Lydia Sawler was one of our interns in IGNITE Class 6. She served her 6 months in Guatemala, and when her year of the IGNITE program ended, she returned to Guatemala and continued to serve with us. We have a unique opportunity to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) in multiple public schools in Guatemala. Lydia is one of a few “2.0” staff/interns who teaches ESL classes using the Bible to children of all ages. We have multiple “2.0” staff/interns who are currently serving on the foreign mission field with us across the globe. Lydia wrote this encouragement to us mid-2015, and will be returning to serve with us for 2016 this January.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20
This verse is one that the Lord gave me, as I finished my six months of serving in Guatemala last year, as a part of the IGNITE Mission Training School. The time that I had served there had so far exceeded any of the hopes or expectation I could have ever had. This verse was ringing in my head as I praised the Lord for the incredible works He had done in Guatemala and for the works He had done in my heart as well.
As I prepared to return to Guatemala in early 2015 to volunteer with Potter’s Field and continue to serve the work there, I don’t think I ever thought that this year could have possibly been better than the last. My time in Guatemala during IGNITE was indescribable, and although I was sure that the coming year would be a blessing as well I had no idea how much Jesus had in store. This verse has continued to ring in my head throughout this year – the only difference is that it rings louder than ever before.
During IGNITE, one of my big roles in Guatemala was to help teach English in the public schools. As I came back this year I continued to teach, this time in three new schools. God worked in a mighty way in the schools and He is continuing in that work. My teammate, Quincey and I have a strong desire to share the Bible, even more than we did last year. As we have begun to learn more Spanish, we have felt challenged to teach more in-depth Bible lessons as a part of our English classes. Every English lesson that we teach has a Bible story as a part of it. Doing this has stretched us, but what better way to learn than to be stretched? That’s when God has to truly step in to fill the gap. The blessings have once again exceeded what I could have ever expected. And the Lord has continued to surprise me with who He calls me to.
Even though we teach in various classes from Preschool through Sixth grade, I have felt particularly called to pour into my fifth and sixth graders. Life in Guatemala is different for them. They’re on the cusp of being adults and making decisions that will last for their lifetime. But what choices will they make? Adulthood starts at a younger age here. Many of these kids have been working since they could walk. I teach four year olds who I later see shining shoes to make 50 cents. Many of the little girls I teach walk around the streets selling gum and cigarettes. They wake up, go to school, walk to work, go home when it’s dark, and then repeat. Many of them aren’t even able to go to school regularly because of this. Now imagine the ones in sixth grade. They are surrounded by the influence of turning to drugs and alcohol. Soon, that will be how they choose to handle their stresses. These girls have been raising their siblings since they were young, and within the next few years, many of them will have their own babies. So what do we do? How do we help?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that He is the only way. I am here to teach English, but more importantly to show these children who Jesus is. I pray that through my actions and words, they can see Him. Recently, I felt the Lord telling me to share my IGNITE testimony and share what He did in my life last year. The room was silent as they listened. As I began, I asked them what they thought my job was. They couldn’t believe that I chose to leave my family to come be a missionary to people I didn’t even know. I explained to them about my frustration as I was put in a place that I originally didn’t want to be. I told them the truth, and the truth is that it was hard. But I also told them that all of this was a small price to pay and how God knew so much better than I did. He held me in the palm of His hand for every moment and never put me down.
I asked them what they thought I would have missed out on if I hadn’t listened to the Lord. The room shined with 38 smiles as they all said “You wouldn’t have met us!” I still have to hold back tears as I picture this moment and those faces. How blessed am I?
So much is going on in their lives that I don’t even get to see. Lots of these kids are lacking love in their homes. Nothing can compare to the love He gives. They are frustrated by the world around them. No one can give more comfort than the arms of Jesus. These are the truths I want them to know. Every week, as I teach God’s Word to them, they are told these truths. The teachers in the room are even asking me questions. Every week I am challenged to dive further in and I am continually blessed.
Please pray for me and the work going on in these schools. It is not something to be taken lightly. I am seeing more and more of what an example I am to them and that is a big deal. I am a representation of something far bigger than myself. I pray that Christ would be manifested in me and that His love would pour out of me and onto them. I am privileged and honored to be where I am. That verse is not only ringing in my head, it rings true in my life. Thank you Jesus.
‘TIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS