Saturday, May 26, 2007

To the least of these...

Since December of last year we have had the opportunity to be involved with a small school in the little Aldea of San Lorenzo el Tejar. In previous blogs we have shown pictures and talked about the financial assistance provided to the folks through several parties in the United States. The public school system while it is free, requires fees for uniforms, supplies, extra curricular activities, etc. This small school is providing an education to children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school. For some of the children the parents have not been able to pay for a birth certificate. As a result, the children technically don't exist.

One particular project that we have been working on has taken some time for logistics. But it has come into its own. With the assistance and generosity of Keswick Christian School in St. Petersburg, Florida, we have been able to provide school uniforms to children that otherwise would not have received them. Each school has its own display of plaid. And now the "Keswick Plaid" is proudly worn in the Aldea - San Lorenzo el Tejar, Pastores, SacatepƩquez, Guatemala.

Thank you Keswick for the help. Your provision helped to cause these smiles. Okay actually they are only smirking. But this is more than what we usually get. I am not sure if this has anything to do with it, but recently I heard about a discipline that is used for the children of Guatemala. Many children are told that if they do not behave, the gringo will come and steal their body parts. This is a generational tale that has been passed down for several hundred years. With that in mind I will settle for a smirk. But don't they look great in KCS Plaid?
As a KCS graduate, our daughter Amber has expressed that "The Plaid" has never looked so good, on someone else.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

City recognition...

Last October, I was asked to recieve a reward on behalf of the church and the teams and the gifts that had been given to the city of Pastores. This is a little late in posting, but this comes to us from the Mayor of Pastores with a greatful heart.

In short it thanks us for the help that we gave to the city of Pastores during a difficult time recovering from the effects of Hurricane Stan.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Low Tech Solutions...

'Nuff said...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cultural Adaption...

Recently I was compelled to better understand Guatemala and her people. I shared my need to know this country beyond the borders of Antigua with anybody who would listen (specifically the police). Two of the officers that I work with took me up on my offer to come and see where they live and meet their families.

Last week I made a 610 kilometer road trip up the southern edge of GUA to the Northwestern Mexican border. As thrilling as that was in and of itself, it paled in comparison to the time spent with two of my police officer friends.

The first officer I stayed with, his name is Gerrado Aguilar. He lives in the community of Catarina near the Mexican border. He lives with his wife, his very pregnant sister and her husband, their 2 yr old son, his mother and her husband. A total of seven plus the occasional visit from his nephew that came to eat and bath at his house. Three separate family units that functioned as a single family.

Gerrado's wife Pamela is quite the cook. We were either visiting sites and people in and around Catarina or eating. This is one these trips that you half expect to be losing weight on. But in fact it was just the opposite. This young lady has a strong future in cooking.

It was here that I was able to experience the sound of life under the "Mango Tree". Apparently in the normal course of nature, bats love mango juice. There was a very large tree over the section of the house that I was living in. I went to bed with the sound of bats eating the fresh fruit. It was akin to rats fighting. Then through out the night I heard what it sounds like to have mango falling onto a tin roof in the middle of a rain storm... 6 times.

Gerado and Pamela showed me the evidence of damage and subsequent repair from Hurricane Stan. They introduced me to their grandparents that had survived the flooding while home across the street from their house had been washed away with their families inside.

As well they took me to the Mexican Border crossing point of "El Carmen". An interesting subculture unto itself.

I also was able to see a sugar cane processing facility. It has been in operation for the better part of 75 years with the family. Here is some perspective. These men, 5 in total, work for 2 days gathering raw cane from the fields, then squeeze it cook it and pour it into molds to make "panela" bricks that yield Q400 ($53US).

On Tuesday, I went to a rural community of New San Carlos. This is near the city of Retaluleo. My friend Juan Carlos, another police officer, lives here with his wife and two daughters. Just when I was wondering how he found his house and property... it is very remote. He told me that his family had been here for the better part of 100 years. His children made 4 generations that were living in this location.

There were several points of interest from parents TV antenna to his sisters indigenous roof on her home. His families life in general is incredible. He showed me how to build a well. He had built 2 and was about to complete a 3rd... Hand dug... 150 ft.

His home had no real shower facility and as their bathing space was also their kitchen he thought it prudent to take me to another sisters home that lived 9 kilometers away. After visiting for a bit a torrential rain storm moved in... for 4 hours. With the nature of the roads to his house, the weight of a second person on the motorcycle and heavy rains, it was deemed best to stay with his sister and her family; her husband, three daughters, a nephew and his wife, and a few of the neighbors. A wonderful Christian family. They have the local christian radio station in their home.
Wednesday morning before I return to Antigua. I was able to spend time with Juan Carlos' family and a neighbor and his family while visiting a national park (Mayan Ruins).

As interested as I am in the homes and lifestyles of the people I visited, they too were interested in the "Giant Gringo" on the moto. It was a great time of fellowship and cultural exchange.

Yes, I plan to do this again.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Change and Growth...

Life for Iglesia del Camino (IDC) is moving along very well. We are seeing more changes. This past week we made several upgrades in the sanctuary (paint, ceiling fans, rearrangement, etc.) in preparation for today. We have merged our two Sunday services together with the intention of being a single body of believers in a multi-cultural environment. This was a great time of the whole church together. We have figured out how to place 88 chairs in the main room. Should we have to move to a second service in the future they will be identical, completely bilingual.

We have also seen our Wednesday Night - Pot Luck Dinner/Bible Study grow and bloom. With the recent enhancements to the church resources such as the van, more people are able to attend. Simply put, we are not easily accessible after 8 or 8:30pm, because the buses stop about that time. The "Van Ministry" gets them home. It has been proven that peoples attendance is not a matter of interest as much as a matter of resource and ability to get home safely.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Bearing Fruit...

Last December, the team from PCC Clearwater gave a gift to the community of San Lorenzo el Tejar. There is a small school that was focusing on children that were "lost in the system." They provided seed money to be used for crops to help feed the families in the school.

See these related links to bring you up to speed with the story...

Several weeks back we had heard that all the crops had died due to a lack of water. Some what discouraged, I had been trying to get out there to check it out. But much to my surprise, three ladies from the community arrived at the church carrying fresh produce. Apparently there had been difficulty with the water resource but it was far from a total loss. My hand is 8 3/4" long. Take a look at the size of these peppers!

The families all recieved a portion of the bounty. They generously shared with us. The Bible says that we are to "bear much fruit". Great job PCC! You are gettin' it done!