Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I believe it was in the year 2005/6 when Pastor Everts and I started asking questions as to whether we were doing things in Guatemala according to the law. We knew that the laws where changing and we wanted to make sure that we would not get into any hot water for not having the mission complying with local laws. We spoke with AMG and they offered to lend us someone within their organization who could help us. We soon found out that the new laws required non profit organizations to declare their income and expenses in country. Many of these new laws came into place to combat money laundering and other illegal activities. This prompted us not only to organize our bookkeeping locally, but also to look at the assets the mission had in Guatemala like land and buildings. 
During this process we were shocked to discover that the land that the Cubulco church was on had never been registered. The solution at the time appeared fairly simple which was to draw up new papers and have the owner who had sold the land to the mission years earlier sign it for us. However, it ended up not being that simple since the owner had died and the land had been sold to his wife. We approached the lawyer who had apparently handled the original sale, but he was not very cooperative until we threatened to file a complaint against him. He finally agreed to meet with us  and agreed to handle the rest. After many months of inactivity, he finally phoned us one day to tell us that the lady was willing to sign the papers, but that we needed to do it at her house. She was no longer living in Cubulco, but in Zone 18 of Guatemala City. We did not realize at that time that Zone 18 was and is today one of the most dangerous parts of Guatemala City. We went to the lady's house thinking that she was aware of our visit, but it became pretty clear that this was not the case. I think she felt threatened by our visit, and so she called her sons who both came quickly armed with pistols in their belts. It would be an understatement to say that I did not feel very comfortable or safe being there. The lady refused to sign the papers and we left empty handed, but alive. Years went by trying to negotiate with the lady through her lawyer, but nothing came of it. I am pretty sure the lawyer was trying to get her pay off. Finally, in January of 2012 we were able to convince the lady with the help of a "signing bonus" to sign the land transfer title. This was the quickest and least costly route to go, even though it irked me to have to do so. The end of this 6 year ordeal appeared to finally be in sight, but in the land of "tomorrow" this was not the case. It took almost another full year to finally get everything registered. The biggest problem was one of the workers for municipality in Cubulco who kept making mistakes on the documents. After about four tries he finally got it right and in December of 2012 I finally was given the legal title to the church in Cubulco which is a huge relief for me. 
When I studied missions and cross-cultural studies I was never taught about this aspect of the work. It is a part of the work that is necessary although time consuming and cumbersome. I am grateful to those who helped us along the way and I feel that we finally have everything up to par. I am also grateful to the Lord who answered our prayers because for a long time it looked like we would have to pursue this case in court which would have been costly and time consuming.