Saturday Post

We are just getting back to the base at midnight, which is 2:00am Grand Rapids time.  As you can imagine, we are all a bit tired – it’s been quite an emotionally draining, yet Spiritually uplifting week so far.  It has been truly amazing to see how God has worked in the lives of our team, but more importantly in changing lives for His Eternal Kingdom.  As you read our update from yesterday, we experienced something similar yet different.  The morning was a slower morning as we woke a little later, spent time in personal devotions, prepared for the medical clinic by sorting medication, making sandwiches and packaging bags of Beans and Rice for the families.  We also had group devotions together where we shared “God Sightings”, sang songs together and were led and challenged by digging deeper into Matthew 14:13-21 (Jesus feeds the 5,000).  We were challenged to bring everything we have to Jesus just like the little boy who brought his 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus – he didn’t know the outcome but yet he trusted in Jesus.  Jesus is asking us if we will be that one child and completely trust Him – to first come to Him and then go.  Time with the Father is what we need each and every day.

At noon, after our “Guatemalan Prayer”, we loaded the vans and headed towards our first Medical village.  It was deep in the mountains and was quite the drive to get there.  The village we were originally going to be at, decided at the last minute that they didn’t want our help, but God had other plans.  He opened up another village up and down and up and down very bumpy roads way back in the mountains.  The people there were very glad to see us.  It was a different culture than what we experienced in our building village as they were of Mayan descent.  We unloaded the vans, set up shop and began passing out much needed medical supplies to the families.  Meanwhile, our kids kept their kids entertained by throwing frisbies, balls, making bracelets, painting fingernails and a copycat game.  It was quite the sight seeing Don Owen painting little girls fingernails (we have pictures :).  As it began to get darker, we showed The Jesus Film, our team sang songs and shared testimonies and then the Gospel message was given.  Many souls were won for the Lord tonight.  The people heard about hope, which is something they desperately need in their lives.  Anything we had to offer them, they almost devoured, so we had to learn a new way to distribute gifts.  It was a little shocking to us, but it shows their desperation.  Hopefully the men that came forward to accept Christ can begin to influence this village so that more can come to know the Hope we have in Christ.  One extra blessing to these people is that they received their very own copy of The New Testament – praying God’s Word will open their eyes more and give them the Hope they need.

Thanks for covering us in your prayers – we feel them and know that the prayers of God’s people will not return void, that the powers of darkness flee and tremble at the sound of His name and that Heaven is rejoicing because many people have decided to follow Jesus.  We are so proud of all of your kids – they are incredible kids who are doing a tremendous job and most importantly, growing closer to our Lord.  God is Good!



Friday Update…a little late!

Sorry we couldn’t update all of you last night! There were some computer issues…little hard to get reliable internet service in the middle of a mountain! AND, we have so much to tell you because yesterday was such an amazing, incredible day FULL of God’s Presence! We could certainly feel your prayers as we went and dedicated the homes we built.

While I can’t capture all of what our team experienced, let me try to give you a brief look at what we experienced. When we arrived in our village they had “rolled out the red carpet” for us….Guatemala red carpet is pine needles on the ground, balloons and streamers. An absolutely beautiful sight because of the sacrifice of time and money it cost our friends.

We started at Family One and the team that built the house went inside to give them a suitcase of presents from our group…donations that many of you sent it! It was like Christmas for the family, but these weren’t  the best gifts they received that day! The families shared a word of thanks to each team…all of them were overwhelmed with the sacrifice we made to come to their village to help. They were grateful and many were moved to tears, which is not a common thing among the Guatemalan men. Next, our kids all shared a word to the family…everyone spoke and our only wish is that all of you could have heard what your children shared. They did an amazing job…many were moved to tears throughout the entire time. Next, the pastor gave the salvation message to the families. Throughout this time the remainder of the team was circled outside of the home praying out loud…singing praises…sharing scripture. It was POWERFUL and in each home the families accepted Christ as their SAVIOR! No more “religion”….they now have a relationship with Jesus Christ, the SON OF GOD. The Holy Spirit was present and it was powerful….our kids shared afterward that it was unlike anything they have ever experienced. Adult leaders felt the same way. And, we did this for ALL FIVE houses. The kids NEVER lost focus and the Holy Spirit always showed up.

Needless to say, it was very hard for us to leave our village. There were many tears shed as we said goodbye to the new friends we made…grandpas, dads, moms and children all left an impression on our heart that will never leave.

Hopefully the internet will stay working so you can hear more from your own child about the impact yesterday had on their life. If not, be sure to ask them when they get home. And know this, EVERY team member has done an amazing job here….you should be very proud of your sons and daughters. We are and are so grateful to be serving with them!


Day 3

Good news! The internet is working here today so hopefully you will see some individual updates! But, it will be hard to ask the kids to come in from the orphanage or from their soccer game to blog, so we will give a short update about our day here. We spend our second day in the village where we added stucco to each house and then painted the inside. We had a lot of “help” from the village children, but turns out our faces were more fun to paint then the walls! We are trying to get pictures posted up here, but it is not easy!

After a delicious authentic lunch, we began adding detail to the inside of our houses…they are covered in scriptures, pictures and pretty designs. Some of the families helped and many children stepped in to add some color, too!

Probably one of the best highlights from today is when our van was getting ready to pull out and like usual, we gathered to pray ( if you have driven on the roads here, you would understand how important prayer before driving is!!). Today, all of the children ran out to hold our hands and pray with us! It will be hard to say goodbye to them tomorrow!

We are wrapping up free time now, and will then gather together for another night of devotions. It has been wonderful praising God together and hearing a challenging message from Dan each night. Tomorrow is a big day as we go and pray for our families and dedicate their homes, so we appreciate the prayer support from home! Thanks!

A Wonderful Day of Wonders

Hello Family and Friends,

Today was an amazing day as we began building 5 houses for 5 amazing families. We actually are the first team to begin building in this village with a goal of building 90 homes over the next 2 years. Our day began at 5:30 with breakfast waiting for us, personal devotion time and Guatemalan Prayer (everyone praying out loud at the same time) before we drove 45 minutes on very bumpy and hilly roads to our village that is only 1 mile away as the crow flies.

When we arrived, the people were so excited and greeted us with smiles, a welcome and a prayer. We then broke up into our 5 building groups and got to work. Here is a glimpse of what each group experienced today:

Team Raymond and Bennet – Jodi, Jon, KaZya, Robby, Claire, Ben –The home we built was the farthest away from where we were dropped off. We were led down a long trail, through some trees, corn fields and up a hill to the location where we would spend our day. We met Daniel our Guatemala “helper” who showed us the ropes. We also met the family that we were building for and they assisted us throughout the day along with several small kids from the area. KaZya played with the kids, experienced power tools and hammered nails into the concrete floor! Robby worked hard all day assembling the frame, installing hardware and helping wherever he was needed. Claire’s fingers were sore from holding all the metal pieces in place and she looked like a ghost at the end of the day from sanding dry wall mud. Ben had a power drill in his hand all day from start to finish. Though we didn’t think we had any Spanish speaking helpers on our team we soon found out that Ben and Kazya were holding out on us. They helped us communicate with the family which was awesome! It was a great day!!

Team Johnston- Brooke, Josh, Jessica, Nate , Michaela & Sierra- rocked it today. They were hard working and super fun. Josh may have a future in construction as he was king of the drill. Jessica & Michaela were also very handy and drilled, hammered, sanded the day away with a smile on their face the whole time. Sierra was great at mudding and sanding, too. BUT, the highlight for our team was sneaking away from our work to go talk to the audience of children watching us. Nate’s best part of the day was teaching the children how to use the power drill….he had a lineup of little boys just waiting to drill a screw into the table. We also taught them how to play Duck, duck, goose and they loved it! They are super excited that we are coming back tomorrow….especially since we promised candy! J

Team Hansma and Theeuwes – Steve, Kim, Rachel, Allie, Taylor & Noah – really rocked it today J. Our fearless leader, Anya who is a tri-lingual, Russian body builder, cage fighter and all of 90 pounds pushed us hard today as our group got the farthest in the building process as well as helped all of the other teams complete their work for the day! Noah was a hard worker helping Steve work on the metal roof for our porch as well as the other team’s porches. They also attached all of the cement board to the outside of the home. The girls learned how to use power drills screwing in thousands of screws through-out the course of the day. We also all became master dry-wallers attaching all of the drywall to the walls, taping the seams, mudding and sanding 3 times. In fact, when we were done sanding, we looked like we were covered in snow.  Our family is the largest aging from 74 to 3 years old. It was so cute as they were anxiously watching us and then finally decided to work with us all day assisting us in holding chairs/ladders so we wouldn’t fall, offering us water and Pepsi and “inspecting” our work. The children poked their faces in to spy on us a few times. We are so excited to work with them tomorrow and continue to build relationships with the families in this village.

Team Owen Squared – Consist of Tim, Don, Sienna, Hannah, Jennie, and Jake. We woke up at 5:30 (yes am) and started our day with a great breakfast of eggs and Frioles. Obviously, the staff didn’t know Ludge, what were they thinking serving refried beans for breakfarts. After a 40 minute ride over very bumpy, steep mountain roads we arrived at the village that we would be working at for the next three days. We worked with Pablo which was a small problem because he didn’t speak English. Luckily Jennie could interpret well enough to tell us what to do. Everyone began the day by working on building the walls. We all worked the power tools and by 10:30 we had four walls up. Next we nailed the walls to the cement and I had a great 5 year old little boy helping me with the hammer. Dry wall was next , followed by taping the joints and mudding. The whole team worked hard on this with help from the Grandpa that will be moving in to our house when it’s finished. We broke for lunch and enjoyed a meal of freshly made tortillas, rice and, you guessed, Black Beans. In the afternoon 5 helpers, ages 4 -9 showed up and helped us sand dry wall. Our best sanding went up only three feet. We finally had to make them stop when they started sanding into the drywall. We finished the day by putting cement board on the outside and a roof over the patio. We all had a hard time keeping up with 76 year old on our team. Great Day!

Team Ludge – Ludge, Tyler, Luke, McKenna, Emma & Amy – A very early start to the day at 5:30am with breakfast and personal devo’s , then headed to the village for our first day of house building. The whole team pitched in running drills putting the walls together. Once all the walls were done up they went to frame in the house. McKenna and Luke ran the drills while Tyler and Emma lined up the dry wall, Amy came through and put the finishing screws in. Ludge cut the sheets to size. After we had the inside dry wall all hung it was outside for most of the team. Ludge and Emma stayed inside and started mudding. The outside went up fast, was inspected and the porch was put on. Then Tyler and Luke went with Dan from Paradise Bound to help the other teams with their outside walls. Emma, McKenna, Amy, and Ludge stayed and sanded and put another coat of mud on the interior walls. There was thunder in the distance but it never rained, God is so good. We then cleaned up the work sight and got ready to head home. I (Ludge) rode in the back of the van on the way back to base. After hitting my head on the ceiling of the van 5 times I braced for a rougher ride. WOW I will NOT complain about Michigan pot holes again. After arriving back at base everyone was ready for a nice warm shower, we got the showers just not so warm. 🙂

going coastal

Hello family and friends! As you know our morning started off super early, but we are happy to say we made it here with no problems at all (in fact we had ten minutes to spare in Grand Rapids!) and we have had a great first day. The country of Guatemala is beautiful and the ride to Paradise Bound was interesting and quite bumpy.  The highlight was when we were able to throw candy out the van window to the children on our way to the base.  They ran out to meet us and yelled for candy.  We couldn’t say no to their sweet faces!  When we arrived at the beautiful mission base we got right to work. The kids unpacked 22 extra bags of supplies and separated them for the week ahead. Several boys finished building a playhouse for the kids on base and just about everyone in our group (except for two boys- Tyler and Luke- but we wont mention any names:) )  enjoyed holding the babies in the orphanage. Several team members may have a hard time saying goodbye to the babies at the end of the week (Kim, Taylor, Allie and Ben)! Bonds formed pretty quickly!

We also just wrapped up our first night of powerful devotions from Mark 10:46-52. All of us have been challenged to answer the question, “What do you want God to do for you?”  Tomorrow morning in our personal devotions we will spend time talking to God about our answer to that question.

We are all pretty exhausted tonight so look for more updates from individuals tomorrow and some pictures so you can see what we are up to! 

Ways you can pray for us tomorrow…

– We begin building in a brand new village tomorrow. We will be the first team to show up, so please pray for all of the details to fall into place. Please pray for relationships with the families we are serving to develop and for safety as our team works.

– Pray that God would continue to challenge us during the devotional times.

Thank you!