Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Day 5 

Today was another day of waking up at 6am and almost falling asleep at the breakfast table. The breakfast here has been so good I don't think I’m looking forward to having breakfast in Canada again. Once we finished our meal we got on the bus and made our way to the Catholic Church which is on a mountain. When you get up there you can see a beautiful view of all of Tactic. Les started talking about the Catholic practices, here in Tactic, and it was really sad because instead of praying to Jesus and listening to the holy spirit, they pray to a statue and believe that just by touching it they will have power. Another thing that Les mentioned was that they burn different colour candles which represent blessings, financial help, curses, relationships, etc.

After the our visit to the Catholic Church we went to go for home visits. Devon and Tim both had child sponsors so went went to there sponsored kids houses. It was just amazing how these people live in these small, old, rusty homes and sometimes there are up to 7 people in one little house. When I look at their living conditions compared to mine in Canada I’m so much more grateful for what I have. Lots of the time people don't realize that there are millions of families in poor countries who barely have a roof over their head and we need to appreciate everything that we have.

Once we finished our home visits we had VBS! I just love when we get off the bus and walk into the school, and have all these kids running up to you, and hug you so tight they don't want to let go. Running around and playing games with them is so much fun that I wish I could do it everyday while I’m here in Tactic. When VBS was finished we got on the bus with some other students who helped us and we are making such amazing relationships with them. Sometimes they teach us a little Spanish, or we teach them a little English. I’m going to be extremely sad that we have to say good bye to them tomorrow, but they will never forget us and we will never forget them.

Nadia Rahnumah

Monday, 29 August 2016

Day 4

Our day began very early this morning when our alarms rang at 6:00am.  We met for breakfast at 6:30am and were on our way by 7:15am to go to the Vida Chamche School in Tactic. All the children from the school were lined up on the pathway and up the stairs to the school and gave us the most incredible greeting; the children threw confetti on us, waved and said “hola” as we walked to the gymnasium. The morning devotional was something I have never experienced before. The principal, Juan Carlos led the children in a passionate and inspiring time of devotion.  The children were asked to greet us and within seconds I was surrounded by many kids who were hugging me and smiling. It didn’t take long for me to be captivated by a group of boys in Grade 5 that were in the back row as they were singing and praising the Lord with all their heart and soul. One of the boys was consoling his friend as he cried and worshiped. 

Juan Carlos, the principal asked the kids to join the Canadian guests in prayer and the three boys which I had been watching and two younger boys came running to me, hugged me and these precious children prayed with me and over me. The experience was humbling and brought tears to my eyes.

Juan Carlos shared his personal testimony with us which moved me to tears. The school is very fortunate to have him as a leader.

In the afternoon we went to the Vida Mocohan School for our VBS program. We picked up the Grade 12 students from the Vida Chijacorral School to join us. Upon arriving at the school we were greeted by the students with hugs, kisses and smiles. We broke up into two groups, crafts and games, and spent a very special time with the kids. I enjoyed playing games with the kids and seeing their smiles and hearing them laugh.   

We were joined by Les and Rita for dinner, followed by a debrief meeting with Les. Each of us shared a highlight from the day and Les also shared a personal story about how he impacted on his first trip to Guatemala.

As I reflect upon the day I am grateful and inspired about the leaders in the Guatemala community and God’s kingdom.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

We survived another day! Today was so amazing. It is my favourite day so far. The girls and I got up at 7:00am for an 8:00am pancake breakfast. Wearing our Sunday clothes we headed down to the church. The service was surreal. Les Peters provided us with some sort of tecky box and headphones. Les stood in the back of the church and as the Pastor was preaching Les would translate into a microphone and only our group could hear him. I don't know why but i got super pumped about that the night before. Personally i sang alone in Spanish with the words on the screen. Thank goodness i took Spanish in school and learned how to pronounce things. During the sermon i took out my headphones and just listened to the pastor in his own tongue. I find Spanish to be the most beautiful and hypnotizing language in the world. Even though i have almost no clue what people are saying i could listen to it all day. After church we went for lunch at a restaurant and then came home. About half an hour later we got a property tour from Les and then we went to their house for cookies and juice. After that we had gone to meet the teenage students from the school and had prepared an entire evening for just us. They had been planning this for two weeks. As we walked in they set off fireworks! We greeted each person traditionally as they do. Girls kiss girls on the right cheek. Men shake hands with men and Girls to boys shake hands. they led us through many different activities. They had provided traditional clothing for us to wear, and we tasted traditional food. Also we had learned the process of making corn and planted some seeds as well. We played some games and had dinner that they had made for us fresh. Throughout the evening we sang some praise songs in Spanish. During dinner all the teenagers were bonding. Kira and i sang the cup song and taught two of the guys the Cup song from Pitched Perfect. We succeeded! After we got out of our traditional clothes and went home. Today was a very spiritual day and i loved it. i would love to live here.

Alanna Burkholder.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

We have survived our second full day in Guatemala! The girls and I all fell asleep around 11:30, and we had an early morning ahead of us… Breakfast was at 7:00, so that means the girls were up at 5:45 taking showers and doing makeup. But I slept in until Juliana hit me with a pillow at 6:30… 5:30 Vancouver time. By that time everyone was awake and getting ready for the day. 

We had heard whispers of a scavenger hunt the night before, they were true. We spent a few hours wondering around the market in Tactic trying to buy various items and some team members were struggling to speak Spanish to the vendors. Tim, knowing the fun man he is, just walked around the square holding a large pineapple and mini watermelon in his arms… no bag, a few Guatemalan boys saw him and giggled and tried selling him a bag, again knowing Tim, he declined. My team ended up winning the scavenger hunt because we got all the bonus points… like holding a live chicken, getting a shoe shine and sining the Canadian national anthem on a bridge!
After market place fun, was construction time, our first “work” activity. We loaded cinder blocks onto the flatbed of a large truck, drove up the hill, then unloaded them up top. We repeated that process twice. The men who were helping us were tossing these cinder blocks to each other and we just passed them down a line to the pile. Lots of scratches and sore muscles, but worth it all the way! We were helping build a new guest house for the staff of Impact Ministries. 

After lunch we hopped in the van and drove 45 minutes to the city of Coban, where we visited the hospital. We handed out stuffed toys to the children in paediatrics and prayed for them all, the best part about that was seeing the smiles on the kids faces when they got a stuffy. After that we moved over to the maternity ward, where we handed out care packages to the mothers, and several asked for prayers for health of their child or just prayer in general. We ended our visit to the hospital with a quick (or not so quick) trip to the nursery, for the newborns. My personal highlight of that stop was seeing this one baby girl who was 1 hour old! We weren't allowed to hold her, but we did get the chance to hold many little boys. Alanna would not let go of this one baby, too cute. 

On our way back “home” we stopped at an ice-cream shop, that was a pleasant surprise. But back to the van ride… It Was Loud!! The girls in the back liked to sing and joke around, and I just wanted to take a nap… like I did on the way up to the hospital. But when we did get back to the guest house, it was time for dinner, yummm. 

Thank you for all your prayers

-Kira Johnson 

Friday, 26 August 2016

We have all arrived safely at the guesthouse in Tactic. Everyone is a little tired, but that just means that the youth girls have been giggling uncontrollably. 
We arrived in Guatemala City late last night and slept at a Seminario Teologico de Centroamerica. Alanna bravely killed the spider that had made its home on my bed. Once this act of heroism was accomplished, we all got ready and went to sleep. Ok…so saying that youth went to sleep is a bit of an overstatement. We all went to bed and after about an hour or so the chortling died down. But then, just as Devon and I were about to go to sleep, two youth girls came through the door into our room to tell us jokes. We did eventually get to sleep…eventually. When we woke in the morning, Devon and I looked into one of the girls’ rooms, and Kira was sleeping while sitting upright and leaning forward on her hand. Go figure.
In the morning we spent a little bit of time in Guatemala City. Les took us on a tour of one of the colonial Catholic churches and explained to us how the Colonials on the sixteenth century blended Christianity with the local religion on order to bring everyone under the control of the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish king. In the cathedral we visited there was a statue of Jesus on the cross, and Jesus was black in colour. This was an example of the blending of the local religion with the Catholic teachings. The local religion has a deity that is black in colour, and they blended this god with Jesus in order to exert their control and bring people under the rule of Catholicism.
While in the city square we happened upon a parade. Guatemala’s independence day is in September, and the people are already celebrating. There were a few marching bands that went by and many of the participants were teenagers. There were also many venders selling Guatemalan flags. Les told us that on their actual independence day everyone waves a flag in a display of patriotism. 
After a short time in Guatemala city we all packed into two large vans and drove through the mountains and valleys to get to Tactic. At one point on the drive, Les pointed to a deep valley through the window and told us that this is where two tectonic plates meet. The two plates converging created a deep valley. The ride up was beautiful. There were so many trees with bright, colourful blooms and many rows of corn growing along the hillside.
All of us were delighted when we arrived at the guesthouse. After two days of spending hours and hours travelling, it is great to be at our destination. Now we’re off to have dinner with Les, Rita, and our house hosts. We’re all looking forward to the adventures ahead. We know God has some amazing experiences in store. 

Thank you for all the love, support, and prayers,


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Heading out soon... ...again

Hi Folks

Well, we're getting down to the wire here and about to head down to Tactic, Guatemala, again with Impact Ministries.  There are 11 of us heading down, and we'll be serving together in Children's Ministry, hard labour, and sharing in an evangelism service with one of the local churches.

We will again be posting blogs here, hopefully for most days, about all the activities and adventures we'll be up to.

Please hold us in your prayers as we serve and relate with the folks in Guatemala.