06 Jun The Iowa Connection
By Pablo Villagran-
Thanks to a connection last November with a mission team from Iowa, Missions Coordinator Joel Juarez Lopez recently took his first trip outside Guatemala, visiting southwestern Iowa from Apr. 26 to May 6.
Wayne Hanson, part of a team from Crest Baptist Church, invited Joel to come to Creston, Iowa.
“While my wife, Michelle, and I were in Guatemala, we thought about the impact of having Joel come to our community to share about his life and his work with Forever Changed,” Wayne says.
He notes that Joel often shares about our culture but hadn’t experienced the culture where many mission visitors come from.
“Our part of the country is very different from city cultures, so we tried to give him an idea about the diversity of our daily lives,” adds Wayne, whose town numbers about 7,600 people.
During his stay, Joel spoke to world history and Spanish classes at Creston High School. Students there were moved by his stories about life at Dorie’s Promise, Guatemala’s culture, and our struggles.
The students decided to do what they could to help, setting up boxes for donations that the Crest Baptist team on a return trip in August.
Joel also spoke to the church one Sunday and met many of the 13 members who will be traveling to Guatemala in August.
“Michelle and I went to some local businesses that we do business with and asked for donations last year,” Wayne says. “We took Joel to each of those businesses and gave him an opportunity to thank them personally.”
Joel hopes God arranges another trip outside the country so he can talk about the orphanage and the things we do. He says it was important for Iowans to see someone from Guatemala.
“It surprised me how many people were touched by the video I showed and the things Wayne and I talked about,” Joel says. “Many Americans do not know the reality of daily life in other places.”
He believes the trip will help further our purposes by encouraging others to go on mission to Guatemala.
It also helped Joel by showing him that no matter where we are or what we do, God is the One who puts the pieces of the puzzle together. In addition, Joel learned that what we do is only one part of a much bigger picture.
“This is just the beginning,” Joel says. “There are huge things that God will do here, and what people need is information. Students were very surprised to learn what they did. All of them wanted to help in different ways. Some wanted to come.”
The trip proved to be financially profitable, too. One man handed him a check for $500 and a company donated 30 pounds of candy, which was given to the kids and Special Mothers.
“The experience was amazing and full of blessings,” Joel says.