Sunday, June 24, 2018

Guatemala Trip Photos and Reflections (June 2018)

The trip that almost didn't happen. 

After several obstacles including a country change, flight changes, and a volcano eruption that threatened to cancel the trip, we finally arrived in Guatemala on June 4, 2018 to work with Students International in Magdalena.

Our Greenville Group
Brian Reinhard, Trey Brockman, Anna and Kim Brannon, Maria Reinhard

I was assigned to work with the microfinance program.  We visited several homes to connect with the people, and encourage them through financial counseling, Bible study, prayer, and assistance with home improvements, and business projects. I was encouraged as I watched Pastor Gerbert, the site leader, compassionately interact with the people. He is an accountant who loves Jesus and desires to see people grow in faith as they learn ways to support their families. We all shared stories and testimonies, and encouraged each other throughout the trip.

Angelica and Pastor Gerbert at her home.

As we worked alongside the people I was reminded of the simple things we take for granted:

#1 - Water tight homes, pre-sifted sand, good wheel barrows, and easy access to water.

This is Angelica's home.
She requested a loan to raise chickens. She has created a successful business but still struggles to make ends meet.  With two handicapped children and an alcoholic husband life is challenging.
We took a day to hand mix concrete to pour across the front of her house
where water seeps through soaking the kid's beds.

Many steps and many people were involved in this concrete project. 
We bagged our own sand at a local hardware shop.

Loaded the bags in the trunk of Gerbert's tiny car making for a bumpy ride back to our work site.
His son nicknamed the car, McQueen. It miraculously moves through tight spaces, cobblestone streets, and rocky roads. Much prayer precedes each ride.

Cleared ground first.

Picked out rocks and sifted sand.

Mixed sand and cement in a rusty, holey wheelbarrow.
         We made it work!

When we ran out of water Angelica's husband Luis decided it was time to help out. Water is a precious commodity in this poor community. They only receive water twice a week for 20 minutes at a time.  Each home collects as much possible when the water is running. 

Then Luis decided he could help too.
What an honor it was to participate in acts of service that go above and beyond handing out money. The best part was seeing Angelica's husband get involved after he sat watching for quite awhile.
Taking ownership, not hand outs, is always best.

Coming alongside the people and working with them, not just for them is a beautiful thing.

God, may this simple act of service lead Luis to faith in Christ and freedom from addiction.
Bring hope and continued help to this family.

Simple things we take for granted:
#2 - Paper and Markers

We helped make new signs for Sonya's home business.  She sells ice cream, shampoo, beauty products, and eggs. This as an example of the added personal touch that Students International brings to each community they serve. They build relationships and provide ongoing support
to those who request loans through their program. Big banks don't do that.
SI takes time to teach people how to manage their money. Big banks don't do that.


                                                    New Sign #1   Thank you, Kyndell!

Lord, Give Sonya strenth and prosper her business so she can care for her family.
Bless her so she can be a blessing to others. 

Simple things we take for granted:
#3 -  Good paint brushes and rollers.

    Maria has taken several loans through SI's loan program and has successfully repaid each one
in a timely manner. Her next loan will be used to purchase chickens. 
Raphael and Maria with their grandchildren.
Raphael's eyesight is failing and he lives with a crippled arm due to
a previous injury during his time in the military.


Gerbert (microfinance site leader), Omar (summer intern), and pastor Mario
helped build the chicken coup while we painted Maria's tiny kitchen.

Painting - Before

We brightened their day, and their kitchen, with a simple act of kindness, bad brushes and all.


Maria's grandson, Wilder, was ALL IN with us, bless his heart! That's 'ownership'. 
I had to step back and allow the process. It was killing me to watch his clean clothes become full of paint...and then the hair. He didn't care, and neither did grandparents. Made for great photos. Ha ha!

Wilder's mother abandoned him and his 2 siblings leaving them in the care of his grandparents.
Lord, have mercy! 
Prosper their business and provide for all that is needed for the family;
food, education, and medical care for Maria's husband, Raphael.

Simple things we take for granted:
#4 - Chocolate Chip Cookies

I brought bags of chocolate chips and taught the ladies' groups
how to make chocolate chip cookies.
Gerbert is going to turn it into an accounting lesson.
They will need to count the cost to determine if it can be a profitable business.
We had to bring the oven to each place we visited.

 The kids loved to watch them bake.

Fighting flies, with animals underfoot, crammed into a small bedroom/living room
with 10 people was quite interesting.
(rabbits, dogs, children, adults, and even a pet turtle)


The cookies were definitely a hit!

Lord, Bless these efforts even if they find that Chocolate Chip Cookies are not a profitable business. May you inspire them to think of something they CAN do to earn income and bless others.

At the Social Work Site

This is Darling, the daughter of Berta who is learning how to sew at the Social Work site. I enjoyed spending one morning with them to see their work and place a special order for aprons. 
The women are learning how to sew projects they can sell to earn income.

Bible study, prayer, and sharing life stories is part of the daily schedule at each site. 


I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in an outreach with Students International in Guatemala and will miss our host mom's hospitality, cooking, and beautiful garden.


Lord, bless Rafaela and give her strength as she hosts guests throughout the year, and make a way for us to return next summer for more opportunities to serve and build relationships.


Contact me if you would like to participate in a future outreach.