The Rices in Guatemala

Jordan, Maria and their girls have relocated to the U.S. While they are no longer our missionaries on the ground in Guatemala, they continue to advocate for the people of the Ixil. Read about their experiences:

 

  • God Has Better Plans: Tony




    Magdalena, who was sick and taking care of her three orphaned grandchildren, could see the reality.  There was no money, there was only so much she could do.  So when her middle grandson Tony graduated from 6th grade, she told him that he couldn’t continue in school, he had to work full time.  Tony shined shoes in the town square, it’s what the poorest children have to do.  If they are lucky enough to get business, they earn 1 quetzal (about 13 cents) for one pair of shoes. 

    Tony in the town square with his shoe shining buddies

    We knew about Tony through his sister who attends Colegio HOREB.  God had led us to visit the family several times, as we were aware of the dire need they had.  When the scholarship program was started, children like Tony were firmly in our minds and hearts.  We felt a desire from the Holy Spirit to give children like him a chance to receive an education.


    When his grandma told him he would not be able to continue in school, he was devastated.  This was evident when we went to his house to interview him.  He began the interview trying to act happy with a smile on his face, but it lasted only 3 seconds.  He said, “My story is…” and then he broke into tears. 

    Through tears he continued, “I want to continue studying, but the money doesn’t exist, we don’t have money to continue…”

    He told his story, how his mom had passed away, how his dad had abandoned them, and how his grandma is old and is not able to work too much.
     
    “Yes, we work, but the money only exists for a moment, it goes fast to the others.  We use the money, but only to buy corn, we eat, only for this.”

    Tony with his grandma and sister
    Through the connections that God creates, we were able to offer Tony a scholarship.  A sponsor from the United States heard his story and kindly offered to support him.  He not only was able to continue his studies, but God sent him to arguably the best middle school in the area, founded two years ago by AGROS.  Besides the usual work load of middle school, they provide a tutor in the afternoons, agricultural and carpentry workshops, and devotions once per week. 

    Tony is making the most of this opportunity in his first year at the new school.  He is scoring above the average in his class and turns in all his homework assignments.  He is very participative and takes advantage of the tutor that stays in the afternoons.  His attitude is one of thankfulness, knowing how close he came to giving up further education.  In the future, he dreams of being an accountant or a lawyer, using what he has to help others.

    I ask that you keep this young man in your prayers, pray that God would use his life in big ways for His kingdom and for him to grow deeper in knowledge and draw closer in relationship to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  I ask that you pray the same for the other three wonderful children in this program as well.
     
    God is doing a work in the Ixil.  I can see it.  I see it in children like Tony.  Though many fathers have abandoned children through alcoholism, divorce, or desertion, this generation of children are getting educated, the Spirit is moving, and schools like HOREB in Cotzal and Filadelfia in Chajul, are giving sound biblical teaching.  Through the ashes of a devastating war, God is raising up a people after His heart here.  I see great hope in this generation of children.  The harvest is upon us.  I invite you to be a part of it. 


    Learn more about WIND (wind-guatemala.org) and consider donating to this cause.  You can also consider sponsoring a child for a scholarship for the next school year (information to be provided later) and let God use you to change the trajectory of a child's life, like Tony's.   

    The WIND scholarship kids at their school, from L to R: Abigail, Mayerly, Tony, and Dionicio

  • Down the Path - The beginning of our relationship with Colegio HOREB


    He stopped the car and pointed.  “Down that path is a woman who has a Christian school.”  Paul, a missionary here in the area, kept driving and moved on to the next subject.  But my mom and dad did not forget that brief moment.  They had planned on leaving the next day, but they both knew they had to return to see what God had for them down that path.  

    Down that path was a woman named Tabita.  The Christian school which she founded was floundering.  They didn’t have money to pay the teachers and she was considering closing the school.  She prayed to God for help.  My parents, by following the stirring in their spirits, and showing up to Tabita’s house were a part of an answer to her prayers.  Through WIND, they would later pledge financial support for the school.  I came that next school year to teach English to the kids.

    Tabita didn’t have to start that school.  Paul didn’t have to say a word about Tabita.  My mom and dad didn’t have to follow that path to Tabita’s house.  But they did.  It was all in God’s plan from the beginning.  He was answering prayers, He was doing something big, and He was using all of us to accomplish this purpose. 

    Many lives have becoming affected through our relationship with HOREB.  The school itself has grown, nearly doubled in size.  It has been the start of many life changing relationships and has opened doors into many homes.  New stoves have been installed in houses, dramatically improving the quality of life.  Dental needs have been taken care of.  In one case, a dying boy was saved from his Leukemia.  Most importantly, children and teachers have accepted Christ, and God has been glorified more and more.  This is all the work of God, who works through our relationships.  He sees the big picture and He is working through us as we do our best to obediently follow him.

    We never know when God is going to do something big through us.  There is a path of good works that God has prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).  No matter where we are in our walk with God and fellowship with Jesus, He has something prepared for us every day.  We need to be open and attentive, living our lives with purpose, as sons and daughters of our great loving Heavenly Father.


  • The Faith of Showing Up


    It is an amazing thing to be used by God, to be His hands and feet.  I have learned from my work here in Guatemala that what God calls us most to do is simply to show up.  That is an act of faith.  I believe that we Christians (especially American Christians) tend to overthink and complicate things a great deal.  We think we must have a master plan, be thinking ten steps ahead, to provide the best help as possible.  There is wisdom to that to be sure, we should be thinking!  But sometimes it tends to paralyze us to the point that we do nothing at all.  The problem is too big, we say.  It is like not feeding a hungry person because we can’t solve the problem of world hunger.  It’s not taking a step to help somebody in need at the moment because that help is not sustainable or we might begin a cycle of dependence (as if we’re not all dependent on God to provide for us in the first place).  We think of all these bigger problems and it keeps us from taking that first step, just to show up and see how God moves.  It’s okay not to have a grand plan.  It’s okay to be unsure of why you are even there.  

    I have seen God use me in this way over and over again.  Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing, sometimes lacking even a clear objective, but I visit a house, I show up, and little by little I find God blessing that person, that family, through these visits.  It is God that does it, of that I’m sure.  In any particular moment I may not feel His hand, but when I look back, I see how He has directed me ever so subtly.  This happens EVEN WHEN I DON’T FEEL PARTICULARLY “IN THE SPIRIT” as the phrase goes (though if we are Christian the Spirit is with us always, even if we choose not to be aware of it).

    I write all this not to pat myself on the back, but to show how amazing God is.  He uses me DESPITE my weaknesses.  I struggle with bad attitudes and low faith.  Sometimes Maria and I show up to a house after a day filled with disputes and conflicts with each other.  Sometimes we show up at a LOW or a valley in our walk with Him.  But God uses us even in that state.

    On one particular hard day, we showed up to the house of a girl we were thinking about putting in the scholarship program.  It was the end of the day, we were tired, feeling defeated, but we went.  That day the girl decided to open her heart to us, sharing how her dad had died from alcoholism, and she wanted to continue in school to help her mom.  Maria felt moved to give her a hug and we prayed for her.  She is now receiving a scholarship from WIND.

    If we wait to be in the perfect mood or attitude to do good, we will miss so many opportunities and ways God wants to use us.  He wants to use us right here, right now.  Even if we don’t have a plan or a great attitude in the moment.

    Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

    I write this as an exhortation to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  SHOW UP!  Do you know somebody in need but not sure of how you can help?  Do you know somebody who is struggling but don’t know what you can say?  Perhaps God put these people in your path for a reason and what He is asking you to do is simply to show up.  Do so while praying, do so being open to the Holy Spirit inside you.  GOD WILL USE YOU!  That has been our experience.


    I hope in the coming weeks to share a few stories, how the Spirit has led us to certain people, how we have had the honor to be a part of answers to prayers, and how God has been glorified through it all.  
  • Groups of Blessings, WIND teams descend upon the Guatemala Highlands


    Several WIND teams have descended upon Guatemala these last two months.

    The first was a team from Selah Covenant Church.  WIND partnered with Food for the Hungry which provides nutritional and health education to many villages in the Ixil area.  A breastfeeding class was provided to the moms of Colegio HOREB and to the woman leaders in the small village of Cajixay.  The team also built a kindergarten classroom at HOREB and helped dig a latrine in the village of Cajixay.  We also visited a few houses and discovered a little girl named Elsa who has a problem with one of her eyes, we hope to get her seen by a doctor from HELPS International.  This was a special team for Maria and I because my Aunts and Uncles came for the first time.  It was fun to show them what I’ve been doing these last few years.

    Selah Covenant team in Cajixay

    The second team was a team of dental professionals from Medical Teams International.  They saw over 500 patients during the week.  We had an advance team screen the patients that were to be seen at the clinic.  A lot of sickness struck this group, but they were a resilient bunch and somehow still met their goals.  On the last afternoon, we went to visit Cajixay, and a woman who was seen shared that she had dealt with pain for two years before coming to the clinic.  She was only one story among a sea of stories and the work this group  did blessed a lot of people.

    Bryan and Lauri Olson from MTI treat a patient at the dental clinic

    The third team was a high school team from Westminster Chapel in Bellevue.  They worked for a week at the school, putting on a soccer clinic for the kids.  They brought a lot of energy and the children absolutely adored them. After each class finished, a member of the team shared a personal testimony about how God had changed their life.  The last day was spent in the park playing and it felt like one big diverse family.  The Westminster kids and the kids at HOREB really have a special attachment and I love watching and being a part of it.  Each afternoon, we also went into the homes to build new stoves, 15 in all.  Traditionally the people cook inside the homes with open fires, so these new stoves bring huge health benefits as all the smoke now leaves the home.  It also much more efficient, needing less wood.

    The team with the children and teachers of Colegio HOREB, after playing at the park

     

    It was an honor to be a part of all these groups, God has certainly used them to bring much blessing to the Ixil people.  
  • Update on the Rices



     Here are a few updates about us and our work:

    Teaching at Love Guatemala

    Maria recently had the opportunity to teach a business class at the organization Love Guatemala for one week.  She had about 20 students and the class seemed to help immensely.  One of the women, who sells cakes, said she realized through taking the class that she sold her products for less than what it costs to make!  



    Scholarship Program

    This is the first year of a WIND scholarship program.  I spent most of my time in my trip to Cotzal in January preparing for the initiation of this program.  We have four students (3 of whom are HOREB graduates) attending the 7th grade at the middle school founded by Agros.  They have classes for 5 hours in the morning, followed by a 2 hour workshop after lunch.  We are excited about the opportunity these kids are receiving.  

    HOREB

    The Christian elementary school that WIND supports, Colegio HOREB, has ballooned to 149 students for 2015. They began Kindergarten last year with under 20 students, but this year they have all three levels with a total of 47 students.  This year HOREB, which currently rents a facility, is hoping to buy land to build their own school.    

    Team Preparation

    We have three teams coming in these next few months that we have been preparing for.  

    Selah Covenant church will be coming in 2 weeks.  They will be doing nutrition workshops for the mothers of children at HOREB, helping with construction at the school, and also doing community projects in the village of Cajixay.

    A team of dentists from Medical Teams International will be coming in March, giving some much needed dental work to villagers around the Ixil area.

    Also, a high school team from Westminster Chapel will be coming in April to serve at the HOREB school, supporting the teachers in the classrooms and installing stoves in homes in the afternoons.

    Immigration

    We are currently in the process of immigrating to the U.S. and we hope to move in June.  Thank you to all that have supported and continue to support our work here.  Please keep that transition in your prayers.  We will continue to serve here until the process is finished and are excited for what God has in store for us in the future.