San Pedro Las Huertas - Day 7 [Blog]

by Christina Roulund

written on our last night in Guatemala Saturday 07/15/17

Seven nights ago around this time I was getting ready for bed so that I could get a good nights rest for our trip to beautiful Guatemala. I had no idea of what to really expect, but from what I heard from my husband, it was rough, beautiful, rewarding and heart breaking - all at the same time. 

And yes, It was a lot to process. Especially this being the first time I’ve ever been to another country and near conditions like what we were in for five days. 

The way the people live, the food, culture, sense of community, landscape, smells, sounds - it was ALL very different from what I’m used to. 

A couple things stood out to me almost immediately. The obvious

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San Pedro Las Huertas - Day 6 [Blog]

Where Joy, Beauty and Leadership Meet Poverty

by John Dennis, Stove Team 4

If you ask someone who has never seen poverty before what what they perceive it to be, the typical reply would be a rather bleak viewpoint. You’d likely hear things like, “poverty is sad” or “poverty is when people have nothing.”

To be quite honest, that’s how I probably perceived poverty to be before I experienced it in real life. Sad. Hopeless. Bleak. Having Nothing. So, it’d be no surprise that someone who hasn’t seen it would assume these things. The truth is

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San Pedro Las Huertas - Day 3 [Blog]

Where Joy, Beauty and Leadership Meet Poverty

by John Dennis, Stove Team 4

If you ask someone who has never seen poverty before what what they perceive it to be, the typical reply would be a rather bleak viewpoint. You’d likely hear things like, “poverty is sad” or “poverty is when people have nothing.”

To be quite honest, that’s how I probably perceived poverty to be before I experienced it in real life. Sad. Hopeless. Bleak. Having Nothing. So, it’d be no surprise that someone who hasn’t seen it would assume these things. The truth is

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San Pedro Las Huertas - Day 2 [Blog]

by Darrell Darnell

Yesterday I was asked to identify the best gift I’d ever received.  I had a hard time coming up with an answer.  I mean, it was easy to think of gifts that I’ve received that meant a lot or left a lasting memory.  But coming up with a gift that exceeded all the others was quite a difficult task.  For that level of esteem, a gift needs to represent something beyond the ordinary.  Even after I came up with my answer and felt good about it, I still felt like it wasn’t really fully representative of the type of gift that bears the title, “Greatest Gift of All Time.”

If someone were to ask me that same question today, just 24 hours later, my answer would be

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San Pedro Las Huertas - Day 1 [Blog]

By: Brody Myklegard

This is my first mission. I am 9 years old and my mother made me come.

We flew in to Guatemala City from Washington, D.C. It was 3 hours from D.C. to Houston and I saw a Texans football jersey at the airport. My mom said Texas is known for Football. On the flight to Guatemala City I was able to watch movies over the Gulf of Mexico.  

When we first got to Guatemala City

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Santo Tomás - Day 3 [Blog]

By: Betsy Tousley

This is Betsy.  I am here in Guatemala for the second year, with my daughter Sarah, who is almost eight.  My husband was planning on attending, but at the last minute had to return home for work.  So, what was going to be a “family trip” is now a “mother-daughter trip.”

That’s interesting to me, because what has been catching my interest a lot this week (so far) is mothers and their children.  It caught my attention last year, as I felt similarities with mothers here (maybe in things God “hard wired” into mothers, maybe in things mothers just do as mothers):  we take care of our families to the best of our abilities with what God has given us; we cook and feed, we establish our home (and clean it), we bathe and clothe, we give to those we love.  While I may live in the U.S. at an economic level which would be considered extremely wealthy here, and I may be serving mothers and their families who are living in extreme poverty, these commonalities have not escaped me again this year.

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Santo Tomás - Day 2 [Blog]

By: Carly Nakano

Greetings from Guatemala!

Today was the first day of officially working, and it is safe to say that I already feel closer to God and inspired to appreciate what I am blessed with. We woke up and headed to the Corazon de los Niños center in Santo Tomás.

We arrived, got into our work groups and headed out to the different work sites. In our particular home, both of the stoves for the work day were located there. We split our team up into two small teams and...

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Santo Tomás - Day 1 [Blog]

By: Tina McBride

This is my first Mission trip; my first time to Guatemala; and my first time traveling outside the U.S.  I had a lot of fears about traveling to Guatemala.  I was afraid of not knowing how to speak the language. Was it safe to travel with a child? Would I get sick? And many other fears.

When my family decided to commit to this trip, I still had all the same fears.  Even after listening to people tell me how fun it was and how safe it would be.  I had also heard Shawn speak at our church about traveling to Guatemala.  But we had an opportunity to go with friends and people we knew, and I felt if we didn’t go now, we never would.

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San Miguel Dueñas - Day 5 [Blog]

By: Scott Clark

Greetings from Antigua Guatemala!

How quickly the week has gone by.  Most weeks of the year I am so glad to reach Friday but this is one of those rare weeks because I know I will soon be heading home.  We have completed our goals of installing 12 cement floors and 84 stoves but that really wasn’t the real goal.

The real goal was to...

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San Miguel Dueñas - Day 4 [Blog]

By: Sam Vogel

Alright, so first off I just want to thank everyone involved in the planning of this mission. Before I came to Guatemala, my mom and another lady in the mission spent lots of time planning crafts and everything for the kids to do at VBS. I spent a good chunk of a couple of my Sundays leading up to the mission cutting paper. This is only a small portion of what goes in to the planning and developing of the mission. The mission itself has been a blast.

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San Miguel Dueñas - Day 3 [Blog]

By: Nancy Peabody

How “Now Is The Time” became “MyTime”

I have attended churches for most of my life. I have had many opportunities to listen to missionaries share their experiences. I have always enjoyed listening to these stories and have been filled with awe and respect for what they were doing in their lives.

I have also believed, without a doubt, that mission work was not for me.

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San Miguel Dueñas - Day 2 [Blog]

By: Joyce Burmester

It was quite the “Bucket Day” for the Week 1 Missionary Crew for NITT on Tuesday.

It all started with the missionary teams being issued an NITT Bucket Challenge for the day.  The story of Maria was shared; Maria is a local friend of the program who routinely uses 2 buckets of cold water to bathe both herself and her child.  Could the spoiled Americans, in Guatemala for the week, do the same?  Many on the team took on the challenge of cleaning up- after a day of building 20 stoves, pouring 3 concrete floors and pulling together an engaging VBS for 200 Guatemalan kids- using only a bucket of cold water. Brrrr!   Great insight and appreciation for the difficult lifestyle of these gentle people deepened the resolve and purpose for this mission endeavor.

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San Miguel Dueñas - Day 1 [Blog]

By: Shayna Duncan

This first day in Guatemala has been absolutely amazing. I’ve had this great privilege to see and experience the Guatemalan culture, and be a part of the mission. Being able to witness the love here gives me an amazing feeling of hope. I’ve met people with beautiful personalities that have shown such gratefulness. I am looking forward to the work ahead of us, and I know God will be with all of us every step of the way.

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How Will You Serve? [Blog]

by Hannah Markquart

Shawn Smith, our Mission Director, has officially announced the 2016 mission to Guatemala with Now Is The Time Mission!!

What is special about this year's mission is that we are devoting our time, energy, and resources to a new village that receives almost no outside help.

We will be bringing the love of God and working to serve this community through humanitarian aid, stove installation,  floor installation, and vacation bible school.

As we enter 2016, consider making serving others a new year's goal.

This mission allows for many forms of service:

I challenge you to take it upon yourself to serve in one of these ways.

So...How will you serve in 2016?

Click here for more info about our mission.

To make a tax-free donation to our mission, click here.


Here's what some of last year's mission Crew Members said about our mission work:

(you can read more from them in their blog posts)

“Every year I leave here telling myself I am not coming back because of the language barrier and here I am again after 8 years. God’s love shining in those big brown eyes keeps me coming back!!!” – Shawn Tracey

“Perhaps that is what God sent us here to do: plant and nurture seedlings of faith.”  – Michael Berens-VanHeest

“They do not have much material, or much of a home, sometimes, much of a family. However, they do have love. I was privileged to see that.” – Courtney Hughes
“To say the least, I came into this trip partially blind and not really knowing what to expect at all, but everything that has surprised me up to this point has been nothing but a blessing.” – Fidel Nuñez
“God’s work is sacrificing not only your body for others, but also your heart and your soul. To give a piece of each of these things is what doing God’s work really is." – Fidel Nuñez
“I have observed that Christ can be so alive and show His presence even in areas of the world where children go hungry and sleep in infested beds or on dirt floors each night.” – Rachel Williams
“I have witnessed God in this mission over and over. He has taught me to open my eyes and let Him use me as His hands and feet. “ – Liesel Odden

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Do you want to share a quote or testimonial with us? Please do so in the comments below!

Paso a Paso - Day 4 [Blog]

By: Shawn Tracey

What an incredible week we have had so far!  The children here in the village are so beautiful and when those big brown eyes look at you and their shy smiles come shining through, it absolutely makes your heart melt! 

I have been part of the mission for several years now and my biggest challenge continues to be the language barrier.  I know zero Spanish other than a few key words and phrases and still feel a calling every year to return to serve these families. 

I struggle every year with being able to communicate verbally with the children and their families, but always seem to find a way to connect with them.  A simple hand gesture or demonstration can go a long way.  

I walked into a home today that had 2 small children and the older girl, maybe 5 years old, immediately started smiling at me and came over and gave me a big hug!  I was hooked!  She took pictures with me and sat on my lap for a big part of the stove install.  I showed her pictures of my family and Annalisa interpreted for me. 

It doesn’t take knowing Spanish to make a lifelong, heartfelt connection with the children here in Guatemala!  So my message to you is, if you are being called by God to serve along side the Now is the Time mission or any other mission project, but are doubting that you can make an impact because you don’t know the language, stop feeling like that!  All it takes is an open heart and sharing God’s love to make a difference in someone’s life!!!!  A simple smile, a big bear hug or making up games to play with the children is all it takes to communicate. 

Every year I leave here telling myself I am not coming back because of the language barrier and here I am again after 8 years.   God’s love shining in those big brown eyes keeps me coming back!!!

Paso a Paso - Day 3 [Blog]

By: Marla Dixon

Our evening reflections have been very meaningful. With a smaller group, we’ve been able to share openly in our discussions prepared by Nick and Damaris. The first evening, we were asked to list our expectations for the week. One expectation I listed was looking forward to working on a stove crew, mostly because I’d heard others share about the meaningful experiences they’d shared with the families that received the stoves. 

Today was my third day on a stove crew and I’m glad to say I’ve also created some memories from our time with the families in San Antonio. God has also used one family to teach me a valuable reminder…

Most families greet us with warm smiles and gracious acceptance. They are very grateful for our work and anxious to help in whatever way they can.  Our final home this morning stood at the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful view of the city below and a clear view of the erupting volcano Fuego in the distance. It seemed to me that we were not greeted with the same warm smiles we’d received from other families. I surveyed the home, which appeared slightly more prosperous than some others and quickly determined this family was not as appreciative and perhaps not in as great a need. Hmph!

About half way through the stove installation, we learned the grandfather, the patriarch of this family unit, had died that morning. Of course we weren’t greeted by warm smiles – this was a family grieving for a loved one. 

The Bible story for VBS today was the parable of the king who forgave a debtor a large amount owed to the king. Yet that same debtor turned around and threw into prison someone who owed him a much smaller sum. How quick we are to judge others rather than see them through the loving eyes of our Father God. My thoughts went to my morning experience – how I had quickly judged rather than considered with love, this family we’d been called to serve.

Our group devotion last night was about how God speaks to us. Thank you God, for using this family, this Bible lesson, to speak to me today and to remind me to love others as you love us.

Pas a Paso - Day 2 [Blog]

by Michael Berens-VanHeest

Today we hosted the first day of Vacation Bible School, and the theme for the day was listening. The Bible teaches us that it is not enough to merely listen to the word of God. In fact, it tells us that if listening is all that we do, we are deceiving ourselves. We must act upon what we read and hear in God’s word, and we are given the promise that if we both listen and act upon the wisdom of God’s word, we will be blessed in all that we do.

    So as I went through today, I tried my best to listen. I would like to share with you a few of the things that I heard today.

    In the house of an elderly couple where we installed a stove this morning, I had an opportunity to have conversations with both the husband and the wife. I listened as they shared some of their life experiences with me. I heard the pain the woman’s voice as she told me about the deaths of three of their eight children. 

As I looked around the home of this couple, I marveled at how different it is from my own. Like many of the homes that we visit, this one had dirt floors, with bamboo-like cane walls and rusted corrugated metal rooftops enclosing only covering only a fraction of the space. As I observed the chickens and turkeys that share their living space and the wide variety of plants that had been carefully planted and nurtured in order to grow food, I found it to be both fascinating and beautiful. I complimented the husband on their beautiful home and listened as he responded, “Yes, but this is nothing compared to the houses you have in the United States.” As he said this, he held his arms out wide while looking upward, emphasizing the difference in size between what he imagined my house might look like and what he knew his home to be.

As I got to know this fascinating couple during the hour or two of our visit, and reflected on how difficult their life must be, I began to sense deep within them a strong undercurrent of strength and conviction that I struggled to make sense of. I began to understand when the wife later told me that the most important gift that she had received from her parents was a faith in a kind and compassionate God. 

This afternoon, during music time at vacation bible school, I listened as approximately sixty children sang praises to God. I was overwhelmed with emotion when I heard the children loudly sing out the very first song that Shawn played, clearly remembering it, despite the fact that it has been a year since they sang it last. 

As the children sang about the amazing things that God can do if we have faith in Him, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, my mind jumped back to the home of the elderly couple. Seedlings of faith, I thought. Perhaps that is what God sent us here to do: plant and nurture seedlings of faith. 

I pray that God will use the work that we are doing in the village this week to nurture the faith of all of God’s children, regardless of age, so that they too might come to know the strength, love, and hope that God alone can provide.


Paso a Paso - Day 1 [Blog]

by Victoria Gaston

On Thursday, July 2nd, my brother and I went up to Paso a Paso for the day to update the child sponsorship that he manages. Through his sponsorship program, Guided Steps Ministry, I have been able to create a bond with a child in Guatemala.

My sponsor child’s name is Damaris and on Thursday I finally got the chance to meet with her. I also got to play with her before she knew I was her sponsor and she was already really starting to warm up to me, so I knew when she found out I was her sponsor she would really open up. 

After a while of playing games, we had all the children who got gifts from their sponsor gather in a room to hand out the gifts they received. Once my brother handed the gift to Damaris and told her that I was her sponsor her face just lit up. She was so full of joy and just gave me the biggest hug I have ever gotten before.

Then, after all the kids got their gifts they went out to show their friends and play with their new gifts. While Damaris was showing her friends and siblings she just kept looking over at me and smiling the biggest smile. We continued to play a little more once her friends finally let her have her gift back, but after a while I had to leave so I told her goodbye and she gave me another big hug and finally let me go. 

Seeing her again today just brought me so much happiness and love. Every time I glanced over at her she was staring at me and smiling. I couldn’t help myself to keep glancing at her because her smile was just so contagious. Also, those big brown eyes that just melt your heart every time you look into them make it hard to not want to keep peaking over.

We had a little bit of time today to talk, and being able to bond with her is just such an amazing experience. I hadn’t met Damaris until a couple of days ago, and she’s already just impacted my life in ways that I can’t describe. 

Santo Tomás - Day 6 [Blog]

By: Courtney Hughes

Today was such a special day. This week has been such a special week. I cannot believe I will have the chance to say I went to Guatemala to build some stoves and sing some Spanish songs to the kids. I never expected the kids to have such beautiful faces, hearts, and smiles. The kids impacted me the most.

And if there is just one thing I want to tell my friends when I get home, is how full of love the kids are, when in reality, love is the only reliable thing they have. They do not have much material, or much of a home, sometimes, much of a family. However, they do have love. I was privileged to see that.

Nothing feels better when you see a kid light up when they see you, and they run to hug you. It does not get better than a little girl holding your hand as you get in line for crafts. But, it breaks my heart to see little children crying on the last day because they cannot continue VBS longer. God blessed me to have this opportunity and the kids made every second of stress more than worth it. 

I was also privileged to have taken four years of Spanish and been given a love to speak the language. Having that experience under my belt was incredibly helpful. Although I need A LOT more practice, I enjoyed speaking Spanish everywhere I could. I cannot wait to get home and be conditioned to say things… not in English. I enjoy annoying my friends because none of them know what I am saying, hehe. 

I am thankful for this trip on so many levels, but the biggest thing I am thankful for, is building my relationship with God. I was surrounded by astonishing people all week and got to work with them every day. I learned something new from every single person. They are all so kind and compassionate towards each other; I was fortunate to be welcomed into that family. The people this week allowed me and taught me how to strengthen myself with Christ. Now Is The Time to celebrate!

To end, I would like to thank Shawn and Damaris for organizing all of the trip and the other trips. I would like to thank my mom for coming with me and for being with me throughout the entire trip, but also being there for me when we both grew together.

A special thank you to Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church back at home for supporting my mom and I on the trip. And a TREMENDOUS thank you to the anonymous sponsor back at home for allowing me to come on this trip without worrying about a cost.

I could not have done this, or had such a life changing experience without everyone’s support, love, and prayer. I recommend a mission trip to any person, especially those who need to find themselves, who want a better relationship with God, and those who want to change lives.

Now Is The Time To LOVE.