8 October 2017
Written by Areli
It is always difficult to say goodbye to the people we love. But when we are in Christ, this “goodbye” is really a “see you later.” Before starting college, God began to put a desire in me to serve God through missions. And this desire grew through the example and testimony of my aunt Teresa and a missionary couple from Brazil: Pastor Solon Araujo and his wife Alda Araujo.
I had the privilege to receive teaching about missions through Pastor Solon Araujo. His life, testimony, and love for my country were a great example to me. It was such a blessing that Pastor Solon Araujo performed our wedding on July 21, 2007. On September 13, 2008, our beloved Pastor Solon went to be with the Lord through a bus accident while traveling in his country with a group of Christians to minister.
When this happened, his wife Alda Araujo was also in Brazil with their two children and other family members. Despite these difficult circumstances, she returned as a single missionary to Mexico. She didn’t care about the fact that she had to live alone, make decisions alone, walk in dangerous streets, live in a very different culture, and deal with many difficult situations. Her love for the people of Mexico compelled her to return. What an example she is to me of a person who has strength in Christ and faith in Him. It is difficult to be a missionary and even more so without a companion. But in Christ, everything is possible and Sister Alda is an example of this.
Tomorrow, she will return to her country, Brazil. I just want to thank God for the blessing that Sister Alda Araujo, Pastor Solon Araujo, and their two children have been to my country.
Thank you Sister Alda for the love you have for us and our daughters. Thank you for your encouraging words, your sincerity, your advice, your example of speaking the truth in love, for the wonderful memories, for making us laugh, for your hospitality, for your delicious cooking, for giving us your beautiful friendship and love in Christ, and for so many other things that only a woman after Christ’s own heart could give.
We miss you and wish we could be in Mexico to give you a hug. But if only by this means of communication, we want to thank you for your love for Christ’s work in Mexico. See you later Sister Alda. We love you.
Areli and family
5 February 2017
Worship of God is the reason why we exist--to give glory to God for who He is and what He has done. Whenever I give a missions talk, I usually quote John Piper from his book Let the Nations Be Glad: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate.” Worship is not just about singing, praying, reading the Bible, and telling people about Jesus, although these are awesome and essential ways to worship God. Worship is also about carrying out our daily lives in a way that is dedicated to Him. The way we live our lives in the areas of family, work, leisure, and interactions with people on a daily basis should bring glory to Him.
The biggest reason that we are sad to leave Canillá and eager to go back is that God is there. God no longer dwells in a physical location but rather through His Holy Spirit, He lives in the hearts of those who belong to Him. There is a special communion among the missionaries with whom we work in Guatemala and therefore God’s presence is evident. Areli and I often talk about how we feel God’s presence more during our times in Canillá.
As we finish our time here in Mexico and head back to Michigan tomorrow, we know that God is with us. We look forward to rejoining our fellowship with the members of Hope Community Church, Covenant Community Care, and all of our other brothers and sisters who belong to Him. We're thankful to all of those who made this trip possible and who have been praying for us and those to whom we have ministered. At this point, we don’t know when will be the next trip to Guatemala but we know that God will make this clear to us in His time.
3 February 2017
This little boy was brought into the Chiminisijuan clinic (up in the mountain) by his mother and grandmother because they “saw five worms come out of his mouth yesterday.” That's not very unusual for this area, but while I was listening to his lungs, I found this interesting congenital mole. They said he was born with it. Nothing too exciting but it looks kind of cool.
This lady came to the clinic in Canillá because she had this itchy spot on her face for a couple of years. It didn’t get better with any cream. With that story and its appearance, it almost certainly was a basal cell carcinoma. This is a common form of skin cancer that rarely metastasizes but can cause significant skin ulcers that spread locally.
In this location, I wasn’t too excited to remove it, but one of the other doctors was willing to do it.
She came back a week later to have the stitches removed. She was told to keep an eye on it for any recurrence.
One morning on our day off, I was about to sit down to a breakfast of Huevos a la Mexicana (Mexican Eggs) prepared by none other than Areli my Mexican wife, when one of the missionaries came rushing in on the four wheeler. He said that a man had fallen into the small canal that is alongside many of the streets of Canillá and was bleeding profusely from his right arm. I rushed to the hospital in the Dusty Chevrolet dressed in sandals and shorts. Jacob, a visiting EMT student was holding pressure through a blood-soaked dressing.
It was a 91-year-old man who had somehow managed to slice open the back of his right hand. We suspect that he may have fallen onto his machete or possibly cut his hand on a sharp part of the canal. It was quite suspicious that he had cut through at least two tendons as he wasn’t able to straighten his last two fingers. It is also possible that he had a wrist or hand fracture. After a long discussion with various family members explaining that he really need to see a hand surgeon to repair the tendons, they decided to just have me sew up his hand and hope for the best. They didn’t have the resources to travel all the way to Guatemala City to find a hand surgeon that would charge a lot of money to fix this problem in a 91-year-old man.
1 February 2017
The construction of the hospital building and the initiation of hospital services has been the main focus of Adonai International Ministries and DOCS for Hope for the past 3 years. Here is a 7-minute walkthrough video describing where things are at today:
This is a video from 3 years ago describing the initial vision for the hospital. It is exciting to see all that God has done since then:
There is much work yet to be done. To find out more or to become a part of the vision, check out the following links:
31 January 2017
We left Guatemala yesterday and are currently in Mexico City. Where does the time go? This week I will publish some more reports from our time in Guatemala including some interesting cases and a tour of Hospital Adonai in Ultra HD, no less.
It is the desire of Areli and me that we continue to know God more and reflect His glory back to Him. And as we do so, we want others to see Him and to do the same. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). He is real. He is perfect. He loves us. He desires to reveal Himself to us so that we can experience the joy of knowing Him. But, there is problem. We all have said and done things that God cannot stand. This separates us from Him. Because of His love for us, He sent his only Son Jesus to the earth to suffer and pay the price for our bad behavior. There is nothing we can do to fix this or to earn our relationship with God. We can only accept this and be thankful that Jesus did this for us. And Jesus also gives us power to live better. We begin a new relationship with our Good God and this relationship will last forever.
Have you ever tried to describe the Gospel of Jesus Christ as simply as possible without using complicated or “religious” words? I just spend quite a while attempting it in the previous paragraph. What are the essentials? Which things are most important? Which things are secondary? Which things are cultural? Will the whole audience understand this? Or will it be confusing to some? Are there any points in my Gospel message that are just plain wrong? The good thing is that there is no perfect Christian who has a perfect understanding of God. OK. I feel better now.
I am not frequently asked to give a message in front of a group of people. But when this does happen, I am often drawn to speak on something related to salvation. Maybe this is because I spent greater than 17 years of my life in church without being saved.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a message on Titus 3:3-8 at the Spanish-speaking service that members of Adonai facilitate. Sorry for the quality of the recording.
The following is a longer message I gave to the teen group 4 years ago in Mexico City on the same passage. I dubbed in into English for a preaching class I was taking—not because I was bored and had nothing else to do.
25 January 2017
We’re thankful for our borrowed sweet ride. Thanks Becca! Thanks Aaron, David, and Duane for getting her ready for us and instructing us on how to operate it.
12 January 2017
Greetings from Guatemala! I was planning to title our first update something catchy like “Sex in the Aldea” but I decided not to.
“Aldea” is the word they use here to refer to a village or town.
We have been here for over a week now. Shortly after we arrived, I began helping with the clinics—six in a row. Some have been busier than others. The new official schedule is:
Friday: Clinic at Hospital Adonai in Canillá
Saturday: Clinic at Hospital Adonai in Canillá
Sunday: Clinic about 20 minute away in San Andrés
Monday: Clinic at Hospital Adonai in Canillá
Tuesday: Clinic up the mountain in Chiminisijuan [evening English worship and prayer service]
Thursday: OFF [evening Spanish worship and prayer service]
As you can see, our Sunday is Thursday so my brain is often confused what day it actually is.
To date, there has been no surgery at the hospital. There was one pediatric overnight admission but no official inpatient service.
A huge burden of the care is prenatal which is part of the reason for my title. On Sunday, at San Andrés, there were about 75 pregnant ladies coming for ultrasound, which I think was record. Prenatal care consists of ultrasound for dates and basic anatomy and position when time for delivery is approaching. Many times, the main concern of the mother is the sex of the baby. Each patient then gets vitamins and a return appointment depending on where they are at in their pregnancy.
Hours prior to when we arrived on January 3rd, one of the missionaries gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the hospital. Praise God!!! Word of mouth travels fast here in the aldea and the rumor spread that the hospital was open for deliveries. A lady showed up in labor. In this area, many babies are born in the home with the help of a usually untrained midwife called a “comadrona.” Those who desire to have a “hospital birth” are sent when they are in labor by ambulance to San Andrés where they have a simple birthing center. If anything goes wrong, they are then sent by ambulance again to Hospital Santa Elena in Santa Cruz del Quiché about another hour away. In this case, the ambulance was called. All indications are that if the Hospital Adonai opens the door to full obstetrical care in the future, it will get very busy very quickly.
I was also a little surprised with some of the other reproductive health cases I had on Saturday. It reminded me a little of similar issues I often deal with in Detroit.
One lady had all indications of a genital infection. During the dry season, her husband works on the coast where agriculture continues year round. It is quite common that guys visit the local sex workers on the coast and bring their wives more than a pocket full of money when they come home. There have been some advances in the laboratory services at the hospital which I will talk about later, but there are still no tests for genital infections. I treated various possible infections before she left.
I also had a Quiché-speaking lady who was having some type of abdominal pain. After a five-minute discussion with my interpreter, the only thing I got was “she has abdominal pain.” (Note to self: don’t use the janitor for an interpreter unless you really have no other options.) It was a very busy day and we were short staffed on trained multilingual nurses. It turns out the husband spoke good Spanish and explained to me that a couple of weeks ago, his wife at about 8 months gestation was found to have no detectible heartbeat at a little health center in the mountains where they live. They then went to another government hospital on the other side of the mountain where she delivered the miscarriage. He spoke of stiches inside but clearly said that a c-section was not performed. We came to the conclusion that she probably had an episiotomy to aid in the delivery of the near-term fetus. He came to us for the famous ultrasound to confirm that all was well now since she was still having some pain. Of more value was a negative pregnancy test to confirm that the miscarriage was complete. We did do a “therapeutic” ultrasound to look for anything weird but all looked well.
Finally, I had an approximately 20 year-old (many people here don’t know their actual age) Quiché-speaking lady who had a two year old at home and apparently had been widowed. I never got the details about her husband (again I didn’t have the best interpreter). She was currently living with her parents due to her circumstances. Her chief complaint was that she was about three months late. She denied any sexual activity. In this case the ultrasound was extremely helpful:
Approximately 3-month old fetus with a strong heartbeat. Her first response was “I need to abort the baby.” She talked about a pill that she could get that would end the pregnancy. When we asked her about the father, she said she was raped. The local missionary talked to her about some legal action that could be done to make the father responsible. And we explained to her and showed her in the ultrasound that this baby was alive and that doing anything to stop the pregnancy would be killing the baby. We urged her to talk to her parents about what had happened. We prayed for her about this very difficult situation and that is where we left it. We hope and pray that the picture above will not be the only one that will ever be taken of this baby.
Please pray for these people and many others who are facing similar situations.
Please pray for wisdom, direction, staffing of the Hospital Adonai as they move forward.
31 December 2016
Delayed post due to Internet issues.
This year, we had the opportunity to be in Mexico City for Christmas. This was the first time Areli’s family got to meet Zabdi. In Mexico, we celebrate Christmas beginning with a huge feast on the night of Christmas Eve.
The family tradition on Christmas is to open presents followed by lunch from the feast leftovers. After that, we break two or three piñatas. Finally, we have a family baseball game. The kids are more excited about this than the food.
At this year’s baseball game, there was a special event: Ivan and Anai got engaged during the game. Surprise!
Later, we dedicated Zabdi to the Lord before the congregation of Masai Church. We appreciate the continued prayers for her. We are blessed that she has been healthy and growing perfectly.
Even though we had a LOT of family fun, we remember that this holiday is ultimately about God sending His Son Jesus into the world to save us from our sins so that we could be with Him forever. May God continue to do his work in you and us as we grow in Him each day.
Here is an album of some pictures from the day:
25 June 2016
Zabdi Rose Pope. Born June 25, 2016, 5:13 AM. 8lbs 1oz. 20 ½ in. Healthy mom. Healthy baby. Another amazing gift from the Lord.
Throughout the pregnancy, Zabdi had been measuring large for her gestation. This was of some concern to Areli’s doctor if she were to go to her full due date or beyond. Praise God that Areli went into spontaneous labor and delivered Zabdi at 38 6/7 weeks. Once again she made labor look easy and everything went smoother than we could have imagined. Areli didn’t tell me until shortly before we left for the hospital that the 25th of June had been on her heart as the day that God had chosen for Zabdi to be born. It is especially significant because June 25th was the due date for our first daughter, Esther Nina, whom God took to be with him after only 156 minutes of us enjoying her after her premature birth. We share this story at esthernina.com.
So why the name? Zabdi, like Areli, is a male Hebrew name that is rarely used as a female name in the Spanish-speaking world. It means “Gift of Yahweh (or Jehova).” This is the personal name of God that was given to Moses in Exodus 3:15. It was consider by the Jews to be too sacred to be spoken so the vowels were left out of the spelling and the exact Hebrew pronunciation is unknown. Therefore, many translations of the Bible translate this as LORD. We knew that Zabdi was a huge gift of the Lord since we found out that she had been conceived. And certainly, every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
God has answered many prayers along the way and we must give Him thanks:
--Prayer for pregnancy. Answered.
--Prayer for baby to turn head down when needed. Answered.
--Prayer for baby to come earlier rather than later due to size. Answered.
--Prayer for someone to care for Rebekah. Answered.
--Prayer for work interruption to be as smooth as possible. Answered.
--Prayer for healthy mom and healthy baby. Answered.
Here is an album with a few pictures: