Saturday, August 6, 2011

Our Last Day

Today we began our trip home with a stop in Antigua for a walking tour, final shopping, and a final dinner as a group.  It was a great ending to a great week.  Tomorrow we'll be traveling home.

Everyone had a great experience but we're all ready to come home to our families.  Hope you enjoyed following our trip and maybe it has inspired you to come with us next year. God Bless!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday was our last work day...and did we work!  We had more stoves to install, family photos, 150 chickens to distribute, and more and more shoes!  Many previous group members sent gifts with us and we were able to see them and give those gifts to them.  They were so grateful and some pictures are below.  This group sponsored 7 more children for school and we installed stoves in many of their homes and their sponsors took their families to lunch.  While eating at the restaurant, one child told their sponsor that she has always seen people eat this food, but she never thought she would be able to eat it herself.

I would say this year's focus was about relationships.  Yes we built stoves, gave out chickens, put lots of shoes on dirty feet, but more importantly we built relationships.  A smile and a laugh is very universal.  When members return each year, familiar faces and friendships grow... rather with a street vendor, Mayan Family staff or a sponsored child.  One street vendor (a child) recognized Steven (one of our children).  He called him Ben, who happens to be Steven's brother who was here last year.  Quite a memory...and a salesman!

As the leader, I hear the same thing every year.  "Pictures don't do it justice".  "People just have to come here."  "My life has been transformed."  The common agreement is that we can be very inward focused, worry about things that really don't matter in the scheme of things, and every day we must serve others.  People are just people no matter where they live and what color they are.  We are all children of God and we all matter.

We appreciate everyone's prayers during this week.  Today (Friday) is our last day.  We travel to Antigua for a day of shopping and a final dinner together.  We'll be home soon.  As our devotions last night challenged us...will we keep from conforming to the way of the world and keep our minds clear to hear God?


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Picture of Julia receiving gift from family

Here is a picture of Julia receiving the gift on behalf of Faith Community for the gift of their new home.

A Blessing for us today!

Today we went to San Jorge to build a couple of stoves, visit a school to hand out shoes and take pictures.  This is the village where our construction team from last year began building a home for a family whose home had collapsed into the river after Tropical Storm Agatha.  Unfortunately because of the rain, our team did not finish the work.  When we arrived today we saw the completed home and the family had prepared a gift for our group.  It was such a blessing to hear her thank our church for purchasing her family a new home.  She said they no longer fear losing their home in the rains.  Julia, a member of last year's team, was able to receive their gift and we prayed for her and her family.  For all other members, we have video footage of the mother's appreciation for you to hear.

It was another great day as we gave out sooooo many shoes.  Our group has felt and experienced God's great gifts of beauty in the country and in the Mayan people.  Plus, no rain today!!!

Thanks for your continued support and prayers as we finish up our week.  More pictures to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Picture Day!

We spent yesterday at two schools taking pictures of the children, helping them decorate a picture frame and handing out shoes.  We also built four more stoves and several families were fortunate enough to have the special experience of meeting their sponsored children and families!

One of the most common things for school childeren in the US is to get a school picture taken every year.  Some of us, even hate having our picture taken and will do almost anything to avoid the camera.  In Guatemala, most people do not have a picture of themselves or their children.  The children were so excited to have their pictures taken, and to pick out a new pair of shoes.  I don't think they stopped smiling or talking!

From Jen and Pete Searles: We decided to sponsor a child about 3 weeks ago.  We chose a little girl based on only a simple online profile and the fact that she was the same age as our daugther with a similar birthday.  We had the opportunity to meet her and her family yesterday.  Despite feeling really anxious about how we could possibly create relationship with someone a world away in both geography and circumstance, we spent three wonderful hours with them, getting to know a little about the familty, more about their situation and their needs, as well as the things that make them happy and what they enjoy doing.  The family was very grateful for the sponsorship and the opportunity to meet us in person, but truthfully, we were equally blessed by the experience, having the opportunity to see God at work first hand, not only through our hands, but through theirs as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Installing Stoves

Day 3 of our trip began with stove installation training at the Mayan Families office.  Who would've known that a relatively simple construction could provide such a great benefit?!  Smoke from open fires causes glaucoma and lung issues.  In addition, many children can be burned from accidents near the fires.  After training, we broke into 4 groups and set out to build as many stoves as we could.  At the end of the day, we installed 16 stoves! The families that received stoves were so grateful and appreciative.  Our team members were overjoyed and grateful to be able to fill such a great need.  We also found that we built a lot more than stoves this day; we built relationships.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cultural and Team Bonding Day

Today was a cultural and team bonding day where we visited El Barranco.  While there, the kids entertained us with several traditional Guatemalan dances and then included us in "The Monkey Dance".  Afterwards, we handed out shoes to excited kids.  One of the more impressive things to see was all of the kids in our group just as excited to hand out shoes!  They were the first ones in the building to start work!

Monkey Dance

Fun for all on the Zip lines!

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