Saturday, August 9, 2014

Iowa First Presbyterian Church Mission Team

It is 5:30 in the morning, and the Iowa Mission Team of 66 people just left a little while ago. I tried to fall back asleep but was not able to! It has certainly been quite a week, and as most mission trips go, went by very quickly.

They team came last Saturday and were already separated into 3 groups. Each group rotated two to three times during the week between Hope Haven (assembling wheelchairs and a distribution), ImagininGuate (constructing a house), and smallchangeforbigchange. With Lisa, they were installing stoves and with me we had a VBS of up to 100 children. The majority of the team was youth from the youth group and had never been out of the country before. It was certainly an eye opening experience for everyone to not only leave the US, but to see the way people live who are living in poverty. Most of them had the opportunity to go inside at least one family’s home and saw the seriousness of the way families are living here in Guatemala.

The team who built the house worked with an organization called ImagininGuate that I mentioned above. It is a team of 4 guys from the very same community want to make a difference and whose passion is house building. They start from essentially nothing, the ground, and construct a home in one week. This was also a wonderful chance for the group to start a project so big and see it finished at the end of their time here. Each day the groups were separated in yet more groups for lunches in the homes of our most special families. This gives the women a chance to not only work and cook traditional food for visitors but also relationships to be built and for the groups to have a chance to talk with them and hear their stories.

Lives were touched, both for the Guatemalan people here but also with the huge team from Iowa. Many tears were shed as it was time to say goodbye yesterday and promises were made to come back. God was at work this week; keeping everyone safe and moving in our hearts.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

English Classes

I want to introduce you to Emilsa. She is another addition to the smallchangeforbigchange team! We have been able to hire someone to teach two more English classes in Santa Catarina Barahona. Not only is it an excellent opportunity for people to come study English for free in the community, but also for Emilsa to have work and be involved in something where she is practicing and using her English. The more we can find the opportunities to give people work, the more each of those people will be able to improve their lives and start changing their futures.

Emilsa has been studying English at Maximo Nivel (where we have our other 4 students) for a year now. She is beginning her second year and has a talent for the language. She has decided to plan all of her own lessons and activities using the structure and ways that she has learned herself. She has been a pleasure to work with and will be a part of this week with the team as a translator! I believe God puts specific people in our paths without coincidence and that is no exception with Emilsa and these English classes!

Monday, July 14, 2014

July Update

It has been a very exciting time here in Guatemala as the World Cup went on. There were soccer games every day playing in every place where there was a TV. Most people wanted a Latin American country to win, and the final game was between Argentina and Germany. Unfortunately Germany won and many people were disappointed.
Our University students just began their second semester and did very well the first. I believe that God has new people in mind as students to start at Maximo Nivel, the English language school. We have four students there now and it is an excellent program that is intensive and they truly learn to speak English in the two years they are there. It seems as though everything has worked in this way, that God puts a vision somewhere, people show up that He has in mind, and so do the funds to sponsor. He is amazing. We are also going to advertise for a sponsor for a young man of 18 years  whose name is Felix who is interested in learning guitar. Not only is he a very sweet teenager with a relationship with the Lord, but him and his family has been hit with extremely difficult times in the past few years. He had a twin who passed away and now he is also struggling to finish his last year of high school but has a difficult time because he seizes often. This family has had to pull together and draw near to God because there has been nowhere else to turn. Right now, the Father is in Canada picking strawberries for 6 months to earn money. They have expressed that they miss him so much but understand why he needs to be there.

With the group coming in August, there are going to be people that will be able to meet Felix and interested in music and we would love to pair them up as a sponsor and student. We will provide him with a guitar and his instructor will be someone from the church who can teach him worship music, which he loves most of all. I know God is going to put the pieces together! It is also my hope that it is an encouragement in Felix’s life as well as the life of his family.

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July, I was thinking of home, especially of Catonsville the whole day a Catonsville knows best on how to celebrate our Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Photos of the Community Garden in Chirijuy├║

Workers from the Municipality and Ministry of Agriculture
A harvest of radishes!
More harvest!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Halfway through the year!

It is almost June, which means the 6 month mark of the year. How quickly time passes without us even realizing it. Our University students are finishing their first semester, and the rest of the students are taking their mid-year exams.

We have a community garden that Lisa has begun in the area of Chirijuy├║, with 30 women who have been broken up into groups to take care of their plots of land. These women love being in charge of their plots and it is especially exciting when it is time to harvest. We are in the process of preparing and working out details for the group of 63 people coming in August to volunteer from a church in Iowa. We are very excited to have such a large group of people interested in what God is doing here in Guatemala, but there are so many details and logistics to be worked out. We will have one group of 20 working in various projects with smallchangeforbigchange (doing Vacation Bible School and installing stoves), another group will be working with an organization called ImaginInGuate constructing a house, and the other group in Xenacoj working with the Hope Haven factory (constructing and distributing wheelchairs). There is no doubt that God has a plan for this team since everything seems to be falling into place as it should, and the resources are being provided. We are also putting together here our “dream team” of workers and volunteers to be available all week long!

Other than that it’s been almost a month since I’ve been home, and I still miss seeing my family every day. The rainy season has begun and it is sweet to listen to the rain when it’s pouring outside. I tend to love cloudy days more than sunny and so this time of year is beautiful. Thank you always for your support in the project and for me, God always provides for my needs and I am thankful always!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Home and Disneyworld

I am back in my home in Guatemala and it is always strange to be back. I was able to spend my first week back in Catonsville. Most of all, I spent the time with my family. I didn't have very much on my schedule so that I was able to be with them. I even enjoyed taking my sister to school and picking her up each day! It is so different to be able to connect with people again face to face and in person. I am very thankful for Skype, but it is not the same. They encourage me by supporting me in this project, although it is the most painful thing imaginable to be apart. This time back, I have seen the most change in my younger brother who is 11. Being with him and seeing these changes was quite a shock, but it is exciting to see how he is growing.

The second week I was fortunate enough to get to Disneyworld! My family had planned this vacation a few months ago, and had been wanting to do it for a few years now. It was magical! My family, my sister and her family and father-in-law and sister-in-law went. We bought three park tickets and spent all day going to the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. The rest of the days we spent at the pool and resting at home. By far the most fun we had was just spending together, laughing and joking and enjoying the time without any distractions from work or being at home. Words cannot express how thankful I was to be with all of them and be able to spend that "magical" time with them. 

I began work again yesterday, but also am trying to get into the routine. It is always a transition to be back in the US and then to be back in Guatemala, but worth it. I thank all of you who continue to support me and smallchangeforbigchange, I will never be able to thank you all enough.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Week and Team from Ohio

It was another exciting week for many reasons. On Sunday started Holy Week, the most famous week in all of Central America. Especially here in Antigua, as you might have remembered from before, it is a week full of processions, alfombras (colorful photo), food, time with the family, and many Catholic traditions. Everything is colorful and smells of insense and of the different traditional plants they use on the alfombras.The streets are full of people from all over the world. It is a time of reminder of Christ and what He did on the cross, and how that affects our lives today. It is an encouragement towards a deeper relationship with Him, and to see where our hearts’ focus is. Here, Good Friday is celebrated more than Easter Sunday. But it had me thinking that you cannot have one day without the other, and that each day is equally important. Christ died, and in that moment washed our sins away. But He also resurrected, and came to life again to provide us with eternal life. It is beautiful.

We also were blessed to have a pilot team of two men from the Vineyard Church in Ohio with us this week. It was an excellent week of stoves installation as well as a chicken coop. But the great part about having these two here is that they understood how important it is to spend time with these families, and really talk to them and hear their
stories. We spent a lot of time sitting around and sharing, as well as prayer. They “get it”. The more we talked with them, the more we realized they were on the same page, as far as the fact that the projects we do are a hook to lead people to the love of God. They are hoping to come back sometime in the future with a team from the church.

I will be heading home in less than a week! I will be there for about 8 days then go with the family to Disneyworld in Orlando. I am looking forward to it immensely, it is always so REFRESHING to see them and spend time with them face to face instead of over a computer screen. I hope to see many of you who are in Catonsville during the time, at least to say hello and thank you all for your support that you continually provide me and smallchangeforbigchange!