Phil and I met with Dr. JoAnne Lyon at the World Hope International Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia in September 2004. We were looking to serve for a three-week period (hopefully in Russia). JoAnne asked us if we would go to Africa to serve for three weeks. We said, "Let us pray about it and let you know." She left the room and we began to talk about Africa. We wanted to go back to Russia where we had served on a mission trip in 1994. While we were discussing Africa, Dr. Lyon came back in the room and said she had received a call from Guatemala and asked if we would consider going there instead. Guatemala? Not Russia?
We were blown away. No. We do not want to to go Guatemala. No way. No how. But JoAnn asked us to pray and consider the request. So we spent about an hour alone in the small conference room talking and praying. We decided - because we respected JoAnne so highly - to say “yes”. We would go for three weeks. I felt like a child who agrees to do something but in their heart they are saying “no”.
We went in November 2004 for three weeks. Our youngest son Alex joined us for the third week. All three of us fell in love with the people of Guatemala as we spent hours each day - shoulder to shoulder - with our new friends. We loved them and loved being with them - in spite of the language barrier.
Two years later we met Pastor Luis Martinez on a street in San Pedro in Guatemala - it was evident how much he loved the Lord. We saw up close how passionate he was about sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. We started serving with IMPACTO in 2006 and took a team every year - over 150 different people went with us between 2006-2016 - many of them multiple times. We've seen team members called into full time Christian service/missions while serving there. We've witnessed baptisms of people who became believers in Guatemala. Becca Gruwell, one of our team members, now serves full-time with IMPACTO. We no longer lead our local church’s teams but we are involved with Friends of IMPACTO. We support and believe in everything IMPACTO is doing. We are in total agreement with what our son Matt said, “They are the real deal." All five of our children have served with us as well as three daughters-in-law, our son-in-law, a niece and a nephew and several other relatives.
Some of our favorite memories are at breakfast when Pastor Luis or Tony would share God’s Word with the teams. The Holy Spirit spoke to us through them and continues to speak through them. We are 100% behind what IMPACTO is involved with - from Happy Tummies to Abuelitos to Pastor’s Training to Stitches of Blessing to Home Visits to Zona Cero (Teen Ministry) to Healing Hands - God is at work. Lives are being changed.
If you want to see Him in action - go - serve - give. You will not regret it. We are so glad we said “yes” many years ago. We will continue to serve alongside and financially support IMPACTO as long as the Lord allows.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:36-38