Thursday, October 16, 2014

Back in Guatemala

I’ve been back “home” in Guatemala for about a week now. No matter how long it’s been living here, it’s still sometimes a transition. Mostly due to the fact that I’m used to seeing my family each day and talking with them face to face.

My students are finishing their last month of the 2014 school year! There will be 8 that will continue in their programs, and two that will be newly sponsored to continue in their studies at public school. I know each one is ready for a break. Grades will come out within the next few weeks. We are also going to be having another school supply drive for the 2015 school year. This will give us the chance to provide the school supplies many children in the project and community will need to begin; those who aren’t in the education program. So many children only need that extra help in the beginning of the school year for them to be successful while studying.

In other news, the women’s community garden has now been taken over by the local Muni (meaning Mayor’s office). Through a series of unfortunate events by one of the women who was in the project, it no longer belongs to them and so we are in search a piece of property that can be owned by Small Change for Big Change. This was very disheartening, especially to the women who have made this garden special and taken care of it, along with building relationships with one another. I believe it will make them stronger; they have already begun searching out a new space and were ready to show Lisa when she returned from her trip to the US! Please pray that we find land to have this garden as well as an office in Santa Catarina. We believe that God has somewhere for us; He just hasn’t shown us where yet.

Thank you to all of you who were so supportive when I was home as well as supportive of my family.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Update at Home

I’ve been home for about a week and a half now, and it always takes some time to adjust. It is such a blessing to be able to spend time with my family, and have the ability to do that. It becomes a different kind of business than that in Guatemala, as there is always a lot in my house to do. I thank you for your prayers, and for those of you who have been so supportive from my church as I have had some tests done due to some health issues. Thank God, literally, so far everything has been good. I meet with a doctor on Tuesday to find out for sure what my next steps are; and that might even mean that everything is alright. I can understand how people might feel during this time of waiting for results, and how tough it might be if it is something serious. God gives peace and comfort; I think we just have to allow Him to be there with us. We let our worries and fears take over completely and begin to trust those more than the Lord.

My Dad has recently been listening to a song from the Disney movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” It is about a boy who becomes part of a family but only has a certain amount of time with him; he belongs more to the earth than to them. At the end of four seasons, he disappears. There is a song at the end of the movie called “The Gift” that has spoken to my Dad’s heart as well as mine. The words are very thought provoking, and I am putting them here so you can read them and interpret them as you would like.

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is waiting to be found

Your heart's in wide receiving
Been too long buried in the sand
Some things require leaving
This gift will fall right in your hand
Just try to understand...

If you long enough
And you don't give up
If you're strong enough
And you don't give up
And you...

You'll be no harbor to the sorrow
Just let it go.

Don't hang your head in sorrow
Don't give up just before you win
Don't wait around for tomorrow
Open up your arms and let it in

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is ready to be found
Just you believe it now

This gift will last forever
This gift will never let you down
Some things are made from better stuff
This gift is ready to be found
Your heart's in wide receiving
Been too long buried in the sand
Some things require believing
These things just fall right in your hand
Just try to understand...

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Visit Home

First I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes! Time goes by so quickly and I love just looking back at the year and seeing all of the amazing things God has done and how He continues to move in my life, even though I don’t deserve a single part of it.

Life has been back to normal for the past few weeks since the Iowa team left. Their church it seems is interested in sponsoring us to buy a piece of land in the area near Santa Catarina Barahona. This is HUGE. If we could have a place as an office and meeting space there in town, as well as a place for teams and volunteers to be hosted, it would be an incredible blessing. We see God at midst in this and Bill, who is our third board member from that church, will be coming down to help look at piece of land and buildings to buy. Please pray about this!

I also will be coming home as sort of a “surprise” visit in a few weeks. I am mentioning this here because I am well aware that my Dad has mentioned it in church, for those of you who go to CUMC. I have some current health issues that need to be taken care of. It is nothing serious I don’t believe, but something that should at least be looked at. I will be buying a one-way ticket with every intention of coming back when I can! But as you know, Doctor appointments and matters regarding health don’t always go as planned. This way I don’t need to be worried about doing everything within a certain amount of time, knowing I have a date to come home. I thank you all for your support and prayers always, I look forward to seeing some of you very soon!

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!