Friday, December 30, 2011

Policewomen, Poachers and Prayers

Friday afternoon at 4pm I (Jimmy) was supposed to meet with the entire town that has been stealing wood from the Institute's property. They have been becoming more and more abusive and this week started showing up with pickup trucks and guns so that they could haul more wood and the guard would not approach. By the time the police would finally arrive, the wood had been hidden. Through all of this, you would think they would have been ashamed or felt guilty, but instead they turned angry at us for trying to stop them. So the mayor came to ask me to a meeting so that the town could tell me why they were going to keep stealing my wood.

Naturally, I wanted the authorities to be there with me. I have been on good terms with the police department through all of this, so I knew they would go with me, but because of the new administrations in the various levels of government that will be taking office over the next couple of days, that was the only support I got. Elías and I went together, followed by a police truck with 8 officers inside. As we were loading up at the station for them to follow me, the officer in charge asked me again what village we were going to. I told her and she told everybody to go back inside and get the machine guns, just in case. That's not something you want to hear.

We arrived early and the mayor got on the loud speaker to tell everybody to hurry up and get to the school. The police officers pulled me aside again and told me that I needed to be very careful about what I said because these people were very hard-headed and very unified. They told me that things could quickly get out of hand and they may not be able to stop it. I told them that I knew things might get out of hand and that's why I had invited them in the first place. She assured me that they were there to back me up, but as we were having this conversation they were turning their truck around so that it pointed to the exit...

While this is going on the mayor is announcing on the loud speaker that "the gringo is here and he must be more important than the president to have all of these body guards and ha ha ha does he think we're going to kill somebody ha ha ha everybody hurry up and get here..." He was intentionally inciting the people against me for about 15 minutes.

Therefore when everybody was there and gathered on the basketball court (in the sun they said where I would have to sweat like them instead of hiding in the shadows where the mayor knew I wanted to be), instead of letting them start the conversation, I started right in telling everybody how thankful I was that they had come. I apologized for taking so long to call this meeting and that I felt because of my delay there had been a lot of confusion and misinterpretation. I then told them that what they had been used to had changed concerning the property, that I was now the legal owner and had full rights to the property, but that I would be the best neighbor they could have. I explained the purpose of the Institute and that it was not for personal gain. I explained the benefits to the community concerning our future improvements to their schools (so that our student's children would have a good place to study) and our collaboration with the water supply and the jobs the various construction projects would create.

Then I explained our need to save the wood on the property for our use, but that I understood their needs as well. Therefore in order to get along we would allow only the people from their village to cut firewood from our land, but only after they reported themselves to our guard so that he could verify they were from the village. If somebody was on the property without permission that would be trespassing and we would call the police. They can take firewood for personal use, but not haul off truckloads to sell. They also have to enter only through our approved entrance and not cut the fence in addition to only cutting firewood during the day.

It seemed they were all in agreement with this. The large trees will not be cut down anymore. If people from the village do try to steal wood, we will cut off the firewood supply from everybody, so in that way they are responsible for policing their own people. I explained our desire for everybody to get along and that if they would forgive me for not having called the meeting sooner then I would forgive them their actions over the last month and we could now all move forward with a better relationship.

After translation and dealing with a few interruptions it took about an hour, but I believe almost everybody was happy and in agreement. The ones not happy will have to answer to the rest of the community and our goal is to not get the police involved any more.

There was a large hoard of people (around 450) during all of this and Elías and I were surrounded on all sides with the police about 50 yards away. The benefit of speaking first kept them from getting all riled up. After all was said and done the mayor became my biggest supporter.

My original plan was to sit in the woods with night vision goggles and a paint ball gun... But as we were sitting there waiting on everybody to arrive and I was steaming thinking about all of these thieves and how blatantly abusive they have been over the past few weeks, Elías whispered to me, "Just think, some day all of these people will be part of the church we start here." It's good to surround yourself with people more spiritual than you so you can keep things in perspective.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Adding to the Church

After the men cleared the KBI land the other day, Jimmy and Tutor #4 went to the village of San José Pinares to show a Gospel film. It is 2 villages down from the KBI land. We are hoping to start a work there since there is none at this time. We had wanted to start one in the village right next to the land, but we are still having lots of problems with the villagers stealing wood and they have made it clear that they hate us. Maybe over time this relationship will improve, but for now it needs lots of prayer.

They had a great turnout that night and one family accepted Christ. One man from that village recently moved there and is a Christian. He asked Jimmy and Tutor #4 to please go visit his brother's family in Sayaxché and share with them the Gospel. He said that they have been searching for God. So last Sunday we made the drive out there to hold a little service under their porch.

It was obvious that they the Holy Spirit had been drawing them, they just needed a clear presentation of the Gospel. That afternoon Abelardo and his wife Deysi put their faith in Jesus Christ! If was pretty exciting to get to see.

Afterwards Tutor #4 gave them an MP3 player that Louis Powell had sent down loaded with the Kekchi Bible. Jimmy contacted the Kekchi Baptist church there to follow up on them. They won't be part of our church plant from so far away, but they are part of our family now!

The sweet family made us caldo for lunch.

Jonah and Silas chowed down!

My boys are such little flirts, especially Silas... always talking to the girls.

The other day we heard Jonah and Silas singing together very loudly in the hallway. We looked and they were playing church. Silas had flipped over the tractors to make a podium and was preaching rather passionately with both hands at Jonah who was listening.

Every now and then they would sing a song and then pray. Later Jonah even went to the altar to pray!
Our church services are never in formal settings (usually outside somewhere) and since we got kicked out of Santa Rita we go some place different almost every week. It is so funny to me that they would pick up on all of this. I always make them take their Bibles and tell them we are going to "church", but with all the wrestling they do in our laps during the services I figured they missed all of it... I guess not!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Eden is due in 93 days... yikes! This is what her room looks like right now:
I think she may be living in a pack-n-play in our rental house for a while.

At this point with the boys we unknowingly had 5 more weeks before they would enter the world. Thankfully Eden is right on track though to be a full term baby. Last week we got a great report from my doctor. We got to see a 4D sonogram. He said that she has a beautiful nose! He also commented that this pregnancy could not be going any better, so we are praising the Lord for that!
{Watching her live was a lot more clearer than the printed photo for some reason.}

I have been really enjoying planning Eden's room. I was very uninspired before I knew the sex, but then right after we found out that she is a she I saw these colors:
{Found at Made}

This is the color inspiration for her room. You have to plan things out here since it is a little trickier gathering supplies. Some things I found in Guatemala City, some in Santa Elena, some in our town even, some on the side of the road, and then the rest my mom bubble mailed me. I love the scavenger hunt part of our life.

Jimmy texted me this photo the other day. He bought something from this pile of firewood for about $1.50 that he is making for her room.

I have been learning to do so many new things. This is one of them:
Can you guess what it is?

And this:

And this:
These are the one thing that Jimmy has been giving me grief about, granny squares! He thinks they are super ugly! None of the above photos were for bedding, don't worry I know we live in the tropics!

Here is her bedding:
Just the plum color fabric. It will be sheets for her crib. The woven mustardy yellow fabric will be a floor pouf.

This is my old dresser that Jimmy and I have used since we have been married:
I sort of hate it just because it looks so gothic. I have always wanted to fix it up, but just couldn't decide on anything. Since Jimmy and I will have shelves in our new closet I don't think we will need it anymore.

So these are the plans for this old dresser:
It is a great height for a changing table.

These are the plans for her chandelier:
I hope everything turns out like I picture it in my head! We will see... I have a couple of other projects brewing, I just can't stop. My nesting is on overdrive and I have been sewing like a crazy addict. Clothes for Eden is a whole other post! There will be lots more Been Green posts in the near future. The first one will have to be the beautiful efficient sewing space that Jimmy set up for me for my 30 birthday. I never have posted that. It makes every nap time and free 5 minutes count!

"What does a camel do?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bring Your Own Machete Day!

{Our family on the KBI land}

Two churches sent men to help on Tuesday to start clearing the institute land. The village of Se' Tul (where the radio station is located) sent 8 men and the village where the school's director, Manuel, is from sent 7 men. Domingo, Jimmy and Elías joined also, each with their machetes (Jimmy also brought a bow saw...what a gringo...).
Since Manuel and his wife will be living there permanently we wanted him to choose which plot of land he wanted. The small rectangle next to the main road will be the row of classrooms, the large square will hold 4 students houses each and then each little square will hold a student house as well. The rest of the land will be used for farming projects. Manuel chose the bottom square on the right. That is where the men started clearing first.
{This is what it looked like at the beginning of the day.}

After paying for the meals and the bus trip for all of the men, the price ended being about the same as just hiring 18 men from the village to clear the land for us, but it was very important that these men come and volunteer their time. It is vital that the Kekchi churches here see this Bible Institute as theirs and not as belonging to the white guy. It is true that our supporters gave the money to purchase the land and to buy materials, but in every way that the Kekchi are able to participate, we need to give them that chance. Not only did we get more work done by volunteers committed to the vision, the churches that sent their men now have sweat capital invested in the Institute and will hopefully continue to take responsibility for the project. In 50 years, after we are gone, these churches will still be here and hopefully continuing on with the vision of training Kekchi pastors. The foundation for that vision started today with these men. By the end of the day they had cleared over 35,000 square feet of jungle where we will eventually have roads and the directors' house.
{Taking a break and sharpening machetes. Domingo is in the striped shirt. He is the president of the board of directors}
They chopped down trees with machetes. Not much caution was taken. Several times men would move at the last second just barely avoiding death by falling tree. The other men would laugh. It must be a cultural thing, but we though it was pretty scary.

{Progress by lunch time}

Jimmy arranged for a family in the village that neighbors the land to fix meals for the men. Beans and eggs for breakfast, chicken caldo for lunch and beans and rice for supper.
{Lunch time}

We didn't find out until later that the father of this family was the ringleader for a group of villagers who last month had decided to cross the fence line, cut down our trees, build houses and squat on the land until the government eventually gave it to them. Basically it was a plan to steal our land. In case you think this sounds unlikely to work, the village they live in now used to be part of the land before we bought it that they moved onto and stole. After that the previous owner put a fence around all of his property, but not until after they had stolen 25 acres from him. This is a common tactic among some of the Kekchi. It causes a lot of problems here and is just too much money most of the time to try and get them off once they inhabit it.
{Ladies preparing the food}

You read before that we fired the previous guard, well now we are looking for a new one. He is supposed to start today. Tuesday, Jimmy drove around the property again and found several areas people are still entering the property and stealing wood.
{Barbed wire tied together to be able to re-enter easily}

Not just branches for firewood, but huge 6 and 8 foot diameter trees they are cutting down. To haul it off, they have to cut our barbed wire fence and remove the fence posts to drive their trucks in.
{This was the second time within a 10 minute interval that Jimmy had to close this fence. It is really blatant}

Wednesday, Elías and Domingo were at the land with a chain saw cutting up the rest of the trees that had been felled and setting them aside for firewood. One of the villagers came by and told them to give him one of the stumps. Domingo said no, that they were going to be using it. He said, "Oh, you're not going to give it to me. Ok." Then he walked over, picked up the stump and took it home.

So yesterday Jimmy and Elías went to the police department in San Pancho to ask about driving by a few times a day, just as a deterrent to wood thieves. Here, to get the police to investigate something for you, you have to pay for their gasoline. If you have them do too much, eventually they will ask you to buy them new tires. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine if they shoot somebody for you you would also have to reimburse them for their bullets... but whatever. They were not too interested in helping us but said if we catch somebody in the act of stealing wood, to call them and they would try and get there in time (8 minutes from their police station).

Please pray that the new guard will be at least a deterrent. Soon there will be students living on the property along with lots of projects going on, therefore many more things to steal. This is a problem that has to be addressed before it gets even worse. We were hoping to start a work in this village right away, but they pretty much hate us right now since we are taking over their free wood farm. We were invited into the village on the other side of them and have already held an outreach that I will share about later.

The KBI land is full of all kinds of goodies. We are trying to preserve as many of the trees as possible.
The sap from this tree obviously has been harvested a few times already. It is called Copal (or Pom in Kekchi). It is worth about $2 a pound. It is used as incense for Mayan witchcraft ceremonies and by the Catholic church in place of frankincense.
As our family was walking through it the other day Jimmy was finding all kinds of air plants, vines and other goodies to replant on our forever house land. I love walking through and seeing all of the beautiful things that God made just growing wild.
There are even lots of monkeys on the land. That large black blob hanging on to the tree in the middle of this photo is one of them. There will be plenty of virgin jungle left for them to reside in.
Becca, the boys, and I all stopped by Tuesday to see the progress. It was a muddy mess, so we stopped at the hardware store for Becca to buy rain boots. I don't think there is a man in Petén that doesn't own a black pair of these. Becca bought white which is what all the dairy farmers wear. So we enjoyed giving her a hard time about that!

So here is the progress from the first land clearing day:




Monday, December 12, 2011

Luis & Mayumi's Wedding

We were invited to be a part of the civil ceremony Saturday night for our friends, Luis and Mayumi. (In Guatemala you have to be married by a lawyer.) It was a real honor for us since their friendship means so much to us. Luis owns a tour bus company. Jimmy originally met Luis when he hired him to transport our first team back in '07 and they have been friends ever since.
Mayumi and Luis have two beautiful little girls, Daivery and Fernanda. They have made it a point for us to be involved in their childrens' lives. They decided that in order to be good examples to their girls, they themselves needed to get married. I'm thankful that they love their children that much. Mayumi is a wonderful mother and has a very sensitive heart for the things of God. Luis has helped us so many times since we have moved to Petén. We are very thankful for all that he has done for us over the years. Obviously our constant prayer is that one day Luis would put his own faith in Jesus Christ. He knows that we desire that since Jimmy and he have had many conversations about it, so I think it is ok to share that here.

Since our part in the ceremony involved us actually sitting up front next to the Bride and Groom during the ceremony it really was not possible to take 2 'always on the move' 2 year old boys with us. Becca was so kind to take care of Jonah and Silas for us. They absolutely love her!
{Ever since they got blocks for their first birthday they have been certain that you must wear hard hats while playing with them!}

It was held at Luis' mom's restaurant. This was the entrance.
Everything was beautiful!
This was the table where we sat for the ceremony. The lawyer and the county clerk sat under the arch and Luis and Mayumi sat facing them. I sat next to Mayumi and Jimmy sat next to Luis. They were read the law and then they exchanged rings and signed the big county book. Afterwards we all signed too.
{This photo was taken before the ceremony}
{Luis' mom about to hug him!}
{Luis smiles a lot more in real life than in pictures!}
After the ceremony they served a delicious meal of roasted chicken, rice and some salad, that I am going to try and get the recipe for.
We had a wonderful time and really love Luis, Mayumi, and their beautiful family. Please join us in praying for their family.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where To Live?...

Becca brought down the new point and click camera that Jimmy ordered for me. I really like it so far, but I still need to read about it to use it properly. It takes HD video too, so lots more videos of my boys!

We did a couple of errands while Becca was in the city with us. She was able to see some of what is available there which will be helpful to her when she is packing to move here.

One of the things we accomplished while we were there was narrowing down our housing options for when we live there for the last month of the pregnancy. We thought the professional options might be better than the private ones, so those were the ones we were looking at this trip.

Well... they were not exactly what we had in mind. They didn't completely match the photos online, but that might be based on what was available to show us at the time. We only looked at two, since we are very specific about location due to safety.
The first one was nice enough, but the kitchen was a real eye opener for me. I really do not want my family eating out for a month, for financial reasons AND for health reasons. We have limited space on what we can bring with us, so I really don't want to pack up all of my kitchen and strap it to the roof of our truck for the ride to the capital. There was really nothing in this furnished kitchen. It was a lot more rough than this picture shows.
The rest of the apartment looked very nice.
The real deal breaker though was the best part of the apartment...
All of the bedrooms were upstairs and this was the staircase! It is fabulous! But not ideal or even possible with 2 two year olds... or a 9 month pregnant mommy.
The next placed looked more hopeful from the outside and lobby.
The bathroom was cute and had a tub for the boys!
But this was the deal breaker...
A dorm room kitchen! None of the units have ovens.

So on our next trip In January we hope to look at a couple privately owned options and find something with a real kitchen and even a washing machine. Please pray we can find something that will work for our family. The private ones are cheaper and they actually look nicer online, but we will see...
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