Here at ASOSAP, all was normal at the start of the year and we were looking forwarding to partnering with 2 new communities. Before the pandemic hit Guatemala, we were able to teach two times in the communities. We weren’t able to continue these sessions, but we connected with them when delivering the food bank packages. In 2021, we look forward to developing deeper relationships and delivering education that will impact their physical and spiritual lives. If the COVID situation is stable in Guatemala, we will be able to do physically distanced education with all the appropriate preventative measures.
Pre-COVID, we had Medical Outreach in January. Both Dr. Beth and Dr. Michael were here and we celebrated Dr. Michael’s 12th year of service! We sure did miss their presence in the summer! What a joy and impact their visits have on ASOSAP staff, especially the nurses, and on the communities.
Cristobal was diagnosed with severe chronic prostatitis by Dr. Michael during medical outreach. His story is one of those joyful successes. Below is his testimony:
“When I was sick, I was very worried. Due to my illness, I wasn’t able to work. I needed to be well to be able to return to my normal life and support my family. ASOSAP did everything in their power to help me with my appointments. They assisted me financially and emotionally. Before, I felt alone and without hope. With ASOSAP I felt happy and supported. After all the examinations, I was told that I needed surgery. I thank God, ASOSAP, and the donors and that allowed me to have the surgery. Now, I’m well. I’ve returned to my work. I don’t have any symptoms and have lots of energy. I feel complete. May God bless all those who helped me.”
We are not sure when we will be able to hold medical outreach again as it puts the doctors and patients at risk. We look forward to the day when they can return.
In February, COVID had not hit Guatemala yet and we were able to hold 1 of the 3 Diploma in Theology sessions. This year they were supposed to graduate, but it wasn’t to be. The churches continue benefiting from their increased understanding of God’s Word. We saw them step up to the plate and share God’s Word in creative ways. For example, they preached over the radio and taught/ sang of God’s Word in the town center with all the necessary precautions. They were also crucial to the success of the food bank project and hurricane disaster relief. They know the people in the communities they serve and our partnership with them ensured that help was given to those who needed it. God-willing, again with the proper precautions, we will hold the last 2 sessions next year and see the Pastors graduate with a diploma in theology!
Being flexible and adapting to change was an especially important skill this year. With Building My Horizon (BMH) we had to make big modifications. The at-home version was a challenge for parents and children. It was completely new, but it had a positive effect in their lives as one BMH mother describes below:
“During this pandemic, my children felt very frustrated because of the lockdown and restrictions. What impressed me was seeing my son include his little brothers in learning the Bible verses and practicing English. This helped them stay busy and is a distraction from the current situation. Thank you for supporting our children and families.”
Parents also benefitted through their booklets. Learning and recognizing that every family member has different characters and temperaments has helped them learn how to live together with their differences, especially at this time.
Another adaption was the food bank project. With COVID, Poq’omchi families weren’t able to work as before and food was needed. God’s blessing and your partnership was huge! 900 food packages were given to various people (chronic patients, families from the dental health project and infant malnutrition rescue, pastors and their church members, and community education participants).
“I’m grateful to God for the life, strength, and food that He gives me daily. God led you to our communities to bring food for our families. I especially thank those who donated towards the purchase of the food packages.”
Our experiences with the food bank project allowed us to be ready when hurricanes Eta and Iota struck and caused devastating damages. Between 8 affected villages, 550 food packages, 510 hygiene kits, 400 blankets, 100 cortes, 100 guipiles, and 150 kid’s activity packages were distributed. Your partnership with this and God’s care was amazing! We will continue with the food bank project and disaster relief in 2021.
Through all this whirlwind of change, one important service remained constant. Nurses Alicia and Miguel kept the health posts open and working full time. Adjustments were made to prevent the spread of COVID and we had no positive cases of COVID, either in patients or our nurses.
Lastly, the absence of teams which started at the beginning of COVID here, remains a reality right now. And we have missed them! COVID started here in March and we had to return the missions team from Bellingham early. It was hard and disappointing for all. Their responses below are a good reflection of the realities of this year and the attitude we can have towards it:
“The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident through our planning the trip, to our return to the States. His presence was not earth shattering, but it a subtle presence. Our connection was family-like with the Guatemala team. We truly were as one body with one purpose. In the brief time that we were in Guatemala, it was wonderful and meaningful. We don’t know all the blessings that will be as a result of the trip, or the pandemic for that matter, but I know we’ll find out for sure.”
“We experienced an abundance of blessings that were not foreseen or planned for: Team relationships (old or new), exposure to a new country and new people, and the visibility of God’s loving care. Each of our team members has told me that they’d like to return soon. The reality is that we need to wait upon God’s timing, whether that is next year, two years, or whenever He gives us a dream and a task.”
“We may not have done the physical work of building the six water systems, but we provided the supplies to do it. The success of this mission was also seen in the encouragement we gave to the ASOSAP staff. When our mission was cut short, I was reminded that God measures success differently than we do”
It has been a different year without a doubt, but we hope you can also say with us (as one team member said):
“We saw God working in us, through us, and for us. What a joy to serve him!”