Our Senior Mission Trip to Guatemala

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This spring break I had the opportunity to go on my senior mission trip to Guatemala. Before I go any farther, I want to say that this was, by far, my favorite mission trip yet. This group consisted of six seniors—Ethan Williams, Brayden Ratcliff, Molly Sheridan, Allison McNeill, Jordan Allen, and myself (Brett Byer)—alongside five adults—Chris Schoolcraft, Carla Hilburn, Drew Tucker, Julie Sheridan, and Kelly Allen. We worked with Mission Guatemala, a Methodist-based nonprofit, to help serve the community of San Andrés.

Our first full day there, we went to the market in Chichicastenango. We were able to shop and buy souvenirs, but more importantly, we were able to see first-hand the culture that we were about to be serving. While at the market, we got to tour the city. We went to the Church of Santo Tomas, where we saw both a catholic priest and a Mayan priest worshiping next to each other at the same time. It was a beautiful moment. They both showed respect for the other and they both loved each other.

On our first workday, before any work was done, we attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the new teachers’ office facility we were going to be working on all week. They had us as their guests of honor, and to be honest, it was a little strange. All we were going to do was come and sweat a little and then leave for another team to take over. But they didn’t see it that way. We were the first group that was going to work on this new facility. This was something that they had been wanting for a long time, and for it to finally be happening, they were so happy. After the ceremony, we began working. It was at that point when we realized just how hard the week was going to be. This was far from our normal “light construction and painting” that we are used to. This was busting up rocks and digging trenches. But over the course of the week, we began to bond with the workers that we worked with. They invited us to join them in their mid-day tradition of drinking Coke and eating bread. I’m not a big coke drinker, but that bread was so good. With the little Spanish that we knew, we tried to communicate with them. And it worked pretty well. I had a 10-minute conversation one day with one of the workers, in Spanish, about…sports. I don’t think my Spanish was great, but I was able to get my point across and have a meaningful conversation. Another day, just after lunch and just before we went back to work, we were playing a card game. I asked one of the workers if he wanted to play. He said yes. So I sat out that round and taught him the game and helped him, but I’m going to be honest, he didn’t need the help. He ended up winning the game. It was the moments like these that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. Even though I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, I was able to communicate, and for those times when I couldn’t, we had fun and played games.

Back at the Mission Guatemala hotel, another team was staying there. They were from Columbus, Ohio. We ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel with them, but we segregated to our own tables. After about 2 days of doing that, I had the idea of mixing with them to get to know them and bond with them. So one morning at breakfast, we just sat all over the place, and when they walked in, they did not hesitate to go and fill in the gaps. They were excited to get to know us. This continued throughout the rest of the week. We were able to bond and form great relationships with them just by changing how we ate. Julie and Molly went on morning runs throughout the week, and they even got Molly—from the Columbus group—to go run with them. It was really amazing to see how God was growing our relationship with them.

Every night, we would have worship and devo. This was definitely my favorite part of the day. We sat in the living room of the girls apartment and just worshiped. Everyone, singing at the top of their lungs and just truly worshiping God. Every night. We felt the Holy Spirit at work in that space, filing us with so many emotions. We had great devotions. There wasn’t a night that we didn’t have to break out the toilet paper to be used as tissues. That space was full of so much love, not just for God, but for each other. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.

One night, we got to witness a Mayan ritual and see how they worship. We got to join in and worship our own God while also performing the Mayan ritual of burning candles. This was followed by dance. I’m not big on dancing, but it was really fun to just skip around in a circle.

This was an amazing mission trip. We got to be apart, a small part, but an important part of something so great. We formed bonds that we never could have imagined would have been formed. We saw God move in great and mighty ways. We got to see a different culture and see how they worship. We got to drink some amazing coffee. And we got to be the hands and feet of God in San Andrés, Guatemala. 

Intergenerational Valentine's Dinner with our Widows and Widowers

Each year around Valentine's Day, we've hosted a special dinner for our Widows and Widowers. This year, we hoped to make it even more special by inviting new groups to be our hosts--our very own Argyle Kids and Argyle Youth! On Wednesday, February 15, our FAST 5 5th graders and our STUWO middle schoolers threw the best Valentine's party Argyle has ever seen for our Widows and Widowers! We broke bread intergenerationally and had a blast getting to know each other over a delicious Italian dinner catered by Salerno's. A big thanks to all the kids and youth who hosted this event, and to the staff at Salerno's Italian Restaurant in Flower Mound for catering the incredible meal! 

Valentine's Day College Care Packages

Each year, Argyle UMC sends a care package to each of our college students to let them know how loved they are by their home church on Valentine's Day. Through your gifts and donations, we were able to send out 69 care packages to our college students. Thank you to each one of you who contributed and to the 14 volunteers who were here to help sort, label, and package these treats. 

The Completed Guatemala Water Project

Argyle UMC had a dream to help bring water to two small, indigenous villages in the mountains above Antigua, Guatemala. Our church raised $10,000 to purchase supplies for a water tank that pipes water to these communities through your donations and the money raised by our own Argyle Kids from our 2016 Vacation Bible School! We have just received our 5th and final update from our brothers and sisters in Guatemala on their now completed water project! 

At the commissioning of this completed project, the Mayor of the communities knelt over this water tank and had a time of prayer before he gave a speech. Here is a message from them:

"We all are so grateful to all of you who gave this gift so desired for by all of us. While making his address, the Mayor began to cry, because he said that it was a miracle to have achieved this project. Years ago we were looking for those who might could help, but we never thought that this year we would have our water.  The mayor said this with tears in his eyes!!! We also felt like I was in a dream because everything was achieved with the help of the Church!!"

As you can see in the pictures below, a plaque has been placed on this water tank in honor of Argyle United Methodist Church. Thank you all for your Irrational Generosity that has made this dream a reality! 

A Christmas Prayer

He came that beautiful night in the form of a babe;

He lives today in the hearts that obey.

He knows your name and every little thought;

He loves you in a way that cannot be bought.

This gift of grace and love that lingers

Came wrapped in cloth with tiny fingers.

His presence that night brought far away men—

What a story it is and a way to begin!

It doesn’t stop there; it goes on, you see,

For Christ came and died just for you and me.

May your eyes be open to see the wondrous love

Of the Savior who was sent from heaven above.

May your ears be in tune to the beautiful sound

Of the voice of the Savior whose love abounds.

May your hearts receive hope that your Healer is here;

He has never left you and His presence is near.

May you know you are loved beyond any measure,

For Christ came that night because you are His treasure.

Good news and great joy, as the angels proclaimed,

The birth of the Christ child, in a manger he laid.

My hope and my prayer for you on this day—

May you see God’s love in a whole new way.

Kim Thomas

For the angel said to them, “Don’t’ be afraid, for look I proclaim to you the good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David”. Luke 2:10-11

Guatemala Update 4

We've received another update from the water project in Guatemala! Thank you for your continued prayers and gifts to bring water to these villages!

"Work continued on the water tank in the mountains that will serve the two small villages. Besides concrete, reinforcements and blocks to build the roof of the tank had to be transported by the men up to the tank site. After the water tank was completed, work began on laying the pipes from the tank to the villages. This is extremely hard work, but spirits are high since the project should be completed within a few weeks."

The Sweetest Moment

This Sunday, we experienced a sweet and powerful moment at our 9:30 service as one of our kids accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior! Below is the story from his mom, Christy:

Ok, so when it comes to my boys, tears can easily well in my eyes from certain unexpected acts! Today as our church service was coming to an end, we began our Tithe and Offering part of the service. During this time, the prayer altar is opened for anyone who wants to go pray.
Before I knew what was happening, Walker, my 7-year-old, headed to the altar. He was up there for a while speaking and praying with one of the amazing women in our church.
When church was over, she approached me to let me know that my son accepted Christ into his heart while he was up there. He told her he wanted to be a light to others with Jesus living is his heart!
Y'all....I could barely hold it together. My heart melted and my eyes instantly filled with tears! What a way to end this amazing Thanksgiving weekend and begin the season of Advent! Praising God for his love, presence and how He moves in my life and the lives of my children!!! Jesus lives in all of us and there is no doubt in my mind, Walker will proudly wear the light of Jesus to love others!
God is SOOOO Good, ALL THE TIME!!!!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Irrational Generosity: "The Red Shirts" Life Group

"The Red Shirts" are a group of friends from Argyle UMC that decided to start a Bible study together. They meet once a month in each other's homes for fellowship, a Bible study, and dessert. They felt a call in their lives to take the love of God that they were experiencing in their Life Group out into the community, and that's where they found Mayberry Gardens, an Assisted Living facility in Denton, TX. The relationships they've formed there have transformed their lives, and this is their story.

Welcome our new Director of Children's Ministry: Jennifer Tolin!

Hi y'all, I’m Jennifer.

I am…an extrovert, 8 on the enneagram (for those who follow that kind of thing), ESTJ (Myers-Briggs for those who follow that kind of thing) and a Texas girl. I like fried food with butter and lots of salt, and hot summer days in a pool.

I’m in ministry, a wife, a mom, a daughter and wish I could relive the days when all I did was dance. But, alas, I’m older and not a prima ballerina. Truth be told, I was never quite shaped to be one and had bad knees.

Eleven years ago this annoyingly cocky boy that I had known in high school took me on a date to see Bad News Bears (so romantic) and eat at Taco Bueno (I’m a picky eater and this would be a deal breaker in most cases). And somehow, here we are, doing life together as partners. Two kids, two houses, several career moves, a battle with cancer (his) and 11 hunting seasons later, I love him and I love my life.

There are other things I love too…

I love Jesus. I grew up in the church and firmly believe that my relationship with God has pulled me through all of life’s turns. More than loving God, I’m actually one who loves church. I’ve worked in the church on and off for over 15 years now. From childrens ministry at Highland Park United Methodist and First United Methodist Church of Plano to youth ministry at First United Methodist Church of Denton and most recently, Connectional Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Dallas.  I’m a United Methodist girl and when John Wesley says “no holiness but social holiness” it speaks to me. We find great holiness and a deeper relationship with God in our relationship with others.

Speaking of others…. I love my people. Actually, I just love people in general. Despite having Judgement as part of my Myers-Briggs makeup, I have worked hard in the years since I had my first child to open my heart to enjoy all types of people. The more different from me…the better. I love to learn about and experience God through others' gifts and talents.  I experience God through the people that God brings into my life and find myself more fulfilled with each new mom, friend, foe and family member that comes. I love to teach and speak about leadership, about God’s word and about parenting. Connection is one of the great joys that I find in each day.

I love being a mom to Cade and Case. In the world of ministry, we often get caught up in helping others along their discipleship pathway. I am very aware that at the top of my list is helping my tiny humans on their discipleship journey and truly am thankful for that gift in life.

I consider myself beyond blessed to be starting ministry with the families of Argyle United Methodist Church and cant wait to get to know each of you. Please stop by and say hello!