Saturday, March 31, 2007

Myths: in Guatemala

Jimmy bought a political magazine in the Petén because it had a defamatory statement about gringos on the cover and we wanted to know why.
I translated several articles for my spanish class. The article about gringos was full of lies. Many Guatemalans are angry with the Sates because of visas. Linda said that another magazine did a study and said that only 2 people per day get their visas approved. Anybody could go down to the embassy and see that this is not true. Unfortunately you do not have to have any proof for things, spoken word is accepted as truth. I think it is partly because many people cannot read.

Another article in this magazine was about Xiliquito, a species that is part man, part cow. No one has actually seen it and lived to tell about it, but everyone knows about it. You can catch it and it will be your slave and make you rich. Linda said that she heard that scientist from the States cloned it illegally and it got free and came down here to Guatemala. Every area has a different take on the story. This would be like someone in the Sates picking up a Time magazine and reading about this creature like it was fact, it is an accepted publication.

Another more famous rumor completely accepted as truth is that gringos come to Guatemala to kidnap children to harvest their organs. I asked Linda about this and she said that this is absolutely true, several people have been arrested. The thing is that if you look suspicious, especially in indigenous areas, you do not get arrested, you get lynched. Afterwards they find the missing child, but that doesn’t matter, the gringo was there to kidnap Guatemalan children. We were warned by the pastor in Huehue, not to let the medical team pay a lot of attention to children because they have had problems in that area with gringos kidnapping children. I am always careful not to take many pictures of children I do not know. I do not think we would ever be able to adopt a Guatemalan child because people would think that we stole him/her. This is a serious thing here, there is even a warning on our government’s website.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Week of Outreach

We have been making plans for our first outreach in New Horizons. We were not planning on a team coming down, but God just worked everything out. It is the youth group from my home church in Jacksonville, so we wanted to plan some activities to take advantage of them! These are our ideas so far. I have asked Linda about some of our ideas just to make sure they are culturally relevant.

Thursday: Kids' Day
face painting

Friday: Ladies' Day

Saturday: Men's Day
soccer tournament

Sunday: Family Day

Today during Jimmy’s Greek class he told the guys our ideas and they were very excited too. They said it would be very effective and helped us with some details that we would not have thought of ourselves. Several want to come with us and help. It is important to have other Guatemalans with you. Many of them said they want to use these same ideas in their churches.

The purpose of this outreach is to make relationships in this village. Everything will build up to the last night where we can show a christian film and give the plan of salvation. We will not give anything away during these days other than our friendship. We do not want them to think they need to please us in order to get more things from us. There decisions must be sincere. We desire changed lives and plan on investing years of our lives in discipling the people that truly do accept the Lord.

Please begin to pray for this outreach in New Horizons. It will be one of the last 2 weeks in July.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Coming Together

Jimmy has still been calling churches to give pastors updates. This is good to do every now and then so that they remember who you are, you can tell them thank you, and also many times a church’s email address will change. Last week we lost $100 a month support, but this week one of the pastors told Jimmy that they had increased our support by a $100 a month! God already took care of this loss for us.

Jimmy put together this video of our new house.

We are very excited about this next stage of our life. Jimmy’s mom is coming down the first week of May to help us clorox and paint. Our parents were excited when we told them about the house, but after they saw pictures, they were concerned. After they saw the video they are encouraged again. This house is a real blessing. It is large enough to have teams come and eat with us and for the smaller teams to actually stay. I have always wanted a long picnic table to feed teams at. Can you believe the owner left us a huge table. We can make some benches and it will probably seat 15 people.

We stopped by New Horizons when we were in the Petén, but we could not find the mayor. We are excited about having a team come down in July to hold 4 days worth of activities to start a work in this camp. We found out yesterday that a youth group is serious about coming. Please pray for us and this team as all the plans are coming together. Jimmy’s brother and friend are also coming during that time to help. I updated our Ministry page if you would like more information about what God has placed in our hearts to do in the Petén.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Winding Path: a crazy long post

God is never boring. I try to just sit back and watch, but Jimmy is much better at that than me.
Thursday morning Jim called Byron to make sure the main house that we were going to see was
still available and it was. (This is the house we found out about last Friday evening.) We left this Friday at 3:15 in the morning for the Petén. We only go on weekends so that I miss as little class as possible. Friday afternoon we went to see the house (which was perfect) and found out that it had been rented Thursday evening (less than 24 hrs before we got there). We just laughed.

Byron tried to get us to rent his brother’s house instead. There were people living there, but they were destroying the house and his brother wanted us to move in and fix it up. Many people here really like for Gringos to rent their houses because they usually increase the property value while they’re there. This house was so dark and filthy and they wanted us to pay part of April and all of May and then we would still have to do all the work. They started at 3,000 quetzales and we got them to come down to 2,300 (I told Jimmy to tell them we were looking at another house for 2,300... we did not mention that we would never live there, but this is how you play the game.) We told them we would let them know on Saturday. That evening I really was struggling with the fact that I was not willing to live there and that might cost us another month in Xela. By the time I went to sleep I was planning on that being our new home.

Saturday we had scheduled to go look at a house with another man we met named Foster. We were supposed to meat him last time we were here, but he never showed up. He is a Christian who is part N. American and part Guatemalan. He knew of a house that started a 4,000 and we were hoping to possibly talk the man down.
When we got there the owner saw that we were gringos and told us his house was $1,300 a month, that is 9,750 quetzales. We looked at it for some reason, I did not want to go. While we were there the owner’s wife said that her brother was fixing up a property around the corner.
This is what that house looks like! The owner lives in Guate and had someone living in it for 12 years to take care of it, but they didn’t. It has been empty for the last 2 years. This picture is the front room. It is a little rough right now. These are the guys collecting up the truck load of garbage they are hauling off.
This is the backyard... it looks like a dump right now!
This is Jimmy, Foster, and the owner standing in the courtyard that leads to the backdoor. The door off to the side is an extra room with a full bath. The wall on the left is an unfinished section of the house. It does not have a roof. The door on the green wall is our backdoor.
This is our front door. Yes, we decided to get the house! The bottom front of our house is a gun shop! That means our living room and bedroom are above it. Jimmy was so excited. He said we should buy the gun shop too. I said, “Why... do you want to start a church there?” He said, “No, I want to have a gun shop!”
That gray area on the left is a cemented door that lead to the gun shop. I thought I could make some curtains that stay closed so that no one would ever know the difference.
From the roof and balcony you can see lake Itza.
God worked everything out because if we had met up with Foster last time like we were supposed to, this man would not have been here. If it would have been any later, he probably would have had the house looking better and it would have been more expensive or no longer available. This house is probably the most disgusting thing we have ever seen, but for some reason it just seems perfect. Jimmy and I are the ultimate “before and after” couple when it comes to houses... maybe just the ultimate "before" couple because we start with nasty places! I cannot not wait to see what it looks like in a couple months.

1. We do not have to start paying until June. This was a specific prayer request!
2. I really wanted to do the painting inside myself, so that I could pick the colors and make sure it was neat. The owner agreed and took $67 off of our rent for the first 6 months. He let me pick the outside color. I picked light grey because it will help it stay cool and I think it will look pretty with a white trim. The owner is also going to paint the ceilings for us... they are pretty moldy.
3. It comes with a gas stove. Not just any stove, but the exact one we wanted to buy! Now we only have to purchase a fridge, which a church in TN is sending us money for!
4. This is nuts, but it has a walk-in closet. I might share it with Jimmy... we will see!
5. It has a cistern. Before every time we asked about a cistern people would just laugh.
6. It is on the main street is San Benito which is a safer location. It is 5 minutes from the airport.
While we were in Petén we stayed at a hotel will low rates that we were thinking about putting a team in. It was a little rough for a team, so I am glad we stayed there first. We want people to want to come back! It had a nice view of Lake Itza though.

The Evolution of My Perspective
We have looked for houses several times now since we have been married. Each time our perspective is completely different from the last. The first time we started looking was right after we got married. You get a lot more for your money in KS than you do in FL, so I was looking for a house with a nice master bathroom... you know one with a nice big tub. (which we never found). When we first moved to Guatemala, I thought forget the tub, it would be really nice to have a hot water heater (we did get that for about 3 months!) When we were looking to find something cheaper in Oct, I knew we wouldn’t find a hot water heater, but I was hoping for kitchen cabinets (which we found). The first time we drove to the Petén, I didn’t think we would find cabinets, so I was really just hoping for a kitchen sink. This time when we left for the Petén, I thought forget everything else, I just want a wall around my house so I can sleep at night. (God gave us so much more!) Thank you for praying!

Friday, March 23, 2007

To the Petén Again

We are leaving this morning at 3:00 for the Petén again. I love the Petén, but I do not like driving there because the trip is dangerous. I made more cookies and we packed sandwiches again. We will only be staying one night and will be driving back Saturday afternoon. Please pray for our safety. We will be looking at at least 3 houses. It would be wonderful to go ahead and find one. Please pray that God will lead us to the right one. Thanks!

The large department at the top is Petén. The lake in the center (Itzá) is the area where we will be looking. There are several cities close to each other, they are: San Benito (25,000 people), Santa Elena (25,000), and San Francisco (a couple thousand). They are all right outside of Flores (2,000), the capital. Flores is a little island on lake Itza.
The small turquoise department on the bottom left is Quetzaltenango (300,000). This is where we live now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No More Grammar!

Today was my last day of new grammar. No more new material, I have heard everything at least once (I hope), now I just need to put it into practice. For the next 2.5 months I will be reviewing, reading the newspaper, national geographic in spanish... yuck!, translating music, and writing compositions. Jimmy has started making me translate all of my blog entrees into spanish. I learn a lot of practical vocabulary that way. I am so thankful for Linda she was sent by God. Please keep praying for my spanish and for Linda’s faith.
Jimmy was calling churches Monday and Tuesday to give them updates and asked a couple to help us with our move to the Petén. Jimmy is so cute, he hates talking about money, so I think he only ending up asking 2 for help with our startup cost and I think that is because they asked Jimmy straight up. One of the first pastors he called did not want to here an update. He said, “Brother, we saw a picture of you as a clown on your prayer letter and we dropped you.” That photo was back in September, so I think they were a couple prayer letters behind. This was a little tough because we are getting ready to move, but God will take care of us. It also is a little frustrating because we have so many churches that support us and there is no way that all of us could have the same preferences. I could go on, but that is all I am going to say about that! There were 2 pastors that promised to help and so many secretaries said to tell Shelley hello... that means they knew our names. I do not think anyone realizes what it means when people remember our names. We are thankful for the churches that support us. The rest of the pastors Jimmy spoke to were awesome and were very excited about the doors God has been opening.
We were driving behind this bus on the way back from Huehue. Each time it would take a curve one of the back tires would come way off the ground.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Sunday morning we got to go to Huehue to visit Luis’ church. The youth at that church have been studying spiritual gifts. They have been learning how to lead music and write sermons.
They led many parts of the service and took great pride in what they were doing. It was a great thing to see. Jimmy preached and then afterwards we got to fellowship with Luis and his wife.
The church is having a special time of prayer for the medical team that is coming in May. They have been preparing and have really taken ownership of this endeavor. This church is self-supporting and desires to start 2 new works in rural areas of Huehue. One is in San Sebastian and the other is in La Capellania Chantla. Luis needs a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to get to San Sebastian. He has a trade-in and is praying for the rest of the money. Please begin to pray for these two areas.

We were able to find a hotel.
The one we picked has a pet monkey!
Jimmy has been in constant communication with the team that is coming down. They are very excited!

While we were in one hotel a man came barging through the lobby door with a pointy hood over his head and a robe on. I thought we were getting robbed... my heart stopped. He asked a question and then walked out. When we left Jimmy told me that they were college students. I’ve heard of them before, but I had never actually seen one. Around Easter they go around and ask businesses for money and if they do not pay then later they throw oil on their buildings. They stop cars too. It is to raise money for their parties.
{3 college students}

{The monkey getting a bath!}

Jimmy went to Guate today with Larry to meet a team that wants to come to the Petén for a missions trip. It was a 15 hour trip, but he made it back safely.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

About a House

Yesterday we got a phone call from Byron, our tuk tuk driver in the Petén. On our survey trip, he said that he would keep his eyes open for a house for us. I never really thought that we would hear from him again. He called to tell us that he knew of a house for rent with a real kitchen and a wall around it. One of the bedrooms even has a closet. He said that they wanted $400 a month for it. I am sure that is the gringo price, but it is better that the others we have heard about. We might be leaving next Friday to go up and look at it. Byron is part Q’eqchi, so maybe he is also our link to a Q’eqchi tutor. Please pray that God gives us wisdom. We met another man while we were there that said he would help. We are hoping that he could show us some houses too, while we are there. Like most people, money is tight right now for us. We are still trying to play catchup from our move to Guatemala and now we are moving again and will have more start up costs. God knows and has promised to meet our needs, so we will all see Him work!

We got a really sweet email today from a lady who found our podcast on iTunes. She takes regular missions trip to Guatemala. We were hoping it would bring us into contact with more people interested in missions!

Tomorrow we are going to Huehue to Luis’ church. He asked Jimmy to teach Sunday school. This is where the medical team is going in May to help open a door for Luis’ church to start a new work in a rural mountain area. We are going to look at some hotels for them tomorrow and talk over some more plans with Luis. We really did not expect to get to be part of something like this outside of the Petén. We are very excited! Please pray for our safety tomorrow as we travel, it is about 2 hours away.

Thank you for the recipes and please keep them coming!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Odds & Ends

Tuesday, Lucha was barking in our backyard. Our dogs never bark unless there is a problem. Jimmy looked out the window and there was a man on top of our wall getting down. We did not recognize him, so I do not think he lives next door. Our house is surrounded by fields otherwise, so we really do not know why he would be up there. Lucha is a good guard dog. Please pray that God keeps us safe. This has made us be even more careful.
Yesterday Jimmy made virgin Piña Coladas... they were yummy. I made some no bakes and some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I could not find any brown sugar, but they taste good anyway. Jimmy took some no bakes for his class this morning. It is hard to find a lot of things here, but we have figured out how to make all kinds of new things since we have been here. If anybody has some great recipes for meals that do not require anything prepackaged we would love to try them. We can buy beef anyway it would come in the States and we can buy boneless chicken breast. Turkey is very expensive. Other than that we cannot find any other meat that we feel safe eating yet. If you have any good recipes please email them to us.
Jimmy always fusses at me when I let Lucha on the couch or bed. I went upstairs during my class to ask Jimmy what something was in English... Lucha was sitting on the bed with him. There is a double standard here!
You probably heard that Bush was in Guatemala on Monday. There is a large population here of liberal hippie gringos, they are the ones that were protesting. On top of that, the only news Guatemalans hear about the US is through CNN International and that is just propaganda. It is really sad. Linda says things that she hears about the States all the time, and they are just not true. It seems as though Mexico is causing all types of problems for which the US gets blamed.

Please continue to pray for my spanish. I am learning subjunctive right now and then afterwards I will have 2 and a half months of just practicing. I would really like to translate for the medical team that is coming in the middle of May. I study three hours with Linda every day covering new material and only speaking in spanish. I try to practice with Jimmy for several hours too (only using spanish). Please pray that I will be diligent. When you’re in the middle of everything it is hard to see progress especially when there is so much new material everyday. I was encouraged when my parents were here because I realized that there was a big difference in my spanish from when Jimmy’s parents were here a month earlier.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


This weekend was a special treat for us. Jimmy’s parents were vacationing in Florida and met up with my parents in Daytona Beach for lunch and to go to one of our supporting churches for their Sunday morning service. We had sent CrossRoads an update DVD and this Sunday pastor Dan included it in his sermon about missions. We got to download and listen to it today. We have decided to send our parents on furlough for us... they can visit the rest of our churches and give them updates, then we would only have to spend a week or so in the States at a time! Ok, maybe not, but they said it would be fun!
In the photo is pastor Dan Proctor, missions pastor Tommy Thompson, Ms. Jan Gammero, the Sunday school teacher whose class adopted us. A little boy named Adam was in her class last year and was called to be a missionary!
Yesterday we visited a different church here in Xela (I do not know why all the churches have to be in the same cities when there are plenty of places with none). We really enjoyed it and got so many ideas about what we want to do in the Petén. It was such a friendly place. They came up to us right away and filled out a visitor card. They have a ministry for every age group. We loved their methods, but do not agree with their message.
Afterwards we met up with the Boggs and the house parents at Eagle’s Nest for lunch.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cold = Bad

I picked Linda up for my class on Thursday and she had a Coke with her that she had just bought. She said, “He only had cold Cokes, so now I have to wait to drink it.” It is a superstition here that cold things make you sick. I told her that Jimmy was sick (he’s getting better). Linda asked if he had been drinking cold things. I said, “No, he’s sick because he’s married.” I meant to say “tired”, but “married” is one letter different. She said, “Oh.” About 2 hours later I realized what I had said. Linda got a laugh. Later Jimmy came down to get something to drink out of the fridge. Linda told him to stay away from the fridge because it is bad for you.

We have a praise, our sweet guard dog Fije went to the vet today. This is the first time that she looks better and has gotten a report that she is improving. The doctor had given her a shot of antibodies and it has worked so far. Her body is finally fighting the tumor. She is just a dog, but she brightens our days and we have been praying very hard for her.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Medical Teams Work

The Sunday my parents were here we went back to Las Majadas where the medical team had held a clinic. This clinic was sponsored by Jaime’s church.
A man named Bernabe needed a surgery to correct a previous surgery from 5 years back that had never healed. Several years ago Bernabe had left Jaime’s church. Now he was asking for help. Jaime and the medical team thought nothing of it and treated him like everyone else.

Later we heard that Bernabe was so blown away by the way everyone from Jaime's church treated him, that he decided to return. The Sunday we were there we heard Jaime announce that they were holding the evening service at Bernabe’s house.

Please continue to pray for a home for us in Petén and for another big prayer request that we have. Please take a few seconds every time you read our entries to pray for us and the ministry God has given to us. Thanks!

Jimmy’s dog Lucha has invented another new way to terrorize me. The last two times she has been outside with the laundry on the line she has pulled off every single wet piece of laundry onto the nice dirty ground. She doesn’t chew them up, she just doesn’t want them hanging on the clothesline.
She terrorizes Fije too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Typical House Hunting Story

My parents bought Fije a crate while they were here to match Lucha’s. This is a blessing because when we travel it will be much safer for them in the truck. Also while we were in the Petén they were able to stay a little warmer in our gate outside in their cozy crates. They fought over the one crate so long, that they act like there are 3 dogs now and they run and get in their crate before the other dog can take it.
Thank you for praying for our safety while traveling to and from the Petén. We still have not found a house in the Petén. Please pray. We cannot move until we do. We did not find anything available that had a kitchen (by that I mean an indoor sink). This one we were told was going for the same price as our house in Xela.
It was horrible... it was filthy, everything inside was broken, and it did not have a sink in the kitchen (everybody uses pillas outside). We were so desperate, that I was trying to see the possibilities. But then, the woman who showed it to us started hiking up the price because we were gringos. We told her that the man named Nery that we spoke to yesterday had already quoted us a price. She said that she does not know that man. We said that he lived next to Tikal Net and that he told us to meet you here. First she said that he meant the moldy old building at the front of the property. After we started laughing, she changed her story and said that she did not know a Nery or where Tikal Net was and that someone must be waiting for us at a different house. We said, “Well then we better go find Nery.” Then she changed her story again and said that maybe Nery was her son and he doesn’t know anything about the house. (She must have a lot of children to not know all of their names... plus Nery looked a little older than her too.) Finally when we told her no thank you, she said, ”If you change your mind just give me a call or stop by my house... it is right next to Tikal Net!”
This is the one house we are hopeful about. It is going for 2500 quetzales right now, which is a little over $300. If this is our house, please pray that it will have a wall around it with 2 parking places inside the wall and possibly a kitchen sink.

The people in the Petén are different from the people in the big cities. We went up to several people in different towns close to Santa Elena (the largest town in the Petén... 25,000 people). Every person invited us in to sit on their porch and spoke to us like we were old friends. We left our name and number with them and they said that if they saw a house for rent they would call us. Who knows how God is going to work things out!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Video Update

Jimmy has put together a video update for our supporting churches. We sent back some copies with my parents when they were here. We heard that our home church in KS already played it in their missions conference... we hope that more people are praying for us more specifically as a result. If you are from one of our supporting churches and think that they might play our video, please send us a email and we will mail you one. It is only 2 minutes and 17 seconds long.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Finding a Home In Petén

Today we got to go back to New Horizons. Jimmy talked to the mayor... her name is Beatriz.
At first she was a little hesitant. He told her we were missionaries, but then said that we were baptist... and her face lit up. Just like last time when we were there, she remembered a baptist missionary who had came to their village for a month and built some outhouses. We are very thankful for these outhouses! We asked her about starting a children’s program in July and if we could help out in the community. Jim’s brother Jon and his friend Kyle are coming in July to help too, so we thought we could paint in the school or community center. She said there is a community meeting this month and the leaders will vote on it. She was very kind to us and seemed excited. Please pray that God will open a door. Jimmy gave her our number and she is supposed to get to a phone and call and let us know. She might even call us to come and talk to the leaders in April.
{Community Center}

Here are some of the houses in the village.
This is our new grocery store called the Dispensa. This store has about 2 isles of groceries and then the rest is toiletries and cleaning supplies. We were actually very thankful for all the things we found. I think if we would have moved here straight from the States we would have been in shock, but we have a different perspective now. There are some things we will stock up on from Guatemala City, but most is just preferences not necessities.
We are concerned about finding a house. There are no real estate agents here, no newspaper to look at listings. Who moves to the Petén, so why would anyone have rental houses?
{Our tuk tuk ride.}

We did hire a tuk tuk to drive us around to places he knew of. His name is Byron. He said he would ask around and then take us to some new places tomorrow.

We were blown away today, everything that has a real roof and glass windows is over $500 a month and is very tiny. We are out here in the middle of nowhere. Please pray that God will provide us with a home.
{Most of the houses looks like this}

Friday, March 2, 2007

Off to the Petén

Originally we were going to leave for the Petén on Sunday, but instead we are leaving tomorrow at 5:00 am. We are returning on Tuesday so that I only miss 2 days of class. Please pray for our safety. We have a list of supplies that we are going to see if we can get there or not. We are going to look at housing. On Sunday we are going to the refugee camp, New Horizons, to talk to the mayor. This is where we want to start a Spanish work while we are learning Kekchi. Please pray that God will open a door. We have never driven to the Petén before, it takes 12-14 hours, so please be in prayer for us.

Here’s a praise. Jimmy was in an accident on the way to the seminary early Thursday morning. The man who caused the accident did not stop, but the third party agreed with Jimmy that it was the other guys fault. Jimmy was not hurt and his truck was not damaged because of the brush guard. All is a praise because even if an accident is not your fault you usually have to pay money since you are a north american.

Today while I was walking Fije, I saw a pig being taunted by 2 dogs. The pig was huge, but looked very scared. I took Fije and started chasing these 2 dogs to try and get them to leave the pig alone. An indigenous lady who was in the field stopped what she was doing to watch the gringa chase the dogs who were chasing the pig. Then 2 men on a roof nearby started yelling at the dogs too (I guess it was their pig). Finally the dogs got scared and ran off... poor pig. Fije had a good time!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Last Day With My Parents

We have been having some internet problems. There are several projects that we are working on with different churches in the States and and we are having a hard time communicating with them because of our internet, so please pray that this gets resolved soon. Thanks!

Fixing computer problems.
Eating lunch in Panajachel.
This is where our pizzas were cooked.
The evolution of a power line in Guatemala!
Crossroads Café in Panajachel.
This is a Christian coffee shop.
Mike and my dad talking about coffee roasting.
Eating dinner over Lake Atitlan.
Me and my mom in Pana.
My parents playing the marimba!
Driving to Guatemala City.
The scorpion we found in our hotel room.
Jimmy hunting for the scorpion.
Here is a praise. Linda has been a great blessing to us. She watches our dogs for us while we travel. She has been very trustworthy. Yesterday she asked again when we were going to move to the Petén. I said that I hope by the first of June. She said that I would definitely be able to finish my Spanish by then. Before she was not so optimistic, so this was very encouraging!
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