Sunday, November 25, 2012


We are in the process of finishing a few houses this week; one of them is Rosalinda’s. Rosalinda is a widow with 6 sons, 4 still living at home.  Ten years ago her husband was killed in an auto accident and she began the struggle to survive with her 5 young sons. She currently works 5 days a week from 8am to 3pm for a few dollars a day. Her home is built of some concrete block, metal sheeting, cardboard and odd scraps of wood.  Inside the home the floors are simply dirt and little natural light enters. When it rains, there is no way to keep the water out and the house is constantly damp.

A few months ago, one of our construction crew leaders came to me and said he knew a widow who was in significant need of a home.  It took some time for us to find a time that would work but eventually we were able to visit the home which turned out to be that of Rosalinda.   She shared with me that some time ago - maybe a year or two earlier she had spoken with another one of our crew leaders.  She had been told that she needed to be patient but eventually the hope of a new home faded.

One of the challenges of living and ministering in a community where the need is overwhelming and unending is that it’s easy to lose track of specific needs.  We believe that God’s purpose will override all of our failed memories or circumstances that get in the way of us meeting a family that has extreme need and getting them on “the list” to receive a home.  The reality is that God knew long ago when we would begin this home.  All in his perfect time... The first weekend in September a family in the states wrote us on a Sunday morning asking if we had a family that needed sponsoring for a home.  They did not just want to sponsor a home they wanted to follow God’s leading.  That funding opened the door for us to build for Rosalinda.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

youth group raising money for homeless in guatemala

next weekend - Oct 22-24, a youth group called BLITZ from savannah christian church in savannah, ga, is rallying together to raise funds for the homeless in guatemala! pray with us as we have another opportunity to see what america's youth are capable of when they get excited to be christlike!

i have witnessed firsthand the power of the holy spirit in the hearts of teenagers and will never underestimate what they can do!! i am reminded of 1 timothy 4:12:

"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, life, love, faith, and purity."

paul is teaching timothy here that the younger generation can be strong leaders who set the example for the rest of believers!

i am excited to see what this group of teenagers do when they get fired up about helping the poor!

here's a video they will be watching during their weekend event:

Monday, September 20, 2010

juliana & manuel... and romulo

we celebrated home #36 yesterday, definitely the sweetest so far.

juliana & manuel. the "least of these" without a doubt. both in their 70's, they have no one. no family helping out, no kids taking care of them. their life a constant state of exploitation as they hop around from borrowed home to home, living in tin shacks or worse, in exchange for watching over people's farms or animals.

manuel is blind. he walks a muddy path every day - about 2 miles - to catch a bus to antigua where he begs on street corners for money. juliana stays home and watches over the land owner's property so they can live in a dump, rent free.

spiritual giants, they are known for ability to heal the sick. people speak of them as the ones who sing out their thanks to God all night long... praying and shouting out songs of joy.

when we have come bearing gifts of food, they just fall to their knees praising God for answering their prayers. (story here in other blog)

yesterday we moved them into their new home that was donated by our friends kat and milan. a nice, safe, warm, block home with 2 rooms. no strings attached. their own front door that locks and a window in each room. also donated by our friends at "church on the way", they have a new kitchen, bathroom, bed, and chicken coup.

at the ceremony, me and romulo shared a little bit. this home was extremely special for romulo as he had told me about this couple and his desire to help them several months ago. he's been excited for this day to come for a long time.

before we gave them the keys, i asked if there was anything they'd like to share. their response was as all of ours should be...

they immediately shouted out praise to the heavens, thanking God for being their provider... for never forgetting them and never letting them go... for hearing their prayers.

they sang, jumped, shouted, and cried. they yelled to the top of their lungs "thank you daddy (gracias papito), you love us so much!!!"

they didn't want to stop singing worship songs. manuel even apologized for his singing voice, but just couldn't stop. even through his off-key, loud, stuttering, elderly voice, it was as beautiful and pure as worship can be.

at one point as they prayed and sang i saw romulo crying. my tough guy foreman - the field general of the construction crew who barks out his orders and is no doubt rough around the edges... crying tears of joy as sees, feels, experiences Jesus.

today driving around with romulo he was literally beaming with joy. he thanked me at least 5 times for letting him be a part of the ministries here in guatemala. what God is doing through the 12x12 ministry is changing his life.

romulo is leading a crew that is building a wall around the future boy's academy site. today, as i shared the vision of the academy with the entire construction crew, romulo emotionally shared to all who were present, "right now i want to give thanks to God. he is doing many things here in guatemala, and using our friends from the U.S. to help. it is an honor to be a part of his work. if this ministry helps the boys of buena vista one fraction of how it has helped these 12x12 families, i will give my hands and my heart to it completely. now lets get to work."

kerrie and i looked at each other and smiled, enjoying the depth and beauty of the moment. (romulo is not known for showing his guys his soft side!)

i pray that tonight as juliana and manuel lay in bed, their hearts are full with thankfulness, peace and contentment.

i know ours and romulo's are.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

pastor tomasa's family and iris's dream

We had been visiting Tomasa’s home for a couple months, developing a friendship, stopping by to visit when we were close by. Finally we received a sponsor to build her family a home and we arrived to share the news. (you can read more about their family and see lots of pictures HERE.)

After sharing the news that we had received the funds to build her a new home, she shared something pretty amazing with us.

The night before, Tomasa’s 15 year old daughter Iris (pictured to the right) had a dream.

She dreamed that the town of Buena Vista was a dry desert land. Everything was dying. She said in her dream some Americans arrived and started walking through the town, planting seeds. They would come every day, visiting the people and planting seeds everywhere they went.

Soon things started to change. Grass began to appear where before there was none. Fruits and vegetables began to grow. “Giant vegetables, bigger than anyone had ever seen”, she said. Before long, Buena Vista was green again, and everyone was enjoying a healthy harvest.

Tomasa told us that she believed her daughter’s dream was a prophetic vision from God. She said that the Americans in her dream represent us – and the seeds we are planting are changing their village.

This was an emotional and humbling thing for us to hear. We have days where we feel like we are not even making a dent… we sometimes get frustrated that some of the people we think are changing actually are not, and we are consistently disappointed and let down.

But for us, Iris’ dream was a huge encouragement. God used this 15 year old girl to remind us that our job is the seed planting. We must trust that he will bring the water, and he will get the increase.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 1 Cor 3:6-8

Monday, May 24, 2010

candelario celebration

We met Candelario over a year ago. Romulo had recommended we visit his family as a potential candidate for a new home. When we arrived, he wasn't home, but his wife and daughter-in-law's were there.

It was a great visit. His wife was so sweet, and his daughter-in-laws had a similar sweet way about them. His wife told me she thought Candelario was out drinking. A little embarassed, she looked at the ground as she told me.

Since then, we have slowly developed a friendship with Candelario and his family. He is an alcoholic, and he admits it. He knows it is a problem. We intentionally talk openly with him about it (unusual in this culture), and confess our own struggles in an attempt to let him know that we love him all the same, and that God's grace is sufficient.

On Christmas Eve night, 2009, we showed up at Candelario's house with food baskets. The Moreau family was visiting us, and it was something that God had put on Paul's heart to do. We arrived with the food only to find out that they had NOTHING TO EAT on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Candelario's sons (young men) cried as they realized that God knew their hunger, and He had sent us to bring them something to eat.

Finally, in February of 2010 we received sponsors to build Candelario a new home, complete with a bathroom.

One of the challenges was that they have 8 children, 7 of which are adults who have their own families. So 19 people (Candelario, his wife, 6 of their kids with their spouses, and 6 grandkids) all sleep together - packed into a giant tin shack. One of our standard 12x12 Love Project homes would not be enough. So God blessed us with 3 different sponsors to build a home twice the size of our normal houses!

When we delivered the news the family was ecstatic. Candelario was a few drinks into his evening when we arrived, but i honestly think the news sobered him up! They cried and celebrated as we shared the plan to build a house big enough for all of them.

Over the months that followed, genuine friendships developed. Candelario is doing better, and he regularly initiates the conversation about his drinking and how he is improving. The conversation always seems to find a way back to the grace of God... to the cross of Jesus.

The key ceremony was a sweet moment. Candelario emotionally shared that this home is "beyond all of my dreams." He said that he had honestly dreamt about having a block home with doors and windows, that he could pass down to his children, but that it was always just a dream with no possibility of becoming true.

I asked Romulo (the 12x12 Construction Foreman) to give Candelario the keys to his new home. Fighting back tears of his own, Romulo said to his friend since elementary school, "with these keys, your dreams have come true."

I believe Candelario and his family are learning about Jesus. I believe God is using the 12x12 Love Project and it's supporters to open doors of true friendship and discipleship. He is using this ministry as an tool to make known his grace and love.

for lots of pics of the construction process and key ceremony, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

blanca's 15th birthday

here it's called a quinceanera. its the HUGE celebration when a girl turns 15. in latin cultures, its kind of like welcoming the girl into womanhood.

if you're unfamiliar with blanca suzanna, please give a few minutes to watch this video about her life and how we met her before reading on...

about 2 weeks before her 15th birthday, blanca asked me if we could all come to her party ("all the gringos", she said). of course we said yes, and began asking her more about it. there really wasn't anything planned, as normally a quinceanera resembles an all-out wedding bash... and this family has zero resources to throw a party. nonetheless, blanca was determined to have a quinceanera.

we decided to try to make it a little bit more special for her. kerrie and gina spent a day with her shopping for a dress, shoes, etc. they also took blanca out to lunch, which i'm sure was a first time experience for her.

blanca's blue dress was exactly what she wanted, and it fit her perfectly without needing anything done. they also picked up a new dress for blanca's mom.

the morning of the party, kerrie and gina took blanca and her mom to get their hair done. probably another first...

it was a sweet day. blanca cried as people hugged her and told her how beautiful she looked. her mom and family members made chicken, and others chipped in to bring salad, tortillas, and drinks.

considering her life story, blanca sadly gave up a normal childhood long ago. but i hope she always remembers her 15th birthday party.

see all the pics from the event HERE

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"why do they do it?"

a while back some friends (who wished to stay anonymous) donated the funds to build a home for a local family named the Marroquin's. at that time, the Marroquin's lived in a mud and cornstalk home. click here to watch a short 2 min video about them...

ever since then, a friendship has been developing. we love to visit the Marroquin's, hang out with them and their kids, and just sit and visit.

another friend, who had connected with the Marroquin's while he was here visiting, sent money for Christmas gifts for the kids. you can watch that little video here...

not long after that, the same family that donated their home sent birthday gifts to the family. we brought the gifts...color books, toys, etc. there was also a spanish bible included.

recently, the anonymous family also donated bunk-beds and linens to the family, so that the 5 of them no longer had to share the same twin-size bed.

as we were installing the beds, Maria (the mom) told me she had to tell me something. beaming with excitement, she began explaining that on the evening the birthday presents were delivered, her husband Eulalio asked her out of the blue: "why do they do it?".

when she asked what he was talking about, he went on to explain that he didn't understand why the gringos keep blessing them. it did not make sense to him, and he was convinced that there must be some reason. something selfish or self gratifying, he thought.

Maria explained to her husband that she thought it was because "they just love God and they want to help people."

Maria went on to tell me that after a few days had passed, Eulalio said to her, "if that's the only reason they are doing it, than i want to know more about their God."

so she recommended he start reading the bible that was given to them...

he read the bible each night for several weeks (praise God he can read, as most in the village cannot). one evening, to Maria's amazement, he told her while laying in bed, "I think want to follow Jesus." she said they talked all night... and he went on to commit his life to Jesus and was baptized in his local church the following week.

in tears, Maria said their family life has been completely different ever since - "full of joy and peace." still poor... still struggling to get by... but full of joy and peace. she told me that Eulalio is a different person, husband, and father.

she said to me as she wiped her eyes: "i want you to know that it's all because of you guys. you have shown us God's love and you have shown us Jesus. we learned about His love by the way you love us."

for me there is nothing more encouraging than seeing people come to Jesus through seeing Him, feeling Him, and being touched by Him.

i'm sure Eulalio has "heard" about Jesus his entire life. but until recently, he had never been radically loved on in Jesus' name. that's our job as the church.

when asked what is the greatest commandment of all, Jesus said: "love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength... and love your neighbor as yourself."

thank you to everyone who has loved the Marroquin's as themselves. one has been added to God's kingdom as a result.