Monday, February 21, 2011

Victories & Temptations

DSC07389As our fourth week in Guatemala comes to an end I find myself overwhelmed by the blessing and successes God has given us. In the last several weeks we have learned: 1) How to negotiate the chicken buses. 2) How to shop in both San Antonio and Antigua. 3) Where and how to pay all our bills. 4) Enough Spanish to carry on some very basic conversations with our neighbors and shop owners. 5) How to drive to and in Guatemala City. This may not sound like much to you, but each item represents a significant accomplishment from our point of view.

IMG00204-20110220-1934But our greatest accomplishment thus far has been the friendships we have formed with our neighbors. Last night we had over 20 people from four families in our home for a cookout. A couple of them spoke a little English, we speak a little Spanish, and we had a wonderful evening together that was filled with laughter! We even are learning how to tease one another bilingually! The adults talked, the children and teens played, and new friendships were formed.

IMG00198-20110220-1737Many of these relationships began through our children and teens who continue to play soccer and other games with the children in the street in front of our home. Each day at around 3:00 pm the bell at our door rings and there are children outside wanting our kids to come out. The numbers vary, but most days there seems to be about 16 to 20 of the neighborhood niños involved with many of their parents coming out to watch. God is doing something special here, and we are trying to stay out of His way and allow Him to do it.

IMG00199-20110220-1738In the midst of all of this we are facing some temptations. There is a community of missionaries in the Antigua area who have great hearts and do some good work. However, their model for ministry is very different than ours. They are here as “missionaries”and the majority of them live in gated communities with other Americans. They leave those communities on a regular basis to go out and do ministry, but the majority of their time is spent with other missionaries and expatriates.

They have developed an extensive support network, including a homeschool coop, recreational activities, Bible studies, and more. All of these take place within the community of English-speaking missionaries. And now we are being invited to join.

One very sincere lady at church invited our children to become a part of a drama team that performs skits for street evangelism and in public schools. In her words, “It’s great! It gives our kids a chance to meet Guatemalans and practice their Spanish!”

DSC07417Let me make it clear, I am not seeking to be critical of these people or their ministries. They are wonderful folks who love the Lord and are following God’s call. I respect them and appreciate what they do. I also understand their desire for a strong support network as it can be difficult living in a foreign culture. In fact, that seems very appealing to us right now. It would be nice to spend time with other people who speak our language and of whose culture we are a part. It would be very safe and comfortable, and that is very appealing. However, God is calling us to a different style of ministry, and the worst thing we could do is move our family toward the things that are safe and comfortable.

DSC07425At the heart of it all is this…I don’t want to be a missionary, at least not the modern understanding of one. I want to simply be a person who loves Jesus and loves people. I don’t want to be an American living an American lifestyle in Guatemala, I want to (as much as possible) become a part of Guatemalan life and culture. I don’t want to go out somewhere when I do ministry, I want to do it everyday in my own home, neighborhood and town as a part of life. I want to be known, not as a missionary with an agenda and program, but as a good friend that is loyal, respectful, and trustworthy. And I want to lead my friends to Jesus through those relationships that express the unconditional love of God.

IMG00199-20110220-1738Meanwhile, we don’t need to join a drama team to meet Guatemalans and practice Spanish. They live next door and across the street. They knock on our door every day at 3:00 pm. I helped one such family build a shelter yesterday afternoon and we had that same family over for dinner. We buy our groceries, housewares, and hardware from them. They are our friends, and everyday we deepen those friendships while making new ones.

So, we are choosing to say “No” to the temptation of spending more time with other Americans and “Yes” to spending time with our neighbors. Please pray for us as we do!

The Fulps

Here are a few more pics:


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life & Ministry In Guatemala

As we continue to settle in to our new home and country, there is still much to be done. We are still awaiting the delivery of our van which is supposed to be her on February 20th (mas o menus), we are in the midst of language school, we still don’t know our way around all the details of shopping and cooking, and we haven’t even begun the process of becoming residents. Yet we have begun ministry.

IMG00179-20110213-1505As often as possible our family is traveling to Antigua to spend time in Hermano Pedro. This Sunday we spent part of the afternoon there where I was able to hang out in the malnutrition ward for a little while. There I met Delma and Gloria, two infants with cleft lip who were brought in due to their IMG00180-20110213-1509low weight. These two precious little ones have suffered so much, yet they were so quick to give a beaming smile as I held them. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew were downstairs in the Anibal and Baylin wards taking care of some of the older kids.

IMG00182-20110213-1523All of our children are naturals with the kids at HP. They are comfortable, fun, loving, and not afraid to get dirty. As a result, laughter is heard throughout the wards whenever our family is there. I cannot express the joy I feel when our family is ministering together there!

DSCF6443Meanwhile, back at our house, the kids have started some regular soccer games in the street in front of our house that have attracted some of the local children. In the last three days they have hosted two games that attracted 12 –14 kids, and everyone had a blast. Each time they end a game the big question is when there will be another one. Even some of the local adults have come out to watch the game, cheer, and take pictures. This is helping us make friends in our town as well as assisting our children with their Spanish.

DSCF0310Tomorrow Brittney and Krishauna begin teaching English as Kairos Christian School in Ciudad Viejah. They will leave our home at 6:15 am to take the chicken bus over and start the school day at 7:15. Kairos is a wonderful school for low-income children that leads them to Jesus while providing a quality education. Both Brittney and Krishauna are excited about the opportunity to use their teaching skills and education while honing their own Spanish.

So, as you can see, we are busy with ministry. We appreciate your prayers for us as we continue to assimilate, adjust, and sort through the continuing ramifications of our move.

The Fulps

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lessons Learned

Over the almost two weeks we have lived in Guatemala, we have learned some lessons. At first glance these lessons may seem negative, but keep reading. God has shown us so much already.

  • You can’t get there from here!

IMG00152-20110204-1623Okay, you can, but there are no good roads. Last week Wanda and I drove to Guatemala City for the first time. We had some much needed shopping to do, and our landlord graciously offered to let us borrow his truck. In Troy, OH, where we lived for the last 11 years, we had a Wal-Mart, Lowes, Staples, and numerous retails stores within 1.5 miles of our home. Here the nearest large store is 75 minutes away in Guatemala City. This journey takes us through several towns, some with cobblestone streets, all with narrow roads that are often bottlenecked with vehicles parked in the street. This, combined with both human and animal foot traffic, causes the trip to be a slow one.

Once you get to the city you are confronted by divided roads and one-way streets. You can find yourself right across the road from your destination but still face a three mile trip through congested traffic.

Lesson Learned #1: We don’t really need as much as we think we do. Since it is such an ordeal to shop retail we keep a shopping list posted. Once we are settled we plan to only go into the city once a month. As a result, much of what seemed so important when the trip to Wal-Mart was only three minutes doesn’t seem worth it when the journey is over an hour. This is freeing us from impulse buying and the accumulation of junk that fills the home and drains the budget.

  • Hurry up and wait!

Long linesLife in Guatemala consists of a series of long lines. At the Bodegoña in Antigua you can spend an hour weaving through crowds and narrow aisles shopping for groceries only to face lines eight to ten people deep at the cash registers. A five minute trip to the bank can quickly become a forty-five minute ordeal as you are confronted by a line of 20 people. Even small towns have traffic jams that can leave you sitting in your car for long periods. A part of living in this culture is learning to wait.

Lesson Learned #2: Slow down! In the fast food, microwave, customer service oriented culture of America we can find ourselves becoming impatient with a three minute wait. We can honestly begin to think that the world should revolve around us because we have a schedule that is too full and we are so important. That mindset creates an environment of everything from rudeness to road rage. I have been repeatedly struck by how kind and deferring the Guatemalan people are. You very seldom hear angry car horns or angry words. They are quick to yield their place in line. Most are quick with a smile and kind word and are very slow to complain. They are content to wait patiently in line with their own thoughts or a pleasant conversation. I have so much that I want to learn from them, but at the top of that list is how to slow down.

  • Walk, walk, and walk some more!

DSCF6180Because of the above mentioned road conditions, it is much easier to walk than drive if your journey is less than a mile or two. Why bother pulling your vehicle through the courtyard gate, negotiating narrow, crowded streets, and then doing it all in reverse when you could walk it easier? This is a huge change of pace from the US where I have been guilty of getting in my car to drive to another store in the same strip mall!

Lesson Learned #3: Enjoy the journey and get some exercise! In the last two weeks I have met more people than I had in the last six months because I walked past them instead of driving past. I have noticed more details about my neighborhood and enjoyed more of the outdoors than I did in my last five years in Troy. And I have gotten more exercise and seen my clothing already begin to fit more loosely. I am rediscovering the joy of walking instead of driving.

  • Learn to throw a party!

DSCF1610Every day is a party in Guatemala. Just ask some of our team members who have been on one of our trips. In the middle of the day you will hear a loud burst of firecrackers or a boomer (a huge firecracker that rattles your chest) because someone is celebrating a birthday. It seems like every other weekend is another festival that is celebrated with a parade of some sort. And every Sunday morning we are awoken at 5:00 am by music from a local church that is celebrating Jesus. (I think it is also intended as an outreach of some sort as they play the music through external loudspeakers. I would not recommend this kind of outreach in the states!) It seems there is always some reason to celebrate and throw a party.

Lesson Learned #4: Don’t forget to have fun! In the midst of much need, suffering and serious work, there is still so much to celebrate. I can become so focused on work and “ministry” that I forget that one of my greatest ministries is to reflect the joy of the Lord to those around me. So, I am trying to remember to enjoy life and throw regular parties!

So, those are a few of the lessons I am learning here in Guatemala. Now here are some recent pictures of life and ministry. Have a great day!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Video Blog

DSCF9687My daughter, Brittney, has begun a video blog to keep friends up-to-date on life and ministry here in Guatemala. You can visit her blog at
Her blogs will likely be far more entertaining than mine, so make sure to check it out and sign up to follow it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Home at Last

DSCF6222After a year-and-a-half of planning, selling, and packing we are finally home in Guatemala! On January 25th after a long night in Ronald Reagan Airport and a long day of traveling we arrived at our house in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Our family, along with our dear friends Casey and Carmen Stickley, unpacked and slept soundly that night.

DSCF6180Since our arrival our days have been filled. Our new hometown is a wonderful place, but it can be challenging to figure out. We are outside the typical tourist areas, so it is hard to find anyone who speaks English.

DSCF6181Shopping is an adventure as there is not a Wal-Mart in sight. Instead, our shopping is done in small storefront businesses. We go to one shop for meat, another for vegetables, another for housewares, still another for hardware… We have made fools of ourselves repeatedly with our slaughtering of the Spanish language, but the people are friendly and helpful in spite of our blundering.

Another adventure has been our attempts to purchase a van. We originally intended to purchase a used vehicle, but that has proven to be futile. Vans are in high demand here, and used ones demand a high price. As a result, purchasing one that is 4 years old with over 100,000 miles would only save us about $4,000-6,000. So, after much prayer and counsel from wise believers, we decided to buy new. Unfortunately, finding the right van has proven difficult. We have decided that air conditioning is important as temperatures can top 100 degrees occasionally, but the dealerships are out of vans that are equipped with air. As a result, we are waiting until late February when the next shipment should arrive. In the meantime, we are living without transportation.

DSCF6173God is also teaching us patience as we have learned that life in Guatemala consists of lots of lines. (Sometimes you have to stand in line to get a piece of paper that will allow you to stand in another line!) A simple trip to the bank often involves a line of 20 people and 45 minutes. This is very different from the US where people become impatient if there are more than two people in line in front of them.

In the midst of all this, we have been blessed by some wonderful people who have helped us in very selfless ways. Esdras, our driver, has spent two full days with us helping us shop for vans, get our NIT numbers, and doing banking. In addition, he volunteered his vehicle and time to take our family into Antigua to celebrate Joshua’s birthday on Monday. Mayra, who runs the travel service that provides our van, has waved some of our fees to assist us while we wait for a vehicle. Girardo, a local believer, has arranged other transportation for us at a very low cost on occasion. And our landlord, Salomon, has taken his own time to help us learn our way around and get us connected to the internet. God has helped us through these people and more.

DSCF9688We have also found the time to get into Hermano Pedro to spend time with our kids there. It is so wonderful to have our family there together! Our children are wonderful with the residents and my heart was filled with joy as I watched them holding, playing with, and loving our HP kids. God is truly good to us…better than we could ever deserve.

We begin our language studies on Monday. Please pray that we will comprehend and retain what we study. Also pray that God will help us as we begin the difficult (and often expensive task) of becoming residents.

Thanks for your prayers and support! More to come on a regular basis!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

A few more photos: