We did so much the past 10 days I'm not sure how to keep this reasonably short...well, there will be lots of pics to look at!
June 28th a team of 19 from CBC in Baton Rouge, LA arrived. Now, CBC does not really stand for "Crazy Bunch o' Christians", but it is actually "Community Bible Church"! A church that has quickly become like family for us!
We started with an orientation time then on Saturday we did a short tour of the city, dump, cemetery, etc. before heading to Las Aldeas Children's home for a fun filled afternoon.
|Ms. Liz sharing a devotional with some of the Tia's|
Las Aldeas is where a team from CBC worked primarily last year. This year we were just there for an afternoon but had a great time. We had a large turnout of kids and most of the Tia's (house moms) also came to the activity.
Ms. Liz had a great devotional to share with the Tia's, to encourage them to continue their selfless service to the kids even when they don't receive much recognition for it. They also has some nice gifts for the Tia's.
|Playing with some kids at Las Aldeas|
We broke the kids up into groups and had games, a bible story with some testimonies, and a great craft for them! Even the Tia's wanted to do the craft project!
|Even the Tia's wanted to do the craft project!|
Sunday we let them share our 'typical' Sunday. We gathered several of our youth we take to church with us each week, put them on the bus with the team and headed to our church "Iglesia Cristiana ´Heme Aquí Señor'".
The church service started a little after 10AM and ended about 1:15PM although I would have enjoyed more! We worshiped in song for about 2 hours! The group led us in several songs also. The pastor interviewed some of the youth from the team, then we had a guest preacher who was bi-lingual and preached in both English and Spanish so the team could enjoy it!
|Games to combine the team and our youth group in our yard|
After church finally ended we went out for tacos! No...not Taco Bell, but real tacos from a little taco stand!
(little secret, we take our youth there for lunch almost every Sunday, we kinda like it)
After tacos, we went to our house for our weekly youth group meeting. More youth came and combined we must have had about 40 people!
|Games that got both groups interacting together!|
We started outside with some games that really got the two groups to mix and interact in spite of some language barriers. Plus the games were a lot of fun!
Then we went inside and had some songs and then a couple of youth from our group gave testimonies, and a few of our CBC youth also gave testimonies!
|Worshiping and sharing testimonies together|
Monday morning before heading to the coast and Puerto San José for several days we made a stop at Casita Benjamín. The Casita is a day care / preschool located a couple of blocks from the largest land-fill dump in Central America. We have 3 interns serving there for a month or more and introduced the team to them to learn more about the ministry at Casita Benjamín.
|A visit to Casita Benjamín|
We left Casita Benjamín and loaded the team back on the bus and headed for Puerto San José! It is about 1 1/2 hours to the Puerto. We had snacks and some lively entertainment on the bus!
|Ms. Tiffany dancing on the bus!|
We arrived to a great lunch waiting for us at the home of Rony y Duña Montepequez where we would stay while in Puerto San José. We went to the school, Colegio Evangélico Génesis, where we would work.
The team jumped in and started painting lots and lots of desks!
|Painting LOTS of desks at Colegio Evangélico Génesis|
They also painted lots of steel that will be used for the roof being put up over the roof top patio.
They also painted some interior walls of the school. Tuesday morning the team led a devotion for the students of the school. They led some singing, gave testimonies, shared their "human video" (a drama of the life and death of Jesus Christ) Pastor Josh had a message and they gave each student a beautiful cross necklace the team made. They did all of this twice, to two groups of about 120 each!
|Maria painting steel for the roof (and herself)|
We had a surprise for them and took them to a finca not too far away and let them all have the chance to ride a horse for a little while!
|An afternoon trip for some horseback riding!|
Wednesday brought some surprises also! Mr. Stephen Punkay arrived from Baton Rouge in the afternoon, unknown by all except for Pastor Josh and myself! His daughter Rachel had no clue her dad was coming. The team thought they were stopping for a break with bread and cokes when Mr. Stephen brought out the bread!
|A mid-week surprise for Rachel and the rest of the team too!|
Mr. Stephen also brought some sad news for the team. A young woman that had been part of the church growing up and even served a short time as church secretary before moving away had tragically died a few days before. Many of the team had known her and been friends with her. We had a very moving time of prayer and worship after sharing the news and talking about it as a team.
Later in the evening, I had previously rented the local fútbol (soccer) field for an hour starting at 10PM. Most of the team decided to go get their emotions etc out with a little physical activity. It was perfect. Mid game the heavens opened up and poured down rain! It rained so hard it was difficult to see across the field, and these are small fields. What a blast they had! A perfect release for all of the pent up emotions. The Lord is good.
|Nothing quite like a game of fútbol in a torrential rainstorm!|
4th of July.
What better way to start the 4th of July than with a lot of FIRECRACKERS!
Then at Breakfast Mr. Eddie gave a short talk on what made our country great and what it will take to keep it great.
Then, we went to the beach! Beautiful black sand beaches with 4 volcanoes visible inland!
|You can't work at the coast without visiting the black sand beach!|
We made the drive back to Guatemala City after lunch and then in the evening we visited Casa Kairos.
Casa Kairos, or Kairos House, is a home a few blocks from the largest public hospital and they house primarily children undergoing treatment for cancer, and their families that are with them. These are all poor people from far away that need to stay near the hospital for treatments and cannot be at home and work etc.
We shared about how the Lord started the ministry and how it operates. Then we had a time of worship with Nate leading, heard some testimonies from a couple of moms at Kairos, and a couple of the team. Then we had a sweet time of prayer with folks at Kairos. Amazing place.
|Nate led some worship at Casa Kairos|
Friday was our day for "cultural experience" (aka sightseeing)! We stopped at Cerro de la Cruz, overlooking La Antigua, Guatemala. Then we went into Antigua for most of the day, exploring, shopping etc. Later in the afternoon we stopped at San Francisco, a catholic church still in use with the ruins of a monastery alongside of it.
|A trip to La Antigua is a must|
Saturday we took the bus back over to Casa Kairos, picked up several kids and moms, and then we all went to the ZOO! It is a beautiful zoo and the weather was great. We split into groups with some of the Kairos kids and wandered around the zoo. Then we all had lunch together there before exploring more of the zoo!
|An outing to the ZOO with some kids from Casa Kairos|
At least for most of a day, these kids and moms were able to forget their troubles and worries for a little while and really enjoy a day. Several moms remarked they had never been to a zoo before.
Truly was a blessed day.
|The kids adored Ms. Liz|
Then we got to share our wonderful church with the team a second time!
Incredible time of worship and the team also sang for the church.
Then Rachel and Cecile sang a duet that captivated our church! After they finished our Pastor asked them both to tell the church their complete names, then said he asked so that when they record CDs we can say that they sang in our church before!
|Rachel & Cecile absolutely AMAZED our church!|
The team also performed the drama again for our church and it was fantastic.
Pastor Josh led our church for Santa Cena (Communion) and 4 of the young people of the team served the bread and cup to the congregation.
We were so impressed with the preparation and leadership of this team. The young people were great, boldly sharing their testimonies, smiles and joy with all they came into contact with. Leading worship and loving on people!
|Very impacting drama of Christ's life and death|
After church we went out for Pupusas! Traditional Salvadoran food. Then we went back to our house where the team watched a documentary called Reparando about some of the recent history of Guatemala to understand better the root of many problems we face here today.
After the film we walked down to show the team La Luz Brilla, our home for señoritas making the transition from institutional living (orphanages, children's homes) to living independently.
We followed that with a great dinner at our house to thank the team and share our gratitude for the way this team encouraged us, and blessed us.
|Lots of great food all week, here we're having pupusas|
We had a very special time at the guest house to wrap up the trip with the "Web of Encouragement". It was a very special time with very special people.
Thank you CBC for sharing these folks with us, for making us really truly feel a part of your family.
We love you guys and are already counting the months until you return!