07 January 2009


So....we all live in a time where we place a lot of importance on things.
For instance....most of us have come to rely on our cell phones as a necessity.
But, sometimes it takes a good slap upside the head to remind us what is really, truly important. Is it our cell phone? No, not really.

My old cell phone

So, last Friday, Jan 2nd, I was 'slapped upside the head'. Not literally, but figuratively.
I was out walking on the boulevard here in San Cristobal, as I often do, and it was about 
3:00 PM in the afternoon. I am always pretty aware of all that is going on around me, but I did not notice a young guy, about 18 - 20 yrs. old come up behind me. I just heard someone behind me say something, so, I turned around and saw this guy standing a few feet away. He then said to me, "give me your phone". 
It was about that moment when I looked him over and saw the gun in his hand pointed at my chest. I must admit my first thought was not fear, but I was amazed that someone would take a chance of going to prison for years over an old cell phone.
So, he points the gun more forcefully at me and repeats himself, "give me your phone".

Well, it's just a phone, so I handed him my cell phone. 

He took the phone and told me to continue walking where I was headed and he went the other way. He went down and crossed the boulevard and it looked like he got in a taxi.

Afterwards it hit me a little more what had happened, and I thanked the Lord for His protection from injury, or worse. Afterall, it's just a phone.
I also had some money on me, not a lot, but some, but he never even asked for anything other than my phone.

Unfortunately, thus is the state of affairs in Guatemala. Crime continues to increase here, as poverty and desperation also increase.
I now can say we LIVE in Guatemala, as it seems a majority of people who have lived in Guatemala at least 5 years, have at some point been a victim of crime. 

Please pray for Guatemala, for the crime and violence that keeps growing here. 

I continue to believe that most people are good, and I love Guatemala more than ever.

 I will continue to walk, carefully, not wanting to let the bad guys have the victory there.

The day after I was robbed, at our youth group meeting while we were taking prayer requests, my daughter Maria asked that we would pray for the guy who robbed me. I pass that request on to all of you, please pray also for him. 
Pray that God's light would shine on Guatemala.

My new phone

It's just a phone. I do have a new phone now, it is a very valuable tool. But.......
It's just a phone.


We want to give you an update on our Christmas Eve outreach dinner, and some events preparing for that. But, first.....
We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. We know many, many of you had weather issues to contend with and we were praying that it would not put a damper on your celebration of Christ's birth!
Yes, Christmas here was sunny and warm, I even washed the car in shorts and a tank top. But....we also were affected by the weather.
My sister Terry, and her son Cesar (Felicita and Maria's little bro), were scheduled to be with us Dec 22 - 28, but as they were waiting in line at Sea-Tac airport to leave, they were informed their flight had been canceled. So they never made it. We were all so very disappointed, but now look forward to their visit hopefully in February!
We had a very relaxed Christmas, Kimber is here with us so we were only missing our son, Jacob.
Family at Christmas missing Jacob

We know many of you were praying for our activities planned around Christmas, and we want to report that you were very effective! Things went even better than we could have hoped!
Quick rundown.....we began plans a couple months ago to hold a Christmas Eve dinner / outreach at Casita Benjamín, a care center for children located by the large Guatemala City dump in a very poor neighborhood. For many families in this area Christmas can be a very sad, depressing time. Many cannot afford to buy even one gift for their children, much less provide a typical Christmas Eve dinner of Tamales, Ponche y pan.

We began practicing Christmas carols with our youth group from church. They all are from a children's home, most are orphans themselves. The idea was for them to help with the program by singing, helping with a children's program while the adults would have an evangelical message, then to serve the Tamale dinner. For practice, we took the youth to Kairos House on the 17th to sing for the people there. It was a wonderful evening of Christmas carols and worship!
Some of our youth group singing and dancing at Kairos House.

On the 23rd we had all the girls in the group over to our house to help bake cookies for the Christmas Eve dessert! They made over 500 cookies! And we had a LOT of fun too! It ended up being an almost all day event, and we had flour ALL OVER! Pizza for lunch and a movie to end the afternoon. They also made a lot of decorations for Casita Benjamin.

Making lots of cookies!

Making decorations too!

Frosting some of the 500+ cookies!

Watching Polar Express and eating popcorn!

Christmas Eve we picked up the youth in a rented bus at about 1:00 PM. We were at Casita Benjamin by 2 and began decorating and preparing. This being the first time this has been done there, we had no idea how many people would come, it could 40, or 175.
The people began arriving about 4 in the afternoon, as it was scheduled for 4 - 6:30. It is a very dangerous area, and everyone arrived by foot, so we wanted them to get home before it got too late.
Decorating Casita Benjamín

Practicing songs before people arrive!

Our youth were FANTASTIC!!!! I am so proud of them. They did GREAT. They sang beautifully, kept the children entertained during the adults program, and served everyone there with a smile and with joy!
We never got an actual count of people (it was a little busy) but estimate probably around 100 people not including our youth and some other helpers, Casita staff etc. Maybe 130 in all. It was so well received it looks like this will become an annual event!
The adults loved it, and we know the Lord is working in many hearts. Everyone there, adults and children received a gift and the smiles were EVERYWHERE!

Singing carols before dinner

Some of the children's program

Singing Noche de Paz (Silent Night) with candels

After the people left, we cleaned and returned by the bus to our church for a Christmas Eve service and, you guessed it, another Tamale dinner! Again our youth served the meal. That hadn't been planned because we knew we would be arriving late, but they just did it on their own!!!!
Bus ride home after a FANTASTIC outreach!

It was amazing, God was very evident through it all. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT OF THESE EVENTS! Many, many people were reached.
Again, Thank you, and may the Lord bless you each and all, now, and in the new year to come!

GRADUATION! November / December 2008

In Guatemala it is a big deal to receive certificates or diplomas of most any kind.
They even have a BIG graduation ceremony for the kids leaving 'Day Care' to begin regular school!
In mid-November the Casita Benjamín held their graduation and I was invited as an honored guest! They even made me sit in the front row!

Casita Benjamín Class of 2008!

The graduation was held at Iglesia Nazaret which is in Zona 3 fairly close to Casita Benjamín. 
It was fun also for our two interns, Megan & Amy, who were serving at the Casita during this time. Amy even taught the kids a song to sing which they performed at the graduation!

Early in December, Megan & Amy returned to the States after 2 1/2 months of serving here in Guatemala. It was sad to see them go, but......they will be back!

Mid-December brought us two new interns! Sisters Amy & Grace Emtage arrived to serve for 5 weeks over their Christmas break from college. They are serving at Casita Benjamín, and were a HUGE help with our Christmas Eve outreach dinner we held at the Casita.

More on that in the next blog!

OH GO FLY A KITE! Nov. 1, 2008

There is a tradition in Guatemala to fly kites on November 1. There are big competitions all over the country, with communities building kites that can reach more than 20 feet across!
This year, Oscar Jr and I had an all day event with our youth group to build kites, and then go fly them. It was an awesome day, and the kites (well, almost all of them) actually flew very well!

Building the initial kite framework

We started from scratch with some type of long grass? where we used the long stem to make the frames. Then everyone could personalize their kite with different colors of 'papel china'. Then you need to make very looooooooooooooooooog tails for the kites!

Iris showing off her completed kite!

After we finished making the kites, we of course, needed to eat having worked up an appetite, so we had a pizza party before going out to fly our kites!

Most of our gang displaying their kites before the launch.

We went to a spot with few trees overlooking a huge ravine to fly our kites. There were few trees, but lots of bushes, so we did need to rescue several kites.

My kite just before it escaped!

I may have won the prize for flying the farthest, but we will never know for sure, because it never came back!
It went up, up, up, up and up some more. Eventually there was so much string out that the string broke, and the kite kept going up, up, up, up and more up until it was out of sight!

It was a fun day that we will all remember for a loooooooong time!