Mind Matters

It has been a couple months since our last trip to Guatemala and I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of renewing one’s mind.  Today, I want to challenge you to make daily, hourly, minute by minute choices to focus your mind on things above.

It is too easy to be distracted in our plugged-in world, with ever-streaming information and entertainment that is constantly being downloaded into our hearts and minds.  TV shows, advertisements, movies, computers, tablets, and smart phones have made it easy for us to miss out on experiencing life with Christ. We are so distracted by the mindless entertainment they bring us.  A beautiful thing about a missions trip, and specifically going to Guatemala, is that it is void of the every-day life distractions. You are pushed to experience, live, and focus on each moment. You are in a foreign environment that removes you from your material things, home-life, and every-day comforts. Not only do you experience life, but you live it moment by moment.

I want to challenge you to maintain the experience you had while on your last missions trip.  Instead of diluting life with to-do lists or distracting yourself with your computer, choose to focus on “whatever is pure, right, and noble?” (Phil 4:8)  Seek to experience God the same way you did when you were in Guatemala. Open wide your arms and heart to His Word, starting with your thoughts.  In Romans 12:2 it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As JesuslovingBiblebelievingChristfollowing Christians, if we make the choice to shut off our phones, turn off our computers, music, and any other form of distraction and spend time with God, I know you will be encouraged.  And don’t forget that it matters what kind of movies, music, or surfing we are doing.  It is up to us to fill our hearts and minds with the right kinds of messages.

How often do you find yourself completely alone listening in silence? Meditating? Praying? Instead of surfing on Facebook, open up the Bible and read a bit. Instead of listening to music, listen to a sermon.  Maybe your problem is BEING too busy. . ? As humans we are constantly looking for ways to distract or entertain ourselves.  Stop diluting your life with things that do not matter and start making what matters a priority.

Philippians 2:5-7 says,

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

We need to live radically. Perhaps it means shutting off the music in your car or  limiting time on the computer. Whatever it means for you, think about how you can find more times to listen and pray in your life.

Changing your thought process comes with many benefits. You become more like Christ which means you become more of a servant. Philipians 2:5-7 says it well, ” But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  No longer are we too distracted to notice. Instead of coming home from Guatemala and saying, “What a wonderful mission trip that was.  It felt so good to serve others, to feel close to God, etc.,” lets instead take the challenge and serve here.  Lets make this our missions field.  As Ann Voskamp says, “People are starved for Christ everywhere; there are poor too down our streets and down our halls and downs our pews. Radical begins finding them and radically loving them.” 

Just like we did in Guatemala; can we fight the battle here at home as well?  Make a daily commitment to renew your mind and make a daily commitment to listen. You never know what you might hear or learn when you give God a chance to speak to a listening ear. 

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Testimonials

The last trip with Little Lambs International took place on May 11th-19th.  We got a lot of work done on the mission house! Despite the fact that we had a smaller team then usual; we accomplished so much!

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During this last trip, we asked different individuals who attended to provide us with some testimonials about their personal experience’s with Little Lambs International in Guatemala.
Read below to hear about some of their experiences:

“A mission trip in my mind had always been that you travel a long way from home and help people in need in any way that you can. This was my first mission’s trip and I discovered that there is more to it then I realized. First, like almost everyone, the timing didn’t seem right. I had a busy work schedule and was newly married with a 7 month old boy who I had to leave behind. But, after arriving in Guatemala I felt the calming presence of Christ as we worked each day and spent time with the mission team in the evening. The moment that touched my heart the most was when we had the closing service at the site in Jalapa with all the kids and parents in town. To know that God created each and every one of those kids for a purpose  touched me. Maybe it was Gods timing to send me down here just after having a child of my own. Also, to hear the word of God spoken through Salvadore at the closing service was neat to see. His message was perfect. “

“Coming to Guatemala was amazing! This was my first missions trip ever and I absolutely loved it. What a complete blessing! It was so awesome to meet some of the people from the surrounding villages. Everyone was so welcoming and eager to make us feel comfortable and accepted. Even with the language barrier, we were still able to talk and connect. The people on our team were so great! We all worked so well together and we were able to share some awesome nights of worship and fellowship. We made memories I will never forget. The trip was quite demanding physically, but  the hard work helped me grow spiritually. Just when I thought I didn’t have the strength or perseverance to go on; I would hear a quiet reminder that anything is possible through Christ who gives me strength. His presence was so apparent throughout our time in Guatemala, not only in keeping us all safe, but in the way we all came together and worked hand-in-hand to build the orphanage. I’m so excited to see the project progress even further and I cant wait to come back!”
-Rachel Stenersen

“My first time in Guatemala was everything I had hoped for. The mission trip challenged me spiritually and physically and I am glad to see how I have been impacted in such a short time. It was also an excellent opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the people of Guatemala, many of whom I was lucky enough to befriend.”
-Jonathan B

“Every time I come to Guatemala I am amazed by how blessed I am by the people. I take a week or two off to escape from home and try to bless the people of Guatemala by working in their Country. However, I always feel that I get more out of the experience than anyone else and have been coming back every year for more.”
-Jon Van Dyke

My first time in Guatemala will definitely be an experience to remember. The people I worked with made the time down here very enjoyable. It was clear that God’s hand was with us every step of the way during the trip. All our personalities got along well and there was minimal disagreement, if any. Also, I thank God for our safety driving through Guatemala City and other dangerous areas. It was a blessing to see all the hard labor go smoothly with very minimal injuries on the site. Three thousand five hundred cinder blocks moved multiple times and not one fell on anybody. God gave me a great metaphor to live by from this trip when we were lifting all the blocks: In the midst of the beating sun and aching muscles we got through the day one block at a time. This made me think about God’s trials for us and that in the midst of a trial we have to rely on Him and take it one day at a time.
-Joe G

Our most recent group picture
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For more information about Little Lambs International visit: littlelambsintl.org

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Obedience

The last two Sunday’s a group from Little Lambs International gave presentations at Christian Outreach Church and Vineyard Church. We received great feedback from people exclaiming that it was fun to be able to see the progress that we’ve made on the mission house. Following our presentation at Christian outreach, there was an individual who talked about how Christian Outreach church was started in Rindge, NH. A certain word rang in my ear after hearing all of these individuals speak. Obedience. Obedience is a big deal. Bigger than I ever thought. I guess I always thought of the word obedience in relation to sin. If you don’t sin you are obeying. But, obedience is much more than that.  When listening to God, it seems that he asks me to obey a lot.  Obedience to me has become more and more about keeping in sync with God’s promises and provisions for my life. I’m not talking about a cruel God who forces me to do the things that he wants. I’m talking about a gentle nudging from the spirit. A gentle nudging that gets clearer as your listening ears sharpen, as you grow older and more in tune with him. I always think of Elijah when I listen for HIS, still small voice. 

I hear him saying, “Hey, you need to take your mind of what that person is thinking and think about what I am thinking about you.” Or, “You need to take that step, I know you’re scared..but that step will grow you.” I feel him, my constant companion, asking me and stretching me to do things that can sometimes be very hard. Many times, I just want to scream at him.. “Absolutely not, stop asking me to do all these DIFFICULT things.” But, in the end, God always teaches me these hard lessons in the gentlest of ways. He is constantly surprising me with his graciousness and goodness. He always leads me through the hard things that he asks me to do. Not only does he stick with me, but I feel myself growing in ways that I never imagined.

I relate to Elijah because when God asks me to do a lot of these scary things, my first instinct is to run. I want to run away because of fear.  When Elijah was scared; he ran away to the cave. When he got there, God asked him, “why are you here, Elijah?”14 Elijah answered, “Lord God All-Powerful, I’ve always done my best to obey you. But your people have broken their solemn promise to you. They have torn down your altars and killed all your prophets, except me. And now they are even trying to kill me!” Elijah was fearful of what man would do to him, even though he had God on his side.

Obedience is scary but I take great comfort in God’s promises. He promises that if I obey and listen; that the blessings will fall down. I am constantly reminded of this as I plug on and receive the sweetest surprises from Christ. I think obedience is the word for today because when I reflected on the Little Lambs presentation, I realized that it was all started because a group of people chose to obey.  When God called me on to this project, I was quick to tell him that I was unqualified and I did not have an interest in the country of Guatemala or starting an orphanage. “TOO much heartbreak,” I told the Lord stubbornly. “I don’t want to go because my heart will experience too much pain,” I declared. But, as I listened, I heard the Lord speaking to my heart…”Mikella, I have made you for this..please obey.” Every trip I take to Guatemala I receive endless blessings from the Guatemalans, the Americans, and the Lord. I am constantly reminded that my sweet Jesus always has my best in mind and if I just obey, I can receive the peace and joy that comes from being in his will.

This brings me to ask, if God is tugging on your heart to come to Guatemala with Little Lambs International or to start a ministry of your own, will you obey and receive his rich blessings? Don’t let fear stop you, but instead let GOD lead you.

kidsinguat2013The next trip with Little Lambs International  is May, 11th-May 19th.

Will you join us? For more information contact: mikellabryant@gmail.com

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Concrete Blocks

Is it ALREADY time to wake up?” I thought to myself. I would proceed to grab my grungy clothes and head down to meet the rest of the group for breakfast and a nice cup of Guatemalan coffee. Then we would begin the banter of how we slept and an occasional, “I was up all night with diarrhea.” Finally, we would head out to the site to start the construction part of our trip. Here I am once again in Guatemala and here I am once again having the time of my life. What makes these trips so special?

Not sure if it is the crisp mornings and hot days, the wonderful people, the smiling children, or the idea of hauling ONE more concrete block. But, these trips are always memorable and every time I come away with something different.  This trip, I specifically thought more about the moving of these concrete blocks than ever before. It might have been because the moving of the 4,000 concrete blocks on our property seemed to be the thing that needed to be done. It also might have been because we spent every morning moving those blocks until lunch time. Each morning we would ask, “How can we help today on the site?” Every morning we would get the same response, “Could you move those blocks from down below in the trucks and disperse them.. so that the masons can build the walls on the slab?” Diligently a group of mostly women would take the truck down, load it with block, drive it back up, form an assembly line, and pass the block one to another until we stacked it around the floor. Then we would repeat the process until it was time to make lunch.

Now, the thing that struck me about this whole process was the attitudes, and hard work that each of these women put in stacking, hauling, and moving these blocks time after time. We spent a lot of time laughing and speculating about how heavy these blocks were. (My EXTENSIVE google research has yielded that these blocks can weigh anything from 38-50lbs)

But, I think the coolest part of watching each of these women carry and haul up so many block was realizing the purpose of each and every one of these blocks. Each block was a part of a puzzle. A piece of a puzzle that came together to form a building. A building that held a huge vision and calling. A calling and a vision from God to serve and hold orphan children. Each person that came on this trip was part of the body of Christ and was unified by this purpose, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)”

Most importantly, each person on this trip SERVED a purpose just like each block. This building would never stand without each of these women moving these blocks, each of those masons laying the block, or each of the Guatemalan and American men who were mixing the concrete to lay and finish the floors. This trip brought a whole new meaning to the BODY of christ.(1 Corinthians 12:12-26) Through the unity and hard work we reaped the benefits of lasting relationships, and satisfaction of seeing a huge part of the building completed. But, most importantly someday each of these individuals will have the satisfaction  of seeing these orphans live in the building that they helped construct and of hearing Christ say to them, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Mathew 25:23)

those concrete blocks will forever be a part of the foundation for our orfanato and each one of those people that came on this trip will forever be imprinted in the foundation of this calling

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What if you just forfeited your coffee?

   Brian has been on two trips to Guatemala with Little Lambs International. He went on the last trip to Guatemala in December, 2012. He agreed to share his experiences with us on this blog. Take a second to read about his experiences in Guatemala, and decide whether you feel called to go.  Visit us at: LittlelambsInternational.org to learn more

“A friend of mine asked me to go to Guatemala to help build an orphanage, my reply was “great, but I really can’t afford it right now, but thanks for thinking of me”. As I ended the call, my friend said, ”‘we’ll be praying for you to get the resources, and pray it will work out.” I agreed, and got out of my truck to go into a 5bucks coffee shop to spend $20 on coffee. I got in line to fix my coffee , and stood behind two guys talking. They were in the middle of a conversation about missions. Just then, it hit me, I’m concerned that I don’t have the money to go on this trip but I just spent $20 on coffee. At the same second these two guys, who ended up being pastors; were talking about missions trips. It was so clear to me, ‘you have the resources, you just need to put them in the right place’… it was on to Guatemala!

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That was how I ended up going on my first trip to Jalapa back in June 2012, but that trip touched my heart and changed my eyes. I couldn’t wait for the next chance to get back there, and God opened that door again this past December. Not many people can do two missions trips in one year, but God can make anything happen. If God told me that day in the coffee shop that not only would God give me the resources for one experience in Guatemala but he’d provide for two; I don’t think I would have had enough faith to believe it.

The first trip to Guatemala was incredible. My eyes were opened to a beautiful country full of mountains, riches and yet abundant poverty. Then we went to the orphanage site. The hearts of the people in the village were just life changing. Coming from the States, to this small village, people who have less in means of ‘stuff’ but their hearts are fuller than anything I’ve ever experienced. It is another great reminder from God that the hearts of people are loving and caring no matter where you go.

Another great aspect of the trips has been seeing Gods plan of putting people together, creating a powerful team, to do His work and, creating bonding friendships that will last.

God uses every drop of every experience. I went to Guatemala thinking God was using my construction skills to build an orphanage, but He uses my heart more so to love on the kids, have them beat us daily in soccer matches, that is just priceless. It makes the construction part just a small part of a much bigger purpose. You think you go on a trip like this to help build something, but God builds something in you too.

Being a part of this project holds such a special place in my heart. To be a part of giving children a place to call home, off the streets, and a hope. That is our faith… Hope. A hope that children not to be homeless, and forgotten. These little ones in Guatemala have stolen my heart, and I just cannot NOT be a part of their future, building them a safe, warm place to call home. I’m so thankful that God picked me to be a part of Little Lambs orphanage project in Guatemala.”

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Brian pictured above with two Guatemalan kids that live near the property.

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September/October Update

Little Lambs International has been very busy in the last months. We hosted our 4th Annual Golf Tournament which was a huge success. This took place on August 20th in Nashua, New Hampshire. We raised 15,000 dollars towards the orphanage and it was loads of fun. Whether you were there to play golf, volunteer, or just support, you enjoyed countless fun activities at every hole. Activities included but were not limited to: frozen yogurt, candy covered nuts, Buffalo Wild Wings, and cigars.


We also had a huge fundraising effort called, “Kayak for Kids” which was put on by Barry Matson. His journey from Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada to the Boston Harbor was 305 miles long and took place on August 28th. Why did he do it? He did it to raise $6,893 dollars for the orphans. To read more about this amazing journey please see our newsletter below.


In the coming months we have a construction trip leaving on the 27th of December and returning on January 5th and another annual golf tournament on February 9th in Lake Placid, Florida. Lastly, we have another construction trip leaving February 18th.

Please contact Jamisonvandyke@hotmail.com if you would like to go on the Dec 27th-Jan 5th trip or the trip beginning on February 18th.

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Prayers Needed

Receive August’s newsletter for Little Lambs International or other newsletters by contacting Ashley Van Dyke at Ashley.r.vandyke@hotmail.com

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