family taking their steps of faith….

Those are just some of the stories we heard while in Toledo / Stann Creek.  This I know, the Lord sees our steps of Faith and rewards them.  I left some of my heart in Toledo with Pastor Pop and others.  But I left encouraged to take my steps of faith in great boldness.  I am encouraged that in my life, I look to them for inspiration as I take my own steps of faith and know that together as co-laborers in Christ, we are all working to bring God’s glory to Belize.

My prayer for you all is that you look at your life and consider the steps of faith that God is calling you to.  Is it a new ministry?  A new location?  A new job?  Maybe he is calling you to have a hard conversation?  Forgive someone who has wronged you?  Or maybe just maybe he is calling you to be a missionary, local, domestic, or internationally, hopefully to Belize? 🙂 The steps of faith we take….those steps are ones we each take separately but together. We are walking out our faith into a great understanding of Christ, ultimately striving to bring more of His Glory more of His Heaven and His Will to Earth!  The steps of faith we take. Where are you walking?

 

We had pig in our caldo at Pastor Pop's.  The just killed it that day.  This one was hanging out in Jacate.

We had pig in our caldo at Pastor Pop’s. The just killed it that day. This one was hanging out in Jacate.

One of Pastor Pop's (6) churches.  They built this including the thatch on their own

One of Pastor Pop’s (6) churches. They built this including the thatch on their own

The Columbia river jumped the bank.  The kids at this store (out of business now) are using a freezer to canoe to the road.

The Columbia river jumped the bank. The kids at this store (out of business now) are using a freezer to canoe to the road.

A look into the village of Crique Troso

A look into the village of Crique Troso

A view from Pastor Pop's church in San Antonio

A view from Pastor Pop’s church in San Antonio

I love this family.  We met them on our way down and on the way back they insisted we have pupusas with them.  They fled Salvador and now lead prayer and outreach for Pastor Leonel's church.

I love this family. We met them on our way down and on the way back they insisted we have pupusas with them. They fled Salvador and now lead prayer and outreach for Pastor Leonel’s church.

Belize South – The Lord has not forgotten about them

It’s time for a new normal.  The kids have started school this week in Belize City and that “officially” marks (for our family at least) the start of Fall.  College football is in full swing (my kids are not so excited about that).  And we are able to spend more time as a family, even during the week.

Wednesday was a holiday (battle of St. George’s Caye) and we spent it with Pastor Ed and his ministry team, teaching songs for the next teacher’s training.   And Friday Amy and Elijah were able to accompany me in the city for a few errands.  Small blessing bring the brightest smiles in the mundane!

Before we get to the Prayers and Praises.  We have a big week next week in Belize, a trip to the South.

I was with Pastor Hans, a Korean Church planter here in Belize late last month.  He has been here planting churches  for approximately 25 years.  When he first got here, he had Malaria 6 times, dengue twice, and he only knew Korean.

He currently resides in Cayo and has planted over 20 churches around Belize.  He looked at me through the course of our conversation and said “even as bad as I had it, I knew the Lord had not forgotten about me.”   Then he told me “Toledo that’s the forgotten district of Belize.”

Friends this week Burton, Paula and I are heading South.  We are going with open eyes and open hearts to see, hear, and feel The Lord’s work there.  We are going like Rob went with Ed some years ago to Caledonia and tell them that Our Lord has not forgotten them.

This I am confident of, The Lord is doing great work in Southern Belize, an area of predonimantly Mayans and Central American immigrants.  In 2013, the largest spiritual revival I have ever heard of in Belize, happened in the Toledo district in a small village of Silver Creek.

I share this to beg you to pray for our trip.  Pray with me for more villages like Silver Creek.  Pray that Burt, Paula, and I are united in how we hear the Lord and encourage the pastors we meet.  Pray that we see logistical challenges to hosting teams in the south (a real set of challenges) and immediately The Lord reveals the solutions.  Pray that teams catch the vision for the work The Lord is doing down south and His faithfulness reigns supreme as we share story after story of great work, of great miracles that happen in the “forgotten areas of Belize”

If The Lord is going to use Belize as the key to Central America, which I believe He is currently doing, He is going to use the entire country, even the forgotten south.  I want to this trip to be the first in a concerted effort to see how the Lord is working down south and how we as an organization can be a part of it.

Update:

  • Basketball – Weather has been terrible.  So there hasn’t been a lot of playing going on the court.  However, the whole family went out to the basketball court to ride bikes and I was able to see all the guys from basketball getting ready for a soccer game.  We stayed briefly with them as they warmed up and showed some support.  It was awesome as a family to love on those who Belizean Christian society view as unloveable. KEEP PRAYING.
  • Church – We had our second youth group this past Wednesday night.  We had about 15 youth there and had a great conversation about why they come to church (some were even honest and said it was because of the girls!) and why some of their friends do not.  The relationship and trust are slowly coming! KEEP PRAYING
  • Community – Slow week this week.  Bella and Christopher are coming over from next door each day to do homework (their family can’t help them because Bella’s mom is illiterate in Spanish and doesn’t know any English).  KEEP PRAYING!
  • First week of School – Madeline and Jojo completed their first week of school in the City.  We only got lost one time, picking them up.  They made friends and Jojo has started to learn how to write his own name!  Madeline says school is a little boring, so she comes home and does more school!  She is nerdy by nature!  PRAYER ANSWERED!
  • Trip Down South  – See Above and I will provide an update next week.
  • Financial Support – We are still looking for 3 families to partner with us financially for $25/month.
    • Update:  We had one person step up and another family praying about it.  PRAISE GOD.  Keep praying for two more families!
    • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please connect directly with Josh or Amy via email (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com)
  • Spiritual Warfare – Just pray the kids are good while I am gone.  Simple but a little great behavior goes a long way!

And now some pics from the week….

Obligatory first day of school picture!

Obligatory first day of school picture!

rainy season.  I have no words to explain

rainy season. I have no words to explain

this is their swimming pool

this is their swimming pool

errands with mommy and daddy mean toy store before picking up brother and sister

errands with mommy and daddy mean toy store before picking up brother and sister

Some time at the park between paying bills

Some time at the park between paying bills

Hanging with Pastor Ed's team on national holiday

Hanging with Pastor Ed’s team on national holiday

Jojo being Jojo

Jojo being Jojo

Praise and Prayer Request Update: 08-Sep-2014

Thank you for your kind words in regards to praying for us last week.  It’s so awesome, comforting and encouraging to know that we can share what’s going on with our lives and know that we know that we know that there is an army praying for us!  Praise God!  Without further.

Before we get into the Prayer Requests.  I posted a blog earlier in an attempt to answer every short-term mission participants’ question: Am I making a difference?  Take a moment to read my take on that here.

Updates:

  • Basketball – Honestly I have no idea what’s going on with the basketball team in Hattieville. I don’t know if it’s been because of the rain or because of only one light working at the court but no one has been playing basketball. I continue to go out every Tuesday and Thursday.  Pray this week that there are at least 6 people out there to have a game!  – KEEP PRAYING.
  • Community – Kimbell was over here two or three days this week, including braiding Madeline’s hair all day yesterday!  It was awesome for Amy to spend some time with her.  When we dropped Kimbell off at home two times this week, her husband came outside and talked to us some!  Community is still hard but God is faithful – KEEP PRAYING.
  • Church – First Wednesday night youth group was marginal at best. We had the small children and the pastors from the church in the group, which wasn’t great.  At the end of the group, I asked the youth to write down 3 questions that they may have about the Bible or life and I was alarmed how elementary their questions were.  Many of them, who the church asssumes are strong Christians, don’t understand foundations.  Pray for me as we dive into what it means to be a Christian, the life of Christ, and how to read the Bible.  It’s going to be a slow going.  – KEEP PRAYING!
  • Marriage Rest – The schedule for work is working holding true.  This week I am around all week to help get Madeline and Jojo to and from school.  Continue to lift up our marriage.  Specifically pray that when we are here at night that we can be present, away from distractions and focused on each other!  – KEEP PRAYING!
  • Bob Vila I am not  – For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on ministry ideas for 2015, specifically trying to secure a design and estimates for bunk beds, a simple playground, and a rain water collection system (guttering included).
    • Update: The bunk bed design and estimate are secured and I am happy with those.  The playground estimate is close behind.  Rain water collection is far behind those.  I am also working with one of our staff on two different chicken coop designs and with Amy on a smart garden design for families.  KEEP PRAYING

Praises:

  • New Staff – I was worried about the Lord providing new staff early last week.  We were projecting growth and how many Belizeans we may need last year and I had small faith.  The Lord then provided 4 people for me to meet, and some of those we may try out as staff next year!  – ANSWERED!
  • Pupusas – One of our favorite foods is pupusas, a delicious combination of beans, cheese, sometimes chorizo, wrapped into a corn tortilla like stuffed in the dough and then made on a camal (spelling?).  We had a staff come over and teach Amy how to make them on Friday and we ate them Friday and Saturday.  And Amy’s that she made on Saturday were AWESOME!!

Prayer Requests:

  • School starting – School starts today (08-Sep-2014) for Madeline and Jojo.  Pray for a smooth adjustment.  Pray for new friends.  Pray that neither one of them pees their pants (literally) and that they are protected from any ridicule because of race.  Pray that the drive to and from the city is smooth for me and Amy.  We will have to do that each day!
  • Down South Y’all – I am heading to the southern two districts in Belize, Stann Creek and Toledo.  I have had multiple leaders tell me that Toledo is the forgotten district.  A focus of mission activity was there when it was “untouched bush” but after a boom of evangelism and church planting in the 1970s most help has pulled out.  The people there are jaded and forgotten.  Burton, Paula, and I are heading down next week to identify potential new partners and strengthen and encourage our current partners.  Pray for open eyes to see God’s work, pray that the Spirit gives us the right words to encourage our pastors and pray for divine appointments.
  • Spiritual Warfare – We are under attack.  Last week, I was disillusioned with work, Jojo was screaming and hitting, Elijah wasn’t sleeping and Amy was frustrated with her life.  Pray for protection for our family from the enemy and his schemes.
  •  Financial Support – We are still looking for 3 families to partner with us financially for $25/month.
    • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please connect directly with Josh or Amy via email (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com)

We anticipate great things as we go to the Lord in prayer together for these requests.  If there are requests and praises you want to share in your life, please let us know.  We would love to go to the Lord together for you all as well!  This I know.  As I was listening to music this morning, these lyrics came to my mind:

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

We celebrate the Lord’s work in Belize together.  Not because of anything that I am doing, our family is doing, or the organization is doing but we celebrate and boast in Jesus Christ.  The power of his death and resurrection is overcoming the evils of the world in Belize.  Praise be to God!

mini Batman Elijah

mini Batman Elijah

Silly faces before church

Silly faces before church

Madeline asked to make everyone's lunches. She made PB&J all by herself

Madeline asked to make everyone’s lunches. She made PB&J all by herself

Just some light reading material in the morning

Just some light reading material in the morning

Getting her braids in for school

Getting her braids in for school

In her bedtime head wrap.

In her bedtime head wrap.

Red, white, and blue beads for September celebrations of independence.

Red, white, and blue beads for September celebrations of independence.

Am I really making a difference?

I love footprints.  I really do.  I love seeing my kids footprints in the sand.  It’s so awesome.  I like to look back to where we have walked when we go to the beach and see their footprints.  And then the ocean wave rolls in and covers up the footprints and they’re gone.  Here for a moment.

I remember when I first led the Mt. Bethel Students to Succtoz Belize and we were working on a sidewalk down at the Nazarene Primary School.   At the end of the project, the students wrote their student ministry name in the wet cement and the year.  I thought how awesome is that.  It’s like a footprint but it won’t wash away.  They made an impression in that concrete.  And every since they have come back.  They have made an impression not only in the concrete but in the lives of the communities they have served.

Am I really making a difference is a phrase or question that often gets asked of some short-term mission teams?  They want to know if for a week or a brief, fleeting moment if they are really making a difference. These people may look around and see poverty, see sadness, see hurt and wonder “what can I do?”

Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to field this question several times over the last couple of years.  A story….

When we first moved to Belize, Burton and I set off to Armenia, a Maya Village just south of Belmopan (the capital) to see if we could find a ministry partner there.  The village is compelling, picturesquely situated just as one enters the Maya Mountains.  It’s a mix of farm land, grass style huts, indigenous Mayans from Southern Belize, and Central American immigrants.  The village is laid out in a perfect grid to allow for ease of home visiting, save for the mountains that we have to climb.  But it is perfect.

Burton and I didn’t really know where to go to start off at.  Our plan was to go to the shop or the school and ask who the pastor was in the village.  This question is often a loaded question as there are frequently MANY pastors in the village.  Armenia is no different; it is home to 12 churches.

We meet a woman and the convienence store and she says she knows her pastor.  We converse and she mentions very meekly that it is her husband.  We ask where the church is and she walks us back to her house.  We go inside and meet her husband. And honestly I had never meet more meek people in my life.  They were so reserved quiet.  Almost like they were filling us out.  And Pastor’s wife, she didn’t say a word.

Pastor and his family in the fall 2012

Pastor and his family in the fall 2012

Church 2012

Church 2012

Burt and I left that meeting with the uneasiness that comes from leaving a meeting you aren’t too sure of.  With new ministry partners, there are three typical outcomes of the first meeting: overwhelming yes, overwhelming no, and uneasiness.  We were in the middle.  We stopped at the primary school and asked the principal about the churches.  He literally told me “there are 12 churches in this village and only 2 churches have ever helped us with anything, Pastor Jesus and (another pastor in the village).  Our uneasiness went from uneasiness to absolutely certain that we had to get a team to Pastor Garcia.

In June of 2013 we had a team serve at Pastor’s church and immediately the connection was evident.  Through broken spanish, and broken english, the Lord knitted together two communities.  It wasn’t that week about what the “team was able to do.”  It was about “who the team was able to share”.  Jesus (the savior not the pastor as his name is Jesus too) came in and changed lives. As He was changing lives, hearts were woven as one.  A difference was made.  Still not a word from the Pastor’s wife.

 

Pastor and the guys after working on his ceiling!

Pastor and the guys after working on his ceiling!

The team left and from that overwhelming AWESOME experience at Pastor’s church we knew we had to get more people to encourage his church, his ministry, his vision.  Armenia was ripe for Harvest, The Lord is guiding pastor. I asked him one day “How do I encourage you?”  He said in the only way that he can “Thank you brother Josh. We ask that you let brother Michael and the team know that they made a difference here.”  I told him yes.

2014; We had three teams serve in Armenia.  One of the teams served the church by laboring on the floor.  One team in July served to build the back wall and do some children’s ministry and…

In June 2014, the team returned.  They returned equipped.  They were ready to do more.  The pictures you have seen and stories you have heard  / seen shared on this blog.  Lives were touched.  We missed some things (as I wrote about a month ago) and we got some things right.

But the thing most I took away from there was the richness of the relationship between the team and the local church.  These folks from Alabama (War Eagle and Roll Tide) adopted the entire village of Armenia.  They gave away shirts, worked on a bathroom, gave money for a chicken coop.  But again it was the relationships that matter most.  Women ministered to women.  Children had joy.  Those who were hopeless had hope.  Women opened up.  Pastor smiled a little more. Made jokes a little more and his wife shared – some, although still stoic

Women together, serving each other for the week.

Women together, serving each other for the week.

just pure beauty in one child in Armenia

just pure beauty in one child in Armenia

But life must go on.  For the team it meant going home, leaving their friends in Armenia.  For the villagers it meant back to the grind.  The joy of my job is that I get to see what life is like after the encouragement happens….kind of like the “After the Final Rose” show from the Bachelor or Bachelorette.  I get to drop in on our ministry partners and talk about life, minstry, the community and God.

I was fortunate enough to stop in Armenia the other day to talk about a few things and I was brought back to the time that I first met this family.  The shyness, meekness yes, but really shyness they had as they pseudo welcomed me into their home.  Not this trip. This trip Pastor bounced out of his house welcoming us in.  The kids were in and out of playing with us trying to be part of the conversation.  It was pure joy.  We were family.  The impact, the difference the team made in the life of pastor was real.  Like usual Pastor’s wife didn’t say much.  But as we go to leave, she stops us and then launches into almost 20 – 30 minutes of talking, sharing, laughing crying.  She shared on the difference the team has made in her life, and in the lives of the women.  She was excited and full of life.  She was encouraged. She thanked God for sure but she was thanking God for using the women from Alabama to encourage her. A difference made.

We left pastor’s house and made our way around the village, checking in on a couple of projects.  We went and saw the chickens and coop that are the start of a feeding program.  While we were there, kids came pouring out of the neighboring houses and we noticed that they were wearing the dresses provided by the team.  We played for a while and had to be on our way.

Bathroom constructed in 2014

Bathroom constructed in 2014

Updated church building

Updated church building

Chicken coop - start of feeding program

Chicken coop – start of feeding program

girls wearing their dresses provided by team.

girls wearing their dresses provided by team.

As we were pulling out of the village, we reached a crossroad and a motorcyclist drove past. Paula was with me hit me and said “you see his shirt?” It was a shirt given out by the team on an adult.  It said “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the sweetest name I know”.   I wept

Am I making a difference the team may ask?  The answer is yes, more than we will ever know.

This story could be a story about any number of villages, I have had the opportunity to visit, as God is making a difference through the local church all over this country.  I am blessed to be able to facility people encouraging and partnering with our local churches in ministry.  Together, the teams,working under the authority and guidance of the local churches, operating in lock-step with the Holy Spirit are making kingdom differences in Belize.  Praise God that we get to be on the front lines.

Praise and Prayer Request Update: 01-Sep-2014

When Amy and I have our anniversary we have this little song…it goes.

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

HAPPPPYY………Anniversary

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary

Don’t laugh…it’s like a B-side track of Amy’s greatest hits.  For those who don’t know Amy is an AMAZING song writer (some sarcasm)  But we love them.  So on our anniversary every time we see each other even if it is from room to room, we sing the anniversary song to each other.

Today marks two years since we have moved to Belize.  And you have been with us every step of the way!  Praise God for your faithfulness, your love, and your dedication to standing with our family for partnering with us in the Gospel of Jesus!

I realized that THE BIGGEST thing you all do is pray for us.  And thanks to a follow-up email from a friend (Thanks Charity), I realize that I don’t do a great job of keeping you updated on the request.

Therefore – my desire is a weekly update on just the prayer requests we send out.

Without any further ado, Here is a look back from the summer (June – August):

  • Prayer Request 1 – Elijah needed to gain weight.  The doctor was concerned that he was so stinkin’ thin
    • Update: Elijah got some teeth (like 5 came in at one time).  So now he is able to eat and he does that A LOT.  He has gained 3 pounds since June!  Praise God! PRAYER ANSWERED!
  • Prayer Request 2 – Madeline had EXTREME CONSTIPATION.  We were so worried that it was something serious like an appendicitis or something else that we didn’t know what to do.
    • Update: The situation has resolved itself.  We aren’t really sure what caused the constipation but we know it is gone.  We are continuing to make sure she drinks a lot of water to try and cut off that problem before it may start again. PRAYER ANSWERED!
  • Prayer Request 3 – I, Josh, had EXTREME back pain.  I was laid up in bed for at least 2 days.
    • Update: Turns out I am just old.  Back pain went away after a lot of rest.  I must have tweaked something playing basketball with the guys on the basketball court. PRAYER ANSWERED!
  • Prayer Request 4 – Speaking of Basketball.  I have been playing with the guys on the Hattieville village team.  It has been raining at night, quite a lot, so we haven’t been playing much over the last few weeks.  I do know the team travelled up to Orangewalk one weekend and got CRUSHED in a tournament.  That was discouraging but I believe we can come back from that and get better. KEEP PRAYING!
  • Prayer Request 5 – Vacation Bible School at Hattieville Baptist Church.  We were praying for kids to respond to the Gospel and we were praying for 100 kids daily.
    • Update: It was a HUGE success as 48 kids responded to the Gospel and we averaged right at 100 kids per day! PRAYER ANSWERED!
  • Prayer Request 6 – Community in Church
    • Update – Community still challenging to come by.  We often times don’t feel like we are connected in any real way.  Amy and Kimbell’s relationship is still growing so that is awesome.  KEEP PRAYING!
  • Prayer Request 7 Marriage Rest
    • Update – Amy and I had a great few days away as you all saw in the last update.  That was FANTASTIC!  We also feel like we have a good handle on  a routine with the kids and my work schedule so things are moving in the right direction for margin and rest! KEEP PRAYING!
  • Prayer Request 8Financial Support.  We were praying for 3 families, churches, etc to come on board and support us financially with a monthly contribution
    • Update – We had two groups step up with a monthly financial commitment.  Praise God!  We are still in need of one more family or small group or church for monthly financial support.  KEEP PRAYING!
      • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please connect directly with Josh or Amy via email (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com)
  • Prayer Request 9 – Pastoral Conference – Some of our staff and I are throwing around the idea of a ministry leader conference to allow Belizean ministry leaders to share about an aspect of their ministry that is really powerful and successful.
    • Update – Burton, Paula, Pastor Ed and others are still brainstorming this idea.  I wouldn’t anticipate it kicking off until early next year BUT it is something that everyone has identified as a need.  KEEP PRAYING!
  • Prayer Request 10 – Local Church – Our local church just held a revival of sorts, prayer nights every night, two weeks ago, seeking revival in the people and the Lord to reveal direction.  Our local church is spinning our wheels right now, really struggling with how to reach the village.
    • Update – We had A LOT of people at church two weeks ago but this week it was back to the the same attendance.  We are starting small groups on Wednesday nights, a much needed change, and separately teaching / instructing youth and adults.  I, Josh, have volunteered to teach the youth so pray for me and for that.  KEEP PRAYING!
  • Prayer Request 11 – Pastor Ed and his ministry as they traveled to do a Children’s Ministry Training in El Salvador and Guatemala.  We were praying for 100 churches to be there.
    • Update – The events exceeded all expectations.  Between the two events there were well over 300 children’s ministry volunteers and 100 churches represented.  The training reached across denominations and across demographic lines. It was an overwhelming success.  Pastor Ed and his team also received invitations to Honduras and Nicaragua to hold children’s ministry training events there!  PRAYER ANSWERED!

New Prayer Requests for 01-Sep

  • School Starting for the kids – School starts on Monday (08-Sep-2014). Pray that Jojo transitions well to going to school.  Pray that we are able to enjoy this time at home with the kids for one more week before school starts.  And Pray the kids make new friends quickly and are not targeted for being the only white kids in the school.
  • Bob Vila I am not – For anyone who knows me, you know that I, Josh, am no Bob Vila.  In fact, it was a joke in our house that I had the ideas and Amy operated the power tools. Not a big deal.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on ministry ideas for 2015, specifically trying to secure a design and estimates for bunk beds, a simple playground, and a rain water collection system (guttering included).  This takes A LOT of thought for me and is out of my comfort zone.  Pray that the Lord grants me Solomon wisdom and puts people like Eustace in my path to assist along the way.

Thank you! Thank you for supporting us for more than two years.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for praying for us.  We commit to praying for you all.  Let us go to the Lord together and let Him hear our petitions.  Take a look above at the power of a group of people all praying for the same things.  The Lord hears.  The Lord answers.  Praise be to the Lord.