Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blessed time in Guatemala

The time that God allowed me to be in Guatemala this year was absolutely invaluable and extremely blessed.

First of all I was able to follow up in very many ways the work He called me to do there a year ago. Especially the seminar teachings that had been given and the revival among the young people at that time had led to many repentances and a complete rejuvenation of the spiritual life for instance in the youth group. Also Pastor Giovanni and I were then involved in many home visits for prayer and counseling which bore much fruit. In one case a man, Julio, with a background in alcoholism, came to the throne of grace and then to church on several occasions then. Another case was of a young child, Jonathan, born almost totally blind who we found in a very hopeless state. After telling hid story on the net we found support for him from a couple in our congregation in Canada. In the year since then Pastor Giovanni has been able to take him and his mother to Guatemala City on several occasions for diagnosis, treatment and therapy. His mother now is in church with him regularly and the hope for a meaningful life for him is improving greatly.

This year a special focus of my visit was to follow up on the seminar that was held in Zacapa in February of this year by Scott Niemitalo, Bruce Estola and Colin Kinnunen on pivotal doctrinal issues. This proved to be blessed beyond belief. Issues of baptism and Holy Communion had been dealt with during that seminar in depth. As a result of this Pastor Giovanni, Ryan Ruotsala and I decided to culminate my stay there with a very special combined service celebration to make the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion available for all three congregations, Zacapa, Juan Ponce and Piedras Azules. For baptism we were especially thinking of the children, so many of whom were not yet baptized.

When we brought this idea out to the congregations there was a great and wonderful response. EIGHTEEN parents brought their children to be baptized last Sunday, April 7, at the special combined service celebration in Zacapa and ELEVEN adults also requested the holy sacrament - in all TWENTY NINE persons!! Little Jonathan was baptized and Julio, who has been sober for months now, even brought his son to be baptized! Later members of all three congregations participated in Holy Communion. For many it was their first opportunity. It had already been practiced in Zacapa but it was announced that it will now be served regularly in Juan Ponce, too. I anticipate that Piedras Azules will not be far behind!

In addition to this great response to the February and earlier seminars there was also a touching response among the youth to my stay. Besides the many personal contacts and "mentoring" times that we had together I was active in the Sunday evening youth group each week and then in a totally unforgettable "camping trip" with them to a mountain near Jalapa. Among many other memorable experiences, the night around the campfire was most precious when almost all of them opened up in a beautiful and moving way.

In all areas I had the incredible support, assistance and guidance of that most seasoned missionary and servant of the living God, Ryan Ruotsala. Furthermore Pastor Giovanni and I reached a whole new level of understanding and cooperation, which we share truly as brothers in Christ Jesus. 

Besides the celebration service last Sunday, April 7, during the last week I held seminars in both Juan Ponce and Zacapa on the theme of "Forgiveness". The attendance was great in both places. Each seminar was culminated with the "Lasting Change" session which includes the instruction and practice of confession and absolution in the name and blood of Jesus.

"Oh what fellowship, oh what joy divine!!"

Most sincerely in God's Peace,

Dennis Hilman


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