"...great joy which will be to all people."

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, July 6, 2015

12 Months and a Trip to Mexico

It's hard to believe we have lived in Guatemala for one year.  That went by super fast!

As I shared a few months ago, we have to apply for a new 90 day visa every three months and then every six months, we need to leave the country to get an exit stamp on our passports.  The timing worked best for us to leave last week and the quickest (and least expensive) route for us was a trip to Tapachula, Mexico.




We decided to be adventurous this time, so we drove our car instead of taking the leisure bus ride.  What an exciting trip!  The kids were absolutely amazing and we all enjoyed the family time away.  The drive to the Southwestern tip of Mexico was only 5 hours but when it's really, really hot in a Dodge Durango without air conditioning, filled with 8 people and lots of luggage, it just might feel like a 12 hour drive.  Ha!  We were dodging potholes, oncoming cars and motorcylces most of the way.  Not to mention the plethora of speed bumps that try to jar the tires off your car.

Part of the reason we keep a blog is to inform our friends and family of the ministry work happening in Guatemala and the other part is to keep a diary of our life.  Hopefully one day we'll read back through this blog and fondly remember these adventures.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe our kids will look back at this last trip to Mexico and remember the 101 degree weather, driving in that really, really hot car but I am certain they'll also look at these pictures and share a good laugh while remembering those sweaty times, as well.



How about that time we got pulled over (randomly) and were asked to pay $690 pesos?  Jack negotiated the officer down to $345 pesos, though I have a feeling that gentleman won't be handing in any paperwork.  #didwejustpayabribe?




Who needs a bathroom sink at the Mexico Immigration office?  Just use a bucket of clean water to wash your hands!




Hopefully you can click and zoom in on this picture and see the young boys/men pulling items across the river from Mexico into Guatemala (Mexico on the right bank, Guatemala on the left bank).  Surely this isn't legal but it's clearly happening out in the open, in the middle of the day.  I read on Lonely Planet that they focus more on vehicle entry for financial reasons (see paragraph above about being pulled over), so they don't care too much about foot traffic.  I also read that some people are stowed away in those containers.




When we decided to drive ourselves, we were determined to take a day to check out the Pacific Ocean.  We only had to drive 20 minutes outside of Tapachula, though it felt like we were driving away from all civilization.  Just when we thought we would drive straight into the ocean, we saw Playa Linda.  This beach is not for your average tourist.   As soon as we drove into this beach area, 4 or 5 men start waving us over to their own parking lot.  They promised us a free parking spot, free umbrella, and free chairs, IF we purchased some food from their restaurant.  I only wish I could give you an accurate description of their "restaurant" but it was basically a shack with a grill outdoors and comal for making tortillas.  No sugar coating here, when we realized we were the ONLY beach bums, we started questioning our decision.   But when we saw the "umbrella" they so kindly offered, we just started laughing.  We had such a blast making up stories of our demise.  In the end, we had a safe day with lots of laughs.  And we would totally go back and do it again!  See our free "umbrellas" in the last two beach pictures.  :)








We also had a chance to visit some Mayan ruins that dated from 1200 BC.  They aren't the largest around, but they were perfect for a family with little ones to visit.  Did I mention how really, really hot it was in Mexico?






Before we knew it, our visa run was over and it was time to head back into Guatemala.  Our reentry into Guatemala was much easier than our entry into Mexico.  They did question why we had a Chapina (Pearl) on board, but Jack explained that she was one of the very reasons we love this country and we were on our way home.

A Guatemalan guard sleeps on duty...




A worker is spraying our car for any Mexican bugs...




Home Sweet Home. 








PS  We drove back into Guatemala on July 4th so we were in the car most of the day.  The kids LOVE celebrating Independence Day in America with their cousins, so it was a bitter sweet day.  How is it possible to love two countries so much?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thank you, Covenant!

Covenant Church has been such an encouragement to our family for many years. For the second time, their VBS has collected money to help support the mission in Guatemala.   

Thank you for affirming us in the family of God and strengthening our relationships with one another during times of adversity and times of joy.  We are grateful for your willingness to help spread the Gospel to other countries.  And to the adorable children in these videos, THANK YOU for your donations and especially your delightful spirit!



video


video

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jude Update!

Jude is a ball of energy.  At least once a week Jack and I look at each another and question if we will have enough gusto to parent him yet another day!

All kidding aside, he is just so much fun.  After four girls, I really wasn't sure how in the world I could be a mom to a little boy.  He has changed my life (haven't they all?) for the better.  I love him mightily and look forward to lying down with him each night as he snuggles me and says, "Dios es fantastico, fantastico es Dios!"

He has started school here with the big kids three days a week.  Of course he is a sponge and is picking up Spanish very quickly!

Here are a few pictures of Jude at a recent party with his friends:







Love him!  I am so thankful God brought him into our lives!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Science in Guatemala

Here's a quick update on the kids' school projects.  Recently they participated in a Science and Recycling Fair.

A few pics of their hard work:








Friday, June 19, 2015

Building Homes, Empowering People


I am so excited for this family!  The IDC Building Ministry has built on this land for other family members in the past and now this family of 6 is getting their own new home!  A few months ago, when my parents and aunt and uncle were here, we took a ride up to see this family.  So many kids came running to the van to meet us and talk with us.  Now my sister, Michele and brother-in-law, Mitch will get to meet them all and help build a home for them!

If you would like to make a donation towards the $3000 it takes to build a new home, please click here:



Thank you so much for joining us on this journey!  I can't wait to show you pictures after the home is built!












To God be the glory.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

ONE YEAR CELEBRATION GRANT!!!

IN JULY, WE CELEBRATE OUR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN GUATEMALA!!!


Woah.  Super exciting.  Super in love with this country.  Super joyful to serve here.


So, what's been going on during the past year with the IDC building ministry? 

*  Over 150 families have applied for housing.  Home visits have been made, some have already helped build their home and others are on a waiting list.  

*  30+ homes have been built.

*  $12, 000 has been raised for homes in the area by our family and friends back in the states.  

*  The kids have acclimated to a whole new culture and language and have adjusted fabulously!

*  Over 25 teams have come to help!  

*  We have had the honor to help with Campos de Suenos, an amazing local ministry.

*  Our family has personally grown in faith, though not without struggles along the way!  

It is such an honor to work here.  We are so thankful to live and serve here and not a day goes by that we don't thank the Lord for this opportunity.

When we left a year ago, the funding for our second year was not complete.  We took a leap of faith and decided to come down with 80% funding.  Only $6000 is needed to finish funding our second year here. 

Yesterday, an anonymous donor contacted our friends, the Rhodes, and offered a $1000 matching grant.  In celebration of being here a year, we are excited to get started on matching this grant!  

If you would like to make a donation, there are three options:

1.  Non Tax Deductible:  Send a PayPal payment to townsend164@bellsouth.net

2.  Tax Deductible:  Go to:  http://giving.iglesiadelcaminogt.com/  and scroll down to TOWNSEND FAMILY.  

3.  Another way to give, is to donate monthly.  Our desire is to stay three full years here.  Your monthly donation would be a two year commitment from this point forward.  Would you consider joining us by giving each month?  It's an easy tax deductible option which can be automatically drafted each month.  If so, go to http://giving.iglesiadelcaminogt.com/ and scroll down to missionaries and TOWNSEND FAMILY and then select the monthly frequency option to give.  Also, the first ten people/families who sign up for a monthly donation will receive a FREE tshirt!  Check it out here.  

Please take a screen shot of the giving page after it is filled in or confirmation email, so we can accurately account for all funds going towards the matching grant.  Then send the screen shot to mamarhodes@live.com. THANK YOU!  

It is such an amazing experience to work with Iglesia del Camino's building ministry.  To watch a father help build his own home, to help give a family a safer place to live, is humbling.  To hand the key over to a family after a house is built, is happiness.  To see the smiles on the new home owner's face, is just pure joy.  Most of all, to share the Word and God's love with others is simply amazing.  We are so thankful for our friends and family who have helped make this possible.  We thank God for your willingness to step out in faith and join us on this journey.  We sincerely thank you.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

T-Shirt Fundraiser - Take Two!

The Rhodes Family is at it again!  The last tshirt fundraiser did so well and everyone LOVES their shirts so Mandy is placing another order.  This time she is offering up a sweet deal!  The next ten people who commit to making a monthly donation of any amount (tax deductible, automatic draft is available) to our mission in Guatemala, will receive a FREE shirt!  


T-Shirt Details from Mandy:  

I'm selling these to help fund the Townsend Family's second year working in Guatemala.  They are available in adult sizes.  Adule S-XXXL.  XXL and larger should add $2 to the cost.  $25 shipped for the basic tee and $28 shipped for the blue Dolman (women's).  Message me (mamarhodes@live.com) to order and I'll let you know how to pay.  Thanks!