November 19, 2012

12,375 Feet in the Air

On any clear, or somewhat clear day the Santa Maria volcano can be seen in the background of Xela:

Santa Maria peaks at 12,375 feet above sea level. Xela is 7,655 feet above sea level, making the trip from Xela to peak 4,720 feet for a bird. Unfortunately, the trail would not be as straight for us: it would take us about 25,000 footsteps total to go up and down the very winding mountain trail. 

Our plan was to hike the volcano during the night so that we could watch the sunrise at the top. While these hopes were not completely fulfilled due to a few interesting events (including getting lost and trudging through the jungle at night to find the right trail), we still made it to the top and were able to enjoy the amazing views as the weather was perfectly clear. This was also another item to cross off of our Guatemala Bucket List.

Check out a few of our pictures...

 Supplies for the long journey.

It was great to look over our shoulder during the trip and see Xela at night.

While we didn't watch the sunrise from the top, it was still breathtaking.

Finally at the top. The sharp peaks in the distance are 5 other volcanoes about 2 hours away.

Santa Maria's shadow cast in the morning.

A beautiful view.

Collin looking over Xela.

Santiaguito: the active volcanoe right below Santa Maria. It constantly errupts and blows smoke.

My favorite view: our volcano neighbors.

Proof we were at the top.

Smiling with glassy was pretty chilly up there...hovering around freezing.

Such a perfectly clear day.

Head back down the mountain. Checking out Xela and the wild terrain nearby.

Santa Maria from the bottom. Hard to believe we were at the top!

Thanking God for beautiful weather, safety, and a working lungs and legs.

Grace and Peace,

November 13, 2012

Church at its Finest

Thank you. 
I thank God every time I remember you. 

Thank you for showing your support. 
I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel. 

Thank you for praying for us. 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 

Thank you for giving. 
He who sows generously will also reap generously. 

Thank you for helping our friends. 
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. 

Thank you for caring. 
If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 

Thank you for showing us “church” at its finest. 
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 

Seriously, thank you. 
I have never stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
It has been exactly one week since we asked for your help, the help of our fellow siblings in Christ here and there and everywhere. In only one week, your donations have fully covered our friend’s reimbursement to the phone company after being robbed; your donations contributed to our co-worker’s wife’s surgery; and, your donations will cover a little more than 10 months of medical bills for our friend and his leg disease. In only one week we have received many emails of encouragement and prayer for us and for our friends.

Church at its finest. 

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 

When we delivered the money to our first friend mentioned, she was still quite shook up from being robbed. She said it was awful as she not only had to deal with her emotions from the event, but also had the stress of having to pay back the phone company for all of the stolen minutes that she was supposed to sell. But she said that after it happened, she prayed over and over for a miracle to happen. She knew that God would provide for her somehow. 

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith? 

You were that miracle, through your prayers and donations. She says, “May God bless you as much as you have blessed me.”

Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given only what comes from your hand.

Grace and Peace,

November 7, 2012


7.4 on the Richter scale. One event in a few different perspectives…

 First Graders

I felt scared and saw it move. I think it was going to fall. And I heard bump. And it was an earthquake.

We was reading a book and I move and a earthquake came a big, big, big, big, big earthquake. The class move and I was scared and I think everything fell. 

We do the triangle of life. I feel a earthquake. I hear a chair fall down. I think the roof will fall. I saw the class move. 
Assuming the "Triangle of Life" position.

Today I felt an earthquake. I felt scared. I think that the roof fall down. I saw Mrs. Broekhuis by me. I heard a crash and some screams. 

Today was an earthquake. The class shake. I was afraid. The class was safe. I thought that the roof fell. I hide down the table. I hear a sound crash. 

Today I felt a earthquake. The class shaked. I was brave. I heard the earth was moving. Think that the desk will fall down. I saw that the class was moving. 

When we were in our class a earthquake came! The earthquake made the class shake! I was not scared. I thought that the roof was going to fall. I felt the floor shake! I heard a crash! And some people scream! I saw everything shake! I couldn’t remember nothing. We made triangles of life until it stop. And I said in a whisper voice, “Thank you God for keeping us safe.” 



To parents: 

I know that everyone was a little shaken up by today's events. I just wanted to assure all of you that the appropriate measures were taken today here at the school and our emergency procedures were executed. All of the teachers and students remained calm and followed our school's earthquake procedure, followed by an evacuation of the buildings. Thank the Lord, after reviewing the school's facilities with an architect and engineer, they assured us that there was no structural damage to our buildings and at no time were your kids in any danger. 

This afternoon, we learned that a red alert was issued from the president for Xela advising that large groups of people should not gather together and that buildings should be evacuated for fear of large aftershocks. We moved all classes and chapel outside once we heard this news. Because the alert is in effect for the next 48 hours, we have to decided to cancel classes for tomorrow. We will continue to monitor the situation and the recommendations of the government officials for the area of Quetzaltenango in order to make a decision concerning classes on Friday. We will send another email to everyone around 2:00 pm tomorrow regarding the decision to have classes on Friday or not. 


Our house is fine, our school is fine, our city (for the most part) is fine. Praise the Lord. However, there was so much damage in San Marcos, a town about an hour and a half away from us. Their hospital collapsed, their houses collapsed, and many were killed. Please pray for these people and their families as they try to recover.
A few new cracks in our walls.

No classes tomorrow and possibly no classes on Friday. What a crazy day.
Grace and Peace,

November 6, 2012

We Are Asking You for Money

Why was I born in the United States? Why was I born into a Christian family, into a family that is whole, and into a family that lives on way more than $2 a day? Why was I given the opportunity to attend Christian school from Kindergarten through college? Why did I get to hit the jackpot when it comes to husbands? Why have I been blessed with such wonderful friends? Why am I healthy? Why do I get to choose where I live? Why do I get to travel? Why do I get to work at a job that I am in love with?

Why am I so filthy rich?

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded…

And why them? Why were they born here? Why are they so poor? Why are they so stuck being poor? Why can’t they find jobs? Why couldn’t they attend school past 3rd grade? Why are they sick but can’t afford doctors or medicine? Why was she robbed on her way to work? Why is his leg smaller than my arm? Why does life seem to knock them down over and over? Why don’t they ever seem to catch a break? Why won’t their suffering end?

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day

I ask myself these questions sitting in front of my laptop, inside of my warm house, munching on a bowl of cereal and then some of my favorite JalapeƱo flavored chips. I ask myself these questions after being approached for financial help 3 times this week. It’s only Tuesday.

Monday afternoon: She calls and asks how I am doing. Asks how my weekend vacation in El Salvador was. Asks how Collin is. Asks about work. Makes sure we are doing fine. Then tells me she was robbed. Last Saturday, A man came up, threatened her, took her purse, and ran away. He stole her IDs, her money, and Q1,200 (About US $150) worth of phone minutes she needed to sell to help pay the bills. The phone company is making her pay for all of the stolen minutes. She can’t afford to pay Q1,200 for anything extra in her life.

Tuesday morning: I receive an email that reads:

Dear Staff:
One of our janitors, Juan Alfredo is having some medical issues with his wife and she needs an endoscopy to be diagnosed and the cost of it is very high. Due to the emergency of the procedure they need to pay this cost at their own expenses and they do not have the funds to do it. So we decided in the administration to collect some funds to help him in this matter. The cost of the endoscopy is about Q 2000.00 (About US $250) so if you can help with any amount it will help him to lower this expense. 

Tuesday afternoon: Collin and I are invited by another one of our school janitors (who is also a cobbler and a pastor), to visit some friends with him. We walk less than five minutes from school on a dirt path to these friends’ home that is not really a home. It’s a metal shack lined with cardboard on the inside. It has dirt floors. It has wooden furniture. It has a bed just bigger than a twin where this 76 year old couple sleeps, and where the husband has spent every day for the past two years.

He has some sort of acid, some sort of disease in his leg that has not allowed him to walk at all in the past two months, and he hasn't been able to work at all in the past two years. Below the knee, his left leg is smaller than my arm.

“They are brothers in Christ,” the wife explains to her husband as we sit down. She works in the market during the day, wishing she could be two places at once: earning money for their needs and at home so she can care for her husband. They can’t afford doctor visits, or pain medication, or the vitamins he needs to strengthen his leg. Those things cost Q1,300 per month (About $160).

I ask our janitor/pastor friend to pray. He does.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me…

He goes on. He continues to pray for a miracle in this man’s life. He thanks God that we want to help, prays blessings on us and on our marriage.

And here we are. It’s Tuesday night now. And we have been called to action.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

We are asking for financial help from you to pass on to these wonderful people: a friend ($150), a coworker ($250), and an acquaintance ($160 per month). We are praying for a miracle in each of these people’s lives. Would you be willing to be a part of that miracle?
There is no convenient way to do this, so we are taking a tacky route instead. If you would like to contribute, please email me ( or facebook inbox) with how much you would like to contribute and simply reimburse us later. US dollars multiply by 8 here, so every little bit helps! Reimbursement can either be in person when we come home for Christmas, or through mail sent to my parent’s address (message me for it.)

And let us speak honestly. We are scared: scared of sounding “holier-than-thou,” scared of being misunderstood, scared of people thinking this is a request for another handout, scared of absolutely no response at all.

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given only what comes from your hand…and all of it belongs to you.

Grace and Peace,