We are told in 1 Peter 5:8-9 “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” This verse has definitely been in play during our first three weeks here in Guatemala. We were prepared for and knew attacks from our enemy would come as attacks come anytime you step out in faith to do what God asks of you.
The attacks started before we left. Early on in our journey, we had a deal in place with a homeowner that he would rent us his house if it had not sold by May 27th. As the time got closer and the house had been on the market for months with very little interest, we thought for sure this was our house. We even called it our home, and planned on moving into it in July. We considered this house perfect as it was fully furnished (saving time and money) and the rent was below our original budget plans. Then on May 26th, one week before we were scheduled to depart to Guatemala we received an email that the owner had accepted an offer on the house and we would not be able to rent it from him. We were disappointed and surprised, but we stayed positive and trusted that God had a different plan for us. We agreed that if we were stepping out in faith to follow God’s calling then surely he wouldn’t leave us homeless.
So, we flew here having a place for school but unsure of our home for the year plus after. His perfect timing met our moment of uncertainty during our first few days while in Guatemala. While staying at Jose’s house the 4 days before language school started, we received news that the owner of the house directly next to his would be available to us – within our budget! This was incredible news and came at the perfect time. We love the home, the neighborhood, and we couldn’t ask for better neighbors! The only downside is this house needs to be fully furnished including appliances like a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer. This was not a part of the original plan, so we’re praying (and asking) for our support team and new financial partners to help us furnish the house. This prayer has started to be answered as we had a friend purchase an entire suitcase full of kitchen utensils for us today! God is answering prayers as we speak them.
We started language school the Monday after we arrived in Guatemala and we just ended our third week today. It is truly one of the most difficult things I have done. As an introvert I am not a big fan of using a lot of words to begin with, and now I find myself speaking not only for hours a day, but in a new language no less. There are days that my jaw muscles hurt from using them to pronounce words in ways that we do not do in the English language. Beyond the difficulty of learning a new language, during these past three weeks in school, the enemy has been attacking us through our car.
The first Friday we were in school I returned home from my morning class and when Becca left the car died twice before she even left the neighborhood. We had not yet secured phone service, and we didn’t want to risk the car dying on the way into Antigua (literally driving down a mountain) so we decided for her to just stay home. The car worked fine all weekend and we even drove back into the city (about an hour drive) to get our new Guatemalan phone lines. That following Monday I drove to school and everything was fine, but when I left school to head home the car died in the middle of an intersection in Antigua. My initial response was to panic, but even in the midst of that, I had this overwhelming sense of peace and belief that everything would be fine. I called Jose and he mentioned the fuel pump is new and to check the fuel pump fuse. Knowing about as much about car engines as I do about performing surgeries from watching Grey’s Anatomy, I find the fuel pump fuse with the help of the users manual. Sure enough the fuse is fried and I replace it with the horn fuse and get the car started, feeling pretty accomplished!
However, as soon as it started to run, the fuse burned out again. During this time nobody honked or stopped to yell at me for blocking traffic, like they would in the States. After what seemed like forever, three Guatemalan gentleman came over to help and from my one week of school I was able to manage a broken conversation with these guys, who were eager to help! One of the guys pulled a cord from his car and, striped out a thin piece of copper from it and proceeded to fix my fuse by wrapping the copper wire around both fuse ends and plugging in back in. It works!!!!! I decided to trust the Guatemalan engineering that was performed on the car so I dropped Becca off at school and then went to purchase the fuses I needed at a service station in Antigua. I felt pretty confident the issue was over until the next Friday…
Bryce and I were on our way to school and as I was driving down the mountain, the car died, mid curve. I was able to coast to a safe spot and pulled over. Jose was out of town with the interns but he was there for me in this time of need and was more then willing to do everything he could to help. He called some back up and it arrived in the form of a truck with a dolly driven by my friend Hector and some of the teenagers from City of Hope – Dennis, Alex, and Axel. We were able to get the car on the dolly to have it towed to the mechanic and we were on our way. We reached the bottom of the mountain, and we began to make a U-turn to head back towards the city. As we were turning, the car shifted off the dolly and went up on the wheel leaving us stuck blocking both lanes coming out of Antigua. After help from four police officers and numerous objects to help jack up the car we were able to get the car of the middle of the road to await a tow truck.
While we were waiting Bryce had the amazing idea to pull out a Mike Wazowski (Monster’s Inc) hacky-sack that we had purchased at the market. We played hacky-sack soccer for hours on the side of the mountain road in Antigua, with the only injury belonging to poor hacky-sack Mike who suffered an arm amputation and severe bruises. We laughed and played and truly enjoyed each other’s company. After 6 hours roadside, the car was finally picked up, and we were blessed to find out the next day that the problem was a small, easy fix. After this adventure I am excited to say that this week we have been problem free with the car and everything appears to be running as usual.
Through all of these events we could have easily defaulted to anger, fear, and frustration. However, we chose to trust God’s plan and remembered that “The lord is faithful, and he will strengthen me and protect me from the evil one” (Thess. 3:3). We know what the enemy meant for evil, God can use for good and we have seen several cases of this in only a few short weeks. In circumstances where anyone’s natural instinct may have been to be angry and defeated, we trusted the Lord and He allowed us to see kindness, generosity and patient servitude from the people of Guatemala. When the enemy wanted me to feel angry, broken, and alone, God used Bryce to pull out a simple hacky-sack to bring me joy in community. We have definitely been under attack the past couple of weeks but we are prepared for this and we have our armor on. We can feel the support of our friends and family who are praying for us daily. Please continue to pray for us! God does not promise that weapons will not be formed, but He promises that they will not prosper!