Here’s an update on our District Missionaries, Rev. Luke Rhyee in Guatemala, and Sara Flores in Ecuador. Find out how you can be involved in their international mission work!
Missionary Update: Rev. Luke Rhyee, M.D.
By David Anderson
I am writing this article because I have had the privilege to travel on a mission trip to Guatemala. This trip was in the spring of 2018 and quite frankly has changed my life. I will never think of the issues that face a person living in this country in the same light.
We left Columbia on a flight to Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX. After a long layover and a four-hour flight to Guatemala, we arrived about 8:00 pm. Then we boarded the van for a five-hour drive to Quetzaltenango where the Bethesda Medical Clinic is located. After a short first night we were amazed to see how this facility has served the people located in this town which we now call Xela. We identified work around the clinic that needed to be done and planned our week. We worked around the clinic on our first day and got to see in action what a great need for Medical and Dental services were in the city. This emphasized the needs that were identified in the last article about the scholarship programs for the Medical and Dental Students.
The next day we loaded up the van with dental chairs and equipment and went to Nahuala. We held a Vacation Bible School for over a hundred students while the Dental and Medical Staff held clinics and served countless persons. The children in the Dental Clinics were the ones with the greatest need. This really brought home the need to train potential caregivers in Guatemala to serve some of these people.
On the way to Nahuala we passed through a village and I saw a young girl with a baby strapped to her back. When I looked at that young girl, I saw the face of my granddaughter who is nine years of age. The two are approximately the same stature and size. I asked Dr. Luke if this young girl was caring for a sibling and he said, “no, that was probably her child”. Girls who finish Elementary School are usually then married to produce more children who can work to support the family. This is one of the main problems in underdeveloped countries. There is little value seen in continuing with further education (especially for girls). So, when Healing Guatemala can identify the families that are receptive to continuing their children’s education to serve others, we need to contribute to ensure that resources are available to help these people learn to help themselves. Please consider this effort while planning your mission work for the future.
In addition to we did there are many other ministries, such as providing equipment for the disabled and those with special needs. A group in the United States sent wheelchairs, crutches, canes, etc. which were directed to those in desperate need. Living with a disability is difficult in the US. It is even harder in Guatemala. There are barely any facilities for the disabled and social infrastructure for the disabled is almost nil. To make matters worse, most of them are so poor that they cannot afford to buy basic equipment for the disabled. This could only meet a small portion of the need. The disabled live as the marginalized and are almost always discriminated against in Guatemala which makes them doubt that God may have forgotten them.
In future columns I will share some of our other experiences like the Vacation Bible Schools, the feeding of the homeless who live in and around the garbage dump in Xela, and the work around the clinic which included helping build the third floor and upgrade wiring for a new X-ray machine.
Dr. Luke is a missionary designated as a mission special of the Columbia District. To support this missionary and this ministry, make funds payable to: Healing Guatemala, P.O. Box 1835, Duluth, GA 30096.
To discover more of his work, go to: www.healingguatemala.org or find Healing Guatemala on facebook.
Missionary Update: Sara Flores
The following is a winter greeting from Sara Flores and her husband Dakin Cook
Dear Partners in Mission,
Greetings from Ecuador in the name of the Lord! We would like to express our deep gratitude for your support of God’s mission in Ecuador this year through your prayers, financial support and visits with our local congregations. Your support in these critical areas of our church make it possible for us to carry out important programs together in partnership. We give thanks to God for your love in Christ, and we give thanks for the lives and ministry of the pastoral team and leaders in Ecuador.
Most of our congregations and especially the new mission initiatives of the Methodist Church in Ecuador (EUMCE) are emerging ministries whose main participants are children. We give thanks because God is calling us to work with children and families in need. It is a blessing that 8 local churches now have important After School Programs serving children and teenagers, offering programs focused on the development of faith, education, health and nutrition. Our goal is to support, strengthen and expand these wonderful ministries.
We are thankful to God because you are willing to be part of God’s mission in Ecuador. We appreciate your prayers and support through offerings and gifts. We thank God that every year we feel closer to our Methodist Churches in the region and in the world, we are not alone, we can count on and be part of the unity of the Church, the Body of Christ. And we greatly appreciate your partnership in mission this year and hope that you will continue to pray and work with us.
Please consider supporting our priority project this year – the purchase of land for our children’s ministry in El Prado. This project was started in 2012 by Sara and volunteers in the Church on a former dairy farm that had been confiscated by the government some 25 years ago. The farm has been divided up into small plots for each of the families that had worked the farm over the years – just enough land for 3 or 4 milk cows to pasture and a spot for a home, many of which were built in the old milking barns. We were invited into the community by a family with Methodist connections in the US and started working with the children on Saturday afternoons with Christian education, activities and a small snack with some 30 children in a small room loaned to the project by a local family. Currently, the program rents a large space with 4 classrooms, a kitchen and dining area and serves over 120 children on Saturdays providing a full lunch, Christian education, help with school studies, health education and physical activities. The project has grown and now needs its own permanent space to ensure the future of the program. The project has raised and saved funds to purchase land over the years but still needs some $15,000 in additional funds to be able to purchase an adequately sized lot to build on.
May God bless your lives and ministries, Sara Flores and Dakin Cook
Sara is a United Methodist Missionary, sent on our behalf by the General Board of Global Ministries, to help to establish the Methodist ethos of ‘abundant grace’ in Ecuador. The Columbia District through the District Connectional Ministries has established a covenant relationship with Sara. If you would like to join in supporting Sara you may do so by making contributions to the SC UM Conference Treasurers Office. Mark your contribution as “CO MISSIONARY”.