"...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."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Give the Gift of Opportunity this Christmas! (EDIT: Price Change)

We are so glad to have a team from Murphy, North Carolina this week!  They have been working hard building homes on their first IDC trip.  These are some of the kindest people with HUGE hearts. It's an honor to meet new people each week who have a desire to share the love of the Lord with others.  

This is going to be a short, blunt blog post because we are asking for help.  In addition to a home, the families receive a stove, bunk bed and water filter but we would love to gift some of the families in need of work with a tortilla stove.  Would you consider donating $200 $100 this holiday season for a family to receive a tortilla stove?  This will allow a family the opportunity to bring in extra income which would be a tremendous (long term) help for them!

If you would like to donate a tortilla stove (pictured above) please send us a message to townsendguat@gmail.com.

Thanks for following!  

Jude Update

My sweet friend, Chris, sent me this message a few weeks ago:

"The name Judas comes from the Hebrew 'Judah,' which means 'praise.' Judas is the Hebrew spelling, while Jude is Greco-Roman."

I love that!  It's a great reminder to praise God every time this loveable boy snuggles on my lap, kisses me all over the face,  runs around the house with more energy than I can fathom, holds my hand as we walk to school and so much more!

Jude, affectionately known as "Teddy" at church and "Samuel" at school (Jude is difficult to pronounce here) is such a gift to us.  

Our first boy after parenting four girls was a completely new experience for us.  It's an honor and we are still adjusting to his energy!  ;)

What does Jude like to do in Guatemala?

*  Jude loves school!  We are so thankful that he has completed a full year of pre-school in Guatemala and now speaks Spanish!  He enjoys playing with his good friend, Juan Pablo.  

*  Jude absolutely loves going with Joaquin to visit homes.  Joaquin is almost like a grandparent to Jude and gives him lots of attention.

*  Jude asks a ton of questions.  It doesn't matter if he's met you for the first time or he's known you a long time, he will ask all about your car, your house, your job, anything!  He likes to know how things work and his biggest desire right now is to learn how to drive a car.  Or a truck.  Or a tractor.

How can you pray for Jude?

*  Jude just started his school vacation.  In January, he will begin Kindergarten/First Grade.  He is eager to learn how to read.  

*  It's not easy doing school with the older girls when Jude is home.  He's a blast to have back at home but it's challenging to do school work with his energy.  Pray for all of us.  

*  Please pray for us as we parent this rambunctious, loving, little guy!  We cherish his affection and sweet spirit.  We are so blessed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Joseph Update

We frequently have people tell us how much Joseph has grown since we arrived in Guatemala 2.5 years ago.  It's always such an encouragement to hear that.  Sometimes, as Joseph's parents, we don't see the massive improvements because we are working on the day to day strides which often seem so BIG.  When we intentionally think back to some of the earlier days when Joseph first came home, we are truly amazed at the positive changes he's made!

Joseph is a strong, joyful boy who LOVES music.  He laughs and dances when music is played.  He immediately changes when it comes on and it calms him when he's upset.  We take a pair of headphones and an ipod with his favorite music everywhere we go.  It's so fun to see his face light up with his favorite songs.  He also knows the words to them and often sings along with them.  It's difficult to get a good video of him singing because, even though he can't see, we are certain he knows the minute we break out the camera because he stops singing.  ;)

What does Joseph like to do in Guatemala?

*  Joseph enjoys worship music at church.  He claps to the music and has a wide smile on his face from the beginning of music to the end.  We are still working on making it through the sermon.  ;)

*  Whether in a car or wheelchair, Joseph loves the cobblestones streets here!  He yells, "bumpy, bumpy," while traveling the roads of Guatemala.  He also loves having his window down while driving and says, "feel the wind?" as the wind blows in his face.

*  We have some incredible people in our lives who love Joseph.  When they come to the house, they call him by name, go over to talk with him and touch him appropriately.  It's such a blessing to have some loving people who step out of their comfort zone to approach him.

How can you pray for Joseph?

*  We recently found someone willing to do occupational therapy with Joseph who has extensive experience working with people with special needs.  This adds another $125 into our monthly budget.  We are praying the Lord will provide those funds.

*  Joseph's sleep patterns are just awful.  We realize this sounds dramatic but it's the truth.  He wakes up every morning between 2:00-3:00 am and stays awake until 7:00 pm.  We have tried wearing him out during the day, giving him a nap, keeping him up later, melatonin, etc. but nothing changes.   Pray as you feel led.

*  We continue to work on teaching Joseph to feed himself.   He has zero desire to learn how to use utensils.  He's come so far with eating issues so we praise God for those amazing changes and pray we all have the patience to continue teaching him how to use a spoon and fork!  :)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Purses for Sale!

Would you love to have a 100% leather purse this Christmas?  Perhaps you would like to give a few away for gifts?

We have a good friend, Elio, who makes leather products and sells them to our teams.  He makes boots, purses, belts, wallets, etc.  This summer, we had an amazing team from Wilmington come down and they fell in love with Elio's work!

This team decided to raise money to build a home for a family by selling Elio's original purses.  This is a WIN-WIN-WIN.

1.  Elio wins because he gets more business which supports his family.
2.  The family in need of a home wins because they will receive a new home in 2017!
3.  And YOU win because you get a new leather purse.  Or maybe your loved one wins because they get a new purse for Christmas from you!

We have someone coming down to Guatemala from North Carolina the first week of December who is excited to help us bring the purses to you.  They will be delivered to your home (in the Wilmington area) or can be picked up in a Wilmington location between the second and third week of December.  If you live outside of the Wilmington, NC area and would like it shipped, please add $10 to your cost.  We would be glad to ship!

Here are the four designs we are offering:

Large leather purse ($85)

Cross Body Purse with Adjustable Straps ($80)

Medium Purse with Front Pocket ($85)

Double Strap Purse (Lined Inside) with Top Zipper and Front Zipper Pocket ($80)

Please send us a message at townsendguat@gmail.com if you would like to purchase one of these beautiful purses!  We look forward to raising money for a family in need!  Thank you!

Pearl Update

Pearl is doing so well in Guatemala.  She is full of sass and spunk!  At first glance, Pearl can appear shy and quiet but spend a few minutes with her and she will start doing cartwheels and flips and chat away.

Our youngest daughter can spend hours playing outside, jumping around or sit quietly with her dolls. She is a precious girl and we pray she will follow the Lord's path always.

What does Pearl like to do in Guatemala?

*  Above all, Pearl LOVES gymnastics.  For $8 a month, she goes five days a week.  As a bonus for us, the gym is directly across the street from our house!  It's a great opportunity for her to be around other Guatemalans, speak Spanish, and get to know the culture of her birth.

*  Pearl enjoys her Sunday School class.  Thankfully she has friends in her class and enjoys spending time with them and her teachers.

*  Pearl is usually at gymnastics when we cook for the teams but every so often she is able to go with us and she loves it!  

*  Pearl is a great playmate for Jude.  They enjoy spending time together and she helps him get his energy out when they play outside!  

How can you pray for Pearl?

*  Please pray for Pearl's schooling.  Like the others, we are focusing on school after a busy summer with teams.  

*  Pearl's Spanish coming along nicely and we are so thankful she has the opportunity to be with young Guatemalan girls her age.  Please pray she would be a light in the darkness.

*  Continue to pray for Pearl's walk with the Lord.  As her parents we are proud of all her accomplishments but most of all we want her to love God with all her heart, mind and soul.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ava Mae Update

Ava Mae is 11 years old and she's my super helper.  She is quick to say "yes" to most tasks that need to be done around the house!

She brings a lot of joy into our lives.  And always likes to smile and make others smile.  She's goofy and energetic.  When asked how she would describe herself, she replied, "happy, crazy, weird," and she sure owns it with pride!

What does Ava Mae like to do in Guatemala?

*  Ava Mae likes to help me shop at the market.  Not only do I utilize her skills as a translator, she helps me carry our heavy bags of produce home!

*  She enjoys cooking dinner for the teams.  Her favorite food to prepare is guacamole.  She is a pro on taco night!

*  Ava Mae always likes to help shop for the families who receive a home.  She picks out special items for the house blessing, including plates, cups, pots and other household items specifically for that family.

*  Ava Mae was helping translate on Sunday mornings in the Children's Ministry.  Now, she is going to a tween class, which she is very excited about!

How can you pray for Ava Mae?

*  Please pray for Ava Mae's education.  This last school year was challenging for her so we want to continue helping her learn and find contentment in learning.

*  Pray for God to provide a friend about her age that will help her continue her walk with Christ.

*  Pray for us to model God's love and teach her how to share it with others.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Annabelle Update

Annabelle Joy is now 13 years old!   

Bella, as she is known here, loves to work with teams.  Translating is by her favorite thing to do.  She clearly has a gift working with local Guatemalans.  She also loves to plan her future.  Right now, she desires to stay on the mission field for the rest of her life.  

What does Annabelle like to do?

*  Annabelle enjoys helping with the Children's Ministry at church on Sunday mornings.  

*  Annabelle would translate with the teams every single day if we would allow her to.  She finds her happy place being with the twenty-something Guatemalans who work with the mission teams.  They are great role models for her.

*  Once she turned 13 in September, she started going to youth group.  She loves going on Friday nights.  Annabelle is a social butterfly.

*  Like Sophie, Annabelle attends a small group Bible study.  She comes home with a lot of questions about the input other people share and is always inquisitive about Biblical issues!  

*  Annabelle is very interested in the political situation in the US.  She has a lot of opinions and questions on the two major candidates and their stances on certain topics.  We've had to find a way to stay current on the debates for her.  

How can you pray for Annabelle? 

*  Pray we continue to find time for her schooling!  She loves working with the teams over doing her school work.  Wouldn't we all?   

*  At 13 going on 20, it's hard to find a balance.   Pray the Lord helps us encourage her to enjoy being a kid as she grows into a lovely adult.  

*  Please pray for her faith.  We ask the Lord to daily build her foundation so her relationship with Christ continues to grow stronger.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sophie Update

This girl.  

By far, out of the 8 of us, Sophie has changed the most over the past two years.  She left North Carolina as a shy, quiet, introverted 12 year old with the weight of the world on her shoulders.  

She is now 15 years old and her burdens belong to the Lord!  She has more confidence and self- assurance because she has a strong foundation in Christ!   

Our first born has a beautiful soul that others may not see regularly but thankfully she saves it to share with those close to her.  

God has given her a great gift for loving and helping children with special needs.  She roots for the underdog.  She sees pain in others.  Her ability to feel for others, empathy, is incredible.

What does Sophie like to do in Guatemala?

*  Every Friday she goes with a pastor and mentor to a local hospital and prays with patients.  

*   She translates for teams.  Her favorite ministry is Hope Haven, a factory which builds and fits wheelchairs for patients who would otherwise be immobile.

* Sophie loves her Bible study and prayer group with other young girls on Thursday nights.  They are currently going through Acts, the book on putting faith into action.

*  She enjoys youth group on Friday evenings. 

*  She's an incredible helper to Joseph, our son.  She has a passion for helping him communicate better.

How can you pray for Sophie?

*  Pray for her relationships with her sisters and friends and those close to her.

*  Pray for her future.  At 15, it is time to look into colleges, SATs, and her future!  It's hard to do when you're busy living life!

*  Sometimes with empathy, comes heartache.  Her heart is so big for others that we pray she also finds the joy in life!  She has the best laugh and we want to see it more often!  

*  Pray for us to have wisdom in parenting her.  We continue to pray the Lord would help us mold her will into His will.

DISCLAIMER:  There aren't many pictures of Sophie because she does NOT like her picture taken.  We have to sneak them in!  ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Update on the Kids

Over the next week, we will post individual updates on the children.  Lately, some friends and family have asked how the kids are doing, what they love about Guatemala, what they miss about the US, and what their daily life looks like.

We are so thankful for how well they have adjusted over the past two years.  God placed people in our lives who absolutely love our children.  There are individuals in Guatemala who have stepped up to the plate to help nurture our children and demonstrate to them the love and joy of Jesus.  These people are our village.  We do life with them on a daily basis and they are helping us guide our kids morally, spiritually and physically.

How do people love our kids?

* A mature couple who loves them as though they were their very own grandchildren and host special birthday parties for them with homemade pizza and cake.

*  One of our pastors and his wife hosted a special Star Wars Movie Marathon (all 7 episodes) at their house.  The girls all enjoyed junk food, movie, and spending time with them.

*  A young mission team staff gave 15 flowers and sweet gifts to Sophie on her birthday.  This Guatemalan said, "This is a very special day in Guatemala (called a quinceanera) and I wanted her to know she is special."

*  The director of our fabrication shop often takes Jude out in his work truck to visit different villages, pick up and deliver materials.  Jude bombards him with a million questions.  They are a wonderful pair!

*  So many people speak to Joseph and touch him when we walk into a room.  They acknowledge him and love on him appropriately.

*  Our girls help translate for teams and work with a group of young Christian adults on our mission team staff.  These twenty-somethings are wonderful role models for our children.  Our kids see them working to make their country a better place and they witness them sharing the love of God with others who don't know Him.  Our kids are being taught, encouraged and loved.

*  Sophie and Annabelle have a mentor who meets with them weekly for Bible study and prayer.  Their youth group leaders are wonderful!

*  There is a young lady, whom Ava Mae refers to as her "mentor," who sings, laughs and plays with her.  These two together are funny, silly and full of joy and smiles.

*  Susie went back to NC while her dad had triple bypass cardiac surgery recently.  Many people stepped up to help Jack and the kids while she was away.  Three women from our staff took Annabelle, Sophie and two friends to the city for Annabelle's birthday.  Others dropped off food and pitched in to allow Susie time to be with her father during his recovery.

In addition to people here loving on our kids, we have people in the US who frequently check up on us.  They ask us how each child is doing individually.  They send emails to the girls and they support us in challenging times by encouraging us.  I can not describe the complete peace we have; peace comes from Christ.   We have such a wonderful community surrounding us.

Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Are you getting our newsletter?  If not, send your email address to townsendguat@gmail.com and we will make sure you are on our mailing list.  

Love you all, friends! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016


As with most ministries, we are dependent on charitable giving.  The only way that we are able to be in Guatemala is due to the generous and prayerful support of those who have made a monthly commitment and donations.  This has been such a growing experience for our faith. 

Some of our supporters have extended themselves, month after month.  We are so thankful for you.

Some of our supporters have given one time gifts.  We could not be here without your generosity.

Some of our supporters have given more than they originally committed to.  We are so grateful for you, as well.

Some of our supporters have not been able to continue their support.  Thank you for your generous giving in the past.  We completely understand that life happens and finances change.  We appreciate your vulnerability and honesty.

Please understand that every dollar that is given is appreciated and utilized.  We pray over our finances and monthly budget.  We ask the Lord to make us good stewards and be responsible with the money He has provided.

Our original intent was to stay two years and that anniversary has passed.  Now, as some of you know, we have prayerfully considered staying longer.  This decision does not come lightly.  We have talked with our children, spoken with our family in the states and we have asked our spiritual mentors for wisdom and prayer.  

I believe extending our commitment to work with Mil Casas - The Project will help the ministry continue on towards the goal of building 1000 homes in villages in the Sacatepequez region of Guatemala.  My role in this ministry is to foster relationships with families in our surrounding villages of Pastores and Santa Maria de Jesus.  It is a privilege and joy to meet with families before and after their home builds.  As a team, we assess the level of need each family has, assign homes to short term mission teams to construct, and share the Gospel message.  Hearts are being changed; God's Word is being heard and God's love is being exposed.

We have met with other volunteers in our area who raise support and we believe our budget is accurate for our area.  We've spent the past two months adjusting our needs and now we have a new budget for our family of eight.  If you would like to see our budget, please let us know and we would be glad to share it with you.

So this is where we humbly ask for your help.  We need those of you who are giving to continue.  We need those of you who gave in the past, to consider making a monthly commitment at $10, $25, $50, $100 or any amount the Lord puts on your heart.  Finally, we need you to share your excitement for being involved in this ministry with others.  If you know of someone who might be interested in partnering with us, please let us know.

Please consider making a monthly commitment of $10, $25, $50, $100 or more at

Take a few minutes to watch one of the videos in the sidebar.  They will give you a little insight to what the Lord is doing through this ministry.  Also, visit our Facebook page, write us an email or private message.  We would love to hear from you and pray with you.

Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past two years.  

In His Service,
Jack, Susie, Sophie, Annabelle, Ava Mae, Pearl, Joseph and Jude

John 15: 12-15  

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What can your family do in Guatemala?

Have you ever had the desire to serve?  Maybe you think you're too young or old.  Maybe you don't know much about construction.  That is not important.  What is important is your desire to share the love of Christ.

Team Rhodes consisted of a family of four (Marty, Mandy, Eli, and Julie), Maddie, Mr. Tom and Ms. Traci.  All different ages, all different backgrounds.  This team, made of 7 unique individuals, built a house, delivered water filters, built a customized wheelchair, fed over 400 children, worked at a special needs hospital and much more! 

Thank you, Maddie, for taking this video.  We do this weekly and it never gets old.  It's such a privilege to volunteer in Guatemala.  Not a day goes by that we don't thank God for our financial supporters and prayer warriors.  We absolutely could not serve here without you.  

If you are interested in helping with the Mil Casas Project, please send us a message at townsendguat@gmail.com.  

Monday, August 8, 2016


Hello friends and family,

Over ten years ago, Pathways Church, now known as Mission City Church, in Largo, Florida, planted a church, Iglesia del Camino, in Antigua, Guatemala.   The building ministry we work with, Mil Casas Project, is a branch of Iglesia del Camino and we are excited to announce, after ten years, it is now it's very own non-profit in Guatemala, called Centro de Suenos!  It's taken a decade in the making but this is a huge step, allowing more Guatemalan job opportunities and Guatemalan ownership.

With this change, we need our funding to be filtered through Centro de Suenos, which requires a change for you.
Two step process:

1.  Please contact Chris Polson at 727-397-4707 x119 or chris.polson@missioncitychurch.com and ask her to cancel your monthly commitment to the Townsend Family.  She is expecting your phone call or email.  Please make sure you ask her for a confirmation of cancellation.  

2.  Please go to:  http://my.simplegive.com/dl/?uid=the944202   After you have created an account, you will be directed to the "My Donation" page.  On the left side, you will need to click on "Scheduled Giving" to create a monthly commitment, and you will find "SUPPORT - JACK TOWNSEND" if you scroll under "Choose a Fund."  After you have successfully signed up, please send us a copy of the verification and we will confirm your donation with Centro de Suenos.

If you would prefer to send a check in the mail, please send to:  
The Guatemalan Dream Center
944 Alcazar Way S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Payable to: The Guatemalan Dream Center, Inc.  Memo: Townsend Family

If you’re not particularly concerned about the 501c3 tax deductions, you can always use PayPal.  Our PayPal ID is townsend164@bellsouth.net .  Several supporters prefer this method because 100% of their support goes directly to us.
Please know we are blessed to receive your support and constant prayers!  Be sure to check your email next week for our most recent newsletter.  We have so much to tell you about!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Annabelle enjoyed translating for a medical team visiting from the US last week.  She absolutely loved her time but her favorite part was telling a mother she was expecting a child after translating  pregnancy test directions.  Annabelle said the mother wanted a baby for over 10 years and my sweet girl remembered an episode of Little House on the Prairie where Ma thought she was having a baby but was actually going through menopause.  Annabelle said she was so thankful this women's test was positive and that it wasn't menopause!  Is my child really only 12?  ;)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Rhodes Family is Coming Back!

Do you remember our friends, Marty and Mandy who brought two of their oldest children to Guatemala last year?  You can check out my blog posts on this incredible family here.  They are coming back to build a house, deliver water filters and work at Campos de Suenos.  This time they are bringing an entire team!  And everyone is staying at our house.  We can't wait!

They are paying for their flights out of their savings and now need just a little more to help with the house build and water filters.  Would you consider making a donation?


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jude + Joaquin = Buddies

The church had an event planned to feed breakfast to the elderly last week, so they asked me to bake 130 cookies.  The girls were away at camp and Jude had school so I loaded Joseph up in his wheelchair and we walked to Jude's school to drop him off.  There was a lock on the school door so we had to assume it was closed for the day.  Sigh.  Communication here is VERY different than the US.

I told Jude he was going to help me bake and he said, in Spanish, "I want to help Joaquin today."  I have mentioned Joaquin and Patsy, who are our dear friends from El Salvador, in past blog posts.  They are wonderful in so many ways but Jude has especially bonded with Joaquin.  Joaquin calls Jude, "little Jack," and doesn't mind the millions of questions Jude asks him.

When we arrived at church, Jack was loading up the vehicles to build a house.  Joaquin took Jude aside to gently remove him from chaos.  Jude immediately told him he planned to work with him.  Joaquin looked at me tentatively and said, "Well, we will try it!"  So Jude climbed up in the Kia truck and off they went to deliver materials for a house to be built next week.  After he was gone for two hours, I started getting nervous because I learned they went to a village that has been victim to some robberies lately.  By noon they returned and Jude was over the top excited.  He told me all about his very "own shovel," and all dirt he moved around.  He had a blast and, of course, Joaquin kept him safe.  So thankful for people who spend time with my kids and invest in them. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Working from Home

Susie is in the city today food shopping for the MANY teams coming starting next week.

In addition to doing school work with the kids, I am getting the solar lighting systems ready for next week by installing inline switches.

So thankful for the teams who provide families with solar lighting kits!  Electricity is extremely expensive here.  What a great help these are to families.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

More Home Visits (Written by Annabelle)

Last week, on Monday, May 16th,  I went with my dad to visit families who were waiting for a house. One of the families we visited had a nine-month-old boy named Eric.  When I was holding him, I noticed their stove.  It was basically a piece of metal held up by some sticks and wire.  It was placed right near the door to their house.  The smoke was drifting directly into their home.  Smoke related respiratory are among the leading ailments in women and children in Guatemala.  A nine-month-old is extremely vulnerable to respiratory health problems.

When my dad asked Eric's mom, Maria, how many people were in her family she said four; Marvin, her husband, Marvin Jr., her three-year-old son, Eric, her nine-month-old son, and herself.  They are currently borrowing a room from their uncle.  It's just one room with one bed which all four are sharing.  The uncle is giving them a piece of land to build on, but Marvin's job as a brick mason helper is not enough for them to build their own home.  In total, there are 15 people in three rooms. Many of them sharing beds or even sleeping outside on the ground.

Like most parents, Marvin and Maria want to provide a better life for their children but they don't have the money to do that.  We are awaiting a house sponsor for this young family who is doing their best to just put food on the table.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Follow Up Home Visit

Back in November, our dear friends, Rick and Erica Penny and their boys came for a visit.  We were able to spend a week of fellowship with their family which was a gift for us.  Before they arrived, they raised money to build a home for Marta and Jose and their two boys.  The Penny's home church, Christ the King, was instrumental in helping this family have a home of their own.  

Last week, Jack was able to visit this sweet couple.  They expressed their gratitude for their new home, which is also a work place for their family to make quality leather products.  Jose explained how thankful he was for a secure home to store his work tools and leather goods, knowing the rain wouldn't come in and ruin his livelihood.  

While Jose works on his leather business, Marta works hard at keeping house.  Dust is prevalent here, especially during the dry season, so constant dusting and sweeping is necessary.  When Jack complimented her housekeeping skills, she told him it is their responsibility to take care of the gift God has given them.  Jose and Marta also told Jack they intend to keep their kids in school to honor God in that way, as well.  

There is a special joy in visiting families after they've received a home.  The blessing of a home is not simply putting a bandaid on poverty.   It is changing the cycle of poverty.  The Mil Casa Project is building homes to allow families to spend their hard earned money sending their children to school, just like Jose and Marta.