Hello again from Guatemala!
We completed our first day at our work projects yesterday. The rain stayed away for almost the perfect amount of time. We were slated to leave for work about 8am (and left a little late due to transportation delays) and slated to finish work about 3pm (because that is often when the rain begins.) Indeed it started raining almost exactly at 3 so we returned a little wet but having gotten in a full day of work. The electricity at the hotel went off around 3:15 and didn’t come back on until 7:30 so some of us got cold showers, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
I am thankful to report that we have no illness at the moment. Those of you who’ve known about our trips in the past know that we have had many illnesses in past years. We’ve made a few changes to our menu and cleanliness on the site and so far so good. Thanks for praying about that for us; please continue! Also, we had largely a safe day on the sites. JD Roberts hit one of his toes with an axe. A few centimeters one way or the other could have been bad, but as it is, a bandage on his toe is all that is required and we think he will be fine. As we use lots of sharp equipment,, please continue praying for safety for us.
For all our work here in Santiago, we partner with the Alfa y Omega Church in Santiago. Christ Chapel first began working with them about 10 years ago. This year we are partnering with them for two projects so we split our group into two teams of 40.
One group went to The Colony. The Colony is a ministry of the Alfa y Omega Church where they have been building homes for widows, orphans, and homeless. Years ago they recognized that folks who did not own land would never earn enough money to own their own homes as they could barely earn enough money for food. So the church allows people to live in The Colony and tries to help them find jobs so that they can save money to buy their own land and home. There is also now a church at The Colony as well. Due to the mudslides in this area the past year, the number of homeless have increased and flooded the Colony (an increase from 65 last summer when we were here to 178 at one point this spring). They have worked hard to build extra homes and we can see big changes at the Colony compared to last year. All of those displaced by the mudslides who moved into temporary homes on the Colony have now left the Colony for other housing or moved into permanent housing that has been built on the Colony. Malcolm White, Andrew Haverly, and Tyler Roberts tore down the final two temporary shelters on the Colony yesterday. This year our main projects at the Colony are to build a retaining wall to help protect against further mudslides and to clear a new piece of land recently purchased to expand the Colony. We will be cutting down brush, removing stumps, and clearing trash on the land. On this site Brandon Stewart got the nickname lumberjack, and Jordan Young and Slava Seely worked particularly hard. You’ll also see pictures of lots of kids who live at the Colony who we get to play with and share the Gospel with.
The second group yesterday went to an area we first began working on last summer. The youth (and singles) of Alfa y Omega purchased a piece of land that they want to use as an outreach. Their vision is to build a soccer field, basketball court, and hopefully some cabins one day. The only soccer field now in Santiago is an a bad area of town (drugs, etc.) so their desire is that this area will be a retreat for Christian youth as well as an area that they can bring their non-Christian friends. In God’s providence many people will soon be moving to this part of town. Due to the mudslides some areas (including the Colony) are now considered high-risk areas and over the next 6-8 years will be moved to that area of town. A month ago the Alfa y Omega church called and told us that they are planning to name this outreach/retreat area Campamento David in memory of David Phillips, who had been coming to Santiago and working with the church for about 10 years. We are blessed by their kindness to us to honor Dave in that way and even more blessed to be working there this year. Last year we cleared lots of brush and trees there (removing many stumps and rocks). The Christ Chapel college ministry continued the work there in March and we will be leveling the soccer field, moving rocks, and much more this week. I was told that Hayley Holland and Kaylan Lee were amazing workers there yesterday.
Last night we had our group meeting as usual. Andrew Haverly (high school staff) taught about the purpose of missions and shared a lot of information with us about the number of non-Christians across the globe, specifically the third of the world that is “unreached” and has no access to the Gospel in their language and no stable, indigenous church. (Check out www.gmi.org/ow and www.calebproject.org for more info on this.)
Today (Sunday) is our day of rest and relaxation. It’s needed after a day of hard work. More tomorrow.
In Christ alone,
High School Director at Christ Chapel Bible Church