God held off the rain this afternoon and we were able to dedicate the water system to the children at Casa Angelina and in a separate ceremony, to the surrounding community.
Our friends from Colegio Mark brought two bus loads of students from 3 hours away to participate in the festivities. They had a marching band, drama enactment, and choral performance to add to the program.
Just before lunch time, the community of Tululche gathered at the Casa Angelina entrance for a ribbon cutting ceremony which was attended by the president of the local council. We served Agua Viva water, pastries, and handed out bibles to the older children as they passed by the distribution window in the water room and caught a view of the system at work.
After lunch the Colegio Mark group arrived and began to set up. The paved lane through the property was the perfect backdrop for the marching band and drama. Afterwards, over 200 people gathered in the feeding center and the ceremony began. Jeff Rommel delivered the message followed by the team, leaders for education and installation handing out certificates to their pupils.
Then the entire group left and walked up the hill to the health clinic where the water room is to tour the facility and sample the water. Just as things were wrapping up, the drops began to fall slowly. We said our goodbyes as the sprinkles got heavier, but God came through on his promise of answered prayers and the afternoon was joyous.
The Agua Viva education team has completed two days of fun learning activities. Each day featured a Bible story and a health lesson. On Tuesday children at Casa Angelina and Tululche School in Chimaltenango learned how God created the earth perfectly and how man has caused our land and water to become contaminated. On Tuesday Crossing the Red Sea came to life as students in grades K-9 acted out the story complete with costumes, spears for the Egyptian soldiers and streamers for the water. In the kindergarten group “Moses” age 6 raised his staff, the waters parted and the Hebrews walked through on dry land. He lowered his staff and the paper streamers came crashing down on pint sized soldiers who fell to the floor. But then one of the dead soldiers called to Moses to save him and Moses raised his staff again and told the soldier to rise, a 6 year old modification to the classic story. The older group at Casa Angelina acted out the same play while Dave Aber videotaped it. The older students will perform the play at the Celebration on Friday.
Health lessons are an important part of AVI installations. Today we demonstrated how germs are spread when four children put glitter on the hands representing germs and then shake hands with 5 other people, “infecting” them. To emphasize the importance of hand washing in preventing the spread of germs several children rubbed glo germ on their hands liberally. Other students then examined the “germs” shining a black light shines which makes them appear white in color. Students are then asked to wash their hands with soap and water, and again peers look at the germs, which now are mostly gone. We noticed that fingernails are great hiding places for germs. Finally all students practice washing hands while singing Lavo, Lavo Mis Manitos (Wash, Wash, My Hands). We also learned when we need to wash your hands.
Tomorrow we will learn about when it is important to use the purified water and enact a Reader’s Theater about Jesus and the Woman at the Well.
This week James 1:27 has played out in real life. The ministry at Casa Angelina has an outreach that builds homes for widows in the community around the orphanage. Agua Viva International has been blessed with the opportunity to provide pure water to the 100+ orphans at CA, but we’ve been doubly blessed by CA’s widows ministry that will use the water system we’ve provided them with to supply, at low or no cost, water to the surrounding communities– including a number of widows that they have built homes for.
The AVI team spent part of an afternoon visiting a couple of the widows at their homes and praying for them. When asked what we could pray for her about, the second widow we visited said that God already knew her needs so just pray for her generally. How incredible and personal is her relationship with our creator! The other widow lives with her daughter and grand daughter. The daughter is mentally challenged and was raped, but God has used the grand daughter– who is an adult now– to be the glue that holds the family together. They sang a couple of songs for US!
The kids at Casa Angelina have been incredible, too. One little boy, Edgar, has only been there for a week. He’s 6 years old and is the size of a typical American 3-4 year old because he’s been so malnourished. They said he was 24 pounds when the state took him from his alcoholic parents and he had to spend six months at a special center to arrive at a point where CA could take him. Our dental team tried to see him but he was a bit resistant. Otherwise, he seems to be adjusting fairly well for such a shock to his system.
All in all, being able to directly touch the least of these this week in the small way that we have is a gift to us from God. As usual, the giver receives as much as the receiver. What an incredible God we have.
My prayer request to my friends and family for this mission trip was not to ask for the typical safety and easy travel, but rather to offer my body for whatever it takes for God to be glorified in accordance with Romans 12. Well I’m thinking now that God has a good sense of humor in checking to see if I really meant it. This morning we were told the amazing story of how God led Ivan and Kimberly Tate to establish and develop Casa Angelina. As we were then embarking on a tour of the property, I dashed back into the meeting hall to grab some sunscreen and as I headed out of the building I was amazed to see thousands of pieces of glass flying in front of me. A moment later as I lay on the ground, my first thoughts were how embarrassing this was as I had just mistaken the window next to the door for the door itself. H0wever, in my usual exuberance for missions in Guatemala, I was not deterred in overcoming the obstacle resulting from my mistake – thus I succeeded in taking out the complete window with various parts of my body. Fortunately, it only resulted in a little loss of blood, one stitch, and a lot of humility. But like I said, whatever it takes to glorify God, right?
In the afternoon, the kids of each of four of the houses presented a program to us, and with each group we were told of some of the horrifying conditions from which the kids were rescued. It was truly shocking to think of the suffering that parents and other adults would inflict on defenseless children. This is not only a witness to man’s depravity, but also to the desperate lives that people lead in places like this. Our hearts and prayers go out to them all and thank God for people like the Tates and their supporters that reach out to mend the broken lives.
Yesterday was a very successful day. We met with our new partners at Casa Angelina for a great celebration in Church. Many children had been recently baptized so they shared their awesome life-changing testimonies in the service. Then, after a quick meeting with the leadership at Casa Angelina most of the team headed out to Antigua for a shopping experience.
The Extreme Shoppers had no problem finding some awesome prizes; beautiful clothes (la ropa), purses (bolsas), and much much more. The best thing of all was that this was the fourth Sunday of Lent. On this special day, a very large procession (parade) takes place where tens of thousands of people come to celebrate Jesus entry into Jerusalem. The street decorations are called “alfombras de aserrin”, carpets of sawdust, and they are decorated with flowers, colored sand, and sawdust. Floats with statues of the Crucifixion are carried through the streets on men’s shoulders.
We were not expecting this throng of people to show up. While we were shopping, David Watts and Maria Lopez (our LWftW translator) were shopping and the police cordoned off the street. This was not a problem except for one thing. We were on the other side of the blockade. People everywhere, we could not even see the people standing right next to us. We tried to “high tail it” out of there but it was too late. We were swept through streets like a river and eventually spilled out at Pollo Compero (Guatemala’s version of Kentucky Fried Chicken). But… not David and no Maria Lopez.
Fortunately, due to our excellent planning, we had Maria’s cell phone number. We called our lost party and by some miracle, they were able to “hail” a three wheeled cab and THEY BEAT US TO THE HOTEL. Well, we were just glad to have them back and everyone had a good time except those who “dropped” while shopping.
We were welcomed into the Casa Angelina family today as the children shared their Sunday worship service with us. A large group of children were baptized recently and four of the older children stood up in front of the service and recounted their experience for us. It was a powerful assembly of testimonies as they shared their feelings of being submersed and coming back up “born again”.
Kimberly Tait, wife of founder Ivan Tait, is at CA this week and she met with the leadership team to solidify the schedule for the week. Afterward, we inspected the water installation sites and she commented to us how much anticipation has surrounded our arrival– not only within their walls but the among entire community. When finished, our bottled water will be distributed to the entire surrounding community, so the impact will be felt by many. The CA team has done an outstanding job with the water room preparation! A little grout and paint and we’ll be there for the heavy work.
Tomorrow we will be officially oriented to the property and receive an in depth tour of the facility. The dental team will start setting up their lab and we’re still praying for their left behind luggage to arrive. The water teams will unload and begin their site preparations. All systems are go and we’ll be keeping you updated all week as our volunteer team shares their experiences and God moments.
The Agua Viva teams from far and wide all converged today and arrived safely at Hostel Dona Isabel. Travelers starting from four origin points all arrived in the Guatemala City airport within 2 hours of each other and our bus driver, who was originally delayed by a traffic accident, was at the airport within 15 minutes of the entire team of 22 assembling. Our lone casualty is a checked bag of equipment left in Kansas City by American Airlines. They’ve promised that it will be here tomorrow and it better be. It’s full of supplies for our dental team!
Our in-country team leader and close friend, Mario Mejia, met us at the airport and coordinated the arrival. Jim Allen commented that when he saw Mario standing outside the front of the airport, his anxiety was immediately relieved and he was reminded that we were in God’s hands at that point.
We were pleasantly surprised that our driver ended up being one of the house parents at Casa Angelina and he brought a welcoming party that included his son and two interns working at the orphanage. We were entertained by listening to 19 year old Serena from Colorado Springs who is in month 3 of an almost year long internship. Her energy is contagious and was a great foreshadowing of the feeling that we’ll have this week working with the What Matters Ministry team at Casa Angelina.
The Hostel is nestled in between 3 volcanoes on the outskirts of Antigua and has a beautiful courtyard and our hosts have been wonderful. We had dinner on the veranda this evening and afterwards Nancy Allen led devotionals recalling one of our spiritual preparation lessons that focused on being still in our busy world. This is a fantastic place to be still. It helps that there are no dishes to do and that we aren’t thinking about the assignment due at school or work tomorrow.
So, as we arrive and begin our preparations tomorrow for the week ahead, we feel blessed to be in this place with this opportunity and we promise to keep you apprised throughout the week of how we see God working in Guatemala.
Two of our Agua Viva Board Members have had the privilege of “tutoring and mentoring” children at Freedom Fire Urban Ministries for several years in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. This Ministry touches the lives of hundreds of inner city youth and Freedom Fire is 100% “dedicated to equipping the young people of the inner city to guide their community spiritually, economically, and socially.”
Many of the youth ministered to by Freedom Fire have never traveled outside of the Kansas City area and many come from broken and single parent households. By including inner city youth on our Agua Viva trips, we provide these wonderful young folks the opportunity to “see” how big God’s world really is. Plus, our trips provide an excellent opportunity for them to experience team leadership in a wonderful Christian setting, and in a foreign country! Agua Viva first embraced this concept in 2009 when we included a young Freedom Fire youth on our first trip to Guatemala.
This spring 2013, Agua Viva again has the privilege of partnering with Freedom Fire. Nicholas Cacy and Aheem Kimmins will be joining our team headed for Casa Angelina 2013.
Nicholas Cacy is the son of Kevin Cacy and Rebecca Cacy of Freedom Fire Ministries. He has been involved in cross-cultural ministries since he was a small child, and has traveled twice previously to Guatemala, working in small villages in the Quiche province. He has completed 2 years of college at Kansas State University, and this Spring is enrolling in a Ministry Apprenticeship Program in Kansas City.
Aheem Kimmins first got involved at Freedom Fire in 1997 as a 2nd grader. He grew up in the federal housing projects in Kansas City, Missouri, while he and his 3 siblings were being raised by his grandmother. He began spending lots of time with the Cacy family over weekends and holidays, and has been very much a member of the Cacy family ever since. Aheem is attending Johnson County Community College with the hopes of starting a career in Health Care. Aheem traveled to Mexico with Freedom Fire in 2002, and this will be his first trip to Guatemala, as well as his first time on an airplane.
Today, Agua Viva International received a very important package. Inside this package was water samples from three orphanages in Oyu, Akawa Ibom State, Nigeria. This is still a long shot, but is is possible that Agua Viva International may break ground in Africa. If approved by our Board of Directors, we will just have to figure out how we are going to pay for a site investigation in July 2013… or how God is going to pay for the trip.
My new friend, Ikpongke, has been very helpful. I have run him all over town taking pictures, taking water samples, and going to the FedEx store.
Last night, was a very special day. First, it was my wife (Nancy’s) birthday. Second, Agua Viva International was pleased to present to the Brownies Troop 637. This wonderful group of girls have been studying “WOW”, which stands for Wonders of Water. They can earn four Brownie Badges for all of their hard work; i.e. Love Water, Share Water, Save Water, and Wonders of Water. The Troop Leader, Christie Zemencik, asked Agua Viva to come and explain to her Troop what we have been doing in Guatemala and Ecuador to improve the water situation. With the help of the assistant leaders, Kim and Heather, we answered about a million questions and nearly ate the entire birthday cake.
“Doesn’t drinking water from the river make you SICK ?!”, exclaimed one of the little second graders. Why, yes, it does. A perfect segway into our presentation. These kids are “bright”.
We then proceeded to demonstrate transmission of germs by the hands with our black-light experiment. It was a lot of fun and we were very surprized how interested everyone was.