Francis wrote a post on his & Andrea's blog recently about some of Pure Joy's work that we are posting a copy of below for you all to see as well.
They say you can draw people’s attention by using sex, and here you are reading this blog! (Except, this blog is actually about the subject, not some marketing ploy to get clicks - there is nothing monetised at all about this blog... sadly 😜)
This month (Editor's note: this was July) we are using the devotional times in our tutoring program to disciple the young people who attend it by teaching them about a Christian sexual ethic. Partly this is because it is an important topic to teach on and it’s important that we are intentional in sharing what the Bible says on such significant matters, and partly it is because members of the tutoring program past and present have gotten pregnant unintentionally… 😅
After the mid-year vacation week we started the second half of the year with a visit from the local health centre who came and gave a presentation to the young people about avoiding teen pregnancy and the risks of sexual activity. They gave a well-balanced presentation that didn’t go into inappropriate detail anywhere, and was informative while also encouraging abstaining from such behaviour.
We are now in the midst of teaching them beyond just this “practical” advice, looking at what the Bible says in-depth - not just “don’t do it ‘til you’re married”, but actually considering how God has designed sex and why He wants us to treat it the way He does.
Now, when I say how God has designed sex, I don’t mean the biological parts and functions, I mean the fullness of how he has designed it. As we have considered its purpose we have mentioned three aspects - the first is procreation (obviously), the second is the creation of an intimacy between a man & wife that can’t be replicated elsewhere (most definitely not in casual hookups), and the third is the image it gives us of God’s love for the church.
I don’t have the space to unpack everything we have and will (Ed: did) talk about with them here [...] but it has been encouraging to share how it is that we guard what is precious, and how saving sex until marriage makes it priceless and shows the world how what God has for us is more valuable than any pleasure sex can give us.
This week (Ed: at time of writing) we are looking at lies about sex found in the culture - things like “if it feels good then it’s ok to do it”, “sex before marriage doesn’t hurt anyone”, “but we’re going to get married anyway”, “you need to find out if you are sexually compatible”, and so on - and also lies found in the church - “if you don’t wait until marriage then your sex life will be tainted forever”, “sexual purity means being a virgin when you are married”, “if you lose your purity then it’s gone forever and you are damaged goods”, etc. There is a lot of falsehood not only in the world but also in the church when it comes to this area.
Next week (Ed: that was the last week of July) we will be considering what it means to strive to maintain sexual purity and hopefully all of this will have encouraged these teens to pursue God’s plans for their lives. Please pray that this would encourage them, challenge them, and inspire them to live fully and show the world around them that there is a better way.
The teens were thankfully receptive to the teaching and we will be sending them a copy of the notes Francis made in preparing for it. Please pray that God would speak to their hearts about guarding themselves in the area of sexual purity, not in a legalistic way but rather in a way where they appreciate their worth before Him.
We are now into the second half of the year, and some schedule changes have been made, though unfortunately not all of the ones we had hoped for.
We have successfully been able to shift the tutoring program from five groups to four, and we are pleased to report that in answer to prayer we now have three volunteers who are helping us with this program at some of the points of the week (we are also currently exploring the possibility of a couple of other helpers providing some extra tutoring to the teens who would most need it).
Please pray for wisdom as we lead devotional times with the teens, that we may disciple them well.
We have been able to go into one of the two elderly care homes and have been pleased to be able to deliver not only the refreshments - as we were doing before - but now a time of singing, praying, and devotions. We rotate our team through who is in charge of leading the devotional message, and we can also report that one of our new volunteers has a gift and a passion for preaching and is getting involved in this ministry too.
It is lovely to not only be able to lead something from the front for the residents of this home, but to also be able to take some time after the structured program to walk around, sit with them, and chat individually. Several of them have expressed directly how grateful they are that we would visit and how just the simple act of sitting & talking with them means so much to them. It is a real privilege to be the hands and feet, ears and mouth, of Jesus in this way, and we appreciate being able to hear their stories and listen to all that they want to share.
Please pray that we would be able to continue to encourage, uplift, and edify them during these times, both in the messages and worship songs we can deliver from the front, as well as through the one-on-one conversations that can be had with them afterwards. Please also pray that the other home would extend an official invitation to us to re-enter and do the same there, as that has not yet been given.
Unfortunately, the kids' club has not been able to start owing to ever-changing restrictions. Puerto Barrios as a whole keeps switching between being classified as a yellow zone, orange zone, and red zone, and on top of that the school whose grounds we use has shifted back from whole classes to small groups, all of which meaning we can't run our large club quite yet. Please pray that the club may become a possibility again soon.
In the meantime, the extra time we had made for the kids club, and for the second home that we can't yet enter, we are using to do home visits to families and individuals in need. Some of this is the families of the scholarship kids, such as one whose father was tragically killed in a robbery recently, and some are individuals we know who have economic, health, or other needs. Please pray that we might be able to encourage them in the Lord as we meet with them, share, and pray for them.
We're approaching the mid-point of the year (both the calendar year and the school year, since Guatemala's schools follow the calendar year rather than starting in September) and next week for most schools will be the mid-year vacation week (woohoo!)
We've been keeping a constant eye on classifications regarding the pandemic and restrictions around Guatemala, and Puerto Barrios has now been a Yellow zone for a number of weeks. Whilst our tutoring kids still use masks and we have hand gel available things are a little more relaxed, which is also ok because we are in small groups and are meeting in an outdoor location.
Please pray that Covid cases would continue to fall and restrictions can finally all be lifted here in Puerto Barrios and across Guatemala.
When we return from the vacation we will be making a few changes to our ministry schedule, depending on some externals.
We have been in contact with the managers of the two elderly care homes that we are connected with and we are now able to return to one of them, and hopefully not long after posting this we will have confirmation for the other one. We will be delivering refreshments to both homes each week but alternating which home we go into to have a devotional time with them. Most recently we were able to go into Refugio Dios Es Fiel (the Refuge run by God is Faithful Ministries) and share with them.
Please pray that we would be able to go into both homes regularly and without problem to share encouragement and devotionals with these precious people.
We're also hoping to be able to start up the kids club again. There are a couple of limitations on this though.
One will be the school itself. Although they recently returned to normal full class teachings, they then reverted back to small groups because a lot of kids were having colds and they had no way to determine what was or wasn't Covid so are playing it safe. Inasmuch as the school itself is not having the kids together in large groups we will not be able to either, but if the seasons of having colds passes quickly and they return to full class sizes then the school can start.
The other is a practical consideration on our part and that is that we will need to make sure we have a sufficient ratio of adults to children. As a team of only three full-time staff at present we will need to ensure we have committed volunteers as well to be able to safely have many small kids with us.
Please pray that God would help us find volunteers so that this club can start up quickly in the second half of the year.
To have time to run both of these ministries again we are restructuring the tutoring program a little by shifting from 5 small groups a week to 4 slightly less small groups a week. The young people have been telling us how much more they have appreciated being in smaller groups compared to the large groups pre-pandemic, even though it means coming once a week instead of twice (especially since we give them the option of coming on any of the other days should they feel they have extra need), so we are keeping that in mind as we consider future ministry schedule development.
Please pray for wisdom as we continue to look to do all we can to bless these teens and help them finish their secondary-level schooling.
Thank you for your prayers for and giving towards the Kingdom work that is happening here that you make possible
The tutoring program exists not only to help with homework, but also as a place where we can be intentional in discipling the young people that the Lord has entrusted to us at this time.
Each week the teens come along with their homework and we use the time helping them with investigations and exercises and whatever they may need to learn from. But before getting to any of that we start each session with a devotional time together. We’ve shared before about how we aim to vary across the weeks the different spiritual disciplines we use - sometimes with a focus on worship, sometimes on intercessory prayer for the requests they bring, sometimes on reading an extended part of the Word together, and sometimes on bringing a particular teaching.
The teachings that we bring are informed by prayer but also by inviting input from the young people themselves. During the first couple of tutoring sessions of the year we asked them to share with us areas they might like to hear more information on. Some of this is more “spiritual” - questions about praying better or how to read the Bible - part of it is more practical - questions about things like dating or drugs. Throughout the year we will aim to speak into each of these themes in one way or another. Sometimes this will be with us leading a discussion ourselves, sometimes it will involve inviting someone in who is a bit more informed.
This week we have been fortunate to have someone come and share during one of these teaching times - Hugo has been coming along to share with each of the groups about his experiences earlier in life with drugs and addiction, and then his testimony of how God saved him from that lifestyle. It has been interesting and encouraging to hear as he has shared about the decisions he made as a teenager - around the age that many of these young people are - and the effects that had, but then how God saved him and has used him since.
Please pray for our young people, many of whom are living in places where these kinds of temptations are likely to be realities - that they would grasp not only the reasons that drugs are bad and they shouldn’t use them, but also how much greater God is so that they wouldn’t be interested in anything else in the first place
It has been a difficult couple of years for everyone, but not least for those in care homes. For elderly care home residents around the world it has been a tough time of separation from loved ones, and that has been felt no less by those in the care homes we work with.
The care home of 22nd street has been somewhere we have visited for many years, as care homes here are quite different from those in the West. In Latin American culture it is generally expected that elderly members of the family will be cared for by their relatives as a way of honoring one's parents. In Guatemala I am not aware of any government care facilities that retirees may move to when unable to care for themselves and there is not a social care safety net like more developed nations tend to have.
Instead, the care homes here are charitable organizations usually run by churches, and their residents are typically those who have nothing and have no one to look after them. This may be because they never had children, or it may be that they have been abandoned by their family. This means that the regular visits we usually do are even more important, because these are mostly individuals who have no one (beside the care home staff) who regularly checks in on them.
So it has been with sadness that we have not been permitted to enter the care home on a regular basis since the country had its initial lock-down in early-2020. We have, however, continued to deliver the regular refreshments to them every week, waving from the door at those that we can see, and asking the manager how everyone is. We are grateful for a couple of instances when we have been able to enter in a limited manner - to deliver Christmas presents, and when Kathy has visited.
But now we are hopeful, because the residents are due for their second vaccine dose, after which we have been told the care home will hopefully become available for visits by those who have received three vaccines shots. We are prayerfully waiting for the impending visit by the Ministry of Health workers to come and administer these second doses, and hope that once the residents have recovered from any possible symptoms we may be able to enter and have full devotional times with them again.
Please join us in praying that this becomes a reality, and that for both the care home on 22nd street, and the newer care home that we have more recently connected with, we will be able to enter and run encouraging devotional times for them.
It's the middle of March now and you'll be pleased to hear both the schools and our tutoring program are well under way again. The schools (mostly) didn't start until the last week of February (the few that run only at weekends started earlier) so the start of the school year is once again delayed in comparison to the pre-pandemic early-January start. Since school finished late for the last two years they have started late the last two years too but we were hoping things might start to move back to "normal" this year. No such luck.
The week that schools started was the week that we had a visit from Kathy & Joel, so we didn't start tutoring that week (they wouldn't have had any homework to catch up on in that first week anyway) but did have times for the young people to come and meet with us to have some time with Kathy.
Over the last couple of months we have been continuing to put together backpacks with the school supplies the teens need as we have received those lists from them. The kids studying at the weekend got theirs first, and the rest have received them here and there, meaning we have sorted a few back packs at a time seemingly every week - we are still waiting on one or two more to give us their finalized lists!
Related to this, some schools have asked their kids to get uniforms and some haven't. It is unclear though as to whether later in the year, if we return to a fuller form of in person teaching, they may then ask them to buy them. For all of the students, however, we have been buying shoes. We were able to purchase and deliver shoes for all of the boys so far, but the vendor we have been using has been waiting on a delivery of girls shoes for weeks now, so we are having to look elsewhere to buy shoes so the girls can have them now.
More importantly than all of the school related supplies (important as those indeed are), last week we were able to gift Bibles to each of our students.We used them that week as part of our devotional time and are asking them to bring them with them each week.
Every tutoring session begins with a devotional time, and this year we have decided to cycle through a variety of spiritual exercises each month.
- In the first week we are having a time of sung worship together.
- In the second week we are spending time in the Word by reading through the book of Mark, reading through a chapter by taking turns on each verse.
- In the third week we are making space for prayer, asking them to share any prayer requests but also praise reports for previous prayer themes.
- And in the fourth week we are going to be having a time of teaching based on the issues or areas of interest they ask to teach on. Last year we asked them for a list of questions they may have about life, the Bible, school, faith, work, family, or anything else, and used those questions to guide our messages. The plan is to do the same this year.
- We are also planning to use the occasional fifth week as a time to look back and celebrate the birthdays of those who have had them in the couple of months since the previous fifth week.
Please pray for us as we look to encourage these kids in their discipleship, that the Holy Spirit may instil in them a passion for worship, a love for the word, a desire for prayer, and an openness to learning. We hope to see them move closer to God each week as we run this project and know you do to.
Thank you for your prayers and support for these teens!
It has been an interesting time to be in - well I was going to say ministry, but I’m sure that sentiment is true for literally any career in the world. Whoever it was was right when they quipped that we should “take a moment to appreciate that everyone asked the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ five years ago gave a wrong answer”!
We have had to learn to adapt to doing what ministry we can in the conditions in which we find ourselves - in some cases that has meant putting some on hold, in others that has meant adapting how they are run to account for new rules, and for others it has meant doing something completely different. We’ve also found that, perhaps to balance the weeks with little to do early on in the pandemic, there can be bursts of time where there is a lot to do.
In a way, we’re in one of those bursts - although that’s a bit more typical for this time of year. It is the time of year when our scholarship students are finding out what school supplies they will need, and so, we find ourselves in need of purchasing a great many things, organising them, and delivering them. This includes not only school supplies like workbooks, pens, pencils, and so on (and also some specialist items depending on a given student's course), but also new backpacks, new shoes, and new uniforms and sports kits.
At this time, however, the tutoring has not fully started back up yet, so it’s not been an overwhelming degree of busyness. For the most part, because schools overran last year (for the second year running - no need to explain to you why) they are starting late again this year. However, for the young people studying in schools that run at the weekend their classes have already started - for those kids we will be starting our tutoring times tomorrow. The rest of the schools start in the final week of February, so our first full week of tutoring will be in the first week of March.
Please do be praying for us to be able to effectively equip these young people for their schooling this year, and for the young people to be ready & eager to dive right into learning as soon as they are able.
The Guatemalan school year follows the calendar year, which means since we have now entered into the final quarter of 2021 we’re looking at winding things down and starting the planning for 2022.
There are some struggles with this though.
For one, we’re not 100% clear on when the school year will end this year. Typically the school years starts about the second week of January and runs until mid-October. This year, however, with everything going on with the pandemic, school did not start until halfway through February.
In fact, that time was a whirlwind of its own.
Because schools started 4-5 weeks later than usual they will have to finish later to make up for at least some of that time (and that’s not to mention the weeks lost last year when the pandemic started up).
We think schools are supposed to end some time in November but don’t know when exactly - and it may vary from school to school…
The other thing, then, is that we don’t know when schools will start next year. Because the year will end later than is usual, we don’t know if the holiday will be extended again, or whether there will be a push to get us back to the “normal” schedule. And that’s just considering the start date.
So far nothing has been said about changing the color-coded system, but there is a definite desire of many for schools to start to return to in-person teaching. Vaccinations have advanced well, I don’t know the percentages of the population, but they steadily lowered the ages that could receive them, and are now vaccinating 12-18 year olds. But plans for 2022 are not forthcoming. Will the Ministry of Education change their guidelines? Or are we looking at another year of remote learning? Will we be able to have bigger groups meet for our tutoring? Or are we going to have to keep to small groups?
There is still a lot up in the air with this, to say nothing of the other ministries to the elderly and to the smaller children, all of which are still on hold. We still have no idea when these places may be open for us to visit and minister in.
Please do join us in praying for clarity and wisdom in making decisions as we start to prepare for next year. If you feel the Lord shares any verses or words of wisdom or encouragement we would love to hear them :-)
Thank you for how you partner with us in this ministry
The backgrounds and family situations from which our young people come are varied, but many of them come from low resource situations. One of the families that we work with live out in a small village an hour's drive away over steep and bumpy terrain. Their house is a relatively simple wooden structure with bundled leaves for roofing and with a dirt floor.
Thanks to a generous group giving a donation to the work of Pure Joy we were able to offer this family (who, if I recall correctly, have had ten children, though some grown and moved out) to give them a cement floor in part of their property (they have two separate structures for their home).
At the end of July, having consulted with a builder and having procured materials, we were able to go along and help out with making their new cement floor. CLICK on any of the below images to see the process of installing this flooring.
After we had left they had the process done so that the floor was smoothed out and they send a couple of photos later on after they had started moving furniture back in.
The family is so grateful to the donors who made this possible and we are glad that Pure Joy was able to help coordinate this.
Thank you to all of you who are a part of Pure Joy Missions by your giving, prayers, and support. This work is a testament to the love of God and of His church who He works through!
Want to know how you could help these kids from afar? Read below to find out more!
It only took 16 months but eventually we were able to return to in-person tutoring - and the young people (and several of their parents!) were ready for it!
We are pleased to report that most of them have adapted well to learning from home and having to be self-motivated to get their work done because we can tell you that there have been several times when they have come along to the sessions even though they didn't have any school work to do! But this shows you how keen they have been to have a reason to get out and go somewhere other than home.
It's been a tough almost year and a half for everyone, and for some more than others when it comes to these kids, so we're pleased to be a place they feel safe and happy to come to. Obviously things are different this time around and there are some things that are nicer, and some not as enjoyable.
One blessing has been that the owner of the factory around the corner from the community where most of these teenagers live offered to let us use the space in front of their guest house for our tutoring times. It's a lovely little building in a nice green area, shaded and breezy, which is really important here! Three mornings and one afternoon a week we use this space with small groups of students (no more than seven). The other day of the week we meet with the students who live further away than this (a group of about seven come to that too) in our apartments.
The less fun side is of course what we are all more or less used to - temperature checks, masks, hand gel, etc., to try and be as safe as we can be to protect the kids, to protect ourselves, and to protect all those we come in contact with.
One thing we have been encouraged by is that we have been able to spend some more time in sharing devotions with them. The first week we talked with them about the importance of having a regular quiet time and shared some tips for how to do so effectively. The week after that Yeni & Wendy shared their testimonies with them and the week after that Francis taught on principles that can help us in hearing God's voice.
We asked them in that first week to write down for us any ideas or themes that they thought they would like us to bring some teaching on - not just limited to faith but anything in life - and we received a variety of ideas to do with God, family, career, and more. If you think you'd be interested in leading a 15 minute devotional that would encourage teenagers in growing up and/or in their walk with God please do get in touch and we'll see how we could make it work (we can find a way to translate for you) - Email email@example.com or leave a comment below to let us know - we'd love to have you share with them 😃
Praise God we were able to start our tutoring time in-person for the first time in almost a year and a half! We are having much smaller groups every day to be able to social distance and we have masks and other protocols in place but we are so pleased to finally be able to see the young people like this! Please continue to keep the students, missionaries and the program in your prayers!
"Kathy, there is an elderly man that just showed up here, without a family or anything. What should we do?" Silvia asked me on my recent trip to Puerto Barrios. The team and I were handing out care packages to the Project Valor students when Silvia, a mother who works at the dump, told me about the lost elderly man.
His name was Israel. He was a sweet man, but obviously a little confused and lost. He remembered his name and some parts of his background, but he didn't remember completely how he got to Puerto Barrios, why he was there, where his family was, or even how old he was/when his birthday was.
As we talked to several people who live near the dump, they shared that Israel had been there for two nights and that he gotten off a bus on the main road with luggage that later got stolen. He was left with a walking stick and a black plastic bag with a water bottle and an empty plastic container.
It was obvious that Israel needed help, but none of us where quite sure what was the best way to help him. Did he have a family? Did he have dementia? Where was he from? Was his family looking for him?
We reached out to a police officer of the neighboring town who Silvia knew. We were all concerned about him spending another night outside, so the police officer said to bring him to the police station and they would see if there was a missing person case filed under his name.
We shared with Israel that we wanted to help them, but he was very hesitant to come with us. It took quite a while, but eventually he agreed to come with us, thanks to the patience of our missionary Wendy, who patiently and kindly shared why and how we were going to help him. As we got into the pick up truck, Israel got unsettled when he was in the passenger seat. Wendy, recognizing this, hopped into the passenger seat too and put her arm around Israel and comforted him.
We arrived to the police station where we met several policemen. They all quickly showed concern for our new friend and started calling governmental agencies. Unfortunately, there was no missing persons case under his name. When we heard this, we called the two nursing homes in Puerto Barrios-- the one we visit each week and the new Christian run nursing home that was started by a pastor a few months ago. We had recently learned about this new nursing home from a friend who called the pastor and shared with him the needs of our new friend Israel. The pastor said he would gladly take Israel if he needed a home.
Per the police protocol, they said it would be best to take Israel to the hospital to get checked out and the social workers there would work on reuniting him with his family or find another home for him. They graciously offered to take him there, and we said our goodbyes to Israel.
Later that evening, we told the pastor from the nursing home that Israel went to the hospital, and he said he would check on him and see if there was anything he could do.
Several days later, I got a message from the pastor with a photo of Israel safe in his new bed at the nursing home. We still don't know if Israel has a family, but we are so thankful that the community came together to help this elderly man.
I have been reading through the Old Testament, so the word Israel has such a deeper meaning each time I hear it. It reminds me of God's faithfulness, unending love and mercy. He is such a good father who loves his children. Just as God faithfully loved the Israelites, he loves our friend Israel.
Please pray that if Israel does have a family, that they will be reunited. Pray for his safety. Pray he doesn't feel alone. Pray for this new nursing home. Pray their needs are met and that they can continue to bless the elderly that need a home.
Recently, our team went to visit the new nursing home. They were able to visit Israel. Praise God, he is doing well! We are so thankful for Pastor Mario and this new home for the elderly in need.
Each month, we continue to provide care packages for the Project Valor teens and their families. We are in the process of starting the tutoring program (YAY!), but when the tutoring program does start, we will not be eating lunch with the teens like we usually do due to COVID restrictions. As a result, we will continue to provide these care packages each month. Thank you Project Valor sponsors for your continued support!
COVID is still affecting how we are able to work, but we are thankful for our dedicated team who keeps serving this community! Since we haven’t been able to do the tutoring program in person yet, our missionaries take time each week to call the students and see how they are doing, check in on the parents and every few weeks call the school to check on each student’s progress. Each week, they also spend time praying for the prayer requests of the students.
-For our missionaries- continued dedication, passion and safety
-The elderly at the nursing home- for protection and for comfort. Pray they don’t feel alone
-The students- that they do well in school and continue to learn, even though they can’t be in person yet. Pray for safety in their homes. Pray we can start the tutoring program soon!
-The families at the dump- for provision, that God would meet all their needs
-The children at the orphanage- for good health and safety, pray that we are able to visit them again soon. We miss them!!
-The government- pray they make decisions would be most beneficial for the people.
-The Pure Joy car- during a huge rain storm that flooded the streets, water got in the motor and the car has been in the mechanic for weeks. Pray the repairs get completed this week!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
With the funds we would have used for the tutoring program lunches for the Project Valor teens, this year, we started making care packages for their families instead. Thank you Project Valor sponsors for your support!!
Since we are not able to host the tutoring program yet and therefore aren't purchasing lunches for the students, we have been able to use the Project Valor funds to purchase care packages for the students and their families. These packages include Guatemalan staples like rice, beans and corn flour, and a variety of other items including sugar, milk, cereal, salt, coffee, a nutrition drink, spaghetti and sauce, cleaning supplies, etc. We are thankful we can support the students and their families in this way. Dropping off the care packages also gives us an opportunity to check up on each student and see them in person. Please pray we can start the tutoring program soon!
"This is a moment to thank God for his mercy, because He has protected us from this disease that is attacking humanity; But it is also beautiful to remember that he gives us the privilege of serving others and to know that by helping we can bear witness that Jesus is in our hearts and that God loves them.
I feel blessed to see the faces of the teens from the tutoring program and some of their parents when they received the food and school supplies that the sponsors have donated. I can see the gratitude that is in their hearts. That fills me with joy and my heart feels satisfied knowing that I can be a part of this blessing."
It has been one year since we have entered into isolation due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It was something that shook us all, none of us were prepared for this sudden change. We couldn't go out, go to school, go do our jobs, go to the park, or go to church. We felt like prisoners with fear in our homes.
With this, we were not able to do various ministries as we do regularly. Club Exploradores was one of the most affected ministries, and we still cannot bring the children together. I was surprised that one year into the pandemic, I received a call from a mother asking when we would start Club Exploradores again. "We miss very much that our children hear the Word of God," the mother shared. "We want the program to come back soon," she told me. That fills my heart with joy knowing that they want to hear the Word of God.
We know that this seed is falling on fertile ground.
-Yeni, Pure Joy Missionary
Pray with us that we will soon be able to start Club Exploradores again!
In March of 2021, Francis and Andrea became the new Guatemalan Directors of Pure Joy Missions. We are thankful for their dedication to the ministry and willingness to serve in this new role. Francis and Andrea both have God-given leadership abilities, and we are excited to see how God uses them to grow and strengthen Pure Joy. Check out their update below!
This year so far has had it’s aspects that have stayed the same and those that have changed.
The continuing constant in our lives is that of Covid-19, a pandemic that, at least in Guatemala, doesn’t look to be finishing up any time soon. The restrictions around it haven’t changed much, except that they did and then they didn’t. The school year here was delayed in it’s start and so kids started back in February rather than January, and we were able to help Project VALOR students register for their courses and get equipped with school supplies. The day that schools started Puerto Barrios was actually downgraded from being a Red Zone (according to the Ministry of Health’s colour coded system of Red, Orange, Yellow and Green) to an Orange Zone, meaning that after months of remote learning students were going to be able to go to (reduced) in-person classes, typically one day a week. We were in touch with them as we heard about how it was working at different schools and we started to gear up to start in-person tutoring times, making plans to have them in reduced group sizes, developing protocols, and coordinating locations and supplies. Then after about a month of classes the Ministry of Education released updated information on restrictions within the different colour zones. Schools went from being closed in Red, hybrid in Orange & Yellow and open in Green, to being closed in both Red & Orange and hybrid only in Yellow.
And so we find ourselves again back where we were. The orphanage and old folks home remain closed to visitors (though we still deliver practical helps as best we can), and the senior center has not started back up yet (but is under new management so we will need to see what effect that may have). Schools being closed means that Club Exploradores cannot run, and the advice we have received from the Ministry of Education is that our tutoring sessions should not go ahead yet either. We are, to say the least, frustrated that where we were ready to start working with the kids in person again this has been almost immediately blocked once more. But we continue to do what we can to help them. We are in touch via phone calls regularly to see how they are, have offered to print off & deliver any work they may need that done for, are speaking with teachers to check how they are doing, and are sending them weekly devotionals to encourage them in their discipleship. We have been able to deliver care packages to their families and hope to develop this a bit over the coming weeks too, hopefully being able to deliver some activities for the younger kids of these families, in lieu of running Club Exploradores. Please pray for us to have wisdom as to how best to minister during this time.
For us personally as a couple and as a family there have been some big changes very recently. We were asked by the Board of Directors whether we would be willing to take on the role of local directors for Pure Joy here in Guatemala, which we have accepted. However, we have only been able to do that in a limited capacity so far because of impending maternity & paternity leaves. And, on April 6th, 22 days early (and over a week earlier than even we thought) we were delighted to welcome Liam Matthew into the world! Charlie & JJ are both thrilled to be older sister & brother respectively and both Andrea & Liam are healthy and doing well. We are taking some time off right now as we adjust to being a family of five and are so happy to be together like this. We are also grateful to Yeni & Wendy who are carrying on without us for a little while, but look forward to coming back together as a team soon to continue to work together in seeking God for how to develop this ministry going forward.
Thank you for your support of Pure Joy Missions and the work that is being done here in the name of Christ to raise up young people who can influence the country for the Kingdom. God bless you.
-Francis & Andrea
The majority of our Project Valor students are starting off the school year with online learning again. As a result, in addition to receiving the beginning of the year school supplies, shoes and backpacks, we are also providing the students with monthly internet packages. This enables them to do their school work at home. We hope and pray that COVID-19 numbers decrease, so these students can safely return to school. Please pray with us! Check out some photos of our Project Valor teens receiving their school supplies. Thank you sponsors for helping make this possible!
Ana served with Pure Joy over the last five years, starting out as a volunteer, then serving part-time, then full-time, and lastly becoming the assistant director of the ministry. In February of 2021, Ana, who is also a law student at the local university, felt called to take a step back from Pure Joy and focus on her studies and practicum for school. We are so thankful for Ana's dedication and passion for the ministry over the last five years. We will miss her dearly, but we know God has great plans for her. We asked Ana to share a little bit about her time with Pure Joy.
My name is Ana, and I live in Puerto Barrios Izabal. I am 27 years old and I study Legal and Social Sciences, Lawyer and Notary Public at the Public University of Guatemala. Throughout my life, I have attended the Evangelical Christian Church where I have served since I was very young.
In 2015, a sister of the Church, Heidy, invited me to participate in a Christian ministry and I accepted. It was Pure Joy Missions. From the first day, I liked the ministry. I started as a volunteer supporting the Explorers Club ministry on Mondays in the afternoon, with the children of the Piedra Parada School. There, each child gained a place in my heart. Participating in the ministry for me was a great blessing. At that time, I did not have a job since my parents wouldn't let me have a job, my father took great care of us; But I was very surprised that when he found out that I was going to participate in the ministry on a voluntary basis, he allowed me to continue helping. For me, that was a great blessing because he did not deny me the right and the obligation to serve God and the community. Later I attended the other ministries, and the second one I attended was the nursing home on 22 Street, where I also came to love each elderly resident in the love of God. Every day, they are in my mind and my heart. Later, I attended the city dump with the Pure Joy team.
As time went by, I became part of the Pure Joy team and I was loving the ministry and each activity. Each ministry I did with a lot of love knowing that my work was for God and to serve the people who need it.
Pure Joy is a great ministry that not only helped the people of the garbage dump and surrounding villages, it also helped me, in my spiritual, emotional, work growth, etc. And I always dreamed of seeing Pure Joy much bigger than it already is; where more people want to join together to help and with their own facilities, with an office where everyone who needs help can be received, I hope in God one day my eyes can see this dream come true.
It was approximately 5 years that I was able to experience the love of God in my life, in each of the ministries, each day that passed.
I thank God for the beautiful opportunity that He gave me to have, in addition to a work experience, a very gratifying Spiritual experience.
I thank Kathy to the Pure Joy team in the United States and Guatemala for this growth that they have directly and indirectly helped me to have. God bless and take care of you always.
Thank you for your dedication and service, Ana. We love you!
Mi nombre es Ana, vivo en Puerto Barrios Izabal, tengo 27 años y estudio Ciencias Jurídicas Y Sociales, Abogado y Notario en la Universidad Pública de Guatemala, durante toda mi vida he asistido a la Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica en donde he servido desde muy pequeña hasta la fecha.
En el 2015 una hermana de la Iglesia, Heidy Herrera me invitó a participar en un ministerio cristiano y acepte, se trataba de Pure Joy Missions, desde el primer día me gustó el ministerio comencé como voluntaria apoyando en el ministerio de Club Exploradores los lunes por la tarde, con los niños de la Escuela de Piedra Parada en el cual cada niño se fue ganando un lugar en mi corazón, participar en el ministerio para mí fue de mucha bendición, ya que en ese tiempo no tenía un empleo ya que mis papás no me dejaban tener un empleo, mi padre nos cuidaba mucho; pero me sorprendió mucho que al enterarse que iba a participar en el ministerio de forma voluntaria no se negó a que asistiera, para mi esa fue una gran bendición porque no me negó del derecho y la obligación de servir a Dios y a la comunidad. Posteriormente fui asistiendo a los demás ministerios, y al segundo al que asistí fue al asilo de ancianos de la 22 calle, en el cual, también llegué a amar en el amor de Dios a cada ancianito y cada día están en mi mente y mi corazón, y luego asistí al vertedero de la ciudad con el equipo de Pure Joy en ese momento.
Conforme iba pasando el tiempo me convertí en parte del equipo de Pure Joy y fui amando el ministerio y cada actividad, cada ministerio lo realicé con mucho amor sabiendo que mi trabajo es para Dios y para servir a las personas que lo necesiten.
Pure Joy es un gran Ministerio que no solamente ayudó a las personas del basurero de Piteros y aldeas alrededor, también me ayudó a mí, en mi crecimiento espiritual, emocional, laboral, etc. Y siempre soñé con ver a Pure Joy mucho más grande de lo que ya es; en donde más personas se quieran unir para ayudar y con instalaciones propias, con una oficina en donde se pueda recibir a todos los que necesiten ayuda, espero en Dios un día mis ojos puedan ver este sueño hecho realidad.
Fueron 5 años aproximadamente en donde pude experimentar el amor de Dios en mi vida, en cada uno de los ministerios, cada día que pasaba.
Agradezco a Dios la hermosa oportunidad que me brindó de poder tener además de una experiencia laboral una experiencia Espiritual muy gratificante.
Agradezco a Kathy al equipo de Pure Joy en Estados Unidos y en Guatemala por este crecimiento que directa e indirectamente me han ayudado a tener. Dios les bendiga y cuide siempre.
Going into 2020, I knew there would be some challenges. Our team in Guatemala had a change in leadership and new missionaries were also joining our team. The location of the tutoring program had to change, someone on our team needed to learn how to drive, and each missionary on our team had to pick up new roles and additional responsibilities.
Although I was confident in the team’s abilities and excited for new opportunities, I knew it would be a process that would take time. However in the first few months of 2020, I was so impressed by how our team quickly adjusted and grew into their new roles. I watched Yeni grow as a director and lead the team with grace and wisdom. She also faced her fears and learned how to drive. Ana became the assistant director and did a wonderful job managing additional responsibilities such as creating weekly financial reports. Wendy stepped up and helped the team become more organized. Francis and Andrea brought new ideas and became a vital part of our team.
Then COVID-19 shut the country down. For months, strict government restrictions prevented us from doing nearly every ministry. However, our team rose to the occasion, thinking of ways they could continue to reach others safely. They created a whole new ministry to help encourage local pastors. They started recording lessons and devotionals for the children and teens online. They kept in contact with the directors of the nursing home and orphanage and met many physical needs. They became more faithful in prayer and they grew as a team. They also saw the physical needs of the community and created care packages on multiple occasions.
Then two hurricanes and major flooding came to Puerto Barrios, and again, our team rose to the occasion. As a team, we were able to create 200 care packages and deliver them to communities most affected by the flooding. We were able to hand out Bibles, pray with the families, and offer words of encouragement. Although 2020 was not what we had planned, we are thankful to God for guiding us through these challenges. He has been so faithful. We are so thankful for our supporters, too, for their generosity and prayers! We could not do this without your generous hearts. Although the pandemic prevented us from starting the building project for our Project Valor tutoring program, we have many dreams for 2021 and pray that in God’s perfect timing, they will come to fruition. Thank you for partnering with us!
-Kathy Jacobs, Director of Pure Joy Missions
This year 2020 has been a great challenge since we have not had a normal year due to the different events that have been emerging internationally and we could even say globally. We tried to let it not affect our ministry and tried doing everything that we do in a normal year but it was impossible due to COVID19. One of the hardest things was knowing we could not see the elderly. It was quite difficult to know that we cannot visit them, talk to them, sing with them, give them the message of God's word the message of hope, listen to their stories, see their smiles, listen to their requests and thanks, sit by their side and sing together, give them their snack and hear them say “I don’t like it” or ask “is there more?” It is quite painful not to be able to visit them; To see them from afar and not be able to chat or give them words of encouragement, to leave their food at the door and not be able to give each one of them their snack, to see their sad faces from afar knowing that we cannot be with them.
What comforts us and encourages us is knowing that their health is good. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still in Puerto Barrios and that we are the department most affected by this disease, the elderly are healthy. The staff at the nursing home tell us that they are grateful to Kathy and that through the team, they always bring the elderly a snack and always remember them. They say they miss us, as we do them.
As a sign of the love that the Pure Joy Missions’ team have for them, we have bought them their Christmas gifts like every year. We hope that the gifts give them a little happiness in these difficult times (photos below!). We are very grateful to God because through the difficulties, He has shown His power and has allowed us to get even closer to Him. Every Tuesday after leaving the snack at the nursing home, we have a moment of praise and prayer where we intercede for each of the ministries of Pure Joy Missions, for the board of directors, the children, the elderly, the tutoring program teens, for the life of each person who collaborates directly and indirectly with Pure Joy. We also thank God for the team here in Puerto Barrios and for those who were a part of forming Pure Joy in past and for the opportunity it gives us to serve others.
Just a year ago, I received a challenge, for me, a great challenge, and that was to lead the ministry of Pure Joy Missions in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. I remember I felt that I could not do it, and I asked for time to pray. I told God if You go with me, I go. I prayed, “Lord, Pure Joy Missions was born first in Your heart and is Yours Lord. I want to please You and do things well for You.” After praying, I felt the confidence to do it.
I then realized that I had to learn to drive a car. It seemed very difficult to me, but God was faithful and I learned to drive. Then on March 16, Guatemala was closed by the pandemic, something unusual and a situation that we did not know how to handle. We didn’t know how to continue with the ministries if we couldn't visit and get together. It really became a challenge. I praise God for our team. The ideas began to flow on how to maintain the support of the scholarship students of Project Valor, how to continue the Bible classes for the Explorers Club, how to take the snack every Tuesday to the elderly at the nursing home, and how to support the children of the orphanage in some needs.
God is still faithful. I know that I have made many mistakes, and I have a lot to learn. I praise God for each member of the team. I love to see the love with which they carry out each ministry and that they are always willing to go the extra mile. They are a great team, and God is still faithful. Although many times I have felt insecure to continue, God has shown me that He uses the weak of this world for His service. Like a loving Father, he teaching me how I can serve in the best way. In everything I do, I want to please God and be a blessing. May God guide me where He wants, and my prayer has not yet changed: IF GOD GOES WITH ME, I WILL GO.
THANK YOU, PURE JOY MISSIONS.
Este año fue toda una nueva experiencia en mi vida, muchas cosas importantes pasaron en mi vida.
Justamente hace un año, recibí un desafío, para mí, un gran desafío, y ese fue liderar el Ministerio de PURE JOY MISSIONS en Puerto Barrios Izabal, Guatemala recuerdo que sentí que no podía hacerlo y pedí tiempo para orar y le dije a Dios si Tu vas conmigo yo voy.
PURE JOY MISSIONS, nació primero en tu corazón es tuyo Señor y quiero agradarte y hacer las cosas bien para Ti. Sentí la confianza de hacerlo, me di cuenta que debía aprender a manejar carro y me parecía muy difícil pero Dios fue Fiel y aprendí a manejar carro, luego en marzo 16, Guatemala es cerrada por la pandemia algo inusual una situación que no sabíamos cómo manejar como continuar con los ministerios si no podíamos visitar, reunirnos, realmente se convirtió en un reto. Alabo a Dios por el equipo, las ideas empezaron a fluir de cómo hacer para mantener el apoyo a los chicos becados de Proyecto Valor, llevar las clases bíblicas al Club Exploradores, llevar la refacción como todos los martes a los abuelos del asilo de la 22calle, apoyar a los niños del Orfanato en algunas necesidades, Dios sigue siendo fiel. Sé que he cometido muchos errores, y tengo mucho que aprender, Alabo a Dios por cada miembro del Equipo, me encanta ver el amor con que realizan cada ministerio que siempre están dispuestos a dar la milla extra, son un gran Equipo Dios sigue siendo Fiel. Aunque muchas veces me he sentido insegura de continuar, Dios me ha mostrado que de lo débil del mundo tomo Dios para su servicio y que como un Padre amoroso me enseña cómo puedo servirle de la mejor manera, todo lo que hago deseo que agrade a Dios, ser de bendición, que Dios me guie hacia donde El quiere, y mi oración aun no a cambiado SI DIOS VA CONMIGO YO VOY.
GRACIAS, PUERE JOY MISSIONS .
As a Pure Joy Missions team, we felt the need to go and support the people who lost everything due to the storms and flooding. We have been working hard trying to find food to give to the community called Quetzalito in Entre Rios where access is very difficult. There were many challenges. The community was still flooded and families did not have food to eat. It was also difficult to find food such as rice, beans, corn flour, and nutrition drinks here due to road closures. By God's grace, we managed to get the necessary food to be able to take it to Quetzalito village and Cacao Frontera village. There we distributed New Testament Bibles with each bag of food in order to bring them not only physical food but also spiritual food. We were also able to pray together with the families of the community.
Something that moved us was there were not enough food packages for the entire community of Cacao Frontera since the need is very great. We also ran out of New Testament Bibles, and people asked us for more New Testaments. We felt that in the same way that they needed the physical food, they also were spiritually hungry for the Word of God. We thank God for the opportunity he gave us to go and support the families affected by Hurricane Eta. Please pray for all those families who at this time do not have food to eat.
-Ana, Assistant Director of Pure Joy
This year has been a year full of challenges for everyone due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it has also been a time that has helped us grow and create new strategies to develop our work as a ministry. Although we have not been able to achieve many goals that we had for this year, we have achieved much more in other different areas. One of them being becoming more technological than ever before. This has been a great advance for us since this was an area where we did not place too much importance on developing before. For me (Andrea), being in charge of producing and editing the videos for the Explorers Club and Project Valor has been something very interesting, entertaining and also edifying.
You may wonder how this has impacted my life. Well, I can say how this time with the team has helped us in our unity and coordination as we prepare the themes and messages that we want to share with both the children and adolescents. Also in developing the ideas of how to make scenery or choreography for them, we have had to plan new ideas for everything. This has been something very exciting and fun. I love when we think of crazy things that are very fun for children and teens who see us on social media.
Anyway, the moment I get home and can edit these I have realized that God speaks to me through something that, although we have already recorded at the time of editing, God speaks to me clearly and I am very surprised about this. It has really helped me to be able to get closer to the team and to God in those moments, that is why we strongly encourage you to see our videos (although they are only in Spanish, I hope that soon we can give them with English subtitles). It amazes me what God wants to do through this resource, and we hope it will be a very blessing to all who see and enjoy them in the same way that we have enjoyed doing this for you.
A few clips from our future Christmas program!
Este año ha sido una año lleno de retos para todos debido a la pandemia de Covid-19, sin embargo, ha sido un tiempo que nos ha ayudado a crecer e improvisar nuevas estrategias para poder desarrollar nuestro trabajo como ministerio. Aunque no hemos podido alcanzar muchas metas que teníamos para éste año hemos logrado mucho más en otras áreas diferentes...siendo una de ellas el volvernos más tecnológicos que nunca antes y ésto la verdad para nosotros ha sido un gran avance ya que antes no creíamos que era un área en la que pusieramos demasiada importancia para desarrollar. Para mí (Andrea), el estar encargada de producir y editar los videos para el Club Exploradores y Proyecto Valor ha sido algo muy interesante, entretenido y también edificante, pero se podrán preguntar como esto ha impactado mi vida, bueno, puedo decir que como equipo éste tiempo nos ha ayudado en nuestra unidad y coordinación de cómo preparar los temas o mensajes que queremos darle tanto a los niños como adolescentes. También en desarrolar las ideas de como hacer escenografía o coreografías para los mismos, hemos tenido que panear nuevas ideas para todo y eso es algo muy emocionante y divertido, me encanta cuando se nos ocurren cosas locas que son muy divertidas para los niños o para los que nos ven en las redes sociales. En fin, el momento que llego a casa y puedo editar estos me he dado cuenta que Dios me habla por medio de algo que aunque ya hemos grabado al momento de edición Dios me habla claramente y me muy sorprendida de ésto y de verdad me ha ayudado a poder acercarme más al equipo y a Dios en esos momentos, por eso es que animamos mucho a que puedan ver nuestros videos (aunque están solamente en español, espero que pronto podamos darlos con subtitulos en inglés), me assombra lo que Dios quiere hacer por medio de éste recurso y esperamos sea de muchisima bendición para todos los que los vean y disfruten de la misma manera en que nosotros hemos disfrutado hacer esto para ustedes.