By Kaitlyn Phillips for Conduit Church
Conduit Church is a body of senders and goers, as we like to say. Some of these goers are the Juillard family. Rob, Amanda and their two sons, Zach and Elijah, have been living and ministering in Guatemala full-time since the summer of 2014. They are all involved in a variety of activities and have completely immersed themselves in Guatemalan culture. They obeyed the call to be overseas missionaries, and here’s what their life looks like now.
The Juillards stay busy every day of the week. Each weekday, Amanda and the boys leave for school by 6:30 so they can fight their way through traffic and be at school by eight o’clock. They only live eighteen miles away from the school. And we think 65 is bad. Zach is currently in eighth grade and Eli is in fifth. Both of them are enrolled in Spanish classes, which helps them communicate in their neighborhood and with their friends. Amanda spends her time teaching “Computer Responsibility” to second, fourth and fifth grade students. Additionally, she is an aide for a third grade class. Her students are a mix of missionary kids, local Guatemalans, and Korean children. When Amanda is not working at the school, she is preparing for her weekly Bible study that she leads for missionary women. They have a common love for God, the ability to speak the same language, and encourage each other on rough days. Meanwhile, Rob works with Village of Hope Children’s Home and LaSenda’s Children’s Home to teach computer skills. On Wednesdays, he leads a Bible study for missionary men in a McDonald’s. This is a group of about thirteen men, and some travel as far as twenty minutes to enjoy this community of believers. On Sundays, the Juillards attend Calvary Chapel Antigua church. Every 3 or 6 months, their visas need renewal, so they leave the country briefly and use that time for family vacations.
The life of a missionary is not easy, and truly is a response of faith. The Juillards have embraced the ups and downs of this lifestyle. They are continually amazed at the ways they see God move, ways they didn’t experience while living in the States. For Amanda, one of her favorite things she’s seen is how their Bible studies have affected missionary culture over there. There is strong competition between different missionary organizations, but since they started meeting for Bible reading and prayer, the boundaries have been breaking. Rob loves the change he can see in people they interact with. One young man named Melvin, who the Juillards meet with weekly, is completing his year of schooling at the Bible College at Calvary Chapel Antigua. He is in love with God and can’t wait to share what he’s learned with those around him. The Conduit youth group, Charity Buerhaus, and the Juillards were responsible for his financial ability to attend this school, and who knows where God will lead Melvin next, who he’ll encounter, and whose lives will be bettered by knowing Christ through him. However, the Juillards have also experienced trials since moving, including loneliness, language barriers, and missing the familiarity of the States. One of the biggest adjustments was simply being together all the time—in America, each of the Juillards did their own thing; upon arriving in Guatemala, they were always around one another while they were acclimating to new schedules, new jobs, etc. Ultimately, though, these difficulties have brought them closer together as a family unit, and they’ve learned a new appreciation for each other since moving.
This summer, the Juillards will be undergoing another change: moving to a new house in San Cristobal on the west edge of Guatemala City. The move will put the boys closer to their school, and allow them to be involved in extracurriculars. Zach wants to continue playing basketball, while Eli wants to play football and join the music program. This will also give Amanda the opportunity to start a new missionary women’s Bible study in San Cristobal, and still continue the one she founded in Antigua. Further, she is ecstatic for the chance to get involved with Weaving Hope Ministries, an organization that combines, as Amanda says, her favorite things: Guatemala, coffee, jewelry and working with women. Rob’s goal for the remainder of 2016 is to more effectively teach computer skills at the children’s homes. His challenge is that he must be physically present to teach, and that limits how many homes can be impacted. He wants to develop a platform that will allow students to learn more information, at their own pace, through an online learning system with videos and live interaction. If it could be created, it could be instituted in the multiple children’s homes, as well as schools across Guatemala. Rob also wants to be more intentional in learning Spanish to improve his communication skills and lessen the language barrier.
The lifestyle pace is much different in Guatemala when compared to the U.S. Everything runs slower, and people are more invested in relationships than punctuality. Rob gives this example: in America, if you have a meeting at two o’clock, and you were in a different meeting, you would leave the current meeting fifteen minutes early to get the two o’clock appointment, even if you weren’t done discussing. In Guatemala, you would finish your conversation and leave for the two o’clock meeting around 2:30 and not feel badly about it. The slower pace does not apply to the travel, however. Amanda explains there really aren’t any rules, or if there are, they aren’t enforced. Everyone drives their own speed limit, motorcycles drive in-between lanes of cars, and traffic is a nightmare. Also, Rob says that Guatemalans aren’t nearly as worried about being politically correct as Americans are.
One of the most challenging things for a missionary is trusting God for provision. In a foreign country, doing a job you typically aren’t paid to do, relying on God for everything is a necessity. Personally, Amanda struggles with waiting for that provision to come through. When Rob questions how sufficient God is for him, he likes to think back through all the ways that God has already provided and remind himself that He’ll come through again. Amanda and Rob both refer to God as their Dad, and continually trust that He’ll provide because He is our good, good Father. Eli and Zach have also grown in their faith during this season as they’ve adjusted to a new environment and school. They enjoy working with the youth group’s outreach programs, helping other mission teams distribute food and Bibles, visiting orphanages and loving on the children, etc. This spring, Eli went to a police station near his school to deliver food and pray with the officers. Zach went with the youth group to a nearby community to pass out backpacks and school supplies to underprivileged children (in doing so, he gave up his Saturday-morning-sleep-in-day). They both are examples of compassion and willingness to show Jesus’ love, and prove that, sometimes, adults are actually the ones that learn from the children.
When asked what they would want their legacy in Guatemala to be, Amanda responded that she wants to be a great encouragement to the missionary community. She feels that it is a neglected, but crucial responsibility for the Church, and she loves doing it. Rob asks himself if he uses his life and time with Guatemalan teens to do these three things: reflect God to them in the ups and downs of life, encourage them in their walk with God, and give them tools to make life better. If he can say yes to all three, then that’s his legacy. He referred to Matthew 25, where Jesus speaks about the three men and how they used the talents they were given. He wants to be able to do the most with what he’s been given in the time he has in Guatemala, and wants the same for his family.
The Juillards are currently back in the States doing some fundraising. The new house and hidden expenses of living in Guatemala have them about halfway funded. The boys will be needing braces, and Amanda has been having medical issues since moving. Further, when one rents a home in Guatemala, they don’t come with appliances. The new home, therefore, needs a fridge and a stove. The Juillards are asking for prayer that all these needs will be met during their time of fundraising. They will be driving to America through Mexico, so they’re also praying for safe travels and for protection for their vehicles during this trek. Finally, they ask prayer for the teens at the Village of Hope Children’s Home, particularly for two boys named Victor and Brandon. Pray that their hearts would be open to God and allow Him to change their lives.