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Pure and undefiled religion

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.    ~James 1:27

I have been turning this passage of scripture over in my head the past couple of weeks.  James encourages us to religiously take care of the widows and orphans in their distress.  Religion has got a bad reputation as of late.  Recently I have heard many folks say, “Christianity is not a religion its a relationship”.  I understand their sentiments and why they say this.  Christians can get caught up in meaningless rituals and ceremonies which bring no pleasure to God.  Read Isaiah 1:11, and you see God fed up with people offering meaningless sacrifices to appease God when all he really wants is people’s hearts.  But there is religion which is pure and undefiled, and we should not stop doing this.  Porch de Salomon continues to religiously take care of the widow, the orphan and those in distress.  It was interesting the past few weeks to contrast this religion with the pomp and circumstance of the Semana Santa activities held in town.

We had a group working with us from Gainesville, Florida.  They helped us build a home for Silveria, a widow and her family in a rural village called Xiquel.  They also split their group up and helped us begin work on Isabel and Mauricio’s house.  Mauricio is a young man with kidney failure.  The porch is helping him pay for his treatment until he can get a replacement but Isabel and Mauricio also needed a better place to live and some relief from their distress.  What a great opportunity for us to practice some religion!

Another special event happened this week.  Juana, Silveria’s daughter had her baby boy!  The team got to see the baby and congratulate Juana with some much-needed gifts of clothes and food.

This team also participated in dedicating a finished house for another widow named Juana Sajvin.  She lives up in Santa Catarina.  Her house is way up the mountain.  And if you remember from a earlier post called beasts of burden quite a bit of heavy labor was involved getting material up to this job site.

The next week was “Holy Week” in Guatemala.  The week leading up to the celebration of Easter.  Panajachel gets pretty crazy during this week.  The town fills with tons of people and there are many “religious ceremonies” happening throughout the week.  On Good Friday they make alfrombras or carpets for the parade route that carries a float of Jesus and Mary to walk over.  It is a symbolic ceremony held all over the world.

Again I think on the passage of scripture from James and wonder if this is the type of religion that pleases God?  I do see beauty in the processions and the ceremony and our family enjoyed looking at the carpets.  I suppose the real question is, where is my heart?  Because I can religiously do many things in the name of God and it is nothing but a clang of a symbol or a noisy gong without love.

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Teeming with teams!

Working with Porch de Salomon provides us with plenty of stories to tell.  We never have an issue with not having information to share with you about what God is doing.  The hard part is trying to choose which stories and information to share and what to not to.  The past 3 weeks have provided us with lots of material to share with you all.  Through construction, multiple medical clinics, and even an audiology clinic we have seen God do some amazing things.

It started with a team from Kansas!  They split up each day.  Some doing construction and others doing medical clinics.

The construction team worked on Silveria’s house in Chiquel moving dirt and mixing concrete.  The Medical portion of the group worked the first two days in clinics and then joined the construction crew later in the week.

On the way to the medical clinic one day the Porch van was approached by some locals who flagged us down.  Little did we know what God had in store that day.  We ended up seeing a mentally disturbed man whose family had chained him up for the past 6 years because they didn’t know how to handle him.  For me I immediately thought of the scriptures where Jesus cast a demon out of a man whose family had him in chains.  The team cut his hair, washed his body, prayed for him and gave him some medicine.  We didn’t physically see any demons come out of the man.  I personally believe the care he received and is receiving will set him free from his current bondage.  It was an unbelievable experience and situation.

We really had a great week with this group from Kansas!  Amber and I lived in Kansas for 4 years so this group always brings back some great memories for us.

 

The next week found us working with Florida State’s Audiology program.  They brought down a group of students who helped us give hearing tests and they also brought $64,000 worth of hearing aids valued at $1600 for each one down with them.  These hearing aids gave people the gift of hearing!  One little girl pictured below was able to hear for the first time in her life!  Wow, what a gift!

Northstar came down the next week to help us with construction on Moises and Melchora’s house and do Medical clinics.

The Northstar group also helped us dedicate the Library Porch de Salomon has been working on this past year in Xecotoq.  The community children put on a great presentation of dancing and a play, The 3 little pigs, for us.  Afterwards we shared in a meal of Polick(Guatemalan stew) served for special occasions.

My band has been busy playing every week on Tuesdays at the Porch as well has playing for the porch worship gathering on Sundays.  We also got to play recently at a local Mardi Gras party/school fundraiser. You can check out the video below of an original song I wrote called, “Resurrect Me”.

A month full of blessing

It’s one of those months where so much is happening its hard to compress it all down into a single blog post.  So this post is a catch-all from the month of February and I will do some other team posts in a couple of days.  Where to begin?

 

I would like to begin by saying thank you.  From the beginning of our time here until now, you all have followed, prayed, partnered with us financially and given us the support we have needed to do what we do.  We have our ups and downs here.  Some days it feels great living and working in Guatemala and other days we long for the comforts and ease of good ol’ Indiana living.

 

At the beginning of the month I went to the airport to pick up Brook Sarver and Kyle Schnitz from Olive Branch Church.  They came down and helped us record some video projects for Porch de Salomon.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  As we drove back from the airport Volcan Fuego near Antigua, Guatemala was erupting.  We were driving past when it happened but didn’t even notice from the highway.  These are photos I found of the eruption on Facebook.

 

It was a great week with these guys recording some amazing stories for Porch de Salomon.

Thanks to Guatemala Joe for giving us a surprise drop off:) Our kiddos have learned how to raise two baby chicks.  It has been a good learning experience for them.  However, sadly, Ezra carried one around by the neck a little too rough and we lost one.  Eventually we will give the other to a needy family in our area.

On fat Tuesday February 17th we went to a Mardi Gras party to help raise money for a local school in town called PCI.  My band, “The Dirty Deeds Band” played a set to open up the night.  Yes I know my shirt is pretty awesome.

We started work on Silveria’s house this month.  She is a mother of 8 children providing for them on her own because her husband is an alcoholic and ran off to Chimaltenango. Her oldest daughter has one child of her own and another one on the way (a boy! We were able to get her an ultrasound recently).

We always love it when “Team Gina” from California comes to serve with Porch de Salomon.  They along with a team from China helped us dig out the side of the mountain to prevent flooding at Silveria’s house.

Laura our good friend from Fort Wayne came down last year about this time to serve for a couple of weeks with Porch de Salomon.  Little did we know a year later she would be getting engaged to Guatemala Joe!

We took a spur of the moment trip to the Pacific ocean with our good friends the McMullen’s this past weekend.  We had so much fun with them.  And despite having some motion sickness on the way there we had a perfect weekend at the beach.  Our kids had never been to the beach except Abra when she was too young to remember.  I enjoyed watching them playing.  It was a quick 24 hour trip but it was fun!

The McMullen’s are moving back to the States soon.  We are going to miss them a ton!  One sad part about being a missionary is having to say goodbye to people all the time.  But we must look on the bright side. The good news is they are having another child and this is why they are moving back.  They also gifted us with their vehicle!  They have generously given us their 2001 Lincoln Navigator.  The only issue? It has some engine trouble and needs about $1500 worth of work.  We aren’t sure what to do yet but are praying someone might feel led to help us with this cost.

Interested in helping us fix our vehicle?  It will be extremely useful for us.  You can donate at porchdesalomon.org and make sure you designate to Will and Amber Deeds.

 

Donate to help us fix the Navigator!

 

 

 

Finishing strong

For the past 2.5 years, we have been serving God with Porch de Salomon. It has been a life-transforming experience, and God has allowed us to be a part of so many amazing things and also some really hard things. We have seen God rescue alcoholics from addiction and single moms from homelessness. Countless times we have been a part of God feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and giving help to the widow and the fatherless. Through working with Porch de Salomon, we have served the “least of these”. You all have been a huge part of helping us serve in Guatemala, and we are so thankful for your prayers and financial support which made all of this possible.  Please take some time to read our most recent newsletter explaining what we are doing next.

Deeds family newsletter

Our last month in Guatemala has been filled with groups from the states including My Dad, brother, and sister coming down with Akron UMC.

Now we are selling things, packing up, and saying goodbye our last week here.  The Porch staff threw a goodbye party for us at Porta Del Lago (a hotel in town).  I got all teared up saying thank you to all our dear friends we have made here.

We also celebrated Abra’s 7th birthday this week.  A funny coincidence was we planned a pool party at the same hotel for Abra’s birthday.  But Abra was thrilled she got to swim there twice in one week.

As we transition back to the US, we would greatly appreciate your continued financial support! When we moved to Guatemala, we sold all of our belongings—including cars, beds, appliances, lawnmower, etc. Your continued or additional support during our transition will help us replace these needed items as we restart our household in Indianapolis. Porch de Salomon will be accepting donations with our names indicated until September 30. You can still donate via credit card, Paypal, or electronic check at the link below or mail in a paper check at the provided address

Donate online at:

http://porchdesalomon.org/donate/

indicate:

Will and Amber Deeds

Mail checks to:

Porch de Salomon
P.O. Box 10509
 Tallahassee, FL 32302-2509 memo line:
Will and Amber Deeds

Please pray for us in the upcoming weeks as we:

July 9—return to Guatemala and serve with remaining summer teams August 1—pack up our home, distribute our belongings, and say goodbyes August 15—fly to Indiana and search for a van, house, furniture and more September 1—move to Indianapolis and begin serving at Castleton UMC