Thank you so much for all who prayed for Elena. She is finally doing well and healing. She and her mom (Mariela) are back at the shelter for now. They have a hearing Wednesday to determine their next steps. Mariela poured her heart out to me Saturday saying she has been told they will be taking Elena from her. A lady has stepped in who would like to care for Elena but she does not want Mariela. I was able to spend some time praying with her and just loving on her. Please continue praying for them!
Also, please be praying for two sisters who have a hearing coming up in April. Erika is 16 and Mari Alejandra is 7. They have both had the opportunity to see our dentist friend and have several teeth removed and cavities filled. As I coordinate these appointments I am able to spend one on one time with them at visits. This allows me to know them in a way I would not at the shelter in the big group. These sisters have become very dear to us. Please pray as they will be finding out if their Mom wants them at this hearing. They are pretty certain she does not. Since Erika is only 16 they will most likely be put in a more “permanent home” until she turns 18. Most “permanent” homes are not as well kept as the shelter they are in now. Please pray for God to comfort them and give the judge wisdom as he/she makes decisions. Please pray for God’s grace in their lives.
Thanks to your generosity we have been able to purchase groceries for the shelter. They are still in dire need. They had eaten plain pasta for lunch that day. While we do not fully understand all that is going on in the organization as a whole we will continue helping the shelter directly, as we can, with these needs. I wish you could have heard the excitement and thanks as we unloaded the car. Maria Alejandra (7 years old) walked into the kitchen exclaiming “Que Bendicion es la comida!” “What a blessing is food!” You all made this happen! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving and allowing us to love them in this way.
We recently celebrated Kindness Week at school. As the culmination of this week we had a Fine Arts Fair where Sarah’s elementary students performed by class. It was a lot of work but a fun day!
One of Gerald’s favorite experiences comes from this years Senior class. Through one of the classes Gerald teaches, he was encouraged to join a Saturday morning ministry to the homeless community here in Xela. A local organization prepares and feeds homeless men and women, eggs, beans, bread, and a hot drink. Gerald accompanied two of his Senior boys to help on a Saturday morning to check things out and to offer the Senior class as the ones to prepare all the food for the upcoming breakfast. This was an experience that has forever changed the lives of each Senior in one way or another. So many of these young men and women desire to get an education only to return to advance their city, their country and their people. As you can see from the smiles on all of our faces, this was truly a wonderful opportunity to serve our community together. A couple of the guys had such a good time we have continued going on Saturdays to help out.
Please pray as we are preparing for Spiritual Emphasis Week coming in April that ends with Jr and Sr High traveling to a retreat center for 3 days. We will each be leading a session/workshop during this retreat on the theme of Take Action based on 1 Peter 1:13-15. Gerald’s session will be on How to Apply the Bible’s Teaching in Your Own Life. Sarah will be teaching on Jeremiah and understanding God's plan for our lives. Please pray for us as we pray, study and prepare! As we have said before the school is an interesting opportunity as there are very few evangelicals. It is a challenge to lead a session/workshop to such a diverse group. We truly want to share the love of Jesus with these students we are growing to love. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to open hearts and minds and to guide us as we prepare and teach!
We recently had a stretch of sickness go through our family. It was very trying and we are tired. Please pray for our immune systems to get back up to speed. Sarah’s immune system has really taken a beating and she is on injections to try and help. Please pray they work.
Both Maddy and Coleman are going through difficult times right now. Please pray for encouragement and grace! And wisdom for us as we try to love them well during this time.
Lastly, please be praying for Sarah's dear friend, Sonia and her two children. Sonia is a new believer who attends the Discipleship group Sarah attends. She has had a horrible year and is really trying to lean on her new faith. Please pray for grace and comfort for her and her children as well as God to continue working in her life and growing her faith.
We truly covet your prayers! We recently attended the annual Intermissions Conference which was a huge encouragement to each of us. As Satan began attacking us the day we returned home (not kidding, this happens every year) we were reminded of something we learned over the weekend. Your prayers for us are far more valuable than any amount of money sent! God truly sustains us by your prayers! When we are weak He reminds us we are surrounded by faithful supporters who not only support us financially but prayerfully. You are a blessing to our family even when you do not realize it!
Thank you all again for your love and support as we continue seeking to share Jesus where he has planted us here in Xela!
Gerald, Sarah, Maddy and Coleman
Gerald and Sarah Lastrapes
Along with their two children are missionaries in Guatemala. They will be sharing stories of discipleship through prison and shelter ministries.