Posts tagged #Guatemala

ITL Lectureship is a success

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the lectureship at Instituto Teologico Latinoamericano (ITL) in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was my pleasure to attend the President’s banquet and also the lectureship. Hawathia Jones and Byron Benitez, both Bear Valley alumni, have been in Guatemala City for 19 years and have done untold good in that time.

The lectureship was outstanding, with excellent topics and a through exposition of 1 John. A number of speakers were from the U.S. and did a great job with their passages. The lectureship was very well attended and I am confident all benefited greatly from having attended.

Posted on March 26, 2019 .

After A Successful Lectureship In Guatemala, A New Class Begins...

This past March 10th – 13th, we celebrated our 7th Annual ITL Lectureship. The theme this year was Practical Christian Living: A Study of the Book of James. The event turned out to be a wonderful time of study and edification. 

We were honored with a well-qualified array of speakers that did an excellent job of making James what the theme suggests—very practical! As you can see from the flyer, there were 12 speakers/teachers. Victor Ajuchan, David Avila and Wilder Ordoñez were speakers from Guatemala. Javier Alfaro came from Costa Rica and Pedro Batres from Nicaragua. The rest came from various parts of the U.S.: Luis Camacho (Dallas, TX), Kevin Hahn (Houston, TX), Bob Turner (Denver, CO), and Kerrie Williams (Jonesboro, AR). In addition, two ladies, Brenda Dean and Sherrie Montgomery came to speak to our ladies and Cherie Dempster taught several children’s classes. All three ladies are from Morristown, TN, where their husbands (John, Tom, and Jim respectively), who also came to the lectureship, serve as elders. Conrad Pinder (Costa Rica) was back to help with the translation and so did Byron’s mom, Aralee Hernandez (Los Angeles, CA), who translated for the ladies classes. Benjamin Montejo and Dulce Ramirez, both from Linda Vista, also contributed as translators. 

Additionally, we also had the honor of having Tom Langley, Anna Pride and Channetta Williams present for the lectureship. Tom (Maryville, TN) is the president of World English Institute (WEI) and a friend from many years back. He was the one who kept encouraging us to host WEI teams in Guatemala and now we have hosted teams for seven years! Anna Pride (Nashville, TN) and Channetta Williams (Lubbock, TX) were here because we are working with them to establish a full-time WEI school in Guatemala in the near future. All of us were able to meet after the lectureship events to discuss how we could see the school become a reality. We all felt encouraged and ask that you keep this project in your prayers. Channetta is currently seeking support to move to Guatemala and we are actively looking for other team members to join this effort. We will send out more details about this in another newsletter. 

As usual, the events for the lectureship began on Thursday and concluded on Sunday. Permit us to share with you some of the highlights. 

Thursday, March 10 – ITL’s President’s Banquet
The President’s Banquet was held again at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Zone 13 of Guatemala City. This is the hotel we have been using for our ITL activities and mission teams. They have been very kind to us, provide the best rate for our guests and offer a few other amenities. 

The banquet always serves as a great way to begin our lectureship activities. We invite all of ITL’s past graduates from both programs (Saturday and Full-Time) to attend. It is a good opportunity to honor their faithfulness and work with their local churches. Also, we take the opportunity to honor our speakers and their guests. Additionally, it provides a good arena to express appreciation to those who make ITL possible. As we were finishing dinner, Hawatthia, the president of ITL, introduced the after-dinner speaker for this year, Kevin Hahn. Kevin preaches for the Lake Houston Church of Christ in Humble, Texas, and he did an excellent job. 

This year, we honored Carlos Ramos and Eusebia Martinez with the President’s Service Award for their unselfish dedication and service throughout the years. We are happy to report that we were honored again to have Dr. Henry España, “ITL’s doctor,” and his wife Dora Alicia. Several other awards and appreciation plaques were given and the program concluded with a photo presentation that looked back at 2015. 

Friday, March 11 – Excursion Day
On Friday, our out-of-town guests traveled first to the historic area of Guatemala called Zone 1, where they visited the National Palace. This year, we could not make the regular lunch stop at Wendy’s because for some reason the restaurant closed. So, we walked an extra two blocks to enjoy Pollo Campero before departing to La Antigua Guatemala. We made a favorite stop at the coffee plantation La Azalea for a tour and coffee (for those who drink coffee). We then made our way to Antigua’s market, where the team haggled a bit for their souvenirs (which most consider a fun experience). For dinner, we enjoyed a meal at Fonda de la Calle Real before making our way back to the capital city. 

Saturday, March 12 – Our 7th Annual Lectureship Begins
Linda Vista again served as the location for our lectureship this year. The city granted us permission to close off the street, so we were able to set up a couple tents and chairs for outdoor classes in front of the building (which was a coveted location because of the cool breeze). 

The day began with some troubles with our sound system. Thankfully, we were able to get it to work and the lectures were on their way. Pedro Batres did a great job of introducing our theme. We have continued to follow the same format that seems to work well. We have several keynote speakers scattered throughout the day, interspersed with workshops, singing, lunch and an open forum, a favorite of the attendees, but not such a favorite with the speakers. We ended the day with a dinner prepared by our local sisters. 

The attendance on Saturday was very good. We had at least 15 churches represented at various times of the day. Some, not including the invited speakers, traveled as far as Chiapas, Mexico and from one of the borders of Guatemala, about eight hours away. There were also people there from other departments and from several congregations in the Guatemala City area. We averaged about 250 in attendance as people came and went throughout the day, but the total number of people easily surpassed 300. 

Sunday, March 13 – Conclusion of Lectureship
For Sunday we had a full house. The congregation in San Antonio, Villa Nueva, worshipped with us and we had several members from other congregations to join the Linda Vista family, so we were packed tightly. Kevin Hahn had the final keynote lesson during our worship and did a tremendous job of motivating us to seek the lost from James 5. If our memory serves us correctly, there were six responses. There was one final Bible class before the event came to a close. Then, all of us enjoyed lunch together. 

A special thank you to so many who helped to make this year’s lectureship a great success. Every area of work was vital and we pray that God will richly bless each person who so willingly served in various ways. Lord willing, we will host our 8th annual lectureship next year. We pray that you will be able to come and be part of this event.

A New Class Begins at ITL
We are thankful that all of our Epsilon has arrived to the ITL campus. The class had one additional student to join it a week into the first quarter, bringing the total of students to six. 

Lord willing, we will be sending very soon a complete update about our Epsilon class. Please continue to pray that all will go well as the new students and their families adjust to their new life here at ITL and as the staff and faculty adjust to having them on campus. 

Serving Jesus in Guatemala! 
Hawatthia, Byron, Snezana

“Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!” 

To see the report from ITL with pictures, please click here.

Posted on May 1, 2016 .

ITL Faces Multiple Challenges In The Training Program...

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), 

Hawatthia
Byron and Snezana 

To see information about a recent landslide in Guatemala that buried approximately 125 homes, please click here.

Posted on October 4, 2015 .

Details On FPC At ITL In Guatmala...

As we are rapidly bringing the 2015 summer to a close, we pray that you and those you love are doing well. We are doing fine here. As always, we feel the blessings of God being showered upon us. However, at the same time, and in so many ways, we also see how Satan works so hard to blind us to the blessings that are so abundant. 

In our Third Quarter Newsletter our plans are to recap some of the major events for June, July and August. However, to avoid making this letter into a book, we are going to divide it into Part One and Part Two. This will allow us to give you a little more details, make you wish you were here during the events, and, perhaps, encourage you to visit us for one of our events or teams next year. ☺ However, please keep in mind as you read about the major events, that during those times we were also teaching in both the full-time and Saturday programs at ITL, traveling and speaking at a couple of lectureships in the US, and teaching and preaching at the Linda Vista congregation, etc. 

Even though the work load seems immense, we desire to do no other than continue in full-time ministry for our Lord. And, we thank you for your support that allows us to do it. Now, let’s talk about the first major events for the last quarter. 

June 2015 – FUTURE PREACHER’S CAMP
The Lord blessed us to be able to host our second annual Future Preacher’s Camp (FPC). We believe God was glorified through our efforts. And, we also believe that the church here and our preacher’s school Instituto Teológico Latinoamericano (ITL) will receive benefit for the efforts that were put forth. Our team here, under the direction of camp director Kirk Brothers from Freed-Hardeman, did a great job in making it all happen. 

Just as a reminder, let us quickly explain what an FPC is. We gave you a brief description in our last update. An FPC takes boys 13 – 19 (ages vary) and introduces them to the life of a preacher. The campers learn a little about many aspects of being a preacher, as well as serving in various capacities in the church, such as singing, praying, presiding over the Lord’s Supper, etc. One of the main aspects they learn is how to prepare a sermon and deliver it. In short, the primary purpose is to encourage them to become future preachers, thus its name. An added benefit, as noted by some of the Guatemalan preachers, is that many of these campers return to their congregations with a renewed zeal to serve. 

Last year for our 1st camp, we did it all in two and half days and all at the ITL campus. Even though things went well, for the most part, we went beyond the capacity that the ITL campus can hold for an event such as this. Once we decided to have another FPC we also quickly decided we would have to find another place for it and that the next camp would be a full week like the camps in the US. So, the search began! 

The Lord blessed us to find an adequate and very beautiful camp ground named Campamento Caleb that was perfect for our needs. We looked into several camps but this one was the only one that would allow us to bring our own cooks and food. Needless to say, this reduced our cost significantly, not to mention it gave us confidence in the food we would have to eat for a week. ☺ The camp site offered plenty of rooms and beds for sleeping (everyone had to bring their own linen or sleeping bag), plenty of places for showers, a great kitchen area with a private area for the cooks to sleep, two large rooms for devotionals, meals and classes, and a large open area for various outdoor sports and activities. 

We had a total of 32 campers, 4 cooks, 4 teachers, 1 translator, and 7 counselors. Darvin, Hawatthia and Byron served as teachers, together with Kirk. Benjamin Montejo was Kirk’s translator. Snezana worked in the kitchen with our other cooks. A majority of the campers arrived on a Sunday afternoon and most would stay until the following Sunday for the conclusion of the camp. A few of them had to arrive on Wednesday. Four of them left because they were ill and two because they were homesick. 

This year’s theme was “Haciendo una diferencia” (Making a Difference) with a focus on character studies from the books of Luke and Acts. Amongst other things, each participant prepared a sermon eight minutes in length using the character assigned to him. 

that would allow us to bring our own cooks and food. Needless to say, this reduced our cost significantly, not to mention it gave us confidence in the food we would have to eat for a week. ☺ The camp site offered plenty of rooms and beds for sleeping (everyone had to bring their own linen or sleeping bag), plenty of places for showers, a great kitchen area with a private area for the cooks to sleep, two large rooms for devotionals, meals and classes, and a large open area for various outdoor sports and activities. 

We had a total of 32 campers, 4 cooks, 4 teachers, 1 translator, and 7 counselors. Darvin, Hawatthia and Byron served as teachers, together with Kirk. Benjamin Montejo was Kirk’s translator. Snezana worked in the kitchen with our other cooks. A majority of the campers arrived on a Sunday afternoon and most would stay until the following Sunday for the conclusion of the camp. A few of them had to arrive on Wednesday. Four of them left because they were ill and two because they were homesick. 

This year’s theme was “Haciendo una diferencia” (Making a Difference) with a focus on character studies from the books of Luke and Acts. Amongst other things, each participant prepared a sermon eight minutes in length using the character assigned to him. 

At noon we stopped for lunch. Wow, these guys could sure eat! ☺ After lunch and clean-up, 1:00 p.m. was dedicated each day as a time for the campers to work on their sermon with the help of their counselors, putting into practice some of what had been learned in the morning. At 2:00 p.m. they learned some of the practical aspects of ministry (i.e. conducting a personal Bible study, leading singing, 

answering questions after a sermon, etc.). So, when 3:00 p.m. rolled around they were ready for their free time. Some of them participated in basketball and/or, soccer others in table games or a time of relaxation and, believe it or not, some of them worked on their sermons. 

After around three hours of free time, dinner was served. Following dinner, various activities took place, some of which taught more practical things while others gave the campers, counselors and teachers an opportunity to stand before the group to talk about different things. At 9:45 p.m. they had free time again with lights out at 11:00 p.m. 

The last three days were very exciting. On Friday afternoon the entire group traveled by bus to Guatemala City to bowl, most of them for their first time. We found that we had some good bowlers in the group. However, we also found that a lot of them did not need to consider it as a profession.☺ On Saturday the campers presented their week-long work in front of their peers, counselors and teachers. Two of them were selected to preach for the Sunday morning service.
On Sunday we had a full house. A bus was rented for members of Linda Vista to attend. Several parents of the campers and other members for their congregation were also in attendance. A graduation followed the morning worship during which trophies were presented to the outstanding campers and to the most improved camper. 

We are sorry to report that Brother Kirk was not able to stay for the entire camp due to the death of his sister-in-law, Angie Osmon, his wife’s sister. Thankfully, she was a faithful Christian who has gone on to her reward. Kirk left very early on Saturday to be with his family and to preach the funeral service. Our love, sympathy and prayers continue to go out to Kirk, his wife Cindy and their family. 

Please allow us to close the FPC section telling you of the highlight of the camp. Six campers put their Lord on in baptism. This was the most joyous moment of the entire week. Please keep the new walk of these young Christians in your prayers. You received more information earlier about their baptisms. 

Without doubt we believe the camp was a tremendous success and brought much glory to the Lord’s cause here in Guatemala. Lord willing, we plan to have FPC 2016. Please join us in praying that this will happen. 

Thank you for taking the time to read part one of our September-Third Quarter Newsletter. We hope you enjoyed what we shared. God bless you! 

Serving the Master, 
Hawatthia “Hi” Jones Byron & Snezana Benitez Missionary Missionaries 

“Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!

Posted on September 20, 2015 .

Our God Continues To Give The Increase In Guatemala...

¡Hola Hermanos y Amigos! (Hello Brethren and Friends!) 

There is nothing more horrible than the grip that Satan has on so many in our world today. Sadly, due to this fact, many will spend an eternity with him in hell’s fire. What a terrible thought! On the other hand, there is nothing more exciting than seeing Satan lose his grip when people turn their lives over to a much more powerful Master, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is WONDERFUL to see Satan lose his grip and to see sincere and honest souls now gripping Jesus’ hand. Thankfully, we have been able to see, many times first hand, this happen several times here in Guatemala. 

In a recent update and newsletter we mentioned some conversions and said we would send more information later. Time has slipped by and the later became even later. So, in this message we are going to update you on some of the growth in the Lord’s church. We say some because our update only covers those which are in some way affiliated with our work. We know of other congregations who have seen additions as well. We thank the Lord for his overall additions to His Kingdom. 

Linda Vista
We have been blessed to see several added to the church and specifically to our family at Linda Vista. We’ll start with the most recent and work our way back. 

A couple of Sunday’s ago Oneida Martinez was baptized into Christ. Oneida is the girlfriend of Jonathan, the kid (now adult) that we and other members took in off the street several years ago. As a result of the sin of fornication, she is now expecting a child in the upcoming weeks. We are thankful that Jonathan repented and has every desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Oneida, even though she was not a Christian, thankfully, had the same desire. So, we began studying with her and with her mother. So, it was a joy to see her die to herself and to be washed clean by the blood of Christ. Lord willing, Jonathan and Oneida will marry in the near future. 

A few Sundays back, Oneida’s mother, Milvia Velasquez, made the decision to become a Christian. We were a little surprised that she made this decision before Oneida but nonetheless we were very glad. She is a very quiet lady and appears to be very serious minded. We are thankful that she’s now a child of God and pray that she can be an example that will lead her other family members to the Lord. We ask that you pray that also. 

We were also privileged to see Rodrigo Aguilar obey the gospel. Rodrigo’s mother and grandmother are faithful members at Linda Vista. It kind of reminds you of Timothy’s situation that Paul mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5. How powerful the influence of a mother and grandmother can be. Byron had the honor of baptizing Rodrigo. This was very special for him as we have watched Rodrigo grow from a baby to where he is now. 

Please do not forget to say a special prayer for the congregation at Linda Vista and for all these new Christians.

2015 Future Preacher’s Camp (FPC)
This year we hosted our 2nd Annual FPC. For those who may not be familiar with an FPC, let us quickly explain what it is. An FPC takes boys 13 – 19 (ages vary) and introduces them to the life of a preacher. Hopefully, this is just enough information to make you look forward to more information about the camp that will follow within the next few days. We promise that a few days will not turn into a few months.

In this message our focus is the highlight of the camp when six campers put their Lord on in baptism. This was the most joyous moment of the entire week because we think we all would admit that a very important step to becoming a good preacher is first of all to obey the
Lord yourself. The campers who were baptized came from different congregations. One of
them, Alejandro Diaz, came from the Linda Vista congregation. Three of them, Alex Cahuec,
Juan Choc and Cesar Choc came from the ITL church plant in San Cristobal, Alta Verapaz. The fifth one, Bryan Kelvin Lopez, came from the church in Playa Grande Ixcan, Quiché, eight hours north of the capital city. The sixth baptism was Christian Gonzalez, from the church in Carolingia in Mixco, near the capital city. 

Words can never really express the emotion of seeing a soul come to the Lord. The emotion of seeing six come at the same time is even harder to express. We ask you to keep all six of these young men in your prayers. Please pray that God will use them and that the enemy will stay away from them. We pray that they represent six future preachers for the Kingdom in Guatemala. 

2015 Lectureship and Graduation
The Lord blessed us with a great 2015 Lectureship and Graduation. You may remember reading about it in a report sent a few months back. However, the highlight of these events was to see several respond to the Lord’s invitation on that Sunday morning after Eric Owens from Decatur, Georgia, preached an excellent lesson. Of these responses, two came forward with the request to be baptized into Christ. 

Vivian Santizo Ovalle, who was visiting with a group from Salcajá, Quetzaltenango, was one of those individuals. She had been studying previously with the preacher from that congregation, Alfredo Guillermo Poz. It was a joy to see Eric immerse Vivian for the remission of her sins. Just recently, we received word from Salcajá that she is still faithful to the commitment that she made at her baptism. 

The other individual is a young boy by the name of Daniel Fulwood. He and his mother, Opal Fulwood, came to be with us from the Plaza church of Christ in Sumter, South Carolina. He had previously been studying God’s word with some of the brethren in Sumter and was touched by the Word and made his decision in Guatemala. His mother was so excited and everyone present was excited with her. We hear that Daniel went home on fire ready to serve the Lord. 

Another precious soul that was added to the Book of Life during the lectureship is Dulce Ixcol. As a small child, Dulce, her mother Ana Judith, and her brothers attended the services at Linda Vista a few years back. The family fell away with a major stumbling block being Dulce’s father, who is an alcoholic and also unfaithful to Ana Judith. Thankfully, Ana Judith was restored to the Lord’s church. Shortly afterwards, during the first day of the lectureship, Dulce became a Christian. What a joy to see the little girl that we once knew now turning into a beautiful young lady and more importantly a child of the King. 

Las Pacayas
Our first ITL graduating class planted a new work in San Cristobal, Alta Verapaz, about 3 1⁄2 hours from Guatemala City. Since then, we have seen two other congregations established as a result of the San Cristobal work, one in Las Pacayas and the most recent one in Santa Cruz. 

The church in Las Pacayas has seen three conversions that we will share with you in this report. The information was shared with us by brother Abner Ramos, one of our graduates, who is now the full-time minister for the church there. 

Several months back Abner reported the baptism of Vilma Esperanza Cal and Gladis Cal. The family at Las Pacayas welcomed these new sisters with open arms. We know the angels in heaven rejoiced and welcomed them also. 

More recently, we received news about the immersion of Anibal Cis. He is the husband of one of the sisters, Carmela Cal, who is already a member of the Lord’s body there. How exciting it is to see families being united in their walk with Christ. 

Please keep Abner and his new bride Mercedes in your prayers as they work with these new babes in Las Pacayas. As in every one of these occasions, we solicit your prayers for strength and growth for the Lord’s work in that part of Guatemala. 

We will close this report by saying THANK YOU for your love and interest in God’s work here. We know you are praying for us and for this we are eternally grateful. Please continue to lift the work in Guatemala before the Father’s throne. Lord willing, you will be hearing very soon about some of the other major events that have happened over the past quarter. 

We have included pictures of each event so that you can put faces with names as you pray for us here. Please let us know if you have any difficulty viewing it. 

¡Los amamos con el amor de Jesús! (We love you with the love of the Lord!) 

Hawatthia
Byron and Snezana 

“Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!” 

To see the report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on September 13, 2015 .

Recapping Graduation At ITL In Guatemala...

In March we were blessed to be able to host our 6th Annual ITL Lectureship and our 3rd Graduation from Instituto Teológico Latinoamericano (ITL). 

This culminated two years of dedicated study and sacrifices for our full-time students and three years of the same for our students in our Saturday program, and made possible the graduation of our Gamma class. These and other accompanying events took place on March 19 – 23. 

This year we had guests from many places. Of course, most attending were from Guatemala. Other Central American countries represented were Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras. Our U.S. visitors included William & Alwanda Carothers (Nashville, TN), Mary Clark (Hemet, CA), Jim & Cherie Dempster (Morristown, TN), Aralee Hernandez (Los Angeles, CA), Ashunda Montgomery (Parsons, TN), Opal Fulwood, her son Daniel, and Nelson & Veda Stephens (Sumter, SC), Candelario Rodriguez (Corona, CA), Eric Owens (Decatur, GA), Bob Turner (Denver, CO), and Larry & Carol Waymire (Lexington, TN). 

We are grateful to God that ITL was able to fund the travel costs for family members of our full-time graduates and they spent their nights at the ITL facility. So, we had a FULL house. But everyone was so thankful to be here that no one complained about the close space that everyone shared.

We would be honored if you would allow us a moment of your time to walk you through these exciting days. 

Thursday, March 19 – ITL’s President’s Banquet 
Our graduation events began on Thursday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel with the annual President’s Banquet, the hotel where all of our lectureship speakers and some of our out- of-country guests stayed. 

It was a great evening. While being seated, and during the dinner time, everyone enjoyed a slide presentation prepared by Byron and Snezana Benitez, highlighting ITL events for the past year. Darvin Alvarez opened the event and a great dinner followed. Near the end of dinner, ITL’s president introduced our after-dinner speaker, Larry Waymire, the director of Caribbean Ministries and one of the ministers for the Broad Street church of Christ in Lexington, TN. He was accompanied by his wife Carol, a professor at Freed-Hardeman University. 

The night continued with several special presentations. Patricia Olimpia, Soliz Maldonado and Maclovio & Virginia Calderon were given this year’s President’s Service Award for their unselfish dedication and service throughout the years. Appreciation awards were also presented to key individuals who have played an important role for ITL for the past year. Dr. Henry España, a medical doctor, for example, was honored for his continued contribution to ITL. Dr. España is not a member of the church, yet has been named the “ITL doctor” for the frequent medical attention he gives to our staff and students at a significantly discounted rate. We were honored to have him and his wife, Dora Alicia, attend the banquet. Others honored were our speakers, our ITL cook and secretary, and those ladies from Linda Vista who every week prepared meals for our students. There were special gifts given to some of our guests from the United States who have adopted students through our Help Train Messengers (HTM) Ministry. The program concluded with the presentation of our 2015 graduating class in their caps and gowns, their receiving various awards pertaining to their studies and with a lot of pictures. 

Friday, March 22 – Excursion Day 
On Friday, our guests from the U.S., our graduates and their families, and we traveled first to the historic area of Guatemala called Zone 1. There they were able to take a guided tour of our National Palace. After the tour, they then entered one of Guatemala’s main cathedrals. Following lunch in the extravagant restaurant called Wendy’s, everyone got back on the bus and we traveled to Antigua Guatemala, one of the old capital cities. Our first stop was at a coffee farm where the group received a personal tour. Following the tour, we traveled to the central park and to one of Antigua’s famous markets. There some of our guests “shopped until they were ready to drop.” After shopping, we ate at Pollo Campero, Guatemala’s own fried- chicken restaurant. As we returned, our full-time graduates were all with the ITL graduation ring donated by Mark and Teri Stevens, an elder and his wife from the Richland church of Christ in Richland, WA. Having had a full day, everyone was now looking forward to a good night’s rest and to the upcoming weekend events. 

Saturday, March 22 – Our 6th Annual Lectureship Begins 
This year we held our 1st day of the lectureship at the Linda Vista building, which opened with a very good attendance. We also used a near-by house for our children’s classes. 

This year’s theme was El Crecimiento Dinámico de la Iglesia (The Dynamic Growth of the Church). Again, we had a great line-up of speakers for our keynotes and for our class times. Those coming from abroad were Gilberto Astorga and Moises Umaña from Costa Rica, Alexander Castellanos from El Salvador, and Jim Dempster, Eric Owens and Bob Turner from
the United States. Our speakers from Guatemala included Misael Ajuchan, Nicolas Chiquival, Raul Duran and Alfonso Sapon. In addition, Silvia Castellanos from El Salvador returned to share a special lesson with our ladies. 

Lunch and dinner were provided to all. Before dinner, there was a special question-and- answer panel. This is always a highlight of the day where our speakers are “grilled” with questions pertaining to the lessons they taught. We are grateful that this has always been a time of learning and sharing and, thankfully, always conducted with a spirit of love and courtesy. After dinner, we had our last two lessons, and to top the day off there was a new babe born into Christ. We will be sending more information on this baptism in another message very soon. So, be looking for it. 

Afterwards, everyone headed to their places of abode for another night’s rest to be ready for our Sunday events. 

Sunday, March 24 – Conclusion of Lectureship and ITL’s Graduation Ceremony
The first day of the week is always a special time for Christians. However, this day was extra special because so many people joined us as we concluded our lectureship and for the graduation event. Because of the large attendance expected, we rented a facility for the Sunday events. There were about 500 people present! It was great to have several churches of Christ present. The service was conducted by the members of Linda Vista with the help of brothers from several of these visiting congregations. 

After the sermon, presented by Eric Owens, there were several responses to the Lord’s invitation. Among these responses were two precious souls requesting to put their Lord on in baptism. As we  said earlier, we will be sending a message giving information about them and their obedience to the gospel. 

After the corporate assembly, lunch was served to everyone and the graduation followed. Pomp and Circumstance started to play and then the president if ITL’s, the staff and participating guests entered. After a brief pause the audience stood and our full- time class valedictorian, Elmer Eduardo Torres Aquino, entered the auditorium, who was followed by Victor Noe Ajuchan Hernandez our Saturday program valedictorian. They were followed by the remainder of our full-time class: Javier Arturo Alfaro Umaña, Cristhian David Cardenas Sevilla and Daniel 

Alberto Izaguirre Rodriguez. Then came the remainder of our Saturday program students:
Sandra Judith Martinez de Ajuchan, Dimas Baldemar Davila Canizales and Abel Elisandro Perez Boror. As you can imagine, the excitement and emotions were very high. 

Once everyone had entered, it was now time for the colors (the flags). It was quite impressive to see the flags from Guatemala, from the U.S.A. and from ITL enter the auditorium. Afterwards, both countries’ national anthems were played and normal customs and courtesies were rendered by its citizens during the anthem. 

One important point we would like to mention is the few moments we took to honor our co-worker, brother and friend, Anibal Ramirez, who was absent again from our activities because of his illness. We gave his family, Damaris and his three girls, a reward to him on our behalf. 

We informed you about his condition in the previous report. His last exam was not as positive as the doctor or he was hoping because the hepatitis C virus is still present. The doctor has now taken him off all medications, is evaluating what else to do and has encouraged him to seek alternative treatments. Please pray fervently for Anibal. 

The Gamma Class was made up of four full- time graduates and four Saturday graduates. During the ceremony both valedictorians gave speeches. The full-time class presented a gift to ITL to be placed with gifts from previous classes. 

Hawatthia, as president of ITL, awarded our graduates with their degrees and certificates from ITL. Byron placed the hood upon Elmer as he received his degree. Bob Turner awarded the full- time students their degrees and certificates on behalf of Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Jim Dempster gave the elder’s charge. To close, the colors were removed and final words were given from Hi. He dismissed them, saying, “I had the honor to lead you into this auditorium, but your valedictorians will have the honor of leading you out.” The graduates exited followed by the president, the staff and other graduation participants. 

As part of the graduation program, we had the cutting of the cake. There were two VERY big cakes. One of them even had a picture of the full- time class. They had never seen themselves as frosting! Everyone enjoyed the cake. After the cake we presented and prayed on behalf of the two new converts. 

That evening, the staff, the graduates, their families and the lectureship guests had dinner at Pizza Hut (this was the graduates’ choice and our last meal as a group). While there, 2015 medallion presentations were also made. 

As you can see from the pictures included, the entire weekend was great and we are thankful to God for the way everything turned out. We are so thankful to the leaders at Linda Vista for their continued support for ITL and to the members at Linda Vista for their hard work at making this event such a success. There were at least 40 Linda Vistians (we made up that word) involved in various areas. We also thank William and Alwanda Carothers for being in charge of putting this year’s event on video and audio, a good memory keepsake for all who desire to receive it. In addition, we give thanks to our speakers and to those who traveled so far to be with us and to share this special time. And last, but definitely not least, we say thanks to our supporters whose generous donations make possible everything we do. 

Monday and Tuesday, March 23 and 24 – It is “almost” time to relax! 
On Monday, most of our student family members and most of our speakers departed. The ITL facility became quiet with only the graduates there. Our graduates departed Guatemala the following Friday. 

There were a few guests who stayed an extra day to relax a little. On Monday, at a much slower pace, we returned back to Antigua taking the time to celebrate the anniversary of one of our speakers and his wife, who were from Costa Rica. We ate at one of Antigua’s famous restaurants called Calle de la Fonda Real. It was just down time. These remaining guests departed Guatemala on Tuesday. 

The Gamma Class 
Allow us a moment to tell you of the plans and works of our recent graduates from the Gamma class. We will begin with our Saturday graduates. 

All four Saturday graduates are from the San Antonio church of Christ in San Miguel Petapa. Victor, Dimas and Elisandro have various responsibilities with the church (i.e., preaching, teaching, song leading, etc.). Sandra is actively involved in the children’s ministry and with the ladies. They will continue their work with the congregation. Each one of them stated that they felt better equipped to serve after attending ITL. Just recently, Victor returned to ITL to teach a Spanish class to our new class that entered ITL. He is also interested in teaching in our Saturday program. 

Our full-time program graduates, with the exception of Daniel Izaguirre, have returned to their countries to serve the churches there. Elmer Torres, from El Salvador, has returned to the congregation that had sent him to ITL for training. He plans to preach and to work closely with the young people. 

Javier Alfaro and Cristhian Cardenas, both from Costa Rica, have returned to their congregation to serve. They, too, will be preaching and they have a strong desire to work with the young people. Cristhian, Lord willing, will be sent out by this church to start a new church plant next year. María Eugenia Jimenez Castro, the ministers’ wife from their congregation was present and made an interesting comment about Javier and Cristhian. She said, “I know Biblical miracles have ceased, but the change that I have seen in Javier and Cristhian is close to being a miracle.” That was a positive comment for those of us at ITL. 

Daniel Izaguirre, from Honduras, is still with us. He entered one quarter late and will officially be a graduate once he completes this quarter. Being the “old man” on campus, he is definitely showing his leadership skills with those in the new class. Once he completes this quarter, he will return to Honduras and serve with the congregation where he was prior to coming to ITL. 

Time to rest! 
At least we thought it was! But, we were wrong! It was time to prepare for our Delta class. Now, they are here! Lord willing, we will soon be sending a report introducing the class members to you. In addition to our new students, the two couples brought a total of five children with them (an 11 year-old, a 7 year-old, a 4 year-old, a 2 year-old and a 1 year-old). Oh yeah, did we forget to mention that one of the wives is also pregnant? Soon we’ll introduce you to our Delta class. 

Thanks for the love and concern that you have for the Lord’s work here in Guatemala. May God bless each of you abundantly! 

Serving Jesus in Guatemala! 

Hawatthia, Byron, Snezana 

To see the report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on June 7, 2015 .

Year-End Travels, Challenges, Health Concerns, And Growth In Guatemala...

Greetings Dear Family and Loved Ones! 

We find great joy in writing you once again from Guatemala. Our hope and prayer is that you and your loved ones are doing well and had a great first quarter of 2015! 

Our End-of-Year Travels 
We are thankful to God that we were able to visit most of our supporters this year. It now requires our splitting up to get the visits accomplished. We are very thankful to those of you who have told us that coming every other year works well. 

Our gratitude also goes out to each one of you for your hospitality and kind treatment you showed us while we were with you at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. You are the major reason our travels are so enjoyable! 

To summarize our travels, allow us just to say that we visited 11 states and four different countries. The States, obviously, is where are our supporting churches are located. The other countries were: Germany, to work with the Euro-American Family Retreat; Bosnia, to visit with Snezana’s family (Hawatthia was able to meet them on this occasion); and Croatia, where we stopped on our way back to Germany after departing from Bosnia (we visited the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park). 

Regarding the Euro-American Family Retreat, it took place again in Rothenberg ob der Tauber from November 22-26, 2014. The theme this year was “In Relationship with God.” We were again in charge of the teen program. Jeremy Korodaj was present to help us once again. And, this year we had Snezana’s help with teaching the young ladies. We were happy to work with 14 great teenagers. 

During the end-of-year holidays, we had the blessing of spending time with family and friends. For Christmas this year, we were in California. For New Year’s we were in Tennessee. We missed seeing Mom Cynthia this year during this time. 

Trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina 
As we mentioned previously, this year the three of us were able to make a visit to Bosnia. There were a couple purposes for this visit. 

First, we visited with Snezana’s family. Byron and Snezana were able to go in April 2014 after a lectureship in Italy. Hawatthia, however, had not been, so this afforded him the opportunity to meet Snezana’s family and to see the country where she was born. We drove from Germany, which took us 14 hours! When we arrived to Banja Luka, at about 11:30 p.m., Snezana’s parents Ilija and Irena were anxiously waiting for us, greeted us warmly, and made sure we had plenty to eat! Our visit with them and with other family members was a blessing. Only Snezana’s mother, Irena, is a Christian in her family, so we are hoping that this will change one day. 

And second, our trip to Bosnia allowed us to follow-up on a couple of families that received financial assistance. One of the families was the Ivić family. Some of you donated funds to help this family soon after the terrible flood that affected this family and multitudes more a year ago. Because of your generosity, this family found hope when only despair awaited them. They were and still are all very thankful for the help in such a time of need. 

We also helped Milan Ljubojevic, who worked with Snezana’s sister. After an accident at work, Milan began to suffer with pain and difficulty moving. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy but is still under testing for other neurological diseases. He is married, has two young daughters and is the sole breadwinner and only occasionally receives a low disability income. So, we decided to send him a small contribution to help with his expenses. Of course, we were anxious to see how Milan was doing. Despite his severe pain and long stay in the hospital, Milan is all smiles. He is a very positive person and was thankful to God for our help and our visit. We pray that he will get to know God better and become a true follower of Jesus as a result. 

Some Challenges 
This year, upon returning from our end-of-year travels, Byron and Snezana came home to a house full of mold. It was so bad that they did not sleep in the home for five weeks after returning, while they cleaned it and made the place livable again. The mold was in the clothes, books, furniture, shoes—it was everywhere! 

They are very thankful that Hawatthia willingly provided a place for them to sleep while they went through the toil of cleaning the house. Snezana, especially, had it rough, since she did most of the cleaning while Byron was busy with ministerial responsibilities. They are also thankful to several members of the church that came several times to help with the cleaning. 

The landlord made every effort to repair the house wherever it was suspected that the problem was originating, but to no avail. Because we returned during the dry season, the mold became manageable, but shortly after they repaired and repainted several areas the mold was back again. 

As a result of all the trouble they had in this house, Byron and Snezana decided it was best for their health and their sanity to find another place. Thanks to God, they were able to find another place located about a seven-minute drive (depending on traffic) from ITL. This happened at the beginning of April. However, about two weeks after they moved into the new place, the landlord informed them that he wanted to sell the house! He was kind enough to give them the first opportunity to purchase it, but they felt it was not the right moment or the right price. This left them again with the uncertainty of how long they would be able to live there. With many of their things still in boxes, it took away the zeal to unpack, thinking they might need to pack again soon. However, just a today, the landlord said that he had decided to keep the house! So, it appears they may be able to finish unpacking after all. Thank God! 

Anibal Ramirez & Darvin Alvarez 
Our coworkers, Anibal Ramirez and Darvin Alvarez have had health problems recently, and we are asking for you to please pray for them. 

About two months ago, Anibal was diagnosed with hepatitis A and C. The severity affected him greatly, but more so its effects on his involvement with the church and as an instructor at ITL. 

Things did not look good for Anibal initially. He was told by the treating physician that he would have to be on total rest. He would not be able to go out, to teach, to visit, or even to read! The doctor was concerned that anything that would create any kind of emotion reaction in him would only make things worse. He immediately began to treat him and said it would be 1 1⁄2 months before he would know if Anibal would respond to the treatment. 

His first major blood test done just two weeks after his treatment began showed no progress! This disappointed Anibal, as you can imagine. However, the doctor said he would not see any positive results for another two weeks. When that time came and the test results were out, Anibal had made a 30% improvement! The hepatitis A was completely gone and the doctor said they would now give their full attention to combating hepatitis C! We thank God for Anibal’s progress and we keep praying for him. 

The doctor believes Anibal contracted hepatitis A from something he ate that was contaminated and hepatitis C from a blood transfusion he received many years ago to keep him from dying after being shot by a thief who was robbing his sister’s store. Anibal just happened to stop by to see his sister when the thief who was there reacted by shooting him in the stomach. Anibal recovered and has since struggled here and there with his health because of it, but has done relatively very well until now that he has had to fight this serious health problem. Please pray for Anibal’s full recovery. 

Our other coworker, Darvin Alvarez, too, suffered some health problems recently. This began around two weeks ago, when he kept complaining of a serious headache and neck ache. Finally, one evening, while he was at ITL, it became obvious that his symptoms were pointing to Bell’s palsy of the right side of his face. By the time he was ready to go home, his lip had begun to sag. Thankfully, Dr. Raul Duran was also at ITL during this time and checked him and prescribed treatment for him temporarily until Darvin could get to his regular doctor in Coban. 

After seeing his doctor, Darvin was given treatment for his symptoms and told to rest for a week. As a result, Darvin was not able to accompany some of the new students who were from his area of Guatemala as they made their trip to ITL to begin their studies, or to be at orientation day. Thankfully, he was able to recover enough to begin teaching the following week and to make a trip to Paraguay that was scheduled several months ago, a trip to teach at the Bible school in Asuncion. 

Please keep Darvin in your prayers, so that his recovery will continue to be positive, quick and complete. 

Because of Anibal’s sickness for the past two months and because of Darvin’s illness three weeks ago, our schedule and work load became even busier than usual. So, please pray for us, too, so we can manage our time, our health, and the work well. 

The Church at Linda Vista 
Things at Linda Vista are doing relatively well. We are glad to report that there have been four people who have decided to become Christians this year. We will send out a separate report to give more details about each of them. 

On this occasion, we would like to dedicate this space to thank the youth group at the Nichols St. Church of Christ in Bay City, Texas, for their contribution of school supplies for our children at Linda Vista. 

In Guatemala, school begins in January and ends in October. This creates quite a burden in January and February for the families, as they usually have to come up with funds to register their children in school, to buy uniforms and to purchase school supplies. Therefore, the youth group’s contribution was distributed to many of the children at Linda Vista during the middle of January; it was just a few days after classes began, to help alleviate some of the burden the parents faced. 

Prayer Requests 
As we close, we would like to offer this list of prayer requests. Please lift up these requests often before the Father of mercies and all grace. 

For Snezana’s health. She has had a few health issues recently 

For the churches in San Cristobal, Coban, Las Pacayas, and for the new church plant in Santa Cruz—all in the department of Alta Verapaz 

For the spiritual and numerical growth of the Linda Vista church 

For God to continue to use us in this part of the world 

For ITL students and their families as we have just begun another school year at ITL 

And for all those previously mentioned: Anibal, Darwin, new Christians, for Milan, the Ivic family, Snezana’s family, our families, and all those we are seeking to reach with the Gospel
May God grant you the peace that passes all understanding! 

Serving Jesus, 
Hi Jones, Byron Benitez, Snežana Benitez

To see the report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on May 17, 2015 .

Guatemala Is One Busy Place...

Many Things Are Happening!
Throughout the year, we made numerous attempts at completing and sending out this newsletter. Finally, we have been able to get it done and we must begin by apologizing to our supporters for the delay in this report. We have no excuse, only an explanation that we have been very busy in many good things, for which we are thankful. However, this does not excuse our delay and we hope that you will forgive us for this.

Many things have taken place thus far in 2014 that it made it one of the quickest and busiest years we have had. Some of those things have been joyous, while others have brought sorrow. Yet, in all these things we thank God for allowing us to serve Him, and we thank you for your prayers, your moral and financial support, and for your interest in the work in Guatemala. We will give some highlights of some of those first events and happenings and hope to follow up soon with more newsletters with more details. We hope you enjoy it!

Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain
On the last day of January, we bid farewell to our Mom, Cynthia Jones. She was Hi’s mother that Byron also considered his mom. Sister Cynthia was 88 years old when her body finally became weary and her soul rested from her labors after being in a nursing home for a few years in her hometown of Lexington, Tennessee. She leaves behind six of her eight children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

There is so much that we could say about Mom, but let us try to summarize her life in few words. Mom was a very special lady in many ways. She raised eight children pretty much on her own, often using her amazing cooking ability to work to make ends meet. She was also very industrious in many other areas, which allowed her to provide for her children. Her cooking was so notable that at one time she was voted best cook in Lexington.

Her most important trait was that she was a faithful Christian who had vision, courage and concern for her children’s spiritual welfare. Her love for the Lord was also evident in her love of singing. She had a beautiful alto voice that resounded clearly and loudly.

Byron remembers meeting her for the first time in 1989 and it did not take more than that first visit before Mom considered him as her own. Later, while Byron lived in Tennessee for a short period, he would often come “home” where Mom would always provide kind hospitality and would prepare him great meals.

It was because Mom was not able to travel in her last few years that Byron and Snezana chose Lexington as the place for their wedding, hoping she would be able to get out for a day to honor them with her presence. Sadly, Mom did not get to see this event.

Mom’s passing on January 31 brought great sorrow to many people who loved her, but we are confident it brought her and the angels in heaven great joy as they celebrated her homecoming. Her funeral was held on Saturday, February 8, at the building of the Broad Street Church of Christ, and her body was laid to rest at the Lexington cemetery.

We are very grateful to all of you who sent cards, memorial funds, flowers and condolences to the family. Please continue to pray for the family as we feel her absence. What encourages us is that though her passing was our loss, we are confident it was heaven’s gain.

A Wedding and a New Team Member
Most of you are aware that this year brought with it a new team member—Snezana Benitez— formerly Snezana Lepki. She and Byron were married in Lexington, Tenn., on February 22 at the Broad Street Church of Christ. They returned to Guatemala from their honeymoon on March 7th and stayed with Hawatthia for a while until their apartment was ready.

The wedding was very well attended and there were people there literally from all over the world. Snezana’s immediate family was not able to travel from Bosnia to be at the wedding, but she had her uncle there, Novak Krndija, who gave her away, and other family members from Canada. She also had her “adopted” parents there—Evelyn Baxley from Arkansas, and Walter and Cindy Hreczuch from Canada. When all was said and done, there were people from various states, from Canada, Italy, Guatemala, and China!

We are so grateful to God for those who made the wedding such a beautiful event. Gail Carver, Hawatthia’s sister, did a superb job at preparing the food for the rehearsal dinner, for the wedding reception and for the dinner following the wedding. It was not only delicious and abundant, but also prepared with great love! We thank Amie Jones, Hawatthia’s sister-in-law, for the decorations. The color scheme was just right and all the setup was elegant. We also thank the rest of the family members and friends who helped these ladies. Also, special thanks go to William Carothers for his creative photography and videos skills. The photos are available online.

First set of pictures:
http://totalscene.smugmug.com/Weddings/Byron-Snezana/i-CTKcn5B

Second set of pictures:
http://totalscene.smugmug.com/Weddings/Byron-Snezanas-Wedding-Pics- gr/i-rzPrPfZ

Byron and Snezana now are adjusting to their new place, still with a few boxes here and there that they have yet to empty. God was gracious in providing a place just four houses away from where Byron and Hawatthia used to live (and where Hawatthia still lives). Now, it takes Byron about 50 steps to get to work at the Bible Institute!☺Right now, Snezana is dedicating her time to being a housewife and to learning Spanish.

The Church at Linda Vista
Things at Linda Vista are going well. This year, the leaders of the church, Anibal Ramirez and Maclovio Calderon, chose the theme, “A Church with Purpose,” and the sermons and Bible classes have been based on this main theme. Currently, Anibal is teaching a series of studies on the church on Wednesday night with this theme in mind.

We have seen several baptisms this year. We sent an earlier report describing seven of them, so we will not mention them here. However, since then, there has been another baptism, Sandra Garcia.

Sandra, her husband, Cristobal, and their three children came to Linda Vista on Sunday, June 15, with the intended purpose of her getting baptized. The leaders took her aside and talked with her and studied with her to make sure she understood the Gospel and the commitment she was making. Afterward, they came out and took her confession. She and Maclovio proceeded to change into the baptismal garments, but while they were changing, the men assisting to prepare the baptistery discovered that there was no water in the baptistery! It was completely empty. This came as a shock because a week or two before the baptistery had been cleaned and filled. So, there is obviously a major leak or the stopper is not working.

Sandra and her family were not able to stay because Cristobal received a phone call from his work that called them away. They promised to return the next

Sunday. Thankfully, on Sunday, June 22, they were back, the baptistery was ready, and Sandra was baptized! Thank God for his mercy upon her and us.

Many Speaking Engagements
Many years ago we used to get quite a few invitations to speak at various places, but these almost completely stopped after we began to be attacked and falsely accused of many unkind and untrue things. Many brethren disassociated with us to avoid problems with the primary one responsible for the reports, and others actually believed his slanderous rumors.

This year, even though the brother continuous to attack us publicly and even has urged many not to invite us or have fellowship with us, we are seeing things change drastically. We have been invited to various places to preach God’s word.

In February, Hawatthia had the privilege of speaking at a youth event in Samayac. Hi and Mario Mendez, an elder of one of the churches in Chicacao, were the speakers. Hi’s topic was “How a Young Person Ought to Conduct Himself in the World.” There were about 300 in attendance!

In April, we both were invited to speak at a special event hosted by the church of Christ in San Antonio, Villa Nueva. It was an evangelistic effort during which they sought to reach their non- Christian friends with the Gospel. The topics were; “Where Will You Spend Your Eternity?” and “Are You Ready for Eternity?” They reported that about 75 visitors were present, along with the two churches, San Antonio and Linda Vista.

In May, Byron spoke at a youth event in Zone 3 of Quetzaltenango at “La Linea” Church of Christ. There were four invited speakers on that occasion: Alfonso Sapon, Cipriano Godinez, Mario Mendez, and Byron. Each had a 15-minute time- frame to deal with their topic and then the teens had an one hour open forum to question the speakers on any of the subjects. The overall theme was “Modern Doctrines Affecting Our Youth.” About 350 attended this event!

In June, Hawatthia was invited to speak at the youth event in La Esperanza. There he spoke on the topic of being lights in the world. About 300 attended this event! The next day, on Sunday, Byron was invited to preach the sermon for the church in La Esperanza.

On June 17, Byron was able to speak in Colomba Costacuca. He was initially invited to preach a “thanksgiving service” for Manuel Ramirez, who was turning 50. Manuel is one of the leaders there. Afterward, Manuel asked if Byron could also bring a special study for the church, so he gave a lesson on a study of last things. The service was encouraging and the small building was packed!

And, on August 31, the church in Chicacao, where Mario Mendez (mentioned earlier) serves, invited Hi to speak for a joint service they were having. The topic was “My Contribution for the Growth of the Local Church.” Because of a speaking engagement in South Carolina, Hi was unable to make it, so Byron went in his place. There were about 400 people in attendance.

If God wills, we are also scheduled to give a seminar in Quetzaltenango and return to Colomba for a special seminar on Matthew 24 before we leave for our end-of-year travels. Please keep these possible engagements in your prayers, as well as us as we humbly present God’s word.

Other Events
There are various other events that have taken place. We will send out a separate newsletter to give more details about them. For example, on July 10- 19, we had 15 people come to Guatemala on a short-term mission effort. This team was made up of various Christians from different congregations in different states. In addition, there were two World English Institute (WEI) teams that came to work with us again this year. The first team arrived on July 19, stayed two weeks and then departed on the day the second WEI team arrived for a two- week stay. This makes it the sixth year we are hosting WEI teams. Finally, there was a team from the Linder Road congregation in Meridian, Idaho, that arrived on July 31st. They did an excellent work and we are excited to it with you.

In addition to these visitors, we also had our first Future Preachers’ Camp August 29-31. Since this is related to ITL, we will give more details about it in the ITL report. There, we will also report on the work taking place in San Cristobal, Alta Verapaz.

Finally, we will be sending out a report on the floods that affected the Balkans. Especially, we will report on the funds collected and disbursed to help the Ivic Family in Bosnia. We are very grateful to those who contributed for this urgent need.

Prayer Requests
As we close, we solicit your prayers for all the individuals and events mentioned in this newsletter. Please also pray for the following requests:

    •    For our health 

    •    For Byron and Snezana’s marriage 

    •    For the churches in San Cristobal and Coban in the department of Alta Verapaz 

    •    For the spiritual and numerical growth of the Linda Vista church 

    •    For God to continue to use us in this part of the world. 

May God grant you the peace that passes all understanding!

Serving Jesus,

Hi Jones
Byron E. Benitez
Snežana Benitez

To see the report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on September 14, 2014 .

Eight Baptized In Guatemala...

Here we are in May of 2014! It is unbelievable how this year has gotten away from us. Yet, we are very thankful for the all the blessings God has showered upon us. There are many things that have occurred since our last report, so there is no way that we are going to be able to get it all into one newsletter. So, please be looking for several newsletters/reports over the next few weeks that will bring you up to date with the work in Guatemala and with many other happenings in our ministry and personal lives. We hope they will encourage you.

We would like to begin by sharing with you the good news of some of those who have made the commitment to follow Jesus. Let us begin with the new additions to the church family at Linda Vista.

During our 5th Annual ITL Lectureship, four people responded to the invitation on Sunday morning, March 16. The first was Maria Martinez. This sister in Christ was first introduced to the Gospel several years ago, while Francisco and Erminia Ramos (Alpha class) were still members at Linda Vista, prior to coming to ITL to study the Bible. Maria is Erminia’s sister-in-law. Francisco and we studied with her and her family for several months, but she never obeyed the Gospel. She attended a denomination off and on and last year began to attend the assemblies of the church of Christ at Linda Vista. During this time, Maclovio Calderon (Beta class, Saturday program) and others of us visited her in her home to offer her the Gospel invitation once again. She said she would think about it. That is why it was so encouraging to see her walk down the aisle after Eliezer Perez (Beta class) finished his sermon and offered the invitation that Sunday morning.

The next two are Elmer Martinez and Jasmine Hernandez. Elmer is Maria’s son, and Jasmine is his girlfriend. Elmer was present on several occasions when the Bible studies were conducted in his parents’ home, but often would choose to play soccer instead. He was interested in Christ, but worldly pursuits had his heart. Both Elmer and Jasmine began to attend the assemblies with Maria at the end of last year. It was encouraging to see how his interests had changed. Both of them came forward seconds after his mother responded to the Gospel. It was heart-warming to see the three of them in front of the audience ready to confess Jesus as Lord and to be baptized for the remission of sins.

The fourth baptism was Roberto Valladares. Roberto lives in Jutiapa, about three hours from Linda Vista. He was at the lectureship because a few days earlier Anibal Ramirez had received his contact information from Anne Milstead, a World Bible School teacher in Arizona. Anne got in touch with Anibal because Roberto had expressed to her his desire to become a Christian. After calling Roberto, Anibal explained to him about the lectureship activities taking place at that moment and that he would try to make a visit to Jutiapa shortly after the activities were finished. However, Anibal invited Roberto to come to Linda Vista if he was able. It was great to see Roberto arrive that Sunday morning all the way from Jutiapa! He was ready to put on Christ. He, too, responded to the invitation and was among those who became a Christian that day.

Please pray for these four new souls who have committed their lives to the Lord. Pray that they will grow in their faith and will become active members of the Lord’s kingdom. Especially pray for Roberto, who lives so far from Linda Vista. He is currently worshiping with a small congregation of the Lord’s people not too far from his home. Maria, Elmer and Jasmine have been attending the Linda Vista services and are maturing in their faith.

During the lectureship, Benny Montejo (Alpha class), served as one of our translators. He made the most of the opportunity and invited some friends to attend the event, Silvia Chavez and two of her children, Bryan and Melanie. Benny knows Silvia because he works with Silvia’s oldest son, Carlos, better known as Charlie. This was the first time that Silvia and her children attended anything related to the church of Christ. We remember seeing them getting out of the car as we arrived Saturday morning, March 15th to the church building. After the day was over, Silvia and her children were so excited about the lessons they had heard and what they had experienced that they went home to tell all about it to Charlie, who had to work that day. On Sunday, all four of them were there! Charlie got so excited about what his family told him that he requested the day off and came with them. Benny was able to establish a regular Bible study with all of them and on Wednesday morning, March 26, he sent us a text message so that we would be at the building that evening at 6:00 because the four of them were ready to be baptized. Several of us had the honor of witnessing their new life in Jesus!

Please keep Silvia and her children in your prayers and join us in thanksgiving to the Father for their decision to obey the Gospel. They are making efforts to grow in Christ and to become more and more involved in the life and work of the church.

It is so exciting to see how God works in the lives of people who are searching for the truth and for a relationship with Him. We pray that you, too, will continue to reach out to people because we never know who will respond to God’s call. If you are not a Christian, we pray that you will give Jesus the opportunity to change your life!

God bless each of you! Thanks for reading this report and be looking for another one soon!

Hi
Byron
Snezana

To see the report with pictures of the various events, please click here.

Posted on May 18, 2014 .

Please Pray For The Jones Family...

Dear Family and Friends,

May the goodness of God be upon each of you. 

Yesterday, January 31, at 7:30 a.m., Hawatthia's mother, Cynthia Jones, who Byron considers his mother as well, passed from this life to her glory and rest in Jesus. Mom had been struggling for some time with various health issues, but as a strong woman, kept recovering and moving forward. Yesterday, however, her body succumbed to her failing health. We are both thankful that we were able to speak to her briefly and express our love and appreciation for her in her final moments on this earth. God is good. We are now thankful that she is in our Lord's care and enjoying the many wonderful promises He has given to His children. 

The funeral services will be held at the Broad Street Church of Christ, 131 North Broad Street, Lexington, TN, 38351, this coming Saturday, February 8. The time has not been set, but we will send out another message as soon as we know. Please keep the whole family in your prayers so that God will comfort and console each heart during this time. We are confident she is with the Lord, but we still feel the sorrow of her departure. 

Thankful for your prayers. God bless you!

Hawatthia
Byron

"Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!"

Posted on February 2, 2014 .

A Need For Prayer...

Greetings beloved Family and Friends!

Our prayer to God our Father is that this message will find you well and enjoying good health. 

A little while back, we sent an e-mail requesting your prayers for Darvin Alvarez’s sister, Ingrid, who was battling cancer. This message comes with a tone of sadness, as we must inform you of Ingrid’s passing. She died last Monday evening, January 13, leaving behind two children, Sergio (16 years old) and Sophia (13 years old).

On Sunday, the 5th of January, Ingrid was brought to the capital city for a doctor’s appointment she had scheduled for the next day. However, the doctor did not see her until Tuesday afternoon. It was at that moment that the doctor determined that she needed to be admitted to the hospital. The following Saturday, the 11th, she went into a coma. It became apparent to Darvin that her state was not going to improve so he and his family decided to take her home to Coban so she could spend her last moments at home. On Monday, with the help of some of Ingrid’s coworkers, they contracted an ambulance to transfer her to Coban, but minutes after completing the paperwork and placing her in the ambulance, Ingrid died. Darvin thanks God that her death did not take place minutes before because it would have meant delaying getting her body by about two days and an increase in the cost for the family because of the hospital paperwork that would have been involved. By 10:30 p.m. that same Monday, they were back in Coban. Her burial took place on Wednesday afternoon, January 15. 

We are encouraged by Darvin's attitude and faith in God. He says that he did everything he could to teach his sister the Gospel. We are witnesses of this because we, too, were among those who studied with her. Sadly, she never became a Christian. Now, Darvin says that his primary concern is the welfare of Ingrid’s children. They are currently working on paperwork and legal matters to make sure that they receive the attention and care they need as minors. Please keep Darvin, Ingrid’s children, and the whole family in your prayers during this time of mourning and adjustment.

God bless you!

Serving Jesus,
Hawatthia
Byron

Posted on January 26, 2014 .

Souls Added To The Kingdom In Guatemala...

We would like to share with you two reasons for great rejoicing. Recently, we had the honor of

seeing two precious souls obey what the Scriptures command to make Christ the Lord of their lives. We give many thanks to God for these opportunities.

The first one was the obedience of Jaquelin (pronounced Jacqueline) Ramirez, Byron’s second cousin. Her conversion came as a result of a casual conversation that Byron was having with her and with her brother, Raul. They were visiting in our home with their mom, Patricia Ramirez, who is already a Christian and assembles with the church in Limon, Zone 18 of the capital city. Patricia had mentioned that Jaquelin and Raul were showing some disinterest in attending the assemblies. As Byron talked more about this with them, he realized that their problem was that they really had a misunderstanding of the Lord’s church and its relationship to Jesus. This led to a study on becoming a part of Christ and His body.

After about 1-1⁄2 hours of study, they were both presented with the Gospel, which caused them to face the fact that there major problem was their sin problem, but that the solution God had provided was Jesus. Jaquelin, who is 15 years old, had tears in her eyes by this time in the study. She was sure that she wanted to accept God’s offer of pardon through Jesus by being baptized for the remission of her sins. Raul, 13 years old, was less expressive, yet still moved by these truths. However, he did not feel he was ready to make such a serious commitment.

Tuesday is prayer night at Linda Vista. And, since the study took place on a Tuesday afternoon, by the time they were concluded, it was a good time to make our way to Linda Vista. We arrived, announced the good news to the brethren, and then Byron had the privilege of taking Jaquelin’s confession and baptizing her into Christ. What a wonderful experience!

The second was the baptism of Jasmine Ramos, a young lady whose family are members at Linda Vista. Her baptism came as a bit of a surprise to us, but it was apparently something that she and her family had already discussed. It was during a Sunday evening service at Linda Vista when she and her mom made known to Byron her decision. While he was in the back of the auditorium adjusting the microphone Jasmine and her mom, Miriam Ramos, were at the door of the lobby and waved for Byron to go to them. As he approached them, Jasmine, with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes asked if he would baptize her because she had made the decision to become a Christian. Byron felt greatly honored.

A few moments later, we remembered that Juan Jose, one of our members, had been cleaning the baptistery the night before. To do this he had to empty the baptistery, so we wondered if the water had come (it only comes every other day in Linda Vista) in order to fill the baptistery. After checking with Juan Jose, we were unpleasantly informed that the baptistery was empty! What a dilemma! A soul seeking redemption and no water in the baptistery! We would not give up so easily, however. After several calls, and after discussing it with Anibal, Juan Jose and others, the idea to call the Ramos and Garcia families came to mind. We used their home before when this situation occurred and it would be great to use it again. Adela Garcia answered the call and said they would immediately fill the tank (it is called a pila and used for holding water for their personal use). At the end of the sermon, Jasmine made her confession of faith and we explained what had occurred and what we would be doing. The reason for this explanation was that the members were giving Anibal a surprise birthday party that night, so we had to be careful not to spoil the surprise, but at the same time to give the needed attention to the one wanting to obey the Gospel. So, we explained that we would be taking Jasmine and her family to the house mentioned for the baptism. We piled the Ramos family in our car—all six of them—and made our way to the Ramos and Garcia home.

When we arrived, the members of four of the families who occupy this home were there eagerly waiting for us, with towels and clothes for Jasmine in case they were needed. We are thankful God provides. After the baptism, we took the William Ramos family back to Linda Vista and went on our way rejoicing! Of course, no one that night was probably rejoicing as much as Jasmine was!

Please pray for both of these two young sisters in Christ. Pray that they might grow spiritually and in their love for God. Jacqueline is assembling with the body in Limon, where her mom is a member. Jasmine is, of course, a member at Linda Vista, and it is good to see her in the new convert’s class that we teach every Sunday.

Thank you, beloved brethren and friends, for rejoicing with us because of these two additions to the Lord’s body here in Guatemala. Continue to pray for us and continue to be the encouragement that you always have been to us.

For the love of Christ,

Hawatthia
Byron

To see the report with pictures of the baptisms, please go here.

Posted on October 20, 2013 .

Introducing The Gamma Class Of ITL...

Dear Family and Friends,

We pray that you are well. We have been quite busy and have been eager to get out another report, only it has taken us a little longer than we had hoped. This report is dedicated to Instituto Teológico Latinoamericano (ITL). We hope to send out reports still on news about the work at Linda Vista, the new works in Coban, San Cristobal and Las Pacayas, and sundry other items.

Property Purchase
THEY’RE OURS for the Lord’s work. As most of you are already aware, both the facility where the school is located and the house in which we live belong to ITL. We no longer have to pay rent (oh how sweet it is to say this phrase). God blessed us with people like you to be able to raise the additional funds needed to purchase both properties.

At our 2013 ITL Graduation and Lectureship we had the privilege of publicly announcing the purchase of the property. Most of you had already received this great news and we appreciate your helping to keep it a secret until it was announced here in Guatemala at ITL’s President’s Banquet, which opened the events for the lectureship and graduation. Even though we expected it, we did not hear anyone say, “I already heard that from...” Thank you again for helping to keep the information unknown until the proper time.

As a reminder, the total for both properties was $150,000. We already had $80,000 we previously raised to purchase property for ITL. This meant that we needed $70,000. Because of God’s favor and with His use of our friends and supporters, we were able to raise $83,650. The additional funds helped greatly with the paperwork and some immediate updates to the houses that were needed.

This transaction demanded a few trips to the bank to make the necessary transfers of funds from our stateside accounts to our Guatemala account. It was a good feeling to know that all the funds were there and soon the properties would solely belong to ITL. We felt important as the pen was placed into our hands to sign these very valuable documents. Byron had the privilege of signing for one property, while Hi had the privilege of signing for the other. We have already started the paperwork to establish ITL as a legal and separate entity, under which all the properties will be placed, as well as ITL’s van and any other holdings it has. We are currently in the waiting period, which the lawyer says can take two to three months. Oh, patience! We will eagerly send out a message once this is a reality, but we ask you to pray diligently so that this process does not take longer or cost more than necessary.

Gamma Class
This past April allowed us the honor of beginning another school year with a new class, the Gamma

Class. For those who may not be aware, we only work with one class at a time. Allow us some space to explain our reasons.

We did this initially because we felt that the current system of training a large number of men and more than one class at a time, though effective in getting more men in the field and in the ministry, has been self-defeating in Latin America. One reason for this is that often the screening process is not as stringent since the goal is to fill the classes and to keep them filled with high numbers. Because of this more tolerant screening process, some who enroll in other schools are those who really do not know what else to do, or some are those that want to receive support from the U.S., or some come for other inferior reasons. The result is that the Lord’s money is often used to support men and women who really should not be supported in such an important work and for such a sacred commission.

Another reason that training large numbers is sometimes self-defeating is that with larger numbers it is more difficult to give better individual attention to those students who are good candidates, but who need more patience and a mentoring environment to develop their full potential. As a result, these students are not helped as much with their strengths and weaknesses in a larger class because the teachers have other students that require their time. There is more to be said about this whole system, but we hope that you can now better appreciate our reasons for choosing this method of training Christians for ministry.

Having explained that, we would like to introduce you to our new class. This year we began with five students, lost one, then lost another, but gained one. Did you do the math? Yes. We have four students now. The first one that we lost was the only student we had from Guatemala. He had to return home because of attention his mother was demanding of him. The second we lost regrettably did not submit to ITL’s rules, so he had to be dismissed. In addition to our four full-time students, we also have one more student, Benjamin Montejo. Benjamin actually came to us during our first class in 2009 from East Tennessee School of Evangelism and Missions, where he completed 1 1⁄2 years of training. He took several courses and marched with the class, but because of some health issues still had a few courses pending. He is now about to complete what he had lacking. Now, allow us to present the current students that make up our Gamma Class. They are all single students and all of them are from another country in Central America. We will tell you about them alphabetically.

First, we have Javier Alfaro from Grecia, Costa Rica. Javier is a 19-year-old student who has been a Christian for 6 years. He was raised in a Christian home and started preaching in the last year. He stated that he wants to serve the church full-time one day in the best way possible and that is the reason he chose to come to ITL. He believes it to be the best Bible institute in Latin America. In a humble way, we also believe this! His goal is to graduate from ITL and then, if God wills, also to get his Master’s degree and specialize in missions. We are glad to have Javier with us. We would say that of all the students, Javier would be the comedian among them. This has brought quite a bit of humor to the group, but it has also given us the job of teaching Javier when it is time to joke and when it is not, if you know what we mean.

Second, we have Cristhian (pronounced Christian) Cardenas, who is also from Grecia, Costa Rica, where Javier is a member. He is 20 years old and has been a Christian for 6 years. He was born in Nicaragua, but his family moved to Costa Rica when he was very young, so he is a legal resident there. He believes that there is an urgent need for the church to grow in Costa Rica, where he states there are few churches and few workers prepared for the task. His immediate goal it to graduate from ITL, but then hopes to return to Costa Rica to help establish churches where there are none. He also hopes to help his parents spiritually and materially. We are thankful to have Cristhian with us. The characteristic that we can share about him that we have learned is that he has a very tender and sensitive heart. He is really affected when his conscious bothers him and sooner or later he confesses what is bothering him. We hope to God that he will always maintain this sensitive conscience that is a necessary trait for any servant of God.

Third, we have Daniel Izaguirre, a 20-year-old young man from Paraiso, Honduras. Daniel came to ITL one quarter later than the rest of the students, so he received his uniform a quarter later. Our students have to complete one quarter at ITL before they are given the privilege of wearing the uniform. Daniel has the desire to learn as much as he can while at ITL. He says he wants to work in the ministry full- time to teach the Gospel to lost souls, to establish churches, and to defend the truth from error. He also likes to be involved in helping children and people. We would say that Daniel is the student that is known for having a very serious disposition about him. When you joke with him, at times, you have to remind him you are joking.

Fourth, there is 21-year-old Elmer Torres. Elmer comes from Quetzaltepeque, El Salvador, who has been a Christian five years. He is a member where Alexander Castellanos serves as the evangelist. Alexander and his wife, Silvia, have spoken several times at our annual lectureship. They are excited about seeing Elmer prepare himself and return to work with them upon graduation. Elmer states that he wants to learn to handle accurately God’s Word so that He can be an instrument in God’s hand to spread the Gospel to the world. His immediate goal is to graduate in theology to serve God, but he also hopes eventually to study psychology and to become a chef. Of all the students, Elmer is the one that probably misses his family the most. He said that it has been difficult for him to be away from his family and not have the usual communication that he was used to having. We hope that his value on the family will continue to grow with him as he grows in his knowledge and preparation in the Gospel.

As you can see, all of our students are from other countries in Central America. As we said earlier, we had one Guatemalan student, but he dropped out after the first week because of obligations in his home. We believe other students from Guatemala would choose ITL but, sadly, Satan has taken advantage of unspiritual and carnal men to cause the work in Guatemala much harm. Therefore many Guatemalans are reluctant to commit to attend ITL because of this. There are those who continue to slander our work and to make efforts to isolate us from the rest of the brotherhood. They have been so effective that some people believe us to be “isolationists, divisive, and hobby-riders” (among other things) and do not even know us, but have only “heard” about us. 

It is a sad reality that the attacks, misrepresentation and maligning that have taken place (and continue to take place) by these brothers and sisters have caused some in Guatemala now to choose to have little to do with us. Some have believed the slander and false reports about us. Others are simply good friends with these brothers and choose to further propagate the lies or not to investigate the accusations. In addition, there are those brethren here who are just intimidated by their methods and afraid of any confrontation with them. Regardless, many have chosen to disassociate themselves with ITL. This has resulted in having difficulty with finding students from Guatemala. However, God is good, and we know that He will vindicate the righteous at His time and in His way. Slowly, we are beginning to see more and more Guatemalans see the truth and seek to involve themselves more with our work of training men and women for the ministry. Well, we do not want to dwell on this unpleasant situation, but we also do not want to pretend that all is well when it is not, as these brethren would have many believe, especially sound brethren in the U.S. that support their work.

HTM
On a more positive note, we are grateful to the many brothers and sisters who are behind our work and who bless us abundantly with their prayers, encouraging words and financial support. Among these faithful supporters, there is another group of brothers and sisters that has gotten involved in a special way by adopting our Bible students in a full- time program in our ministry called HTM (Help Train Messengers).

The HTM ministry was started several years ago and was designed to allow individual Christians or churches to become more personally involved with our students by “adopting” them as their students for $50 per month or more. This allows them to be involved more directly with the training of men and women for ministry and also creates a special relationship between the sponsors and their students. The students send periodic correspondence and thank-you notes to the sponsors, along with their grades. This allows the sponsors to get to know the students and helps to develop a special connection between them. Some of the sponsors even write their students. And, since the sponsors receive a small biography with pertinent information about the students, this gives them the opportunity to send their students special gifts for their birthday or for other special occasions. So, as you can see, the program is very personal and has blessed us with being able to accomplish our task of training men and women for the ministry in a more personal way.

If you would like to be a part of the HTM program, we are always eager to get more people involved. Simply send a note to us at our e-mail address (the most efficient and quickest method), missionguate@hotmail.com, and let us know of your desire. Or, if you do not use e-mail, you can send a note to our overseeing congregation to let us know of your wish to participate in this program (though we do ask you for patience with this method because our physical mail gets sent to us once or twice a month). The address for this second method is:

Kingsley Terrace Church of Christ
Attn: HTM Ministry/Dwaine Himes
2031 E. 30th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46218 

SATURDAY PROGRAM
We have just completed another quarter in the Saturday program of ITL. For those who may not be aware, this program is designed for those who are presently serving faithfully in their local congregations. Most of them have secular jobs and for various reasons cannot study in the full-time program. Some of them are preachers while others of them are Bible-class teachers, etc. However, all of them have a strong desire to enhance their Bible knowledge and serve God to their fullest. This is why they dedicate every Saturday for 3 years to studying God’s word and other related subjects.

Our Saturday students have a lot of the same classes as the full-time students. However, even though this program cannot be as intense as the full time, it is a difficult one. One of the students once said, “Although it not exactly like the full-time classes, it’s no Sunday school class nor is it a picnic.” That student describes pretty accurately what the Saturday program is. We try to make the classes an enjoyable challenge.

Presently, we have 9 students studying with us on Saturday. Since most of the students work secular jobs, which includes working on Saturday, the class time is 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. Each quarter lasts from 11 to 13 weeks and we are scheduled to teach every other quarter because we only have 4 local instructors at the present. Lord willing, we plan very soon to involve ITL graduates in teaching in this program. And, after teaching in the Saturday program we hope to see our graduates also teach in the full-time program. This idea has already been presented to some of the graduates. They are excited about the opportunity while at the same very nervous about the responsibility it will give them. Please keep these goals in your prayers. This will be a great step towards seeing the local brethren take more responsibility and ownership of ITL.

Well, we will bring this update to a close. We are thankful to all of you for your prayers and for your support. We ask that you continue to pray for the work here in Guatemala. We are excited about the future and the many opportunities God is providing for us.

Serving the Master,

Hawatthia
Byron

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

To see ITL’s report with pictures of all the students, please click here.

Posted on October 13, 2013 .

Summer Teams Visit Guatemala...

Summer Teams
We have always been very blessed to have many different Christians from many different places become a part of our work by participating in a mission team during the summer months. This year was no exception. Allow us to share with you some of the joy and blessings that these individuals brought to us here in Guatemala.

July Team
The first team came July 11 – 20 and was made up of Christians from various states. The team leader was Lesha Colglazier, from Indianapolis, IN. Thank you Lesha for another job well done!

This year’s team was composed of the following individuals (see group picture above):

From Roscoe, TX: Roddy Alexander, Danny
Boren, Faith Boren, Austin Browne, Marty Browne, Coy Roper, Caden Smith, Cheyenne Smith, Kylee Smith, Mirian Solis 

From Florence, AL: Buddy and Billie Baker, and Pam Wade 

From Piggett, AK: Jerry (not pictured) and Donna Morgan 

From Holly Springs, MS: Miles Morgan 

From Senatobia, MS: Katie Martin 

From Los Angeles, CA.: Aralee Hernandez and Ashley Figueroa (Byron’s mom and niece). 

Thursday was a travel day when most of the members of the team arrived at various times. Friday was a day in which the group was able to do some sight seeing around the city. At the end of the day, we had a fellowship dinner at our home. This dinner serves several purposes: to provide a warm welcome to our U.S. guests, to acquaint our guests with many of our local Christians, and to play a healthy game of Jenga (well, maybe this last reason is not a real purpose, but everyone seems to look forward to it). Don’t ask who won!

Saturday was a full day of work for the team. They participated in a seminar at Linda Vista entitled “A Church after God’s Own Heart.” They were involved in many areas, such as children’s classes, ladies’ classes, men’s classes, teens’ classes, and great fellowship.

Sunday, too, was a full day. We were able to worship together with the saints at Linda Vista in the morning and in the evening services. The team was involved in teaching and preaching during our worship and Bible class. The children had two special treats. First, Pam Wade prepared a puppet presentation for them. Second, Jerry Morgan, normally a missionary and Bible teacher, doubled as a magician and kept the children entertained for a little while. The team members were really eager to serve and to help in any way that they could. We really appreciate the Christ-like spirit they demonstrated as they served their Guatemalan brethren.

In addition, after enjoying a good lunch made by one of our sisters, Adela Garcia, the team went to the Amatitlan National Hospital. The church at Roscoe prepared Teddy Bears with the name of the Linda Vista Church on the tag. These were given away along with the care packages that were prepared by the ladies at Linda Vista. In the packages, we included some necessary items, like water, toilet paper, soap, tooth brushes, items patients do not get when they are admitted. We also included a tract with a Bible message. We are proud of the team as they encouraged the patients, prayed with many of them, and passed out lots of smiles to bring joy to those in difficult times.

Pray to God that some of these patients may be touched by our kind deeds of praying for them and visiting them in their time of affliction, or by the message they were given in the tracts.

On Monday, we began a work project scheduled at our preaching school facility, Instituto Teológico Latinoamericano (ITL). Really, there were two projects taking place at the same time. The first one was a special three-day class taught by Dr. Coy Roper. Brother Roper writes for Truth for Today, has written extensively and has taught in many brotherhood universities. We felt privileged to give our students and other local brethren that were invited the quality of teaching from Brother Roper’s vast experience. His subject was Basic Beliefs, a series also found online and in printed form through Truth for Today (see the following link: http://biblecourses.com/English/AllLessons.aspx). These special classes took place Monday through Wednesday during the morning hours. Benjamin Montejo served as the translator.

The second project involved most of the rest of the team in a remodeling project. Since the facility where ITL is located now belongs to ITL (be looking for another report about this exciting news), we felt it would be a good time to make many of the necessary changes and repairs. The team painted the whole facility on the inside and outside. They also worked with a local brother who is a carpenter to build book shelves for all the student rooms. Our students accumulate quite a few notebooks and books throughout their study here and did not have a place to put these valuable tools. Now, the shelves will allow nice and appropriate placement of these things. Also, screens were placed on all the windows. Mosquitoes are pesky pests, so these screens are really practical and needed. Finally, the whole computer system, the copier and Internet was rewired in a more efficient network.

On Wednesday night, the team was involved in teaching the church’s adult and children’s classes. They again did a fine job and we are thankful for their hard work and preparation.

Originally, the remodeling project was also to end on Wednesday and the team was scheduled to have some time off on Thursday. However, this team graciously chose to forego their time off and to continue to work one more day at the ITL facility! It was such a blessing to have such servants!

On Friday, the team did take some time off and traveled to Antigua Guatemala, enjoyed a visit to the coffee plantation, did some shopping and had a good and relaxing time. We ended the evening at Linda Vista, where the church planned a going- away activity for the group. It was fun and encouraging to see the sweet fellowship that took place among brothers and sisters in Christ.

The week was so full and the blessings were so numerous that we did not feel the 10 days while the team was here. We pray to God that they, too, were encouraged by their visit and service. We hope they will make plans to return next year!

If you have not been to Guatemala on one of these mission trips, we really encourage you to come! We believe it is a life-changing experience. Already there are plans of teams coming in June and July of 2014. There may even be one in August. So, hopefully one of these times will work for you to be able to be with us next year!

Again, a special thanks to our July team for your excellent work here in Guatemala. Also, thanks to everyone who is a part of our work through your financial contributions, your prayers, and your participation in many other ways. May God grant us all the peace that passes all understanding!

Serving Jesus,

Byron E. Benitez
Hi Jones

To see the report from Guatemala with pictures, please click here.

Posted on September 8, 2013 .

Graduation And Lectureship At ITL...

We praise God for the blessing of being able to host our 4th Annual Lectureship, to celebrate our 5th Anniversary, and to have our 2nd Graduation for ITL. These three events occurred simultaneously this March 21-24. We would be honored if you would allow us a moment of your time to walk you through these exciting days. They culminated two years of dedicated study and sacrifice on the part of the students of both programs, the Saturday and full-time programs, making possible the graduation of our Beta Class.

Thursday, March 21 – ITL’s President’s Banquet

Our graduation events began on Thursday night at the Holiday Inn Hotel with the annual President’s Banquet. There were several people who came from various countries to be a part of our activities, and this is where they stayed. In addition, our guest speakers for the lectureship also stayed here. This year, our banquet began a little late because traffic was unusually heavy and many of our graduates, some who came from far away, had difficulty arriving on time. Aside from that small glitch, everything else we felt went great. We had a great dinner. Our after dinner speaker was Conrad Pinder from Costa Rica.

Conrad has been a regular translator for ITL and we are glad that he was able to be present and also that he was able to bring his wife, Luz.

The night continued with several special presentations. We honored two servant-hearted members of Linda Vista for their unselfish dedication and service throughout the years— Juan Jose Cobon and Marina Adela Garcia. We also presented several awards of appreciation to key individuals who have played an important role for ITL. Dr. Henry España, a medical doctor, for example, has often offered our students medical care at a significantly discounted rate, and so we were glad to make a special presentation to him. Also, those ladies from Linda Vista who every week prepared meals for our students were honored. We concluded our program by showing a slide show and giving a brief history of ITL’s last five years. Though the night ended a little later than usual, we felt joyful for the occasion.

Friday, March 22 – Excursion Day

On Friday, the guests from the U.S., our graduates and their families, and us traveled to Antigua Guatemala to see the sights. We hired a tour guide and departed that morning from the hotel. In Antigua, we were able to see several important historical sights. We went to a macadamia nut plantation called Valhalla. Afterwards, the group ate one of the most beautiful McDonald’s you will ever see. Yes. We did say McDonald’s. Because Antigua is a historical city with strict rules, this fast-food giant had to conform to the city ordinances if it planned on having any presence in this city.

The tour guide then took the group to several other interesting points. On the way to the city center the group ran into a procession. Antigua has been known throughout the world for their dedication to these religious celebrations in which hundreds of Catholics dress in purple robes and carry large “andas” (floats) on their soldiers, floats that bear statues of Christ at different stages of his “passion week.” Some even carry Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is fascinating to see, but as you meditate on the idolatry and ignorance that promotes these traditions, you cannot help to feel a sense of sadness. Finally, before departing Antigua, the group stopped at a Jade factory. Guatemala is known for its beautiful Jade of many colors.

Saturday, March 23 – Lectureship Begins

We were very happy with the way things worked out for our 4th Annual ITL Lectureship this year. We were not sure how things were going to work at first because we just seemed to run into obstacle after obstacle. Last year, we reserved the same location for this year’s event trying to plan ahead. At the beginning of this year, Hawatthia and Anibal thought they would stop by to confirm the reservation. Little did they know they were going to discover that the facility had closed its doors! Sadly, there was an effort to extortion the owners, so they just decided to close the place down. This, however, left us without a location for our lectureship and graduation!

After several doors closed for alternative locations, we decided to host the lectureship at the Linda Vista church building. Because of how the attendance has been in the past, we knew we would have issues with space. So, we asked the city for permission to close off the street in front of the building and set up tents and chairs for additional room. We also had the blessing of being able to use a private school’s facilities on the same block for our children’s classes and activities. The man who owns the school is not a Christian, but he has always been very kind to us. His name is Israel.

The theme of the lectureship this year was “Unity Among Brethren: An Answer to the Prayer of Jesus.” As the theme clearly indicates our emphasis this year was to communicate how as a church we can work toward becoming more united as a body, not at any cost, but with great diligence and prayer. The speakers were: Misael Ajuchan (Guatemala City), Alexander and Silvia Castellanos (El Salvador), Pedro Batres (Nicaragua), Silas Prado (Mission, Texas), Francisco and Araceli Rada (Brownsville, Texas), and Bob Turner (Denver, Colorado). The ladies, of course, taught ladies’ classes.

The speakers did an excellent job. In addition to our combined lessons, we had classes for men, women, teenagers, and children. We are thankful to God and to the speakers for the quality of lessons they offered our brotherhood here in Guatemala and pray that somehow it will make a difference for good. There is absolutely too much work to do and too many lost souls for us to be divided unnecessarily.

In addition, about midway through our lectureship, we took some time out to celebrate ITL’s 5th Anniversary. Yes. It has been five years since the school opened its doors in March of 2008. In spite of the obstacles, the attacks, and the opposition of Satan in various ways and through various people, we have seen God’s good hand working in more and greater ways to make this special milestone in ITL’s history a reality. We are eager to continue in this labor of love of training men and women to be better serve Jesus in the church.

Sunday, March 24 – Lectureship and ITL’s

Graduation Ceremony
The first day of the week is always a special time for Christians. On this occasion, however, it was extra special because so many people joined us as we concluded our lectureship and for the graduation ceremony that would follow. The Linda Vista building was packed! There were about 400 people present for our worship assembly! It is great to have this problem of space. It was great because several churches of Christ joined us and encouraged us by their presence.

After the corporate assembly, the crowd filled several buses, cars and vans, and we all made our way to the facility reserved for ITL’s 2nd Graduation. Upon arriving to this facility, our ladies from Linda Vista fed lunch to the over 400 people. By 1:30, everyone had been served and our graduation ceremony began at about 2:00.

The ceremony began with the traditional entrance son, “Pomp and Circumstance.” Then the flags from Guatemala, the U.S.A. and ITL came in and each country’s national anthem was then played. Those who graduated looked very dignified and the whole ceremony from beginning to end went very well.

The Beta Class from both programs was made up of five full-time graduates and four Saturday graduates. The valedictorians this year were Eliezer Perez (full-time) and Blanca Perez (not related; Saturday program). Hawatthia, as president of ITL, awarded our graduates with their degrees and certificates from ITL.

Bob Turner awarded the full-time students their degrees and certificates on behalf of Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.

The facility worked nicely for this event and we are thankful God provided a place to have it. As you can see from the pictures, we had a great attendance, with about 450 people in attendance. We thank our members at Linda Vista who worked very hard at making this event such a success. We had at least 40 people involved in various areas, from the cleaning crew to the decoration team, and everyone in between! We also thank the supporters whose generous donations made this event possible.

That evening, the graduates, their families and the lectureship guests had dinner at Pizza Hut (this was the graduates’ choice). While there, several presentations were made to our guests from different countries and to our graduates. It was our last meal together with them.

Monday, March 25 – “Off” Day

After the main activities were over, there were a few guests that stayed an extra day to relax a little and see the local sights. Originally, we had contracted the same tour guide from the previous Friday to accompany us to Lake Atitlan, a picturesque lake with dormant volcanoes in the background, and small, quaint villages all around the lake. However, when the group realized we would need to depart at 7:00 a.m., all of them almost yelled, “Nooooo!” It was decided, then, to let them sleep in (which allowed us to sleep in, too), and meet them for lunch. The group walked to a local restaurant from the hotel.

After lunch, we gave the group a 1⁄2 day city tour, but we did not charge them anything. Soon the night was upon us. We dropped the group off at the Holiday Inn ad headed home for an early night.

As you can see, the days were filled with activities, fellowship, teaching, preaching, and extracurricular activities. We are thankful to the brethren who joined us for this very special event and made it a part of their lives.

The Beta Class
Allow us to use this last section to bring you up to date with the plans and work of our most recent graduates from the Beta Class. We will begin with out Saturday graduates, then mention the full-time graduates.

We had four Saturday graduates, one man and three women: Maclovio Calderon, Elene Aguare, Nidia Aguare, and Blanca Perez (valedictorian).

Maclovio is one of the leaders at Linda Vista and continues to serve with this congregation. Sadly, on the Friday before graduation, Maclovio’s mother-in- law died. This meant that he and Vicky had to be with the family for the funeral services. Because of this, Maclovio was not able to attend the graduation ceremony. About two weeks later, however, we held a special ceremony at Linda Vista and presented Maclovio with his graduation certificate.

Elena Aguare and Nidia Aguare are physical sisters as well as spiritual sisters. They continue to serve in their congregation, the church of Christ in Carolingia. They are involved in children’s classes and have also been invited to speak at special ladies’ events. We are thankful to report that Nidia’s husband, Carlos, is now taking classes in our Saturday program and Elena’s husband, Jorge, is planning to begin classes next quarter.

Blanca Perez is currently working with the church of Christ that meets in Antigua Guatemala. She is very involved with the work there, helping with children and cooperating in various other areas of service. In addition, we currently have Blanca on campus again because she has agreed for the third time to teach Spanish to our full-time students in a special short course designed to improve their grammar, diction and vocabulary.

Our full-time program graduated five students: David Avila, Walter and Nohelis Dardon, Gabriel Gonzales, and Eliezer Perez (valedictorian).

David returned to work with the church where he was a member prior to coming to study at ITL, the church of Christ in Samayac. These were his plans all along. He will continue to work with his father and siblings (there are 14 of them!) in their family’s businesses during half of the week and dedicate the other half to the work of the church. David has also agreed to begin an alumni association and will function as ITL representative in Guatemala’s southern coast, for which we are very grateful.

Walter and Nohelis returned to Linda Vista. Their hopes were to work full-time with the church there, but the leaders and the church were not able to offer them a salary. Therefore, Nohelis returned to her old job, where she seems to be making many contacts and having many Bible discussions. Walter continues to look for a job, but in the meanwhile uses his free time to evangelize. He has also been involved in the preaching and teaching program of the church. Pray that if it is God’s will, they will be able to enter the ministry full-time one day, which is what they desire to do.

Gabriel Gonzales has recently returned from Panama. He went to his country to take some time off before taking the full-time work with the church in La Esperanza, Quetzaltenango, here in Guatemala. The brethren in La Esperanza came to an agreement with Gabriel before his graduation that they would hire him as their full-time evangelist. They are providing him a place to live, food and a salary. We are excited because no funds are coming from the U.S., which means the church is being self-supporting!

Eliezer Perez is also still in Panama. He, too, went there for some time off before he moves to take his full-time work in Paraguay. Eliezer made contact with the church in Asuncion, Paraguay, while he was there with Gabriel during an ITL campaign. The church hired Eliezer to help them begin a new work where about 15 members live. He, too, will be receiving support from the local Paraguayan church, which is also excellent!

Please pray for all our graduates, so that God may use them powerfully to increase the number of the saved and decrease the number of the condemned, and so that they may be instruments for good in and out of the church for many years to come. Lord willing, in separate report, we will update you on the whereabouts and activities of our Alpha class.

We thank God for your interest in the work here in Guatemala and in all of Latin America. As you can see, the work of ITL is beginning to extend itself to many countries. Our prayer is that God will use this humble institute to spread the whole Latin American world with the saving message of Jesus Christ!

Serving Jesus!

Byron Hawatthia

To see ITL’s report with pictures of the graduation and lectureship, please click here.

Posted on May 26, 2013 .

Changing Hearts And Lives In Guatemala...

This scene was what we commonly saw as we traveled from one place to another last year as we visited with supporting congregations and potential supporters. We are very grateful to God to have loving brothers and sisters who treat us so kindly when we visit them. May God show you the same kindness you displayed to both of us as we lived out of a suitcase for several weeks!

As we do every year, we took some time out of our visits to participate in the Annual Churches of Christ Family Retreat, which took place again in Rothenburg, Germany. Our theme this year was “Discipleship: Change Our Hearts.” Jeremy and Rebecca Korodaj again joined us to form a great team in charge of the teen program. We had a great group of young people. This year, we had more military teens than in the past, which was great to see. Please keep this event in your prayers. Next year, we will celebrate the 50th retreat! If you could join us, we would love to see you there. The dates are November 23-27, 2013. We hope to see you then!

The Church at Linda Vista
This year, we sadly began with a sad story. One of our long-time members, Carlos Ordoñez, was killed in an accident on New Year’s Day. He had been looking for a job for many months and had agonized over not being able to work. He finally secured a job driving a truck. While in El Salvador on his way back to Guatemala, his truck lost its brakes and he crashed into bedrock on the side of road. Please keep his widow, Patricia Ordoñez, and their three daughters, Karla, Julissa, and Paola, in your prayers.

On a positive note, we would like to mention the spiritual growth we have seen in two of our members who are attending our Saturday program at ITL, our Bible school. The first is Enrique Tovar. This past February, he preached his first sermon and did a great job! He has since preached one other time at Linda Vista. We believe that his heart is pulling him toward the ministry, but his biggest challenge is the fact that he married a non-Christian a couple years ago. Please keep him and his wife, Evelyn, in your prayers, especially for her conversion. She attends fairly regularly and has received Bible studies from several people, but has not yet obeyed the Gospel.

The other member who is a student at ITL is Dinora Lopez. Dinora is always willing to serve in whatever way she is needed and has been faithfully assembling with the body, along with her children, Rodrigo, David Jr. and Andrea. Our prayer is that one day this godly example may win her husband, David, to Christ. He, too, has received several studies from several of us, but has yet to commit his life to our Lord Jesus.

Please keep both of these Christians in your prayers, as well as the whole church.

Ramirez - Palacios Wedding
Another bit of good news we have to report is the wedding of our coworker, Anibal Ramirez. Many of you were aware that several years ago, Fanny, Anibal’s first wife, left him for another man. Although the church made numerous efforts to encourage Fanny to repent and to consider her family and her relationship with God, she did not make the right choices. As a result, Anibal and Fanny were divorced. About a year later, Anibal began to date Damaris Palacios, a Christian woman worshiping at the time at the Zone 11 church of Christ. After about a year of dating, Anibal and Damaris decided to get married.

The wedding took place this past February. Hawatthia was asked to perform the wedding. We believe that Damaris will bring a needed woman’s touch to Anibal’s home. He has been doing a good job with raising three girls, one of whom is now 15. A Christian woman’s presence will be a great blessing, we are sure, and the girls really like Damaris ☺.

Coming Events
There are several events that will soon be upon us, so please keep them in your prayers. The first missionary team is scheduled to visit us July 11-20. This team has Christians from various parts of the country and we are excited to have them visit us to serve the people here. Also, we are hoping to continue to host World English Institute teams this summer. If the Lord wills, we will have two teams to come for two weeks each. This would be the fifth year for these teams to work with us. Our prayer is that all the plans will come to fruition, if they are in God’s will.

Prayer Requests
As we close, we also make the following prayer requests:

• For us so that God will continue to use us in this part of the world. We are thankful to Him because He has granted us good health and many blessings on a daily blessing.

• For the churches in San Cristobal and Coban in the department of Alta Verapaz. A separate report will be sent out soon, Lord willing.

• For the spiritual and numerical growth of the Linda Vista church.

• For Patricia Ordoñez and her daughters.

• For the Ramirez family as they adjust to a new circumstance.

May God grant you the peace that passes all understanding!

Serving Jesus,

Byron E. Benitez
Hawatthia Jones

To view their report with pictures, please click here.

Posted on May 5, 2013 .

A Special Note Of Thanks...

Greetings from the Land of Eternal Spring (aka Guatemala)!

I pray that this message finds you all doing well. We are doing fine here.

First, please accept my apology for being so late in sending this message. So much has been happening and so much continues to happen that I decided to stop and to write on our behalf before more time passes by. Lord willing, we will be sending out a few updates within the next few days. After you receive them, you will better understand what I mean when I say a lot has been happening. So, be on the lookout for some Guatemala updates coming very soon.

However, this is just a short note to say THANKS to so many of you that responded in various ways upon the passing of our sister Linda Kay. The numerous amounts of emails received were a great encouragement during this time. Also, all the cards that came from around the world gave us and our family assurance that many were praying for us. The flowers, both from individuals and from congregations, were very beautiful and represented the beauty we share as friends and as brothers and sisters in Christ. Your presence at the church was also a comfort and inspiration to us. In addition, there were funds sent our overseeing congregation in memory of Linda. These funds are being used to purchase books for the ITL library. A note will be placed inside of each purchase letting the readers know of the generous donations. 

It's difficult to express in words how all that you did helped us through such a difficult time. 

Thank you so much for every gesture of kindness during our time of loss. May our God in heaven repay each of you for the way you have and continue to support us.

We love you and thank God each day for you. Take care and be blessed in Him!

Con amor en Cristo,
Hawatthia

"Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!"

Posted on April 21, 2013 .

The Goal Has Been Reached...

Greetings Family, Friends and Supporters of Mission Guatemala!

We hope and pray that you and those you love are doing well and enjoying the wonderful blessings from above. We are doing fine here and continue to find ourselves with plenty to do in our service here in Guatemala.

Our reason for writing is to give you another update on the progress of the fund raising efforts. We are very thankful that many of you allowed God to use you to help us achieve this major milestone for ITL and for the Guatemala work. We are VERY excited that we passed from writing “A Great Opportunity for Guatemala Mission” to being able to write “A Great Blessing for Guatemala Mission.” WE REACHED OUR GOAL!!!! In fact, we surpassed it! We were able to say “yes” without having to seek a loan! We now own (or very soon will own) both properties! We do not have to rent anymore! You can probably tell from all the preceding “!'s” that we are very happy about this. :-)

From the last message that we sent to everyone in our database we made known of a special opportunity that we have to purchase both the house we are renting and the house where ITL, our preaching training school, is located. The owner of the house where we live is the son of the lady who owns the property where ITL meets. Due to circumstances beyond their control they need to sell both properties and have given us first option to buy both of them before they place them on the market. The owner of our house planned to ask for $95,000 for his house but was willing to sell it to us for $70,000. It is a four-bedroom, 4 1/2 bath house, with two additional rooms that can be converted into bedrooms. The second property, which joins our house, is what we presently use for ITL. It includes a three-bedroom, 3-½ bathroom house, a two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment, and a studio apartment. Presently, our students live there and all of our classes for the school take place there. Remember that we have both a full-time program and a Saturday program. This property belongs to our landlord’s mother. She was willing to sell us her property for $80,000. We believed that this presented us with a great opportunity for our work and wanted to take advantage of it.

The total for both properties is $150,000. We already had $80,000 that we previously raised to purchase property for ITL. This means that we needed $70,000 when our first request went out on December 29, 2012. Thankfully, we have raised $83,650. That’s right $83,650! While we do not feel comfortable putting a list of our contributors in a general e-mail, we will be glad to send a complete detailed list of supporters to anyone wishing to receive one. We are thankful to God that we were able to go over the amount. The excess will serve us with funds we need to pay our part of the paperwork for the purchase of the houses. And, with what is left we can make some minor repairs, painting, etc., to the facilities. Thankfully, we have the benefit of a student body (and instructors, of course) that is willing to work hard, which will save us many dollars on labor expenses.

Just one more time, please allow us to remind you of some of the advantages for this purchase:

1. The price for both properties is good for the area where they are located.

2. We will no longer be paying rent and that money can be used in other areas of the ministry.

3. Since the properties are next to one another, this provides an opportunity for the expansion of ITL as it grows.

4. We are already in the facilities. We have lived in our house since 2000 and have rented the other property for ITL since 2009.

5. The properties are centrally located for both the full-time students and for those who study on Saturday. Our full-time students are close to shopping centers and the other things they need for daily living. It is a fairly easy commute for our Saturday students to come where we are presently located.

6. The properties are located in a safe area. Since we also have teachers who come from the U.S. to teach, this is very important.

7. By purchasing the property, we will avoid the additional costs entailed in having to move our residence and the location of the school, and having to rent another house and another facility for ITL, which would likely be much more expensive than what we are currently paying for both.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you very much! Many of you helped us turn this opportunity into a reality. We can never say thank you enough. Some of you even took an extra step and made others aware and for this we are also thankful. May God bless you for your love and concern for the mission efforts that are taking place in Guatemala.

We will close for now. However, please allow us to remind you that the door is always open for you to donate to help teach the CENTRAL MESSAGE in Central America. :-) You have more than one option to get your donation to us. You can always plan a visit to see us and bring your contribution in person. In fact, if you choose to visit, we’ll consider your visit a contribution itself. :-) You can also go to our secured website and donate online by clicking here. You may also send your tax-deductible donation to our overseeing congregation at the following address:

Kingsley Terrace Church of Christ
c/o Dwaine Himes/Guatemala Mission
2031 E. 30th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46218

Byron and Hawatthia

Posted on March 25, 2013 .

Nearing The Goal For ITL...Special Request

Greetings Family, Friends and Supporter of Mission Guatemala! 

It is our prayer that your new year has started off well. We are doing fine. At this writing Byron has returned back to Guatemala where he is teaching the book of Revelation in our full-time program for ITL. Hi remained in the U.S. for another week to visit a few congregations in the Texas area. Once he returns, he will begin teaching Letters of Paul 3 (1 Thessalonians - Philemon) in our ITL Saturday program and Byron will teach Old Testament 3 (Job - Ecclesiastes). We solicit your prayers for our effort in 2013 to serve the Lord's church in Guatemala. 

The reason we are writing is to update you on the progress of the fund raising efforts. We are very thankful to God for such an great response that we have had thus far to our request and believe that if the funds continue to be committed at the pace in which they are coming in, then we will have most if not all of the needed funds. Before give you the numbers, allow us to remind you briefly of the details of this opportunity.  

From the last message that we sent to everyone in our database we made known of a special opportunity that we have to purchase both the house we are renting and the house where ITL, our preaching training school, is located. The owner of the house where we live is the son of the lady who owns the property where ITL meets. Due to circumstances beyond their control they need to sell both properties and have given us first option to buy both of them before they place them on the market. The owner of our house plans to ask for $95,000 for his house but is willing to sell it to us for $70,000. It is a four-bedroom, 4 1/2 bath house, with two additional rooms that can be converted into bedrooms. The second property, which joins our house, is what we presently use for ITL. It includes a three-bedroom, 3-½ bath house, a two-bedroom, one bath apartment, and a studio apartment. Presently, our students live there and all of our classes for the school take place there. Remember that we have both a full-time program and a Saturday program. This property belongs to our landlord’s mother. She is willing to sell us her property for $80,000. We believe that this presents us with a great opportunity for our work and want to take advantage of it. 

As you can see, the total for both properties will be $150,000. We already had $80,000 that we previously raised to purchase property for ITL. This means that we were needing $70,000 when our first request went out on December 29, 2012. Thankfully, since that first e-mail God has blessed us with $45,400 of the needed funds thus far. Of these funds $23,500 have been donated by 6 congregations and the remainder has been donated by individuals. While we do not feel comfortable putting a list of our contributors in a general e-mail, we will be glad to send a complete detailed list of supporters for anyone wishing to receive one. We are thankful to God that we now only need to raise $24,600 to purchase both properties, which we hope to do. However, if we do not get to the desired total amount, we plan to apply for a loan for the difference so that we can still take advantage of this tremendous offer for our work. 

Please allow us to remind you of some of the advantages for this purchase:

  1. The price for both properties is good for the area where they are located.
  2. We will no longer be paying rent and that money can be used in other areas of the ministry.
  3. Since the properties are next to one another, this provides an opportunity for the expansion of ITL as it grows.
  4. We are already in the facilities. We have lived in our house since 2000 and have rented the other property for ITL since 2009.
  5. The properties are centrally located for both the full-time students and for those who study on Saturday. Our full-time students are close to shopping and the other things they need for daily living. It is a fairly easy commute for our Saturday students to come where we are presently located.
  6. The properties are located in a safe area. Since we also have teachers who come from the U.S. to teach, this is very important.
  7. By purchasing the property, we will avoid the additional costs entailed in having to move our residence and the location of the school, and having to rent another house and another facility for ITL, which would likely be much more expensive than what we are currently paying for both. 

If you have already sent funds to help us, thank you very much. If you have not we are calling on you to prayerfully consider helping us purchase these properties. If you can help us, we assure you that your donation will be put to its greatest use. We are also asking if you could inform as many people as you know about the great opportunity with which we have been blessed. We would like to say “yes” to the sellers by the 1st of February. So, we need to hear from you as soon as you can to let us know if you can help. You have more than one option to get your donation to us. You can go to our secured website and donate online by clicking here. You can also send your tax-deductible donation to our overseeing congregation at the following address:  

Kingsley Terrace Church of Christ
c/o Dwaine Himes/Guatemala Mission
2031 E. 30th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46218 

Please note on your form of payment “Guatemala Property Fund.” If you would like to make a contribution to this effort but need to send it over time (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc), that would be fine also. What is important at this time is that we know the funds that are being committed for the purchase, even if they do not come in until later. 

We are attaching pictures of the properties. We are also attaching an electronic “Property Donation Intent Form” to this message. This form differs slightly from the first form in that there is a section for those wishing to donate over time. Whether you donate online or through regular mail, please, send us this form through e-mail so that we can know more precisely the funds that have been raised for this purchase. We will continue to keep everyone posted as we raise funds. 

We close this message with a sincere THANK YOU for the love and concern that you have for the Lord’s work in Guatemala. We also thank you for being a part of this most important effort. Please help us get the word out to as many as possible about the opportunity we have with the purchase of these two properties. Please remember to keep the work in Guatemala and us in your daily prayers. 

May God bless each of you with a wonderful 2013 of service to Him. We hope to hear from you soon.

We love you!

Hawatthia
Byron

“Teaching the CENTRAL MESSAGE in CENTRAL AMERICA!”

Posted on January 20, 2013 .