Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's That Time of Year

The holidays are here and I have been thinking alot about what life would be like if we were living in the States right now.  I would be running around like a crazy person getting ready for Christmas: buying gifts for family, teachers, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, friends, etc.  I would have my house all decorated and there would be 5 inflatables in the front yard and icicles lights around the roof.  There would be lots of cookies to make and parties to go to and planning what to eat Christmas day and who to invite over. Somewhere in the mix would be a trip to North Carolina to see family.  It would be a fun time and I would be trying not to get so busy that I forget about what CHRISTmas is all about and to share that with my kids.  My kids, by the way, would be focused on presents and what they hope to get - sharks teeth and Lego sets.

This year is a tad bit different.  I used to have 8-10 plastic totes full of Christmas decorations, now I have 2.  The decorating process took about 20 minutes, not a whole day.  It's the 11th of December and I haven't made one trip to Target and won't (only because they don't have it here and if they did, I couldn't afford it).  I haven't ordered anything online and don't plan to buy any presents - except small gifts for families here.  When I asked Jon what he wanted for Christmas, his reply was a short pause followed by "I don't really need anything, I have enough stuff." Some people reading this just fell out of their chair because that boy ALWAYS wants a Lego set, ALWAYS.  It's amazing what happens to kids when they are removed from marketing media.  You don't want what you don't know exists. We will be going to one party and spending Christmas Eve with the other American families here.  Muy tranquilo - Spanish for very calm.  That's Christmas this year.  The craziest it will get is Christmas Eve when we hand out food baskets and gifts to our Guatemalan families and Christmas day when our team gets to visit 15+ families living in extreme poverty to tell them that they will be getting a new home next year.  It's going to be the best Christmas ever and we can't wait.

There are lots of videos and things going around the internet about how much Americans alone spend on  Christmas.  It's a crazy amount of money.  If just a little bit was given away, the world could be changed.  Really.  Doing all we do at Christmas isn't bad or wrong, but if we would just skip something small and gave that money away, people could eat, kids could have shoes or a warm jacket,  someone could sleep on a bed instead of a dirt floor or a piece of flea infested foam,  and the list goes on.   I live in a place where I see people with extreme needs that could be helped with just a little money.  We also help alot of people with "our" money.  If we can use our little missionary budget to help, so can you.  I think of how we lived in the States and how much we could have helped if only we knew the need.  I want to share the need with everyone I know so you can know it too and help.

How Others Have Helped-

Cruz (boy in the middle) gets help with seizure medication

This family got food and a stove (and a home too)
This family got a home, bathroom, stove and pila

  How You Can Help -

Go to 12X12 Love Project and donate money for a house, food, medicine, beds, stoves, pilas, etc.

Get friends, family or co-workers together to raise money for a new home, etc.

A Christmas Tree

Berta and her beautiful family

How many of you have Christmas trees?  You probably could hardly wait for Thanksgiving so the tree could go up.  I used to be that way but now that I live in Guatemala, I have adapted to the "no one is ever in a hurry to do anything" way of life.  So we waited a couple of more days.  Our last 2 Christmases in the States we decided to put up the old, fake tree we bought when Jack and Jon were little - the one we put up with kid friendly ornaments that they could mess up so the real one would stay nice, and use the money we saved to help a family in need (God started preparing me for Guatemala long before I knew it!)  This year, our dilemma was more about which fake tree we could afford.  They start out at "Is that even a Christmas tree?" and go to "There is no way we could/would pay that much for a plastic tree."  We looked around a bit and decided on one that was only $25 and I wouldn't have to sit on the floor to decorate.  Before we went out to buy the tree,  Mavelyn and Wendy came over.  They saw some of our Christmas decorations and we got to talking about Christmas here vs. the States and what people do etc.  We found out that they have never had a Christmas tree - not even a bush or tree cut from the side of the road.   We weren't completely surprised given that they live in poverty and trees are probably a luxury item for people but it made us a little sad.  Then they asked us if they could come over and help us decorate ours when we got it.  These girls have a hard time asking us to use our bathroom let alone ask us to let them help decorate our tree.  We decided to forget the tree we were going to get and buy one half the price so we could get one for them too.

Mavelyn, Hamilton & Josemar

We wanted it to be a special time so we made dinner and had pollo frito and papas (fried chicken and french fries) at their request since they don't eat it that often, another luxury.  It was a great time!  I can't tell you how neat it was to watch a 15 year old and her younger siblings decorate a Christmas tree for the first time. The best part was that we didn't tell them about their tree until they were ready to leave.  We gave everyone a wrapped "present" which were the ornaments and lights and let the oldest two girls open the tree.   It was one of those "Wow" moments for each of us.  I know trees aren't that big of a deal but it was a small way for us to brighten the Christmas for a precious family.

P.S.  Mavelyn came over the next day to tell us how much they love the tree and only turn the lights on for a few minutes at night so they don't raise their $5/month electric bill.


Carefully opening the paper so not to rip it

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Close to our house there is a property that has 3 "houses" on it - one for a husband and wife with a young son, one for their daughter and family, and one for the elderly father.  Chris had been there a couple of times to visit the daughter, Miriam, and talk about her house, we even went one time and took a friend visiting from the States.  Chris went again recently to see if she was in need of a new stove and got to talking about her family and her brother, Melvin.  All this time and several visits and we never knew he was there, in the other house with her mom.

Melvin is a 7-year-old but he is the size of a 2-3 year-old.  We are not sure what his disability is.  His mom said he was born normal but later got sick and was never the same.  There isn't much that can be done for him but he is precious.  After meeting Melvin and his mom, Chris remembered her coming to our house several months ago asking for help for her disabled son.  It must have been a crazy moment or day because he completely forgot about it but God didn't.  He has a purpose for us to know about Melvin and now we do.  A few days after meeting him, a group of people, who help and pray for disabled people in our pueblo,  came to our door asking if we would join their group.  They visit the families and pray for them and try to get whatever help they need although there aren't many resources.  We learned that there are 71 disabled people in our community and Melvin is one of them. 

It's funny how sometimes we can miss things that are right infront of us but God can bring them back again.  We are glad he brought Melvin back even though he was right there all along. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Glendy's Family

So far, the 12x12 Love Project is on house #60 something.  Each family has a story of their plight and it's nothing short of amazing how their lives are changed through a new home.  If you have ever been camping, you might be able to relate.  Imagine going from living in a tent with holes in the seams, during a bad rain storm and it's 52 degrees outside, to a concrete structure that keeps out the wind, rain and the cold.  It's something so simple and doesn't cost much, $3,000, but it makes a HUGE difference in the daily lives of families here.

The kids I see are what get me every time, especially Glendy.  I wrote about her before and you can read more here.  Not too long ago we celebrated her new home and it is the one that has impacted me the most.  We've gotten to know this family a little more and found out the dad left the mom (Maria) for another women - very common here, and she lives with her parents.  Maria has 3 children - Marvin, Glendy and Francesca.  Francesca is a typical, cute 2 year old, Glendy is the happiest, brightest 6 year old I have ever met and Marvin is quiet and sad.  He is a great, hard working boy but you can tell that something in his spirit is broken.  I am sure it has to do with his dad leaving.  He doesn't like school and loves to work with his Grandpa in the fields.  A few times Chris has asked Marvin to help him with something and he always says yes and you can tell that he loves to have the male attention as any boy would coming from a dad.  He loves his grandpa.  Grandpa Francisco has lived on the land his whole life - 85 years.  They were living in a house that was in pretty bad shape, with no running water and there was junk everywhere on their little piece of land, a few dogs and lots of chickens.  The transformation is one of the most extreme we have seen so far.  Now, their land is clean, has a new pila,  new bathroom with hot water,  new house and gravel to cover the dirt.  No more junk or a house that is falling apart!   We even got the kids some new,warm clothes.  

glendy and grandpa francisco taking old rocks to the revine
grandma and grandpa's new bed
opening the door to their new home

new bed for mom and kids
When we arrived to do the key ceremony, we found the family crammed in their 10x10 kitchen sleeping on the floor.  During the construction process, most families relocate their "home" or stay with other family members but we think this family stayed in their cocina.  We wondered about this but every time Chris would ask, the mom told us they were staying with family.  This wouldn't be too terribly bad but we had rain for almost 10 days straight so I can't even imagine how they did it.   This really broke our hearts but we are thankful that they have a new home with new beds, warm blankets, and no water inside. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Missing Out

 This was written on Halloween...

Sometimes it's difficult to be here when I know friends/family back home are doing fun things that we would be a part of if we didn't live here.   We miss out on alot and are still in the process of letting go of the life we had.  Today was Halloween and although it is not my favorite holiday, we would have had dinner with friends in our neighborhood and set out for a night of candy - good times.  If today were like any other day, I would have spent it thinking about what we are missing and what we would be doing if we were back in the States.  I'll be honest, these thoughts cross my mind from time to time but today was a little different.  Today was more like "If I had the choice of being back home with my friends and their families, doing the Halloween thing or being here in Guatemala, doing what I did today, which would I choose?" Before I could even finish the question I already knew the answer and without a second thought "Be here."  I wouldn't miss what we did today for all the tea in China or all the Junior Mints I would have eaten out of my kid's candy bag.

Today Chris was on his way back from visiting Caesar when a woman stopped him in the street and asked for a ride to the clinic.  He said yes so she ran to get her child.  Long story short, the day before, the little 3-year-old pulled scalding hot liquid off the stove and suffered 3rd degree burns on 15% of her body.  When she got into the car, she still had on the shirt she was wearing when the accident happened because it was melted into her skin and she was screaming in pain.  It is a very sad and very horrible situation.  The local clinic could not treat her and said she needed to go to a specialty burn center in the city so Chris set out for an hour drive to the city to find the center.  The team at the clinic was able to give her an injection for pain so the ride was long and quiet.  Initially the doctor told the family she would be in the hospital for 2 months but Chris went to see her dad tonight and he said it might only be 3-4 weeks.

Would I trade being back home and having fun with what we did today?  No, not today.  Honestly, I don't know what to do with all the suffering that surrounds us but we are humbled and thankful we get to be here and help.


People here have many needs.  One of the things we do to help is give out food.  I know what it feels like to be hungry but I have never gone without food one time in my entire life.  Here, it is normal for people to go without food because they have none.  Not just adults but kids too.  I couldn't really imagine a child going without a meal until I moved here and see them everyday.  Recently, we saw a 15-month-old who weighted 13 pounds.  The doctor told mom that the baby needed milk but the family can't afford it.  We meet so many families like this and ones who haven't eaten and don't know where the next meal is coming from.  Or all they have eaten is a couple of tortillas and some beans.  Eating is one thing and nutrition is something completely different.  People in poor villages eat to fill their stomaches, not to nourish their bodies.  This is apparent when we travel to the city where people have more money to eat better and see Guatemalans who are taller than the ones we see here in the villages.  We have seen 18-year-olds who are as tall as my 12-year-old and bottles for babies that are nothing more than water that has been thickened with flour and sugar - something to fill them up so they won't cry but not nourish their brains and bodies.  Formula is expensive as is milk.
corn flour for tortillas

 Our trips to the grocery store always include extra beans, rice, corn flour and other things.  We have a couple of families we help with food every month and always have things on hand to give people who knock on our door.  If we run out of our "stock", we head to our pantry or fridge because there is always food there.  If we give away most of our stuff, we can always go to the store and buy more but alot of people here don't have that ability - the ability to get food whenever we need/want to.   It's something very simple for us but makes a big difference for the people who need it.  When we lived in the States, we could collect food for food banks, give money to feeding centers, etc., but I never actually met the hungry people we were helping.  Here, we meet them and go to their houses.  I see them every time I go outside.
beans, rice, sugar
People also have medical needs.  Today we took a very sick lady to the national hospital.  The care is free but any medication she will need is not.  It's alot for a poor family to pay 200Q ($26US) for  medicine which seems to be the average people ask us for.  How can we say no to a need that some times is a matter of life or death?  Last week our friend, who has a problem with high blood pressure, had a baby.  She was in the hospital and in pretty bad condition but they didn't have the money to buy her medication.  Her husband came to us late in the evening asking for help.  It's hard to imagine but people here die all of the time due to lack of medical care and/or medication.  Things that are easy to treat in the US are death sentences here. 

 If you would like to help people here with food or medical needs, go to the 12X12 Love Project and click on "Get Involved".  There is an option for food baskets or if you would like to give another amount, you can, just put what it is for in the memo.  100% of the money you give will be given to a family in food or medical care.  Pass the info along to friends and family too - there are always people who need food and medicine.  There are sick and hungry people everywhere on this planet, not just Guatemala.  I would encourage everyone to help somewhere because there are people in need everywhere.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vanessa Update

I have to admit that for the last 10+ days or so Vanessa has been heavy, heavy on my heart.  She is always heavy on my heart but with the recent changes in the mom's work situation, leaving her alone with her brothers and sister, concern for her safety, etc., I have felt an overwhelming need to do something but had no idea what that was.  All I can do is pray and wait on God to do a small miracle for this child.  Gina and I have talked alot about how to best help this bright, young girl but we don't want to do anything that would enable to mom to continue to neglect her family - helping people can be complicated!!

Recent pic taken by Mark
There has been a hurricane out in the Pacific and it has literally been raining for the last 3 days and we are all ready for it to stop and the sun to come out again.  But today God gave us a little sunshine in our hearts when we went to visit Vanessa.  We walked in to find her grandmother, who's name just happens to be Grace - so cool because we have been praying for God's grace and mercy to be poured out in this situation, cooking for Vanessa and the kids.  Turns out, she moved in to take care of them while the mom is away.  I can't tell you how happy Gina and I are!!  This precious girl and her siblings have a grandma in the house day and night who cooks for them and looks after them.  She said she will be living with them indefinitely and it would be fine if Vanessa and Esau went to school in January.  Many prayers have been answered!  Thank you all who have prayed for Vanessa.  Please keep her in your prayers!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flowers and Scarves

These are some flowers made by my crochet peeps.  They have come over every afternoon, except Sunday, to hang out and make flowers.  They love to make things but can't really afford the yarn so the idea was for me to buy them some yarn to make flowers that they could sell and buy more yarn for themselves.  I don't know if the idea has caught on for them but they sure have made alot of flowers!  Originally it was Wendy and Mavelyn who wanted to learn to crochet but since then, they invited two of their friends Nancy and Paola. 

These are some of the scarves the ladies have made to sell.  They were over yesterday to work on them together and it was great.  Most of the time I had no idea what they were talking about but they were laughing alot.  A few things I picked-up on were about their husbands, kids and mother-in-laws.   Getting a bunch of women together here is no different than in the States, they laugh and talk about life just the same. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Birthday for Vanessa

Yesterday was Vanessa's 14th birthday.  Tonight we (Steed's & Schmidt's) celebrated with her and her sister and brothers.  It was a fun party but it also reminded us how hard life is for this young girl.  It's not customary in this culture to let babies cry so Vanessa carries her baby sister around most of the day - it's hard for her to do anything let alone go to the bathroom.   Not only that, she gets up every night at 3am to heat the baby some milk and feed her.  This 14 year old is living the life of an adult mother with a baby and 2 other kids to care for.  With all that, she is still smiling and doesn't think about how hard life is, she does what needs to be done without complaining.

 Last week Gina, Julio (our Spanish teacher) and I went to Vanessa's house to clean and tidy things up.  We told her we were coming back to clean so she cleaned up as best she could and was so proud of herself.  She didn't want us to have to do that for her.   When we were there, we saw that they didn't have sheets for their beds so Gina brought those and that one of the beds is literally falling apart so we are working on getting them a new one.  I brought back 6 loads of laundry and gave the boys some new underwear - from all that laundry, they didn't appear to have any.   The next day, Gina took them some milk and formula for Esdrys and we bought them pillows for their beds as they were using old rolled up blankets.  We still praying for her mom and how we can help with their situation.  Until then, we are loving her lots and doing all we can to help her and make life a little bit easier.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I'm at a loss for words....Today Gina and I visited a young girl named Vanessa 14 and her siblings - Josue 10, Esau 5 and Esdrys 1.  This girl is on my heart continuously because she is super smart and would like to have an education.  Instead of going to school, she cares for her brothers and sister while Mom works.  She used to go to some sort of night school but that changed last week when her mom got a "new job".  She is gone from home every day and every night - she comes back 2 days a week for about 4 hours in the morning and then leaves again.  So Vanessa is left alone to care for the children, cook, clean and do everything a mother would do all day, all night, every day and night.  Today her mom was home but when we visited around noon, Mom was already gone.  What we found was heartbreaking.  Vanessa didn't want us to come in the house (2 small rooms) because she was embarrassed about how messy it was.  I had some food for her so she had to let me in and after she was in there a few minutes straightening up, we saw that the place was horrid.  There were no sheets on the bed, food, trash and dirty diapers all over the floor, and dishes that had not been washed in days.  It was smelly and filthy and just so sad!  If this was in the US, Child Protective Services would be called and the kids would be taken away but not here.  Here, it's up to us to help these kids.  Then we ask each other what is the best way to help?  We can do the basics like help her clean, bring her to our home for meals and help with laundry.  But how can we change the life of this sweet, beautiful and smart 14 year old???  We are praying hard for an answer.

We have known her family for about 5-6 months now.  Her mom came to our house one night and explained that she heard that we build houses for people and she needed one.  She is a single mom and rents 2 small rooms for her family and would like to have her own house and not have to pay rent.  If she didn't have to pay rent, she wouldn't have to work so hard selling food in the city and have to be away from her family so much.  From then on, we got to know her family by visiting them often and inviting them to our house.  The 10 year old boy, Josue, cannot go to school because he is either Autistic or mentally retarded, not sure which.  We love them all but especially Vanessa because she is very smart and would LOVE to go to school, unlike most kids here, but she can't.  Her hands are tied to a bad situation she can't get out of because of her mom.  It's an endless cycle and there isn't much here to break the cycle.  Our hearts break for her but she's the one who will make us do whatever it takes to get her out of that house and into a school so she can have a better life.  We just haven't figured out how to do that yet.  Please pray for us for wisdom and pray for Vanessa.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


God blessed me with 3 of the craziest boys and I love them fiercely but some days I wouldn't mind some estrogen in the house.  Lately, I have been getting my girl fix.  A couple of months ago, 12X12 built a house for a single mom/widow (Berta) with 7 children - 4 of whom are girls (I can't imagine having 3 boys and 4 girls).  We visit them often and have them over for dinner.  Despite living in poverty and losing their dad 6 years ago, they are a pretty normal family.  In my limited Spanish, I try to chat with the girls but it only lasts with a question or two.  They can be a little guarded at times but once you get to know them a little bit, their personalities come out and the fun starts.
Pamela, Wendy, Hamilton, & Mavelyn

Chris ran into them one day after I started the knitting group and told them to come over and I would teach them how to knit something.  They did and they each knit a hat but were really interested in the crochet flower another friend made me that I had on the table.  I didn't know how to make one so I found a pattern on the internet IN SPANISH!!  Here they are working on it.  I have found a common thread with them, so to speak, and it has opened the door for some good times with these girls.

They are alot of fun and sassy as can be. Something I do alot is ask people to repeat what they said and much slower please.  They love to say the same to me and laugh hysterically.  I imagine if I had girls, they would be alot like them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Before we moved here, people would ask "What are you going to be doing there?" We knew we would be working with the 12X12 Love Project but other than that, we were not exactly sure.  Now that we are 6+ months into it, we'd like to share a little more of what we do.  Besides learning Spanish and Chris leading 12X12, God has put some families on our hearts to get to know, be a part of our lives here and help in any way we can.  Here are two....

First up is Noelia.  She is a single mom with 4 kids - Maria 10, Josely 8, Allen 5, and Brian 3.  She is a sweet girl, has a fun sense of humor,  and is a typical mom living the crazy life with 4 kids.  She works hard to provide for her family. We bring them food and give her and the kids a ride home when it's raining - they live a couple of miles away and she works in Magdalena, close to our house.

Manuel and Juliana
Next are Manuel and Juliana.  They are an older couple, in their 70's, who live next to Noelia. They are a sweet, precious couple.  Manuel is blind and begs for a living. They are so poor I can't even describe it but they are such nice people.  Whenever we visit them and ask if they need anything they always say no.  I stand in their house and can think of 50 basic things they need but the answer is always no.   So, we bring them food alot.  If I was a betting person I would bet they alway share what we bring them with others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One of those days....

It was one of those days.  Not the one where everything goes wrong but the one that had a line of people needing things right now and you have your own list of things that have to get done today but don't.  I'll share the two most important.   It started this morning with Chris going to Buena Vista and saying "I'll be right back" - famous last words in Guatemala.  The kids and I were home waiting for him to go into town to get some things at the grocery store.  On his way back from BV he stopped to give a lady a ride to Magdalena who told him up ahead was her son and daughter in law who were on their way to the clinic with their very sick 4 month old baby so he stopped and gave them a ride too.  He found out that they had taken the baby to the clinic 2 days ago but now she was worse.  ** Let me break away from the story for a moment.  Medical care here is so bad I can't even tell you how bad it is.  Poor people don't have access to decent medical care and as a result they die from the simplest things.  All around us babies, children, and adults die from things that can easily be treated.  This is something that deeply bothers us and we want to help anyone that we know of who is sick.  A few weeks ago we crossed paths with Brittney who is here for 2 years with Students International on a medical internship.  She works at a free clinic close to here that has an excellent doctor - both have a heart for the poor.  We know God crossed our paths for a reason and that is to have a place to take people who need help and we know they will get it.  The clinic here is Magdalena is not good.  ** Back to the story...Chris offered to take them to the SI clinic but it was late in the morning and they will only see 15 patients per day and usually there are 15 people waiting when the doors open at 9.  He called me and I told him to give it a try.  When they arrived Brittney said they had a visiting doctor there today along with the regular doc but each were maxed out on their patients; they had 36 patients today instead of 30.  She went back and the visiting doc said if the family was willing to wait a couple of hours until he was done with the other patients, he would see the baby.  They did and it was one of those God things because Brittney told us the medicine the other clinic gave the baby was not right and if they hadn't come in, chances are the baby would die.  We are just so thankful....
In between that our friend Marta came to our door crying about her sick daughter and begging us to take her to the hospital.  Marta lost her newborn baby last year so she was really upset about her daughter being so sick and losing her too.   We went to see her and called a local doctor "Dr. Carlos" and took her to see him because the SI clinic was already closed.  Dr. Carlos is good but he's expensive so most people can't afford him.  Marta also took her daughter to the clinic in Magdalena a few days ago and now she is worse.  She has a respiratory infection but I think she will be fine. 

Mixed in between were knocks on the door and people needing to talk to Chris about this and that.  I could list all of the things that didn't get done today but they don't really matter.  What was most important got the help that was needed.   When we lived in the States, each day I would  pray and ask God to show me someone I could help.  Some days I never found anyone.  Here, all we have to do is wake up because there is always someone who needs help every single day.  It's a blessing and that's why we're here....

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I love to make things - sewing, knitting, crochet.  I have met several women here who like to make things as well, mostly crochet.  They make some things but yarn is expensive and a luxury item for poor families.  I've thought about trying to get ladies together for a little crochet group/bible study but my language skills are lacking and if they started to share things I would have no idea what they are saying.  Some friends from New Jersey came this week and one of them (Terry) brought some knitting looms to share with the local women.  After talking and throwing out ideas we decided to invite some ladies over and teach them how to knit so they can make things and sell them to provide a small income for their families if they want.  We did and it was a great time!! We had a translater so we were able to know what everyone was saying.  It was such an amazing time for them that I can't not do it again so I decided to have them over every week with a translater.  I have this great little devotional book called "Jesus Calling" and I ordered one in Spanish awhile back.  In wondering how I can read the bible with them, this book came to mind.  It's perfect because I can give one to each of them to read during the week and I will know what they are reading because I will be reading the same thing.  I would love to provide each lady a book ($9) and yarn.  If you would like to help with the cost, please e-mail me and I can tell you how.  :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Kids

We added a couple of boys to our family.  The first is Kevin.  Kevin comes to our house every day, usually wanting to sell us food that his mom makes.  He doesn't go to school because he works to help his family or simply doesn't like it, not sure which.  Kevin is the kind of kid that if he weren't so darn cute he'd drive you crazy.  His smile is contagious and is one of the happiest kids I have ever met.  He is a hard salesman and never takes no for an answer - who can say no to that smile?  One time we took him out with us to run errands and eat at fast food restaurant.  We were hesitant about taking him but he drove a hard bargain.  When we got in the car, his face was just as bright as can be and he never stopped smiling the whole time.  He LOVED eating at the restaurant and playing in the play place - something he has probably never done.  
Kevin and Jon washing the car
  His most recent "bargain" was that he wanted money to buy a toy.  He was willing to wash my dishes and even wanted to wash the car.  His price?  1Q which is the equivelant of 13 cents.  We settled on him washing the car for 10Q or $1.30 which was the price of the toy.   


Brian and Daniel
 This is Brian.  He is one of the nicest kids - very sweet, quiet and a little shy.  He comes to our house alot after school which is around 6pm and eats dinner with us.  He comes from a difficult family situation.  His dad is an alcoholic and does nothing to provide for his family - wife and 5 kids.  Brian goes to school and his favorite subject is art and painting.  When the last Journey team was here he hung out with us and painted a couple of houses.  He loves to be around people and be loved on by others.  Vic and Roxane have adopted Brian's family and help them out whenever they need it.  When Vic was here in March, they celebrated Brian's birthday with a cake.  He turned 12 and has never had a cake before for his birthday. 
Brian's 12th birthday

There are so many kids in our life here.  Several single mom's we have gotten to know have kids with no dad in the picture.  It's neat to be able to love on them and have  them be a part of our family. 


Glendy Marybel and Francesca Isabella

Grandma Francesca, Francesca, and Glendy

We came across Glendy's family from a local guy who wanted Chris to consider them for a 12X12 house and it turns out they live about 5 houses away from us.   She has a mom (Maria), younger sister (Francesca), older brother (Marvin) and grandma and grandpa.  They all live together in the same room and grandma suffers from eye and lung infections from cooking over an open fire in a small smoke filled cocina - cornstalk structure they use as a kitchen.  The day we visited the smoke was so thick we couldn't stay in there longer than a second, literally.  Very sad situation but what was even sadder was Glendy's skin.  I really don't know how to describe it other than to say it was horrible.  Her mom said it has been that way most of her life and she is 5 years old.  After taking her and grandma, who had a bad eye infection, to a local clinic we found out she has an allergy to bed bugs!!!  Just imagine hundreds, if not thousands of mosquito bites all over your body, constantly itching and hurting from scratching.  The doctor gave her medicine and some lotion for the itching.  She also prescribed a medicated soap for  Glendy to shower with every day in hot water.  This poses a problem because her family doesn't even have running water let alone a shower.  So, we got the soap and now she comes to my house every day at 5pm to take a shower, hot water or not.  :)  After just 10 days, her skin looks so much better and she doesn't itch as much.  Thank's to a great couple at Journey Church, Glendy's family will get a 12X12 house and thanks another family at Journey they will get running water this week and thanks to Word Fellowship Church they will also get a new, smoke free kitchen and shower.  And the biggest thanks to God for allowing us to help Glendy's family and for putting it on the hearts of others to help them too. 
A snack during the 4 hour wait at the clinic
Grandpa and Grandma
Martin and Cindy, Glendy's family, Daniel

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not Drawing Attention to Ourselves

For safety reasons, it's best to try not to draw attention to ourselves.  This can be a little stressful with 3 boys who seem to do nothing but.  I don't know what I was thinking about the haircut.  Jack went through the mohawk phase so I just figured it was Jon's turn.  I rethought that when we left the barbershop and the heads started to turn more than ususal, by then it was too late.  Sometimes a boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If This Is A Test, I'm Gonna Fail

A funny little glimpse into daily life here in Guate.  Nothing works - the dryer, the fridge, or the hot water.  Living where we do, it is incredibly trivial to complain about such things when 99.9% of the people around us don't have any of the three.  But I find myself searching my soul to figure out why these things are so important to me and do I really need them to be happy? The answer to the hot water is a definite YES!  I need hot water, I love hot water, I can't live without hot water.  Many people have vices and a hot shower is mine.  There is nothing from the day that a hot shower can't wash away.  We don't have a water heater, we have something attached to the shower head called a "widow maker".  It's called that because if you touch it, you will die.  They work fine but when the water going into them is too cold, the water that comes out is lukewarm at best.  With the rainy season and cloudy, rainy days, the sun doesn't keep the water in the tank at a decent temp before going into the widow maker.  Not only that, but the air temperature is in the 60's and 70's so sometimes it just too cold to shower. 
Widow Maker

The fridge is just an inconvenience.  I could probably live without one but we like milk, cheese and yogurt which makes that difficult.  We bought a brand new one but it stopped getting cold about 2 weeks ago.  It's under warranty and all but we live in Guatemala and nothing is easy here when it comes to getting repairs done so we just have to wait.

Cloudy Day
As far as the dryer goes, I don't mind hanging my clothes on the line but we are in the rainy season.  It rains almost every day and we can go several days without ever seeing the sun.  We also live in the clouds and moisture and that makes it hard to dry clothes outside.  Since we have 3 boys who can't walk out the door without dirt attacking them, I have to wash almost every day.  In an effort to be frugal, we bought a used dryer from a missionary who flat out lied to us about it's condition. He said it needed a simple part and would work great.  We paid a repair guy to fix it and he did, but now it doesn't work and he has been back twice and can't seem to figure out what is wrong.  We aren't sure what to do now: pay more money and try to get it fixed or just buy a new one.  A new one will cost what we have already spent on the used one.  In the meantime, Gina has been gracious enough to let me use her dryer when my clothesline isn't working.  :)

With all that is going on here and in the world, these things seem trivial.  Even with that, some days, all I want to do is take my wet clothes and cheese and get on a plane, go somewhere, and take a hot shower.