“Hey Paul, you wanna do a wedding?” I laughed at first thinking that it had to be a joke. However, my brother in ministry wasn't joking. He had agreed to doing a wedding for a young couple and then later realized that he wouldn't be able to do it. After asking probably every pastor and youth pastor in town (who were all busy or on vacation or wherever and couldn't do it), he finally called me. So I'm pretty sure I was the absolute last resort. Admittedly, I didn't really want to do it. It may have been the same friend who asked me to do this wedding who half-jokingly told me once, “Funerals are way easier for the minister than weddings. Why? Because at funerals the mothers are usually already gone.” It also seemed a little strange to do a wedding after being married for only 3 months. It's kinda like, “Hey, let me give you a message with all my 3 months worth of wisdom on marriage.” I did agree to do it and figured if the couple was willing to let me do it, then I would do it. Although one of the mothers did ask me “Are you going to be okay?” during the rehearsal, everything turned out pretty well. At least...the couple got married, signed the license, and I didn't get any rotten fruit thrown at me. So I consider that as going pretty well. I was able to know a couple in a special way and I'm super thankful that they were willing to give me that experience.
This last week, my wife and I just got back from a week-long mission trip to Guatemala. It came about because the pastor of her previous church had a trip and needed someone to play music for the group going down there. He called Sarah and asked if I would be willing to play guitar for them. We agreed and left August 3rd. This was a great short term trip. The group's focus was doing three different revival meetings throughout the week at different churches in the area. These went well and we made some good friends even in the short time we were there. The first meeting was in a fairly modern church. They had announced the meeting a couple weeks earlier, and the missionary we were working with said that they had about half of the people there. All the church members agreed to bring someone with them who didn't know Christ...AND THEY DID! It was a great encouragement to me to hear that the pastor of the church would go with whoever invited the newcomer and go to their home and that many people make their decision for Christ there. This seems like a great way to do it as opposed to our usual “raise your hand, pray the prayer, sign the card, you're in” method which may produce more false converts than we would like to admit. Either way, it was just nice to know there was a work being left behind us.
The second meeting was held way up in the mountains at a coffee plantation. About two-thirds of the way through, the rain started pouring and forced us to end early. The next morning we were given a tour of the plantation and the missionary showed us how coffee was grown and harvested and sorted, which was really cool to see. On our way back to Huehuetenango (where the main base was) there was a protest which was blocking the road. The missionary said he knew another way around, so all ten of us piled in the back of his pickup and began what would end up being a four-hour ride on 4x4 roads. This was great. We traveled way up into the mountains and saw some spectacular views.
The next day we went out to the city square and did some open-air evangelism. We explained the gospel using bracelets with different colored beads. Each bead represented a different part of the gospel. The pastor asked me before hand if I would be willing to read the sheet we had in Spanish that explained the colored beads to the people. So yeah, that was a growing experience--standing on a bench in Guatemala trying to explain the gospel with my limited Spanish. At one point, things were pretty disorganized to say the least and while I could read the sheet, I couldn't explain to everyone what we needed them to do to get organized (somewhat). Then, a young boy of about 15, comes up and says, “I speak English and I can help you. What do you want me to tell them?” After we got everything together, we complimented him on his English and asked where he was from, to which he replied, “Arkansas.” Haha, hilarious. Anyway, it was a good time.
The last meeting went well that night. As I said before, we made some very special friends there and were blessed to be there. Sarah says that, for whatever reason, she has understood and had much more of God's peace in her life after coming back from the trip, which is a wonderful answer to prayer.
From conducting a wedding to playing guitar in Guatemala, I'm just continually amazed at the different opportunities that God puts in my life that help me stretch and grow and trust Him more. He is a great and marvelous God.
Lastly, since we've been back, Sarah and I have started school....in a way. Liberty University has a “Home Bible Institute.” Some of our good friends and co-workers in the ministry are doing it and recommended it to us. It's a little weird for me to be back in a “school” and have “exams” but the material has been great so far and I'm excited to continue in it.
“Even those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of his soul is costly,” Psalm 49:6-8a
--Opportunities to share Christ in Gunnison
--Wisdom about where God would have us long term
On the second one, I feel like I should elaborate a little more. We know that God has called us into ministry, but it's not clear yet where we should be long term. I don't know if we should take a “leap of faith” or “wait on the Lord.” So yeah, wisdom would be great.
Thanks so much for all your prayers and encouragement.