27 September 2011

On the street

The other night I went with a group from our church to visit with youth that live on the streets in Zona 3 by the dump.
I didn't take a camera, so the photo you see here is just a generic one, not the actual people we visited.
We gathered around right out on a side street with about 30 - 40 of the young people and we sang some songs, hung out with them and then gave each one a spaghetti dinner.
The purpose wasn't to preach, but to just talk, and listen to them. Let them know that they do have value and that someone does care.

Jóvenes that live on the streets
I talked with a few young guys that wanted to show me all of their break dancing moves!
They were inhaling their 'sol' all the time (they soak small rags in solvent, and inhale the fumes to get high) so their dance moves really weren't all that great, but they enjoyed showing me! 
This is not the first time I have been there, and I'm sure won't be the last, but is always difficult to watch as they destroy themselves with sol. There are some girls in the group, and sadly, there were two kids around 2 to 3 yrs old.
After an hour or so visiting with the youth, our group left and went to Zona 1 to take some food and visit with a group of prostitutes and transvestites.
The women in our group visited with the prostitutes, while the men prepared the spaghetti!

This is a ministry that involves several churches on a revolving basis, so we will  go about every other month.

25 September 2011

Coming to a town near you! (if you live near where I'm going)

Yes, that's right! I will be coming to visit if you're where I'm going!
I will be making a three week trip to the States soon, to try and build some more support for our ministry here in Guatemala. Over the past couple of years, as the economy has gone in the tank all over the world, we also have seen our support go down. It reached a point earlier this year where our mission told us we were almost 5K in the hole, and they were lowering our salary 35%.
If you can imagine yourself living on 35% less, you understand. 
So.....I will be traveling to visit a couple of churches and any groups we can arrange, individuals etc. to share what we are doing and pray the Lord will lead some to partner with us in His exciting work!

Arriving in the Northwest....PRICELESS!
It worked out just right, I had almost exactly the amount of airmiles to be able to make this trip. 
Sandi spent a few weeks visiting a lot of folks in August, and now it's my turn!

I will be in Denton, Texas from October 27 to November 3,
and then I will be
in the Seattle / Bellingham area from November 3 to November 16.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of these place, and would like to get together, just let me know!
And....if you would like to help....AWESOME!
I could use some help from a few people to arrange some opportunities to share what God is doing here, in churches, or small groups.
A dessert, or lunch, gathering for coffee, pretty much any ideas would be a great help.
Any ideas you have, just contact me!
Please pray that the Lord would bring everything together as only He can.

Oh, and as a little extra blessing for me, I will be in Bellingham for our daughter Kimberly's birthday!
And our son in law Sergey's too!

24 September 2011

Odds and Ends, Upcoming STUFF!

In our lives, there is always something happening, pretty much every day brings new and often unexpected opportunities to serve here in Guatemala. It took awhile to get used to it, it kind of goes against the North American way of planning and scheduling. hahaha
Personally, I love it, flexibility is a good thing!
Sandi has adapted to it and starts each day with the question "I wonder what today holds for us?"
For example, it is not uncommon for one of our 'former' youth, when they have a day off, to call us and ask if we are at home. Then they say they are at the gate outside! Then, we have a guest to hang out with us for the day. Sometimes it changes our plans for the day, sometimes they just join us in our plans! I am just thankful that they want to come be with us. Most of them consider us to be their family, as they don't have any that cares for them. This is real discipleship. They have very little free time so to want to spend it with us is a great thing. Another example, just the other day I received a call from one of our youth..."will you be home tomorrow afternoon?" She is taking an English class at the University and needed help. So, a couple hours of tutoring, then of course dinner with us, etc. 
We are so blessed when we pour our lives into these young people.
Or, the other day one of the juvenil houses had a plugged drain, so I spent the morning fixing things so they can wash clothes again. And, there are closets to fix....

Allen and Kara Rea
 Another thing we do, that we love, is hosting visitors. A couple from Georgia, Allen & Kara Rea, are interested in serving in Guatemala long term. Allen is a pastor of a small church and is finishing his Masters at Seminary this year. He is very interested in teaching Seminary here in Guatemala. So, in August we hosted them for a week, showed them around some, shared our lives with them, arranged meetings at both CAM affiliated seminaries here, and just had a good time together!
They have since returned home and are beginning the long term application process with CAM!

Singing carols at Nochebuena
We are beginning to gear up for some upcoming events. The big one is Nochebuena. That is our big Christmas Eve outreach we hold in Zona 3 for the families around the dump.
It literally takes about 2 months of planning and work to get it all together. We will have a budget of about $3000 for the entire outreach, and at this point we have...well...about $0. So....if you're interested...just ask!
There will be more about this coming out in another month or so.

Youth servant team for Nochebuena
 We are also continuing with plans for La Luz Brilla, the transition home we hope to open for young ladies. The idea being to take girls 18 and over, that are leaving children's homes etc, and need to transition into an independent life. Coming out of the lives they have grown up in, they have many obstacles to overcome most young people don't have.
We want to come alongside them to disciple, coach, teach, help them learn how they can, with God's help, not just make it on their own, but lead a successful life, and successful family to help break the cycle so prevalent here of broken families in poverty.
We will need to raise some funds for this much needed ministry. The need is growing each month.
We have met with another couple that has a very similar vision and are brainstorming with them, possibilities for working together in many areas. Please join us in praying for these things.

Potential girls for La Luz Brilla
 Along with hosting visitors and teams, and coordinating and supervising interns, we will also be receiving a couple of 'mid-term' missionaries over the next few months. Mid-term is considered between 6 months and 2 years of service, mas o menos.
We will help them get settled in and started in their ministries.

So, lots of things coming up, along with new things each day for us to do! And, sandwiched in with all this, I will be traveling to the States for 3 weeks Oct 27 - Nov 16 to do some fund raising.
Our personal support is still very low, as well as looking for funding for the things mentioned above.
More on that trip in my next blog post!

23 September 2011

Elections Guatemala style!

Finally, after about 6+ months of campaigning (4 legally) that was, at the least, not boring, on September 11th Guatemala went to the polls to elect a new president, along with all other offices throughout Guatemala.
In the end, after starting with 14 official parties, several parties formed alliances, so there were officially 10 parties running for president.

Running out of post space for more signs!
 This, after one candidate was disallowed for trying to disregard the constitution. After fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court and finally losing just a month before the election. This was the current presidents "ex-wife". Ex because the Constitution states that family members of the sitting president cannot legally run. So...after she started campaigning, and realizing this, she divorced her husband "for the good of Guatemala".
Another candidate was disallowed until winning in the courts and being reinstated as a candidate with just 3 weeks before the elections.

They added more signs here the week after this photo
 There were constant rallies, and marches, loudspeakers blaring the virtues of their respective candidate, protests, threats, mud-slinging, violence and murders, arson and, just in case nobody noticed it was an election year, SIGNS. EVERYWHERE! If there was a post or pole somewhere, it had as many signs on it as would fit. And, if there wasn't a post, they put one in! Or hung the signs over the roads between posts, that were of course covered with signs!

Buena vista!

The best place for signs is in your line of sight for oncoming traffic!
And now, post election day?
Well, since no one candidate received over 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off on November 6th between the top two candidates.
Manuel Baldizon vs. Otto Perez Molina
At least they are removing all the other signs, so will just be signs for those two now.
Please pray the run-off will be peaceful and that Guatemala will respect the laws. 
Pray for safety here, as things overall continue to deteriorate with a bad economy, growing poverty and crime. Pray that God would use all of it to bring Guatemala to the realization that, more than ever, we need God.
Pray that God would use us as instruments in whatever way He chooses to truly be servants here.

Sandi visits the NW

After Next Step and our visit with Felicita in Kentucky, Sandi traveled to the NW for a few weeks of relaxation, visits and sharing about our ministries here in Guatemala.
She was able to spend a lot of time with our daughter Kimberly and her husband, Sergey.
And, of course, one of the first things to do was visit Safeco Field for a Mariners game!

What is more beautiful?
They had a great time with beautiful weather.

Kimber meets the Moose!
 Sandi was able to spend time with most of her brothers and sisters and catch up after a long time between visits! She also was able to visit many of her old friends, as well as friends and supporters of ours for many years.

Baptism at Lake Padden
 She also was invited to attend a baptism with a Russian evangelical church that some of Sergey's family attends.

This ain't sprinkling
 Sandi says the baptism was a huge blessing for her to be at. It was a very God honoring event attending by a large gathering.

Sandi sharing at Northlake Community Church
 Sandi also had several opportunities to share our ministries here. It is always a blessing to share what God is doing here in Guatemala, and we pray through these opportunities that He may lead more people to partner with us in His work. Our support continues to be low, and we need to do more fundraising efforts like this.


At the end of our time at Next Step in Texas, we had several days to relax. 
Maria went on a week long backpacking trip in Colorado with the high school group from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton, TX.
So, while she was away, Sandi and I went on a road trip!
Great friends in Denton loaned us their car (a '02 Lexus! NICE!) and, with the help of a GPS unit, (amazing thing, new for us folks from outside the USA) we headed for Kentucky to visit Felicita!

Felicita with her papá
 We found out that Kentucky is a little farther from Texas than we thought! Hahaha the USA is really a big place!
So, about 13 1/2 hours later, we arrived in Berea, Kentucky, home of Berea College where our daughter attends!
We had 3 days there with Felicita and it was WONDERFUL!!!
She had a great time showing us around 'her' town, and we just relaxed and hung out with her.

Relaxing in Kentucky!
And, Kentucky is really beautiful! At least what we saw of it.
It was so good to spend time with Felicita in her place. To see her college, meet a few of her friends.
It just amazes us that she is already in her Junior year now! And hoping to maybe graduate a semester early!
We then took a two day trip back to Texas, enjoying the drive un montón!


Each year we end our summer intern program with Next Step, a 3 day de-briefing and "where do I go from here" gathering held in Texas. All the Summer interns from all the CAM fields that host them attend.
So, we all met in Denton, TX July 17 - 20 for a sweet time of sharing stories and discovering how God can use these experiences for His Kingdom.

Guatemala Summer Interns 2011
 Sandi, Maria and I also attend. Sandi and I lead one of the small groups as we discuss their experiences and "what do you do with it anyway?" "How can God use this experience to help guide me on the path He has for me?"
It is a great time of processing and beginning to pull things together.

Ellie and me at Next Step
We had over 20 interns total attending and really went through a lot of stuff in only a couple of days.
But, then it comes to an end, and is time for the interns to all return to their homes, families, friends, studies, jobs etc. Back to the real world.
That can be a very bitter sweet time. And for us, is always a hard time of "see ya laters".
But, never goodbyes!