Dear Family and Friends,
¡Saludos de nuevo de Guatemala! (Greetings once again from Guatemala!)
It is our hope that you are enjoying good and many blessings. The three of us are doing well, thankfully. We are doing our best to tie up loose ends before we make our end-of-year trip to the U.S. and to Europe.
Let us start by saying THANK YOU for your involvement either financially or through prayers in the Lord’s work here in Guatemala and especially with the preacher’s school Instituto Teológico Latinoamericano (ITL), aka Latin American Theological Institute. Because of people like you we are seeing ITL and its graduates making a big difference in the Spanish-speaking world. We have graduates that extend all the way to Paraguay.
Although ITL has been very successful and we believe it is a very good work that should continue, we also understand that no work is without its difficulties. On this occasion, we want to share news about our most recent class, the Delta Class, that is unique in the school’s history and we hope will not happen again. Still, we all have learned from the experience and believe we are all better because of it. We have delayed sending this information because we were waiting for our students’ sponsors to receive the news first by means of regular mail.
Due to situations beyond our control, it was necessary to dismiss the entire student body of our Delta Class. By mid September, the last family went home. Please allow us to explain why. Normally after a quarter of studies, we are more aware of our student body’s strengths and weaknesses and begin to help them improve on the former and work on the latter. All student bodies have come to ITL with various challenges. Normally, by the second quarter, the students begin to adjust to the lifestyle and discipline of the school, eliminating old habits and developing new ones. However, with this class, it did not occur quite this way. Sadly, well into the second quarter, we still had not seen the needed positive changes that we believe are healthy and necessary for those who are going to serve in the ministry full time and whom we can send into the field with the school’s name behind them. In fact, we believe that we may have even been too patient with most of them in order to see if we could make things work.
Let us further share some of the challenges that we faced and why the ITL staff made this final decision. The students were dishonest on several occasions. We tried to work with them in this area, but to no avail. It got so bad that we did not feel confident to leave them alone to take any exam. Additionally, just about every rule in the ITL manual was violated and they consistently neglected fulfilling the cleaning responsibilities assigned to each of them. Aside from this, the students lacked respect for the ITL property and failed to take responsibility for their actions. They or their children broke numerous items. The student body would always deny knowing anything about things that were broken, unless we actually saw them doing it. ITL would purchase needed items, like a crib or new dustpans, and in just weeks, these things would be ruined or destroyed. Even though ITL incurred additional costs because of this, it did not seem to bother them to ask for additional funds for personal items. It appeared that the more the school
gave to the students or to their children, the more they expected of the school. The situation with the younger children got so bad that the cook/babysitter turned in her resignation unless we found someone else to take care of the children. She complained that the children were uncontrollable and that the parents would often just pamper or defend the children. And, as if all this was not enough, there was the final circumstance that made it impossible for us to allow them to continue at ITL: most of the students failed more courses than the ITL manual allows. In other words, they academically disqualified themselves. This student body was given opportunity after opportunity to make changes, but did not take advantage of them.
We hope that you can understand our dilemma and the decision that came after much effort and prayer. Needless to say, we were discouraged. However, we found comfort in knowing that this is only a setback and not an end. ITL is not closing. We believe that the Lord has used this institute to make a vital difference in the Spanish-speaking world. We believe that He will continue to use ITL in the same way. Despite the setback in the full-time program, the Saturday program continues to move along strongly and the students are doing an excellent job.
Lord willing, we will begin another class in the full-time program in April of next year, just seven months from now. We already have some prospective students who were waiting to start in 2017, but now will be able to start one year earlier. We will use the next few months to promote ITL and to seek a qualified student body for our 5th class. This will require additional traveling for the staff during this extra promotional period, which will produce some extra expenses for ITL. However, in the long run we believe it will be worth the time and additional funds needed. And, we have faith that God will, as He always has, provide for this need.
Please pray for ITL, for our past student bodies, and for our present Saturday students. Especially pray for the Delta Class so that they will learn from this experience, they will value what ITL was able to give to them, and they will let God transform them. In addition, please pray for the future students that God is preparing for ITL to be trained to work more effectively in His vineyard. And, lastly, pray for us to train them patiently, lovingly and correctly.
Let us close by thanking you again for being a part of the work in Guatemala. Also, please feel free to contact us if you should have questions or concerns about this news or any other part of our work. May God continue to bless you and keep you!
Con amor en Cristo (With love in Christ), Sus Servidores (Your Servants),
Byron and Snezana
To see information about a recent landslide in Guatemala that buried approximately 125 homes, please click here.