Monday, December 8, 2008

A Few Random Images

As with any trip, there are so many memories images. Here are a few...

When we traveled, it was often in a car or truck. Melody and Diane would ride in one car and I would be in another. Melody and Diane would be in the back seat with one of the members from Nueva Jerusalem, and two men would take the remaining seats in the front. If the pastor was with us, they would put him in the truck. Yep, that's an image you don't forget.

In my office at Chapel, I have a basket of plastic glasses with fake noses and bushy eyebrows. I don't remember how this started, but I do remember Linda Baldwin, our church administrator started it. As it says on the rim of the glasses, "Just add a face and you'll have an instant party." Melody decided we should take them, just in case -- so we packed three. One night, they came out of the bag and the three of us posed for a photo at the church - each of us wearing one of those silly glasses. The next thing we knew, everyone in the church was standing in a line, waiting to pose for their own photo.

At one point, the three of us were at a Wendys Restaurant -- yes, just like the ones back home. It was our last lunch and we had no interpreter. I watched Melody and Diane struggle with complcated orders, so I thought I would make mine simple. "Ocho Combo con papas fritas." I even pointed at the number eight combo meal on the picture-menu. None of us got the right order, but it was good!

We leaarned that some Anglo names do not translate well. Melody remained "Melody," but Diane was often called Diana. People pronouced "Maynard" as "minar," so after the first day, I became "Manny," a nickname the youth of my last chuurch called me. Somewhere, my nickname became Queso Grande - "the Big Cheese."

The best memories will be the great people we met. They treated us so well. We are all in hopes of staying in contact with them via emal, Facebook, and in any way possible.

I feel that Chapel is so blessed to have this sister church relationship.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday worship

I had the most amazing worship experience today. I was invited to preach at our sister church, Nueva Jerusalem, in Villa Canales, Guatemala.

With the help of an excellent translator, I delivered a 40 minute sermon. It was not quite the 45 minutes they say the normally expect, but it was certainly more than I normally give at Chapel by the Sea.

The music was wonderful. The prayers were obviously sincere, even though I did not understand all of them.

Diane and Melody did great when it came time for them to present gifts we brought to the church, the pastor, elders and congregation.

There is so much more to share, but I'm writing this with my handhheld, palm size computer device while connected via wireless Internet -- and typing is a challenge.

Be sure to join us Wednesday, December 17th at either 10am or 6pm for our presentation on our trip.

We promise lots of great stories, videos and photos.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thursday and Friday Activities

There were tears in the eyes of some of the people we visited on Thursday. "I consider you angels who have visited me in my home," one lady told us. She lived in a very simple home on a hill. Chickens roamed her yard and we sat outside visiting. A simple one room bakery in her house filled the air with the most wonderful aroma. Her family sells this bread for their livelihood, but she gave us a big bag to enjoy when we left her house.

We visited a dozen homes. Many of those we visited are sick. With us was the pastor and a few other church members. We would enter the house, introduce ourselves, chat, sing hymns and read Scripture. The hymns and Scripture are all in Spanish, of course, so we are getting an opportunity to practice what little we know.

All this week, our sister church, Nueva Jerusalem, is having Bible School. There are about 120 children attending, and they are the most energetic kids, especially when it comes to singing. It is more like a concert than a church service. Diane and Melody were helping to lead the singing and dancing, but I figured my talents were best used taking photos and video for posting on the web later on. Tonight we will share gifts and crafts from Chapel by the Sea with the children.

Our host families have been wonderful to us and the food has been fantastic. Today, Friday, we had the opportunity to visit and tour Guatemala City, and to do a little shopping. At one point, we were driving along in a truck. Melody and Diane were in a car behind us, but in the truck I was in the center seat with the driver on one side and the translater on the other. Suddenly, my translater, Peter, hopped out of the truck and the truck drove on. The driver eventually parked and after a while, he got out and left me alone. It seemed to be a good time for a nap, and since we´ve been so busy, I grabbed some shut eye. After about 15 minutes, we drove on to a restaurant and enjoyed lunch at the school where they teach the great chefs of Guatemala. The food was outstanding. Eventually Peter and my driver, David, caught up with us and joined us for lunch. We just do what we are told, and go where we are taken, and it all works out well.

Melody and Diane are still at the church, but I have returned to my host family´s home in order to work on my sermon for this Sunday. I get to preach during the service. I´m told I should prepare for a 45 minute sermon. But before starting my preparation, I wanted to share what we were up to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Have Arrived

I do not have much time to write, but I can say that we have arrived and we are safe and sound. The trip was great. We were greeted by 20 to 40 members of the Nueva Jerusalem congregation when we arrived at the airport. The drove us to Villa Caneles, and along the way I learned lots of names. I also learned that the red octangonal shaped signs at intersections that say ALTO apparently mean GO unless a police officer is around, and then it means, slow down slightly. Yellow lines in the center of the highway apparently mean pass.

Villa Canales is more of what I would call a suburban area of Guatemala City. The buildings thinned out a bit, but it is part of a continuous populated area. We went to the church last night and met lots more of the most friendly folk! They are all full of humor and joy. We met in a room named for Chapel by the Sea and saw photos of lots of our members on past visits. Today promises to be busy. We will have a meeting at the church this morning, and VBS tonight.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting Ready for our 2008 Visit to Guatemala

On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, three people from Chapel by the Sea will visit its sister church in Guatemala. Going on the trip will be Diane Peterson, an elder currently serving on Chapel's Session; Melody Frazier, Chapel's Director of Christian Education, and me - Maynard Pittendreigh. I have been told I am the first pastor from Chapel to visit our sister church, and that it has been two years since Chapel sent anyone to Guatemala.

This Sister Church relationship with the Iglesia Presbiteriana Nueva Jerusalem in Villa Canales began January 9, 1996. From the very beginning, this relationship has been viewed as "a partnership between equals."

The first group to visit Nueva Jerusalem included Cheri and Bill Boyer, Ed Meyers and Sue Strachan. This first visit took place in October, 1998.

Carolyn Underwood and Sue Strachan went in November, 2000, and in November, 2001, Marge Golden, Sue Strachen, Carolyn Underwood and Jackie Richie went. Another trip was made in November, 2002, by Lee Ann Ivestor and Carolyn Underwood. Each of these trips involved Chapel members helping teach in the Vacation Bible School. Members of Nueva Jerusalem were also making trips to visit Chapel by the Sea.

The last trip that anyone from Chapel made to visit our sister church in Guatemala was in May, 2003, when our Parish Nurse, Sheila Morales, went with Lee Ann Ivester.

Hurricane Charley hit Ft. Myers Beach in 2004 and with the aftermath of that storm and the transition of pastors at Chapel we've not been able to exchange visits.

The purposes of our 2008 trip will be to renew and reinvigorate our Sister Church relationship and to participate in their Vacation Bible School. We are hoping that we will have plenty of opportunities to update this web page, writing about our experiences as they happen.