|Assembly of the |
National Presbyterian Church of Guatemala
I have my ups and downs here. Just like normal no matter where we live. A few weeks ago I had one of the “downs”. We had to travel to the other side of the country to the Seminary in Retalhuleu (on the Pacific coast) for Guatemala’s version of General Assembly. It was the first time I had been to that part of the country. The weather was in the 90’s with about 80% humidity. We met for five days with about 400 mostly men crammed into an auditorium for nine hours each day with an hour break for lunch. Of course everyone was speaking Spanish which I couldn’t, for the most part, understand. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was also coming down with a nasty cold. Just trying to stay conscious became the big challenge. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper. In fact, about halfway through the week I was having one of the times that my dear friend and former missionary to Kenya, Judy Palpant, warned me about. She told me there would be times when I would ask myself “what am I doing here and throw myself on my bed and cry” only since the hotel was several miles away, I didn’t have a bed to throw myself on. On this particular day I was waiting for Richard who was helping a friend make some last minute changes for his upcoming presentation. They were working on a computer in the seminary office. I was hoping they would finish so that we could go to lunch. Then I looked up at the walls covered with pictures. The photos were a long pictorial history of the Presbytery seminary throughout the years. And suddenly a pair of eyes caught my attention!
Jim & Gennet Emery were members of our home congregation, Knox Presbyterian Church in Spokane, WA. I knew they had been missionaries, and I am sure at one time I knew that they had been in Guatemala, but at that time the place really didn’t mean anything to me. Consequently it didn’t stick in my head. Looking up, seeing his familiar face looking down at me from years gone by I suddenly realized that these beloved friends and mentors had walked here in this place before me. It brought me amazing indescribable peace. I felt once again, an incredible reassurance that I am in the right place. A number of years ago, Gennet encouraged me to do something that I felt called to do but at the same time felt very ill equipped to undertake. I felt called to lead a Ladies’ Bible Study at our church but I was sure there must be others who were more qualified for the task. But Gennet urged me to continue forward and was a faithful and supportive participant. She, and the entire experience, was a huge blessing in my life. It was very much like the situation in which I currently find myself feeling called but ill equipped; and here she is again, encouraging me to trust God’s wisdom. I am always filled with wonder at the amazing tapestry God weaves with the people we encounter throughout our lives. We never know how we fit into each other’s lives but every once in a while we get a glimpse. What a blessing and encouragement!
Now that I’m back home and recovered from that nasty cold, I’ve been thinking about all of those footsteps I’ve been following that have led me to this exciting and stimulating period in my life and ministry. I honestly can’t say if I ever let Gennet know just how much her encouragement and support meant to me those many years ago. I want to be sure that you know that when you follow our ministry though our blog posts and our letters, when you correspond with us and let us know that you’re thinking of us and praying for us, and when you sacrificially support us financially, you are putting down fresh footsteps of strength and encouragement we’ve come to rely on in this ministry.
Thank-you and God bless you!
Richard and Debbie Welch
PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers, Guatemala