"...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."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday 2015

Hosanna!  Save us, now! On Palm Sunday we celebrate the time when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the holy city.   A large multitude of people gathered to see the Messiah, spreading their cloaks on the ground before Him and waving palms to honor Him.  They may not have known his death was near but they certainly knew He was the one who came to save. 

This week we are celebrating Semana Santa, Holy Week, here in Guatemala.  It is simply amazing.  There is no denying the beauty of this country and the magnificent colors all around us.  Alfombras, which are carpets of flowers, fruit and colored sawdust decorate the streets by very talented people.  Processions, made up of ornate floats, walk through the city all day long, while musically gifted bands play on.  Every time I see an alfombra I think about the people lying down their cloaks and waving their palms as Jesus rode into town.  

I am in awe of the vibrant colors and the creative artistry all around me.  I am amazed at the crowds coming out to celebrate Holy week.  I am honored to worship here in this beautiful land as we prepare to observe the day Jesus rose from the grave. 

Yet I can't help but think the significance is lost.  I want to hug these people and let them know they don't need to have the most beautiful float to receive forgiveness.  They don't need to spend hours and hours working on their alfombra to have true repentance.  They don't need to place their special needs child in the front of the procession in order to be healed.  The work has already been done.  It is finished!  In one week we get to celebrate the Risen King! 

John 17:1-5
1These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

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.