Grace to Guatemala Summer 2012
August 2-9, 2012
08-10-12 - Days 8-9
12:15 pm-Well, we've finally arrived safely home. Due to the potential of strikers blocking the highway between Hope of Life and Guatemala city, we got up early and left about 3:30 am on Thursday morning. Four and a half hours later we got to the airport and awaited our flight back to the states. We left about 2 pm and other than a 45 minute delay on our flight back to DC, the trip went pretty well and we arrived back at the church about 7 am this morning.
Overall, this was a great trip. We pray that our efforts in building this school will impact the people by improving their day to day lives, but more importantly that God will use our time there to help them grow in their faith and reach others for Christ!
08-08-12 - Day 7, NOT MY WILL BUT THINE LORD
7:30 pm-Our scripture verse for today was "Not my will but thine Lord". That was definitely the case today! We had all these plans to go finish painting the vocational school, visiting the dump, then returning to El Mitch to dedicate the building. When we got to breakfast this morning, we found out that the road to El Mitch was closed due to strikers blocking the road. Carlos asked that the men go help with planting trees and cleaning up at the hospital in preparation for the dedication coming up soon. The ladies worked on sewing curtains for the hospital and picking out supplies for sponsored children's families. When we got to lunch we found out that Carlos had an "alternate route" to El Mitch. We traveled by bus to a small village where we rode in about a mile down a dirt path in the back of a pickup truck to the river. We then traveled across the river in a large canoe, then hiked a short distance to a bus where we travelled back roads through creeks and mud for about an hour until we got to the village. When we got to El Mitch, it seemed the whole village was out in front of the school waiting for us. Hope of Life led a dedication ceremony, and then we handed out the bags of school supplies to the children. The families along on the trip that had sponsored children in the village had a chance to present their boxes of goods to the the kids and their families. After that we had some time to spend playing and talking with the kids. When we got back we found out that we are leaving early tomorrow (3:30 am) to avoid any issues with road blockage issues on the way to the airport.
Throughout the whole day, it was obvious that God had a different plan for us today than we expected, but He always knows best, and the day turned out great even though it had all the making's of a Pastor Lou vacation story! To top off the day, one of the elderly men in the village, Pedro accepted Jesus as his savior!
08-07-12 - Day 6, AWANA!
9:30 pm-Yesterday, it seemed almost impossible that we would be able to finish this building by Wednesday, but today when we got to El Mitch, Hope of Life had sent a lot more workers to help us move along quickly. We spent the morning finishing the fill process (lots more buckets of dirt and sand!) while the masons were finishing up the block. We then moved on to cover all the walls with stucco and then started to pour the floor about 3 pm. While most of the men stayed with the building crew, Nathan and Laura and the ladies headed to the church to launch El Mitch's first AWANA club! They had around 120 children attend and while handling that many kids is always chaos, the kids were great and very excited to be part of what was going on. There was Council Time, Game Time, and Verse Time. Game time was incredible with over 30 kids per color line and the moms even wanted to have chance to run a relay. During Verse time, the group worked on memorizing Romans 3:23. The leaders from El Mitch dived in quickly and were helping the kids learn the verse.
While building this vocational school was exciting and a huge amount of work, what is even more of a big deal is seeing the parents and leaders from the El Mitch community interested and excited about learning and teaching their kids about God!
08-06-12 - Day 5, The Bucket Brigade
9:00 pm-Today it was back to the dirt! Most of today we spent moving dirt and sand. They brought three dumptruck loads of sand and dirt today to fill the building in preparation for pouring the floor. We had a lot to fill, one bucket at a time. Between Saturday and today we have probably moved about 1800 buckets of dirt with probably another 700 to go tomorrow. We formed a bucket brigade, shovelling dirt into a bucket and passing it inside the building through about 10 people and then back again. As the day went on, it seemed the pile never got smaller. Our verse today was Joshua 1:9-"Be strong and courageous...do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." We needed that encouragement!
The kids from El Mitch jumped right in and we had lots of helpers. You make recognize Maria from the Grace to Guatemala poster we have in the front of our church.
In between working, Ellen had brought some balloons and some folks played with the kids. Once we got back to Hope of Life in the late afternoon, some of the ladies headed back to the elderly home and baby resuce center.
Tomorrow is a big day, we've got to finish the fill, get the floor poured and prepare to finishing and painting on Wednesday. After we are done with construction, a lot of the team will be leading the first Oansa (AWANA) club in El Mitch later in the afternoon.
08-05-12 - Day 4, A Day of Worship and Open Eyes
9:00 pm-Today being Sunday, we didn't work at the school today, but we had a great opportunity to worship with in the village of El Mitch at Iglesia Biblica la Gracia. We started the service with the El Mitch congregation singing worship songs in Spanish. Carol and Laura then led "Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord". It was a beautiful sound as the the people of El Mitch joined in and we sang together in English and Spanish. Pastor Lou then preached a message on Mark chapter 2 and the young men on our team re-enacted the story. Michael Doering, regional coordinator with World Help, interpreted during the service.
After the service, we handed out Gospel bears (small stuffed animals with the Gospel colors on their neckbands). The kids were excited to receive even this small gift. We then had an opportunity to play with the kids. The Hunters brought along a wiffle ball and bat and a football and we had a great time playing on the basketball court. There were about four different games going on all at once-it was pure chaos!
We reluctantly left the village and then came back and spent the afternoon on a tour of the Hope of Life campus. We started at the home for the elderly where we passed out some small gifts to the residents. We then went to the Baby Rescue Center where we got to visit with the infants than have been rescued from desparate poverty in the mountains. Next was the Special Needs Home which was only dedicated a week ago. There we saw a 16 year old boy named Ulysses who had been brought into the center two weeks ago weighing only 30 lbs. We visited the Hope of Life village where families coming from very difficult circumstances have been given a home to live in. Lastly, we visited the Orphanage where all of these children who have been rescued have an opportunity to grow up in a safe environment. As you can imagine, there were a number of teary eyes as we finished. It is incredible what Hope of Life is doing here and what a huge impact they are having; however, reality is that there are desparate situations all over Guatemala.
08-04-12 - Day 3, Dirt, Dirt and more Dirt
9:00 pm-Today we headed straight over to El Mitch in the morning. Piled next to the building was a huge dump truck load of dirt. Our job for the day? Move this dirt into the building to prepare for pouring the foundation. While some of us continued to work setting block, the majority of the group formed a bucket brigade to fill the inside of the building 3 ft deep. We moved a lot of buckets, but it didn't seem like the pile was getting any smaller! Since it was Saturday, many of the village children were there and helped by shoveling dirt and carrying buckets all by themselves.
We also had lots of opportunity to visit with the children all day during work breaks. These kids just want attention and someone to show them some love. Despite the severe poverty, they are happy and smiling as they try to get us to understand what they are saying.
As we finished out the day in our devotional time, we talked about the names of God. God is our Peace, our Strength, our Provider, and most importantly our Redeemer! As we work to help these people physically, most importantly, we need to understand the Jesus is their Redeemer as well, and our primary mission is to share the good news of the Gospel with the people in El Mitch.
We look forward to worshipping in Iglesia Biblica la Gracia (Grace Bible Church) in El Mitch tomorrow morning.
08-03-12 - Day 2
10:00 pm-We arrived at El Mitch this morning and took a tour of the church, pastor's home, and school building that other GBC teams before us have built. For those of us coming to the village for the first time, the conditions were eye opening. There is only one dirt street; the other "streets" through the town are dirt paths with open water drains and hoses running through them. The children were at school and were very excited to see us and show us some of the English they have learned.
After that we got right to work on the vocational school. The Hope of Life workmen had already gotten several courses of block up. Compared to other projects, this one is located closer to the main entrance to the village and can be reached by trucks, so we didn't have to travel so far hauling block and concrete. Everyone pitched right in and we got five or six courses of block laid. As afternoon came around, the kids got out of school, and the team got to spend some time with them while we were working. Members of the team that have sponsored children in El Mitch had the privelege of meeting them today. Many of the younger children were pitching in helping to move blocks and build rebar sections.
There's lots more work to do, so pray for a productive day. Pray also that we will remember it is not just about building a school, but about showing love to those in need and gllorifying God along the journey.
6:30 am-It's a beautiful morning at Hope of Life! it rained overnight and the mists are hanging over the mountain tops. Today we'll begin the construction of a new vocational school in the village of El Mitch. Our verse for today is 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." We look forward to what the Lord has to show to us today!
08-02-12 - Day 1, 5:30 pm, Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Buses
Our trip went really well, plane flights were on time, we had a easy ride through security at Washington Reagan at 3:30 am this morning. We got into Guatemala City about lunchtime, grabbed some lunch, and headed out to Hope of Life. The 4 hour bus ride was quite and adventure, going up and down through the beautiful Guatemala mountains. Tomorrow the mission begins!
07-31-12 - T-2 and Counting
Packing Party Tonight! The team got together to fill over 20 bags with school supplies and AWANA notebooks for the children in El Mitch. We've got a lot of luggage to haul through the airport. Please pray that all of it makes it all the way through to Guatemala!