Monday, July 18, 2011

Guatemala Round Dos

It's been an amazing two days already. We've been to both villages and worked like crazy. Yesterday, we went to the high mountain village of Bejucalito. The town is literally hanging off of mountains and somehow they farm the land. We spent our day mixing concrete yo finish up the school play yard. Our concrete machine consisted of our arms, shovels, little kids, and a 15 year old master mason named Hilmar.

Today, we ventured southwest from Guatemala city to Santa Luisa. This was the village i worked in last time if you read that blog post. It was amazing to see the familiar faces an receive loving hugs. You feel gods presence when you hug these people. You don't want to let go.

In this village, we worked on the foundation of the pastors house. Basically, I shoveled dirt out of a ditch in order to make it 3 feet deep. I removed more dirt and placed it on myself than I think made it in the pile. We were forced to stop by the crazy afternoon rain storms. These rain showers make you think you should probably build a boat. But because of the rain, we were able yo stop and break bread with the local mr fixit, Chevo, and the three prayer warrior women. Lunch is a very rare treat for them. We basically gave them everything we had. It was a true blessing to be able to serve them. We got to learn a little more about one of the ladies. She ha given birth to 8 children; five are alive. Two died in child birth and one died at 18 months. Two of her five alive are considered "sick." basically, they are mentally handicapped. The other three are healthy. Her husband abandoned the children and her. He rejected his "sick" children. He passed away two years ago. She now supports her family through faith in god and the amazingly strong church body that is established in the village. In the book of James, he declares that faith without works is dead. This woman gives all she has yo her church, friends, and family and expects nothing in return. She is a beautiful picture of faith.

Today I experienced one of the best lunches I've ever had, and all we ate were ham sandwiches, doritos, and animal crackers. I could do this lunch everyday.

Keep close...more to come.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Lady Liberty

Hello all you beautiful Americans or random foreigners viewing this blog. The words in this post have been endorsed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E Lee, Eli Whitney, and Matchbox 20.

I have spent the weekend soaking up sun rays on a beautiful lake. I've been living the American dream; listening to sappy country while quoting Katy Perry, drinking Mexican beer, eating 7 types of deserts, waving Ole Glory, and hugging my family and friends. My scalp is burnt to a crisp. My back looks like leather. And my neck is as red as a sweet and delicious watermelon...which I ate my body weight of this weekend. Best thing about today, other than our freedom from those crazy Brits, I didn't have to go to work today. God Bless this Land. But honestly, we have it pretty good in this country. No one is threatening to kill us because of our skin color, dress code, religious views, or music choice...

...but what if there was? Would we live differently? Would we be less or more bold? Who knows. What I do know, is that I should not take a single day for granted. We are not guaranteed tomorrow or even tonight's dinner. Crazy thought, but I think I'm going to kill someone with kindness tomorrow and just see what happens. What do I have to lose?

Lifetones: You Are a Tourist by Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie - You Are A Tourist [Official Video]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I like Turtles...

Just when you have completely given up all hope, I come back in the nic of time...right? Probably not.

Here's how life is treating me right now...

Basically, my life is slowly changing. Friendships are changing. Work is changing. And my diet is changing (I can explain). The majority of my close friends have all moved away from the comfort of my college town; the town that I still live in. It has never been more true that it is not the location that makes the memories, but the people. I think the only exception to this for me would be Italy. I could definitely have a good time by myself in Italy. People seem to be posting pictures on Facebook daily of their European adventures. It makes me miss Italy terribly. I hope to return to that beautiful country in the very near future.

Two of my good friends are now married. Another one bites the dust. Many friends are off on adventures in random towns chasing all sorts of different dreams. It seems that the generation I'm growing up in is less motivated to fall into the so called "American Dream" lifestyle. We are said to be the richest generation, meaning, we are coming out of college from families that are more wealthy than past generations to come out of college. Because of this, we are less likely to immediately jump into the working force and bang out the 8 to 5 grind, or in my case, 730 to 530 grind. There is a huge pull for me to run strait away from this "day to day" grind, but when I step back and look at my surroundings, I continue to be amazed by the many many blessings that God has brought into my life. So in the big scheme of things, I'm pretty content with my current life surroundings and conditions. I really have no basis to complain about anything. However, I do miss my close friends that have all slowly started to move away.

My diet is crazy these days. I'm trying to eat healthier; a lot more fruit and vegetables. I'm trying to stay away from candy since I just got a bad result from the dentist the other week. Who would have thought a college life of Mountain Dews and Sour Patch Kids would result in cavities? But seriously, I feel like I have a parasite. I am hungry all the time. Am I eating for two? When I wake up, I feel like I could eat a huge breakfast. By the time I get to work, its snack time. Then there's lunch. After lunch, there is snack time. Around 4pm, it's second snack time. Get home, eat a pre-dinner snack, then there's dinner. Don't forget desert. And then, I normally go to bed with the thought of "I could go for a hamburger right about now." Do I feed this need? Of course I do. I'm young and I don't want to miss out on a potential second growth spurt...

Music Update! Coldplay put out a new single...it's ridiculous. Can't wait for more.

Every Tear Is a Waterfall by Coldplay

Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (Official)

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Children Of God" - Official Music Video

Kind of cheesy...but if you can get past that...it's a pretty good song and video.

The Beginning of Guatemala

Prelude: So, I've tried starting this blog entry about four times now. I tried starting last weekend, which would have been a full week after the Guatemala trip. I've felt like I should not only be informative about the trip, but also try and share the emotion of the trip that I experienced. Well, realistically, there is no possible way that my words and pictures will be able to convey the emotional experience of my mission trip to Guatemala. So, with that being said, I apologize the wait and I hope you enjoy all the pictures (they are rare on this blog).
First, Guatemala is an amazingly beautiful country. We were based in Guatemala City where we were fortunate enough to stay in the Ramada Inn. It was wonderful. The hotel was just like any other nice American hotel, except they had a continental breakfast blessed by God. I've never had a better tasting pinnaple. I think that I ate around 16 full pinnaples. If I could have figured out a half way intelligent way to smuggle some back, I would have ditched all of my clothes and filled my suitcase with pinnaples.

This is the view from the top of our hotel. Guatemela City has around 3 million people that live there. However, there is barely anything nice. Everything is dirty, chained up, and slightly dangerous.
So every convenient store, bank, McDonalds, or pet store has an armed guard standing out front and one inside. It's some what intimidating and I felt very out gunned. They were not impressed with the Super Soaker that I had brought with me. One thing I learned in Guatemala, you could make thousands of dollars teaching people gun safety and muzzel control. One guard thought that something was wrong with his barrel, the most logical thing to do was clearly, look down it. Another, decided that he better plug his gun when we walked in. Thumbs obviously make the best plugs. As you can tell, Guatemala is very dangerous and protected my highly trained military officers. The government supported our efforts of being in the country, so we were actually granted a police escort each day to our villages, where the officers would stay with us just in case...Nothing screams "hey, over here!! We are important and you should kidnap us!!" like a police escort and constant body guards.

So Guatemala City has the coolest school busses ever!!! They buy up all our old school busses, completely redo them, and dress them up like a fair ride. I'm pretty sure they put jet engines in them. They are quite possibly the fastest school busses I've ever seen. The city's public transportation is pretty terrible. So, savey business men decide to buy school busses and make them look crazy awesome and give people rides all around town. The better decorated your bus, the more people will want to ride it.Oh yeah one thing, each bus has a hired gang member that rides in the door so that the driver can go to all the bad neighbors and not get shot in the face. All aboard the fun bus! Now that is a party bus!
The church that I attend, The Church at Arkansas, has made it their mission to team up with a pastor in Guatemala City to reach different villages around the city. Our purpose in Guatemala was to work in two villages conducting manual labor, of course. One village, Bejucalito, is the location where our church has been going for a couple of trips now. The other village, Santa Louisa, was going to be a new location for our church to attend. Pastor Pablo stumbled upon this village and was led to start a church there. He preaches Sunday mornings in Guatemala City, then drives two hours to Santa Louisa to preach there at night. I placed on the Santa Louisa team. We had two objectives: 1) build a worm farm (weird, but how hard could it be?) 2) make a natural bapitrsy (okay, maybe a little bit more challenging, but still doesn't seem like a full week's worth of work). Those were dumb thoughts and dumb assumptions. This week of manual labor kicked my buttox and I loved every minute of it.

The open air church in Santa Louisa. These people were amazing. There faith is truly something to be sought after. They taught me so many things, when I thought I was going to be able to teach them some much.

This is one of the worm farms. See all the boulders? Well those weren't their original locations.

Before:
After:
This is a completed worm farm, ready for leaves and more soil. The village women will be able to maintain these farms while their husbands are in the fields working. It will be a huge financial opportunity to the community. This organic soil is currently being exported to Europe for big bucks.

Here is the majority of the manual labor crew working on the baptistry and worm farm. We are standing in the completed baptistry. It is fed by a natural spring, which the village has traditionally used for a water source during the dry season. Now, they will use it to publicly display the inward change of a person's soul. The man in the middle with the baby blue shirt is Chevo. He is an elderly man in the village and one of the strong followers of Christ in the area. He spoke no English. We spoke no Spanish. That didn't stop him from instructing us and working beside us. He had it all planned out how to make the baptistry, and it worked amazingly. His passion and faith in Christ was something I've seen a very few times. You could feel God's presence surrounding this man without him saying a word. He was such a challenge for my life. I want to live a life so free of the world that I have to say nothing in order for people to know I'm different. Hopefully this picture explains Chevo a little better.
When the concrete wall damming up the spring to form the baptistry was finally coming together, Chevo busted out in song. It was a very familiar sound. He was singing Holy, Holy, Holy in spanish in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle surrounded by American young men, covered in mud and dirt. After his song, he went into one of the most passionate prayers I've ever experienced. Our translator tried to relay the prayer through tears, saying that God was preparing a special place for us in heaven and that we were the arms of Christ he has been praying for for 2 years.
We were able to finish the projects in four days. The baptistry filled up enough to baptize people at the end of the week. Four people from our group and three locals shared their stories in front of the village and were baptized in fresh spring water in a natural baptistry in the middle of backwoods Guatemala, to an amazing, righteous and cleansing God.

Once again, I apologize for the delay in getting something posted from this trip. I've already let myself get caught up in the business that is the world. However, there's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't think about this village and the people there. I plan on posting additional pictures about the trip. It's so hard to give a good depiction of what I experienced, but hopefully this gave you a snapshot. There are so many stories that could be told.
Music for your Soul: Children of God by Third Day