04 April 2012

Finally! La Luz Brilla!

At long last, after about two years of planning and waiting for the Lord to lead us forward, La Luz Brilla is now a reality in Guatemala!
After waiting for God's timing, last October we received a gift from a church in Arizona to cover our anticipated costs of start-up to open a home. November / December being so busy, we wisely waited until after the first of the year to begin looking for a house.
Well, we finally took possession of a rental house March 1st and we are moving forward!
The house itself is another God story, orchestrated as only He can, let me try to tell it briefly.

La Luz Brilla - Front of house
In our planning our hope was for an average house that would hold 6 - 8 señoritas and our budget for rent was Q3,500 monthly. (about $460)
We found what we thought was the ideal house. Only 2-3 blocks from our house, would hold maybe 8 girls and the rent was Q3,500! So, we tried to meet with the woman showing it, to discuss it, and after 4 appointments that she never showed up for, we were becoming frustrated at why the Lord was preventing what seemed like an ideal place from happening.

La Luz Brilla - Back of house
 So we decided to look for more options. We knew of another house close by that was empty, but it was larger and we knew would be way more expensive. Other missionaries had lived there previously and had told Sandi before they moved that the owner was very adamant about not having any ministry in the house, it was strictly for a single family to live in. It was also larger than we were originally thinking, and a lot more monthly than our budget, Q5,500 per month. (about $725) Although it was more expensive, it also would hold between 10 - 14 girls comfortably. Well, I was given a number for the owner and decided to at least talk to him. I called and he agreed to meet us at the house to show it to us.

La Luz Brilla - Interior of house
When we met, the first thing I did was explain what we are wanting to do. He was not too happy, he only wanted a family in the house, but, we continued to talk. He began asking questions about the types of girls we would have there and the purpose, vision etc.
As I explained it more and more, he became more interested and by the end he was making suggestions on ways we could utilize the rooms etc!
 I told him we were interested but the rent was way beyond our budget and he said, "well, think it over and we can negotiate!"

La Luz Brilla - Kitchen
We met with the owner a few days later and I proposed a few things. One, the exterior of the house needs to be painted, I said we would paint the house within the first year. Two, I would build a roof over the pila (large outdoor sink where the girls will wash their clothes).
In return, we asked to receive the house rent free the first month (while we prepare it etc) and then we asked for him to lower the rent to Q4,000 monthly (about $525). That is a huge reduction in rent as the original Q5,500 was probably fair for that house and neighborhood.
He hesitated and asked for time to think about it, then after about 10 minutes, he accepted all of our requests!

So....PRAISE THE LORD, as of March 1st La Luz Brilla is a reality!
We have one woman living in the house already, she will be more or less in charge of the house daily. We have another girl ready to move in probably next week, she has already moved some of her things. We plan to fill it gradually over 6 - 12 months.

Please pray for La Luz Brilla as we begin screening girls to live there. Praise God for His provision of this house, and ask for His ongoing provision as we now have monthly bills to meet.

Look for more posts here very soon explaining our purpose and vision for La Luz Brilla!

03 April 2012

What a month!

We just finished what may have been our busiest month ever! But, wow, was it great!
We started March 1 with a couple arriving from Alaska to stay until the 27th of March! 
Blaine & Becky Anders.
They had felt led to spend some time serving in Guatemala and Blaine actually googled "Guatemala Missionary". It took quite a bit of bouncing around the web, but eventually he connected with us,    and...praise the Lord, it was a divine connection!

Blaine & Becky Anders
Blaine's experience and skills/talents are almost exactly the same as mine, and he is just a tad crazy, like me, so it was like we had known each other for years! 
He and Becky jumped right in to serving, and started right off doing painting and laying concrete at Las Aldeas Children's Home. Now everyone will not have to run through the mud during the rainy season!

New sidewalk at Las Aldeas children's home

Blaine worked alongside Jorge y Manuel, the maintenance workers at Las Aldeas and, in spite of the language barrier, they became fast friends!

Blaine with Manuel y Jorge
A week after Blaine & Becky arrived, Tim Sloma came to help until the 27th also. Tim had spent 5 weeks with us a year ago and had been looking forward to returning. Well, he hit the ground running because we had stuff going in every direction! 

Tim Sloma
 Not only did we have Anders here, but March 1st we also took possesion of a house to use for La Luz Brilla, the transition home for young women! There was work to be done on it to prepare it for ministry. We also had projects committed to do at Las Aldeas, and I was preparing for a team from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church of Denton, Texas. 

New roof over the pila at La Luz Brilla!

I was so busy trying to keep all things covered, that I didn't get to do much actual work. I guess most people wouldn't mind that, but I don't get to do much construction type work anymore and was really looking forward to it. But, thank the Lord for the Anders and Tim, we got a lot of projects covered that I would not have been able to get done soon by myself.

The team from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church 2012!
Then March 18, the team of 14 from St. Andrew arrived! As always it was so encouraging to have them here with us. They come every Spring and feel like family!
They were able to paint ceilings in two houses at Las Aldeas (very badly needed) and had activities for the kids in the afternoon.

Painting ceilings at Las Aldeas
 Then we all went to Puerto San José down on the Pacific coast to work at Iglesia Monte Sión.
This is a very poor rural church whose roof was ready to fall in on the church, and was filled with holes. The group from St. Andrew raised enough funds to put a completely new roof on the church! So we spent a  few days there beginning the project. They painted the steel beams and roofing with anti-corrisive paint, and began some of the welding the beams and trusses together.
The members of the church and sister churches will complete the project over the next few weeks!

I missed the first day in Puerto San José, due to an emergency with one of our youth, I spent 2 nights and day with her in the hospital, but was able to get her home and then join the team on the coast.

It was a crazy month, but a TON was accomplished and we were greatly encouraged by all who came!