Monday, November 10, 2008


Chris and I have sponsored a child through World Vision since we have been married. I have to admit that I was never really able to personally connect with them and that is all on me. Our "child" was aging out around the time we had started Becca's adoption, so we asked if we could now sponsor a girl from Guatemala. And really until just the past year or so, I found it difficult to connect even to her. Her picture is on our frig and we would mention her now and then. Last year, I had the kids make her pictures for the first time.
I stumbled across the blog of Shaun Groves and he has a passion for child sponsorship. Through reading his blog and some others, I have realized how truly significant it is and how much it matters to the children. A few months ago, David started talking about sponsoring a child, so we had him choose a child through Compassion. We will pay most of the monthly fee, but we will take some out of his allowance, with our goal being to have him pay a bit more each year until eventually he is able to support a child on his own. David chose a 7 year old girl in Guatemala named Nancy. David has sent her two letters with some photographs and he has sent her an email through the Compassion website. The biggest difference is that we have now committed to praying for both girls on a daily basis.
I am already dreaming about the day we can travel to Guatemala to meet them!
A group of people just recently went to the Dominican Republic with Compassion and they blogged about their time there - you can read them all here.
Shaun included this short video on his blog and I was able to share it with my children - WOW! is all I can say!

I also made a new friend online who is making dolls! They are called Compassion Friends and they are $36 - Abbie is donating $26 to Compassion's Global Food Crisis Fund to feed approximately 2 children living in poverty for a month. This is a GREAT gift idea for the holidays - I have ordered mine and can't wait to see them!
Check them out here!
I am so thankful to so many people who are doing so many awesome things to help kids in poverty and thankful that they are inspiring me and many others!
If you aren't already sponsoring a child - DO IT!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Art of Listening Prayer - Part 2

I am in the midst of reviewing a book by Seth Barnes called "The Art of Listening Prayer". Today I am posting on what I have learned from doing Day 8-16 in the 30-day study. I am obviously not doing this every day of the week, but it is making a large impact none-the-less.
Seth covers such issues as starting a conversation with God, and listening skills. He also talks about different ways that God speaks to us, through the Bible, through impressions, through others, visions, etc. It really helped me explore what I believe about how God communicates. It challenged me to take God out of a few boxes I had put him in. Seth shares a real life story at the beginning of each "day" and it helps to make it all more practical.
Day 10 is about our thought life. Asking the Lord to exchange our thoughts for his thoughts. I am praying for God to help me dialogue with Him throughout the day rather than being trapped in my own self-dialogue I tend to live with all day. It is not even that I consider my own self-dialaogue negative - it just that it is mostly focused on myself and my agenda - I am looking forward to letting the Lord's thoughts become louder than my own.
Day 15 is about following through. He compares our conversing with God to learning to communicate with our parents.
"Look at what a complex task it is to learn to communicate with our parents:
First we learn to recognize their voices.
Then we learn their vocabulary.
Then we decipher their meaning.
Then we learn to speak words.
Then we learn to interact.
Then we learn to respect and obey.
Ultimately in our 20's and 30's we may learn to communicate with our parents on a mature level."
This really gave me grace to realize what a process it is to communicate and converse with God. I believe He has been teaching me his language, by revealing His heart to me. I am so thankful for His patience and His grace!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Art of Listening Prayer - Part One

I have started the other book that was sent to me free with Red Letters (my review is below in 3 different posts). I received both of these books for free on the condition that I would blog about them and link the blogs of the authors!
I picked up "The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes thinking it would be a book to read. It turns out it is much more than that. It is actually a 30-day workbook. At first I thought - I don't know if I can really do this - I am already keeping up with Beth Moore's Believing God and BSF. But as I started to read the introduction I was drawn in. I am AMAZED at how God is so involved in ALL the details. As I have gone through the first 7 days of this workbook, the things that God is teaching me in all 3 of these studies are all intersecting, supporting each other and are a combination of exactly what God needs to do in me right now to prepare me for the journey He has before me!

The subtitle to the book is "Finding God's voice amidst life's noise". I am almost embarrassed to admit that I find the premise of this book so revoluntionary. The main idea is that when we pray and talk to God, we should then be quiet and wait for his response. Now, that part isn't what struck me as so new - I think at times I have prayed and then waited to hear God - and I do believe that God does speak.
The book has a few pages to read for each day with a concept to learn about communicating with God. Then there is a series of questions to ask God - not to answer them with my thoughts and wisdom, but I am to pose each of these questions to God and then wait for his response. By suggestion from the author I am using a journal to write out the questions - I am using one color for my questions and prayers to God. I am using another color for Scripture and anything I sense God is saying to me.

The principles in today's lesson - kind of sum up what I have learned - or been reminded of lately.

1. In normal personal relationships, dialogue is initiated by asking questions.

2. In normal personal relationships, after posing a question it is customary to expect a response and wait for it.

3. In normal personal relationships, the listener does not interrupt or allow distrations, but focuses his attention on the speaker.

4. In normal personal relationships we recognize the voice of the other party.

5. In normal personal relationships, people use a variety of means to communicate.

6. In an intimate friendship, there are expressions of affection and extended periodic conversation.

7. Honesty is important.

I feel like I have just begun to truly communicate with God. Today I had to confess to Him that I often think of prayer as similar to a lucky charm, like I mouth my prayers so that I am covered on everything and it is rare that I truly abide with, praise, connect, engage with or worship God in prayer.
It's exciting to realize again that God desires RELATIONSHIP with me a deep level.

I know that God is stirring my heart to a ministry of helping the oppressed and the "least of these". As I am waiting to see where He wants me to serve, He is drawing me into greater BELIEF, He is grounding me in His word, and now is drawing me into deeper intimacy with Him. Thank you Jesus!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Red Letters - Part 3

So much happening right now! Glad to have a chance to talk about the last 3 chapters of Red Letters by Tom Davis.
Chapter 8 is entitled The Most Important Things -
Tom challenges us to consider what is on our list of the top 5 things that matter most to us. He then asks us to consider what may be on God's top 5 list and to see if they look similar! He speculates that God may be concerned about:

28 million children who die from curable diseases each year?

17 million children who die from malnutrition and starvation each year?

33% of the world's population that is malnurished?

20% of the world's population that has no access to safe water?

10 million children who are involved in the sex industry?

100 million children who live on the street?

200 child laborers?

If I am honest my Top 5 revolve around matters in my own kingdom, much more than God's Kingdom! By my time allotment, it would seem that my comfort and my well-being rank fairly high on the list. Of course, I am doing a lot of "good" things with my time and talents, but does my heart truly beat for the same things God's heart beats for? May it become so!
Tom then goes on to reference a scene from the movie Schindler's List. I saw this clip in church once and it really impacted me.

I think this speaks SO powerfully to how we spend our time and money. The way I look at my possessions has changed radically in the past year - and I have a long way to go. But I now view every purchase through the lens of "What could this money do to feed a starving child? To provide clean water? Do I really NEED to purchase this item? Am I building God's Kingdom or my own?

Tom goes on to talk about how doing nothing is harmful in itself. That silence really isn't "safe".

The last part of the chapter is about "Living Bigger Than Yourself". This is the longing of my heart. God has done so much for me and He has transformed my life. I know that I need to continue to be transformed, but I also need to understand that I was transformed for a purpose greater than myself - it is to be LIVED OUT by serving others. He asks what our personal legacy will be and what will be the legacy of our generation.

Chapter 9 is called Snapshots of Hope and is full of great stories of people who are living a faith that bleeds. He says "These people aren't millionaires. They aren't rock stars. They're just ordinary people who understand the importance of bringing hope to the hopeless." God has been driving this point home to me. HE USES ORDINARY PEOPLE!
I am ready to get OUT OF MY CHAIR!

Chapter 10 is "How to Bleed". In this chapter and in the "Additional Resources" Tom gives all kinds of nuts and bolts way to live out what he has challenged us to. Much of this can be found on his website as well.

I am so thankful that God is using ordinary people such as Tom Davis to do EXTRAORDINARY things for His Kingdom and for the hurting people of this world!
I am different for having read this book!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The life of Moses - bring it on!

My local BSF class started today and I couldn't be more excited! Last year the kids stayed home with my mom because Becca was too young to attend. This year I am taking both the younger two and I've heard so many wonderful things about the children's program! I am so excited for them to learn about Moses along with me.

During the lecture portion this morning, the teacher gave an overview of Moses' life. This statement really stuck out to me -
"God has power to deliver his people from every kind of bondage and oppression" WOW! Do I believe that? And what part does God want me to play in helping his children be delivered?

She pointed out four character qualities that were evident in Moses


She said that without these characteristics we will not become GREAT LEADERS.

I am asking myself "Am I willing to let God make me a person of prayer, courage, humility and faith?

Of course, the Beth Moore "Believing God" study, that I am toward the end of, compliments all of this so miraculously.

Sometimes I am discouraged that I still don't know exactly where God wants me to serve - and then times like today I reminded again that it is a process and I know all THIS is preparation ground! Most importantly I am seeing so clearly that while I may benefit from what the Lord is teaching me, that is not the final purpose. The work the Lord is doing in me is for the purpose of BRINGING THAT HOPE TO THOSE THAT HAVE NONE - TO BE A VOICE FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T BEING HEARD!

Lord, please make me teachable so that others will find freedom!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


My heart is heavy this week as I continue to keep up with the blogs of some missionaries in Haiti! They were already reeling from Fay, Gustav and Hannah, when Ike brought more rain this week. I don't think any of us can fully fathom what it must be like there. It is a huge struggle for people to survive, let alone thrive, BEFORE all these storms came through. MANY people have NO access to food or clean water - going on 6 days now!

Here is the link for the blog of Licia from the Rescue Center. Please take a moment to look at the pictures and hear the stories, but only if it will stir your heart to pray! There is a paypal link on their blog if you decide to help them financially!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Red Letters - Part 2

FINALLY! I have a few moments of peace and quiet to finish writing about this wonderful book! Here is the link to my post about the first half of the book.

Chapter 6 is entitled "The Sanctity of Life". Tom spends time on two passages of Scripture - Matthew 25:41-45 and Jeremiah 29:11-14. In the Matthew passage God tells us that He IS that hungry, thristy, homeless, sick and imprisoned person. He doesn't just care for them He IS them. This is something I am still amazed by and again am realizing that it will be hard to "See God" as I so often ask and live my life "not seeing" the people He indwells!
The Jeremiah passage is special to me because it is the verse we claimed over Rebecca at her dedication before our church family. Verse 11 says the Lord has "plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for". These words from Tom really pierced my heart when I read them.
"Does the Jeremiah passage apply to everyone or just to those of us who live in weathly countries? Does it pack the same kind of meaning to people in developing countries; do they get to look forward to a hope and a future? Does it apply to the infant who was just infected with HIV through her mother's breast milk?"
I agree with Tom's conclusion that God makes that promise to every person and He desires to use US to embody that promise to a person in need. When we adopted Rebecca I felt like I had done my part in helping God in fulfulling this promise for her. Now I am realizing that it is MUCH more than that - there are many more that I need to help.

Chapter 7 is "Justice". God is obviously trying to open my eyes to the idea of JUSTICE. I can't wait to write about Gary Haugen's book about the International Justice Mission. Tom mentioned how his 7 year old has a strong sense of justice. I also have a 7 year old and this is very true. The phrase I am hearing a lot lately is "that's not fair". When did I grow out of it? When did I decide that I am entitled to a secure, comfortable life, but too bad for the rest of them? Although I would never say that out loud - I sense that God is shining a spotlight into my soul and helping me see that I don't see all His people as equals as having the same hopes and dreams. As Tom says
"Jesus believed that each person living on the planet has the right to be free, to live with dignity, to be safe, to receive care for their sickness or disease, and to be loved by the community".
Do I really live like I believe that statement? OUCH! It hurts to even write it out - although I may not be doing anything to actively oppress someone, by doing nothing I am an accomplice! Tom again quotes Mother Teresa,
"When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you or I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. We have refused to be instruments of love in the hands of God to give the poor a piece of bread, to offer them a dress with which to ward off the cold. It has happened because we did not recognize Christ when, once more, he appeared under the guise of pain, identified with a man numb from the cold, dying of hunger, when he came in a lonely human being, a lost child in search of a home."
That quote is just ringing through my head and heart!
I thought I would blog the whole second half today, but I am just deciding to stop here for today. I sense I need to pause here awhile for myself and let this sink in to an even deeper level!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I miss blogging!

I was really hoping my next post would be the second half of the Red Letters Book Review. The week before last the book was at hubby's office. This week is has been home, but I have literally not been able to find enough time when I am not in a vegetative state (after 8pm) to be able to write a coherent post.
I know only a few people even read this - but it's very theraputic for me and I love having a place to try to put words to what I am thinking and feeling (so many others do it so much more eloquently than I do!)
It's frankly been a really tough few weeks. My eldest son is REALLY ready to be back at school and he has required MUCH more of me than he usually does. We've had some good times together and some really good talks. We've also had some really ugly moments and I am finding that he is currently draining A LOT of my emotional and mental energy! MANY other people are dealing with MANY LARGER SCALE issues! What I am coping with PALES in comparison - like not really on the charts - to so much of the suffering in the world. And I am mostly able to keep this perspective. But sometimes I fall into that whole selfish pity party mode too!
I am really hoping that things will even out with him when he gets back to school. I am looking forward to having some quiet times in the afternoons with both boys at school and Becca napping (I am hoping she hangs on at least until Christmas).
I am in the middle of the Beth Moore Believing God study and it has been FANTASTIC! I am also reading Just Courage by Gary Haugen with the International Justice Mission. I will be starting BSF in a few weeks and studying the life of Moses. SO MUCH good stuff! So many thoughts and places that God is taking me that I haven't been able to process yet! Hopefully soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food for thought and prayer

Here is a article that Steven Curtis Chapman wrote for CNN.

A post from Jason at the Abba Fund

And Shaun Grove's wrote this post that really challenged me!

Thanks to all 3 of them for lighting a fire under me!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Chapman Family

I've been pretty quiet lately. It's just been a blah couple of weeks. I am frankly just trying to keep my head above water to keep my 3 children from screaming at each other all day (keepin' it real again). So that has involved becoming an activities director and not much time to myself! Which is all part of the package!
Anyways...I did manage to steal some time this afternoon (i.e. - the boys were both in front of a screen and every toy that Becca owns is in pile in our living room) to watch the footage of the Chapman family on Larry King Live last night. They were discussing the accidental death of their 5-year old daughter - she was run over in their driveway by their teenage son. There story is amazing - their faith is REAL and inspiring!
I have the utmost respect for this family. I believe they are the "real deal". They have adopted 3 girls from China and are HUGE advocates for adoption. Probably every adoptive parent mentions how they were inspired by the Chapmans and we are among them. We went to a day-long marriage conference in Colombus in November of 2003. We had dinner with the Allen's the night before and wanted to talk to them about their adoption and let them know that we were considering adoption. The next day at the conference - Steven Curtis Chapman did a mini-concert. At that point they had adopted and I was completely unaware of it. He and MaryBeth spoke about adoption and my tears flowed. That weekend confirmed for Chris and I that we would adopt!
Here is the link to the first part of the interview last night and then you can navigate to the other parts!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wrapping it all up

We've been back from Guatemala for a week now. Frankly the past week was awful! The kids were all having a tough week, and I was SICK! It's hard to keep up with our life when I am well, and having me sick all week was hard on everyone! I ended up at Urgent Care on Friday evening. As I figured, all they could tell me was that it was viral and to wait it out. Today I am finally feeling human again. As I eluded to in an earlier post I had times this past week where I wondered if it was all worth it! Well I can say with confidence that IT WAS WORTH IT! I can't imagine not having had the experience that we did!
What I most hoped for from this trip was to truly experience the culture and people of Guatemala. The wonderful thing about a mission/work trip vs. a vacation is that you have the opportunity to interact with the people in their real lives. I LOVED being with the people. What I learn from them is that "things" don't bring happiness. Did I know this before? YES! But it's one of those lessons we learn over and over and at different levels. I was very struck by the sense of community at the elementary school. The place seemed to be always filled with music and laughing. The kids were so willing to work right along side of us and they worked HARD and were enjoying themselves! They don't have a lot compared to what we have, as far as possessions go, but they are CONTENT! How I long to live in a place of being consistently CONTENT!
Space in general seems so different there - personal space, home space, etc. It's all smaller - hmmm...maybe that's why their relationships seem deeper, more cherished, more prioritized. I am still processing this aspect too!
Some things that have come out of our time there -
Chris and I both feel that we'd like to try to go to Guatemala at least every other year. We see this as a long-term relationship - an on-going partnership between our family and this beautiful country. We still don't know what that will look like - at what point can we start taking the kids? Will we always do missions? Will we partner with one organization? We are still sorting through that part of it.
I am inspired and motivated to improve my Spanish skills and to have the kids learn Spanish. I was able to speak enough to communicate, but not enough to converse. I feel that I missed out on some great relational time with the students & teachers at the school and with the "mamas" at the orphanage. I am working on getting Becca started on some Spanish classes for this fall.
My heart and mind were full as the plane lifted off in Guatemala. I asked the man sitting next to me if he was from "here" or "there" - his response was "both". I have tears even now when I realize how strongly God has bound my heart to that place and how I want that to be the answer I would give as well.

Below is a 3-minute video I put together of our time there. If you have read all the posts, you pretty much have it all. I did this mainly for our church famiy, so they could see the impact of their gifts and donations!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Guatemala Day 3 - Saturday, July 19th

So when I left you at the end of the last day...we had gone to bed at the apartment at Eagle's Nest in Solola. When I got up in the morning I couldn't wait to go out in the living room and check out the view of the lake! When I looked out the window I could see NOTHING! That's right - we were completely fogged in! Well, it was only 6:30am - so I figured it would burn off - more about that later. We walked over to the orphanage at 7:00am and the place was already hopping! They have about 50 kids there - most are under a year and then there are just a few older kids. I believe that about 40 of these kids are matched with adoptive parents and just waiting for the process to be completed. New adoptions are closed for now in Guatemala, but those cases that began before the end of the year are grandfathered in, although the process has been quite SLOW! Most of the babies had been fed already, but I was able to give one baby her bottle "pacha". The local women that work with the children are called "mamas". The mamas were busy one-by-one taking the children back to be bathed and changed. As the kids came out, we and the other helpers (from the church group) were interacting with the kids. Reading stories, walking around with those learning to walk, etc. Chris and I looked at the clock at 9:00 and couldn't believe it had only been 2 hours. As much as we loved it, it was tiring work! The children are very well cared for, but you can tell they just crave that individual attention. Before we left, I emailed an adoptive mom that I met at the Orphan Summit, whose son was at EN and she got me in touch with several parents still waiting for their babies to come home. We were able to hug these precious babies and take some pictures to send to their waiting parents. I remember that during the waiting every picture was like GOLD!

Around 10:00 we went over the conference center. A church plant started at Eagle's Nest last December. They currently have a pastor, 6-8 women and 20 some children. The youth group from Illinois ran a VBS from 10-12 that they advertised through the church plant into the village. Several youth had gotten sick, so they were thankful that Chris and I were there to fill in some gaps! Around 80 children came and we followed one group of 23 kids from station to station. At the first station we sang songs - I was so excited when we sang "Yo tengo un amigo que me ama". My kids know this song from the Fiesta VBS CD we love to listen to. We also taught this song to the kids at Life Church. At the next station we helped them make a craft on a Meijer reusuable bag (felt just like home). The third station they did a story/skit and explained how to ask Jesus into your life. At the last station we (we meaning Chris) played soccer (futbol). It was great interaction with the kids! Once that ended we had lunch with the Illinios group.

It had been misting during the whole VBS time, but it cleared up a bit after lunch. We at least got a few glimpses of the incredible view from the "point".

Then it was back to the orphanage. By that time, it had quieted down a bit, as many of the babies were napping. We stayed there until our shuttle came to take us back to Antigua.
It was a long way to go for a 1/2 day, but the time was full and we really enjoyed learning about the ministry there!
We got back to Antigua just in time to meet the group for our final dinner. They all cheered when we arrived at the restuarant and were anxious to hear about our time at Eagle's Nest. Then we got to hear about their volcano hike and the tour of the coffee plantation. After dinner we went back to the hotel and debriefed about the trip. It was hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful group as it felt we had connected so quickly. Everyone had to catch early shuttles to fly out the next morning.
I'll do one more post tomorrow about all my final thoughts as I have still been processing it all!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Re-entry has been brutal!

I was planning to blog about our last day yesterday - but it didn't happen. I am hoping to later today.
We got home around mid-night on Sunday. We had a sitter here with the kids til we got home - so that we would be altogether in the morning. The boys came bounding in at 6:15 - with lots of hugs and snuggles. My seven year old told us that
"Grandparents are great, but nothing makes up for mom and dad"! Chris took Monday off - thankfully - I would not have made it! I felt really tired all day, but figured I was just recovering. Tuesday I felt a bit better in the morning, but still really tired and achy. The kids are all having a rough time. Becca has been whiny and clingy and I think she is getting her molars. The boys have been unable to get along for more than 2 minutes and just seem out-of-sorts. Yesterday I started feeling worse, my throat went from irritated to PAINFUL and around dinnertime I realized I had a fever. I am guessing I picked something up from the kids in the orphanage as a few of them were sick! I have gone to bed at 8:00 the last 2 nights!
I would not trade our trip for the world! But I am stuggling with how hard our being gone was on the kids! In my heart I know we were supposed to go, but it's hard to have it be like it has been this week! Just continuing to keep it real!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guatemala - Day 2 - Friday, July 18th

Before getting into the events of the day - I want to talk about a bit about Healing Waters and what they do. First of all, our experience traveling with them was top-notch! They did a fantastic job of arranging the schedule, the hotels, the meals and the transportation. Liz, from their Colorado office, Daniela, the in-country respresentative and Laura, an intern from Colorado, were all GREAT and we loved getting to know them. There were so gracious to help us work out getting to the orphanage and back. They had pre-paid cell phones we could use to call home and even insisted we take one as we traveled to Solola.
We learned that 95% of the water supply in Guatemala is contaminated. Even if the municipal water may be clean, by the time it travels through the infrastructure, it is contaminated coming into the homes. The solution is to buy bottled water from the stores (which is safe), or to buy water off of delivery trucks (not always safe). A 5-gallon jug in the stores costs $2 or about 15 quetzales. HW sells the same amount for about 50 cents or 4 quetzales. The systems which are built into the churches are donated by individuals, churches or businesses in the US. Of the 4 quetzales - 2 are used to cover the cost of maintaining the systems - 1 quetzal goes to cover the cost of HW adminitration and 1 quetzal is given back to the church. The churches are encouraged to use these funds to serve their communities. The pastor we talked with has used their funds to give scholarships to the Christian school that is housed in their church. They have also bought computers for local schools. HW currently has 19 systems in Guatemala. Normally they bring down teams for the inaguration of a system. We were the first team to come when they weren't doing a grand-opening, which is why they set up the service project at the elementary school.

Back to the day. Friday morning we had breakfast at the truly authentic Guatemalan restaurant named Bagel Barn! (note sarcasm here) I think it was the first time I have ever had black beans on a bagel though! Then we headed out to the school. We were able to jump right in where we had left off and knew a lot more what we needed to do this time!
I was able to help with a special project that took up most of my time there that day. HW bought a photo printer, and we took a digital picture of each of the students and teachers individually. Frames were purchased for each person and the kids each decorated their own. For many of the children, this was the first picture they had of themselves. (HW has also done this in the churches and provided free famiy pictures for the members!) It was SO much fun to work with the children on this project.

Chris was able to hang some basketball nets, and also helped with painting the lines on the basketball court and he helped paint the soccer (futbol) goals. Others finished the mural, the Mayan calendar and some more planting.

The school day starts at 7:30 and ends at 12:30. Right before the children left they did a ceremony to close out the week (they also do one on Monday morning to start the school-week). School in Guatemala runs from January to October. There are public schools but they are in VERY poor shape. Almost all the kids go to private schools, they are run by the communities and the tuition range varies greatly.
Here are pictures from the ceremony.

After that, we pumped up all the balls that our team had brought down. We were also able to present the teachers with our suitcase packed with supplies that were donated by Life Church. They were very excited about the supplies - just before we left the director of school came and when he saw all that was in the suitcase - he was also very excited! You can see the repainted basketball courts and the bright yellow soccer goals. Chris really enjoyed playing with the kids!

We had some lunch and then the rest of the team was heading to visit some ruins in Iximche. Chris and I took a taxi back to Antigua - did an hour of power-shopping in Antigua and then caught the shuttle to go to Lake Atitlan. What an amazing drive it was. I don't know if I can even describe it. For the first hour or so we drove through some smaller towns. The towns are so different from America. The streets are narrow and there are cars, vans, chicken buses, motorcycles, people on bikes, stray dogs and people walking seemingly all in the same space. It is fascinating to witness, and it doens't phase any of them to be sharing the same small place. The last hour or so was true mountain driving - hilly, curvy, bumpy - no houses or towns. The scenary is beautiful, lush and green. As we get close to Lake Atitlan it is starting to get dark. We see a few glimpses of the lake (surrounded by volcanos) as the sun is setting. By the time everyone else gets off the shuttle in the town of Panajachel it is dark and the night-life is hopping! Now it's just us and the Spanish-speaking driver and some written directions (not even an address) to Eagle's Nest in Solola. It's about a 15 minute drive and we do manage to find the place! It's about 8:00 when we get there - the orphanage is quiet and we meet the American couple that help there and get settled into our apartment. The orpahanage was built in 2004 - the other part of the property, which includes condos, a dining hall/conference center and cabanas that have been made into dormitories is a defunct time-share. It is up on a point, cliff, over-looking the lake. Our apartment has large windows that look over the lake and I can't wait to get up in the morning to see the view. There is a team of 26 people there from a church in Illinois. We meet a few of them and find out that breakfast is at 7:00am.
It was another amazing and fulfulling day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guatemala - Day One

This was written on Thursday, July 17th.
We are here in Guatemala! Everything went great yesterday with our flights and the staff from Healing Waters, Aguas de Unidad, met us at the airport. We had the chance to talk with them and another couple on the ride to the hotel in Antigua. We settled in, rested a bit and met more of the group for dinner.

Chris & I in the center of Antigua

The view from the hotel balcony

We started out early this morning for breakfast. It was the same restaurant where we had lunch 2 years ago when we visited Antigua with Rebecca. I got weepy at breakfast, just being so thankful to be here. After breakfast, Daniela, who is on staff here with HW gave us an orientation about the culture and history of Guatemala and then about HW. Then we drove to Chimaltenango to the elementary school. The school has about 50 students K to 6th grade. When we arrived they had a presentation for us. Several of them played songs on the marimbas, maracas, etc. One girl recited a poem and then the children performed a Mayan dance. I can´t describe how enjoyable it was!

Then we got to work. Chris worked with a few others on recementing the entryway. A few others helped repaint the lines on the basketball court. A few others began painting a mural on the courtyard wall. I was in the group that did flower planting, ok mom, you can stop laughing. The kids all helped us, they dug the holes and we put in the flowers and plants.

I brought some little bottles of nail polish and was able to paint some of the girls fingernails and even the nails of some of the teachers. It was great one to one time to connect. A lot of Spanish has come back as I hear it.
From there we had lunch with a family that uses the water from the water systems. Their home is connected to a small restaurant and we all ate in their backyard. The pastor and his wife and 2 daughters were there and there was a lot of conversation with them about the water system and how it has impacted their church and the community. More about that later. Then we went back into Guatemala City to see a water system and how it operates. One couple from our group has personally co sponsored that system it was special for them to see it in person.

ETA: I want to talk more about the water systems and how it all works, so I will start with that on the Day 2 post!
We made a few stops for supplies for more work at the school tomorrow and then came back to Antigua for dinner.
I don´t know if I can fully put into words how wonderful today was. It was the feeling of being in EXACTLY in the place where I was meant to be. Being completely in the moment, soaking in every interaction, being at the point of tears because I am so amazed to be here and to have this experience.
Tomorrow we will work for a few hours at the school and then Daniela will bring us back to Antigua and we will take a bus to the orphanage which is near Lake Atitlan. We will spend the night at an apartment at the orphanage and help a group that is already there with a Bible school for the kids on Saturday.
Time to go, I can honestly say this was one of the best days of my life! I am grateful!