January 31, 2012

The faces of a Mayan village…

 For God loved the world sooooo much that he gave Jesus… His only son… to die for our sins, so that EVERYONE … every person… anybody from any nation, tribe or tongue… who believes in Him would have eternal life.  ~Jn3:16



John 3:16

Currently on location with a construction missions team, San Benito, Guatemala

Please pray for the team as we journey to two remote villages in the Petén Jungle of Guatemala on Tuesday, January 31st and Wednesday, February 1st. We are scheduled to install water purifications systems in one location, and to build a free-standing market vendor’s stall at the other.

Photos 1&2: Marie Gamache
Photos 3 – 7: Heriberto Herrera

January 30, 2012

The Ministry of Hospital Shalom

The ministry of Hospital Shalom reaches to people of all ages. Teams of medical professionals come regularly to volunteer services and provide care. Ranging from routine care to surgical and more, these servants bring God’s touch to wounded and hurting lives.

This video grabbed my heart with these moving case histories of children receiving new limbs, learning to write for the first time, finding healing and hope!

Watch their smiles. Feel their joy!

Let it move you…

Click for more information on the work and ministry of Hospital Shalom and New Covenant World Missions.

Today's Prayer Points:
  • Health and healing for the people of the Petén Jungle Region, Guatemala
  • For the teams of medical professionals and work volunteers scheduled for 2012
  • For God to be glorified through the ministry of Hospital Shalom

Malachi 4:2

Currently on location with a construction missions team at Hospital Shalom.

Pre-scheduled post

January 29, 2012

Glimpse of Faith & Religion–Guatemala

This evening we gather for our second and last opportunity to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ alongside local believers here in San Benito. To recognize sincerity of faith expressed from hearts on fire for the love of God, and to see in eyes and smiles the joy of the Lord that transcends the barriers of our tongues... what a blessing and privilege this is to be here in this place with these friends!

In this post I share some statistics and general information on religion in Guatemala. As you read the excerpt below, pray with me that the Light of Truth and the Glory of Jesus would break forth across this land bringing reconciliation with God… hope in Christ… and healing for all who would believe.

Arise, shine... let your glory fill this land!

“Roman Catholicism, which was introduced by the Spanish and modified by Mayan interpretations, was almost universal in Guatemala until the early part of the twentieth century when Protestantism began to make significant headway among both Ladinos and Mayan.
Mayan woman performs religious ritual 

Today… perhaps 40% or more adhere to a Protestant church or sect ranging from established churches with international memberships, to small local groups celebrating their own set of beliefs under the leadership of lay pastors.”   

Many Maya combine membership in a Christian fellowship with a continued set of beliefs and practices inherited from their ancient ancestors. Rituals may still be performed to ensure agricultural success, easy childbirth, recovery from illness, and protection from the elements (including eclipses), and to honor and remember the dead. The Garifuna (Guatemalans of African descent) still practice an Afro-Caribbean form of ancestor worship that helps to meld together families broken by migration, plural marriages, and a social environment hostile to their race and culture.
An Indian church in Guatemala
Many of the indigenous people believe in spirits of nature, especially of caves, mountains and bodies of water, and their religious leaders regularly perform ceremonies connected with these sites. The Catholic Church has generally been more lenient in allowing dual allegiances than have Protestants….”
Example of carvings of skulls in Mayan ruins

Excerpt from ~EveryCulture.com

Praying Ephesians 1:17-19 for the Guatemalan people today.


Currently on location with a construction missions team, San Benito, Guatemala

Photo credits: Heriberto Herrera

Pre-scheduled post

January 27, 2012

Going to Market -- Guatemalan Style

I love the colors, the texture, the sensory symphony of the Guatemalan market. The open air vendor stalls filled with deep reds, indigo, purple, yellow and teal delights. Fresh produce piled in baskets and boxes, heaped loosely on tables and hanging from posts vie for our attention and our dollars. Beautiful woven garments, blankets and handbags, all rich in texture, display the heritage and culture of the nation proudly.

The sounds of barter and trade echo through the narrow street as voices exchange and finally agree, while impatient animals protest and plead.

The smoke rises from a nearby open-air wood fire and mingles with the toasty aroma of something good -- tortillas, peppers and onions, perhaps? Everywhere – curious smiles of children stealing glances at us while moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas – beautiful people all busy and wrapped up in their everyday work, tend to life in the market.

787805_preparing_a_fire_Qeqchi girls_boletinGT_003_large Indian masks at market


Currently on location with a construction missions team at Hospital Shalom, San Benito, Guatemala

Photos 1, 5 & 6 credit: Marie Gemache
Photo 3 public domain/courtesy CIA website
Photos 2 & 4: Credit to Heriberto Herrera

Pre-scheduled post

January 25, 2012

An Ancient Mayan Geography Lesson...

For those of you following our missions team trip to Hospital Shalom, Petén, Guatemala, I found a website that gave a nice brief of where the people groups concentrated throughout the Meso-American countries. Our team is working smack dab in the middle of the area previously occupied by the ancient “lowland Mayas” of the rainforest in Guatemala.

“At its peak during the “classic” period (A.D. 250 – 850) the total Mayan population blanketed an area of about 120,000 square miles, covering vast areas of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, but just barely dipping into Honduras and El Salvador.”
“The Mayan territory of that day could be divided into three general areas. First, there was the Yucatán Peninsula, with its cities such as Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. Secondly, there were the Guatemalan  “highland” people whose culture was somewhat different because of heavy influences by the Aztecs. Lastly, there were “lowland Mayas” of the rainforest. This group covered the Guatemala Petén, extended eastward to the coast of Belize, northward into Chiápas, Mexico, and then southward into northern Honduras. The lowland cities included those of Tikal, Palénque, Caracol, Copán, and Chichén Itzá. The northernmost Mayan temple is in the Yucatán, while the southernmost temple is in Copán, Honduras.”
Excerpt taken from Mayan Archaeology Language & Geography website.

[Carpe Vas Note: Use of the geographical excerpt does not imply that I agree with other statements or positions of the author/s of the Mayan Archaeology website.]


The map image above shows the location of Mayan ruins throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, and focuses a bit more on ancient sites in Mexico than Guatemala. However, the “lowlands of the rainforest” in Guatemala are in the northern part of the country -- the part that sticks up like a square-headed bird--  that is the Peten Region where we are currently working.
If you click this link: http://mayaruins.com/yucmap.html – and then click on the red word Tikal on the website’s live map image, you will find more wonderful photos and archaeological history briefs about the Tikal ruins which we tour on Thursday, February 2nd.

Great info over at MayaRuins.com. Check it out. Thank you, Barbara McKenzie and Marion Canavan for your detailed and informative work. (I like history and archaeology stuff, can you tell?)

  Romans 10:17

Today’s Prayer Points for Guatemala Team 2012:
  • That hearts will be opened to hear and receive the message of Jesus Christ
  • For opportunities to share Christ’s love with specific people He would have us to meet in this day.
  • For safety in our construction endeavors. 

Post pre-scheduled

January 23, 2012

Building … to Repair the Broken

Our team is currently in Guatemala completing building projects at Hospital Shalom. Thank you for your faithfulness to pray. The spiritual support we felt during our preparation and send-out was astonishing. God faithfully supplied everything needed for the team and the work – and then some! We feel your prayer support even now, and encourage you -- KEEP IT UP!

God is awesome and amazing!

Thank you for those who financially contributed to this work. What you sowed God will multiply for His purpose and glory. Facilities are being prepared to receive volunteer medical professionals and future work teams through our work on two efficiency apartments in the second story addition of the hospital. A team of doctors from Liberty, MO will arrive the week after we return home.

During our 14 days in country our schedule is WORKWORK – and did I mention – WORK. Hands on. In the trenches. Getting it done!

From 8:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m. daily and straight through the weekend. Except for our village outreach days and a trip to the Tikal ruins, we will be doing construction work on the hospital. Here’s a look at the progress that other work teams have made.

Roof going up over second story...
Hospital Shalom 4
Interior work on second floor
Hospital Shalom 2Hospital Shalom 6

View from the outside -- exterior applications on 2nd story

Ahhhh... a construction site in a foreign country, the musty smell of humidity oozing from a bare concrete slab, keeping pace with the rhythmic sound of screws piercing metal studs, interacting with host-country nationals and observing the unique trade applications and building methods used. All of us working toward a common purpose ... here... in this place.

We build …so that wounded bodies and broken lives can be rebuilt.

Hospital Shalom – Where Hope and Healing Meet Everyday Life

I provided some detail about our itinerary below. Construction work happens on every day except for travel days, so I only listed the days for unique activities and outings we’ll be involved in.

Sat, Jan. 21stTravel Day -- 6:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.
Sun, Jan. 22nd -- Church in the local Guatemalan fellowship! evening service
Tue, Jan. 24th -- Local market tour -- in the afternoon
Sun, Jan 29th – Church again with our Guatemalan brothers & sisters!
Tue & Wed, Jan 31st & Feb 1stVillage outreach – all day both days.
This is the day we install water purification systems and work on the market stall project. Soccer balls, Frisbees, gospel comic books, colors and coloring books, and frozen treats will find their way into the hands of the village children. *smile*
Thu, Feb 2ndVisit Ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal
Sat, Feb 4thTravel Day – 6:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.

2 Cor. 4:7

Today’s Prayer Points for Team Guatemala 2012
  • For God’s vision and guidance for the leadership and staff members of Hospital Shalom.
  • For medical professionals to answer God’s call to serve at the hospital.
  • For adequate medical supplies and financial support for the work
  • For God’s supernatural provision of healing for those who seek help at Hospital Shalom.

pre-scheduled post / photos courtesy of David & Janice Ewing, & Tim Spurrier 

January 21, 2012

Guatemala: The journey begins

Well, today is the day! We’re off and flying to El Mundo Maya – The World of the Mayans! Destination: San Benito, Petén, Guatemala where we will live for the next two weeks while we work at Hospital Shalom.

I thought you might enjoy seeing some maps in today’s post to help you visualize our journey and connect with where we are as I share about the trip in the days ahead.

The first map makes us feel rather close to home, doesn’t it?

KC to GU worldview

InCountry view GU to Flores
The blue shadow to the right of the Point [B] marker above is Lago Petén-Itza – or Lake Petén-Itza, which I’ve zeroed in for you in the next map.

In 1697, on one of the islands in this very lake, a brutal and bloody battle occurred as Spanish Conquistadors fought and destroyed the last remaining stronghold of the Itza, a Mayan people group.

This is where we are headed. 
To the cradle of the Ancient Mayan Civilization!

Lago Peten Itza

The next map shows the island where Hospital Shalom is located  Isla de Flores just off the shore of San Benito, where artisans have shops to sell authentic, Guatemalan handcrafted items.  Each day we’ll traverse the causeway from the mainland to our work site at the hospital compound. The Hospital is located outside San Benito at "Kilometer 7 on the Road to San Jose."

Island of Flores

Right now, I really… REALLY wish I had paid better attention in my Spanish classes since that’s the official language of Guatemala.

Unfortunately, my version of Spanish would likely be of little benefit with over 25 Native Amerindian tribes and 31 distinct Mayan dialects in use throughout a country whose land mass is slightly smaller than Tennessee. Many people are bi-lingual Spanish & tribal dialect, but the language differences are significant enough that one group cannot communicate with another – sometimes from one village to the next -- even though their languages look and sound similar.
God, what is your heart for this nation? Where are you working? Open our eyes to see your hand, to sense your Spirit moving, and to feel your heart for the greater work you are accomplishing. Give us the words and actions to convey your love in spite of our limited verbal abilities in this context. Love your people through us. Love us through your people.

Tomorrow our work begins.


Today’s Prayer Points:
  1. Good rest, and good health for the team 
  2. Refreshed spirits, and hearts awakened and alert to God’s purpose
  3. For God’s work to flourish among the Guatemalan peoples of the Peten jungle

  1. http://www.native-languages.org/guatemala.htm
  2. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html
  3. http://mayanarchaeology.tripod.com/id12.html
Photo Credits: Google Maps

Post pre-scheduled

January 20, 2012

“A Night of Hope, A Day of Love”

Our team of eight will soon be on the ground in Guatemala, working on the second story building addition of Hospital Shalom. 

Hospital Shalom is a not-for-profit missionary hospital located in San Benito, Peten, Guatemala, five miles from the International Airport Mundo Maya and 35 miles from the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. It opened in 2006 after a decade-long building project by New Covenant World Missions.

The work of the hospital is obvious, right? Medical care. Surgeries. Setting broken bones. A place for life to come forth. Sometimes a place for life to pass with grace and dignity after all else has been done.

Tim and Doris Spurrier, founders of Hospital Shalom are involved in more than medical missions work. This past Christmas, they worked with their local church pastor to address spiritual and physical needs of the poorest of the poor who live among smoldering garbage heaps in the San Benito city landfill.

People – children – left with no recourse in life except to inhabit a place that screams rejection … hopelessness… despair, while they sift survival from discarded shreds of things no longer valued. Yet, for one night, because people responded to the cry of God’s heart, not one child spent Christmas Eve sleeping in the dump.

See for yourself…

Tomorrow we leave for Hospital Shalom, and the beautiful people of the Petén Jungle Region of Guatemala!


How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. 
Romans 10:15

January 18, 2012

Saying Good-bye

Let go.

That's what I had to do recently. Let go of a cherished relationship, and certainly not by my choice.

The phone rang. My heart beat a little faster when I saw the number on my caller ID. The Compassion Sponsor Relations office calls when there is important news they need to communicate about your sponsored child. Still, as I answered I told myself it was probably just a New Year’s courtesy call.

Gakii.2011-1She was calling about Gakii. The thud in the pit of my stomach almost drowned out my inner monologue. Not my Pretty-In-Her-New-Pink-Dress-Gakii! Didn’t I just get her updated photo? Please let this be a mistake.

My mind raced ahead, guessing correctly her very next words, and scrambling to strategize how I could possibly keep from losing this precious little Kenyan girl – a child I’ve prayed for and corresponded with for a year-and-a-half on behalf of an unknown financial sponsor – a child I’ve grown to love so dearly.
Her financial sponsor had to discontinue the  sponsorship.  Would you like to take on Gakii’s financial commitment?
The words hung heavy. Everything inside me screamed, “YES!!!!” – but deep down I knew I was not supposed to make this commitment at this time.

What happens to a correspondence child in this situation? What happens to Gakii?
Positive #1: Every child enrolled in the Compassion program receives all of the program benefits whether they have a financial sponsor or not. They attend all project activities, receive the same food supplements, educational assistance, medical care, and most important the pastoral care and oversight of the project and local church. This does not change because of a change in sponsorship status.
Positive #2: When a sponsorship discontinues, or a child leaves the Compassion program, the sponsor has the opportunity to write a final letter. If a correspondent sponsor has been assigned, this privilege falls to them. The child receives one final letter from the person they have been corresponding with all along.
The final letter is a wonderful way to remind your child what a treasure they are to God’s heart. It fosters closure, provides explanation for why your letters are ceasing, and if done right can really help the child transition positively to their new sponsor.


This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost a sponsored child, but it felt a more complicated than before. After all, I didn’t choose to discontinue. The privilege to function in this role had been rescinded and quite unexpectedly. My feelings of disappointment deepened as I thought of how Gakii must feel about losing her sponsor. These relationships are very important to the children. They’re very important to me!

As a correspondent sponsor, I know that any one of my children’s financial sponsorships could cease at any time leaving me with the tough decision of whether or not to let them go or to absorb the financial commitment myself.

I entered the role of a correspondent with a heart to pray for and to love the children I am assigned as God loves them, to encourage them to look to God -- not me -- as their source and provider, and to help them grow in their awareness of Him and the beauty of His word. I knew going in that my ability to take over the financial sponsorship of every child I correspond with was not a realistic option.


Today the right moment came to draft Gakii’s last letter. The words were simple, straightforward and sincere. I told her how sad I was that I would not be able to continue as her “writing sponsor.”  There. Though I had never differentiated myself to her as a correspondent sponsor, those words – writing sponsor – helped me release myself in this situation. Words of encouragement flowed easily, reminding her once more that God knows what is best for her… and for me… and that we can ALWAYS trust Him.


Yes, fully trust.

Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV) -- the perfect message to summarize my heart for this sweet child in our last link of communication. I wrote it out for her not caring if the translation was a little over her eight-year-old head. I believe children thrive when challenged spiritually far beyond their present level of understanding. I trust God to help her understand...
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."
His Word ... what a great way to say good-bye when you really don't want to.


You might also like today’s Compassion Blog post

What would you say in a final letter to a sponsored child?

January 14, 2012

One week from today! Guatemala

I’m packing up our hotel room preparing to hit the road for HOME. This was a short work trip for my husband, and we delight to be home and in our home church tomorrow morning.

By this time seven days from today, we will be in mid-air on the way to Guatemala. I’m filled with anticipation, and excited to see the beauty that God sees when He looks upon the people He loves and knows so intimately. People whose ways and customs are so foreign to me, but whom I embrace with joy.

As I leave today to travel the five hours home, I pray these images will steal into your heart the same way they have slipped deeply into mine.
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to work alongside the people of Guatemala, to experience first-hand the beauty of their culture and land, and to share Your love with them.

rural Mayan kitchen
Vegetable market
Photo Credits:  Heriberto Herro

January 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Awake…

I’m on the road and need a little creative boost today, so I’m linking up with Lisa Jo over at Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday. Here’s how it works: 
“Every Friday… we stop, drop and write. For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.”
Today’s topic:  Awake . . .
Awake?! Are you kidding me.
I’m anything but an early-morning person, so the idea of writing about this topic arouses feelings of discomfort. I’d much rather snuggle in and slap down that snooze alarm an extra three or four times. Then… make my way to the kitchen for COFFEE. As I sit with warm cup in hand I process myself into a semi- state of awakeness.
Silence first. Sipping hot, steamy liquid of the freshly brewed kind, then … only then does my mind begin to step into the day.

I’m thankful that You are always awake. You never sleep. The moments when I find myself alert, in tune with life and in step with what is happening around me can not compare to the feeling of waking up to Your presence.
The most precious mornings are those when my conscious awareness begins with the realization that my spirit is worshiping and singing as I arise from the depths of my drowsiness and open my eyes to face the light of day.
I listen to my own spirit sing. I have even harmonized along with it, and that’s the best way to awake to the day.


Wow. That was a fast five.


Read more 5 Minute Friday posts here.


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