Sunday, September 26

El Es El Camino - He is the Way

This is the official name for the new community built for 12 of the families who lost their homes in Agatha. No less than 5 different churches have worked together to clear land, dig ditches, and build 6 homes from July through September.

We expect the remaining 6 homes to be built by the end of October, and remaining infrastructure (bathrooms, kitchens, electricity, etc.) should be completed by the end of the year. But, it's also about building relationships.

Here are a few photos of the outreach opportunities with the families impacted by the storms.

South Tulsa Baptist Church shares their morning devotions with over a dozen workers from the city of Pastores.

Pastor Ted Shares the Gospel with 10 of the 12 families who will receive houses. The mayor of Pastores is reading his copy of the Bible (one was handed to each family and worker), and Abner (Steve's co-worker) helps translate.

A Pastores worker reads his new Bible during his break.
Some of the young construction workers show their new Bibles.
The families visited their new homes (that were in the process of being built), and were also given baskets of clothes and food as a house-warming gift.
Steve with Abner and Mayor Miguel Lopez of Pastores.

Storms, Slides, Statistics & Surprises

Three tropical storms since June have caused hundreds of major landslides in Guatemala leaving: 175+ dead, 10,000 evacuated and 40,000 homeless.  Even as we write, rain pours from Tropical Storm Matthew and we receive double the normal rainfall this year.  Vital crops are failing, hunger and disease loom.

Hopelessness... helplessness.  

This is the state of mind of many in Guatemala.  

We are blessed to have a church focused on the broken-hearted, and our goal is to meet needs to heal both physical and spiritual needs.  Many like-minded churches have joined us this year to turn hopeless situations into incredible opportunities to showcase God's love and power.

In spite of the obstacles, many Christians have arrived to share laughter, friendship, hard work, and encouragement.  

Here are a few pictures of the devastation only 5 miles from where we live.  

Floodwaters broke through this retaining wall (click on the image for more detail)
Pastor Tim and Jeanette in front of a home destroyed.  The family will be re-located to the new homes being built.

Here's a few pictures of some of the team activities not deterred from the storms:

One of the families who lost everything from the storm and are being re-located.  Calvary Baptist Church of Winter Haven spent an hour with this family, distributing clothing and sharing the Gospel in addition to building a new home for them.

We shared God's love last week with men from a homeless shelter.

Pastor Ted from South Tulsa Baptist Church and Pastor Mike visited another pastor and his family near Antigua to find opportunities to help their church on future team visits.

Abner (co-worker with Steve) translates the Evangi-Cube to children at a VBS near Antigua.

Saturday, September 18

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From My Kids

Before I became a mom, I used to think of myself as a pretty intelligent person. Little did I know. Now, every day, multiple times a day, I am asked questions to which I have no. earthly. idea what the answer could possibly be. Why, oh why didn't I pay more attention in science class? Or history class....or math class for that matter. 
Thank goodness for Google and Wikipedia. They save my pride more times than I care to admit.

Other than the prolific amount of academic minutiae I am re-learning with my kids, there are emotional and spiritual lessons to be had, too, and so many ways that I realize I have grown up way too much and need to remember some simple, childlike qualities, such as...

Forgiveness. It always amazes me how kids are so quick to forgive. You apologize, and they are over it. And then later, when motivated by the ever-present "Mom Guilt," you re-apologize, you are bound to hear, "Mom, you already said you were sorry." Oh yeah. I did. And I guess I really am forgiven. Amazing.

Wonder. I used to walk down the street and be grossed out by insects, snakes, and rodents. Not anymore. They are now a stimulus for examination, discovery and discussion. That roly-poly? I used to find it annoying. Now when I see it crawling across my floor, I know I have to call in the kids, because someone is bound to want to hold it for awhile. The other day, I saw a 6 foot long snake when I was out running. My jumping-up-into-my throat heart was thankful it was dead, but my next thought was how I wished I could take it home to the kids, and how they would love to check it out. What on earth has happened to me!?

Laughter. My kids recently informed me that children laugh hundreds of times a day, and that adults only laugh a few. It's so true. I want to adopt their attitude of finding humor and joy in every little thing, from blowing bubblegum until it pops all over your face to going down a slide into a freezing cold pool and not minding a bit. The things that I find passe, they find exhilarating. This was never more clear to me than when Jack and  I were going through security at the airport and he kept asking me WHEN we got to take our shoes off, because that was "his favorite part." Really?? Never would have crossed my mind to find fun in that before, but now I certainly will.

Appreciation. When the power goes out, as it did last night,  I get frustrated. For my kids, it is a chance to build pillow forts in the living room and snuggle up in them with a book and a flashlight. There's no distraction from a computer or a movie. It's simply time to be together and maybe even take advantage of the darkness to see how much brighter the stars appear.

Love. I was always told that there is no love like the one you have for your children, and while that is more true than I ever could have dreamed, no one prepared me for the love that they give in return...

 Unconditional. Never, ever concerned with how I look....they could care less about that. 

Uninhibited. There is never a shortage of hugs and sloppy kisses and "I love you's."

Unquestioned. They never agonize over how they feel. We love each other, and that is it.

So, I don't think I'll let today go by without a little extra squeeze for my kiddos, and maybe a stroll down the street for some ice cream. Just because. Oh yeah. And that cricket that kept me awake last night? Maybe I won't mush it when I find it. Maybe I'll share the wonder over it, just a little.

Sunday, September 12


I realized, only by looking at my calendar, that it was Grandparents' Day today. This is not a holiday that is celebrated in Guatemala, and I don't remember it being a big deal when I lived in the U.S. However, I felt very sentimental this morning, because it was a reminder to me that I only have one grandparent left. And it was also a reminder that I have been blessed to have so many happy memories of my grandparents. Because of that, I do believe I am an expert in what makes a Good Grandparent, and is the definitive list (or, in any case, my opinion)
A Good Grandparent always shows (or feigns) interest in whatever topic a grandchild wishes to discuss. One must be prepared, because this could encompass any topic, from the ever-so-enthralling detail of what said grandchild ate for breakfast, to the origin of black holes, to the question of which is the most dangerous animal on the planet.
A Good Grandparent delights in serving nutritious, delicious meals to his/her grandchild. The meal usually consists of an icee composed of sugar and red dye #2, washed down with a Mountain Dew. For balance, you see.
A Good Grandparent is an expert in the art of good-night storytelling. The story must be exciting, adventurous, and yet, at the same time, devoid of anything scary or nightmare-inducing.
A Good Grandparent never tires of answering questions, especially those that begin with, "Why?"
A Good Grandparent can make up, er...I mean, accurately recite, stories from his or her childhood in which he or she always ends up being the hero.
A Good Grandparent keeps toys and books around, even though she may not see her grandchildren for months.....just in case.
A Good Grandparent is never too busy to put down an all-important project in order to dance to a song, or drive down the road to see a horse, or listen to a silly knock-knock joke and pretend NOT to know the answer.
A Good Grandparent makes a grandchild feel like he is the most interesting person he has ever met, and that nothing could be more exciting than what they are doing together at that moment.

 I am incredibly blessed to have had grandparents who gave me a rich treasury of memories, and even more so to have parents and in-laws who are giving my children the same gift.
Happy Grandparents' Day indeed.