Jerry with the Senior boys.
The first quarter of the school year has come and gone in a flash. We are all doing well and enjoying our new opportunities to minister, meet new people, and finally feel like we are getting a handle on our schedule. Sometimes. Getting back to teaching for me (Gerald) has been exciting and building relationships with students again has been a joy; writing lesson plans, being somewhere exactly on time, everyday…well not so much but it is something that I am loving. I honestly did not think I would be teaching in a classroom environment again much less here in Guatemala but we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Walking into this environment was a bit intimidating and overwhelming as this school has extremely high academic standards and is known for students going to colleges all over the world. But it is exciting knowing that we are pouring into the lives of the future professionals and leaders in Xela. Our kids have done well socially and are getting there academically. It has been more of a struggle for Coleman having never been in a school environment but little by little he is doing well. Madeline had some setbacks in the beginning but has begun to flourish academically. Sarah has taken on a role teaching Music in the Elementary grades and has been working on a small Christmas performance. She has also taken a rather important role in the library, in an endeavor to organize and utilize a new library system. She has gone above and beyond in the two days she is at IAS (Inter American School). We thank you for your prayers as we all male these transitions.
Prison ministry has been going well, when I am able to get into the prison. Over the past few months, directors have come and gone and at times left many issues in their wake. Along with new directors there are new opportunities for the director to attempt to curb the entrance of drugs and alcohol unfortunately at times it is the guards themselves who allow the entrance of these illicit items for a chance to earn extra money under the table. It is sad and frustrating to prison ministers and inmates as well, who are seeking a new life. Recently there has been a number of “requisas” (search and seizures) at the prison and at times they have been exacted on visitors days. This inevitably denies entrance to visitors, thus agitating them/us and prevents one of their rights as prisoners. These “requisas” take anywhere from half a day to covering at times as many as three days. The prisoners are locked up with very little access to food or water. The most recent “requisa” resulted in the prisoners getting in touch with Human Rights lawyers to come and investigate. We can only pray these lawyers will be allowed to do their work without fear of reprisal. Despite the hardships, my friends remain encouraged and greet me with a smile and a hug at each visit. Currently we are studying the prison epistles. I thought this to be a beneficial study to see how Paul dealt with his imprisonment and how he remained encouraged despite the hardships. Thus far we have studied Ephesians and began a study of Philippians this past Thursday. I am blessed each time I visit the prison and always leave encouraged; I am so very thankful for your financial gifts that allows us to work in ministries such as the prison.
The Shelter ministry has grown greatly over the past few months as Sarah has had more time to invest. We continue with Thursday Bible Studies as well as weekly bread delivery. We have been able to add some time on Fridays, spending time playing games, listening to music and doing crafts just being there to allow opportunities for deeper connections. Sarah has also been able to connect a dentist from our local church to begin seeing the girls for dental visits. There has been such a need for dental care with so many never having been to a dentist in their lives. It has been a challenge to coordinate dental visits as it is complicated to have the girls leave the shelter. But it has proven to be a great avenue to show them that they are valued and loved. God works in some amazing ways to allow us to gain the trust needed for the girls to accept and take seriously the truths we are sharing from His word. We would like to ask you to pray specifically for a wonderfully, intelligent group of brother and sisters who have left the shelter, going to live with other family members as their mother wants nothing to do with their raising and only wants to live her own life. We mourn for the life these children live knowing their mother would rather do her own thing than be their mother. These children’s faces are burned in our memory along with the faces of all the other children and women with whom we have had the incredible honor of knowing, teaching, praying, and playing. We know this is part of the job but there is no amount of preparing to deal with the heartache we feel for them. We are encouraged as we know many of you lift us and them up in prayer, Please pray with us that God would pour his grace on them that they would grow up feeling loved. That they would be brought to church and taught much more about the God who loves them.
Unfortunately we are still currently underfunded and ask that you pray with us for our monthly support to increase. Also, if you are looking for a year end investment would you consider giving to further these ministries in Guatemala. If you know of someone that may be interested in partnering with us we would love to speak with them or forward you information to speak on our behalf.
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.