Denise and I are in Guatemala for a few days as part of a mission observation trip that is sponsored by our church. Before we headed out this morning to visit a school in the mountains above the city of Panajachel, I led a brief devotional from one of the eye witness accounts of the ministry of Jesus. The Biblical story was about Jesus and the Rich Man. I chose this story to lead off our morning devotions because it is about a self-righteous fellow who asks Jesus what more does he need to do to go to heaven. Before breakfast, I called my brother Steve to see if I had cell phone service. During our brief conversation, Steve raised the question, “Why do you have to go so far to minister to the poor? Isn’t there enough poverty between your home and the church for you to focus your charitable deeds in Detroit?” I reminded Steve that our church is a mission driven, mission led church and that 99% of the charitable deeds done in the name of our church are right in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Detroit. Those honorable deeds of church mission include: housing the homeless, providing a free week-long camp for inner city youth, free computers for children, free Christmas presents for children, affordable housing (230 apartments), a free school for 502 children, and much more. So, I raised the question this morning during the Guatemala mission devotional, “Why Guatemala?” I asked Dr. Brenda McGadney to read the passage Mark 10: The Rich Man (Mt 19:16–30; Lk 18:18–30) 17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”  I shared with our travel partners that my test for supporting mission efforts in Guatemala was simple, it is consistent with other foreign missions that are supported by our church. Each of our missions is headed by a church member who has an interest in doing virtuous deeds in a foreign country. Because the missions are led by church member, the church has a personal connection. In this way, the missions come alive in a very personal manner. Over the years, several church members have participated in these missions. Our mission to Liberian former refugees of war is headed by Dr. Jewlee Weah, who is from Liberia. The mission we support in Ethiopia is led by Dr. Ingida Asfaw, who is from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian mission is a health mission which includes a hospital for women and children. You can learn more about it by going to www.enahpa.org The Liberian mission is at www.sarbounityfoundation.org The second test for the foreign missions we support is does it make sense? What we are doing in Guatemala makes sense. The city we are staying in is called, Panajachel, is comfortable and nice. Today, we visited a school up in the mountains called, Pacaman. At the school, the children and several mothers were waiting for us. They put on a wonderful, colorful presentation. At the conclusion of the program, we distributed over 150 pounds of clothing to the expectant children and the mothers. Poverty is the same worldwide. Everybody was excited. The children were excited, the mothers were excited, and yes, we were excited and happy to know that we were doing something that was so appreciated. The school we visited has been adopted by Candelaria and Gregorio Garcia, who are the owners of the Jabel Tinamit Spanish Language School. Craig Orr, of the church where I pastor, the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, Michigan, USA, studies Spanish online with the Garcia’s. Craig and the Garcia’s share a desire to assist the impoverished children at the Pacaman School. The Garcia’s have a non-profit organization called, Forging my Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we are scheduled to sail across a lake that is surrounded by volcanic mountains. In the afternoon, our plan is to attend a graduation for Spanish and English immersion students. Thank you for reading and I hope you will check out what I send out tomorrow from Guatemala. Blessings and Peace… Nick Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III Photo’s by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III Additional Prayers Photos and Mediations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/  The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mk 10:17–31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.