I just returned last Friday from another wonderful week in Guatemala, leading in the pastoral/leadership training conferences that we do each January and July in the city of Quetzaltenango (or Xela as it's commonly called). I had a great trip down from Kansas City to Guatemala City, somehow qualifying on the TSA pre-approved list that meant I didn't have to take off my shoes or take my laptop out of my backpack. (That wasn't true of the return flight however). When I was preparing to board in Houston for the flight down to Guatemala, the agent offered me a free upgrade to economy plus seating with lots of extra legroom. Of course I accepted his gracious offer.
We had a record number of participants this time--92 pastors and leaders--and these represented some new churches and missions that hadn't previously participated in the training. I typically take another pastor or conference leader or two with me and let them teach while I simultaneously translate their conferences into Spanish. This was the first occasion in 7.5 years of leading these sessions that I've gone alone and led the entire conference. The folks were extremely gracious as always and very appreciative of the materials that I shared. They also interacted well with great comments and questions.
I was able to visit the Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City on Thursday after we returned from Xela and accompanied Carol Bercian's mother and brother to pick up some uniform pants for the children that had been sewn by a local seamstress. A Baptist church in Dothan, Alabama made a generous donation that helped with the purchase of uniforms and school supplies. Later, Estuardo (Carol's brother) and I purchased a sound system for the Tabitha Ministry at a great price that will save them the cost of renting sound equipment for their large gatherings.
The return trip didn't go quite as smoothly as the trip down. We pushed back from the gate in Guatemala City about 10 minutes early and I was thinking there would be no issues with making my connecting flight in Houston. The pilot then announced that the right engine had refused to start, so it was back to the gate, deplaning, and the mechanics fixing the problem. We got away about 2 hours late and after clearing immigration and customs and riding the monorail system to another terminal, I arrived at the gate in time to see my flight (about 30 minutes later than scheduled) pushing back from the gate. The next flight was overbooked so I didn't make it on standby on it. I wound up catching a flight about 6:00 p.m. rather than the original 12:20 time out of Houston. I did have a couple of good books to read so the time wasn't wasted.
The trip overall was a tremendous blessing as always and I'm grateful for those of you who prayed for my safety in traveling and for the teaching time in Xela.