Peru 2014

July 12th, 2014 No comments

In July we visited Peru with the whole family for a missions/adventure trip.

We visited the Cusco area first, staying at a children’s home called Hogar de Casa del Aguila. We got to meet some of the children and enjoy church there.

Next we traveled to Cusco city, exploring the ancient Inka capital with it’s colonial architecture. Then as a special treat we took a day trip to see Machu Picchu, amazing!
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After spending a day in Lima in between flights, we completed the trip with a visit to Iquitos, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. What an amazing time we had there, making close friends with a local pastor and his family. We sure got some good spanish practice in!

Ministry in Guatemala

February 9th, 2014 2 comments

Mayan Bible Institute

We spent two days at the Mayan Bible institute. It is a brand new Bible school that was started by a missionary family here. The vision of this school is to raise up pastors and evangelists among the Unreached Mayan villages in Guatemala.

While the Hispanic majority of Guatemala is heavily reached with churches on every corner, hundreds of native Mayan villages have either no church, or a nominal Catholic faith that is heavily combined with native religious traditions.

As there is no dynamic native church movement in these villages, this Bible Institute is training native pastors who will return to these villages to reach them for Christ. One if the exciting things about this school is they are building it to be completely self-sustaining. It is carved totally out of the jungle, and largely built with materials from the jungle. When the students come, they get a plot of land and it is their responsibility to grow and tend their own crops to support their family. Also there will be many sustainable projects to provide income for the school like fish ponds and farm animals.

When we visited the students were building “chicken tractors”, a new technique for them where it’s a portable chicken coup that can be dragged around to fertilize a large area. As part of volunteering there our family visited a lime tree orchard that was newly planted by the previous team. Unfortunately there was a problem, as there was a huge ant nest there in the jungle. The leaf cutter ants had been stripping the leaves from the new lime trees and carrying them back to their nest!

We got a special white paint with lime in it and painted the base of each of the hundreds if trees. Apparently this is very effective at keeping crawling insects from climbing the trees, you see it done on almost every tree in the area! It was a perfect job for the kids, and of course Keisha was humming “we’re painting the line trees white” (“painting the roses red” from Alice in Wonderland). We also took a walk in the jungle and ran into some Howler Monkeys. That was a lot of fun, it was a bit scary approaching those guttural growling noises in the dark forest. I thought it sounded like a bear about to attack, Justus thought they had “breathing problems” (asthma).
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The next day we returned and took to painting the outhouses there at the institute. A bit of a fragrant job but it needed to be done. The kids had fun herding turkey’s and chickens in between painting.
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Remar Children’s Home

One evening we visited a children’s home in town. They have about 30 kids, some are orphans but most have been removed from horribly abusive homes. We helped got to know the kids a little by making balloon animals (they kept popping). Then Jesse and Sara taught a little Bible lesson about about Valentines day and God’s love for us. We ended playing a few games with the kids, and of course they made Eden, Justus, and Silas the center of attention.

It was sad to find out that they barely get by and have no regular financial support. Often they have to take the kids out to the market to beg the merchants for extra food. Someone recently donated a giant 500 gallon container of soap/disinfectant that was damaged, so they have been filling up bottles and with some of the boys going all around town trying to sell them for pennies really.
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Needless to say they were really in need, so we went to the grocery store (Guatemala Walmart) and bought a few carts full of food and dry goods with money from the team that visited last. It was great to be able to do that and deliver it all to them.

Church

On Friday night we attended Jesse and Sara’s cell group for a message and fellowship over a yummy traditional Guatemalan dinner. It was a fun experience, especially to witness and learn about their dynamic church. They are members if Casa De Dios, which is a fast growing cell church based out of Guatemala City. There they have over 20,000 members, and in Petén about 2000, which is so much larger than any other churches that usually max out at 300. As a cell church, they are a church planting movement, where the primary focus of the church is on the small groups and discipleship, raising up new leaders and new cells. This allows them to grow exponentially through true person to person evangelism and discipleship, rather than by “inviting” other Christians to Sunday service. In fact they don’t really participate in traditional evangelistic mass outreaches as they find them ineffective in comparison long-term.
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So after studying such church acting movements in the Perspectives course it was exciting to see one in action in Guatemala! However, there is no similar movement in the less-reached Mayan native peoples. Because of this most missionaries here focus their ministry in that area, as the Hispanic Guatemalan church is unlikely to push across that people group boundary.

Highlights

  • Fishing the kids toilet paper out of the toilet (no flushing!)
  • Roosters and loudspeakers waking you up in the morning
  • Me going up to the offering bucket in church during the ladies turn (it was a competition between men and women, I missed that fact!)
  • Stuffing ourselves with yummy tacos everyday!
  • hitting deadly potholes and “tumelo’s” at 50MPH, ouch!
  • Chiggers (don’t wear flip flops in the jungle!)

Guatemala 2014

February 7th, 2014 2 comments

Well, here we are just arriving in Petén, Guatemala after two days of travels. This week we are meeting up with our old friend Jesse Eggman who is a full time missionary with Go To Nations here in San Benito. Our plan this week is just to bless them in any way we can as a family, and tag along with their normal ministry here.

Our travels here have gone fairly smoothly. Yesterday we flew nonstop from Dallas to Belize City, a relatively short 2:45 flight. After arriving and braving the long line through immigration, we caught a cab and checked into our hotel in Belize city. Apparently this is not the greatest city to stay, but the Best Western on the city outskirts was very safe and nice (though a bit pricey). The kids swam in the pool and we gorged on a big breakfast buffet this morning in preparation for the 5 hour nonstop bus ride into Guatemala.

Then we took the taxi over to the bus stop and after stocking up on bottled water and snacks climbed aboard. Funny what they can call a “first-class” bus in the third world! At least it was not a “chicken bus” as they call them. But no AC or bathroom. Generally as long as the bus was moving and the windows were open it was fine, though the seats were permanently reclined. The kids did some homework and played on the iPad pretty quietly for the first 3 hours to the border.

At the border we got out, swatted away all the pestering money changers, and paid $.50 each to use the bathroom. After paying our Belize exit fees (kids were free!) we walked out and there was no one and no bus in sight! Holding in our panic for a few minutes we gradually realized we were not actually across the border yet. We had to go around a corner and across a narrow bridge, then get our passports stamped on the Guatemala side. Not very organized.

So now we are in Guatemala! It feels like we are picking up our Spanish quickly, almost like home after all our Mexico visits in the past. It’s nice to understand the language and culture a little bit, unlike going to a completely foreign place like Thailand or India. Had some yummy tacos on Flores by the lake, and we are settled into a super nice three bedroom guest apartment at the mission base here (luxury)!

Tomorrow we will go to the Bible institute and help out with painting.

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Teaching at a Bible School

June 25th, 2012 3 comments

While here in Thailand we have been given the amazing opportunity to teach at a local Bible school for three day-long sessions. I’ve been teaching a class on missions for 2 hours in the morning with Brandon translating, and Keisha and I have been teaching English to two classes of Chinese students.

So far it’s been a great experience. It’s been a dream of mine to teach Great Commission principles to Christians in the non-western world, and spread a passion for cross-cultural missions around the world. The first week I taught on how the Great Commission is revealed in the Bible from Genesis thru to Revelation. The 24 Thai students learned about God’s passion for all the unique peoples of the world, and His desire for them all to worship him in their distinct cultural ways. I’m excited to teach the next lesson this week about unreached people groups, especially those in Thailand and Burma, and how they can be reached for Christ.

For the English classes, we divided the students into a beginners and advanced class. Keisha taught the beginners and had quite and exciting game going where she would call out vocabulary words or sentences and the student who could act it out soonest would win a piece of candy. For the advanced class we practiced putting together various sentences, and basic conversation. I drew my picture on the board with lots of words describing me and my life. The students had to form questions around those answers, and of course I would ask the question back. It was a whole lot of fun, and we’re both looking forward to teaching again Wednesday. Most of the 50 Chinese students we taught are actually from China, and will be going back there when they graduate to spread the Word of God in that closed nation.

Please pray for the students, and that our final 2 teaching days will be blessed and have a lasting impact in their lives and ministry.

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Hanging out with kids

For the past couple of weekends our family has had the opportunity to help out at a local center for at-risk children. This is a place where kids from neighboring countries come to spend their Saturdays. Most of them are very poor. When the kids come, we sing songs and play lots of really fun (and sweaty) games. The afternoon always wraps up with a Bible teaching and a delicious hot meal.

This week the Edwards family took the lead by facilitating the aforementioned sweaty games. The first was “Horse, Prince, and Baby.” It’s a gem!

Next up was “The knot game.” An oldie, but a goody I learned back in high school.

 Next was a Bible lesson taught by our very own Eden! She thought it was pretty cool to speak using a translator.

We ended with a favorite among children the world over…..balloon animals! Also, other strange and colorful fashion accessories.

 

 

It really has been wonderful to be able to partner with this ministry that is already taking place here in Thailand. We have been well received and a we’re so grateful for a gift of perspective.The kids are developing a sense of the importance of reaching across cultural boundaries to share God’s love. 🙂

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A Busy Weekend

June 18th, 2012 3 comments

It was a busy yet amazing weekend. On Saturday we spent some time at a local ministry. This is a ministry run by two amazing young people for street kids and at risk youth who can have a safe place to go during the day. They get a free meal there, learn about Christ, and have a bit of fun too. The YWAM team here led the time and we sang lots of kids fun/worship songs played fun games, and had lunch with the kids.

One of the neatest things was to see the children take to loving and playing with Eden, Justus, and Silas. They were helping them with the games, coloring pictures with them, and even getting them food and practically trying to spoon-feed them. What an amazing bunch, I’m really looking forward to visiting there many times over the coming weeks.

That evening we drove to the top of a ridge above the city, and saw some amazing views of Burma on one side and Thailand on the other. We were actually right on the border and could put our foot out to touch Burma!

Sunday morning we attended the local Burmese Baptist church with Brandon and Aum, along with many other missionaries who live here in Mae Sai. The had all the fathers go to the front and we were presented with gifts (a toothbrush and toothpaste). The kids were whisked away (somewhat against their will) to kids church, and I gather it was quite a cultural experience for them being all in Burmese and with them the center of attention. I’m continually amazed at how flexible they are and keeping a positive attitude even with all the strange situations they’re thrust into.

Keisha and I enjoyed the service. It was a very traditional Baptist service, with hymns, responsive reading, and a very structured service. While we are blessed to worship with our Burmese Christian family, I think it made us a little sad inside to see how culturally un-Burmese the church was, especially in light of all we’ve been learning in the Perspectives course regarding indigenous churches and contextualization of culture in worship. I think that’s worth another post coming soon. After service the whole church ate together (excellent food!), and we headed home for a nap.

In the afternoon I went with Brandon and the YWAM team to visit a local coffee shop. They were invited to and have been worshiping there for the last few weeks, building up a good relationship with the workers there. Please pray for Nit, a young women there who’s heart is very open and she seems so close to coming to the Lord. The team will be giving here a special Bible tomorrow morning before they leave, another opportunity to share with her. Also visiting there was a Burmese man named Simon who has been talking with the team much over the last few weeks. He has learned so much about the Gospel, and knows excellent English. He is also very close to trusting Christ, 80-90% according to him! He desires to do good and be a good person, he even has been doing various charity work and wants to start an NGO, but he continually struggles with Alcoholism. Pray that he would finally concede that he cannot be good on his own, but must give himself over to Christ.

Wow, what a weekend! Can’t wait to see what God does this second week in Thailand.

Made it here and getting going!

We arrived safely in Mae Sai the day before yesterday. Everyone is well, and boy are we glad to have those 2o hours of flying behind us for a while!

All of us have experienced a bit of jet-lag, but it is a small price to pay for the adventure that lies ahead of us!

Yesterday we took the kids to Wat Doi Wao, a local Buddhist temple. It is big and ornate and chock full of regional statues of Buddha (he looks different in different parts of the world,) as well as a smattering of Hindu idols. A visit to this particular temple is an excellent way to get a good dose of the creeps, as it has a floor dedicated to several famous monks. As we climbed the stairs, we discovered a circle of monks sitting cross-legged on platforms. They looked far too life-like! The details were amazing, even down to body freckles and neck rolls! I’m pretty sure they were made of wax and all eight of them were just as I left them when I passed back through 15 minutes later. I suppose the jury is still out on this one. What do you think?

Some may find it strange that we chose to take our children to a Buddhist temple to see what it was all about. We have taught them that Jesus is the only way to salvation, but it is important to us that they see for themselves what beliefs and values color the worldviews of people around the world.  Acknowledging these things does not, of course, change God’s ultimate authority over the earth. It does, however, give us a keener insight into how we can pray for those who do not yet know Him.

All three of the kids have been fascinated with monks. They are so mysterious and to themselves. This morning a dozen or so walked past the house and the kids ran to the window to watch their bright orange robes swish by. Our morning devotion was focused on how God created everything and reveals himself through all of it. What a perfect opportunity to talk about God creating all those monks too! I asked the kids if God loves the monks. “Nope!” was Justus’ resounding response. But Eden– in all of her big-sisterly wisdom–lovingly corrected him. “Justus, God loves them, He just doesn’t like what they do.” My heart is blessed as I watch them develop their understanding of God and His ways. God has said that His word will not return void, and I know that as we continue to reiterate it to their little hearts and minds, they will comprehend more and more who they are in Christ.

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The Edwards Are Going To Thailand!

June 12th, 2012 4 comments

Hello all! This morning the entire Edwards family is getting on a plane to fly half way around the world to Thailand. We’ve been packing like crazy, the kids are incredibly excited, and they’ve been practicing their “Sawa-tee-ka”.

We’ll be spending 1 month in the northern-most tip of Thailand, in a small town called Mae Sai on the border with Burma. We are staying with my Cousin Brandon and his wife Aum in their home there, ministering as a family in what is called “the Golden Triangle”. We’ll share more about the area and amazing people there in a later update.

We’ll share more about our vision and plans for our time in Thailand very soon, but for now here are some of the things we have planned:

  1. Spending lots of time with the kids at an orphanage and ministry to street kids
  2. Teaching three weekly two-hour classes on missions to 24 Thai students at a Bible school
  3. Teaching English to 50 Chinese students at the same Bible school
  4. Visiting and ministering to some of the unreached hill tribes in the area
  5. Keisha will help Aum with ministering to some of the prostitutes in Mae Sai
  6. Being a blessing in any way we can to our amazing cousins in Thailand who are YWAM missionaries there

Most importantly, we are going with a teachable heart and open mind to be used as a family in whatever way’s God is working. This is our first missions trip as a family; we are very excited to expose our kids to other cultures and life as a missionary. We’ve been teaching them all about missions and God’s heart for the peoples of the world. Now it’s time to give them practical experience in loving your neighbor, and being flexible with a joyful heart even in the face of strange and trying circumstances.

We’ll be back on very soon with more information and stories of our travels, so check back, and subscribe by email above for our latest updates!

Please would you take a moment to pray for our family as well, and add us to your prayer list?

  • Pray for safe travels on our 20+ hours of flights, taxis, and Song-tao rides. It’s the kids first international plane flight!
  • Pray for God to prepare the way for us and open up doors and opportunities for ministry we’ve never imagined!
  • Pray for our health and safety, and for the children to be flexible and joyful in all our adventures (especially with the food, fried scorpions anyone?)
  • For my missions classes, that the Holy Spirit would guide me in exactly what to prepare and share that would be best suited to the students, and that they would receive it well.

Talk to you soon!

Teaching at Grace Temple

September 19th, 2010 1 comment

This summer we were blessed with the opportunity to teach a series at Grace Temple Missionary Baptist church. We drove out to California with the kids, taking our time both ways visiting with friends. In Lompoc on Aug. 3rd and 5th I taught a class on world missions. It was a really great opportunity to share these unknown truths to members of Grace Temple. They were really receptive and we really enjoyed sharing our passions with them.

This was especially exciting for me because this little church is here I grew up and first established my faith in the Lord! What a special gift to return with an opportunity to share some of what I’ve come to learn since I moved away so many years ago. There is always something that remains dear about the church where you learned to pray, were baptized and colored your first little paper book of Sunday school lessons!

The church was really excited about our upcoming trip to India and Thailand. And they are keeping us in prayer and helping out financially a bit! What a blessing. Thanks Grace Temple!

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Finally Time…

September 5th, 2010 1 comment

Hey all, more to come soon! But for starters it is time we started our own personal family/ministry blog. Keep an eye out for updates, and subscribe!

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