28 December 2010


Okay, we've now had a couple of days to rest, recover, recuperate, relax, whatever you want to call it, so it is about time to report how things went!
I am pleased to report that all went very well, the only non-positive comment would be that there were fewer people attending this year than in the past years. That was a tad disappointing in that we were expecting more from the requests and contacts we had. One remark was that we have had some cold afternoons and evenings and lots of kids are a little sick so many people stayed home.
However, for those that were there it was a wonderful time!

Our Team!
 We began in the morning with a couple of our youth coming to our house to help us get ALL of the stuff ready to go. The bus arrived about 1 PM at our house and we loaded everything on it. We then went and picked up all of our youth team and headed to Casita Benjamín.
Like last year, when we arrived, I just told the team, "First thing, we need to decorate" and let them go.
In hardly any time at they had the place looking FANTASTIC!

Decorating & getting ready!
 Once everything was ready, we dedicated our time to the Lord, for His glory, and then waited for the guests to arrive.

Dedicating our time to the Lord in prayer before guests arrive!
 The people began to arrive and our youth entertained the children while the adults enjoyed some Christmas music inside.

Playing with the children
 After giving some time for people to arrive, we began by having the children join the adults inside and our youth led all in singing many Christmas Carols.

Singing Christmas Carols
 After singing Carols, we sent the children back outside to the patio, where our youth had a program for them while the adults heard a message about the hope we only find in Christ.
The children saw a skit performed by our youth about Christmas being a birthday celebration for Jesus!
Then after the skit they had a presentation with pictures explaining the Christmas story.

Performing a skit for the children
 After the programs, our youth served all a tamale dinner, with ponche and Sandi's famous Christmas cookies for dessert! After it was cleaned up, gifts were passed out to all the children, and each family received a canasta de viveres (basket full of basic goods).
Then we cleaned up and loaded all back on the bus to head for Las Aldeas!

Having fun on the bus!
 One of the highlites each year for the youth has been the bus ride back! This year was no exception! They were pumped up and it was fun! We gave each one a diploma to commemorate their service, and also a gift as a thank you!
This year, we returned to Las Aldeas, the home where these kids all live. There are 13 houses on site, with around 120 kids total.  Christmas is a depressing, sad, boring time normally for them, so we wanted to help build some GOOD Christmas memories for them.
We served them all a tamale dinner just like at the Casita, and then we set up our projector and watched the movie Polar Express with them!
They loved it!

Serving Tamales again at Las Aldeas
We want to thank you all so much for your prayers and support for this wonderful evening. It is a couple of full months worth of work to prepare, but is a HUGE blessing for many, many people. 
We are blessed beyond imagination by being involved, and couldn't do it at all without all of you behind us.
A big thank you also to Wildwood Church, a major supporter for this year! May the Lord bless you for your help and multiply all you have done!

23 December 2010

Las Galletas!

We have come to the end of a long day, and with still a few more things to get done this will not be a long post.
We had 20 of our youth at the house all day today, making decorations for tomorrow and also 800+ cookies.
We were hoping for about 1,000, but most were a little thicker than normal (whatever happened to quality control?) and I think quite a few were eaten!

Sonia showing the star she made!
 The youth worked pretty hard, they made lots of stars, out of construction paper, made paper chains (about 75 feet) and also some puffy ball thingys....don't know what they would be called.

Starting the cookies
 They also made lots and lots of cookies! And, just like every year, there was flour from one end of the house to the other! The good part of that is they are pretty good at cleaning up, sweeping and mopping most all of the house.
One of the fun things was that over half of our youth today were taking part in the Christmas activities for their first time! There were also 5 more that weren't here today that will be tomorrow!

Frosting some of the 800+ cookies!
 In another hour it will be the 24th here and that is SHOWTIME!
The kids are excited and I keep telling Sandi we can make it, only one more day, then we can take a break!
Lots of work tomorrow, it will be another long day! After we finish at Casita Benjamin, we will return to Las Aldeas, the home where all these kids live, and have a tamale dinner with about 120 there, then watch Polar Express with them.

The jóvenes that worked all day!
Please pray for tomorrow, that God will bless these youth for their service, and that many lives in Zona 3 could be forever changed through knowing the hope they can only find in Jesus Christ.

22 December 2010

Christmas Carols at KAIROS

Tuesday evening we took about 20 of our youth to visit Casa Kairos and sing Christmas Carols with the people staying there.
Casa Kairos is a compassion ministry for children with cancer and their families. It is a refuge for them as they come to the city for treatments.

Some of our youth singing at Casa Kairos
 Our youth did a great job of singing out strongly, and serving cookies and a small gift to each one there.
We were also able to provide a little help by giving some beans, rice, oatmeal and salt to the house.

Some of the guests at Kairos
 It was the first 'practice' for our youth in front of people as we continue to prepare for Noche Buena.
Tomorrow we will be spending ALL day with our youth baking cookies. The plan is for 1,000 cookies for TWO Noche Buena celebrations!
First at Casita Benjamin, then after that is over we will return to Las Aldeas and have a Tamale dinner and watch a movie with about 120 more people!

The end of a sweet evening
It was a GREAT time at Casa Kairos, and we look forward with great expectations to see how the Lord will work over the next few days.
Still some things to be done, but as always, without really ever knowing HOW,                                  somehow God gets everything done and ready on time!

20 December 2010


Hunger is a BIG problem in Guatemala. Government numbers say over 60 % of the population is under nourished, and as much as 40% may be malnourished. As always, there are many factors for this, but primarily it is due to poverty.
This year to compound the problem, we had so much rain and flooding that a large percentage of crops were lost, which raises the prices for basic food items, beyond the reach of many.

Some of the 60 canastas we made!
A tradition here in Guatemala at Christmas is to give "Canastas de Viveres", which are baskets filled with basic everyday goods.
We wanted to try to give canastas to the families that will attend our Noche Buena dinner in Zona 3. We decided several months ago to plan for it, and trust God to provide all that would be needed. 
And He did!
We received offerings from several individuals, and a large gift from Wildwood Church in Illinois!
This allowed us to plan for 60 canastas to give families in need this Christmas.
Each canasta contains: Rice, beans, oatmeal, Incaparina (a nourishing drink), sugar, salt, cooking oil, pasta, juice packets, soup packets, Maseca (to make tortillas) & coffee. There are also 4 Gospel tracts in each canasta.

Karla, Gaby & Carmen finishing some canastas
So, on Friday we had 16 of our youth come over for all day to help. First thing they did was wrap over 150 Christmas gifts for the children on Noche Buena. 
Several of the goods we had purchased in bulk, oatmeal, beans, pasta etc. So we had a few youth packaging those things into smaller bags.
After we had pizza for lunch, we set up an assembly line to put the baskets together. It was a blast!
Before long we had canastas scattered all over our house! Then we had them all help wrap the canastas in cellophane and we were done!

Los jóvenes did a TON of work!
We had enough time afterward that I let them pick a movie to watch, so we watched Narnia 2!
It was a wonderful day, the youth LOVE getting to help serve others that have less than they do.

Please keep praying, we have lots more to do to be ready for Noche Buena in just 4 days!
Tomorrow we will have the youth together to practice carols and the drama they will perform. Then tomorrow evening we will take the youth to Kairos House to sing carols and do the drama there.
Thursday will be another all day activity with the youth making 1,000 Christmas Cookies!

11 December 2010


One of the common factors of Christmas now a days is SHOPPING!
Well, we have spent the last few days doing a lot of that.
To get prepared for Noche Buena takes quite a few shopping trips!
Fortunately, many of the  things we need we can order in advance, the food for the dinners, the accessories we need, i.e. tables and chairs, bus, servant shirts, band, sound equipment, etc. etc.
But, that still leaves a LOT of things we need to go out and get! 

 A couple of days ago we went into Zona 3, we try to buy in the areas we are serving to help the community in that way also, to buy gifts for the children.
We bought over 150 gifts, to go with the 50 or so we already had.
We also bought LOTS of wrapping paper, tape, candy and more candy to make candy bags for each child.
We bought desachables for over 400 people! That's disposable stuff, plates, cups, forks, napkins, garbage bags etc.

Unloading lots of goods
 Yesterday we went to CENMA, which is like a huge goods distribution center.
Produce and goods from all over Guatemala come there and are sold wholesale in bulk etc.
We bought most of the goods needed to make 60 "Canastas de Viveres". 
These are baskets filled with basic goods to give to each family on Noche Buena.
The baskets will contain: rice, beans, pasta, oatmeal, soup, juice, cooking oil, incaparina (a nourishing drink like a thin oatmeal) coffee, sugar, salt, a couple of tracts and something I'm forgetting right now..... 

Guest room is occupied
It is a lot of work, but is so much fun! 
Our guest room is sort of full right now, and will get filled even more over the next few days also.
Over the next week and a half we will have several all day activities with our youth group to put all this together. They will wrap all of the presents, package things up to make the canastas. Put the canastas together. Make decorations. Spend an entire day baking and frosting 1,000 Christmas cookies!
We will also be practicing all of our Christmas Carols, and learning a skit to perform for the children Christmas Eve!
There is much more I'm not including here, but keep checking this blog over the next few weeks and we will keep you updated on what's happening!

Please keep all of these things covered in prayer, the purpose of it all is that some of these people, the poor and brokenhearted, would truly know they are loved and see Christ through His servants.
These are the people that hold a very special place in our Lord's heart, and should in ours also.

Thank you all so very much for your love, prayers and support of these efforts!

04 December 2010

Getting ready!

Wanted to share a huge PRAISE for our Noche Buena outreach dinner!
Funding for projects is always a challenge, and in todays economic climate even more so.
Last years Noche Buena project was several hundred dollars underfunded, so this year, we doubled our budget, trusting God would provide so we could do much more and better for the people we are serving.
I shared in an earlier post about Wildwood Church in E. Moline, IL. They had committed to provide at least half or our proposed budget. Well, they took an offering at their Thanksgiving service, and have sent a check to CAM for our project that will cover our budget 100%!!!!!!!

So........I had another idea! Well, actually, I committed to this before Wildwood 
took their Thanksgiving offering, trusting God for all our needs.

Some of the kids at Las Aldeas
As you know most of our youth live at a children's home, Las Aldeas. 
Every one of our youth that I have asked if they like Christmas answer "not really" 
or "maybe just a little bit". It is a boring, sad, depressing time for them, most all of them have some family somewhere, but they don't want them enough to even spend Christmas with them.
Our goal is, through activities and giving them an opportunity to serve others with even less than they have, to help them develop some good memories of Christmas.
So, back to my idea....
The last couple of years after our outreach at Casita Benjamin, we have returned to take part in a church service. This year, we will return to Las Aldeas, and do our program for all of the kids there, watch a movie (Polar Express) and have another Tamale dinner!

Fútbol at Las Aldeas
Because there currently is no director at Las Aldeas, none of the houses are being permitted to leave for the holiday. In the past several houses have gone away for a few days just because it is so depressing for the kids to stay. So, we want to provide an evening of fun, joy and love for them. There will be between 115 and 150 there (depending on if the casas juvenil join us). So, another 150 Tamales, bread etc are needed. More gift baskets etc. also, but with the funds from Wildwood and a few other gifts we have already received, and trusting the Lord for just a little bit more, I believe we can provide a GOOD Christmas for even more than we had planned just a couple of months ago!

Please join us in praying for all the Preparations ahead, activities, shopping trips, practices etc.
Praise God for all the support we are receiving and please, please pray for all of our youth, the rest of Las Aldeas, and the people God will bring to the outreach at Casita Benjamin.
May God be praised and glorified through this all!

27 November 2010


Time to back up a bit! 
I forgot to post about our barrilete activity with some of our youth!
November 1st is Dia de los Santos (All Saints Day) and is a holiday here in Guatemala. One of the traditions that day is to make and fly kites (barriletes).
There are even big competitions and some towns make kites up to 20 feet across and more, and fly them!

We gathered our youth for an all day activity to make and fly kites in the traditional way.
We received permission to use the entire grounds at CAG, Christian Academy of Guatemala, the missionary kids school our daughter attends.

Hard at work
 Oscar and I had purchased all the needed supplies in advance, using long dried stalks of grass for the skeleton, thread, papel china (tissue paper) and a home made glue.

Preparing to wrap the kite
You tie the grass together with the thread in a hexagonal shape.
Then you can wrap it in papel china.

After that you can decorate it how ever you like.Finally, you make long tails to help it fly steady.

Showing off their kites!
 Our youth were very creative, and there were some real works of art!
After working for several hours, Sandi arrived with a dozen pizzas and soft drinks so we all took a much needed break!

After lunch a time of worship
 After the pizza, we finished up the kites, then had a time of worship and devotional together.

Displaying kites before launch
 We took a group photo, then out to the soccer field to FLY!
And, most all of them flew very well.
We had four prizes we gave out also, 1st and 2nd place for the kites that flew best, highest, and longest.
And 1st and 2nd place for the most creative kites!

Yes, they fly wonderfully!
It was a GREAT day, everyone had lots, and lots of fun, and most all took their kites home to hang on their wall!

26 November 2010

Graduations, Quinceañera, birthdays, etc.

November has become a very busy month for us as we become more involved with more and more youth.
The school year here runs roughly from mid-January until late October / mid-November.
This means lots of end of year activities and also graduations! Graduations are a very big deal here, whether it is from elementary school, middle school, high school, college, whatever.
Most of our youth have little or no family, and we are often invited to represent them as "family".
Laura graduating in children´s education!
One of the young ladies we work with, Laura, was graduating from a program for basically, elementary school teachers. She wants to be an art teacher! 
Laura has no close family (well, two brothers, but no parents etc.) and she asked if I would be her 'Papá' and join her on stage to receive her diploma! It was a huge honor, Laura is a very special young lady.
Carmen, Yaneth, Sharol, Eny & Angel graduate!
A week or so later I was asked to again be 'Papá' & Tio for several more of our youth at their clausura, which is a promotion to the next level of study, but appears just like a graduation!

Jackelin graduates!
Another clausura I was invited to attend for Jackelin, who also has no close family to attend on her behalf.

Eny's quinceañera
November is also a busy month for us when it comes to birthdays. Between, family, friends and our youth we had 14 birthdays on the calendar for November! We try to recognize all our youth's birthdays with a gift and if possible cake etc. For many, it is the only recognition they will get on their day.
But when it's a girl, and she turns 15, it is a BIG deal here. 
A traditional quinceañera here can best be described as a full blown wedding, without a groom!
Nov. 14th was Eny Minuya Hernández 15th birthday and I went to her party! With a full catered meal too!

Laura's 20th birthday!
We celebrated several other birthdays also, and also had several of our youth to our house for a traditional USA thanksgiving dinner! Of course it was also a birthday celebration (mine) and was a wonderful evening.
For many of the youth it was their very first experience for stuffing, cranberry sauce, and first time for pumpkin pie!

Now, we head toward December and will be holding two and three times a week youth gatherings to practice for Noche Buena. The youth are anxious to get going with all of our activities planned, lots and lots to do, but it is soooooo much fun!
Please be praying for Christmas activities and also for many of our youth. Christmas is a very hard time for them, we hope through lots of activities and serving others, we can help them build some good memories of Christmas.
Please also pray for Laura and Diana, two of our youth that have been sent out from the children's home setting to begin a life independent! It is very scary for them, and for us, they are both living in not the best situations and both in areas that are somewhat dangerous.

Now....on to December!

03 November 2010

Dios de esta Ciudad

Just a quick post to add a link to a song and video....it's only 4 minutes, so...please check it out.
This has been my favorite song for a couple of years, it just really speaks my heart for where we are.
We just received a link to this version in Spanish, 
and it is all pictures of Guatemala!
In English the song is 'God of this City' by Chris Tomlin.
In Spanish it is 'Dios de esta Ciudad' and is performed by Blest.
(Just click on the links above) 
View of part of downtown Guatemala City
Many of you know that I walk a lot...that is my quiet time, my inspiration time, my 'vision' time, my worship time and my prayer time. In addition, Sandi and I walk together a lot and
it is our sharing time too.
Point...there is a spot I like to walk to that looks out over most of the entire city. It is absolutely beautiful! (Yes, it also means you have to walk uphill a LOT)
I like to just look out over the city and pray for it. And, almost every time I also sing this song while looking over the city.
More Guatemala City
 As most of you know, Guatemala City is a congested, poverty filled, spiritually dark, dangerous, crime filled, smelly, dirty, loud and sometimes obnoxious city.
AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. I love every opportunity it presents,
I love it more than any place I've every been,
it is my heart and soul here,
and you know what else, 
More Guatemala City
 This, for all of the reasons above, is a land of opportunities.
The people need Jesus, they need to just know they are loved.
More Guatemala City
Grandes Cosas Vienen Ya
Grandes Cosas Dios Hará
En Este Pueblo

Greater Things Are Yet To Come
Greater Things Are Still To Be Done
In The City

09 October 2010

Must Be Almost Christmas!

It must be October, because 10 days ago (yes, that was still September) we saw Christmas decorations in some stores here! Complete with Christmas trees!
However, it was a great reminder for us that we have to get started on plans for Christmas activities here.
My youth have been asking me "when are we going to start preparing and practicing for Noche Buena?" and Loyda, the director at Casita Benjamin was asking if we will host our dinner again, because she has had many requests from families wondering if we would do it again this year!
OF COURSE! And, we are hoping for bigger and better than ever!

Christmas Decorations are going up!
Want to help?
We could use your help.
First, pray. There are many, many things to plan and do, and many, many people involved to coordinate.
Pray that we will be organized in our planning and scheduling. That we don't forget things, etc.
Pray for God to be preparing those that will attend, that their hearts will be open to the message of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Pray for our youth and others that are the servants for this, the opportunity to serve has a huge impact in their lives.
Pray also about helping with the costs of the undertaking. Praise God, Wildwood Church in IL has already pledged over half of our budget! We could still use another $1,000 or a little more.
We are expecting more than the 200 people we had last year. Food prices are climbing here due to so much flooding that destroyed many crops. We have gifts to buy and our desire this year is to also provide a basket filled with basic goods to each family.

If you would like to help with a gift, you can give online here, or by mail to:

CAM International
8625 La Prada Dr.
Dallas, TX 75228
IMPORTANT: Include on your check it is for #062877 Casita Outreach Events

All gifts are tax deductible and will only be used for this event.

Emotion of youth servant team
We also have some other things coming up.
Next week-end, we will take our two interns here for a week-end at Las Buenas Nuevas. The CAM retreat center on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

Las Buenas Nuevas
In November, my sister Robin and our niece Andrea will visit for a couple of weeks. Robin is helping to obtain some technology help for Casita Benjamin.

We are also working on plans for a 2 or 3 day retreat with our youth in early December. Maybe a camping trip....could be 20 - 40 youth!
So...even in our 'slow' season, lots to do and look forward to!

02 October 2010

Aldea El Zunzo, Jalapa

We were so blessed to be given a few water filters a year ago, not knowing at the time how the Lord would use those 10 water filters to begin another work here in Guatemala. In the past year we have been blessed to give out somewhere around 100 filters, thanks to so many of you! Many have given us funds to purchase filters, knowing that this is literally a gift of life.

"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;
Their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them."
Isaiah 41:17

The children of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton, TX used this verse as they raised funds this summer to help buy filters. They raised over $3000 to buy between 55 & 65 filters!
Many others have helped also, and we have been blessed on this end to give and see the difference the filters  make in peoples lives.

We have also provided filters for several projects of another local Guatemalan ministry called
"Abrazando Mi Guatemala"

They left their mark!
They have been a blessing for us, to help distribute filters to very needy families in rural areas around Guatemala.
Last week-end, we were able to provide through them another 17 families with water filters!

Some of the villagers waiting to receive some basic supplies
The 26th of September a group of volunteers with Abrazando Mi Guatemala, traveled to a village named El Zunzo in the department of Jalapa. It was not an easy journey, due to the tremendous amount of rain Guatemala has received there are landslides blocking roads all over the country. They had to go through some slides and many places just barely wide enough for a van to pass through.

Preparing to explain how to use and clean the water filters
While spending the day in El Zunzo, the group was able to provide 125 families with a bag full of basic food supplies, they painted the village elementary school, they gave out 597 pieces of children's clothing, fed a snack to the entire village, had games and activities for the kids including 6 piñatas, AND they provided 17 families with water filters!

Cony teaching the benefits of clean water

Testing a filter for the first time!


Laura giving a filter

Yes, it is a happy day!

The smiles tell what these filters mean

The 'Abrazando Mi Guatemala' team in El Zunzo
Please join us in thanking God for His allowing us all to be a part of the great things He is doing here in Guatemala. For His provision, both materially for the filters, but also providing His servants to join with us all to share His love and hope with those in need.