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Guatemala Missions Trip

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I recently had the privilege of going on my second missions trip. I love missions trips! They are a crazy mix of excitement, exhaustion, and encouragement. ūüôā I love seeing God take the impossible and miraculously work through human vessels to complete His plan.¬†It’s thrilling!

During my trip to Guatemala, it was exciting to see God work in so many different ways. He enabled us to distribute over 48,000 copies of Romans to the people of Guatemala. As a result, 175 visitors attended the special services at Iglesia Bautista Fundamento Biblico. Throughout the three services, we saw 51 people accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praise the Lord! We ministered in two different schools and reached hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults with the Gospel. Over 25 people were saved in the schools. A young man from one of the schools came out to the services and accepted Christ.

We walked for miles every day. Sometimes up steep streets, sometimes through crowded marketplaces, and sometimes through bad neighborhoods. Our feet blistered, we got sunburned, and our shoulders ached with the weight of our backpacks. It was exhausting work. We had some early mornings and some late nights. But the discomfort and exhaustion was worth every minute as we saw 10 individuals accept Christ on the streets of Guatemala City.

I came home encouraged and humbled. I was encouraged to see the nationals passionate about sharing the Gospel with the lost. I loved watching the young people of Iglesia Bautisa Fundamento Biblico open a Bible and declare the Gospel during the invitations. It was a blessing to work with other Americans to spread the Good News. Souls were reached for eternity because 18 people chose to follow God out of their comfort zone.¬†God delights in using His children to accomplish His plan. I am humbled to think that God wanted to use¬†an English-speaking girl to spread His Word in a Spanish-speaking country. As I used my few phrases of Spanish to hand out the Gospel and invite lost souls to church, God used me. There is nothing special about me; it’s only Jesus.

If you ever get a chance to go on a missions trip, do it. It will be an experience you will never forget. After I got home¬†I shared with my cousin in a text, “I came home with a renewed love for lost souls, a deeper hunger for God’s Word, and a desire to learn more Spanish so that I can communicate better.” Missions trips will change you. They will change your perspective on life and eternity. They will change the way you interact with people on the street. They will change¬†your walk with God.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8

School Outreaches

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So many of the kids wanted selfies.

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Street Outreach

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We walked through so many markets like this one. At the busier ones, you could easily hand out several hundred Scriptures.

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Church Services

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Fellowshipping in the courtyard after church.

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First-time visitors received a free Bible.

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Sightseeing in Antigua

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Yes, that is an active volcano.

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The streets are all cobblestone.

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Fellowship and New Friends (Most of these pictures are from other team members.)
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Frisbee in the church courtyard.

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Pastor Garcia and his wife, Stephanie

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Mrs. Philbrick and I were partners for the week. We had a great time together. ūüôā

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Brittney and Abbey

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This picture of our entire team was taken at 4 a.m. on the morning we came home. Left to right: Mark and Tammy Philbrick, Jon and Kristi Nothstein, David Lord, Nathaniel Johnson, Chris King, Brittney Johnson, Hunter Philbrick, Luke Philbrick, Dema Johnson, Silas Philbrick, Allen Johnson, Abbie Sikma, Abbey Grimes, and Alan Harris.

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Saying “goodbye” at the airport.

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January Update | Personal

You may have wondered where I’ve been for the past month and a half. I took an unexpected but completely necessary sabbatical from blogging. It has been an exciting, sweet, busy, sad, and special time for me. I am definitely looking forward to posting more often now and have several ideas simmering.

Here are a few photos from the last month or so.

I had a delightful Thanksgiving break and was able to spend it with one of my best friends. Hannah and I talked for hours and hours and hours. [grin]

December started off with a most exciting event. I had the privilege of attending my first birth as a doula. Little Rachel was born at 2:47 a.m. on December 1st. IMG_8895 For our family picture this year, we went with a jewel-tone theme. The younger kiddos really look tall in this picture!

My grandfather, Pop Criswell, went Home to be with the Lord after 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital. It was an incredibly sad but sweet time. Our Christmas Day was a special time as we stood around his bed and sang his favorite hymns and Christmas carols. God called him Home January 1, 2015. ¬†His funeral was a beautiful, victorious, God-honoring service. Over 70 preachers and preacher boys sang “Faithful Men” for his funeral. Please pray for my grandmother as she adjusts to life without her husband of 62 years. She has been an incredible example through this entire time. She is a beautiful living illustration of the Proverbs 31 wife.

Northwoods Vacation | Personal

I got back from a delightful, restful, and fun family vacation last Wednesday.¬†A sweet older lady at our church owns a cottage up in Conover, WI and has graciously¬†allowed our family to vacation there for the past three years. It’s definitely been one of our top vacation spots.¬†We had no internet and little cell service and I thoroughly enjoyed being disconnected for several days.

The cottage is on a lake and we took full advantage of a number of water sports. Tubing, skiing, kneeboarding, swimming, boating, etc. were all enjoyed by various members of our crew. [smile] ¬†I got my WI boating license before we left and loved getting to drive the boat a few times. Hopefully, you won’t mind the picture overload!

IMG_0827 First campfire of the week! The evenings really cooled off and the fire felt great.

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Cuddling around the fire with Nathan.

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Joseph in a contemplative mood.

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Mom and Dad canoeing.

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Eagles were nesting near the cottage. We saw one catch a fish.

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Chloe and Andrew enjoying some time together.

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Fixing meals is fun in the cottage’s tiny kitchen. [grin] We could crowd quite a few people in there.

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Two of my pretty sisters–Anna and Chloe.

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The cottage is so pretty at night.

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Some of the guys enjoyed fishing. Left to right: Andrew, Jonathan, Zach (friend of our family), Benjamin

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One of my highlights from the trip was¬†ministering through music at Twin Lakes Bible Church. Jonathan, Benjamin, and Zach sang a men’s trio while Andrew and I accompanied them on piano and violin. Video coming.

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Cooking breakfast over an open fire. It was the first time I had cooked a meal over the fire. I enjoyed doing but am certainly grateful for modern conveniences.

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 Chloe getting ready to go tubing!

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Tuesday found us visiting Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan.

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My sweet parents

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We saw a family of ducks.

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_MG_2818Zach snapped a picture of our family. Left to right: Andrew, Abbie, Jonathan, Benjamin, Anna, Bethany, Chloe, Joseph, Mom, Nathan, Dad
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Nathan at the falls.

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Our wonderful hostess, Mrs. Corbin, showed us some old slides of the cottage.

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Cooking supper over the fire. Hotdogs, baked beans, and….

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Fresh fish! Courtesy of the fellas.

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We ate outside for almost every meal. Don’t you love the random chairs?

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Joseph and Nathan

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Another of my highlights was boating up to Phelps. Here, Andrew, Anna, Bethany, and Chloe pose for a quick picture.

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We stopped in at Sweets, Treats & More for some delicious ice cream.

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All the girls enjoying their ice cream.

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We enjoyed some [ahem] singing on the way back. Daniel (Mrs. Corbin’s grandson and our faithful boater), Jonathan, Benjamin, Zach, and I sang various songs as we boated along. (Note: Benjamin’s face is not shown here but those two extra hands in the picture are his!) [smile]

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The final day, Mrs. Corbin generously treated the entire group to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Left to right: Mrs. Corbin, Dad, and Mom.

We really had a wonderful time enjoying each others’ company and soaking in the beauty of the Northwoods. Several times throughout the week, I was reminded of the awesome power of God. As you sit and ponder the creation around you, you can’t help but marvel at how mighty our God is!

Florida Trip | Personal

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently had the privilege of traveling to Florida for two weeks. I traveled with the Minutemen Ministries team helping with the War of Special Forces. The War is a three-night, teen competition run by Dr. Jim Van Gelderen. God has used it mightily over the years and hundreds of teens have been saved.

Here, the team captains, Andrew, Alex, and John sing “Sound the Battle Cry”.

Dr. Jim preaching.

Several of the competitions use a 4-foot ball. This game is “Big Ball Basketball”.

“Big Ball Volleyball”–it takes three people to serve the ball over the “net”.

I had a blast with Janna! ūüôā

Final score for the first week–my brother’s team was Recon. Yay!

Ariel travels with the Van Gelderens as their school teacher. She is an awesome roommate and we made lots of memories!

The indoor competitions were sometimes almost as intense as the outdoor competitions.

Skit time!

My brother gave his testimony several times.

Andrew and I on one of our “rest” days.

Janna, Ariel, Abbie, and Annaleese

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to travel. We saw God work in some incredible ways. I was personally able to lead 4 young ladies to Christ and counseled several others through some sin issues. As Christians, it’s exciting to know that we¬†can have victory in Jesus Christ.