Category Archives: Guatemala

Guatemala – June 2009

If only you could look into the longing eyes of these adorable children and see their difficult family life, prior to theirIMG_3358 coming into the orphanage, it would just make you weep uncontrollably.  Your cry would not just be that you felt sorry to think why and how in the world these circumtances happened to these children and not to you.   It is also the tears of the redeemed, rescued from captivity.  Their testimonies were beyond anything you could imagine happening to them.  Many of these children had a very difficult upbringing, even from a very early age. How dreadful it is to hear Romans 1:28 come to fruition in the lives of these innocent kids. Yet, not only did they survive it, but they also blossomed in the soil God prepared once the blessedness of salvation took place. The God who performed miracles, purified them and called them His own. It would only take an act of God to make them or any of us His sons and daughters. 

After been through so much suffering, you would think that these children will just give up altogether.  Some didn’t start school until their teenage years. However, on the contrary, they have such great determination and zeal for their goals and ambitions.  Many orphans have excelled in colleges in Guatemala and United States as a result of God’s provision and their personal convictions. It makes me glad that God chose to bless them in such miraculous and providential ways.  

Another example of determination was shown when I showed an 8 to 10 year old boy the Evangecube that I ordered from the US. This cube is basically a block that has 6 steps in showing someone how to come to salvation.  I thought that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I would have 6 pictures. Also, since I didn’t have the thousand Spanish words in my vocabulary to explain about salvation, I thought this was a great tool.  So I showed this to the boy by doing motions and facial expressions of the death and resurrection of Christ.  Then, I had him read the steps out in Spanish to me.  I didn’t understand, but at least I thought it would be good for him to practice his reading.  I just knew enough Spanish words asked him if he understood what he was reading and he nodded his head. Then, I had someone tell him in Spanish that I wanted him to have this Evangecube and that he could share this with his friends.  

Immediately, he began to grab some people, even people in my mission team to explain to them the plan of salvation.  He was determined that those around him will hear the Gospel. He began to pull them by their hands to a place where there’s not a crowd around and began acting out how Christ was crucified and raised to life and is seated at the right hand of God. I am blessed to witness such urgency of God’s salvation being proclaimed. May this child be blessed as God uses him to further His kingdom. 

These children have taught me so many things. But one of the things that stood out to me was their faith to be bold for Christ and endure all things for His glory. They have gone through a lot and yet are so filled with joy to forgive and witness to those who have treated them so badly. I just praise God for bringing them into the orphanage so that they are no longer trapped in the patterns of a very difficult childhood and are able to learn about the Savior who rescued them out of the pit.  

Written by Hannah Jenkins

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Posted by on June 22, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

2009-6-5 (31)Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always…” This is a verse that God has placed in front of me for the past six months. It has quite literally shown up in the oddest places. It has been in every book I’ve read, been on the walls at the veterinarian’s office, been quoted to me by total strangers…you get the picture. There have been times in the past six months when I’ve simply looked at the Lord and said “I cannot rejoice in this moment. There is no joy in it.”, or “I don’t know how to rejoice in this moment, there is too much pain and heartache here.” I want to be obedient, but at moments I simply have not known how to rejoice in the midst of tragedy. ….Ask and you shall receive…..

Don’t you love it when God answers a prayer so clearly that you cannot miss it? God allowed me the privilege of traveling to Guatemala and meeting the children at Casa. Each and every one of these children have lived through terror, heartache, loss, misery, abandonment…the list goes on. And yet, they were full of joy….abundant joy. They have learned to rejoice in their savior with every fiber of their beings. Their worship was so full of joy that they sang and jumped and celebrated God’s love and salvation for hours at a time. For you see they have learned that (Psalm 31:7) God’s love is unfailing and he has seen our troubles and knows the anguish of our souls. How can we not rejoice in a savior who knows us so intimately, who is willing to share our pain at such a level that it becomes his own? So, I’ve learned to say to the lord, “toma tomalo” – ‘take it all Lord, our praise and all we are today is yours’. Casa is a place full of tragic stories, but more importantly, it is full of lives that are victorious and joyful. May we become like these little children and learn to rejoice in the Lord, always.

Written by Cherry Keaton

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Posted by on June 17, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

It would happen almost every morning . . . as most of the team wasIMG_3349 just awaking to a new day, I would sit out on the picnic table next to the Gringo dorm and watch the kids go to and from the cafeteria as they were getting ready to head to school.  At some point within these few waiting moments, three boys would make their way over to where I was sitting to put their arms around me and say ‘Buenos Dias’.  I would ask them how breakfast was, in my broken Spanish.  Marvin, Manuel, Walter, and a fourth – Yogi, reinforced a lesson for me, as I led a team this month to Casa Para Niños Aleluya in Guatemala.  They reminded me of the power of touch. 

Many, if not most of the kids at Casa have come from an abusive situation at home, and have been given the opportunity to come to Casa to receive the food, clothing, and education they certainly deserve.  Casa is most definitely a place of rescue, rest, and redemption.  Though, we as a team, were not there long enough to peer deeper into the lives of these children to see the pain they have endured, you can certainly see their desire for a hug or a hand.  We see this example of Christ, in Luke’s Gospel, as he accounts how the people were bringing the children to Jesus so that He might touch them.  The disciples rebuked Christ for this, and He in turn reminds them that you will not enter the kingdom of God, if you do not receive it as a child does, with a sense of longing and great faith in their Abba Father (Luke 18:15-17). 

I felt this touch again throughout the week, as Walter would come up and ask if I would swing him.  I obliged and he would reach for my hand as we would walk to the swing set to play.  Marvin, Manuel, and Yogi too, would often times just sit beside me, not needing to speak a word, but rather just to be near.  It was as if I had just adopted four brothers for the week, who wanted nothing more than for me to have their undivided attention.  I would soon find out that they would have mine.  

IMG_3457It was on the next to last day of our time with the children of Casa that I was sitting with ‘my boys’, as I now refer to them.  We were playing with sidewalk chalk drawing bugs and butterflies, when I decided to trace a few of their hands.  I traced Walter’s and Yogi’s and then traced my own and took a picture to remember the moment by.  In that moment, it suddenly hit me that this whole week the ‘hand prints’ of these boys had been all over me – swinging, jumping rope, making friendship bracelets, and coloring pictures.  Yet, I realize the valuable importance of me having my handprints on those boys, and what an eternal impact the Gospel was having on them, as God spoke, played, and touched through me, into their lives.  

I pray that many seeds of the Gospel were sown into Marvin, Manuel, Walter, and Yogi’s lives.  I ask that one day they might wake up and say Buenos Dias, not to an amigo (friend) or hermano (brother) who has visited them on a mission trip, but to the one who has called them ‘friend’ (Jn. 15:15) and ‘brother’ (Heb. 2:11), the One whose hand formed them before they were born, and in whose hand their hearts and lives are kept forevermore, as adopted sons of God. 

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his on into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  Galatians 4:5-7

Written by Ryan Martin

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Posted by on June 14, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

guatemala 425“I’m taking inner beauty pictures,” I said, referring to pictures of the quaint little corners of the Casa property where the dirt was not the prominent feature in the scene.

“Oh,” replied Talor, “so you’re taking pictures of the kids?”

That statement has returned to my mind over and over since leaving Guatemala last week. The children really are the true beauty of Casa, and yet it has nothing to do with what they look like in the 281 pictures that I took of them. These children are beautiful because of the pain and because of the suffering that each one of them has endured. These children are beautiful because you wouldn’t recognize the pain in their hearts while spending a day playing with them. These children are beautiful because they are happier than I am most days, even though they have practically nothing and remain inside the same walls day after day. These children are beautiful because they recognize the love of Christ upon their wounded hearts.

One of the stories that we heard was of a young girl who stood up in front of everyone at Casa and told them of how the blood of Christ had made her clean. She looked at each individual in the room that night and said “You are clean.” She recognized that even though the outside was often filthy and scarred, the hearts of these children were being made clean and beautiful because of the grace of God upon their hearts and in their lives. This girl knew that inner beauty was possible for her battered soul because of the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit.

There are so many life-changing lessons that I received while in Guatemala, and many of them are still being processed in my mind even now. This particular lesson, though, stands out because I want to be able to see others the way that this girl saw them. She saw their beauty through God’s eyes – she saw their redeemed and adopted hearts. I have the same opportunity.

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:3-7

Written by Rebekah Burns

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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

IMG_3360The last night we were there, I was reading the Psalms for the day (Psalms 10, 40, 70, 100 and 130) and as I began to read, I realized how much Psalm 10 must have told of the previous lives of the children who are now at Casa.  Here’s what I mean: Psalm 10: “The wicked man hunts down the weak; he lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims; he lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength”. 

These verses tell so much of what the majority of these children have been through.  Victimized, abandoned, forced into awful prostitution, violated in so many ways.  Yet, God has seen fit to save these children, to give them a hope and a future.  In the all of these 5 Psalms, God is shown has the incredible Savior, Healer, Redeemer, Life Changer, Snatcher, the El Roi, Defender, Encourager, Lifter, Rock, Planner, Hearer, Future, Faithful, Father, Lover, Protector, Helper, Exalted, Deliverer, Shepherd, Maker, Merciful, Hope, Forgiver, Full of Redemption and so much more! 

Then, look in verse 18 of Psalm 10 “You, O Lord,…defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”  God is using Casa so that these children may not be terrified any longer.  Saved physically and emotionally from their former perpetrators, and then so many are being saved spiritually unto their Heavenly Father. 

They are happy at Casa; they are shown love like they never have been before and then they give to others.  I came there to give love and to give all that I had, yet I took home so much more than what I ever gave. 

What an incredible Father we have.  To Him be all the glory!

Written by Kathy Burgess

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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

Casa June 2009 296What do I have lay at His feet?  This is the question Mike Clark asked us during his Sunday Gringo sermon. This is my sixth trip to Guatemala and Casa, yet I am still surprised about how God uses it to mold me.  The world and devil tell us that we don’t have enough: enough time, enough stuff, enough house, enough food, enough money, enough media etc……. Even if I had everything the world had to offer would I really want to give Jesus a “flat screen TV?”  

Yet when I think of Casa I see a glimpse of what God desires for us. The children have less personal belongings than I can fit in my carry on suitcase, but it is enough. Why? I think the answer is that they spend their days not with stuff, but in fellowship with each other. The type of fellowship that praises Jesus together, runs to each other if they fall, shares a single sucker (a chili powderone) with 10 other people, taking a coloring book given to them and give out all the pages except one, and wait at our door at 6am in the morning just for a smile and a hug before school.  

The treasure they are storing up is not an outward collection of things but an inward treasure of Christ’s love in their hearts. My prayer is that I die to the world’s measure of wealth and that I can store up treasure that would be honoring to lay at His feet. (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

The picture is of my Chepe. Yes, it is first thing in the morning before school and his school uniform shirt is torn but as you look at him he is not ashamed because he has true JOY to be alive and it is not based on worldly things but on love that can only come from Jesus flowing out of him.  I am so blessed!!   

Written by Braidi Tartaglia

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Posted by on June 11, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria


Guatemala – June 2009

It’s hard to describe the experience you have at Casa. It’s humbling to see these children living in these conditions without any family, most of them with awful memories of sexual and physical abuse. How can we ever think we need more than we have or think we are having a bad day?  All these children need is a hug and attention. You feel like a piece of candy with ants all around you. You want to hug everyone of them and take away their troubles.

It’s amazing to see these children smile and laugh. The simplest thing you play with them makes them happy for the moment. Painting the girls nails was a big hit! Playing with the big parachute was alot of fun. Teaching them hand slap games was something the girls liked and wanted to play over and over again. Another thing I was amazed by is that kids share, take turns and worry about each other.  It was so wonderful to see the kids at church, praising God and Jesus. The teenagers have a church service all on their own on Friday night. It is not mandatory, but the big blue building was full of teenagers of both sexes. Their hands were in the air praising God. They were full of excitement and energy while singing their songs.  They bounced up and down and around the whole hour without ever getting tired. The Spirit of God filled the room. I didn’t, understand many of the words but I definitely felt the spirit and sang and bounced along with them.  John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

The kids pick out someone that has given them an extra hug or attention and will be waiting for you every time you come out in the morning or after lunch or supper. It makes you feel so good to know you have made a special connection with a few of them. They have so little but when they get something like a coloring book picture they have colored they want to give it to you. Some of the kids were getting to make bracelets out of colored string and beads. One of my little friends Tatiana made a bracelet and instead of keeping it for herself she wanted me to have it.  She has nothing and gives it away to me. How can I ever feel selfish again?  I won’t  ever take off the bracelet until it falls off and then I will keep it forever. When I ever feel sorry for myself or selfish all I’ll have to do is look at that bracelet.

I went to Casa to see my new grandson, Chepe’ and to help the kids. I know Chepe’ will have a great life full of God’s love and all of his new families love.  He will be fine. I wish I could have done more for the other kids there but to tell you the truth, I know they gave me way more than I could ever give them. 

Written by Shari Mains

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Posted by on June 11, 2009 in Guatemala, Samaria