The beautiful faces of the students at a school in Guatemala whom we are eager to meet and teach. They look ready for the water system to be installed so they can stay healthy and show those awesome smiles for years to come!
2017 Mission Program was an amazing journey of relationship building and serving together! We wrapped up our second week with a sweet time of worship and devotions this morning. Many volunteers shared the highlights from their week. Our teams installed 2 water systems in 2 village schools, treated ~160 children in dentistry and performed ~ 30 cleft surgeries! We were blessed to see many of our patients from past years return for reevaluation and many more who just came to say hello and pray for us! Please pray for all our patients as they travel back to their villages! They travel so far from home and leave their family for many days to come for surgery. The people of Guatemala hold a very special place in our hearts!
Thank you to all our U.S. and Guatemalan volunteers who made this year’s trips a success! May God bless each of you!
With great appreciation,
The Directors of STJI
Yesterday, we wrapped up our final week with a great trip to Black Water River Village School. It was an hour drive from San Cristobal to the dam and then a 25 minute ride by boat and a rigorous 20 minute climb to reach our destination. The planned inauguration for the water system was interrupted by a severe thunderstorm that blew in over the mountains. The weather may have altered our plans somewhat, but it certainly didn’t stop our volunteers from pressing on to get as much as possible done in what little time we had left! We started to paint the school. However, I believe there was more paint on the local stray dog than on the school! We helped to install a chain link fence to protect the boundaries of the school property. Our water team instructed everyone on the function and maintenance of the water system we installed. Rudy shared the Gospel message of hope with this precious community of people who were nearly wiped out during the warfare that took place in the 1980’s. Entire families were murdered during the massacres. This tiny village of people has suffered great loss. They continue to try to rebuild their lives on the steep mountainside that slopes down to the river below. We were blessed to pray for them and sing worship songs with the children. As the thunder subsided, we loaded our boats and headed for the transport buses. The driving rain could not obscure the absolute beauty of God’s majestic mountains rising up out of the lake all around us as we huddled together on the boats to stay dry.
The surgery and dental week is underway and we are anticipating treating at least 30 children and young adults in surgery and about 200 more in dental. Our second week team was welcomed to the hotel in Guatemala with pouring rain and an intense thunderstorm.
On Sunday morning, the operating room and dental clinic were up and running early. Our first group to arrive for dental care came from the Casa Gloria Children’s Home and then the next came from the Pampur School, the school we installed a water system in last spring.
One patient, 17-year-old Gloria, came in for her final surgical procedure after coming to the clinic for each of the past four years. Gloria had a successful operation to help her speak and eat better. Her aunt Ana, who’s been coming with Gloria and delivered her baby with help from STJI team members, got emotional when she thought about not seeing the team again now that Gloria’s operations are done. Jackie told Ana that she and Gloria are our family and we look forward to them coming to visit us anyway.
Our water team went back to the Paniste School and walked through the procedures of filling and purifying the new tanks with the teachers and administrators there. We also brought over some bars of soap for the new sinks at the school and reinforced our hygiene lessons of using water and soap when washing hands.
A few of our team members have been feeling a little bit under the weather, but at least they’re surrounded by a lot of medical professionals who have been able to help them get back to feeling normal. We welcome your prayers for the team’s health for the rest of the trip.
What a great day we had!! We had the WaterStep, water system inauguration at Paneste School today! The children have clean water for the first time to wash their hands and brush their teeth! Then we headed to Casa Gloria Orphanage to visit with Jenna and all the children. They are doing an amazing job caring for these precious little ones that have come from traumatic living situations. We were able to visit Paster Raffa, the blind Pastor who walks 2 miles to a village church where he preaches faithfully! We were able to bless him with food and other things and give him a Davor audio Bible in Spanish to replace the one we gave him before that was stolen. We are always blessed beyond words by his love for Christ and his humble, servant’s heart!
Our water team has been hard at work for the past 2 days teaching morning and afternoon sessions at the school! The parents and teachers had as much fun as the children learning all the songs, health and hygiene instruction and participating in all the activities. Tomorrow they are headed to our second water system site to begin installation and start the teaching program with the children. Please pray for them as they need to hike to a specific location to then take a 40 minute boat ride to reach the school.
Clinic Team made it safely! We started our day with a sweet time of worship and devotions. Today the water team went to set up for their first day of installation for the water system at the Paneste Village School. The Clinic group loaded everything we will need for our first day of medical clinic tomorrow and set up at the hospital. We are so grateful the the wonderful team of volunteers we have serving with us! Please keep everyone in your prayers! Many of our patients are traveling from very far away and many on foot! The school we are installing the water system has ~400 children attending. We will be teaching them about “clean water” and heath and hygiene education. We will be teaching the children through interactive songs and skits.
This was a busy day for sure! We went to Coban to handle some logistics for the program. We travelled from there to visit our friends at Casa Gloria Orphanage in Santa Cruz. We were so glad to see that their beautiful facility is full of precious children who are being raised in a family setting that encourages reuniting them with family members as much as possible. We went from there to see land that is for sale nearby. The property is so beautiful! It’s 81 acres of lush farmland that can be used to build a Comprehensive Care Center as well as provide sustainable farm land for the local villagers to provide for their families. Just across the little dirt road from the land is Christian Missions Retreat Center that can house ~200 volunteers! The construction and outreach teams from the U.S. would be able to stay here as they do the construction of the Comprehensive Care Center. We were joined by the property’s care taker to walk the property and pray for God’s wisdom and discernment as we consider this huge endeavor. We went to CAIME Hospital to meet with the administrator to confirm our clinic and surgery dates for 2017. When were were leaving the hospital after a long day we saw a reminder of God’s promise to the earth in the sky. It was the most brilliant rainbow we’d ever seen! then returned to the offices of Living To Serve where they had prepared a delicious meal of spaghetti and meatballs for us! What a blessing!
We arrived on 11/9 in Guatemala City for our Inventory Trip for our upcoming mission trips. We encountered a huge traffic jam on the way where the road had washed out previously. Ginny was a trooper and made the best of our 2 1/2 hour delay. We arrived safely in San Cristobal late in the evening where we were welcomed by our dear friends.