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."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Our First Family Team

Our first family team arrived two weeks ago and left yesterday. 

Marty, Mandy, Eli and Julie were a phenomenal help over the past two weeks.

This incredible family built three homes, served with Campos de Suenos, helped distribute 500 water filters, shopped for local families, spent time loving special needs children at Hermano Pedro, and so much more!  During the last few days of their stay, we were able to spend time in fellowship with one another, taste some wonderful Guatemalan food and visit this gorgeous country. 

Here are a few pictures from their stay:


 
 
 



Thank you, Rhodes family, for serving alongside us in Guatemala.  Your prayers and support over the past few years have been a huge encouragement to us.  And your visit was a gift.  Thank you, Lord, for this family who clearly has a heart to serve You!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Astrid's Week

Let me tell you about Astrid.  A week ago she had a three year old daughter and a very hard working husband.  They lived in a small, small home, perhaps even the size of a pantry in the US.  On Friday, she had a new baby girl.  On Wednesday, she came home from the hospital.  On Thursday, her family had a new home.  Her two babies have a safe place to live with a door that locks and a stove and clean water.  They have blankets, food and a very special place to call home.

















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.