27 November 2009


We took a day off!
After spending our Thanksgiving Day at a graduation, we took a day off Friday and went to Monterrico, a quiet little spot on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. (For those who didn't know, Guatemala actually has coast on both the Pacific and the Caribbean)

Main Street of Monterrico ends at the beach!

From our house, it is about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive to the coast at San José, then almost another hour to drive along the coast to Monterrico.
My guess is that it was about 80 degrees there, in other words, pretty close to perfect!

Sandi & Maria head strait for the waves!

We explored around for awhile before we found a little place for lunch, then we walked the beach.

Almost had all the beaches to ourselves!

It was a wonderful day together just relaxing and doing pretty much nothing! The beaches were virtually deserted, it was almost like we had our own private beaches! Well, that's enough talk about that, now just enjoy a few pictures!

Several small beachfront hotels

Sandi wanted fresh fish for lunch, so that's what she got!

Maria had a blast in the waves!

Sun and surf

Volcanic sand beaches

Our beautiful Maria

Thanksgiving Gladys Graduates!

We spent Thanksgiving day attending another graduation! This should be the last one of this season (although last night I was invited to another one today but had to decline due to another commitment). It was a wonderful graduation ceremony for Gladys Lanneth Puluc, another of our girls at the casa juvenil.

Gladys Puluc

Gladys was one of 12 graduates from Colegio Brown, which teaches a pre-med program. All of the graduates will now go on to University to study in some medical related field. Gladys plans to become a Doctor!

Gladys with her 'gringo' parents!

We picked Gladys up in time to get to the club where the graduation was being held about 10 minutes later than she was told to be there, which meant she was still the 2nd graduate to arrive! It was a nice graduation and many of the students teared up at the prospect of not being together any longer.

Class of 2009 Colegio Brown

After the graduation we took Gladys out for lunch and of course a celebratory ice cream!

BIRTHDAY and Thanksgivings

Birthdays, anniversaries, they all just mean another year has been added to your age!
I just had both actually.
November 18 was the anniversary of our arrival to live in Guatemala 3 years ago! In one sense it seems we just arrived recently, in another sometimes it seems we've been here a long time.
I am so thankful to God for leading us to Guatemala, there is NO WHERE I would rather be.
This is home and I couldn't be happier in any other place.

A few of our friends at Casa Kairos!

This being Thanksgiving time, I do want to first, thank God for everything! He has blessed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I am blessed with a wonderful family with kids I love and they love me! I also am blessed with an 'extended' family here in Guatemala. God has connected us with many youth that don't have the blessing of family like I do. Because of the love God has shown me, I can love these youth. They, in turn, are learning to love. They have become like our "2nd" kids! I do love them as though they were mine. Thanks God!
Our many other friends here in Guatemala, the Valdez family, Martinez', Melendez' and Ávila families, to name a few. The ministries God has granted us, the people we have met in Zona 3 by the dump...on and on and on.
I truly, truly feel like I am the most blessed person on the face of the earth.

On November 25th I celebrated another year of being! It was my birthday and after a nice dinner out with Sandi and Maria, we took 3 girls from casa juvenil and went to spend some time with the people at Casa Kairos, the home for children with cancer and their families.
We sang some songs with them, and of course ended with Feliz Cumpleaños and then lit the candles on two birthday cakes to share with them all!

Singing 'Feliz Cumpleaños'

There just happened to be one of the largest number of people I can remember at Casa Kairos that night. But, we had plenty of cake so everyone was happy.
I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than with the people at Casa Kairos, and they enjoyed it a whole lot too!

21 November 2009


So, most of you should know that I have been teaching the Woodshop at Christian Academy of Guatemala. For those who didn't know that, very early in this current school year, the man who was the teacher, and his family, had to leave Guatemala basically overnight. This happened like two weeks into the school year. The school was in a bind, there was a High School class two days each week, and a Middle School class, two days each week.
So, I am filling in as woodshop teacher for this semester. I have already informed them I cannot continue after this semester ends at the Christmas break. I have too many commitments to have a block of time each afternoon taken up.

BUT, for now, I am having a BLAST! The high school class has ended, there were only two students and one was just there one day each week, and he hadn't showed up in three weeks at all, so we decided to cancel it. Maria was my only High School student and I will help her finish her projects at home!
The middle school class, on the other hand, has been AWESOME! So much fun!
There are 10 students in my MS class. All are in either grade 6 or 7.

Start of Round 2!

Our current project has been making pinewood derby cars! Yesterday was RACE DAY!
My car was clearly the fastest, no contest, however, I disqualified myself. Yes, it was a very noble thing to do. Besides, the class made me do it. My car was so fast it continually flew off the track! I never made it to the end. Oh well...................
But, I had bought trophies for them, and we had a FUN class out in the sun. There were three trophies, 1st place, 2nd place, and one for Best Looking Car, which was voted on by the class.

My class minus two students.

The class has just began our next project, we are making picture frames! It will probably take us until the end of the semester to finish, there are only 6 more class sessions. Tuesday, class is only 45 minutes long, and Friday it is 1 1/2 hour.

I will miss it, I really am loving it and the kids, I know, middle school, but I guess I kind of fit right in!

17 November 2009

Gloria y Marta Graduate!

Friday the 13th.....was a GREAT day! We attended another graduation Friday. Two more of the young ladies that live at the casa juvenil of SOS Las Aldeas were graduating and asked us to go as 'family'.
Gloria and Marta were both graduating from the same colegio (private school) and invited us to be a part of their big day! So, we picked them up at 9:00 AM with a couple of the other girls that live with them, and we drove out south of Antigua to a place called Antigua Gardens.

Marta y Gloria

Antigua Gardens is a beautiful place with some housing, a small coffee plantation, and a community building with pools! As you walk up the long entry you look at the lovely community building with Volcano Agua (water) towering directly behind it!

Volcán Agua over the community building

Then, when you get up to the entrance, by the pools, you turn around and see just across the road, the ever erupting Volcano Fuego (fire)! We were the first to arrive so we had the time to explore the beautiful grounds around the central area.

Volcán Fuego venting steam and ash behind us

The graduation ceremony was small, there were 6 graduating from the school, and also honored around 20 others that were being promoted to new levels.
After the ceremony there was a nice lunch provided and we enjoyed it outside under the palms sitting by the pools! It was fantastic, well worth having to wear a tie! I might add that the girls absolutely LOVED my tie with Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and Eyore on it!

Sandi and I with Gloria and Marta

There were several of my youth that also came because four of them also received diplomas for advancing to the next level. This brought a van full (23) from Las Aldeas, the home where they all live. The four receiving awards were: Irís, Juliana, Lydia and Magalí.

Magalí and Lydia

We also had all but one of the girls from the Casa Juvenil. After lunch we filled our car with a few more than we brought and returned to the city. We then celebrated with a ¨movie night¨at the casa juvenil and watched Era de Hielo 3 (Ice Age 3)!


Most of the girls from the casa juvenil

12 November 2009

Water of life

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13, 14

The people who drink the water from the filters we are giving them will get thirsty again, and when they get thirsty they will be able to drink SAFE, clean, pure water! We also hope that each time they get water from their filter they will also think on the living water which is Jesus Christ, in whose name they received the filters.

Our daughter Kimberly and her boyfriend Sergey were just in Guatemala for a short one week visit and they brought with them 20 more water filters provided by several of our amazing supporters! THANK YOU ALL ONCE AGAIN!
I truly hope that through these blog reports about giving the filters you can get the feeling of just what a huge blessing they are. Each time we give one away I am struck with just what it means to the recipient. This time Kimber and Sergey got to experience that also.
We began by spending an evening at the casa juvenil with the 10 ladies that live there painting some of the buckets we will use for the filters.

Kimber, Sergey and Sandi painting buckets

This is another one of the blessings provided through these filters. The girls at the casa juvenil LOVE getting to do this. They live in a situation where they are always on the receiving end of help. Now, they get to do something to help someone else with less than they have! It is awesome to see the joy they have getting to help.

Some of the girls painting (even Mike gets to work!)

On Wednesday, Nov. 11th, the day before Kimber and Sergey returned to the States, I had the opportunity to take them with me into Zone 3 to give a few of the filters. Loyda Monroy, the Director of Casita Benjamin had contacted a few families for us to meet with. This is another part of what we want to do through giving these filters. We want to connect the filters also with Casita Benjamin, so people in the neighborhood will associate the Casita with helping the neighborhood. Hopefully in the future, when there are needs here, people will look to the Casita as an avenue of help.

Eugenia, her husband and baby with their new filter!

We met with three families, Thelma Cochijil Gutierrez, a single mom with two children. Mirna Angelica Chamale Lopez, a widow with 4 children (her husband died two years ago). Eugenia Rogel and her husband and their little baby! They live in one room, with his dad and sister living in a second room. They will all share this wonderful gift of clean drinking water!
All thanked us and also gave thanks to God for the blessing these filters will be for each of them.
All of us had tears in our eyes as Mirna cried as she thanked us for providing agua pura for her children.

We were in one of the houses near the center of this photo.
This neighborhood is directly alongside of the dump, just to the right.

Sergey remarked after we were done, "we need to get more of these filters."
He knew when they brought them down that they would be a blessing to someone, but sitting in someones one room home and hearing their story before we pray with them gives it a whole new depth. I wish each of you could come here and experience the blessing of giving away these filters.
So, once again I say thank you to everyone involved with the gift of these water filters. Again I am so humbled that I get the incredible blessing of being able to meet these families and pray with them. I do know you will all be rewarded for your help, and pray you may have the opportunity one day to perhaps come visit us here in Guatemala and meet some of these people God has led us to in Zone 3.

This photo is for all of my contractor buddies!

Well, you have to get power to those houses you saw in the above photo. So, here is where it comes in. And, as many of you can imagine, this is a pretty good set-up compared to some.

07 November 2009

Kimberly & Sergey here!

Our daughter, Kimberly, and her boyfriend Sergey arrived for a week long visit on Thursday, Nov 5. That day just also happens to be Kimberly's birthday! She turned 22 the day she arrived! So, of course, we had to have a little celebration! We had a sign made up for her, and the house decorated when she arrived! It was fun!
We had our good friends the Melendez' over for a birthday dinner and of course the traditional Feliz Cumpleaños song before cake!


The weather is not all the great for Kimber and Sergey, there is a hurricane off the Eastern coast so we have lots of clouds and some very Washington type weather. But, for their first full day here we took them for a little tour of the city, they saw the Presidential Palace, the National Cathedral, we went to Casita Benjamin, the Guatemala City General Cemetery and viewed the largest land fill dump in Central America. This is Sergey's first visit to Guatemala, first visit to Central America, so it's always fun to show people around for their first time!

Kimber & Sergey at Central Park in front of National Cathedral

They had some time to rest while I went to teach my woodshop class at CAG in the afternoon, then we went to the casa juvenil to paint buckets! Kimber & Sergey brought 20 water filters in their luggage (along with 4 lbs of wintergreen mints) (We all know who those are for!) with them!
THANK YOU ALL THAT DONATED THE FILTERS! I will take Kimber and Sergey out with me next week to give out a few of the filters. I had bought 16 containers for the water to be ready, I didn't know for sure how many filters were coming! What a HUGE blessing!

Painting buckets at Casa Juvenil

So we all went to paint buckets to be used for the water filters! Thanks to so many people eager to help us here, I will need to go and get more buckets! That is something I am HAPPY to do!
My desire is to be able to have a steady stream of filters coming down year-round. I am hoping to have things set up very soon to have filters sent to CAM headquarters in Dallas anytime. Then, whenever someone is coming to Guatemala through Dallas, they can bring some down to us. People are coming here many times a year from Dallas, and the filters are so small to pack it should not be a problem! So, anytime anyone feels like they would like to get a filter or 2 (or 5) just let me know and I can give you ordering info so you get the 30% discount the manufacturer is giving us!
Some of the girls with Kimber & Sergey!

Lots more to do with Kimber & Sergey over the next few days. They leave early Thursday, the 12th. We plan to visit Panajachel and Antigua before they leave yet. Then, Sandi and I have another big graduation to attend on the 13th for 2 girls, and then one more on the 27th!

03 November 2009

Graduation Celebration!

Greetings Everybody! Sandi here!

I just wanted to share with you all about a wonderful day celebrating with the “Casa Juvenil” Saturday. We were invited to Diana’s graduation in Zone 1 where we got to watch 92 beautiful young ladies graduate as teachers.

Diana Ramirez

It was a great event and a great time to show Diana our support as “family” because she didn’t have any other family there. The day started when Mike took her out first thing in the morning to get her hair done. Later we drove Diana and a couple other girls to the large Catholic church and boys school where the graduation was held. First there was a Mass for the graduates, then the graduation was held in the gym.

92 Graduates!

After the graduation was finished, we stayed and helped with the clean up and then Mike offered to drive the whole houseful of girls home. So, as it began to rain lightly, all 10 of them crawled in our car, not knowing (except for the Tia, housemom) about a big Celebration planned at our house.

Mike & Diana

Diana with some of her 'family' from the Children's home

There are 4 other girls from the same house that are also graduating on different days, so we celebrated them all!

Diana's sign!

They entered into our very decorated house, and had a great evening eating dinner with us and watching a movie and ending it off with cake and presents.

Some of the decorations!

Watching a movie!

It really was a blessed day, and the girls were thrilled to take home the signs we had made for each of them. A day that will be remembered for a long time!