Trip to Las Vistas

My daughter Abbie and I visited Las Vistas, one of our city projects which sits high above Guatemala City in a very poor part of the city. The great joy of this trip was the fact that 2 of our sponsored children (we have sponsored 3 AMG kids for 3 plus years now) attend Las Vistas and we finally got to meet them. We had only seen them thus far through letters and photos.

Elvis is 6 and Andrew Alexander is 9. Elvis´s brothers and sisters also attend the project. His eldest sister is a graduate of AMG and has now returned as a teacher. It was an amazing thing to see how AMG has changed an entire family´s life! They seemed so happy at the school, their second home. We visited Andrew´s home and met his mother, who was very humble and kept asking forgiveness for not allowing us in her home. It is customary in Latin America that if you are to have someone in your home, you must offer them something to drink or a small bite to eat. She had neither to offer.

We concluded our trip by visiting the classrooms and talking with the children in each grade. When I walked in to Elvis´s room, he shouted 'mi padrino!' 'mi padrino!' which translate to my sponsor/God-father. He was so proud that he walked around the class announcing to many of his classmates, 'my padrino came to see me!' Several children came up and asked (seeking to confirm his claims) 'are you REALLY??? his padrino?' I was sad for several that said, 'who's my padrino? Can they visit me?' Earlier I had explained to Elvis and Andrew that Mary and I and the kids now lived in Guatemala and work for AMG and we want to be part of their lives. I am going to be praying about ways we could help. If you too are interested in sponsoring a child...and maybe one day coming to visit us and them, click on the child sponsorship button to teh right of our blog. I hope you enjoy the video below as much as we enjoyed our day there:

Trip to Matochos

On Tuesday of this week we visited Matochos, Guatemala, southeast of Guatemala City. We have a rural school there, serving the poorest of poor. We visited 2 different homes and it was very humbling. The squalor that so many are living in is hard to see. The first home we visited was the home of a boy named Jonathan, who is sponsored by our friend and coworker, Steve Hodges. He brought gifts for both the children and their Mom, along with huge bags of rice and beans to help out with food. The home was small with dirt floors. Tim Peloquin from New Hampshire was along with us. Last year, Tim actually purchased a home and land for the family of his sponsored child, Lester. Lester and his family were living in horrible conditions...small, wet and unhealthy. Thanks to the love and concern of Tim, the family now lives in a newer home with a concrete floor. We had the pleasure of joining him to see the home he purchased for the first time! This trip was so humbling and made me cringe at the times I complain about anything in my life.

Trip to Volcano Pacaya

We set off on Saturday for a trip to Volcan Pacaya one of the many active volcanos here in Guatemala. It was an amazing first time experiencing lava up close! Once we got to the top we were surrounded by lava hot that we cooked marshmallows over them! Thank you Jenny for brining them along! My friend Froilán Mazariegos led the way through a small town and then up the trails to the cone. On the way down we encountered an elderly woman warming some children by a fire in the woods, beside the trail. We ended up chatting with her and then gave her a gift in order to help the children. Here is a video of our trip:

Happy 33rd Anniversary AMG Guatemala!

On Friday the 14th we had the pleasure of celebrating 33 years of serving Christ here in Guatemala. Hundreds of thousands of young lives have been touched for Christ over these 33 amazing. The children all put on presentations thanking the ministry and some shared how their lives had been changed forever by AMG. What an exciting day! The fifth grade surprised us here in the office by singing a song recognizing what AMG does for was so special! We asked them to perform it again this morning outside so I could video it. Here are some pictures from our celebrations and then the video:

Thoughts this Afternoon

I see the strangest things every day coming to and from work. I work in a very poor part of the city, so I generally have the feeling that I have arrived in the Wild seems like anything goes here. Cars seem to completely disregard any laws and are driving every which-way. There are tuc-tucs bringing people here and there, people pushing wooden carts full of cabbage (today), indigenous ladies with enormous loads on their heads and this week the Guatemalan military patrolling the streets with nasty-looking automatic weapons. We were stopped one afternoon and they went all through our van and even matched our serial numbers on the motor and registration... it was a bit intimidating.

The most disturbing thing I saw this week was a poor elderly woman's body laying covered in newspaper on the side of the road. There were several plastic cones keeping cars away and a few police officers standing guard. She had most likely stepped off the curb to cross and was hit. In Guatemala, a death must be verified by a Judge, and sometimes takes hours. I hurt deeply for her family, probably yet to know. Or would they even be able to tell who whe was, if she had no identification? It was not a good start to my day.

This afternoon I saw an old Datsun pickup..very small pickup, headed up the highway. The bed of the pickup was surrounded by a metal frame and in the bed was somewhere around 40 men. It looked like the truck was going to tip over any moment! You would think that this would be a strange site, however it isn´t. Everyday I see people riding in pickup beds...women, children, groups... so scary!

I love the Guatemala ´chicken´buses. They are all over the country...older but beautiful american school buses...decorated elaborately.

Filedelfia Project

I visited our camp in rural Guatemala today and then our Filedelfia School in a poor neighborhood not too far from the camp. After leaving the city, I was struck by how undeveloped it was... I enjoyed meeting our camp directors...such Godly people. Jose Luis and his wife, Orpha, have dedicated 30 years to AMG... 22 of which has been sharing the love of Christ with all of our students as they visit our beautiful camp.

A team from a church in Grand Rapids, Michigan is here for 2 weeks building new classrooms for a school in the area. It was such a blessing to see how much progress they had made in just a day and a half. Here are some pictures with captions from my day: (Feel free to click on the slideshow to open up picassa web to see it larger.)