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!