t has been a whirlwind of a few months! Between school and shelter there is not much time left for anything else. We were so ready for Christmas Break to begin we just crashed our first few days and are beginning to resurface and enjoy our time together as a family. As I had the opportunity to share the Christmas Story many times over the past several weeks in Chapels and at the shelter I was reminded of the contrasts in the story and in our own lives. Christmas brings so much busyness and “loudness” to our lives but, there was no room for Jesus in the busyness and loudness of Bethlehem. Instead, he was born around back, outside in the quietness of the stable with the animals. If we let it, the busyness can crowd out Jesus and we will miss the opportunity to welcome Him into our lives. We have to look for Him in the quietness and meet Him there. As we slow down and reflect we see all He has done in and through us these past few months.
Sarah's new job as Chaplain of IAS has been challenging and exciting! She prepares at least 4 sometimes 5 and 6 messages a week to share with different age groups. Coordinating monthly service projects for Secondary students has been extremely rewarding. Ninety-four students are currently serving in 6 different ministries around Xela. Students serve in orphanages, schools, and the shelter where we serve. It has been wonderful seeing students fall in love with serving others. God is working in and through our students. We have two students who now join us on Thursdays for Bible Study at the Shelter and both of their moms have visited with us as well. God continues to provide opportunities for discipleship!
We continue weekly Bible Studies with the ladies and children at the shelter. We recently had a group of students from school help us celebrate Kids Day this year. And we just wrapped up the year with our 6th annual Christmas Party at the Shelter. This year we had a couple students as well as their moms join us to serve. It is so fun to watch God grow this ministry and be a part of Him connecting other Guatemalans to help us serve as well. This was always our dream to bring an awareness to Guatemalans about their own lost and forgotten and serve alongside them.
For those of you following our vehicle issues, we have yet to purchase a newer vehicle. Before we even got the Jeep out of the shop we had to have the Tahoe towed. We were returning from the shelter one night and drove through flood water and blew the radiator. It took several weeks to receive the correct radiator from the states. We finally have two working vehicles again and will begin the search for a new vehicle right after the first of the year. Whew! Thank you to all who have prayed and sent support to our vehicle fund.
Visiting the prison has not been an easy task since school began for Gerald; between the constant threat of search and seizures, prisoners threatening to riot, and the government limiting of the number of people allowed special permissions. Gerald's ministry to Samuel and those he is shepherding is still going on with communication via Facebook Messenger. While it is not a preferred method, the ability for him to share opportunities to pray and "inside information" about how to pray for the prisoners and those in charge is valuable. Please pray for Samuel, for the churches and their ministries as our enemy is working hard at destroying them, for the leaders both inside the prisons and the officials making decisions. Please pray for Gerald as he plans on visiting Samuel this coming Saturday, that he is able to enter quickly, and spend as much quality time with Samuel as possible. Thank you for your encouragement in this very difficult ministry.
*Part of Sarah's job as Chaplain is to plan both Elementary and Secondary Spiritual Emphasis Weeks. Please be in prayer for all the details and the team and speakers coming to serve.
*Spiritual growth of students and teachers at IAS and discipleship opportunities.
*The financial state of the shelter as the budget from the government was cut by 90% for the new year. For the spiritual understanding of the ladies and children at the shelter.
*For our health as we keep up a break neck pace and for encouragement as we continue to reach out to not only students but families at IAS.
*Please pray for David at the Shelter. He is a 4 year old boy who has become attached to Gerald. When Gerald brings bread to the Shelter David has begun to ask that Gerald not leave or for him to leave with Gerald. David's mom does not read or write and is pregnant with her third child. Please pray for the future of these children.
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.