Another year in Guatemala is on the books! This year we raised an all time high of over $5,000, had the smallest team in 4 years but accomplished more than ever before!! We want to send a HUGE thank you out to all of our donors and prayer warriors who helped make this summers trip a tremendous success. We took on building a house with a stove AND a bathroom and then an extra project of a shoe drive. Here are all the details – you might want to grab some tissues.
We traveled just a week after Volcano Fuego erupted it’s deadliest lava mass in 44 years destroying the villages and resorts in it’s path. Bravo to our courageous and giving team who trusted our sponsor, Catalyst Resources International, and made the trip anyway! This year we worked in the village of Santa Maria de Jesus outside of the city of Antigua. We built a home for Maria and Gustave who have ten children, seven of which still live at home! When we met the family, they living in a one room shack with a tin roof, dirt floor and two beds for all 9 people. Maria is 48 years old and stays at home to care for the children (ages 14-3) while Gustave, age 56, takes the bus into the city on Mondays to sell fruit and returns on Sunday. Imagine supporting a family of 9 selling fruit from a single small fruit stand!
I always get goosebumps when the first frame goes up!
We had lots of helpers this year especially 9 year old Louis who could hammer like the best of us! He was so proud of how he was able to contribute. He took his work very seriously. My heart was singing.
The brat pack (Johnny, Carlito, Alan, Louis and extra cousins) were a hilarious bunch and never left our sides!
Dr. Rich Dest, one of our teammates this year, made sure to check out everybody’s teeth and give lessons on how to brush properly. Poor nutrition and lack of overall hygiene in the village does not benefit little teeth!
The brat pack was enamored by “los hombres grandes” – the big guys!
Progress was made not only on the home but also a bathroom and a stove this year (I can personally attest that manually mixing concrete is a back breaker)! It will be up to the family to bring running water up to their home site (which they currently don’t have) but at a minimum they will be able to use the toilet and flush by pouring water into it.
FYI – A home costs approximately $3,000, a stove $150, a bathroom $1200. Because our family this year was so large with 9 people, we paid for extra beds (homes normally come with 2). We had eight beds (the most that could fit)!!!!
Jen and Elise, high school friends who are now sophomores in college, joined us for their 4th (Elise) and 3rd (Jen) time!!! They are pros with the BEST attitudes.
Maria’s mom came to visit. She is 88 years old. She hugged and kissed every one of us. Imagine living in these conditions with minimal running water, electricity and medical services and living to be 88 years old! We arrived one morning and she was cutting down vines behind the outhouse with a machete! She’s holding one of our phones because she wanted to see photos of our kids. I was in awe of her (and I LOVED her outfit).
The new bathroom which includes a toilet and an area with a concrete floor to wash in privacy with water from a jug.
The new stove works with a minimal amount of firewood and vents outside of the small shack. This helps tremendously with the respiratory problems so prevalent in the area from cooking over a live fire in an enclosed area. It’s amazing to me that a mere $150 for a proper stove will transform the way Maria cooks for her family and will improve their health at the same time!
Time to decorate our home for Maria and Gustave and the kids! We had some extra wood so we added a shelf. My husband Mike brought hooks for the mugs and the solar powered LED bulb which Beth hung from a piece of bamboo like a chandelier (hey – we had 5 designers on the team!).
We went to the tienda and bought lots of oil, sugar, rice, beans, coffee, spices, eggs and more!
And OF COURSE we had custom made curtains that served as bedroom doors fabricated by our teammate Beth and her team at Lacefield Designs.
The kids were SO EXCITED to have their own beds for the very first time in their lives.
Reveal day in Guatemala is a GREAT day:)
After our family received their home, it was time to turn our attention to the shoe drive. Our team of 11 managed to bring almost 500 kids shoes in 8 suitcases! We organized them all by size the night before. THIS was a labor of love (thus the tshirt design by my graphic designer daughter Emory)!
We gathered on the soccer field in the village. Over 200 kids came to receive the special gift of shoes. They started in a line (without parents) and were so well behaved!
Stage 2: Sizing dirty precious little feet and writing the shoe size on their hands.
I could stare at this photo forever of my nieces husband Bobby (who is 6’6″) measuring this little girls dirty feet that are so tiny both feet fit on the sizer. Holding his big hand and looking up at him after he just wrote her tiny shoe size on her hand. She is so brave.
Endless happy faces and happy feet!!
Oh the new found confidence!
On our last day, we spent time at House of Hope, an orphanage run by our amazing friends Diane and Justin Herman. Beth (on the left) is holding a little baby girl who’s mom was lost to volcano Fuego’s eruption the week before.
We have visited and supported House of Hope for years. My husband Mike was so happy to see Amado again. He is the oldest orphan at House of Hope. We are praying for his successful adoption in August!
Once we finished showing God’s love with our hands and hearts in the village and at House of Hope, it was time to lend our wallets to the Guatemalan economy:) I’ve never been so happy to have a glass of wine in my entire life. LOL. We ate lunch at the beautiful Meson Panza Verde hotel in Antigua and finished up the day with dinner at the 17th century monastery turned 5 start hotel Casa Santo Domingo. Work hard play hard as they say!
Mike and I were so excited to purchase (2) hand made gorgeous hammocks in Antigua for our new lake house.
We had the most delicious Texas BBQ at Pappy’s run by an American guy from Austin, TX. Who knew?
When I was checking into Delta on our journey home, the Guatemalan agent asked me the purpose of my visit and then said to me, “Thank you for lending your labor to our country and helping our people when we cannot.” Just showing God’s love my friend…. pay it forward whenever you can….
If you’d like to donate to our ongoing efforts in Guatemala and to our annual trip, please donate HERE. If you are interested in joining me on a summer trip, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to learn more about the non profit in Guatemala that makes it all happen for our teams, please go check out Catalyst Resources International a little closer.
Blessings and Love,