Friday, August 27, 2010

First Week at AMG

This was Nico's first week at AMG.  He is excited about working with them.  They have a great team of very capable Guatemalans (like Alex in the picture) and one gringo Brian Dennett (also in the picture) who work passionately for the organization.   It is a real blessing to work with people who want to give back to God and the community.  Many of the staff are former students.  AMG's main focus is helping around 7500 children who live in poverty get a good quality education in a Christian environment.  AMG sponsors these children by providing them with education, food, and some health care like medical checkups, vaccines, and dental.  Apart from education AMG is also involved in the medical field.  They run a hospital in Cubulco and have several clinics in some of their other projects  Nico's  main focus will be filling a role as the PMEL officer.  PMEL stands for Planning, Measuring, Evaluating, and Learning.  This is a new role required by Woord en Daad to be used in the projects they sponsor.   Woord en Daad is the biggest sponsor that AMG has. Since it is a new role there is no one at the office that can really help him understand exactly what it is he needs to do.  Having said that there is plenty that he can do to prepare himself for the role.  One of the first things he will be doing is visiting the projects that AMG has and learning about each of them and how the organization functions.  After that he will be going to a training seminar either in Guatemala or Haiti towards the end of October.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jesse is 3!!!

While we were in Cubulco, Jesse turned 3 years old on August 15.  Since his birthday was on Sunday we decided to have his birthday party on Monday.  Lia invited some kids from the church and friends to a little birthday party.  We had cake and broke a pinata full of candy.  Jesse was spoiled with presents from his friends.  Jesse is really growing.  He is still a little skinny, but he is eating a lot and starting to fill out a bit.  He seems to be quite content here in Guatemala.  In Canada it was hard for us to leave him.  For instance he did not want to go to the babysit during church.  However, here in Guatemala he has no problem with us leaving him in the babysit at the Central Presbyterian church where all the people are strangers and do not speak English.

Our Visit to Cubulco

After our week in the city we spent more than 3 weeks in Cubulco.  During the time there Nico spent most of his time visiting the projects and meeting with the workers of each project.  As mission we are involved with a number of projects.  Our main focus for many years has been working with the Reformed churches of Cubulco.   The churches currently are without a pastor, although we have one man  Pastor Carlos) who comes every other week to pastor the church.  For the rest we have local leaders who are leading the churches.  Another one of our main focuses for many years has been translating the Old Testament into the indigenous dialect Achi.  Our final project is something that we started around 3-4 years ago which has to do with education.  Initially we started by sending teachers to the government schools in the aldeas (mountain villages) where we have churches.  Most schools in Guatemala especially in the rural areas are understaffed.  Some only have 1 teacher for grades 1-6.  So our sending of extra teachers really helps the communities.  The latest addition to the education project are two education centres.  The purpose of these centres is to provide children who are in grades 1-6 with a positive Christian environment so that they can get help with their homework. 
Apart from seeing and meeting with the different projects Nico was also invited to preach at a special service in Pachijul where the community was inaugurating a new school building.   Normally one would have to cross the famous 276 metre long suspension bridge in Chitomax, but the bridge is no longer there.  During the recent tropical storm Agatha the bridge was destroyed.   In order to cross the river you have to pay someone Q2.00 (25 cents) to take you in a small skiff.  The picture was taken from the place where the bridge is supposed to be.  The government supposedly has promised to rebuild the bridge, but this is yet to be seen.  There are plenty of more important bridges to be rebuilt or repaired all over Guatemala which were either damaged or completely destroyed during Agatha. 
We had a good time in Cubulco reconnecting with friends and members of the church.  Please continue to pray for the work especially that God would provide a pastor for the church.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Finally Settled

We are finally settled!!!!  Although we arrived in Guatemala well over a month ago, it was not until last week Thursday that we finally moved into our rental home.   The first thing we did after we arrived was to look at a number of houses available for rent.  After a week of looking we finally settled on a house that was not yet completed, but would be done in 2 weeks according to the owner.   The house was small, but it had amenities that would suit our family like security, playground, swimming pool and basketball hoops.  However, a few days before we were supposed to take possession we were told that the house would not be ready in time.  The owner was willing to let us move in and would not charge us rent for 2 weeks.  Needless to say we did not want to rent an unfinished house.  Instead, we told the owner that we were no longer interested and instead we called the owner of the first house we had looked at and the one we loved the most to see whether or not it was still available.  The reason why we had not taken this house was because we felt that it was not as secure since there is no guard.  Safety is a big issue in Guatemala and for this reasons most people live in gated communities.  This house is not in a gated community, but Lia and I both felt that this was the house that God wanted us to rent.  We had been praying for months about the housing situation.  The owners of the house are missionaries and they had been praying for some time to find the right people to rent the house out to.  When they had seen my posting on the Guatemalan missionary bulletin they contacted us and sent us pictures.  Other people sent us responses as well, but this house stood out to us.  I felt then already that this was the house for us, but I resisted the gentle nudging because of the safety aspect.  Therefore, we initially decided not to take the house.  In the end here we are in this exact same house, because the other arrangement fell through.  I felt a  bit reprimanded through the whole process, because we were making decisions out of fear and not out of faith.  The fact of the matter is that if God wants something to happen to us it will happen whether we are living in a gated community or not.  This does not mean that we should live recklessly because this is irresponsible and wrong.  At the same time living in fear is just as wrong.   We are very happy in our new home and we do feel secure.  God has given us a sense of peace and we trust Him for our security.