Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

A Letter from the Kattenbergs

Written by Nico & Lia Kattenberg
It is already getting close to four months since we first arrived in Guatemala. The time here has just flown by because we have been kept quite busy getting our legal work done for getting a two-year permit for living in the country, and also buying the necessary furnishing for our house to make it our home. Of course, during this time we have also had plenty of opportunities to get our "feet wet" in the work here, although at times we still feel like we are in a state of limbo. However, slowly but surely, we are finding our place here in the work and, of course, getting more comfortable in our new surroundings and with our community.

There are a lot of things that one has to get used to, but thankfully we have had many experiences in the past that help us adjust quickly to new surroundings and ways of doing things. We realize that we can only do all things through Christ who strengthens us. With Christ we are more than conquerors.

Often people have asked us how we can stand to do what we do. Others have said that it is wonderful that we are able to go here because they could not do it. It is true that we experience and confront difficulties. There are times when we have thought, "O, we are not cut out for this work." But we have realized that with the help of God all things are possible. He will give us the strength that we need to go through these difficulties, and also says to us as He did to the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you." It is true that God's grace is sufficient.

God never requires us to do that which He will not help us with, and we have experienced this. For example, I go with some of the local obreros (workers) to visit families in different aldeas to pray with them and also to share a short portion of Scripture with them. I enjoy going along to show the people and the obreros that I am interested in their lives and their work. However, I have often gone along simply to show my support, and not share anything of myself. Yet, I have at several times been asked to speak. Well, this is fine when it is in your own language, but in this case I have to do it in Spanish without having prepared. In the beginning I have declined the offer, but lately I have felt that I should say something. And so just this past week, I was asked twice on two different occasions to speak. Again, my first reaction was to decline, but I felt that I should at least try and say something, even though it might be short. So, after frantically looking in my Bible for an appropriate passage and hoping that I understood and interpreted correctly what was read, I gave a short meditation. I must say that now I carry an English-Spanish Bible which gives me the added security that I can be sure of what I am reading. Also, before going out I try and look up some passages that I can use. The problem is that beforehand I am not sure of the reason we are visiting these families and so it is hard to prepare.

The language barrier is a hurdle that must be jumped. At this point in time, I am able to hold decent conversations with people. I can ask for almost anything and be understood, but the difficulties come with reading. Often, I can understand what I read, but almost always there is a certain sense of doubt whether I am reading things in the wrong tense.

Another hard part is finding passages in the Bible. I have grown up with the English Bible and so I know passages by heart in English. Therefore, when I look for a passage in a certain chapter I can easily find it because it is familiar to me. It is totally different in Spanish. Often, I can not find a passage or verse because I do not recognize it in the way it is translated.

It is a humbling experience to learn a new language. I am sure that some of you know the feeling from going from Dutch to English, especially some of the ministers in our denomination. It is no easy task. For me, Spanish is now my third language, and maybe in the future Achi will be my fourth. However, apart from learning a few phrases here and there in Achi, we will save learning Achi until another time.

I have had many people ask me what exactly my work will be. Well, this first year will be a time of finding our place here in the work. There is a lot of work to be done and so it is not easy to say what exactly will be my job description. It was decided that I will not be starting any new work yet this year. I will be visiting the existing churches and also the areas that have already been opened, giving meditations and short Bible messages. I will also be doing various assignments and readings. Next year we hope to find out more.

There are many other things I could write about. Lia and I are both doing well, although we have been sick quite often with colds, sore throats, and other problems. Partly, this has to do with the dry season and all the dust that is in the air, and partly this may be due to parasites. However, the rainy season has begun and so we look forward to better health.

I close this letter by asking for your continual support, not only financially, but especially your prayers. We are fighting a war, a spiritual battle against Satan and his forces who have for many hundreds of years kept these people in spiritual bondage, in slavery and in darkness. The light of Jesus Christ has penetrated this darkness and has brought many to His wonderful, glorious and saving light. But Satan will not give up and though he is defeated, he still goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He will attack those who are in the foreground of the battle field. Therefore, I ask for your prayers for the people here, that many more will be saved, and also for protection for the work and the workers of the mission team in Cubulco.

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