Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making a Difference for $30 a month

More than 2,000 children under 5 died in Guatemala during the first 10 months of 2010 as a consequence of illnesses caused by malnutrition, according to a report presented Friday by the national ombud's office.
The report is based on statistics of the Epidemiology Center of the Public Health Ministry covering the period from Jan. 1-Oct. 31, 2010.
"It's worrying that mortality from hunger is double that of deaths from violence. Thousands of children are estimated to be at risk and there is no sufficient effort being made to save them from this grave situation," ombud Sergio Morales told the media.
Eighty-four percent of the youngsters died at home, without any kind of medical care, according to the report.
Most of the children died of respiratory infections and diarrhea, ailments caused by high levels of malnutrition.
Ministry figures show that one in every two Guatemalan children under 5 suffer from malnutrition, as a consequence of the poverty and extreme poverty in which more than 52 percent of the country's 14.4 million inhabitants live.
Most of the children who died were concentrated in provinces that make up Guatemala's "dry corridor," a strip that runs through the country from east to northeast, which during the last two years has suffered intense droughts blamed on climate change.

Read more:

The above story was taken from FoxNews-Latino. It broke my heart. It broke me because I have loved on these kids, prayed for these kids, and told others about these kids. I choose to spend my vacations in Guatemala rather than the beach, because I know the impact it has on the people there. And it's because Jesus has called me to do it. The desire in my heart to witness to the people of Guatemala is huge. I never thought that one trip would change my life like it did. I have made friends that I won't ever forget, have hugged and kissed on children whose faces won't ever leave my mind, and I have watched people see the hope in Christ.

Clubhouse Guatemala is growing. There are 5 operating feeding centers, with children available to sponsor in each one. For $30 a month you can sponsor a child in Guatemala. They will receive a meal 3 days a week, school supplies, medicine, and immediate family needs will try to be met as well. So, not only is just one child being ministered to, but a whole family. Your sponsor child will write you letters, and hopefully you will have the desire to write back. They LOVE hearing from you. If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Clubhouse Guatemala, please visit the site to learn more! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's the deal with Guatemala?

I often get asked this question. The background on my computer at work is a picture of our recent trip to Guatemala, so when people walk by they see it. Some ask about it. Some just look at it. Many people want to know why Guatemala. I don't always have a clear, solid answer. Because I really don't know. All I know is that God provided a way for me to serve there last year and all I can think about is how much longer it is before I get to go back.

I never thought that I would be in a place where missions was such a desire for me.

God did so many things in my life when I was in Guatemala last summer and those things have expanded to even more things. I have gotten the opportunity to share God's love with a land of people who want to know. I've gotten to help families who had nothing. I've gotten to love on children who don't always have a mom or dad to love them.

Every time I go, I come back changed. I come back with an even stronger love for the people and country of Guatemala.

So, what IS the deal?

The deal is this: God commissioned His children to go out and tell the world about Him. That's what I'm doing. Simply following His guiding hand to wherever He leads.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Closet Full of Clothes

I have a large walk-in closet. Inside it, are three racks of clothes. On top of one of the shelves is a large Rubbermaid with even more clothes. My bedroom has a tall chest that houses even more clothes. There are times when I complain of having nothing to wear. There are times when I just HAVE to have another pair of shoes or another purse.

We all have those times. Times of oblivion to the world around us. 

We were able to put on one clothing tienda in an area that was heavily hit by the tropical storms after the volcano erupted. Many people lost their homes, their clothing, and everything they had. Many of the teams that come down to minister alongside Clubhouse Guatemala bring down clothes and shoes that we use to put on the tiendas. At this particular tienda we passed out mounds of clothing and a ton of shoes. Every family member that walked through the clinic got 2 pieces of clothing, a pair of socks, and a pair of shoes. We were able to bless so many people with clothing and shoes.

If you had the chance, would you clean out your closet?

It hit me while I was passing out clothing to these sweet people that I have a closet full of things that I don't wear. Items that I pick over because they aren't the right color or because they don't look good on me. How selfish is that? Pretty darn selfish when I witness people with nothing smiling over some hand-me-down articles of clothing and once worn shoes.

My goal throughout the year is to send Mike and Carla 10 suitcases of clothing. I know what just 2 suitcases weighing 50lbs can do for a ministry. I know, for one, because I lugged them around two airports.

 My challenge to you, as readers, is to do something drastic for the cause. You know you have nice clothes that you haven't worn in months. Would you consider donating them to a ministry area? I'm not asking for them, because there are plenty of areas right down the street that need items for people here in our country. People sometimes ask, 'why don't you just do something local?' I do. I donate to my area Salvation Army and Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry. If God lays it on your heart to give to Clubhouse Guatemala, by all means, please feel free to contact me. Leave a comment or send me an email.

Right now, our biggest need is shoes. Mike and Carla have come into contact with several people who have been given their very first pair of shoes by Mike and Carla. Some of these people are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. That is not an exaggeration to pull at your heart strings. I wish it was. Because for me to sit here on a comfortable couch, with 3 visible pair of shoes in sight, makes me a little sick to my stomach. Sure, I am blessed. Blessed beyond measure. Now, I want to bless others.

I want to forget about my wants and focus on others needs.
Because let's face it.
 Who really needs 20 pairs of shoes...when there are children and elderly people walking dusty, rocky streets in their bare feet? 
I had to post this picture. I took it from Mike's pictures on Facebook. The story behind this little man walking home...For 71 years this man did not have shoes. Mike and Carla met him at a tienda that they were doing about a week ago. Before that day, he had not had shoes since he was 7 years old. Can you imagine 71 years of walking the streets barefoot?? 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wednesday~June 23

We spent the day in Zone 6 hosting a medical clinic and playing with the sweet kids. This little boy sat in my lap almost all day. He was the sweetest thing and so was his sister. We polished the girls nails and did face painting with them. God blessed us with a dentist that day so not only did the people receive medical care, but they also got to see a dentist!

The people here were also hit pretty hard by the volcano and tropical storm aftermath. Many lost their homes and were living at the shelter.

That afternoon we took a little time to rest and get ready for what the nights activities had in store for us. Our team hosted a medical clinic and a block party at one of the churches that Mike is getting involved in. Since we were a little short on hands that night, Carla and I manned the pharmacy. Our doctor team of 1 saw pretty close to 200 people in a little over an hour and a half. Talk about busy. Carla and I passed out dozens and dozens of medicines and every family got enough vitamins to last them almost a month. The people there were so grateful for the medicines and vitamins. When we were finished with the clinic part, Tina, our doctor came out of her little "doctor's office" and announced that she felt like she didn't see hardly anyone. Boy, was that God giving her strength like an ox. I don't think she realized just how many people she saw and helped.

During the block party I made friends with this little beauty, Mariana Guadelupe. She was the sweetest little thing. We chatted about the basics- name, age, where she lived, her brothers- and then she wanted to learn English. So we sat for almost thirty minutes and she would ask me how to say various words in English and then she would practice saying them and teaching me the Spanish words for them. Such a simple little thing but it meant so much to me. God led this little girl to my lap. She had such a sweet spirit and I was so thankful for the time I got to spend with her.

The kids had so much fun bouncing in the bounce house, playing games, and eating cotton candy. One of the girls wanted me to jump rope with her. Let me just say, those kids can jump rope. She beat me fair and square....and laughed the whole time. I am terribly out of shape-and it showed. However, my panting, out of breath, thought I was going to die, body was filled with joy when I saw the glimmer in her eyes from just me playing with her. The block parties used to be our main source of ministry. Through the block parties we have been able to enter villages and towns and put on Vacation Bible Schools, medical clinics, tiendas, and start feeding centers and sponsorship programs. Through the ministry of the block parties, we reach the children of the villages, who in turn go back to their homes and share what they learned. If we can get a child pumped about Jesus, then you know they are going to go back home and share with their families!

The City Dump and God's Grace

Last summer we took a trip to the city dump.
Let me just say...this is a place that uses all 5 of your senses.

You can feel the grime on your skin.
You can hear the workers of the dump.
You can taste the cities trash when you open your mouth to talk.
You can see the mounds of trash and the people digging through it.
You can smell the odor of rotting trash.

We didn't go back to the dump this year.
That doesn't mean that I've forgotten what it's like or the people that live there.
Yes, you read that right. The people that LIVE there.

The city dump is home to at least 6 generations of people. They live there. They work there. They give birth there. Amongst the trash that I throw away when I am there. Little children dig through what I didn't want.

This year, I was sitting outside getting ready to start my day. I was snacking on some strawberry wafers. The garbage truck pulled up and thoughts flooded my mind of last years visit to the dump and what the inside of that truck held for the people working there. Inside the garbage, old food, and things thrown away were someone's lively hood. The only way of life they had ever known...and would probably ever know.

As the garbage truck pulled up and came to a stop outside of our house, I couldn't help but watch the men come collect our trash. I was about to start praying for the men and their families when out jumped a boy, probably not even 13 years old, from the back of the truck. I instantly got a huge knot in my throat. That little boy should be at school. He should be running and laughing and playing with his friends. Not gathering garbage. But he was. This boy, this handsome, precious little child of God, was about to pick up trash that we had spent the last two days collecting. More than likely, he probably dug threw it to find food. Let me rephrase that, to find a MEAL. Scraps of food that had been sitting in the heat were going to be his source of food. Now, if that doesn't get you, then you need to wake up.

My prayer instantly turned to this little boy. With tears literally streaming down my face, I begged and pleaded with God to protect him, to give him a hope for a future outside of the dump, and to prick his heart with the knowledge of a Father that loves him unconditionally. I don't know this little boy. I don't know if I will ever see him again. I don't know his story. But what I do know, is that I haven't stopped thinking about him. I haven't stopped praying for him. When things in my life get a little rocky...I stop and think about him. When I stare at my pantry at the endless amount of food and think that I don't have anything, I think about him. I think about all the people at the city dump, digging through the days uneaten food, hoping to make a meal out of it for themselves.

After that morning, I didn't feel bad for throwing away food at dinner. To be honest, while I was completely thankful for the meals that I was blessed with, a part of me wanted to throw away as much as I could, just so someone- a mother, a father, a child- could eat the next day. Reminders of God's grace were never far from for the rest of the week. By His grace alone am I allowed the meals I eat each day. By His grace am I blessed with a job that provides for me. By His grace do I have a roof over my head and warm blankets each night. By God's grace am I given the chance to share with you all the seeds He is planting in a country foreign to most of you.

God's a wonderful thing. Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tuesday~June 22

We were in Amatitilan on Tuesday. A team from Shreveport, LA, were with us for the week and they were all medical. Most of our week consisted of medical clinics with them. Here in Amatitilan we held a medical clinic AND a tienda. We arrived early and this is the first picture I took. We were set up at the school there and the courtyard looked like this until we shut the gate late in the afternoon. There were so many people waiting to see a doctor. This was a town that was hit with many rains after the volcano erupted so many people were living in stagnant water. Many of the children were sick with fever and/or infection from this. It was heartbreaking, but those little children were so sweet and just wanted to be held. Many of the mamas there waited for hours to get their little one(s) in to see the doctor. After seeing the doctor, they headed over to our pharmacy to get the medicines and vitamins they needed. Once they finished there they came to the tienda (store). We had tons of clothes for everyone and shoes, shoes, and more shoes. We also had some soaps, shampoos, and toothbrushes to hand out. Each family was allowed two items of clothing, a pair of shoes, a pair of socks, and a pair of underwear for each member of their family and a toy per child. I was in charge of the toiletry items and made each family a bag of everything they would need for each member. It was something I needed to do. I was humbled by it. These kids were so excited to get a toothbrush. A TOOTHBRUSH. Seriously? What kid is excited about a toothbrush? It really is about the little things to the people here. Something as simple as a toothbrush lit up these little children's faces. It was amazing. When we finished with the tienda and were packing up, Carla and I found a bag of pencils. A simple bag of mechanical pencils. We took them over to the teachers room and there were a handful of teachers in there. Carla handed them the pencils and they cheered and clapped for us. One of the teachers said that they really needed pencils and that we had made them so happy by giving them those that we had found. Wow. What a blessing to those teachers that we had just happened to have a huge bag of pencils mixed in with some clothes! God provided, even we had no idea that they were there!
We had such a great day. Over 400 people were seen in the medical clinic and there were over 50 salvations. God worked in mighty ways and continued to open doors for Clubhouse Guatemala in Amatitilan. I am excited to see what God does in this city. The teachers were excited and welcomed us with open arms. I see more ministry opportunities there in the future for sure!

Isn't this little girl a beauty? She was just a precious as she looks. Such a sweet little girl. She came over shyly and just looked at all the toothbrushes I had. When I offered her one, she looked up at me with those deep brown eyes and just smiled and smiled. She took the toothbrush and gave me a hug and came back with some friends.

I am so in love with this area of ministry. Loving on these people, sharing Jesus with them, and blessing them with the things that people here in the States take for granted. I mean really. How many times are you thankful that you were able to take a warm shower EVERY day, brush your teeth with clean water, and wash your hair with good shampoo? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's very rare you think like that. I'm just as guilty. But it doesn't take much for me to be reminded that it is only by God's grace that I have the things that I have. God has blessed me tremendously...and I am thankful that He has called me to spread those blessings among a nation that not many venture to.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, June 21

I set out to the airport early, early. My flight was supposed to leave at 9:50am. Supposed  being the keyword there. What time did I finally leave? Closer to 1pm. Why, you ask? We taxi to the runway and the captain comes on the intercom. "This is your Captain...thank you for choosing Delta...blah, blah, blah...generator...blah, blah, blah...engine, blah..blah...not working...we're going to get this checked" Ummm, back up to the NOT WORKING part and he had my full attention. Yep, I'm sitting on a plane, by myself, and something with the engine is not working. Cue full on panic mode starting..NOW. I turned my sweet little cell phone on faster than I ever have before and sent a text to our Student Pastor at church. Who told me not to freak out...HELLO!? Too late for that big guy.
I immediately started praying. I wasn't even off the ground and I was begging for the plane to land safely. Seriously. After God sort of smacked me on the head and assured me that I was going to be fine...I mean, I was still on the ground in Atlanta, not over the ocean going down, I calmed down a little bit.
The problem ended up not being able to be fixed and we were moved to another plane. Needless to say, I did some heavy praying on that new plane. A few hours later I landed in Guatemala safe and sound.
Mike, Carla, and Zach were there waiting on me at the airport. It was so great seeing them! After a quick walk to the car we headed out to the store for some things for the house and for some pizza Guatemala style. I was so hungry by the time I got there. One pack of peanuts on the plane didn't last long.
The team was gone to San Mateo when I got there so I had some chill time at the house before they got home. Boy, was it great to see my church family after the day that I had had!