Monday, March 31, 2014

ACT Mission Team from Utah

It is always a great encouragement for us to have teams. Not only do they bring excitement for the experience of being in a new place, but also a spiritual spirit of encouragement. There are so many incredible families that we come into contact with each day that it is a special gift to be able to introduce volunteers to these people and have them share their lives with them. It is unforgettable for all involved, as many of you know who have been on mission trips.

This past week we had a group of volunteers that had come the year before to practice English with some of our English students as well as install stoves. It is a powerful group of believers who have left the Mormon Church and are now Christ-following Christians. We installed 7 stoves altogether, and one specifically for tortillas for “Mama Lola” who has the tortilla and tayuyo business. What is great about this group, one of the women in particular, is that they love to share with the families. We spent a lot of time in each home as well as during lunches (which are prepared in homes in the communities with our families) just talking with them and exchanging stories of God’s love and inspiration in our lives. It is such a beautiful thing!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

More Business Opportunities

Hello!

I'm sorry it's been so long since I last wrote. We just recently moved into another house, which is a huge blessing from God because it has an office in the front! We have been wanting to have some type of office and needed a place to direct people to come as well as meet with people. God put this house right across the street from where I was living before! I am so thankful for it, and finally everything is moved in and put together.

We have also had two more opportunities in Verapaz to start a businesses! The same family that has
the store lives right next to their Mother and sister. The mother, in her 60's, has been traveling to Guatemala City every day to work, and not earning very much. It most likely takes an hour and a half to get there, as well as return. She makes tortillas and a snack that is a tortilla filled with beans; and only needed the beans, and flour to begin making them. Therefore we sponsored large bags of all of those things, and were able to help her start selling them in the area. This way, she will make some money and not have to go to the city every day. Her daughter, is working with her to take the orders from people in the community and deliver what they need. It is an amazing way to see this family working together to help each other out and collaborating and supporting one another.

Down the road, there is another family who has desired to start a business. The Mother's name is Ericka, and she used to make traditional food for lunch and sell it. She has not been able to do that because she did not have the resources to begin. We were also able to sponsor her in her dream to make food and sell it to members of the community and in town. When we went to visit her, her sheer joy and excitement was undeniable. She could not stop smiling, and wanted to show us all that she would make.

Each family understands that this was just a "push" to begin their ways to make money. Therefore this is the only time smallchangeforbigchange will provide them the food and materials. They are to be investing the money and will be buying everything in the future. It is incredible to see God's hand in this project, and leading it towards helping these families with the desire to work and giving them the chance to start! I love seeing how He just leads us to the people we need to be in contact with, and then provides the resources to allow them to get start. Thank you always for your prayers and support! God is amazing! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Completed Tienda!

Victor and Rosie's tienda (see other blog below) have been completed and opened last Thursday! They are more than thrilled and know that this is a huge blessing that God has given them. They want to use this store for His glory. Here are some photos!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Friday, February 7, 2014

First Business Opportunity

Incredible donations. The donations that come in have nothing to do with me, or Lisa, they come from the sponsors hearts that have been moved by God. We know that He provides for the needs of His people, and He is the one in charge of this project!

Victor and Rosie (and their daughter Adriana) are a family who have been working with us for a couple months now. Victor is hired to work as an employee with installation of stoves and construction of chicken coops. Many times Rosie and Adriana come along and provide entertainment J They are a very special family who are also very involved in their church and are very focused on serving the Lord and growing closer to Him. They have struggled through the years; they have very little money. But they’ve stayed faithful, believing that God was going to help them through and there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.

They had expressed an interest in starting a little “tienda,” or store, in their area. They live in an area called Verapaz, which is very rural and not near town. All of the families that live in Verapaz have to go to the town each day to buy what they will need to eat and cook with. No one has a fridge, so they do this every day. Victor and Rosie want to open a store where they can have their own business for the people in their community. It would be an excellent source of work for the family and benefit all of these families. We have wanted to help a family start a business, but have been not only waiting for the right donation but also the right family that God puts in our place. With this recent donation, we are able to help them in the process of starting their store! They were overwhelmed when we talked to them and started making the plans; all of us realizing that it is God who sends these blessings. They have almost completed the store building, and have purchased a fridge as well as a place to put the fridge and some shelves. It will be a type of loan in the way that Victor will continue working for smallchangeforbigchange to earn the money. Some of it was given, but it is also good to go about this as a type of loan. He loves to work with the project and is a huge asset! We are all praying that things continue to come together, and are excited to see where this will go. I will keep you updated on the progress of the store as the process continues!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 School Supply Distribution

This is by far one of the busiest times for not only the students in the education program, but also for all students in Guatemala. They began classes this week, and some within the next few weeks. It is the beginning of a brand new school year, as our students in the US would begin in September. All of the parents and children are racing to the bookstores to gather all of the materials they will need. It is an exciting time for the students in the smallchangeforbigchange program as there are various new students this 2014 year,  (one is featured on the right) and our first two University students begin!

Each school and class gives out a very specific list of what they are to buy; as well as school uniforms and shoes. Many of the public schools do not charge monthly tuition, but the cost of the supplies and books they will need for the year is too much for them to even start. So many students do not study for this reason. They simply don’t ever begin the year. Catonsville United Methodist Church (my home church) has been collecting money and we have saved it for a supply distribution for the beginning of this school year!

We were able to buy each specific material for 8 students in the community of Santa Catarina Barahona. On Wednesday, we had a distribution to each student with their family present. It was a very special event-these families are so grateful and truly appreciate all of the gifts they are given! It is so important for me to tell them that it is not a gift from me; it is from people in the states who have been moved to help the people in the community in this way. And even more than that, God has not forgotten about them and their very basic needs. He knows what each family is going through, and does want to be a part of their lives to help them through.


There is one specific family that has touched my heart greatly, and is a reminder of how much poverty really does exist. The Father’s name is Rabanito, and he has four children. His wife left, and has not been present in the family’s life. But she is currently present with another child with Rabanito. He works as a carpenter and is one of the most hard-working men in the community. All that he does is for his kids. Last year, he was not able to provide the materials that the children would need to study. There is something called a “tablero”, which is a wooden piece to hold paper with for art and math classes (it is shown in the photos as the wooden object). So in order to give one to his daughter last year, he broke a piece of his bed, made of wood, to construct it.  This story just hit so very hard; and as I said, was a reminder of how much people here struggle for the smallest of things.

Thank you to Catonsville United Methodist Church for your support, I cannot say that enough! I thank you for supporting me, as well as giving these students the opportunity to study this year!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! As I mentioned before, I LOVE the Christmas season…and tend to get a little down when everything comes to an end after New Year’s. But I also think the idea of a new start; a new beginning is a beautiful thing. It is the chance for new goals, mending and working on relationships, new starts with God.
It was my first Christmas without my family. I was a little worried because I knew I would be missing them, and everything about Christmas at home. (Including the snow!) The tradition here is that families get together on Christmas Eve in the evening, and at midnight head out to the streets to light off fireworks and firecrackers. After that, the families head inside for a typical dinner; usually tamales and ponche. Ponche is a famous drink around the holidays made of various fruits. The family stays up until the early hours of the morning, talking, celebrating, dancing. It is a beautiful tradition, even without any gifts. Christmas morning is quiet, since everyone has slept in from the night before! That night, there is a procession of Mary in the street, and more fireworks and street vendors selling children’s toys and typical Guatemalan food. I went with friends that evening as well.
 
I was able to talk to my family on the 25th, and was thinking of them each moment wondering what they were all doing! From what I heard, it was a nice day for them as well. Today I officially start back working, after taking the week and a half to relax a little. I am thankful for all of these friends and their families in my life, who have become like a family to me here and made being away from home bearable around times like the holidays. God has provided me the people that I need…..as He always provides. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and having a great start to this new year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Christmas Time!

It’s Christmas time! This is truly the most special time of the year; I love every part about it. The lights, the music, and the foods that are only traditional to Christmas, the parades, the idea of having family and friends together. I try my hardest to be as honest and open as possible in these blogs when I’m speaking from my heart, and so that’s why I have to admit that it is especially hard for me to be so far from home this month. I just recently Skyped with my family and they showed me the tree and decorations that they’ve put up, and it made me sentimental to think about it. Through these past few months, through the most challenging times involving my friends and the accident, I do feel as though I have a family here that is close and that I can rely on. But with that being said, there is no one like family. I am going to take advantage of every opportunity here to soak up the traditions and customs...including the "grandmothers" dancing in the streets (women who dress up as grandmothers and dance to typical music!)  I’ve had many invitations to visit homes and celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas with; I am thankful for that!

This is one of the busiest months for me, as the school year begins in January. Half of them can register and gather materials this month, and the other half in January. It is also the most difficult months for the poorest of families. Sometimes the only reason the children cannot attend school is because they cannot afford the materials required for classes, as basic as they may be. God is amazing and smallchangeforbigchange received a $4,000 donation for whatever projects we see fit! We will be using a part of that donation to provide students in the project with what they need to attend school. We will have a distribution of these supplies at the end of this month. I am confident in the students for the coming year! We will have 3 students studying at Maximo Nivel, the intensive English language program, 2 students beginning at the University, 5 in high school, and a family of 3 in elementary/middle school. (As of right now!) I do pray, and it is from the bottom of my heart, that God uses education and the relationship between the sponsors and students to change the course of history in these children, teenager, and adult’s lives.  Thank you all for your prayers and support, I can never say that enough.