A note from Ryan!
Hey Pure Joy Fam!
I've been secretly meaning to write a blog post for the past 2-3 months and it just kept getting away from me. I've been wanting to write this for a lot of reasons. I've been wanting to share why I love Pure Joy Missions so much and what they're actually up to in Puerto Barrios. And I wanted to share a bit my own life returning back home after amazing opportunities like spending time in Puerto Barrios. Well, here it is!
Through the grace of God, I now call myself a coffee importer! I get to work with coffee farmers in an area of Guatemala called Yepocapa. I spend about 5 months a year in Guatemala trekking through coffee fields meeting some of the coolest people in the world! But before I became a coffee importer, I met Kathy in Puerto Barrios.
I heard about Pure Joy Missions from a friend of mine named Rob who had spent several months in Puerto Barrios. When I saw that he had been freed from anxiety through seeing God's love through the kids at the trash dump I knew that I wanted to visit as well. I did and I fell in love with the simplicity of the gospel I found in Kathy and those surrounding her through Pure Joy Missions.
We worshiped, served, and prayed for people. It was powerful as we got the chance to genuinely care for people and to see our faith manifested in works. I think sometimes getting the chance to love others allows us to experience the revelation of scripture. For example, John 13:34 says to love one another as Christ has loved you. I think loving others allows us to experience the fruit of this verse. It helps us experience and know more deeply the love Christ has for us. For me, my fears and anxieties were freed when I got the chance to love others and have my own heart filled with the faith that God loves me. That week, I got to pray for people with my heart filled with God's. What an incredible privilege!
I recently got another chance to visit Puerto Barrios with my fiancé Taylor Tucker. We really enjoyed tutoring the various teenagers there and getting to spend some quality time with Doña Antonia while the men of the nearby community helped to build her new home.
I learned from Pastor Roni that many kids from the trash dump quit schooling because of a lose of hope either by the kids themselves or by their parents. It's almost easier to collect trash for the rest of your life than it is to believe that there's hope for something better. Haven't we all felt that way at some point in our lives? Peter in the Bible did the same thing as he returned to his fishing boat after denying that he knew Christ three times.
The cool part is that Peter's story didn't end there and neither will it for these kids. The tutoring program is helping these kids to be successful in school by helping to provide school supplies, subsidizing school tuitions, and tutors who are there to help. The hope is to see these kids grow up to believe that they are made in the image of God with a purpose and a shot at destroying these systemic chains set against them to keep them hopeless and in poverty. Although we were just helping to tutor kids, learning this made me feeling we were actively fighting hopelessness and a part of something huge!
Our last few days we got to spend with Doña Antonia. At this point, I had spent almost collectively over a year in Guatemala and so my Spanish had gotten much better. I was thankful for the opportunity to really become friends with her. Doña Antonia reminds me of one of those moms that could easily be your second Mom. She's funny, cute, and always active. We got the chance to spend time with her two children while her new house was being built. Taylor and I basically ran in circles all day playing tag with these two balls of energy while getting sunburned.
This new home for Doña Antonia is a physical representation that God is with her. When she wasn't sure where she was going to live next, God opened up a door and he provided. When she was scared for her kids future, God met her and gave health to her son, and now because of the tutoring program, she rests knowing that there are God's servants fighting for her kids to have a better life.
As for Taylor and I, we can't wait to return. I'd like to continue to build relationships with people like Doña Antonia and others in the surrounding area to actively fight hopelessness through job training programs, tutoring, and the sharing of the gospel. Taylor loves kids and can't wait to return to spend time at the orphanage building the faith of these little ones.
It's now been about three months since I returned to the States from Guatemala. It's common to struggle spiritually when you shift seasons so rapidly. Flying home and unpacking happens all too fast and returning to work is a necessary evil and that's okay! It's easy to feel lost in this season.
I think the goal is to be led by faith. Scripture prophesies that the righteous will be led by faith. So then, I feel as if we're in need of some faith development. What do we believe about ourselves? What do we believe about God? You'd be amazing at how much these honest answers can change the way you live life. As I've been honest with myself, I've viewed myself in shame and it's kept me from sharing the Jesus I love with others in both my actions verbally and non-verbally. But as I've gotten to encounter Jesus and His word, I've also come to encounter who I really am too. We're glorified children chosen by a King to be kings of our days changing environments around us to be more like His. And that reality is fun! It's this truth that changes your posture, your confidence, your speech, and your heart above all. It's glorious!
I love how much Puerto Barrios is a training ground for me to learn how to live by faith. Kathy and Pure Joy Missions alike make decisions grounded in God's word and his love. Life is just as difficult down there as it is up here most of the time but faith in Christ Jesus is the gasoline in our souls that helps us burn forward. It's what I've learned down there and it's what I'm learning up here too. I can't wait to continue to build my faith in God's word and to exercise my faith in action as well. I'm thankful for how the Pure Joy Staff lives that out daily and how much of an encouragement it is to me as well.