Once again, I am grateful for the privilege of expressing a few words hoping, as always, that they will be of blessing and be edifying. There is so much in my heart making it difficult to express in words and impossible to do it through this letter, but what little I can say comes from deep within my heart.
This year, 2020, has been difficult for everyone in the world because of the COVID 19 pandemic and Guatemala has been no exception. Many plans changed radically, while others had to be modified but there are commitments that must be fulfilled no matter what and one of them is the education of our children and young people.
It has been a difficult process; this crisis has made us realize that not only is our knowledge in technology deficient but our resources in technology are also deficient. At the same time most of our students did not have the necessary resources like internet or a computer. The ones who did have computers not all the computers had cameras, the majority who had internet access, had it through their parent’s phones and was prepaid data usage. More than that, both the teachers and the students lacked knowledge of the existence and/or use of the digital platforms which then became essential.
In this way, rehearsing, experimenting and learning from the entire educational community (parents, teachers and students), the teaching-learning process continued. The teachers have had to prepare their lessons and then go out to each students’ house, trying to guard the safety of both them and the students in order to leave lesson worksheets with each student. Under usual circumstances, this photocopying would be a cost to the parents, however, since most of the families are suffering the loss of their income source Colegio Bethel has had to absorb these expenses. In the end, it has been a difficult situation, but we are not standing around with our arms cross, the Lord has protected us.
In the midst of this pandemic and the uncertainty in which we are living, we could not overlook the school’s 30th anniversary, which is very significant to us. Not being able to celebrate it like we always have, with several face-to-face activities we wanted to project a video with various activities, but, when we started working on the plan it was impossible to not remember all the details of how God blessed and sustained us throughout these years.
Among many of the memories we have from the start of the school until now, it immediately came to our minds and hearts the fact God had given us His blessing and provision by having provided the encounter we had with wonderful people from Alaska. He allowed us to meet our special brother, Joe LoMonaco out of his obedience to God’s call to support this ministry, then, through him, meet many other friends and brothers in Christ from that beautiful place that is Alaska. And consequently, the large number of groups of brothers bringing with them so much love and kindness and of course ready and willing to work hard on behalf of so many children, young people and families. Weren’t these memories extremely significant, something transcendent? Of course, hence we opened “the trunk of memories of that miraculous encounter.” It was something so special, so emotional. The first thing we remembered was that day when my husband, Pastor Emilio Battz, by faith, had already prepared the ground where the Bethel school would be built, without much money, without promises of help, but by faith. And how on such a special day, determined by God, came a man accompanied by Mrs. Sol de Lennhof of Compassion International, who heard pastor Emilio’s construction plan. This man, Joe Lomonaco, heard the voice of God who told him he should support this project. A year passed and came the surprise of blessing for the Battz Ramirez family; a group from Alaska, through Forward Edge Ministry, came to work on this project.
It seems like only yesterday when we saw Brother Joe Lomonaco return and with him, the unforgettable brothers and sister in Christ, Max Bolin, John and Linda Luberger, Johana Lomonaco, Steve D’Lisio, Brother Stewart Smith, Scott Theis, Brother Jorge Martinez, brother Jack Metzler, Keith Hoeland, Chris Tacci, Don and Barbara Kasselbaum(leaders with Forward Edge International) Mark and his son Russel Dorazio. We remember the conditions in which they traveled across Lake Atitlan in a small boat called “Tiburonera”. The conditions of the pier where they arrived were deplorable and insecure but would later become the place of arrival of so many groups. The place where they ate was not the best, but the group was always happy. San Pedro was different with many limitations for the groups, but these were not an obstacle to their work for the Lord.
Today, 23 years after that meeting of blessing, we thank God for the accompaniment of Project Faith in this ministry. Your work and love have not only been directed at Colegio Bethel, you have extended and covered other areas such as:
- Construction of a good part of the Colegio Bethel’s building.
- Construction of homes to families in great need.
- Construction and equipment of the medical clinic and bringing teams of doctors to provide medical records blessing the children and young people of this school and others.
- Improvements in household living conditions with the donation and placement of thrifty stoves.
- A great support to churches in rural Areas of Guatemala near San Pedro both on the south coast and in the west of the country in the construction of their temples.
- In support of all pastors of the Bethel Central Mission by defraying costs from pastoral conferences and with the provision of Bible study resources and the gift of enrichment trips.
- Great support for Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible School in these regions
- And especially with the child sponsorship program, which has provided study opportunities for many under-resourced children and young people.
- And we cannot fail to mention the richness that has been brought into our lives through the interrelationship with each person in each group.
So, as we celebrate 30 years of the Colegio Bethel’s life, we praise the Lord for extending this ministry to many other areas and always enjoy the partnering of Project Faith. We wholeheartedly thank all of you who in one way or another have been part of this great vision. To God be the glory.
Our prayer and desire is that both you and us can get out of the situation that has provoked the Coronavirus pandemic as soon as possible and that the accompaniment you have kindly given us through your moral, spiritual and economic support, with God’s help, will continue to bless so many lives.
Thank you, very much dear Brother Joe LoMonaco, thank you very much loved and remembered brothers and sisters in Christ, May He reward you greatly for the blessing you have represented for this people and their surroundings.
With a lot of love, ESTER