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. 

NIT 020 - Santa Maria - Stove Crews 2 & 3 [Podcast]

To listen to the episode, click on the player above.

Shawn Smith interviews members of Stove Crews 2 & 3 from Week 3 at Santa Maria from July 6-13, 2014.

Stove Crews 2 & 3 Includes:
Lydia Lammons
Whit Lammons
Fred Kraus
Sandie Smith
Jesse LaPierre
Wendy Kleckler
Marissa Kleckler
Jim Kleitsch
Molly Kleitsch

Click here for Santa Maria Photos

More about Santa Maria


Santa Maria - Day 5 Blog

by: Tina Rogers

Buenas noches (good evening) brothers and sisters in Christ.  What a beautiful week here in Antigua, Guatemala.  The weather has really been great with sunshine and very little rain which has made it much easier to get around the village of Santa Maria De Jesus.  We have placed a total of 70 stoves, 12 concrete floors, given clothing, and anti-parasite meds to many children.  

Many people have asked me “Why do I need to go  on a mission trip to show God’s love?”  After coming to Guatemala and spending 5 days in the village of Santa Maria De Jesus, I have finally found the reason.  It is...

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Santa Maria - Day 4 Blog

Santa Maria - Day 4 Blog

by Whit Lammons

It’s hard to believe that we have only one more day in the town of Santa Maria de Jesus.  As a group, we have been installing stoves, concrete floors, hosting VBS and managing donations.  I’m on the Stove 2 team with three other people.  The eastern side of the US is well represented in our group.  My beautiful wife and group leader is from Tennessee, one member is from Pennsylvania, one member is from New York, and I’m from South Carolina.  Needless to say we have had...

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NIT 019 - Santa Maria - Stove 1 & Donations Crews [Podcast]

To listen to the episode, click on the player above.

Shawn Smith interviews members of Stove Crew 1 and Donations Crews from Week 3 at Santa Maria from July 6-13, 2014.

Stove Crew 1 and Donations Includes:
Barb Holcombe
Hannah Markquart
John Breitbach
A.J. Breitbach
Rob Schmidt
Cailyn Schmidt

Click here for Santa Maria Photos

More about Santa Maria

Santa Maria - Day 3 Blog

Santa Maria - Day 3 Blog

This has been my first mission trip to Guatemala and it is, hands down, the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life and it is only half way done. It would be impossible to put my whole trip into words without writing a novel so I am only going to talk about my favorite part, the people. My family and I were told by some fellow church members, that have gone on past mission trips, how...

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Santa Maria - Day 2 Blog

by: Ken Bolig

Well, we finished our first full day of installing floors. Our team got three complete and the degree of difficulty increased as the day progressed. The final install was the most demanding; we had to build two ramps to get the materials to the mixing location. Then because of the steepness, on person had to push the wheelbarrow while two people, one on each corner of the wheelbarrow had to pull. Even though by the end of the day, all of us were...

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