28 June 2012

Excursión Familiar 2012

On June 17th, Father's Day, we hosted the 2nd annual Excursión Familiar, or Family Excursion, for the families of children at Casita Benjamín. 
These are families from the neighborhood around the big dump in Guatemala City. For most, this is the first time they have been on a family outing to a park like this. (Unless they went last year!)
Last year we went to a park on top of a mountain just west of Guatemala City. It was a little chilly and drizzly. So, this year we went to a different place, called "Aguas Calientes" that is just a little East of the city.
There are pools and natural hot springs there.

Some of our group passing the monkey cages!
 The original idea was to do a follow up event mid year from our big Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) outreach. One huge problem here, especially in these neighborhoods are the lack of male involvement in the lives of the kids. Most come from single parent homes and not many dads are present.
So, the only requirement is that if there is a dad or male in the home, they MUST attend or the family cannot go. This year we doubled the number of men in attendance!

Welcome and announcements
 We rented 2 large buses, arrived at the Casita around 8 AM and loaded up about 150 people!
We arrived at the park around 9:30 AM and lined up to enter. The park was very helpful getting our people and kids in. The only problem was that they informed me as we entered we could not have a guitar or any kind of a 'service'. So, I explained what we do, and received permission for a guitar with the restriction we could not sing 'religious' songs. I also received permission to have 'chats' with the men and women.

Some of the kids playing a game
 So, we got everyone in, had a short welcome and a little time for everyone to find their own little patch of ground! Then we had some organized games led by several of our youth that came with us, and some interactive kids songs of the non-religious type! (We had to alter the words of a few songs, but we adhered to our agreement.)

Singing songs with the kids
 We had a 'chat' for the men, that was planned for 15 minutes, but due to much interest and questions it lasted over 45 minutes!

The men hearing the gospel during a chat
 There was also a 'chat' for the women at the same time.

The women at their chat
 After the 'chats' and the games for the kids it was time for lunch. Several women from the Casita had been cooking away during the chats, and so we gathered everyone up and created a looooooong line to get a delicious lunch of carne asada, pasta salad, guacamole, frijoles, tortillas & juice!

Lining up for lunch!
 The food was fantastic! What a huge amount of work to bring all of that food and prepare it for 150 people!

Serving the lunch
 After lunch we had free time for the families to explore the park. There were pools, playground areas for kids, hot springs, animals etc.

You had to watch where you walked, they were all over!
 Then to round out the day we had three piñatas. One for girls, one for boys and one for the adults!
All who wanted got a turn and it was a lot of fun!
We also had a box of cookies for each father there to celebrate Father's Day!

Piñatas for all ages!
Finally, as the park closed at 3:30 in the afternoon, we loaded everyone up on the buses to go home!
There were lots of kids sleeping on the way back to town, so I think they had fun!
It was a great day for families, most likely the only one they will have this year. 
Many of you were praying for this event and we want to thank you, and ask you to keep praying for these families. Several of the 'dads' that came are in gangs back in the neighborhood. Pray that what they heard may grow within them, that the Lord would continue to draw them.
Pray for the kids and the moms too.

Louisiana style

It has been a crazy month, but now is time to get a couple of updates out!
Starting the end of May our first EMERGE Summer interns arrived for a 5 day orientation, which means we had 9 days between the end of the orientation, and the start of another 5 day orientation for our second group of interns.
What better way to fill those 9 days than with a team!
We had a team of 16 people from Community Bible Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana come for their first trip to Guatemala! And what a blessing it was for us!
This is a trip that was 3 years in the making, starting with contact from the pastor when he was in New Jersey! Then he changed churches, things kept getting pushed back, until finally, this year they made it! As always God's timing is perfect and it was a great team at a great time!

Community Bible Church team over Antigua
With a new team, first time in Guatemala for each one, everything we do is new for them! We try to give a good mixture of service, ministry and fun! 
But...so much to do, see and learn in such a short time....sooooooo
we kept them busy!
Their main project was to paint ceilings in houses at Las Aldeas Children's Home.
They had recently put new roofs on the houses and the ceilings were very stained from years of leaks.
Of course, the best part was not making the houses look so much better (that was great) but was getting to know the Tia's and kids in the homes!

Ken in the playhouse at Casita Benjamín
 We also showed them around Guatemala City, taught them a lot about the city, people, culture and history.
We visited many other ministries we are involved in, to let them see a lot of what life is like for us here.
They saw and learned about La Luz Brilla, Kairos House and Casita Benjamín and more!

Playing games during Vacation Bible School
 Two of the afternoons at Las Aldeas we stopped work early to hold a Vacation Bible School for the kids.
The team was well prepared and had games, music, crafts and a message each day!
The kids loved it all, and Pastor Steve had messages that kept the kids mesmerized! I've never seen them so quiet and pay attention like that!

Playing fútbol after working all day!
After working all day on several of the days, they had some play time with kids at Las Aldeas. It was so much fun to see some relationships started, and to see genuine unconditional love poured out on the kids.
There were some real impacts made there.

Team with Kairos families after day at the ZOO!

 On Saturday, we went to Casa Kairos, the home for kids with cancer and their families, and loaded all the kids there with parents, on our bus and took them all to the ZOO! What a fun day for everyone! We all ate lunch at the zoo together, and it was a time for the kids and families to just relax and enjoy the day.

Leading worship at Iglesia Heme Aquí Señor
 Sunday, the team went with us, and several kids from Las Aldeas, to our church 
"Iglesia Cristiana Heme Aquí Señor"
After worshipping with our worship team, they went up front to share a couple of songs but the church wouldn't let them stop! We continued to worship because the Spirit was leading and we followed!
Then Pastor Steve had a message for our church, and they presented our church with a gift of a new guitar!

We had a dinner at our home to thank the team for their love and encouragement here, and they learned more of the history of Guatemala and the reasons for many of the issues we face here today.

We are looking forward to their returning hopefully in 2013, and Lord willing, maybe becoming an annual fixture here in Guatemala!

THANK YOU Community Bible Church!