As usual, I’m having a hard time with the reentry to the U.S. after being in Guatemala for a week. There’s nothing more revitalizing than unplugging, focusing on a cause completely outside the bubble of my daily life in the U.S. and spending quality time with great people absorbing another culture. I’m already planning my next trip back.
Our donors this year topped the charts. We raised over $4,000 which allowed us to build a home that included a new stove and a water purification system for a single mom with 5 kids, purchase additional stoves for the village, purchase bags of quality food and baby products for the children of God Bless the Children orphanage along with two other needy families, purchase back braces and support hose for the village clinic and shoes for a deserving family. Joann and I were also able to sponsor one of our team members who otherwise would have never been able to join us on this bucket list trip.
Many of our donors specifically asked that their money go towards a new stove. I wanted to share photos of this incredible gift.
Here is the stove that our mother of five (named Maria) USED to cook on (fyi the fumes and smoke just about killed us all when Maria made tortillas the first day).
Here is her new ONIL stove which vents out the top of the roof of their original little shed they called home. No more open flames near small children’s hands, no more breathing in toxic fumes, no more safety issues.
Many of you sent in money that we used to build this sweet family a 3 room house. When we arrived at the location on Day 1, our sponsor, Catalyst Resources International had already prepared the site and poured (by hand) the foundation.
In THREE days, our mighty team built this:
The entire family of six used to sleep on this single mattress on a dirt floor under a leaky tin roof:
Now this is what they sleep in (we put four beds in their new home):
Of course our project was the talk of the village and incredible entertainment for all!
On the morning of Day 2, I took a walk up a very familiar path to visit a family near and dear to my heart that I helped build a house for two years ago.
I came bearing gifts of food, shoes and money. They knew I was coming and this is what welcomed me and my team (tissues please).
P.S. Bienvenidos means welcome in spanish.
It was a bitter sweet reunion because since we last saw each, their two-year old daughter Paola had died of Leukemia.
My heart was very full that day.
I have so many images from my trip that make my heart sing.
Like this little boy that would not let his puppy go for love or money. I love his dirty face and the fact that his puppy is perfectly happy to hang in limbo.
My daughter Riley found her friend Leti for the third year in a row.
A mariachi band sang to my friend Jen (my college roomie sophomore year) on her birthday.
The t-shirts and pants carefully and lovingly stacked at the God Bless the Children orphanage remind me that people really DO care and want to help.
Beauty really was everywhere….
On Thursday night, we had a fun worship service at CRI where Rene Marroquin sang live for us. He sang one of my favorite songs called Beautiful Things.
Here is a part of the lyrics:
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
So very appropriate….
I will be leading another team next summer. If you’d like information on how to join me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to learn more about our sponsor, Catalyst Resources International, click HERE.
A big thanks to my dear friends Paula and Fontaine Greene for making my team feel extra special. The bus rides blasting tunes, the great food and the trip to Pana, Cayala and “O” will never be forgotten!