Happy Spring!

Greetings from Guatemala!  Since the holidays, we have been extremely busy and things in Guatemala have been challenging as usual! But blessed!

We began the year with a visit from my parents... what a joy to have them here! I never believed that they would finally come. My mother has never been on a jet and certainly has never travelled internationally, so what a blessing this was! They arrived with the Wilson Family, new missionaries, so it was a double blessing!  We visited AMG projects so that they could better understand what we are doing here, they spent time with their own sponsored children here and even got to visit their homes and then we were able to get to several beautiful tourist locations like Monterico (the beach), Antigua (colonial city) and even up a volcano, Volcan Pacaya. What a time we had!

I travelled to Costa Rica with our missionary Chad Smith in order to learn more about how we could better help children in our projects who have been abused. Chad is working on an extensive program in order to provide new protective and restorative services to children who are suffering. With 8000 children here in Guatemala in our care, we feel a great responsibility to help the hundreds who are suffering at home. Please pray for our efforts and that God would give us wisdom in giving these children then love and support they need to advance spiritually and physically in their lives ahead.

God has richly blessed AMG Guatemala with people.  When I look back at our staff a year ago, I cannot even believe where God has brought us!  We now have a team of 9 directors, both nationals and missionaries, working together to lead us into the future.  Each one is special, educated and an expert in their field!  We had our very first Directors Meeting in January and each shared their plans in finance, administration, education, health, spiritual formation, human resources, results-monitoring, public relations and child protection.  We all saw how we fit so nicely together and must work closely in order to acheive our mission... to lead many to Christ and help to alleviate suffering in Guatemala. 

February was a month of teams! We had a wonderful group of adults and teenagers from Easton Baptist Church in Easton, Massachusetts, who painted our Las Vistas project. What a job they did. Our school looks like a brand new one! Please pray for future teams, as we have so much work to do and so little funds to do it! Teams are perfect for accomplishing the things that our budget just won´t allow. Later in the month our friends from Grand Rapids, Michigan came for their 15th or 16th time to build. We have outgrown our offices here in the city (Verbena) and they built a beautiful new building to connect to our existing office. We hope to move in mid-summer. This will also provide us with a conference room (something we´ve never had) in order to have meetings as a team.

In March, our good friends Dr. Kevin McVaney and his wonderful family came to visit for a week and we enjoyed visiting AMG projects, many beautiful Guatemalan spots and just hanging out together as families.  They are such a special family and we enjoy them so much!  We flew to our hospital in Cubulco, Guatemala and Kevin even consulted with a patient or two!  The last day of our trip was the annual father-son campout at our kid´s school.  The McVaney boys joined us for a night of sports, setting off paper hot-air balloons, movies and a campfire... such a nice male-bonding night!  I am so blessed with my wonderful sons. The McVaneys flew out and so did I, for 11 days to Nicaragua in order to attend a conference with our largest donor, Word & Deed Holland.  We met with our partner organizations from Haiti (AMG), Colombia, Peru and Nicaragua.  This was a great blessing and we accomplished planning several joint efforts to support our ministries and shared many good ideas.  I arrived back just last weekend and couldn´t have been happier to be home with my family!

The family has been very busy.  Mary has an active bible study and enjoys her girlfriends so much... what a joy that she has such wonderful ladies to pass time with!  Of course, life is busy with kids ages almost 2 to 15, so that also keeps her running!  Abbie is emersed in her music, studying piano and voice and very active in school music programming and worship.  Friday night she will perform with her class and has a leading role... even singing a solo from Les Mis, one of my favorites!  Can´t wait!  Jordan has been training all year for a very special opportunity to travel abroad with his baseball team.  He plays first base and is pitcher, and I am very proud of his playing!  Aaron loves school and his class and is excelling at piano and loves to play in the neighborhood with his friends.  Brody is non-stop active until he hits the bed and has such a fun personality!  Eve is all girl and quietly plays away with her dolls, babies and her best friend Jessie, a little blond like her!  (what a cute pair!) Micah is growing right up and into everything... his personality is coming through and he´s quite a ham!

Here at the mission we are in the process of evaluating how we can better involve parents in their children´s education and are preparing to start even a school for parents.  We have many who cannot read and will also work with literacy in several projects.  We have been struggling financially, as the value of the dollar and the euro has dropped causing big reductions in our available funds here in Guatemala.  Please pray for God to send resources our way to continue this vital ministry!  We are also looking for ways to better deal with the violence here that is affecting everyone... to deal with the trauma that many of our urban children face everyday. 

Well, I hope that catches us up a bit!  Hopefully my next post will not be so far off!  Blessings from our family to your´s!  

Brian, Mary and Kiddos