Wednesday, February 21, 2018

 Having blog responsibilities on dedication day is a challenge, since there is so much to share and so many amazing things to report.  I'll do my best!

After putting the finishing touches on a couple houses, we had half the team go to 2 homes, and the other half to another 2.  We divided the remaining 8 homes throughout the rest of the day.

The Holy Spirit was present at all these dedications.  The families that were receiving the houses were believers and were extremely grateful to our team- but even more grateful to our Savior- which was very moving.  As prayer shawls and prayer quilts were given and prayers of both Guatemalans and Gringos were offered in Christ's name, it becomes so evident that within only 1 week friendships are formed that will span eternity.

What do we have in common with people so different from us?  Love.  Love of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Love of family.  Love of one another. 

Adam Jager

It's sad to say that this week is coming to an end. A highlight of my week has been new relationships. Meeting people of all ages. Although there has been a language barrier the Holy Spirit has worked in ways I can't even explain. This week has been very emotional for me in more ways than one, but I'm so blessed to have had this experience.
Today was one of those "wow" moments in my life that has filled me with this joy that I can't even begin to understand. Yet God has showed me that even though goodbyes are hard, that he has a way of taking something challenging to show himself to others even when you least expect it. Today God spoke to me just by seeing the tears run down the families faces because they are so thankful for the houses we have built and prayed over.
I'm so blessed to have experienced a little piece of heaven this week, through sharing the love of Christ with my fellow brothers and sisters. As I go home from here I pray God uses me in ways that further His kingdom back home.

Samantha Oetman

We have had such an amazing week, its sad to see it come to a close. We leave tomorrow at 2 pm, please pray for safe travels for the group. Today was dedication day and let me tell you it was also a very emotional day. The families who received the houses were grateful beyond belief. It makes you reflect on your own life and your own attitude toward gratefulness. I pray that we can bring back a grateful attitude toward some of the things that we are not always grateful for. That we can seek you in our daily life, be thankful for all the blessings you have given us.

Miah Grassmid

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This morning, we headed out to the dump after a well-led devotional by Adam Jager that talked about Eli and here I am Lord and carrying out that good attitude throughout our trip. We arrived at the dump a little after 9 A.M. where some people are living and working to support their families. They separate plastic and glass from the trash to earn a twelve dollar a week wage. The children that live at the dump for the most part have the opportunity to go to school during the day. We brought and handed out food, such as sandwiches and chips and fruit. The people at the dump are the lowest of the low on the social ladder and are shunned from society, so the love and support we show them is very important. Lazaro, someone who grew up in the dump, is now trying to break the chain of poverty on the social chain and to bring these people to a better life. It was a very heartbreaking morning seeing all that they don't have and the extreme poverty they are forced to live in, very few eyes were left dry this morning. After the dump, two thirds of the group went to the village to work on houses and the other third went to the feeding center. The feeding center is not only a feeding center but it doubles as an after school program that offers a nutritious meal. The ages range from around 5 to 11 years old. They do their homework there and six different activity centers all amidst learning English and being taught the word of God. The other two thirds went to finish houses in the village. We had two houses to put up and cement three of the floors from houses of previous days. We had another great day and got almost everything done we needed to get done. We headed back to the mission house for dinner where we were joined with a few guests. The guests consisted of the grounds keeper and his family and Jacobo who helped with cement accompanied by his family as well. We were blessed with another great meal and even better fellowship and we are eager to see what God has in store for dedication day tomorrow.
- Tim, Anika and Luanne

Monday, February 19, 2018

Today was our third day building houses in the village. It's definitely been an awesome and unforgettable experience. I've been to Guatemala once before about 7 years ago, but I was sick for a good portion of the trip and didn't get to participate in the building. I love going back into the village and back to the houses we've been working on and seeing the familiar, smiling faces of the kids. Learning the kids names and connecting with them over several days has been the best part for me. And really the only downer I've experienced on this trip so far was getting stung by some big wasp and watching my left arm swell up like a balloon, but it was nothing the Benadryl couldn't fix. 

-Brandon Ebenstein

Linda's devotions this morning mentioned of how He can give us more than we can ask or imagine, little did I know what prayers would be answered.  Being among those in the village and working hard is something that is very enjoyable for me and who could say no to playing to little kids.  So when my driver, Mark, was announced as the van going to the orphanage I knew I found reassurance of where I needed to be.  Strings pulling at the heart can only mean a day at the orphanage.  A group of us had the pleasure of helping 'Love the Child' do some painting and brightening up of their playground backdrop which was more of a blessing for us.  It's truly is an amazing sight to see how children are brought in and cared for, knowing they're in protective loving hands and that they have more of a fighting chance for the future shows us of God's plan for each of us.  Just being a part of this endeavor is something I cherish.  To add to awe of His work, we then ventured to distribution where we received 150 families.  Stirring memories of the year before when the smallest of ladies grabbed on for what seemed like the longest hug I have ever encountered, I couldn't help to feel her love and thankfulness overwhelm my mind, heart and soul.  I am reminded this day and week of how very busy I tend to be and the need to slow down to see His work and all His people.  Making the time to realign my priorities and really focus on what He has intended me to do and be.  Again this year has brought me closer to some of the strangers I met only a few short years ago, built some new relationships and easily create new memories of service and love.  Thankful for all the prayers of health and safety for us here and a protective blanket wrapped around our family who enabled us to come.

Blessed beyond belief,
Ed Taylor Jr 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today I had the privilege to go on a tour of the mountains near the mission house with Paul, the man who owns the coffee plantation. A few of us piled in his truck and he took us up the road to the top of the mountain. It was a rough ride up but very much worth the trip. We got to the top just as the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains on the other side of Chimaltanango. The view was spectacular and definitely a once in a lifetime experience. -Eli Tehennepe

Sunday in Guatemala is a day of reflection.  As middle-class white Christians we bring big bags filled with just a small percentage of what God has blessed us with.  We travel far from our homes intent on blessing, not expecting to be blessed.  On Sunday we begin to realize what happens in this country.  We begin to experience something we don't recognize as well while we're at home.  During our van ride to Antigua this morning we talked about the reality that with only a few days spent away from West Michigan, we were realizing that being a community of believers, being the family of God, extends far past the four walls of our home worship space.  The distraction of our everyday lives is removed here and while we dig holes, put up walls and love on kids we start to experience freedom.  We are free from the plans we've made, the responsibilities we normally allow to control our days and the mental and spiritual apathy we sometimes feel trapped in.  Grace becomes tangible and so does guilt.  Sunday in Guatemala allows us to grasp the truth that our lives back home interfere with what God calls us to and often stop us from serving as Christ served, loving as Christ loves and following Christ rather than attempting to lead.  Life is simpler here, at least for us.  God seems nearer.  Hopefully the knowledge of ourselves that we gain as we live, work and worship together this week translates to more than just memories.  We are called to serve, not just for a week, but for a Christian lifetime.  When we get home our opportunities are no less abundant and the importance of the work of spreading the gospel through service and love is just as integral a part of our faith as it is in Guatemala.  - Jamie DeVries

I am not so sure where to begin, I am so overwhelmed with emotions. The mission house is beautiful surrounded by amazing country. The people on this trip have been really fun to get to know, and to see the love of God in them being poured out to those in need. Yesterday I went to the orphanage, I was happy to see the place where the kids stay was very nice, and well kept. Even though the situation that has brought them to the orphanage is not good, they are very well loved and taken care of. I had the privilege of holding two beautiful babies and rocking them to sleep. What a blessing that was for me! Even though I left there sad that those little guys didn't have a Mom and Dad to love and care for them they had others to love on them and do their best to give them a good life. It was my prayer as I left there that day that God would work in the hearts and lives to come to know Him as their personal Lord  and Savior someday, and help them to make good choices in life. Today being Sunday, we began the day with singing and praying (as we have done every morning so far, but today we also had a sermon given by Jamie. The sermon was on Abraham and Isaac and how God called Abraham up the mountain to sacrifice his one and only son who he loved, as a sacrifice to God. My favorite part of the sermon (this time hearing it) was how Jamie brought out that Isaac carried the wood on his back as Christ did on the way up the hill to be crucified. I wish we would take this kind of time to read scripture at home and reflect on Gods word like we are doing so far this week. Our God is an awesome God and we tend to lose sight of him at home when our minds are focused on our to do lists and schedules. I believe as a Mother loves to hear from her children, so it is with God wanting to hear from us. As this day has drawn to a close, my heart is full resting in Gods plan for me. Tomorrow we will head back to the village to wrap up some of the homes we began on Friday. I am looking forward to seeing their beautiful faces again and the love and appreciation in their eyes.
God bless and goodnight. ~Rayanna Oetman

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Greetings from Guatemala! God has taken our breath away this week - literally and figuratively. It's hard to breath in this elevation level. But God is doing great things and we are so blessed to be a part of this work here. Today I got to be a part of the concrete crew - I worked with Tim and a local Guatemalan named Jacob. The 3 of us got 5 houses with floors in them by 2 o'clock this afternoon. Your heart feels nothing but overwhelming love for these beautiful people and the gratitude that they show to us for the work we are doing in God's name is truly something wonderful.  Neither Tim or I know much of the Spanish language but we laughed and had a great time learning about Jacob's family and friends through the few words we could we could understand. Relationships are so very valuable down here and each one holds a special place in our hearts. After we got done with concrete work we headed over to help work on a few more started houses. I had the honor of receiving a manicure and a fancy braided hair-do from 2 little village girls and it looked marvelous! I have been blessed here in Guatemala and I pray that I have been even half as much of a blessing to these people that God has chosen for us to serve. There are many blisters, sunburn, and sore muscles around here and we are very much looking forward to a restful Sunday tomorrow. We covet your prayers and are thankful for all of you back home keeping an eye on us. Many blessings to you all!

Molly Kramer <3 p="">
What an amazing day this has been!  Sometimes I think that life cannot get  any better and then a day like this happens and I again realize  how blessed  I am!  This morning  the day started  out with a great breakfast, beautiful  singing, devotion and prayer.  Afterwords Lu/Ann and I were assigned to go to the church down the hill that runs the Feeding Station.  This is a wonderful program where approximately 50 Guatemalan children are schoolbused in to sing and dance to beautiful music, take part in several learning station taught by a  wonderful teacher, and have a yummy home cooked meal made by great  cooks.  It is so much fun  getting to know these beautiful children who are so happy with so little.  As we said goodbye to them as they ran to the school bus to take them home, I again realize just how children all have the same wonderful qualities that are universal in all children, kind, loving, beautiful, and  so smart. 

In the afternoon we again had another amazing adventure!  Some friends who live here in Guatemala picked us up to go a graduation celebration at the Christian English Academy called SALTA which stands for Salt and Light English Academy.  This school is run by a wonderful young couple that believes that all people have the ability to learn English as a second language.  Today several people were graduating ranging in ages from 14 years old to approximately 50 years old.  They all could speak English and the program was so interesting to watch because they all spoke so well and were so proud of their diplomas that I am sure they worked very hard for.  Refreshments were served and it seemed like home in a way because their families were there to celebrate with them and again they were all so friendly to us.  Afterwords we were asked to see a brand new home that was built just down the street  and it was beautiful and so well made.  The builder was so proud of his building skill, and why not his name Is Jesus!  Just so many blessings in one day here in this amazing country       

Shawne Mohr

For this part of the blog we need to give a brief history of what had happened yesterday. As soon as we got to the work cite I, Logan, had someone watch my backpack for me while I was running to grab more tools. I got back and the girls had told me that a dog had peed on my bag while I was gone, great start to the day.
So anyway, this morning a few of us had the opportunity to go to the orphanage. We had the pleasure  to celebrate Josue's 18th birthday. When we got there we were greeted with many smiles and hugs. A few of us went to the baby room and a few of us went to play with the toddlers. Samantha Oetman found a baby named, Anita, and soon handed her off to me. So as i'm bouncing her around and giggling and smiling she stops abruptly and I immediately felt my leg get wet. Yes, she peed on me. So now my nickname is "pee boy" and we are all wondering who is going to pee on me next. After a couple hours with the kids we headed in for lunch where we were fed amazing chimichanga's. After lunch we went outside and played with the kids for awhile before they all started swinging away at the pinata for Josue's birthday. After a eventful day at the orphanage we got back in the vans to head back. After talking about how great a shower would feel we were informed that we have a limited supply of water and that no one could take showers. After baked potatoes for dinner a few of us ended the night with some old hymns and good songs around the table. Tomorrow is Antigua so hopefully I don't get peed on because that would not be a fun experience due to having no dogs or babies...

Logan DeVries   


Friday, February 16, 2018

Today everyone went into the village and built houses and played with kids at VBS. I helped build houses and even though I wasn't able to do a ton of work with it, it was still really fun to watch. I talked to some of the kids around the job site the best I could. They are all so energetic it's so fun. I can't wait for the next few days in the village and at the orphanage.
                                                                    -Vivian Jager

Today three of us stayed behind to help Sandy and Becky in the kitchen. We helped prep for a few meals this week before heading down to the Feeding Center for the day. 55 kids got off of a school bus and lined up to eat. I was so shocked at how quietly they waited, and how quietly they ate. After lunch they brushed their teeth and listened to a bible story. The family that is in charge of the center is teaching them English, so they went through a few phrases as well and said the story of the Creation in English. Then all the kids split into groups and did different activities. I sat at the play-doh table and just tried to keep up with what they were saying. I heard a couple of their stories and the condition the children live in, and was heartbroken, but so thankful to God that they are able to come to this wonderful center for a warm meal and ministry. I'm excited to hear other team members stories of when they go down there.
                                           - Paige Merrill

Today most of the team went to the village to start building houses. The three work teams started working very close together, and it didn't take long for the kids to start showing up. It's interesting how long it takes for the first few houses to go up, because it takes a bit to remember exactly how they're built. Each team built one and a half houses, which is right on schedule. Seeing God bring a lot of people together to get work done, can't wait to get going again tomorrow.
                                - Bill Fennema
Happy Friday from Guatemala!

Just a quick note that we arrived here safely last night and are excited to get started for the week.  Thank you for your prayers - travel went well.  We'll start our day shortly with singing and devotions led by Jamie and Becky Devries, then it sounds like we're working in a town pretty close by.  Please pray that we can be present in the moment today and that act on whatever God is calling us to do in the moment.