Just the Beginning
This last week was our two year anniversary of being here in Guatemala! We can't believe it's already been two years! It's been amazing to see all God has done in these past two years, we can look back and see how incredibly blessed we have been. Both here in the ministry and in the change God has done in us personally, and we know it's only just the beginning! There is so much we wouldn't have chosen to go through, but looking back we are amazed that those things, are what have changed us the most. We are also humbled that our thoughts of what God sees as important in ministry, have been so simplified. We have been blessed to see His heart of love for the people here, and we see more and more how all He wants is for us to be tools in drawing people closer to Him.
The Shoe Factory
The shoe factory is thriving, we've been able to give away hundreds of pairs of shoes to children in need. And just recently Family Christian Stores, who have become more and more involved in what God's doing here in Chichi, are now selling our shoes in several of their stores! It's been great progress for us, we've been able to provide more jobs in our local community and fund the giving away of more shoes!
Progress on the Girls Home
The girl's home is now painted, and basically furnished (I've included a picture of the finished product!), in fact last week we started a fire in the fireplace and had the first group have a time of sharing and prayer there. We are looking forward to completing the licensing, so we can open the doors to welcome that first girl! We have been in communication with Bethany Christian Services, who have offered to help us with professional staff as well as programs to help give these precious girls the tools they're going to need to lead whole, healthy lives.
A New Project
We've also recently started a new program, which has been something Andrew has been wanting to do since we've been here. It is now an option for the groups, that come here to serve, alongside the usual building of widow homes, to install very efficient wood cook stoves. We've been going back to the widow homes that are already built and installing these stoves, with great success and much positive feedback. It has, thus far, been an amazing project and the benefits of these stoves are economic, a widow will spend a large portion of her income on firewood (to heat the house, as well as to cook food). With this stove she will use 60% less wood per month. They also have health benefits, according to the medical community here in Guatemala, one of the major causes of the high percentage of upper respiratory problems, as well as cataracts, is the very poor ventilation of the typical stoves. These new stoves are well ventilated, therefore help to prevent these problems. Another benefit is that here in the mountains of Guatemala, about 9 months of the year, it can be both cold and damp, with this stove these widows will be able to heat their homes without the worry of not having enough money for other essential needs. Lastly we also get the opportunity to go back into these widows homes and once again share with them the love of Jesus and be a tool for the Lord to use to share His message of hope.
Andrew and I's main focus these past two years, besides all these wonderful projects, have been our amazing staff. We have had the God ordained opportunity to be involved in the many lives of the people who we work side by side with every day. That has been our greatest victory, to see them walking closer with the Lord and having more peace in their lives. To have the relationships where they have welcomed us into not only their work lives, but personal lives as well, to be a part of their joys as well as struggles. We couldn't ask to be more fulfilled in what God has set our hands to do. We once again want to recognize all of you who make it possible for us to be here serving. We couldn't do it alone and wouldn't want to. We love that we've had so many of you come alongside us.
A Possible Next Step
Something else we've been excited to share with you all is I've been praying about attending a midwifery program. It's something I've been praying about for a while now and am waiting for God's timing and provision. It's through an on line school so I would take classes on line and intern at one of the clinics either here in Chichi or in Quiche, which is the closest 'big' town to us. I've been very burdened for the women here, watching them often receive poor local prenatal care. Also we're always looking for an opportunity to be more involved in the community and for me to be able to build more close relationships with the women here. Please be praying with us as we seek God's heart in this. It would be quite an undertaking for us, so we only want to continue to pursue this if it is God's perfect will. We love and miss you all, and if you have to opportunity we would be so blessed to hear what God has been doing in your lives.