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Christian Wilderness Press  -  this is Missionary Trips 7     Guatemala  

 Go on missionary trips several times a year with Jim Durham...email  Jim:  ville1960@yahoo.com


            On Saturday, October 3, 2009, eleven of us left Winter Haven, Florida, and flew into Guatemala City where we met Steve Otto of Iglesea del Camino, who took us to Antigua, the city where we would be based.
            Our goals were to build one house, work at a malnutrition center where they feed and house starving children, do backyard Bible Clubs for Kids, and to put a ceramic tile floor in the federal police chapel.  The chapel was in Antigua.  All the other projects were in outlying poor areas of Guatemala.
            On Sunday, we worshiped with Iglesea del Camino, where services are in English and Spanish.  On Monday, we headed for the town of Pastores and loaded up the material we needed to build the house and went to the home site.  Another group had dug and poured the perimeter footer (foundation). All eleven of us went to the job site and worked on the house.  There were eight men and three ladies.  All of the materials had to be carried several hundred feet up a mountain, but the pathway was not very steep.  We were able to finish the entire house that day, except for pouring the cement floor.  It was a metal, insulated structure with a skylight, two windows, and a front door.  It was 18 feet by 15 feet, divided into two 9x15 rooms...a mansion compared to the structure they had had and to the shelters of the neighbors.  Such a house costs approximately $2,000 in materials.  We had a brief dedication service with the family and gave them the keys to the door.
            For the next three days: one team went to the malnutrition center in the mornings and did backyard Bible Clubs in the afternoon while the other team tiled the police chapel and painted its interior.
            The malnutrition center is owned by the Lions Club of Guatemala City and it was designed to house about 200 starving children. However, because of finances, they now house only about 35-40 children.  Since we were down there last year, the Florida Baptist Children’s Home has gotten involved with this center and sent several teams down to work in the center.  Last year they were almost out of food and we bought for them about a three weeks supply.  On this trip a substantial amount of money was given to them by our team to buy the needed food.  Also, several bags of children’s clothes were given to them that we had brought with us.  Our primary job of our team at the center was to feed the babies and entertain the older kids.  The oldest boy was 11 years old.  The center has very few workers and they have little or no time to play with the kids.  In those three days our team created many smiles and much joyous laughter. 
            When we arrived at the center to go to work we were amazed in the morning to see how the children helped each other dress and comb each other's hair...and when a worker set a child on a bed, the child remained there until the worker removed him.  The center has a large indoor play area and a small outdoor area.
            Primarily through the efforts of the workers sent by the Florida Baptist Children’s Home (mentioned above), the facility now is much nicer and brighter inside.  The laundry and kitchen areas had been improved and had received additional equipment; however, the government had reduced some of the center's funding.  We had bought a large amount of food and formula and we gave them money for more.  Sadly, some of the starving children brought to the center do not survive; and  due to lack of resources, many needy children never have the opportunity to live at the center.  Starving children are a serious problem in Guatemala and elsewhere in many parts of the world.  Americans must ask ourselves, "Are we doing as much as we could do...should.do?"  The obvious answer is “No.”
            The afternoon backyard Bible Clubs functioned like a short Vacation Bible School; we held one in three different neighborhoods.  The first had about 48 kids. The second had about 35 kids. And the third and final one had over 200 kids along with more than 75 mothers attending.  Everyone heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.
            During my visit last year I "proved that I could climb the active volcano" near the town; it was the most tiring thing that I have ever done.  This year, however, there was no good reason "to prove that I could (not) do it a second time".  My work there was enough, and much easier. 
            On Wednesday we received word that a family’s house had been buried by a mudslide.  We decided to skip our day of sightseeing to begin construction on a new house for the family.  We did not have time to build the house itself, but we accomplished the hard part of mud and debris removal and demolition necessary to begin building a new house. Moreover, we dug back well into the mountain hopefully to prevent more damage by future slides.  The area is so mountainous that most families have no choice but to build on the side of a steep mountain.  In the rainy season, then, it is not unusual for part of a mountain to let go and bury a house.  In rare cases whole villages have been buried.
            One evening Elsie (see photo below) came to our small hotel attended by her grandmother; they had seen us build the first house.  They informed us that Elsie’s father had abandoned the family and that the mother had died and that they needed a house.  They wanted to know if we would build them a house.  Time did not permit us to check their situation to determine their need, but we received promise of the local missionary to do it for us.  Were they needy and deserving of a newly built house?  My guess is that they are needy and deserving.
            Mission trips like this one help a lot of needy people, but these trips also help the folks who go. We receive a better on the spot perspective of the needy people, but also a clearer perspective of what is truly important in our own lives.  Few Americans have a proper appreciation for what we have.  We fail to recognize our riches as we compare ourselves to people that are richer.  Going on a good international mission trip will surely change your perspective on life.

Surrounded by volcanoes, some active.          Many forms of transportation, men, women, horses.

Local market.                                                   Local public laundry.

Returning with the laundry.                         To first home site, all materials carried up mountain.

Up to old house and new home site.                     Two of  family kids in present home.

Same home in typical neighborhood.        Construction, steel frame house 18’x15’, two rooms.

Done: two windows, skylight, locking front door.           Presenting key to wife in new home.

Three afternoon Kids Clubs in 3 villages. Day 1 = 48, day 2 = 35, day 3 = 200 kids, 75 moms.

Three mornings at malnutrition center, getting dressed.  These kids were starving when brought into center.
See how they help each other.  They really seemed to enjoy each other and played together so well.

Lots of babies, most older than you would guess.           My new friends.

 Snack time is fun. They had fruit.                     When you would go you can do this, too.

 Lunch, each knows his place.      Four men installed ceramic tile, painted inside of Federal Police Chapel.

Building-site of a second home. Looking up at mudslide. Mountain side is only place they can build. 
Clearing out mudslide, readying site for a new house that another mission group will construct.

Owner of new house.                     Elsie asked one for her family, hope someone will build it soon.

Typical village cook stove.  And yes, Guatemala has ice cream. But tastes not as good with many kids starving.
Should we eat three meals a day while kids in the world starve? Something to think and pray about.


If you can go - go!  If you can't go, help someone else to go.
Sincerely,   Jim

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