Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Years Later...

A lot has happened in my life since my last post. Today as I was reading Adonai's blog, I realized that it's been two years...

But for anyone who used to read this blog and didn't know...there is now a Mrs. Craig Phoenix! You can see her in one of our "engagement day" photos at the top (in Guatemala) and also below in her gorgeous wedding dress from this past May (at her family's farm). I am a blessed man to have Kelly as a partner on this journey through life. She is an interior designer by trade, a servant at heart, a passionate follow of Jesus, and a loving wife. I am so thankful for her.

As for major happenings since leaving Guatemala...I graduated this past Spring from Missouri Baptist University St. Louis with a bachelor's degree in Ministry and Leadership. Earning a degree in Christian Ministry was one of my biggest reasons for coming back to the U.S. As for work,  I spend Wednesdays at our home church doing youth ministry, and the rest of the time I do maintenance work at my father-in-law's factory (thank you Ficker men for teaching me so much about mechanical work!). Kelly and I just got settled into a small apartment in St. Louis close to church and work, and we are doing our best to lay a firm foundation for our family so that we can be useful instruments to God--for His kingdom purpose. Our future is wide open to whatever God would ask of us. We constantly remind ourselves not to get too comfortable in our temporary home or surroundings but to keep our focus on Christ and sharing Him with those around us. We are strangers and foreigners on this earth. Our home is in heaven, and eternity is in our hearts. We're just passing through.
(My Best Man, David, looked pretty sharp dressed up)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Home Again

I told God a while back that I would come home only if He would go with me, just as He promised Moses that He would be with him when Moses was sent back to Egypt. My heart is so much to be "out" there serving, and I'm finally accepting that that's from God. But now, He has sent me home and He is already showing me he is with me. One small thing I'll share happened on the plane home. I always ask God to provide opportunities for ministry when I travel, and he provided several. One was on the way from Atlanta to St. Louis Tuesday night. For some reason I felt like I was supposed to ask the young lady next to me if she knew how airplanes (airliners) stopped. More specifically, I felt like God wanted me to explain reverse thrust to her. Of course, I hesitated a minute, and then thought what the heck; I've got nothing to lose. So I asked her, and she immediately started talking about how she's in school to be a pilot (but still hadn't got to reverse thrust). The question opened a door to talk to her about mission work, and just amazed me how God is so involved in the details of my (and all of our) lives.

I am so happy to see my family (although I still haven't gotten to see all of them) and excited to go back to my home church. I already miss Guatemala and my other Ficker "family" there, but am determined to make everyday here as purposeful as life on the foreign mission field. Roughly, my plans are to take some college classes towards a Bible degree, keep my checkbook in the black, and find places to serve now that I'm home. I'll try to keep this blog updated if life seems interesting enough to share :).

No matter where we are, I know God is interested in our lives. God loves people everywhere, and He is the answer to all of our problems. Each of our lives are a journey. We all come from God, and He wants us to get back to Him. The way is Jesus. He is the guide. In Guatemala when I go to a new place, I go with someone who knows the way. It would be crazy to try to find some of the small villages I've been to without a guide--someone who's from there and knows the way. Jesus is that guide to a relationship with God. If you don't know Him, or aren't sure about where to find Jesus, look in the Bible. Jesus' disciple John wrote in the book of John of how to find Jesus and how to know Him. God's plan is for all of us to know him better. I pray your journey takes you there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Last Days

This week has been a sad week, just because a lot of what I've done may be the last time I do it for a while. In case you hadn't read on Adonai's blog, I plan on going home soon to continue with school. It's something that has been on my heart for a while, and I feel like it's God's timing that I go now. I'm sad to leave but excited about what the future holds.

So today was my last trip to San Pedro (for a while). We made two flights in for a standard clinic day, but "standard" was a big deal since we thought we would be short of help. Thankfully, God provided Dr. Pedro, Dennis Freed (N.P.), and our friend Misty to help us see the roughly 150 peolple who came. At first hardly anyone came from the surrounding villages; we heard that two men from the village had been charging Q100 (about $$12) for "landing fees" when an airplane landed on the strip. This fee was to be paid by the patients who received help from us or any other plane that came it. Of course this made us aggravated, along with most of the villagers and community leaders, and the culprits were reprimanded. It's just like Satan to throw in little hang-ups like that when God is really moving in a place.

Anyway, we made it back to Canilla just before the rain (yes, it actually rained for about 2 hours in our desert!). Then we ate a lot of pasta, worshiped, and now everyone is heading to bed. So hope you sleep good tonight!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Small Rewards

The apostle Paul taught that "what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen in eternal." I think a good part of that means that even if we aren't "seeing" a lot of results from our Christian labor, it doesn't mean God isn't doing eternal things. (Maybe we should even be glad when it doesn't "look" like things are going good!)

But God provided a few small rewards for me today as I walked the mountains near our Chiminisijuan clinic again with Thomas. He and I set out to visit families (many single moms) early this morning, and I might even say we're getting better at finding people and growing worse at getting ourselves lost! Anyway, in the course of visiting about 7 families who had asked us for food, we had two cool testimonies from their neighbors. One was a young man who stopped by the first house we were visiting. He came over to tell us that God had healed him of some stomach sickness a few years ago after we (I don't really know if I was at clinic then) prayed for him. He said he had spent Q6,000 (about $750) at a government hospital and never got better. Then, he came to us and for Q2 (about $0.25) he got better! Another lady was the neighbor to the last family we visited, and she told us that God had healed her 1-year-old son a few years ago of a swollen arm (sounds like it was an infection). She said, "I came every week for milk, prayer, (and I think) medicine, and my son got better!" She actually said "God healed" my baby. Now I and most Americans whose brain is bigger that our faith want to think of what sickness exactly these people had, and what medicine probably cured it. But they (and at least 10 others I've ran into during my mountain walks) very confidently say GOD healed them. Some I know for a fact were not a result of medicine because we didn't give them any, and even the others were God because Duane, Leslie, and the entire ministry would not be in Chiminisijuan were it not for God calling them!

God does miracles today. They may be obvious, they may be natural results from obedience, or they may not be known to us at all--but when God does the work, it's eternal!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Out of the Bush

Today we did a clinic in the Zona Reina, leaving about an hour after my last post on here. God provided a few medical people to help us, so we went for it. Honestly I don't like the trips a whole lot. It's hot and a lot of work, but I believe in why we do it. Today was a fruitful day because a lady accepted Christ and the village leader said he needed to become a Christian (I think that means he's being persuaded but still not jumping in all the way). It was a good sign though, and encouraging after over 2 years of clinics and emergency flights in that place. Thanks to all who prayed!

Into the Bush

It's just before 6am and the sky is lightening up in the East. Duane just left for the airport to await the call from the Zona Reina telling us that the sky is clear to come in.

Leslie, Don, Armando, Sally, Irvin, and I will hopefully be flying into San Pedro with Duane today for another medical clinic. If you read this today, please say a prayer that hearts are open to the gospel, and that our trip has eternal effect on people. We know this village well, but want to be more than a good humanitarian work; we want them to know Jesus... And if you think of it, it would be nice to not get rained in!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hot Days and Long Nights

Well, my the bees have calmed down and the honey is about half eaten. That honey was worth it!

As I try to think about the goings on here since my last blog, there are a few things that stick out to me. One is that we have two visitors here from the U.S. Cassie is a P.A. from Texas who has been helping in clinics this week, and Irna is a friend who will be living with us for around 6 months. She's willing to do anything, and a great cook (those who know me know how I feel about that!)

Katie and Aaron are about ready for Anna to arrive into our world. Any day now she could arrive! Katie's parents will be coming down later in the month, as will our friends the Allisons. It will be so good to have them here while Katie is adjusting to being a mom, and we are adjusting to doing clinic without her! Also, not to bore anyone but just because it's taken a lot of time and work, the well at the airport is about 4 meters deeper thanks to a buddy from Chinique. That may not sound like much, but when the well is over 150 foot deep and has water in the bottom that's a lot of dirt to haul up! Chinto would climb down and fill bucket for bucket that would be hauled up with a rope.

Last week I showed a movie in the park for the first time in a few months due to popular demand from kids in town. It actually surprised me how much the kids had grown to count on the movies and wondered why I had stopped. If they like them, then it's worth it. A family I've grown to know pretty well specially came to hang out with me last Friday, and relationships are worth the effort.

Now you may be wondering what the "hot days and long nights" are all about. Well, it applies to David and Juan more than anyone. Most of us guys had a part in going to the Mexican/Guantemalan border the last few days to bring in our corn semi and the supplies loaded on it, but David and Juan did the driving from there. The border is super hot and humid, it's just so low. But worse is the drive. David left the border at 5 o'clock yesterday evening and got here at 10:30a.m. this morning, without stopping to sleep. Other than waiting once for diesel (the gas stations weren't open at 3:30 when they were in Quiche) they drove nearly 17 hours straight on some less that quality roads. The truck and the grain bins that are on it will be such a help to us here though. Today I was helping distribute corn and we ran out. There were just way more people than we planned on, and there was no corn to be found in the whole town for us to buy. When we have our own supply of corn in storage, all we'll have to do is go fill up a few more bags to meet the need. Anyway, I'll try to get a picture of the truck on here tomorrow when it's light out!