Sunday, August 31, 2008

A good role model

We are grateful for the friendship of Kirk and Michelle Lightfield, missionaries that have lived in Gautemala for six years. Their wisdom and missionary advice are invaluable to us! They do whatever they can to help Casa Shalom and occasionally come on the weekend to spend a day with the kids. Here, Kirk bonds with Kevin, Alfonso, Carlos, Carlitos and Rolando (left to right). The boys have a lack of good male role models and we are grateful that Kirk takes his time to mentor them! Their presence in our lives has been a blessing!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An interesting observation...via People magazine

Because of the unreliability of sending mail internationally, our mail is sent to my parents' house, piling up until they come to see us or until we travel to Florida. Included among the credit card offers and letters from our alma matters asking for alumni donations is a stack of People magazines (to which I am ashamed to say I subscribe), which come one every few weeks. I noticed something interesting while reading issues from the last three months, when we left for Guatemala. Articles gush about new couples dating, already soul mates and madly in love....four issues later, a publisist has announced that "unfortunately, the couple has amicably split." I honestly laugh a bit whenever I come across an old article declaring that a celebrity couple will be together forever, only to see that they have split a few issues later. I was shocked when I read in one issue that comedian Chris Kattan had married his model girlfriend and only a a few issues later they had "amicably separated." Short-lived celebrity marriages are not new news, but it is shocking to see marriages lasting no longer than a few issues of People magazine. Guatemala certainly isn't exempt from the decline of the traditional, nuclear family. Abandonment by fathers is a huge issue, leaving many uneducated, single mothers to raise large families. Divorce, adultry and co-habitation are also large issues, leaving many children in unstable home environements.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The passing of Big Pastor

Yesterday, a dear friend of my family, David Lanier, from Cleveland, Tennessee, passed away after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. Mr. Lanier took my father on his first missions trip to Russia in the early 90's and helped instill in my father a desire to serve the less fortunate around the world. Partially because of this man, I was raised with a heart for missions work and I took my first missions trip at the age of 15. I must give Mr. Lanier (or "Big Pastor" as he was called by many) credit for planting the desire to do missions work in my family, ultimately resulting in my work at Casa Shalom. The former director of World Missions for the Church of God, Mr. Lanier has left a legacy of dedication to the needy and forgotten around the world. Please pray for his wife, Betty, of many, many years and for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as they cope with the loss of this dear man. ~ Jessica

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Max the Mighty

Max does his best impression of a Roman guard.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Going Stateside

Tomorrow, we leave for the United States for a 5-day trip. We can only be in Guatemala for three consecutive months and our first three months will soon be up. So we are going to spend a few days with Jessica's parents in Florida. It will be good to see family - and to brush our teeth with tap water for the first time in three months! Please pray God will grant us a safe trip to the United States and back. We will continue posting on the blog while we're Stateside, so keep checking for updates!

Josh and Jessica

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're working on spelling, but the kids really enjoyed playing with the sidewalk chalk brought by a group from America.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Casa Shalom Olympics!

In honor of the end of the Olympics, we present to you the events that would be included if Casa Shalom were to hold its own Olympic games. Not even Michael Phelps would be able to score a gold in these events!
1. The 100-meter sprint: Quick! The toddlers have escaped out the front door of their house. Catch them before all 10 run down the hill!
2. The 50-yard swim: This event only takes place during the rainy season, when it becomes necessary to swim from the school to the kitchen.
3. Soccer: Teen boys versus little boys and the match is deadly serious! The winner takes home pride and taunting rights for months.
4. Fencing: In this version, there are no masks, no fancy rules and the contendors are little boys. The weapon is bamboo sticks and the stragetgy consists of whacking the other little boy until he gives up!
5. Marbles: As any visitor to Casa Shalom can tell, the marbles tournament is more important than any other event. Winner takes everyone else's marbles!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looking for people to show love to Casa Shalom's kids!

Have you considered making a trip to Casa Shalom? Do you have a special gift you could share with the children? There are always many needs that need to be met and there is nothing the kids like more than people who come to spend time with them and make them feel special. Teams are already making inquiries into coming to Casa Shalom in the spring - so if you can meet the needs of the kids of Casa Shalom, contact us! Here is a list of current needs:
- Mechanical and plumbing repair - Medical and dental teams - Roof repair - A learning disabilities specialist to diagnose children who are having special difficulties in school - Painting - Teams to hold Vacation Bible School-style activities for the children - Teams to spend time with the children!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Creepy Crawlers

While we don't exactly live in the jungle, there are still lots of oversized insects that pop up in surpising places! This wolf spider was found while cleaning outside, the quarter-sized beetle paid us a visit inside our apartment and Alfonso found it funny to taunt us with the huge stick bug (on his shirt in the last photo)!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Website revamp

We are in the beginning stages of reconstucting the Casa Shalom webpage. As you who have visited the page may have noticed, the photos are outdated and there are lots of new kids since the page was created years ago. We are working with a web page designer in the United States who will do the actual redesign and we will supply the content. We are planning on including updated photos of all the children and staff, a list of current needs, information for groups who are planning on visiting Casa Shalom, a link to the soon-to-be-launched Casa Shalom Child Sponsorship Program, and a bit of Casa Shalom's history. What would you like to see on Casa Shalom's webpage? Any suggestions? Contact us at:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yet another photo of the babies!

Ok, ok we know....enough pictures of the cute toddlers. But when we take photos like this one, we can't help but post them! Please take some time to pray for these current needs at Casa Shalom:
- We are about to launch Casa Shalom's child sponsorship program. Please pray the Lord blesses the kids of Casa Shalom with sponsors who want to form special, one-on-one relationships with them!

- It is exam week for the students of Colegio Shalom! Please pray they can recall all they've studied.

- The teenage boys are getting a new house mother! She will arrive any day. Marina used to be a house parent at Casa Shalom but she left when her mother became ill. She's returning to take care of the teen boys so please pray her transition is smooth.
- The children are suffering from a varity of illnesses like sinus infections and ear infections. Please pray the Lord speeds their recovery!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A visit to the hospital

Today, we had our first trip to the hospital. Brayan, 11, took a soccer ball to the stomach and got bad stomach pains shortly after. He couldn't stand or walk because of the pain so we took him to a local hospital. A few hours later, the doctor said that the soccer ball hit his appendix, causing some bruising. Some medicine for the pain, an ice cream, and a few hours of rest later, Brayan is feeling much better. Thank God that Brayan will make a full recovery!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A new toy

While cleaning out a building last week, we found this pint-sized rockinghorse and gave it to the toddlers. Since then, they haven't been able to get enough of their new toy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

No school!

Today, Colegio Shalom had the day off to host a fundraiser to raise money for special programs. The grounds were opened up to friends and family of students, as well as to the community. Teachers sold pastries and sandwiches and there was a "beauty salon" set up in a classroom, selling haircuts and makeovers. The kids enjoyed the day off to relax and spend time with their friends! (Photos: Carlitos is all smiles, Obed enjoys some popcorn, Clara - who turned 18 a few days ago - helps cook steak, some of the younger boys show off their Casa Shalom jerseys, Evelyn and Sarai pose for the camera)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anna, 4, tries on an adult's coat for size.
As anyone who has met Anna can attest,
she has a personality big enough to fill her oversized jacket!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day trip to Panahachel

Today we took a day trip to Panahachel with Mr. Miguel Lima, the president of Casa Shalom's board. It was a wonderful chance to relax and to get to know Mr. Lima and his wife. He's a wonderful man with a heart for Casa Shalom's children. We shopped in the market, ate a great lunch of fish and veggies and took a boat ride around Lake Atitlan.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A little legwork needed

Computers for Guatemala, the organization that is donating 12 desk-top computers to Colegio Shalom's computer laboratory, has also offered to donate laptop computers to the students who are in university or a career development program. The laptops are older, but in good condition and many need a new power cord. We are looking for someone in the United States who is willing to do a little legwork and contact the manufacturers to find out what kind of power cord is needed for each computer model. With this information, we can buy the power cords on Ebay. If you are able to help us locate the information on the power cords, please contact us at These are pictures of Benjamin and Jacinta, who are studying to accounting and business, respectively.
Update: We have a volunteer to research this for us. Thanks!

Monday, August 11, 2008


It's an odd adorable little girl grinning at the camera and saying....whiskey??? Here in Guatemala , instead of saying "cheese" the kids say "whiskey." It makes for some surprised North Americans when the kids starting yelling out alcoholic beverages when you take their picture!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Game time

Brayan looks like he's ready for a swim during an activity with a team from the United States.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

La Fiesta De XBOX

Jess and I are trying to spend some time getting to know all of the kids here at Casa Shalom. We are doing this by spending one special evening with each of the houses. Last month I spent an evening hanging out with the oldest boys watching wrestling. Last night Jess and I decided to hang out with another of the boys' houses. We took the kids out to a restaurant called Pollo Campero. Pollo Campero is like KFC but delicious. After the kids chowed on fried chicken and ice cream, we did something that transcends cultures. We played XBOX. The boys had been asking me since I got here to play XBOX with them and so last night 13 of us gathered around a 19 inch tv and pummelled each other in Fight Night. The boys had never had the chance to play games before and I don't know enough Spanish to explain the controls to them but the boys had grins from ear to ear. I would have taken pictures but XBOX is far to important to interrupt for pictures. Fried chicken and video games, that's a good day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yosh and Yessica

People ask us all the time if we miss our home and our family in the United States. Yes, we do. But we couldn't be more certain that we are right where we are supposed to be. That is confirmed every time one of the little ones runs up to us, arms lifted to be held, yelling "Yosh" or "Yessica." In this photo, Josh is holding baby Tony and is with Angel, Sarai and Alex.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gym class not for softies

In the United States, gym class often consists of a half-hearted game of dodgeball, running laps on a track, or maybe even a horrifying square-dancing unit. Not in Guatemala. Enjoy the video of gym class at Colegio Shalom and the Guatemalan national sport - soccer!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An exciting opportunity - sponsor a child at Casa Shalom!

We are excited to announce that within the next month, Casa Shalom will start a program that will pair up each child at the home with a sponor or sponsor family in the United States. A monthly donation of $30 from the sponsor will help buy food, medicine, needed clothes and shoes, school supplies and special recreational trips outside the home for the sponosored child. The sponsor will receive letters and photos from their sponsored child, along with periodic updates about their education and well-being. Please pray about this opportunity and see if God would have you connect in this special way with a child at Casa Shalom. If you have visited Casa Shalom and have a specific child in mind you'd like to sponsor, please let us know by sending an email to

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The other side of the fence

Edgar and Benicio take in the view of the cow farm
nextdoor to Casa Shalom.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jose Marcelino

Jose Marcelino shows off his new toy monkey - Jose was brought to Casa Shalom with his two older sisters in October. They have 6 other siblings, but their parents couldn't afford to take care of them all. Last month, the 3 children were supposed to move back to their family's home. Representatives from Casa Shalom visited the home to ensure it was safe for the kids to return. When they arrived, they discovered that the other 6 siblings had been taken away by the government because they were prostituting Jose Marcelino's 15-year-old sister. Thank God for a safe, loving place like Casa Shalom where at-risk children can live, thrive and hear about the love of Jesus.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Can you help bring computers to Casa Shalom?

As we previously posted, Computers for Guatemala is donating 12 desk-top computers to Colegio Shalom's computer lab. The computers will replace the old lab computers, the majority of which are so old that they don't even turn on! The organization asks for 70 Quetzales (approximately 10 dollars) per computer to offset the cost of getting the computers through customs. The total to get the 12 computers is $120.00. Although this is a relatively small amount of money, Casa Shalom doesn't have this money in the budget. If you would be able to donate toward the cost of getting the computers from the United States, please contact us at
Update: Praise God! A friend from Yakima, Washington has pledged to donate the money to bring the computers to Casa Shalom.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Every couple weeks the kids have a dress up day at school, yesterday was pajama day. The activities for the day included a pillow fight, which turned into 25 kids wacking their poor teacher and their teacher stuck in the corner. Ahh good times!