Thursday in Gonzalez Park

After breakfast at the Yorkville Holiday Inn Express, without the waffle maker, Carlos led us in devotions.  He talked about how we are the light of the world no matter where we are.  Whether we are here in Guatemala or at home, work or school, we are the light of the world. After that we loaded up the vans and headed to Gonzalez Park in Amatitlan.  We started our morning by doing home visits to the two girls that Cara and Kate decided to sponsor.  Neither girl was home because they were both in school, but we had very good visits with their families. We then enjoyed our PB and J with no chips or cookies because someone who shall remain nameless forgot to pack them this morning.

After lunch it was time to head off to the faith lessons.  This was by far the largest group of kids and very different from the area that we were yesterday.  Today we were in the city whereas yesterday the area was very remote.  We are getting a little better every day and will have it perfected by the time we leave.  While we were there Cara and Maegwin and Kelly and Kate got to meet Adrina and Erika, the girls they are going to sponsor.  Adriana is an adorable seven year old who was well spoken and could not hug Cara enough.  Erika is fifteen and she and Kate shared many interests.

We then headed back to the house for a delicious meal of rice and beans and Ginny’s amazing fresh salad. During supper we learned about the schedule for tomorrow and started to reflect on everything that we have experienced this week.  We are sad that tomorrow will be our last day with the Guatemalan missionaries, but we have learned so much from them about serving with joy.  We are thankful for how they have welcomed us and allowed us to be part of their work in this place.

“You are the light of the world. A city on the hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

Dios te bendiga!

Maegwin and Sue


Faith trip to Buena Vista

Preparation for the activities of today began last night as we loaded a sufficient number of crafts into a suitcase, did our devotion and monitored two members of our group that were going through giggling withdrawl from the consumption of large quantities of popcorn.  The names of the two will not be disclosed as they are of teenage years.

This morning started an hour earlier as travel to Buena Vista was to be about two hours.  We past two volcanoes by the names given to us as Agua and Fuego.  One of them at this time was exhausting a decent amount of ash by our standards back home.  We traveled through a number of urban and rural areas with unique and interesting sites as the road wound about the mountains, hills and valleys.  The last part of the ride was through the sugar cane fields over dirt roads embedded with a large quantity of rocks.

We finally arrived and were given a quick tour by Kevin of a school house and general discription of the “school house,” as well as to what and where things were and what we would be doing.  The children were arriving and we setup for the faith lesson.  It was a little warmer and sunnier this time as we were in an open grass field but were given a little shade from some large trees behind us.  Oscar as usual, led the children in true form and as we went through the prayer, singing, lesson, and craft time, the kids engage pretty well.  We spoke in fluent broken spanish to the kids and interacted with them as best we could, and they still warmed up to us.

It can be both somewhat sad to feel inadequate in ourselves to do what Jesus would have us do and joyful to know that we our under his direction and things are moved by him as they ought to be.

After we cleaned up, Kevin took some of us on a tour of a rubber tree grove that started near the main road and found it’s way over to a fairly steep drop down a hill with a river running below.  The river is somewhat difficult to get to, but the hike is made to bath and wash household items on a regular basis.  We soon headed out and made our way to a section of road that even though it is going downhill, when you stop the car and shutoff the engine and put it in nuetral, the car rolls up hill.  Ask us about it.

We got home and Ginny made us some great chilli for dinner,  we discussed what we would be doing tomorrow and we did our best to wind down for the evening.  I am finding that there are dozens of things that I would like to talk about from this day but I am going to call it here.  Thank you for reading this and supporting us and would like to point out that any spelling or grammatical errors and other literary mishaps are purely coincidental and do not reflect truly on this author, whom will remain nameless.

Tuesday in El Rincon

Today we woke up and had breakfast as “we like it” Holiday Inn Express style (come anytime from 7am to 7:30 am buffet style) with delicious oatmeal,  cereal, boiled eggs, and fresh fruit.  Afterwards, Aracely led Bible study and we talked about finding peace and having trust in God.  We then all packed up both vans and headed to  El Rincon (The Corner) for our home visits in which we agreed that we felt more comfortable engaging in the home visits by day 2.  We headed back to the Salon at the bottom of the hill , ate lunch and set up the medical clinic, adult, youth and children’s faith lesson for today.  We saw Oscar do amazing things with the kids and were very impressed with how they all listened to him and how well he related to them.  Our faith lesson with the children was about treating and loving your enemies as you would want to be loved and treated.  We also helped lead the singing and craft (the awesome drum created by Jill Procopos!) followed up with a nutritious snack and drink provided by Oscar.  We all were able to interact with the chldren and were able to spend time together by reading with them as well as playing games with them.  Except for Kate and Sandra having to stop and walk the tail end of the trip to El Rincon because poor Kate felt very car sick we all agreed today was a day filled with all highs and amazing learning and growing experiences.   All of us were able to talk to and learn more about the awesome Guatemalan missionaries that came with us today both on the way to El Rincon and on the way back.   We had a filling dinner “just the way we like it” and then George from Only a Child came and showed us all of the beautiful wood work that his men/boys from the woodshop made.  Thank you God for an amazing day!!


God Bless

Kelly and Sue

Hola! from Guatemala

This is our post from Sunday, but we didn’t realize we didn’t actually post it last night due to human error so tonight you get a bonus post!

Yesterday we spent the day traveling to our destination.  Our travels could not have gone more smoothly.  No lines going through security in the States or at Customs or Immigration upon our arrival in Guatemala.  We even ran in to someone that we knew, Joel Truog, at the airport in Atlanta and Sue got a chance to catch up with him. Best of all, all of our luggage made it here as well.  After meeting our hosts for the week, Kevin and Ginny, and a quick ride back to the ministry house, we got a tour of our accomodations and a list of the house rules.  Then it was off to bed.

This morning we had some delicious homemade spice doughnuts, scrambled eggs and bananas before heading off to church.  We went to a local Guatemalan church and got to experience a worship that looked very different than what we are used to, but had the same heart for worshiping and loving Jesus and even sang a familiar song!

This afternoon was spent unpacking and sorting all of the donations that we brought down with us, going over the lesson we will teach to the children this week and doing a little resting up after our travels.

Please continue to pray for us this week as we work alongside the missionaries here.  Pray especially for a couple members of our team who had some difficulty sleeping in  a new environment last night.  Thank you for all of your support so far.

Buenas Noches!

Maegwin, Cara, Kate, Kelly, Sue and John




Monday in Guatemala

We began the day by eating some delicious panqueques (pancakes). We met the Guatemalan missionaries that we had not met yet today. One of the missionaries, Ana, led devotions.

After that, we all introduced ourselves then headed to Only a Child. When we got there George, who started the organization, explained how it got started and how he helps young men in need of a job and a home. Then, we met some of the boys that are invovled in the program.

Then, we went to the dump to see the people walking in and out to collect garbage in order to make money and find food.

We came back to the house and had a lunch of rice and beans with the missionaries. We then went over our children’s lesson with Oscar, who leads the children’s lessons for the ministry.

Soon after we visited the house of a Guatemalan named Marta. She has 5 children 2 of which were there and their names are Miriam and Abraham. We talked with them for a while learning about their lives and sharing some about our own. Then we shared some Bible verses and prayed with them before heading back to the house.

We had pasta, salad, and garlic bread for dinner and talked about their child sponsorship program as well as highs and lows from the day.

Lastly, we had our group devotion while munching on some flavorful popcorn. We had a hard time focusing for the last few muintues as we were becoming a little sleep deprived and slap happy. We can’t wait for tomorrow.

~Cara and Kate

Pastor’s Corner

Lenten Series


Recalibrate, catch up, spring cleaning, get back on track.  It doesn’t matter how you say it; in life we go through seasons where we neglect certain areas in life in order to focus on others.  Work might get busy and draw attention away from our family.  The schedule might get full and we neglect our exercise and eat in restaurants.  Life might get crazy and our budget gets out of line.  Any number of things demand our time and so we ignore spending time with God.

Lent is a 40 day season that begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6th and concludes with Holy Week and Easter Sunday.  The intent of Lent is to take some time to consider our faith and if it is where we want it to be.  Lent is a time designated for God’s people the refocus on the things that matter most as we consider our faith and what it means to us.  Maybe your faith has slid to the back burner or maybe it is good but you want to refine and grow your relationship with God.

Below are some opportunities to consider that have proved beneficial for others in their faith journey and might be a blessing to you this Lent:

  • Special worship services on Wednesday evenings – If you haven’t taken the time to worship regularly on Wednesday evenings, I would encourage you to try it. There is something peaceful and contemplative about the evening time and the topics of Lent.
  • Weekend worship – This may seem simple, but if you haven’t been “regular” this Lenten season, we have put together special themes with intentional interactive objects to guide the faith journey of the season. Try to come every weekend so you get the full impact.
  • Fast – A historical practice of Lent is to intentionally fast from something for the 40 days. A fast could be almost anything:  no meat on Fridays, no breakfast, no sweets, no food from sun up to sun down, etc.  Don’t make this a ritual; use the time of fasting for prayer and as a reminder to connect with God.  As you make this sacrifice remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
  • Add a faith discipline – Create a time for prayer, community group or Bible reading. Challenge God with a tithe (10%) or other financial goal.  Do a daily devotion or read a book of the Bible.  Whatever it is plan on something you’d like to continue even after Lent.
  • Serve others – Sometimes the most overlooked act of faith is loving our neighbor. Maybe Lent is a great time for you to consider serving outside yourself in an area where others might be blessed by your service.

Whatever you choose to do this Lent, the most important thing is to do it in thankfulness for God, not out of obligation.  As the snow melts and spring comes this is a fantastic time to focus on renewal and rebirth.  God has blessed you and wants you to receive the fullness of those blessings.  Don’t ignore them; rather, take some time this Lent to dive in and live the faith God has blessed you with.  You will grow in appreciation for what God has done and in appreciation for the blessings He has given you.


Pastor’s Corner


Pastor’s Corner – Is Jesus God?

One of the most emphatic arguments against Jesus being God is the claim that “Jesus never says He is God.”  In other words, the argument is that we are putting words in Jesus’ mouth when we say He is God.  Some say “It is clear that He didn’t”, while others say just as emphatically “It is clear that He did”.  Worse yet, the accusation is that the disciples themselves, and the people that came after the disciples, added to the growing legend of Jesus’ deity.  So, who do we believe and how do we know?  To be honest, the way you end up answering this question has a lot to do with the way you ask this question.

The idea that Jesus did not say he was God isn’t some strange outlier of thinking.  Modern day Jews, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses, all teach that Jesus was good and godly, but not God.  Atheists, Agnostics and many other unbelievers believe Jesus was a guy with great teachings that encouraged love and acceptance, but that He is not God.  So, is Jesus God?  If we could answer this clearly than everything else will fall into place, won’t it?

This question is easy and difficult to answer because it has been debated for thousands of years and people have strong opinions about the answer, sometimes even before they ask the question.   In the Gospel of John, Jesus very explicitly says, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!”  Without context, this may not seem like much, but when we realize He was speaking to the Jews who knew this about how God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14:  “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’’”   You might be aware of the name Yahweh for God.  Yahweh is the Hebrew pronunciation for the name “I am.”

Jesus claiming to be Yahweh is pretty strong evidence, but in addition, the response of the Jews that heard this claim is very telling as well.  The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  Death by stoning is the consequence for the sin of blasphemy; claiming to be God.  But, for others this isn’t so clear.  They claim the Gospel of John is written after Jesus ministry and so Jesus’ claim to be God was added in.  In other words, they discredit that whole book of the Bible.

In the synoptic Gospels–Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus asks the famous question “Who do you say that I am?”  He does not refute the answer Peter gives, but affirms the statement that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.  But, this account and others like it are written off as Peter’s testimony about Jesus, not Jesus’ claim, himself.

The debate could go on and on, but I wonder if the better question would be “Who do you believe Jesus to be?” rather than “Is Jesus God?”  Jesus replies to Peter by saying “Blessed are you, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven.”  God gives us faith to believe Jesus is God.  There is no proof that will grow our faith.  Our goal isn’t to prove Jesus, God or any other truth to people.  Our goal is to introduce people to Jesus and let Him take care of the rest.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

1 Timothy 2

Is Christianity Too Narrow?

Imagine you show up for your first day of work and the boss shows you to your office and says, “Do good!”  No orientation, no job description, no strategic goals, no preferred outcomes, just:  “Do good!”

This could be disastrous enough, but can you imagine how you would feel when the boss yells at you for messing up or missing a deadline or for going over budget? Imagine how anxious you would feel each day, not to mention how concerned you would feel about your performance review.  In reality, you would likely be looking for another job because you would get tired of walking on eggshells and having no direction about what “Do Good” actually means.

I use this illustration because most people are at their best when they have a clear picture of what is being asked of them.  A husband who knows what makes his wife joyful; a friend who knows just what to say; or a worker who knows what the boss expects are all clear expectations we would love to have.

So why do people who want clear expectations get so worked up about a God who gives clarity about how to have a thriving, loving world? Is it too narrow that the boss expects everyone to arrive to work on time or be respectful or notify the others when you will be late?

God is a God of love and compassion.  He desires an eternal relationship with you and with me.  God has given us clear answers to what He values and what He doesn’t.  The alternative is to have a God who doesn’t give us His expectations and we are left to guess.  I have a hard time thinking people would sincerely prefer this alternative.

In addition, the good news of Jesus’ work on the cross for us, also known as “The Gospel” is that Christ is for “all”people.  Literally, 1 Timothy 2:3-5 says “ This is good and pleasing to our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Jesus died for ALL. There are no exceptions and, to be quite frank, there are no exclusions.

The only thing “narrow” about Christianity is that there is only one thing that separates man from God—sin.  And, there is only one thing that removes sin—Jesus.  No one is excluded from sin and no one is outside of the love of Jesus.  That seems all-inclusive to me.

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Pastor’s Corner

Explore God Text in Church

Explore God

We are almost half-way through our Explore God emphasis, and the stories that are coming in already are quite exciting.  I have heard about a co-worker who, after two weeks in a group, was asking how she could have the relationship with God that others in the group already had.  I heard about a customer at a local restaurant ask one of their favorite servers to join them, and the answer was “Yes!”

I have heard about people with faith openly sharing their doubts, then being supported and encouraged by their other group members.  I have seen people in worship who have told me they are there for one reason and that is to explore God with a friend or loved one at Cross.  I heard of another disciple at Cross who only invited neighbors and friends who weren’t already active in a church anywhere!  These are just some of the stories I have heard from a few people here at Cross.  I know there are many more I haven’t heard and still others that haven’t even been told yet.

I am thankful that so many of you have made the effort to pray, to reach out and to share how things are going in your groups.  These topics are challenging for sure, but they are clearly resonating with many people in our community.  If you haven’t asked anyone to explore God with you or if you have been thinking about getting connected but haven’t, it isn’t too late.

The truth is that it is never “too late” to explore God.  The problem is we often set aside the idea of exploring God to a “better time,” and that time never comes.  Other times we might get around to it and then regret we didn’t do it sooner.  I have never met anyone who said, “I wish I would have waited to explore God until later in life.”

If God has been working on you to get connected or keeps putting a particular person or family in your path, do something!  Start a conversation, send an invitation or ask a question; if you do it with sincerity and love, you will be well received and the worst that can happen is the person knows you care about them and their eternity.  Now is the moment; now is the time.  God is at work among us, and it is a lot of fun to be a part of it!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:23-25

In Christ,

Erik Gauss