Earland Welch 1926 - 2007

Earland Welch went home to be with the Lord yesterday at approximately 5:15 pm. He passed peacefully surrounded by family. He was positive...laughing, singing and showing concern for everyone but himself, right up until the end. He will be deeply missed by our family.

I will post information about arrangements after the family meets today to discuss them.

Earland Welch

It's been a tough week for our family. Mary's step-father, Earland was diagnosed with cancer last week and was suffering from pneumonia. He was transported on Tuesday night to Maine Medical Center ICU in Portland and is in very rough shape. His cancer has spread quickly and he is having a very difficult time breathing... They are working on his pneumonia first and then will decide what, if anything, can be done with his other issues. Please pray for my mother-in-law, Loni Welch, Earland's daughter Holly and all that know and love Earland.

Earland has been one of my closest friends for nearly 20 years now and it is difficult to imagine what life would be like without him in it. He loves the Lord and knows where he is going, so we can cling to the reality of his future. Earland was called to the ministry in his 50's and pastored two different churches in the Gardiner area. He lost his wife of over 40 years, Irene, to cancer and ended up falling in love with Loni and marrying 17 years ago. They have enjoyed a beautiful marriage and were such a perfect match. Mary does not remember a time without Earland. He and Irene were her parent's close friends, he was her godfather, her pastor (Earland baptized Mary many years ago!) and then through a twist-of-fate, her step-father.
Even now in his suffering, Earland is full of humor and concern for eveyone around him. We love him so much and are praying for God's will to be accomplished.

Back from Guatemala!

Abbie and I returned home after a week in Guatemala last night and were very glad to be back with the rest of the family. We arrived last wednesday and had a really blessed time with the Hastings. I really got exposed to the ministry and spent time in the office with Bob going over plans, budgets and future opportunities. I am so excited about our future in Guatemala and cannot wait to be a part of expanding God's work there. I love the country, the people and can't get there quick enough. I know that only God could give me such emotions for such a different culture.

Quite honestly, I was concerned about just how I would feel once arriving. This was my first visit that I could truly grasp that we would be living there and I wondered what that would feel like. Would I suddenly be asking "what the heck are we doing??? We can't live there!!!" Bob picked us up at the airport and I had a raging headache, it was kindof gloomy weather and the sites of the city started to scare me. We had a nice visit and turned in on the early side. In the morning the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was ready to go! I felt very much at home and any fear that might have been there left. My time at the office just reconfirmed for me how I would fit in to the ministry and how much we could accomplish with God's help. There is so much need here and Bob and his team are working diligently to help wherever they can. I am excited to be on the team. Bob has worked so hard over the last several years forming his team and fine-tuning the mission...He is truly gifted in this area. I am praying that we can spend our time together expanding the ministry and serving even more children.

I got to meet several other missionary families and look forward to the sense of community that seems to revolve around all the families serving Christ there. We went to our first Spanish worship service Sunday morning at El Camino Church in San Cristobal. I used a bilingual bible and found that I could follow along with the scripture and get the gist of the sermon. It was really neat singing worship songs I knew and some new ones all in Spanish! I can't wait to be through language training and understand more of the language.

Debra emailed us that she is looking at a home for us to rent just 1 block from our school in San Jose,Costa Rica. She will see it at noon tomorrow. Please pray that this works out for us. With 5 children in tow, being 1 block away would be such a blessing. We should know more tomorrow.

A Few Things I Observed on the Trip:

  • A burning mattress on the sidewalk enroute to the office... Bob said "it looks like someone had a bad night's sleep!"
  • A funeral procession through the street in front of our office with around 100 or more people, a dozen or so who were carrying a casket high above them. They marched into the cemetary.
  • El Dia de Los Muertos - Day of the Dead. The entire weekend Guatemalans celebrate in the cemetary with their deceased relatives by eating, playing, flying kites and making merry around the headstones. The cemetaries are filled with beautiful flowers, thousand of them!
  • The Guatemalan Presidential election was Sunday and the voting stations were surrounded by military with automatic weapons to keep the peace. Guatemala has a new president, Alvaro Colom. He claims to want to combat violence by helping the poor. We'll see. Many have said the same thing with little result.
  • A street carnival that consisted of a broken rickety ferris wheel, turned by the hands of the workers...safe?