Category Archives: Guatemala

Must we say, Adios?

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Spent the day in La Esquela de Arte with Carlos, Thelma, Antoinetta and Jose. Cristin taught the class a new paint form. The students, ages 7 to 14, were quick to adapt.

Carlos and Thelma hosted us for lunch. A truly authentic Guatemalan dish and las chicas made tortillas. The maize is taken to be ground in the village to bring back and make fresh tortillas. When Antoinetta’s 3-year-old son grabbed a tortilla he said, “this is gringo tortilla.” Hilarious. After lunch, back to La Esquela de Arte to host over 50 kids in the village, not already enrolled in the la esquela de arte. We hosted them to Domino’s pizza (yes, Domino’s) and ice cream. Some of the kids had never had pizza before. One conversation overheard was a young girl saying, she didn’t want to eat the pizza as she didn’t know if she’d like it. Some of the kids saved a piece, maybe both of their pieces to take back home to share with their family.

On our final night in town, we hosted Mark and Gina Schmidt and family as well as Brock and Kerrie Johnson and family. Carlos, Thelma and their family as well as Antoinetta and Jose and their family including their son, celebrating his birthday. We ended the night with worship and a discussion of what this trip means. What will we take home. I think that our commitment to Shepherd Community Center weighed heavy on our hearts.

The folks that we have met here in Guatemala have big hearts, very hospitable and gracious. A true pleasure.

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Boys and their remarkable mothers

We visited the Buena Vista Sports Academy for Boys this morning run by Brock Johnson and his family of deepStream. They have made great progress in only a year’s time. The school opened in May and enrolled 30 kids after tryouts including 150 children. The sport, you ask? Futbol. All of the kids in Guatemala play soccer.

Brock and his wife, Kerrie, were both on site as well as Mynor Leiva, Brock’s first Guatemalan contact when he first arrived to Guatemala and now they are good friends. We had an opportunity to meet the kids that were on site today. We overhear them learning and practicing English in the background as we are getting a tour of the facility. It was great to witness Brock, Kerrie, Mynor and Mark’s interaction with the boys. They are regular figures here at the Academy and you can tell they have made a connection with these boys in only a short time. Brock speaks of noticing a great deal of changes in the boys so far. Behaviorally, they engage more with one another learning to be more of a team, together, and in trusting one another. This visit definitely resinated with members of the Indy Metro group.

As we were preparing for our trip there was talk of visiting ‘the woman who knitted hat’s,’ Roberta in Buena Vista. She is kind of a big deal. We visited her and her four children at their home. The entire family, incredibly hospitable.

After lunch we visited 6 of our 9 women’s homes enrolled in the Baking School. Our fist visit was with Lydia, Antoinetta’s sister. This is our first time meeting her as she recently had surgery. We used part of our money raised for the trip to deliver her groceries to help out a bit. We visit Ana and her 4 children at her home. All of these women are incredibly hospitable. Ana in particular had prepared us a delicious banana bread with raisins and bananas on top. Incredible. The money she spent to prepare this for us would go so far in supporting her family. We heard her testimony and then she asked us to pray for her husband. To give him the strength to get through a difficult habit. All of the women we visited were so honest and open. The youngest student enrolled in the baking school, Karen, hosted us. Karen has one child with her husband and they live with her father and step-mother. Her step-mother travels to Guatemala City seven days a week to sell flowers. It’s about an hour and a half drive back and forth. We then visited Wilma. We were more than well fed at this point. In addition to the other treats, Wilma had prepared a homemade applesauce which was delicious! Her family struggles with the kids growing up while their home is getting smaller and smaller. What could have been the oldest lady in the Baking School hosted us with her entire family, husband, two sons in La Esquela de Arte. She has six children in total. She was, very obviously, a loving and generous woman. Strong individually and kept a strong rooted familia.

After dinner we visited with all of the women at the Baking School one final time. Time shared with them was so genuine. I am feeling compelled to return.

Antigua, Guatemala

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Mark and Gina Schmidt put a beautiful day together for us in Antigua. We started out at Cerro de la Cruz which overlooks the city of Antigua and the volcanos. Then drove into Antigua. First stop was Ruinas del Convento Mercedario, built in the 18th Century. After that, off to the markets. The Schmidt’s made arrangement’s for us to dine at Tartine’s (4a Calle Oriente no. 1C, Antigua) for lunch on their outdoor balcony laying over the Ruinas de la Catedral. Simply beautiful, delicious, perfect. We managed so see the volcano erupt while there as well. After lunch toured the Catedral and headed back to Magdalena.

Once back we delivered the two chicken coops. The first family, one of the daughter’s is in the baking school. The second family, one of the children were in La Esquela de Arte. She shared with us that she worked a few days a week at a factory nearby trimming the ends of beans for something like .25 US/day. One of her older boys would work as well. We ended the day with Worship and getting to spend some quality time with Brock Johnson of deepStream.

Whistle While You Work

This was the most labor intensive day of the week. We are working with Christian on his home (whom we met the day we arrived). We were grateful to be joined by Mark and Gina Schmidt of deepStream and Carlos Lopez of La Esquela de Arte. We met Chris Steed who is overseeing the 12×12 Love Project here in Buena Vista and Magdalena.

Christian’s home is off of the main road about a 1/2 mile. Concrete block and rocks and volcanic soil that is used to make concrete were placed just off the main road. We moved all of these supplies to the base of the hill where the home lies. By hand, by wheel barrel and utility vehicle. The walkway was blocked about half way down the hill where the utility vehicle could not pass, so from there forward mostly by wheel barrel.

Through the 12×12 Love Project, a block house costs $3000. We raised this money on Erica Coleman’s suggestion to provide this home to Christian’s family. This $3000 includes labor to hire local Guatemalan’s to build the house. We assisted in getting the materials closer to the house. When we were getting tired we were lifted by Christian and Carlos’ energy. So full of life and excitement. We were on site for most of the day. The wonderful ladies of the cooking school prepared us a beautiful cake with fruit toppings to be enjoyed after a hard days work. Bueno.

Chicken Coop Madness

This was the only day that our neighbor played music most of the morning. And as if there weren’t already a number of ways to prepare an egg, we were introduced to another way. The egg was flat and textured, lightly fried with a runny yoke. Delicioso!

Today, we will be with a family who has two children in La Esquela de Arte and work to do some updates to their kitchen. Jose and Alex are in la esquela de arte and were on site with us, teaching us how to prepare a block of wood to attach to one of the cement beams for stability. They used their machete to chisel down a small screw like peg to then insert into a block of wood. Amazing skill there as we roll in with our power tools. Jose and Alex were very curious about learning English asking us what we call many objects in sight. Their mother is also in the baking school and prepared a delicious cake for us to enjoy as a snack with fresh fruit toppings, including a candied fig which grows there locally. The walk to the house was beautiful a great overlook in the valley of the mountain. The family’s kitchen lies in the front of the house with two sides of lamina. We replaced the lamina and put in some new beams to secure the walls.

Mark Schmidt of deepStream joined us for lunch as we heard his testimony as to how he and his family came to Guatemala and the work they are doing. The afternoon was spent building two chicken coops. We had a little fun with it dividing into two groups and had a little contest on speed, quality, safety and the sort. You can watch how that turned out here: Eli’s Chicken Club

Fireworks, Roosters and Dogs, oh my!

The night is filled with dog fights. We awake to fireworks that are set off at 5 a.m. as a part of birthday celebrations and the sound of roosters and dog’s barking. My favorite was the sound of the horse walking down the street near the team house. There is a distinct smell of wood burning for the stoves and for warmth throughout the village. A beautiful smell we will never forget.

Today, we will be building a kitchen for one of the family’s in la esquela de arte program, Jordy, 13 years old. This will be a simple project, but will benefit the family a great deal. Currently the kitchen lies within the house. They use a wood burning stove and the smoke has nowhere to escape.

We will be building the kitchen off of their home with 3 sides, made of lamina material, and putting down self-made concrete for flooring. Boy was the concrete a project. The entire family was there to help. Even Jordy’s grandfather, who took the day off to support the work we were doing for his family. We were also joined by Mark and Gina Schmidt of deepStream, Carlos and Thelma Lopez of La Escuela de Arte and Jose and Antoinetta of the Baking School. Great community support and interest.

Jordy is the male head of household. In addition to going to school and attending La Esquela de Arte, he has recently started crafting jewelry to sell to help supplement income for his family. Jordy has peeked a few Indy Metro members interest as a good candidate for managing a chicken coop as another micro-business opportunity. As far as home improvements go, they hope to be able to add windows to their home next.

The evening ended with the sounds of a futbol game within the village, discovering there was a field just around the corner from us.

A New Day (or better known as our longest day of most likely the year)

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We arrive in Guatemala City to be picked up by a charter from deepStream. It’s about an hour drive into the mountains to Magdalena. The landscape is filled with political signs for the upcoming election, pedestrian overpasses (as I remember having over the track for Formula 1 in Indianapolis) and many familiar American fast food establishments. We arrive in Magdalena just as school was let out. The children share the streets with automobiles. We are greeted at the team house by Mark Schmidt. After lunch we set out to meet the fine women that make up a Baking School joined by Carlos Lopez and his wife Thelma.

Antoinetta welcomed us to her home. She and her husband, Jose, donated space above their home to provide a place for the women to learn. The women were dressed professionally on in black suit pants and white tops and hair nets. We went through brief introductions. The women, humble. Genuine. Full of joy. Sorrow. Amazing women. Two with young one’s strapped to their backs. A few other children playing in the room adjacent to us. The women on average had 4 to 6 children each. They all spoke of gratitude for the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to provide for their family. One of the women mentioned the extra money she was able to bring in was able to help put her brother through school, or pay for one father’s medical care. They left us with empanadas filled with sweet rice and raisins. We enjoyed later with the bold Guatemalan coffee we were spoiled with.

From the cooking school we walked to La Esquela de Arte. Some of the kids work was on the wall, simply tremendous! We heard Carlos’ testimony and the story that lead to the creation of la esquela de arte. Afterward walking to the home of Christian and his family. This is one of the families we purchased a 12×12 Love Project home for. They are currently living in a home-made of lamina, one room to include the bedroom and kitchen about  6×10 in size. This would be a family we would be working with later in the week. In hearing Christian’s testimony he spilled with gratitude and was at a loss for words. Incredibly humble, a stream of tears falling down his cheek. Mark provided us with some perspective. Christian works in the fields all day and brings home $4 US/day. If it’s a slow day, $3.75/day. He then comes straight home to assist the hired team of 3 on his home. The people of Guatemala are kind. Buenas tardes.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve here in Guatemala with Indy Metro Church. You can follow and give financial support to the ongoing projects in Magdalena at loveguatemala.org.