Thursday, July 31, 2008

Computers for Casa Shalom!

A few weeks ago, a friend from the United States told me that she wanted to help Colegio Shalom obtain some new computers for the computer lab. She had been in contact with Computers for Guatemala, an organization that provides computers to schools in impoverished and rural areas of Guatemala. She forwarded us the application for computers, we filled it out, and after some contact with the organization's director, we received news today that we will be receiving 12 new computers! Praise God! The computers are very much needed - the current computer lab is filled with very old machines, many of which don't even turn on. These new computers will allow students more one-on-one time with the machines and will allow the older students to learn more advanced programs. Thanks so much to Amy for being our link to this great organization!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On the up and up!

Casa Shalom has had an exciting, promising past few weeks. The new director has ushered in many positive changes. The food situation has improved, the grounds are being very-well- maintained and a new maintenance man has been hired. He's already making some much-needed repairs to doors and furniture. The director has some great plans for the future, including creating a library for the school and a chicken farm to provide meat for the children. He's also creating rooms to serve as living quarters for additional staff. Within the next few weeks, new house parents will be hired and each house will have full-time house parents. Please keep Casa Shalom in your prayers during this transitional time!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The upside of culture shock

When trading in your home culture for a foreign culture, there are many moments where you're lost, confused and wondering "Just what are these people thinking?" There are some moments, though, that you find yourself appreciating various aspects of your new culture. The Guatemalan culture is just not preoccupied with many of the issues American culture is. Here is a list of things we haven't heard discussed once by Guatemalans - and for that, we are grateful.

1. Miley Cirus
2. The mortgage crisis
3. The November election
4. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's twins
5. Going green (or anything environmentally-related - this may not be such a plus!)
6. The war in Iraq
7. How the iphone just didn't deliver as promised
8. Britney Spears' custody battle
9. Anything about Tom Cruise
10. The merits of PCs versus Macs

Sunday, July 27, 2008


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sí sí Señor

Last week during a group dinner (steak, mashed potatoes and beans!), the toddlers led a round of Sí, sí Señor (Yes, Yes Lord). Enjoy a video of their performance - they love to sing about Jesus!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Visit from the dentist

Today, a dental team from Youth With a Mission in Topeka came to examine and clean the teeth of all the kids at Casa Shalom. They scrubbed, flossed and took care of more serious issues like filling cavities, repairing broken teeth, and pulling bad teeth. (Photos top to bottom: Angel getting his teeth checked, Anna getting a cavity filled, Alejandro getting a check-up, Julio being brave, the toddlers waiting for their check-ups!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Please pray for the Guatemalan adoption system

Until very recently, the only country from which the United States adopted more children than Guatemala was China. In May of this year, that all changed when foreign adoptions from Guatemala were put on old, due to a corrupt legal system. Several children at Casa Shalom, like little Tony on the left, are here because their mothers tried to sell them in an illegal adoption. Tony's mother agreed to sell him to a lawyer if the lawyer would pay her hospital bills. While this hold on foriegn adoptions has spared many children from being illegally adopted, it has also caused heartache for hundreds families who are waiting to legally adopt children from the country. We are in contact with several families in the United States who are in the process of adopting from Casa Shalom, but their cases have been put on hold. Please pray for the affected families and that the Lord will restore the broken Guatemalan adoption system. For a look into Guatemala's adoption process, check out this recent article.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A very special reunion

11 years ago, young Shawn Niles from Yakima, Washington made his first visit to Casa Shalom. Every teenager in his youth group got paired up with a "little pal" from the orphanage to mentor during their trip. Shawn was paired with Edwin Garcia, a little boy with whom he bonded quickly. Before he left Casa Shalom, Shawn gave Edwin a baseball with his signature and the signature of the other youth group members. Neither knew that in 11 years, they would be reunited. On June 15th, Shawn returned to Casa Shalom, this time as a youth pastor leading 14 members from his church. He was thrilled to find out that Edwin is not only still at Casa Shalom, but that he is an intelligent, thriving, successful college student who is pursuing a career in business and marketing. Shawn also couldn't believe it when Edwin showed him that he still has the baseball he'd given him 11 years ago. Edwin remembered Shawn well and told everyone that Shawn had made an impact on him as a young child.

Shawn and Edwin's story is a great real-life illustration of the parable of the sower Mark chapter 4. Shawn sowed seeds of caring and kindess into Edwin's life. These seeds along with others sown by different visitors to Casa Shalom helped Edwin develop into a successful man of God. Please keep Shawn and Edwin's story in your mind as you minister to those around you. God can use your small acts of kindness to make a lasting impact on those you minister to!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trouble the Cocker Spaniel

Meet Trouble, our new cocker spaniel! Josh brought him home as a present yesterday and he has lived up to his new name so far. :) On another happy note, the water system was fixed this afternoon! Nothing like a few days minus a shower to make you really grateful!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Piñata Fun + an administrative note

Today, a local church came to have service with the children and to bring them juice, cake and candy. The kids had a blast - I have never seen them eat so much candy in such a short period of time. Afterward, they still managed to make room for a lunch of fried chicken and veggies! The church brought three piñatas and insisted I take a few swings. Enjoy the piñata video.

On an administrative note, there has been a change in leadership at Casa Shalom. On July 15th, Jorge Mario Ramirez, the director of World Missions for the Church of God in Guatemala, took over the position of Director of Casa Shalom. We are very excited to have him and his family in leadership. He has some wonderful plans for the home - including building a library! Please keep Señor Ramirez and his wife in your prayers as they guide Casa Shalom.

Also, please keep the water situation at Shalom in prayer - the water has been out for the better part of three days and the new maintenance man and director are having a difficult time fixing the problem. Pray that we get water soon - the kids are starting to get really smelly!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An introduction to stuffing

Awhile ago, a company donated dozens and dozens of boxes of American-style stuffing to Casa Shalom. As stuffing isn't eaten here in Guatemala and no one knows how to prepare it, the boxes have remained untouched. The new director decided this was simply too wasteful and sent boxes of the stuffing to each home to be cooked and eaten. Tonight, the teenage boys asked us if we could help them prepare the stuffing. We cooked a batch of the stuffing to see if they would like it - they did, and nearly all 14 of them asked for seconds. So we cooked a second batch. In all, we cooked 7 bags of stuffing tonight!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Costume day

Every few weeks, the pre-schoolers and kindergarteners of Colegio Shalom have a costume day. Today, the children came to school dressed as different workers - there were nurses, gardeners, pilots, janitors and more! Thanks to the ladies of Christian Life Center who created the costumes for the children who live at Casa Shalom! Enjoy the pictures of the kids.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


On Tuesday the youth group from Christian Life Center in Yakima, Washington arrived here at Casa Shalom. They have been doing some less-than-glamorous jobs like hauling concrete blocks, cutting the grass and painting! Please pray their visit will continue to be smooth - please also keep another issue in prayer. There has been an outbreak of lice and we need to get it under control quickly - bring on the RID! Enjoy another video from our visit to the park! (PS - Alex quickly recovered after his fall in the video!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Free Rice

We came across a great website the other day. tests your vocabulary skills and donates rice through the United Nations World Food Program for each word defined correctly. Donating rice 20 grains at a time may not seem like much - but yesterday alone, 83,260, 380 grains were donated. Over 3 billion grains have been donated to date!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fun day at the park

On Sunday, the whole orphanage took a trip to a local park -the kids enjoyed a grillout, hiking, catching tadpoles, and riding rides. After we left the park, we got ice cream! Enjoy the photos and video! (Pictures top to bottom: Victor enjoying tadpole hunting, Josh running from an enormous duck, Sarai enjoying her ice cream cone, the guys at the grill, the babies with their ice cream cone.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hackey Sack Toddler

Enjoy this video of Alex playing hackey sack with a member of the team from Maranatha Church.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

La Fiesta De Lucha Libre

I walked into the teenage boy's house the other day and saw that they were watching some good old fashioned WWE wrestling (it was WWF till they lost a legal battle with the World Wildlife Fund.) Anyway this brought me back to my teenage years and I decided we needed to have a wrestling pay-per-view party. Thus La Fiesta De Lucha Libre (wrestling) was born. Friday night I bought 15 liters of soda, 5 giant bags of chips, 250 cookies and a couple of pay-per-view dvds that may or may not of been pirated. 3 hours later, the boys had eaten all the food, I had been forced to tap out from a choke hold courtesy of a 12 year old and we had had a great bonding time. What a great way to spend an evening! Josh

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I took the pre-teen and teenage girls on a shopping excursion tonight. We piled into the pick-up truck Guatemalan style, had lots of fun making our purchases, and then went to Dominoes for a pizza feast. Some of those girls ate 6 or 7 pieces! It appears that all is forgiven after yesterday's little "chat" :) ~ Jessica

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teenagers are the same everywhere!

We have discovered that Guatemalan teenagers are very similar to North American teenagers....they drink as much Coca-Cola as they can get their hands on, they listen to their music far too loudly, and they occasionally show some serious attitude! Today was an interesting role reversal, when we had to have a little chat with some of the young ladies who just felt like staying in their home instead of attending school. They didn't much care for their lecture and turned the attitude on fast! Being in our twenties ourselves, negotiating with moody teens in not a skill we possess, but God is helping us show the teens love while trying to establish some healthy boundaries for them!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First day of teaching!

Today was my first day of teaching English at Colegio Shalom. It went very well and the children are all excited to learn English. They are the most eager students I have ever seen. That's not to say that teaching wont be a challenge. First, there is no curriculum and the classroom technology is not very advanced. My classes range from pre-schoolers to 18-year-olds! Also, teachers here are not afraid to hold students back if they do not pass a grade level. Because of some of the students' difficult backgrounds and low education levels, I have a few 11- and 12-year olds in my first grade class! What a challenge. But the children's eagerness to learn the language will make the difficulties worthwhile. Please pray that God gives me the creativity and flexibility to create lesson plans for the children of Colegio Shalom. (Photos of me teaching to come!) ~ Jessica

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First Anniversary

Yesterday, we celebrated one year of marriage. We took a day trip to Antigua, Guatemala to enjoy some rest and relaxation. We are so thankful that God has blessed us with the opportunity to spend the next year with these wonderful children!

Photo: Celia and Carlitos enjoying some pizza!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Spike the Roof Dog has a new home

The teenage boys at Casa Shalom have a dog named Spike. Until now, Spike has resided on the roof of their home, spending most of his time barking at passersby and gnawing on things tossed to him on the roof. Only in Guatemala!

Josh spent most of a rainy evening helping the boys construct a proper ground-level home for Spike. The result is probably the largest dog house in Guatemala!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Busy Times at Shalom

Wow, it has been a busy couple weeks since we arrived at Casa Shalom. We have had 3 teams in the last 2 weeks and that equals out to 50 people. That’s almost as many Gringos as kids. The teams the last few weeks have been amazing and everybody from LifeChurch, Enochville Church of God, and Maranatha Church of God have shown Christ’s love, a willing spirit and an unparalleled work ethic. In just two weeks those groups have painted all but one house, done VBS for the kids, replaced a roof, replaced a well and cleaned out a storage area that allowed Shalom to donate 30-40 bags of clothes to the local community. We have also had 2 pizza parties for the kids. Thank you all so much for your support of Shalom and our ministry. God bless you all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

All is well

The group from the Enochville Church of God (along with some help from the men of Maranatha Church) fixed Casa Shalom's well today! The home will no longer have to purchase water to be trucked in every few weeks. The first photo is Neil, one of the Enochville group members, balanced precariously inside the well on pipes. The other is the result of many days of hard labor - clean water!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Big shoes to fill

Alex stole Josh's shoes and put them on over his own little shoes. After running around and falling several times, the other kids figured out that he was an easy target to push over!