Grace to Guatemala June 2012
June 22-29, 2012
Our project to help the village of Colonia El Mitch will Continues with our 3rd group mission trip through World Help!
06-29-12 12:08 AM GBC Time - Day 7
This is the spectacular view from the top of the Hospital that Carlos is building. Pastor Todd, Doug, Wayne, and I were able to climb up to the top (7 stories) and stand on the Helipad and look out over God's creation! It was truly a magnificent view!
Today, we were given a very special treat. Many of our people were able to meet their sponsor kids at the Hope of Life compound. Hope of Life was able to set up a morning of games and playing with the children. The children were even able to swim in the pool with us. They played duck, duck, goose, and other games. There was even a piñata where the children were able to grab a lot of candy! After lunch, the kids were given a treat of 300 quetzales (which is about $43!) to spend at the Hope of Life warehouse (Wal Mart). It was really neat to walk through with those kids and see what they wanted to buy with their money vouchers. It was really touching to hear the first thing that came out of the mouth of the girl that I was helping. Many American kids would have gone straight to the toy section, but this girl asked for shampoo! We spent the first 10 or 15 minutes searching for shampoo! Sadly we couldn't find any, and again, it brought perspective into my life. So many things that we take for granted here are things that these kids put on the top of their want list! We were able to have great fellowship with these children and some of their parents.
To top the day off, we were able to dedicate the house that we have been working on all week. Thanks to contributions that we collected in memory of Joel Kormanski, we were able to purchase this house, and remodel it so that the pastor of the church here will have a safe, and nice house to live in! God has blessed this trip in so many wonderful ways, and I think that it was a perfect end to a perfect week to dedicate this house in memory of Joel to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
06-28-12 12:08 PM GBC Time - Day 6
Today was a beautiful day in Guatemala. The sunrise was gorgeous, and God's creation was crying out to Him all day long!
We began our day "eating breakfast" in the pavilion, and having a great time (as you can see).Our schedule today was a little different from the other days in that we were slated to work at the Hope of Life compound in the morning, go to the dump around lunch time, and then go to El Mitch in the afternoon.
For the morning, our group split up into three teams. One team went to the hospital to carry blocks to the top (the 7th floor!), another team went to the greenhouses to help till the dirt for planting, and a team went to the baby rescue center. It was a very busy morning for us all!
After working in the morning, we headed to the dump to do a feeding. This was by far the most heart wrenching moment of our trip to this point. You truly can't imagine what to expect until you actually get to the dump. When we arrived, we saw hundreds of people that were already lined up and waiting for us to feed them. Imagine, walking into an actual dump, and seeing hundreds of kids and their families come from every corner to line up for food! The scene was truly unfathomable.
However, one thing that we noticed was the contentment that was prevalent on many of the faces that we saw. People lined up for a long time just to get a bowl of spaghetti to eat. Again, we saw God's provision as no one left hungry! There was no food left at the end, and no more people to feed. In His sovereignty, God provided just enough food for all of them to eat. God is truly an awesome God who loves us with all of His heart!
Over the last few days, we have been telling the children that we will give them soccer balls. However, the time has never been just right to give them the balls. Since there is such a lack of male leadership Last night, we had the thought that we would give out the soccer balls to the boys that have shown the most maturity and helpfulness over the last few days. We didn't have enough for all the kids in the village, so we hand picked 9 boys and took them into the church to share with them a little bit. Mike translated as Todd read them a letter that he had prepared for the boys. In it he spoke about being a Godly man, and how this village, and this country needs Godly men to step forward and lead in a Christ-like way. He also presented the gospel to the boys. We then let them pick out the soccer ball that they wanted. It was a very emotional time.
We ended the day putting some finishes to the basketball court, and playing with the children. All in all, we had another very successful day!
06-26-12 9:45 GBC Time - Day 5
Well today we had another scorcher, but God really did some great things in our midst!
Brett and Kevin saw a lady walking toward them carrying a load of firewood on her head, and they struck up a conversation about how she was working so hard and no one was helping her. As soon as she passed, Brett grabbed her wood, and started carrying it for her, and carried it to her house. Her husband was walking with her, and looked at Brett like he was crazy. The woman also looked at her like he was crazy. Brett looked at it like it was a servant opportunity. On a trip like this, it is very easy to focus on the big things like the entire village of El Mitch, and ignore the little details like this woman carrying wood on her head needing help. Please pray that we will never ignore the little things while we are in the midst of the big things.
One consistent theme that seems to be cropping up a lot this week is God's provision. Yesterday, you heard the story about how we purchased 40 trees and God multiplied it into 80 trees! Today, we ran into a similar situation with the shoeboxes that we handed out. When the boxes arrived, we found ourselves in ultimate chaos! We noticed that not all of our boxes were on the truck, and there were at least 80 boxes that did not make it to the village. We faced the daunting choice of handing out what we had with the possibility of many kids not getting even one box, or waiting until tomorrow to hand them all out. We finally came up with a compromise in that we would hand out what we had while we sent the truck back to get the rest. We did our best to organize 300 children and their parents! With the help of Mike Doering (Our World Help translator), and Lucy (the Mayor of the village), we were able to get them in a somewhat organized line. As we handed out the boxes, it brought such a joy to our hearts as we saw the smiles on the faces of those children! Today, God truly worked a miracle in our midst. While we thought we didn't have enough boxes for everyone, God seemed to multiply the boxes in front of our eyes! Toward the end of the line, we realized that we were going to have enough boxes to pass out to all the children! We even called the truck that went back to get the rest of the boxes, and they turned around. At the end of the day, there were only about 14 boxes left, and every child received a box. We even guessed at the ages of the boxes that would be needed, and God made sure that we had the appropriate ages for all the children there! It was truly miraculous to see how every need was met! Our God is truly great!
Doug found out today that Guatemalan teenagers are similar to American teenagers in a lot of ways. For the two days that we have been working in El Mitch, there has consistently been a number of teenage boys who have sat and watched as we went about our work. It has been slightly frustrating to see these able bodied boys sit around while much younger kids work around them. Doug decided to take a few minutes to try and befriend these boys, and minister to their needs. After about fifteen minutes, he was able to invite them to work at the pastor's house! Not only did they come over and help, they had smiles on their faces while they got in the "bucket brigade" line at the house to pass materials to the workers. They also stayed to help even after we finished out work at the house for the day!
We were also able to complete our work on the Awana circle and finish painting the basketball court for the kids in the village. It really turned out nice! Overall, we had a wonderful day and God truly blessed!
06-25-12 11:35 GBC Time - Day 4
Today was a great day! We were able to travel to El Mitch as a group and get a lot of work done. It was as hot as could be (around 100 degrees), but we were able to fight the heat and get many things accomplished. We started out the day by planting trees...
God is truly an amazing God! We came to Guatemala thinking that we raised enough money for 40 trees. In God's divine providence, we found out that Hope of Life was able to purchase 80 trees for us to plant! We also thought that it would take us a long time to plant 80 trees, when in reality it took us a matter of a couple of hours! Praise God for what he did with simple trees today!
After we finished the trees quickly, we had a little bit of time on our hands while we waited for some supplies to arrive so we could do our next projects. This was great because it let us play with the kids and get to know them a lot better. Kevin even brought a ball and bat and started an impromptu game of Baseball while we waited.
We began work on the pastor's house today. These are pictures of the front and back of the house. We are not building the house from scratch, rather, we are remodeling and adding on to the house so that he can have a kitchen inside his house. Please pray that God will work in the life of this man as he has a tremendous task ahead of him.
While some worked on the pastor's house, Deanne led a group of students to make Tie Dye T-Shirts for the children. These T-Shirts had the colors of the wordless gospel, and every kid was presented with a piece of paper describing what each color meant. That means that each El Mitch child that received a shirt was presented with the gospel today!
One of the more special things that we were able to start today was the
Awana circle. We acquired some paint and we were able to begin
painting the Awana circle for the club that will begin in El Mitch soon.
This means that every child will have the same opportunity to participate in
the Awana group that our kids have at Grace!
Overall, I would say that our day has been a tremendous success. We were able to break off into 4 teams, and work toward 4 separate tasks. Our group is truly working together very nicely, and God is blessing His work in Guatemala!!!!! Thank you for your continued prayers!
06-24-12 11:57 GBC Time - Day 3
Well today was a great day in Guatemala! We were able to start the day with a great worship service in Iglesia Biblica La Gracia El Mitch! Pastor Todd delivered the sermon, I (Michael) led the singing, Brett, and Kevin both gave testimonies. It was truly spectacular to hear how those people (especially the children) praised God with their whole heart during the service. God was really in that place today! One thing that was very obvious, though was the lack of men. There was only one man there that was from the village of El Mitch. After talking with Mike Dooring (our translator, and church planter in the Dominican Republic) he said that and absence of men in church is typical of Latin countries. Please pray that God will change the heart of the men in not only this village, but around the globe!
After the worship service, we opened our bags and took out millions of shoes (well not quite that many) and began to hand them out to the children and parents in El Mitch. Kids and adults lined up outside the church for a couple of hours while we handed them a pair of flip flops.
It really put our lives in perspective when we saw how grateful these people were to receive a fifty cent pair of shoes! Many of these shoes are slippers that many children in the US would wear only if they had to wear them. They were by no means extravagant, but you could see the delight on the faces of the children that received them today! Again, we were reminded of how much we have, and how little it actually takes to find joy. Their joy truly came from who they knew, and not what they possessed. Their faces while they worshipped their savior told the whole story! Their joy came from the Lord.
While some were passing out the shoes, others were able to go outside and play with some of the children in the village. In case you are wondering, the picture on the right is of Brett throwing children around. They seemed to enjoy it!
After we got back from El Mitch, we had lunch, and had some free time to explore the Hope of Life complex. Some played in the pool while others went to the rescue center, and the Hope of Life Village. The above pictures are a couple of children in the Hope of Life Village where we passed out candy for the children. Keep these people in your prayers as they all come from very disparaging situations.
We finally ended the night with a bible study and some fun games!
06-24-12 10:30 AM GBC Time - Day 2
Today was a fairly leisurely day for the group. We took a tour of the Hope of Life compound today. We were able to see the hospital that Carlos is building, the elderly home, the orphanage, the baby rescue center, the tilapia farms, the school, and the construction on the new special needs baby center that will open in August.
Touring these sites was definitely a tear jerker for many people in our group. It is heart wrenching to see many of these kids who were rescued from complete poverty, reach up to you and beg you to hold them. It truly adds a great amount of perspective to your life. Things that seemed important before, suddenly aren't quite as necessary.
Please keep the new special needs baby center in your prayers. It is scheduled to open in August, and will take care of some of the orphans that have more specialized problems. This will be a great new addition to the list of services that Hope of Life provides, while freeing up more beds so the baby rescue center can take in more children.
We were able to tour the almost completed hospital today. It is amazing to see how much more has been completed on this building since we came last! There are only a couple more floors to complete. The plan is to use the top 2 floors to take in people who can pay for their services, and charge enough to cover the bottom 2 floors that will be used to take in those that can't pay. It is this Robin Hood methodology that will give many poverty stricken people the ability to be seen by a good doctor.
Brett, Doug, Paul, Eli and Wayne went to the hospital today to help the workers move 4 skids of concrete from the ground level up to the 5th floor of the hospital. This is the floor right below where the helipad will be. After they moved the concrete, they went outside to help move all the scaffolding timber for the workers, and they noticed some hornets flying around. Many of the guys were hesitant to take any more lumber due to these hornets, so they asked if there was any hornet killer to kill all of the hornets that were flying everywhere. One of the Guatemalan workers nodded, then proceeded to go to the generator and take some diesel fuel out of the generator that they were using and proceeded to douce the wood with the fuel! After dousing the wood, they all started to work moving the wood again because they thought the hornets were all killed. Little did they know that those pesky Guatemalan hornets were not dead at all! One of the Guatemalan workers actually found the nest on the back side of a piece of wood, and it was about the size of a pie plate! (Brett later admitted that he was glad that he didn't pick up that piece of wood because he would have screamed like a little girl!) While everyone scrambled, the worker smiled, and grabbed his hat. He looked like he was going to hit the nest, so everyone yelled, "no!" He smiled again, and stuck the hat over the nest, then proceeded to squish the entire nest in his hat! Brett said that his respect level jumped about 100 points for that Guatemalan hornet killing worker!
Our last stop of the day for our group was at the orphanage. We were able to hold the children, play with them, and hand out some candy. It was a wonderful time, and very emotional for everyone.
While some swam in the pool, and others visited various parts of the Hope of Life compound, Pastor Todd, Kevin, and I were given a special treat as we travelled to El Mitch to take pictures and video of the land that Grace Bible Church will use to build the vocational center. This was a privilege to be able to see how God is working in that village. I am convinced that our church is truly making a lasting impact in the lives of these children! Many children came running out to us to give us hugs, and show us pictures that they had saved from previous trips. Brian came out and showed us pictures that the Shocks had given him! One of the best things that happened, however, was when we asked a group of kids where Jesus lived, and one boy said, "En mi Corazon!" Which means "In my heart!" This was a tremendous encouragement to us, and it shows that God is moving in El Mitch!
06-23-12 7:30 PM GBC Time - Day 1
I apologize for how late this is getting out... I meant to do this last night, but I couldn't find reliable internet until this afternoon. I will try to update every day from here on out.
Well our trip began on Thursday evening around midnight! We left the church and travelled to Reagan International airport in Washington DC. The bus ride was great and uneventful, but as you can imagine, we were all very tired. We got to the airport around 3:30 in the morning!
Our flight left at 6:00, so we had a little time to wait before the ticket counters even opened. When they finally opened, the chaos ensued! The workers at the counter were very slow to process our bags and give us our boarding passes, so it took a very long time to get through the initial line to get our tickets. After we all received our tickets, we proceeded downstairs to stand in the line to get through security. We had to break our group up to go through the lines, and it was extremely slow! We were still standing in line at 5:45 with our plane leaving at 6:00! Many people were complaining to the workers (for the record, none of our group complained! :) that the line was so slow. I overheard one worker say, "that is why we tell everyone to get to the airport early!" I thought to myself, "I thought getting to the airport at 3:30 am before the ticket counters even opened would be early enough!" I guess not :)... Anyway, by the grace of God, we all were able to board the plane in time (though it was by the skin of our teeth) and we took off for Houston. Our layover in Houston was very minimal while we waited to take off for Guatemala. Both flights (to Houston and Guatemala) were smooth.
When we arrived in Guatemala, we had the daunting task of getting everyone through customs. The great part is that we have so many people who have already been here that it made filling the forms out very easy. Thankfully, only a handful of our people actually had their bags searched in customs!
After we all left customs, we began the rather fun adventure of travelling to Zacapa Guatemala. Our luggage arrangement was very unique (as you can see in the above picture), but functional. The 3 1/2 hour bus ride to the Hope of Life village can only be described as being similar to a roller coaster. The drivers in Guatemala are very liberal with their choice of traveling lanes and speed! On top of that, it seems like the roads are filled with more potholes than flat road! The view from the bus, however was wonderful!
In spite of the beauty outside, and the bumpiness of the ride, some of us were still able to get some good rest and relaxation! We arrived at the Hope of Life compound safe and sound.
After we ate, we were able to go to the hammock pavilion, and have a little devotion with Pastor Todd before we went to sleep for the night. All in all, I would say that our first day of travel was very successful! The Lord has blessed us by keeping us safe thus far! Thank you guys for praying for us as we travelled on Friday. Please continue to pray as we begin our work tomorrow!