Thursday, March 29, 2007

Iximche Tecpan...

Approximatley 1hr north of Antigua, is an ancient ruin. It is called Iximche. The layout is very elaborate. When you see the architects re-creation in the museum portion, it puts the magnitude into perspective. A massive layout cover nearly 10 acres of a beautiful mountain top.

It is my understanding that these ruins are the post-modern ruins of what the Mayan Civilization would have become had they not disappeared. As you go through this area there are plaquards that describe the different floor plans and what they would have been used for. Admitedly my Spanish is weak but the indication was that there were 4-5 plazas. With buildings surrounding each. These building included temples, adminstration offices, and domestic quarters. In the center of each plaza was an alter. It was a place of worship.

In fact it still is. In the back end of the complex there is a space the animal sacrifices still take place. Unfortunately it is to one of their gods. Not to the same God that I serve.

Religous differences aside it is an interesting glimpse of building techniques from ancient civiliations that used to be. I wonder what they will find from our generation should the Lord take another 5-10 thousand years to come and get us.

GMO Kids...

So we are waiting for the G-9 Mission Team from Pathways Clearwater to arrive. Nancy and Amber were in the every increasingly crowded waiting area when they found themsleves standing next to an obvious American. As is typical, when you see vans, Americans, and have time on your hands, generally conversations ensue. Most often they begin with comments such as, "Your not from around here are you?". Well as it turns out, the gentleman they were talking with is originally from Indian Rocks Beach, FL. His sending church is Harvest Temple Church in Largo. Being from Pinellas County light bulbs ignited as they know where everything is.

The mans name is Bernard Cohen. He and his wife Trish have been developing an educations and feeding program in a small community, Pannemaquin, about 20 kilometers away, up in the mountains outside of Antigua. The organization is GMO.

A couple of weeks ago Nancy and I had a chance to make the drive up to the school and take a tour. The facilities are very impressive. While we arrived while they were our of session, it did not diminish the allure this school has. It is perch on a the side of a mountain with an amazing view. It classrooms for grades Kindergarten to High School. They also have weekly chapel services.

I am not sure why I thought any different but I was amazed at the child sized pila (washing station). It makes sense since the school has a large number of small children.

The ministry is simple. 14 years ago they came into this small community of about 700 people and establish a school outreach program that feeds the students and families involved. It is very impressive. They have a full staff of local folks that have been trained to run the ministry with anywhere from 50-100 students in the program. This is a ministry that has made and is making an impact.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Blue House...

So I meet up with a Rafael Aranada. He is the Director for an organization called Brazos de Jesus (Arms of Jesus - AOJ). This is one of those God connections. I first contacted him regarding a reference I was following up on regarding our work with the school for street kids in San Lorenzo el Tejar.

While in this meeting, I learned about the ministry that AOJ is doing in the neighboring community of Parramos. In short they are working to improve communities through education, nutrition, and housing. Since we had been involved with building homes, I inquired further. They have a home design intended to get people out of the dirt floors and bamboo walls and into a simple slab home with wood framing and a tin roof. By any standard from the US we would see this as a really nice tool shed. But for these families that recieve these homes, it changes their lives.

On the recent visit from PCC Clearwater, we put the simplicity of these homes to the test. Of the 18 team members that came that week, 5 left on Wednesday and the family units stayed through to Saturday. Of those extra days, we took one and built a couple of homes. I know that sounds odd to let that statement roll off of your tongue, "Oh yea, we built a couple of homes today..."

AOJ has been building these homes for the past 10 years, and those original homes are still standing solid. The design includes a pre-numbered assembly of 16-4x8 hardy board panels (two panels being windows and one panel being a door), 15-2x3 sticks of various lengths, 8 sheets of tin and an assortment of bolts, screws and nails. They net out to be a two room home 12'x16'. Water and electricity are optional pending what was in the orginal home and availability.

With our team of 13 plus a Nancy, Amber and myself and 3 participants from the World Race Missions Team, two homes were built averaging 2hrs and 30 minutes each. That included painting. This team went into the project not knowing first hand what we were getting into. But now we know.

These homes open up doors for outreach in many methods. Our missions goal for IDC is not to re-create the wheel. We want to enhance life and ministry for any and all in the Panchoy Valley. We have another strong mission project for any teams whether they be 15 college students or a family of 4.

Improving quality of life both physically and spiritually, that is where it is at.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

G-9 latest team arrival...

This last week was very busy touring the latest team from Pathways Community - Clearwater through the highs and lows of the area. This team came for the purpose of scouting activities to enhance the ministry outreach opportunities of Iglesia del Camino.

This team included folks from not only Clearwater but other areas of Florida and the Carolinas. The special interest included a Fish Farming Specialist, Physical Therapy and Nursing specialists, financial investors, business counselors, and a medical chaplain. This team was shown everything that IDC has touched in the past two years, or at least as much as could be shown in two days.

And something new for us was the inclusion of families. There were several of the consultants that brought family. For them the trip extended by a couple of days. During this time, we were able to build two houses for families in Parramos which is 10 kilometers north of Antigua.

This was a week packed with a great deal of information and potential local benefit outreach. Time will show the evidence of what God has planned. I look forward to blogging the details as God lets all of us in on His details.

Friday, March 2, 2007

We went for a ride...

Last weekend was great. The family with Matt's new fiance and three friends from church joined in for an 80 kilometer roadtrip in and around Antigua and areas just north of Chimaltenango. Suffice it to say it was fun. We saw some new things, acted like tourist, risked our lives, saw some of the beautiful countryside of Guatemala and had a fantastic day.

The other folks with us are in transit to some degree. Missionaries studying Spanish in Antigua. Jim & Barb have two girls and will be settling into the work they have in Mexico soon. Heather plans to start with a medical ministry in Guatemala City this next month. Matt is leaving for the states this next week. Alejandra, Matt's fiance, lives in the Guatemala City.

This was a great day of family and fellowship. Thanks to God for creating this one time event with these people.

There is an innocence...

Antigua and the surrounding area is a region of extremes; from 5 star Hotels to abject poverty. This country has beauty in many ways amidst the most depressing of situations. While we can see incredible views of the mountains, the most captivating images are the people we get to work with.

In human terms, children are the future. The investment in these young minds will impact generations to come. Of the most captivating images that we see, it is the eyes of the children. In most cases, the situation that they are in is a situation that I never experienced in my childhood. All of my experiences of a loving home, secure surroundings, a christian education both at school and in the realization of a christian family in the home, running water, clean floors, etc, are foreign concepts in differing degrees to many of the young people in this country.
But this is the constant. No matter the level of poverty, the children have an innocence that is seen in the eyes.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A visit from Jose Daniel...

During this past calendar year of 2006, the church here in Antigua had been looking for the arrival of a second Pastor. His name is Jose Daniel. Through a series of delays it has become evident that his coming to join the staff of IDC was not meant to be... at least not right now.

He and his wife Joanna are from Cuba. Over the last several years they have working for their residency in GUA. This is now in their hand. As well they have been able to obtain a VISA for their daughter. Many doors are opening up for them.

They have been making regular visits to Guatemala and other Central American countries for several years doing evangelistic concerts. During previous visits they connected with Eddie and Cary while on their musical tours. And this year 2007 was no exception to their visits. While they were here they were able to come by on a Sunday and minister to the IDC congregation. As well spend some time with the staff.

All in all it was a great Sunday. He has a terrific ministry. While we don't know if he will be with us in a full time capacity, we do know that God is using him.