We have had an exciting summer with an addition to the ministry, a trip to the US, a rush of summer mission trips, the expectation of a new family member and the day-to-day ups and downs of ministry.
Growing Ministry Team
The summer brought additional team members to the Ranch on the 1st of June! As most of you know, Jon & Kelley Williamson have joined our ministry team and are in the process of transitioning from the US to Guatemala. Jon was able to make his move here in June and is living in one of the smaller houses on the Ranch while the new house is being completed. They are planning to complete the move at the end of this year when Kelley moves down here as well.
Keri Owen, one of Pastor Jon’s former youth group members came to the Ranch to spend her summer working with the horses, helping around the house, and spending time with the younger children playing games in the afternoon after school. (This was her favorite part.) Thank you to her supporters and her sending church at Gap Creek Baptist Church for making her time here possible. There has been a noticeable difference in the demeanor of the horses after her time here.
They joined the other workers on the Ranch to help get through this busy summer. Maria and Angelica were a huge help in day-to-day operations during Mike & Karen’s absence, as well as helping to host the summer teams. Cheveti is growing in his role as Maintenance and Groundskeeper Supervisor under Mike’s direction and has helped keep the property in good condition.
Visit to the States
Shortly after Jon’s arrival, Mike and Karen were able to make a visit to the United States that was long overdue. They were able to visit with their parents, their son and his family, and to play with their grandchildren. It was a great trip for them although it wasn’t very restful and they packed in family visits along with visits to supporting churches at Calvary Chapel Sarasota, FL and The Springs Fellowship in TX.
In the midst of all the excitement this summer, we have been watching Angelica grow bigger and bigger as that little life inside of her prepares to make his debut! We are all excited for the day when we get to welcome him to the ranch and the due date is quickly approaching. If she doesn’t deliver by August 14th, the doctor will induce the labor so please be praying with us for a safe and natural childbirth.
This year has been a real time of transition as the first children of Rancho Esperanza have grown older and have moved out to start lives on their own or are preparing to move out and into new life experiences. At the same time, the Lord brought us three beautiful children to continue our ministry to the orphans of Guatemala.
Pedro has finished his schooling to be an electrician and is now waiting to start his internship. Mike’s friend Chris has a local business and has agreed to take him on to get this accomplished. In the meantime, he has been helping with the work around the ranch and was able to put his electrician’s skills to work in wiring the new fans in the church.
Esperanza made an important life decision by signing up to join La Marina de la Defensa Nacional, the Guatemalan Navy. She will be leaving the house on August 26th to start this new season of her life. This was something she had talked about for a long time and making the decision on her own, and doing the things required to get signed up has given her a new level of confidence.
Danny continues to be an inspiration to everyone here. In addition to working everyday on the ranch, he continues to have his own building projects that he loves to show to everyone that comes here. He has also started a coin collection and has a great interest in the Presidents of the United States. One of his favorite things to do with the teams that come is to play practical jokes so be forewarned if you come and he asks you to hold the food inside the sheep pen.
Michael is completing his 6th grade year at INSA, he will be making his decision about the direction that he wants to take in his education. As always, he keeps us laughing with his jokes and entertains the visiting teams. He has also developed a love for Instagram so if you aren’t already following him, you can start and be updated daily on the things going on here.
Jesus (Chus), Lidia, and Gabriel arrived here last year and it has been a year of adjustment and learning for them. As would be expected from children who spend their first years in a poor family environment, they have emotional struggles, none of which are impossible to overcome through the outpouring of prayer, love and support they receive here.
Your prayers and your support of this ministry make it possible for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the lives of these children and this is our priority. Our hope is that we will be able to finish the second house soon so that we can provide the same care to more orphans.
Friends and Family
We had a great team from Greenville, SC here from July 4th - 10th. Kelley brought a team including their children, Jaedon and Kaytie, as well as friends and supporters from church and work. They spent 6 days with the family here, building on relationships already established and making new friends for those who had not been here before.
A friend of Kelley’s started a savings envelope last year, putting money in it from yard sales and other change to purchase new ceiling fans for the church. With the money that her family saved and a discount from a hardware store in a nearby town, we were able to purchase 8 new industrial fans and the supplies needed to install them! Thank you to the Bauxbaum family for this special gift!
Shortly thereafter, we had a visit from our long-time friends, John and Renee Houser. It’s always great to see them and spend time in fellowship with them. They brought clothing and other supplies with them for the children that were much needed. John also did a teaching for us on why we can trust that the Bible is the true. It was a great weekend with true friends of the ministry.
Summer Vacation Bible School
A ministry team from Community Chapel of Hendersonville arrived on July 17th to host a Vacation Bible School at the church. The theme of the VBS was Lost, Found, Led and we were able to minister to about 75 children from the ranch and the local community of Seja and La Cooperative. This was the 3rd consecutive year for this particular VBS from the sister churches of Community Chapel and once again, seeds were planted during this week that would give life in the following weeks.
Their sister church, Community Chapel of Greenville, came the day after CCH left to hold 3 days of English classes. This was the first time that a short-term team had done an event like this here so there was some uncertainty about whether or not people would show up for this. Prayers were answered and we had the opportunity to teach English and share the gospel with many adults, teens and children. The highlight of this trip came in the second day of classes with the afternoon teen group, after hearing the testimony of one of the team members, 12 young people made confessions of faith in our Lord Jesus!
Please pray for Merida, Joselyn, Mileydi, Marelyn, Jonathan, Oliver, Kenedi, Maria, Catelyn, Evelynn, Kimberly and Jamileth as we now seek to raise them up and pour into them the love, grace, and mercy of the Lord. This is a great reminder of how some plant, others water, and the Lord brings the harvest.
When Jon arrived in June, he assumed the role of pastor and began holding Sunday morning services and Wednesday evening Bible studies. We are continuing in the Calvary Chapel model of teaching expositionally through the Bible so we are going through Luke’s Gospel on Sunday morning and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians on Wednesday evening. Maria and Angelica have been helping to lead in the singing of worship songs for the Sunday morning service.
We’ve had several visitors over the past couple months and some that are now attending regularly like Chivete and Ruby who have asked to become members of the church. Theses are exciting times for the ministry of the church and we’re praying that the Lord will open the door for us to minister to more people in the community, bringing the truth of God’s word and the love of Jesus to our neighbors.
During the CC Hendersonville team’s visit, we had our first Youth Group meeting and had between 20 - 25
young people here for a night of games, worship and Bible study. It was a great night of ministry despite the heavy downpour of rain! This is now a regular weekly meeting on Saturday nights.
Our friends Micah and Kristen will be coming in September to bring a gift of materials from CC Greenville and to train Karen & Jon in teaching ESL Classes which they will then offer to the community as an outreach from the church. This is a great way to be a practical blessing to the community in giving them a skill that will benefit them here as well as the Gospel that will save them eternally!
The New House Project
Our priority now is to finish this project so that we can bring in another 8 children who need a loving home and family. At this point we are awaiting funds to order and pay for the building and installation of the windows. We currently have $3000 towards the estimate of $5000 to complete this project. After the windows are installed, here is the order of projects that will be needed to complete the project:
Paint ~ This is one of the easier tasks ahead of us and can be completed as soon as we have windows installed.
Kitchen Counters ~ We are currently looking for a local source to build and install so we don’t have a price for these yet.
Floors / Bathroom showers and walls ~ Ceramic tiles are used here so we’ll need people skilled in installing tiles.
Doors ~ We have a local person who will build the doors and we can install them.
Insulation and paneling for main room
Drop ceilings for bedrooms
Appliances / Furniture
Main Power ~ Cable was donated by Utility Partners in Greer and is ready to go
All of us here at Rayo de Esperanza want to send you a big thank you for your years of support! We know that God is sovereign and that He will do what He wants to do either with us, or without us, and we are thankful to be a part of this ministry and to have the blessing of being tools in God’s hands to touch the lives of the children here at the Ranch and our neighbors in La Cooperativa and Seja. We pray that God blesses you richly for sharing in the ministry with us, and laboring together for His kingdom. “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)
Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Mike & Karen Rhea
Jon & Kelley Williamson