Our Missionary Family

Yesenia and I lived two thousand miles apart for most of our lives. But God arranged for our paths to cross, and put us on a new road wide enough for the two three of us.

Here are our stories:

Claudia Yesenia Ixpache Monterroso grew up in a rural suburb of Guatemala City. She lived her younger years in a single-room mud-brick home without running water with her brother and mother. Her father left them early on.

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Christianity was always the basis of their lives. Yesenia remembers walking miles through the mountains, so her mother could preach at small churches or listen to others preach in larger churches.

Yesenia’s mom met her second husband while visiting prisons. He became a pastor and the two started a church in what is now La Cuchilla, a poor neighborhood of Guatemala City.

As a teenager, Yesenia went to work for another pastoral family as a helper around the house and kind of a nanny to their new adopted daughter.

Yesenia went on to become the Leader of Worship at their church and a vital part of their mission team.

She did this while maintaining a role in her parents’ church, Ciudad de Refugio. When her mother became ill, Yesenia moved back home to take on the dual role of personal nurse and manager of the church and its feeding program.

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Meanwhile, I was hanging around New Jersey being “Spiritual, but not religious.” I guess today, I would be called a “none”, someone who believes in and loves Jesus, but doesn’t feel the need for a church.

In 2008, I met a woman who engaged me in a debate as to whether sitting on the beach and talking to Jesus was good enough, or if I should join a church. She invited me to a service at her Presbyterian Church and promised me a big breakfast if I sat through it.

The relationship with that woman didn’t last very long, but I was smitten with that church, Allentown Presbyterian in New Jersey.

Something about hearing the Word shared in sermons and in adult study school filled a void I didn’t know existed.

Eventually, someone from their mission committee learned I was a nurse, and weekly reminders of how I should go to Guatemala began. Being deathly afraid of airplanes, I was hesitant. But a series of events, which I believe were orchestrated by God, convinced me to spend two weeks of 2010 in Guatemala.

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Yesenia served as a translator and cook for our Guatemalan partners on that trip. She also sang for us. I was smitten, but not confident enough to let her know.

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In 2011, I returned with a friend who made it a point to tell Yesenia I was single, loved her voice, and her smile, and the way she cooked our meals.

Yesenia likes to tell people how she tried to say hello to me, and I became flustered enough to drop a bottle of Tylenol pills across the floor.

When I returned to New Jersey, a Facebook friend request was waiting for me. Yesenia and I started having regular Facebook conversations. They got more serious when her mother passed away in August of that year. By Christmas, we talked nightly.

In February, Yesenia sent me a Valentines e-card. I figured out how to send flowers to someone in Guatemala.

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Meanwhile, I was in the process of losing the job I thought I’d retire from. As part of a separation deal, I trained a team of people to do what I used to do and was scheduled to work my last day on April 21, 2012.

The next APC Guatemala mission was not until June. I didn’t want to wait that long.

On April 22, I landed in Guatemala City. Despite my constant self-reminders to not say or do anything rash, I blurted out, “I love you” on the second day.

Two days later, she said it back to me.

In October of 2012, I brought Yesenia to New Jersey to meet the family. My lease was expiring that month. So, I gave away everything I owned before we returned to Guatemala.

That includes the engagement ring I gave to Yesenia.

We were married on June 1, 2013.

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Initially, we were content to continue working with the ministries we knew, Promised Land Ministries and Ciudad de Refugio. We traveled with every visiting mission team. For a while, I coordinated PLM’s pharmacy/medical mission part of things.

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With Ciudad de Refugio, we helped cook four days a week and interacted with the children. When we could, we picked up jobs translating or serving with other missions.

During that time, I authored a weekly blog titled, “A Couple of Christians.” Through these blogs, I shared my mission experiences, spoke about the Bible and chimed in on current events.

We always had a thought about running our own show. In 2014, we incorporated a charity in New Jersey, using the “Couple of Christians” name. We had a website and got a few donations here and there that we used for Christmas events and celebrations with the children.

We have been blessed to grow our ministry, serving four neighborhoods around Guatemala. We became certified in this country as Misioneros Cristianos Unidos.

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In 2019, Yesenia and I will celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. Catalina will turn 3. We live in a secure neighborhood close to our La Cuchilla mission.

Our focus is providing Hope and Love by spreading the Good News through words and actions in various locations around Guatemala.

We put God before everything we do and he continues to lead us on an incredible journey.

Want to help support our family? By maintaining a separate mission family fund, 100% of donations made to the children and mission projects can be used for its intended purpose. 

But we need help, too. We live simply for the most part, but we have to put the baby in school soon and be ready for the little crises that every family faces. You can make a donation via our PayPal account (write “Family” in the comments section) or by clicking this link to our crowd-funding site. 

Thanks and God bless you!

Pat, Yesenia, and Catalina

 

About the Organizations & MCUGuatemala.org

A Couple of Christians Foundation (ACOC) is a 501(c)3-certified charitable organization in the USA and follows the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service and the State of New Jersey. (As such, all donations are tax-deductible.)

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Misioneros Cristianos Unidos (MCU) is a certified civil organization operating under the laws and purview of the Guatemalan government.

Both entities are licensed to provide charitable services and receive donations in support of those services, as well as to receive and distribute emergency funds and supplies in the event of disasters in Guatemala and New Jersey.

MCUGuatemala.org is a communications and information website for the two organizations. Unless otherwise stated, all projects and programs are managed by MCU in cooperation and with the financial, logistical, and spiritual support of ACOC.