Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people."

Monday, March 2, 2015

$3000 does what?!?!



So what is included in the $3000?



1.  A metal home to withstand dangerous weather conditions and last up to 20 years.


2.  Bunk Beds.  These bunk beds are made of simple pine and will sleep up to 4 people.  


3.  A high efficiency stove.  No more cooking over an open fire and inhaling toxic fumes.  


4.  A water filter so the family will no longer have to consume contaminated water.


5.  A solar lighting kit.  Many of these families will have lighting for the first time ever.  


6.  Two windows and a door.  This means natural light shining into their home.  




The Rhodes family flies in tomorrow to build two homes, in addition to working with various ministries.  They are currently $1275 away from funding the second home for the Paiz family in Pastores, Guatemala.  Would you consider making a donation to help this family have a home, beds, stove, water filter, solar lighting, windows, and a door?  Every little bit helps.  Click on this link to make a donation.  

















If you would like to sponsor an entire house or fundraiser for a family, send us an email at townsendguat@gmail.com.  We will choose a family for you, based on necessity, send you before and after pictures and update you on the family after our their post home visit.  Thank you!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Home and Hope

Two weeks ago, Jack came home and informed me I would take his place the following day and make home visits with Luis, who is a pastor at IDC.  He didn't ask me.  He informed me.  I pleaded with him not to go.  He was so adamant that I needed to go to the pre-home visits.  I knew what the NEW homes looked like. I have seen the smiles on the faces AFTER the home was built but I never saw how the families were living BEFORE they received a new home.  Rarely is Jack so passionate about me doing something, so I knew I had to go.  Reluctantly, I went. 

The following morning, Luis and I went to Pastores, a local village.  First, we stopped at the municipal building and picked up Cesar.  He is a kind man who works for the village of Pastores as a social worker.  Luis and Cesar explained to me that prior to the home visits, Cesar makes a preliminary visit with the families to make sure they own the land, etc.  He has a long list of people who have a great need for better living conditions.

After driving through Pastores, we drove up a steep hill, found parking for the van and started a short walk up a steep hill to visit our first family.  Waiting outside the dilapidated tin door,  I thought I would walk inside of a home but instead I walked into a small commune.  Multiple homes made of various materials, such as lamina, cardboard, brick, and metal all scattered about in this small familial community.  In Guatemala, when a couple marries, they often stay on the same plot of land with their family.  Rarely do they move away.  They share food, washing, child care and most of the typical responsibilities of caring for the property.  
 
After introducing ourselves, Luis asked a series of questions to assess which type of home and stove would best fit the family, as well as medical, spiritual, and mental health questions.  Next Luis presented the Gospel in Spanish. 

A few hours later, we had successfully visited 5 homes.  Every home we visited was similar.  Extreme poverty.  Homes barely standing.  Walls disintegrating.  Most homes have one double bed, which sleeps 4-8 people.  And a lot of sickness.  Diabetes, TB, intestinal, and malnourishment, among other afflictions, are too common here.  Needless to say, I was speechless with a burdened heart.

After a full day of pre-home visits, Luis and Jack typically go back over their notes, assess the situations and prioritize the list base on the severity of the families' needs.  That's a job I don't envy. The need is just so severe.  

When I first got in the car, Luis asked me if I was an emotional person.  He asked if I was going to cry when I saw the destitute homes.  I held myself together well until he presented the Gospel in Spanish.  Reading Scripture in Spanish and praying in Spanish, that just overwhelms me with joy.  Yes, this ministry offers hope through a home.  But they are also hearing about the only One who can really offer Hope.  And that brings me to tears.  
















Thursday, February 26, 2015

Orphan Prevention

It is no secret I have a heart for orphans.  As a board member of A Sea of Hope Orphan Ministry, as a parent of three adopted children, and as an advocate for people standing up and caring for the countless orphans around the world, I am passionate about our role in giving children forever families.

I am also equally passionate about orphan prevention.  There are too many children living without their birth parents ONLY due to poverty.  Does being poor make someone an unfit parent?  Absolutely not.  Am I a better mother because I can offer my child an education?  Absolutely not. 

I see extreme poverty every single day.  I see children who should be in school but they are not because school in is not free in Guatemala.  Without food, housing and education, the cycle of poverty will not end.  These children have families who love them.  The fact remains, too often these families can't feed their children.  Sibling sets are being dropped off at orphanages because they do not have a home to live in.  This is unacceptable.  There should not be orphans because of poverty.

How can this change?

There are three significant ways to keep birth families together:

1.  School sponsorships.  When a child goes to school, it gives them a future.  So cliche, right?  No.  It's fact.  Children who go to school here can get a job.  A job means money.  Money means food and housing.  Schooling keeps future families together.  Orphan prevention.  Done.

2.  Feeding centers like Campos de Suenos.  Programs like this one in Santa Maria de Jesus, are providing meals for children.  If you could not feed your child, if your child was dying of starvation, you would most likely bring them to an orphanage as a last resort.  To keep them alive.  Feeding centers provide food to sustain children.  They help nourish a child and the result is children living at home with their birth families who love them.  Food keeps families together.  Orphan prevention.  Done.

3.  Safe, secure homes and clean water.  This is something we take for granted.  I may have questioned whether extra dance classes for my child was in our budget but I have never, ever had to ask if my child would have a home to live in.  Children are not living with their birth families because they don't have a home and clean water.  When we offer a family a home, we are preventing children from being parent-less.  Safe homes and water filtration systems keep families together.  Orphan prevention.  Done.

Please contact me if you desire to help with orphan prevention in Guatemala.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

4000 Water Filters

4000 water filters.

Last week Jack and the guys unloaded 4000 water filters to distribute.  The average Guatemalan woman will birth 5 children.  If 4000 women receive a water filter for their family, that equates to 24,0000 people receiving water from the filters which arrived last week.  Astounding.

Thank you for making this possible.  Thank you.  Thank you.








Sunday, February 22, 2015

Campos de Suenos

We made the decision to take the children out of school every other Wednesday to serve at Campos de Suenos.  This is a feeding center in the heart of Santa Maria de Jesus, which is an extremely poor community on the top of a mountain. 

Every Wednesday and Friday, 500-700 children receive a meal, a Bible lesson and a lot of hugs.  They are loved.  I don't want to romanticize mission work in any way, but I also can not sugar coat the reality.  So here it is, these children come from extreme poverty.  They are dirty.  They are malnourished.  They have lice infested hair.  They have smiles.  They have tears.  They are children just like yours and mine.  They need a healthy meal.  They need to hear about the love of Jesus.  

Campos de Suenos is the real deal.  Mario, the director, is incredible with a super big heart with a team of super incredible people doing a super amazing mission.

It is such an honor to be here.










Saturday, February 21, 2015

Families are teams, too!

Three years ago we were planning a trip to Guatemala as a family.  We knew we wanted the kids to experience the Guatemalan culture, as well as learn the language and fall in love with the people.  Jack and I wanted to look into different volunteer openings and established missions.  Though there are some amazing short term mission opportunities, there aren't many for families. 

When we knew we were coming down to stay long term, we wanted to create an environment that would allow families to come and stay and do work AS A FAMILY.  From the moment we arrived, God made a clear path for this opportunity.  After prayerful consideration and His divine way, we were blessed with a home that could easily house another family short term.  We live in town which makes access to the bus and different missions easily accessible.  This week we purchased a car which will allow us to transport families to and from the airport.

After settling in the past 6 months, we now have three families coming!  Though this was the desire of our hearts, I confess I didn't think it would really happen.  God has made it happen.  Luke 18:27, "And he said, 'The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.'"  Why, of course, He made this happen!

We are excited to welcome the Rhodes Family, arriving on March 3!  After using their tax refund to pay for their airfare and fees, they are now raising money to build homes with Jack.  Within two weeks they have the funds for one home raised ($3000) and $720 towards the second.  Jack has made two visits to the families to prepare them and the Rhodes have actively prayed for them and raised funds.  Astrid and her family (pictures to follow) will have a new home on March 5.  JUST LIKE THAT.  All because people have chosen to donate money and the Rhodes family decided to pray and act.  Now we need to help fund the second family.  If you would consider a donation, please use the GoFundMe link here.  Time is running out!  Only two weeks to go.


 Prayer Requests:

1.  Pray for Marty, Mandy, Eli and Julie.  They are leaving the comforts of their home for two weeks. Pray for their health, that no stomach issues or illnesses will kick them down.  We have a very busy schedule planned for them so they will need strength.  In addition to building homes, they will be visiting a special needs ward in a hospital, helping out at Campos de Suenos feeding center and working with a short term mission team here. 

2.  Pray for their three younger children staying at home with Grandma and friends.  Sam, Klemi and Vaylo have special needs so it takes special family and friends to volunteer to watch them for two weeks!

3.  Pray for the families receiving homes.  Since Jack and Luis have begun making home visits, over 1/3 of the men and women have been saved through the blood of Jesus.  People, this is staggering!  It's amazing and awesome.  Please pray the families will see Christ as we work alongside them and show them His love. 

It will be a pleasure to post pictures and updates of their journey so please check back in often during the first two weeks of March!





Friday, January 30, 2015

Christmas 2014

Hello friends!  WOW!  I didn't realize it has been so long since our last post.  For our millions of followers, forgive us!  ;)

Christmas in Guatemala was very low key.  The kids have never celebrated a holiday without their cousins and grandparents so we anticipated it might be difficult for them but they were champs and found joy in the season!  Thankfully we made new traditions and enjoyed celebrating His wonderful birth as a family of 8. 


Most of us went to church on Christmas Eve (not the one that vomited in the street on our walk to the service) and spent a memorable evening worshiping.  The music was absolutely extraordinary and the kids did a wonderful job with the nativity story.  Singing praises in both English and Spanish always makes my heart rejoice.  Singing them on Christmas Eve, thinking about the Christ child born in a manger, was just awe-inspiring. 





After the service we came home and watched 'It's a Wonderful Life' and ate Christmas cookies.  We stayed up until midnight because we heard so much about the Antigua firework display.  Guatemalans do not need an excuse to have fireworks or boombas (firecrackers) but Christmas is not like any other day.  It is more like July 4...to the extreme.  At midnight we were able to enjoy a spectacular display from our rooftop.  And the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  Guatemalans LOVE their fireworks.  :)

Here are a few pictures of Christmas in Guatemala:



Aren't these stockings gorgeous?  They are made from the typical Mayan huipil (blouse).  Guatemalan women spend hours at the weave working on their beautiful blouses.  It can take up to 6 months to create one blouse. 


The corn stalk lamb is popular in Guatemala.  We thought it was adorable so Grandma bought us one when she visited in November.  :)


We love decorating for Christmas and this year we made a lot of our own decorations.  "Alegria a el Mundo," translates to "Joy to the World," in English.  


Our beautiful Guatemalan Advent candle.  We enjoyed lighting it each Sunday to prepare our hearts for Christ's birth!


This is a popular Christmas decoration in Guatemala.  Isn't it adorably tacky?!


Grandma and Pop-Pop gave each girl a game.  We had a lot of fun playing cards over the break!


 Ava was an angel in the nativity program on Christmas Eve.  


Annabelle played Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, and Pearl was also an angel.  


We did a lot of baking!  Jude and Pearl especially enjoy helping in the kitchen. 


 Each of the girls received an umbrella for Christmas.  We are prepared for rainy season this time!  Bring it on!


Sadly, we didn't get too many pictures of Joseph this Christmas!  He was under the weather but what a big boy he was for the annual picture on the steps Christmas morning!