They are on their way home!

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Thank you for your faithful prayers this past week!  Our team could not have accomplished all that they did without your support and most importantly your prayers.  That will be a theme that your son or daughter, wife or husband will come back with…how powerful prayer is. A quote that Dan Smith often says is, “Prayer does not equip us for the greater work, it IS the greater work!” This ministry has been built on prayer, sustained by prayer and grown with prayer. That is one of his purposes, to share that passion about prayer with the teams who come to serve.

Living in West Michigan, in the United States, we become so complacent and for the most part we feel very “safe” so we don’t commit every action to prayer.  Our comings and goings should still be covered in prayer but we forget and go about our days.  This past week our team has never left the base or a village without first committing their actions to God in prayer.  Praying that they will be used by Him to point the glory back to their Lord and Savior.  Shouldn’t that be our prayer here as well?

So, your job is not yet done.  Your prayers are still needed.  Right now our team has just taken off from Guatemala City. They will be landing in Atlanta at 6:34 pm EST. They have a 3 hour layover there which is nice because they will be going thru customs there. They are on Delta Flight #906. They leave Atlanta at 10:01 pm on flight #510. They arrive in GR at 11:58 pm. I am a bit of dork and love tracking their flight so just in case there are others like me, 😉 here is the link to their flight. https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/#/flightstatus/1/0906/2019-06-17/GUA/ATL

Pray for smooth travels as they fly home.  Pray that they are led to share their stories with those they meet.  Pray that they are able to come home and put into actions the lessons they have learned this week.

In the next few weeks take time to ask questions and listen to their stories.  If you donated money to a team member, call them up or take them out for dessert and listen to their stories.  You made it possible for them to be the Hands and Feet of our Savior this week. YOU are part of this team.

If you are able to come to the Grand Rapids Airport to welcome the team home, the team would love to see you there.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your faithful prayers. I would encourage all of you to sign up for Paradise Bound Ministries newsletter. You can do that thru this link, just scroll to the bottom of the page. http://paradisebound.org/what-we-do/

To God be the Glory, Now and Forever, to God be the Glory Amen!

In His Grip,

Kristy Van Wyhe

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Monday Morning, June 17 -At the feet of the Cross

4:45 AM

“How great is the love that the father has lavished on us that we should be called Children of God and that is what we are.” 1 John 3:1

The tears of joy were flowing once again.  This time not by people in a remote village, but rather by members of our team.   I don’t deserve the Love that God has shown me.   I don’t deserve the incredible gift of salvation that He has given me.  None of us deserves to have a future in Heaven with our Maker and Lord and Savior.  But because of God’s great Love for us, he has given us this free gift if we just humble ourselves and turn our hearts over to Him and follow Him. This realization is the most powerful thing in all eternity.  To realize that you were once dead and now alive, that you were lost and are now found, that you were without hope and now full of Hope for all eternity.

Last night we had our final time together here in Guatemala.  The same message of hope and love that we came to bring to these people at the end of the road was placed in front of each of us.  Last night we were reminded that nothing in this world matters if we have not met Jesus at the foot of the cross.

Often times we think that it is the people far away who need to be rescued and forget that we are just as much in need of being saved, ourselves.   For many of us, we have grown up in the church and have become complacent in our walk and take it for granted the great gift we have been given and magnitude of the price that was paid for our freedom.  For others we are still trying to do it on our own.  Trying to find hope in things that are powerless to give us what we are truly searching for.   Our identity is often tied up into things that do not last and one day will fade away. 

When you accept Christ as your savior and give him the keys to your life your identity in this world disappears.  Your new identity as a child of God changes you and you no longer have to fear or worry about what the future holds.  This identity is all you will ever need. 

Last night we gathered around a wooden cross on the floor of the base we were reminded of the desperate need that we have to daily give Christ the keys of our lives.   At the feet of Jesus, we were reminded, is where everything changes.  It is so hard to give the control of our lives to God.  So hard to let go and give everything.

Last night, as we nailed our own names to the cross, we experienced a moment that we will never forget.  Some on the team have given their lives over to God this week for the first time while others recommitted their lives to following Him.  This week many of us thought it was the mission to bring God to people who were lost but have been surprised that it was our hearts that God brought us over 2000 miles to Guatemala to change.

Friends, we have been in the Grip of our Lord this week.   We have experienced God’s presence, power and love like we have never felt before and we have been changed.  As we go home today the enemy with do all in his power to tell us to go back to the way we were.  He will try to distract us from that calling that remains in our lives to bring the message of Jesus to the end of the road. 

In just a couple hours we will load the vans one final time from the base and begin our journey home.  We are sad to leave but also eager to get home to our family and friends.   For some of us it will be difficult to put into words what we have experienced.  It may take some time for the stories to come out but they will.

Pray that this journey here to Guatemala was only the half way point on our real mission to return right were we started as new creations in Christ ready to open our hands to His will.  Ready to say the words: “Because You Say So”.  Ready to daily come to the Cross and cast our cares and our futures at Jesus feet.

We have been so blessed to be able to be Jesus’ hands and feet this week.  We are so blessed to have people like you praying for us.   We are so blessed to be a part of a community where we don’t have to do this alone.   We are so excited to share with you in person what God has done.  Our prayer is that you too have felt the presence of God this week and have felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to give the keys of your life completely to Him.

There is one last personal devotions that we will have before going home.  Today on the plane we will have our final devotions.  I thought this devotion would be something that some of you would appreciate.   Please pray for us in these final moments in Guatemala that God would convict us to return home with a passion to be His hands and feet to those who are in need.

Thank you for taking this journey with us.  Thank you for covering us with your prayers.   Thank you for sharing in this experience.   May God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you and give you His peace.

In His Grip and His Love,

Kevin

MONDAY  -ON THE PLANE HOME

-LAST PERSONAL DEVOTIONS:

Here you are thousands of feet in the air on your way home.  This is the last time we get to be together like this.  I hope these devotions have been helpful this past week.  Thanks for making this trip so special.  You have been and are a blessing to this team and to the people of Guatemala.

JOURNAL:  Write down the main things that have impacted you over the past week.  Last night the challenge was extended to give God the title to your home.  Remember this journal is just for you.  Don’t try to fake yourself out.  Write down where you see your relationship with Jesus stands right now.  If you gave him the title yesterday, write down what it was like.  Do you feel the freedom that He offers? 

THOUGHT TO PONDER:  The plane ride home is all that stands between you and the life you left behind in west Michigan.  Through this week you have probably been challenged in many ways -some of which you may not have expected.  Now is where the rubber meets the road.  Christ calls us to a life of change.  He wants us to become selfless and focused on the things of heaven.

When you step off the plane, Satan will begin attacking you.  “Go back to the way you were.  You don’t want to be a Jesus Freak.  Just forget about all that stuff that happened.  It was fun but it isn’t the real world that I live in. Come on  stop thinking about all the needs of others, take care of yourself.”

Satan will speak loud and clear at first, if you don’t deal with it, you will soon not even notice him and things will be the same as before.

If you want to keep growing and continue to be cleansed and used by God, the real work has just begun.  Keep the daily times with God.  Find an accountability partner who can help keep you moving towards God.  If you feel that there is something that you should change, it is probably the Holy Spirit talking to you, don’t ignore it.

If the week has gone anything like I thought it might, we have been with God and we have changed.  I hope and pray that you will share with others about your time in Guatemala and challenge those around you to grow with you as you continue your journey with God.  If at any time you need to talk, my door is always open.  Thanks for giving God this past week and being His “Hands and Feet” in Guatemala!

In His Grip,

Kevin Van Wyhe

Pray for the team tonight

Today we spent the day at the plantation that Paradise Bound is purchasing. We had a great time learning about the many opportunities that PBM is involved in and moving toward. We were able to enjoy some down time with each other on a ropes course, playing corn hole, relaxing and even fishing. After a wonderful lunch in their beautiful facility we were able to see the landing strip and airplane. Sitting in the hanger, we were able to hear of the many ways PBM is reaching the lost.

Tonight we will have our final devotions. Please pray for us as we are challenged to make our heart Christ’s Home. It is hard to believe that we are just a half a day from leaving the base and heading for home. We will post again after our devotions and again while we are traveling. Thanks for your prayers and support.

In His Grip -Kevin

Saturday -Medical Clinic -Team #5

Last night we traveled to a different part of the Guatemala to set up a med clinic.  This particular village was about two and half hours away and it brought us through cities, rolling hills, mountains and valleys.  The day started off with good health and high spirits. It was such a blessing that all of the team members were able to make it to the village today with minimal car sickness.

This was the first time that Paradise Bound has taken a group to this specific village. Along the way, we had to stop a couple of times and ask for directions. It was evident that when we got to the village that they were needs with the people there, but we all got the sense that the village was more modernized that the last village we went to. Unlike the other village that we attended when we got there, there were no villagers waiting for us. We were able to set up our supplies and play some games before people started to arrive. It seemed to start off rather slow with people warming up to us, but we were able to connect with the kids very quickly through baseball, soccer, basketball, sidewalk chalk, fingernail painting, balloon animals, coloring and many more activities. It was really cool to see some of the older members of the village join in on some of the activities as well.

While some of the team was playing with the people outside, there was a small group handing out medical supplies. The people were so grateful to be receiving simple medications, simple things that we take for granted every day. The way that the nurses here interact with the villagers was very eye opening. They would start off with each family and ask what specific needs they had. They would then proceed to fill out information on what kinds of medication they should be getting and then our team members would fill bags with each specific medication. Once they received the medication and supplies, the nurses would then explain how to take all of the medication so they went home informed on what to take, how much to take, and what each medication would help treat.

After we formed relations with the people we were able to share with them the Jesus Film. We sat among them as the film was playing and we all noticed that the people were watching with such intensity, both the young and the old.  Once the movie ended, there was a time for us to share our worship with them. We were able to sing them a couple of songs during which some of them were recoding us. Through a translator we were also able to share some testimonies with them. We had a number of people come forward, some for the first time, and share how God has impacted their life. It was incredible to see how the people here clung to every word that was spoken! Again, some of them recorded what was being said. Our prayer is that they were able to hear God’s word through our team members and we pray that they are able to take what was said to heart and share it with others in the village.

After our worship time and testimonies, Pastor Hermano Jesús gave a very passionate sermon of how Christ loves them and wants to be a part of their life. He then gave an invitation for them to come forward and publically accept Jesus into their hearts. It was very humbling to see roughly 50 to 60 men women and children come forward and dedicate their lives to Christ. We were then able to pray over them individually and had out bibles. There was many hugs, handshakes, and thank you’s! The president of the village got up front when we were all done and thanked us for being there. It was a dream for them to have us Americans come to their village and serve them. They are anxious for us to come back and continue to help them.

We were very blessed to be a blessing to them. Our eyes have been opened to some amazing works of God and we are so excited to share more stories with you when we return home.  

In Christ,

Hannah Jongsma

Brian Keuning

Natalie Samdal

Ellie Smith

Al Smith

Kris Smith

Melaina Smits

Darin Tuttle

Sunday Morning -June 16 -Sharing our Story

The only way one can discover what someone else’s story is if someone shares it with them.   The only way one can know the experiences of life and the secrets hidden behind the faces of another person is if they invite you to hear and see their life through their story.   We all carry a story.  Without exception we all have a story that makes us who we are.   A story that may feel exciting and full of adventures or that maybe feels plain and reserved.  Our stories make us who we are.  Our stories of choices we have made and choices that have been made for us collectively define our identity and ultimately who we are.  Our stories whether short or long are what also connect us with each other.

When two people share a story, though from different perspectives, it can form a connection on which a relationship is formed.  This week this team has shared a big story and many connections were made that will last into the next weeks and months.   This week in the vans over the many miles that were traveled, over the many bumps and rocks that were felt, through the moments of laughter and the times of tears, under the sun and through the rain, at the base and in the villages, from building to dedicating homes, during meals and free time, relationships have taken root within this team that have the potential to last a life time.  All because we were willing to share part of our story together.

Last night at our final village, we again shared an amazing story together.   This was the first time that this village of 30 families living at the end of the road, has ever received a visit from a single person from the states, let alone an army of 40.   Our story began once again as we broke the ice  with crayons and tennis balls.  Over the several hours that followed tossing balls, drawing pictures, painting nails, kicking soccer balls, blowing up balloon animals, sharing candy, giving small gifts, playing games, sharing conversations, taking pictures, handing out hats and skirts, offering medical attention, and helping people see clearly with new glasses, our stories intertwined with the people living in this remote village.  What started as a group of strangers afraid to even share a conversation ended just after several hours with a group of friends not wanting the night to end.

Last night was a beautiful night, there was no other way to describe it, it was simply beautiful.   We fell in love with this village that is nowhere on a map.   To even get to this village we had to ask strangers along the way as even Google would not have been able to get us there.

In 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12 we read these words of Paul:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Last night as we again shared some songs as a group after watching the story of Jesus on the screen hung on the school wall, we also opened our hearts with our own personal stories.  This amazing team, one after another with a willingness and eagerness that I have not ever seen in all my years coming here, shared their stories of how Jesus rescued them from a life of being lost to an eternity of being found.  I believe these stories opened the door for the Gospel of Jesus to find it’s way into the hearts of these precious Guatemalans and change their story of despair to a story of hope.  

We are all broken by the stain of sin in this world.  We are all corrupted by the sinful choices that we have made. We are all like Peter and have denied Jesus at many times in our lives.  We are all sinners in need of a savior.  What a great thing that our God is a God of Grace and mercy.   What an incredible thing that he reached down with His son Jesus Christ to walk among us building connections and then paying the ultimate  price so we could have the Ultimate relationship with the Father our Maker, through Him.

We are truly broken Jars of clay.  Each of us are full of cracks that we often feel make us less and not even worthy.  But through those cracks, God delivers his message of hope.  It is because we are tattered and torn that the World sees that it is only Jesus in us that we can go though life with Hope and assurance that Jesus has prepared a place for us and he has a place for anyone who will humble themselves and invite Christ into our hearts.    None of us, if we really look close, are special on our own.   But each of us our precious and special to the father who call us His own.   It is a wonderful thing that God chooses to use us, the ordinary, to do the extraordinary.  To take us, a bunch of sinners to be his hands and feet to the world.

Last night as the team members shared of pain and hurt and then victory and triumph, the gates were opened wide for dozens of lost people to confess and receive Christ into their hearts.  God’s word again found its way into eager hands wanting to have the same hope that all who believe in Christ share.  Last night our stories became forever connected with these new friends without an address, living on the side of a mountain in Guatemala.  Last night we were able to share and witness, the greatest story ever told become their story.

I am sad in some ways to see this trip come to a close.  Last night on paper the purpose of our story here in Guatemala has come to an end, but the story that will unfold today has the potential to be the one that will change our stories back home.  Today, as we take in all that has happened this past week, God will be doing His work in our hearts to not make this story just a week long tale of our experience in Guatemala but a story of a lifelong mission to be his hands and feet to our world around us no matter where we are.  

Today after spending some time at a new property where the air strip that Paradise is now using and will soon own, we will come back to the base and have our final worship and devotions.   This will be the point that God will reveal possibly the most important part of the plot in his story for us here in Guatemala. Pray for the team tonight as we are called to make our hearts Christ’s home.  As we are called to offer ourselves fully to Him as living sacrifices to those at the end of the road back home.   As we are called to share the story of eternal transformation to our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers back home.

What an honor it has been to be here as extensions of all of you who have carried us in prayer this week.  We can’t wait to be able to share our stories with you face to face.

Thanks again for taking this journey with us. 

In His Grip

Kevin 

They have left the village at 9pm (guatemala time)

Prayer Warriors,

Just got word that the team has left the village and are on their way back! 🙂 They should be back at the base at 11-ish Guatemala time (1 am our time). It sounds like it was another amazing night with many changed lives! This is the first time Paradise Bound has been to this village, so it was a beginning of an on-going relationship. Our team did a great job showing the love of Jesus!

Please pray them home! It is a long 2 hours on very bumpy roads. Kevin will make a short post that they arrived safely back.

In His Grip,

Kristy Van Wyhe