Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fruits and veggies

Like Cesar and Antonio show us on the right, we are purposefully trying to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to the kids' diet. Fresh produce is very inexpensive here and is often grown naturally, without pesticides. As you can see by the carrots and peppers in Cesar's arms, the rich volcanic soil procduces some large veggies! And thankfully, the kids at Casa Shalom aren't as resistant to vegetables as kids in the United States are - they happily eat healthy foods.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A boost

Josh gives Kevin, 10, a hand with his pull-ups.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Clowning around

Today, a church from the capital visited and brought with them un payazo (a clown!). He was a very funny clown and played all kinds of games with the kids - he was a hit with all of the kids except baby Tony, who, when he saw the clown, was carrying a small plate of food. He saw the bright clothes and painted face, threw his plate of food straight up in the air and ran crying! We kept a good distance between him and the clown after that. The church also brought presents for all the kids. Check out the photos of the clown and the kids with their goodies, below. Photos: 1 - Left - Antonio is all smiles with new friend, the clown. 2 - Victor is so excited about his present 3 - The kids are happy to get their presents 4 - The clown plays a game with the kids 5 - Angel and Jose Marcelino show off their goodies 6 - Alex lords over Josh the fact that his "guys" just killed Josh's "guys" 7 - Jessica and the clown 8 - Sarai shows of her new pots and pans

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A letter to a friend

You always had a kind word, a warm smile, or a big hug waiting. You were an inspiration and a true solidier of the faith. You showed us how to praise God in the good times and the bad. My family and I considers ourselves lucky to have called you a friend. Thank you for demonstrating how to live for Jesus. You ran the race, you finished the fight, well done good and faithful servant. Our prayers go out to your family and friends in these times, may God be with them and comfort them.



Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday's Featured Child

This Friday's featured child is Maximiliano Gomez. Max is 13-years-old and has been at Casa Shalom for 5 years. When Max was little, his mother worked as a domestic servant for one of Guatemala City's wealthy families. After getting into legal trouble, everything she owned, including her house, was taken away. She couldn't afford to take care of her son and Max was sent to Casa Shalom. Max is patiently waiting for a sponsor to choose to form a special bond - he says his favorite food is pizza and that his favorite activity is playing soccer with his friends after school. When he grows up, Max says he wants to be a lawyer so he can help poor people like his mother, so people don't take advantage of them. Max is also proud to share that he'll be graduating from the 5th grade in a few weeks. If you would like to change Max's life by becoming his sponsor, please visit the Sponsorship Program website at: http://www.sponsorachildatcasashalom.blogspot.com/ or email us at: TheHansonsinGuatemala@gmail.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A little more security

Casa Shalom is about to get a little more secure. The home is surrounded on 3 sides by a security fence, but the 4th side, along the back of the property isn't enclosed. It is heavily wooded and extends down the back side of a mountain. Nevertheless, it has unfortunately been a way for intruders to enter the property fairly easily. It's also been a way for the oldest of our 57 little angels to sneak out of the home on occasion. God has provided a solution to this problem through the Spotsylvania Church of God in Virginia, which has donated both money and labor to fence in the back side of the property. Right now, local workers are working on the fence and in a few weeks, a group of men from the Spotsylvania church will be at Casa Shalom to complete the project. Below are some photos of the project in progress. Also included is a gratuitous cute photo of Jose Marcelino trying to help clean - by sweeping dirt!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looking for a home for Christmas

Believe it or not, here at Casa Shalom we're already making plans for Christmas. Each December, the kids of Casa Shalom leave for 3 - 4 weeks to spend the holiday with family, if they have family, are legally allowed to see them, and if the family can care for them for that long. Other kids have no family and live with local pastors. This tradition allows the kids to experience a more family-oriented atmosphere during the holidays and allows them to have more attention focused on them individually. Sadly, there is a group of three siblings who will be spending their first Christmas without their family. Vinicio, Marvin and Colim have been at Casa Shalom for several years - they were removed from their home because they had no father and their mother, a drug dealer, didn't care for them and allowed them to wander freely in the city's largest garbage dump, which was adjacent to their home. Regardless of their mother's profession, the kids enjoyed spending the holidays with their mother - until last year when a few days into January, people angry with her over a drug deal gone bad invaded their home and murdered their mother, several cousins, and aunts during dinner one evening. All 3 kids were present and survived by diving out the window or hiding under the dinner table.

It's certainly not our goal to depress anyone - it's just that we are constantly amazed by the obstacles many of these kids have faced in their short lifetimes. Kids like Vinicio, Marvin and Colim have experienced more heartache in their 13, 11, and 9 years than many of us will experience in a life time. In the last few weeks, Vinicio has been acting out both in class and at home and we were getting frustrated by his lack of responsivenss. But after we heard this story, we began to have more compassion for Vinicio and his struggle to cope with the murder of his family in front of his eyes. Please keep these 3 special kids in your prayers, even as we look for a caring, compassionate family to place them with during their first Christmas away from their mother.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beans and Maseca

Casa Shalom received some wonderful news today - a church in the Peten district of Guatemala (a few hours from the capital) has offically pledged to donate a whole year's worth of beans and maseca flour (what the cooks use to make tortillas) to the home! This is a practical, much-needed blessing, considering beans and tortillas are staple of every Guatemalan's diet. Praise God for His provision!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"I didn't wet my pants!"

Yesterday, we had one of the funniest moments since our arrival in Guatemala. All the kids and staff went to church in the capital yesterday - the kids really enjoy attending this particular church because they have a great children's ministry. Upon arrival, the kids went to kids' church and the adults and older kids to "big church." After the service ended, we went to collect the younger kids. Sarai, 2 and 1/2, dressed in a beautiful white dress (wish I had a photo!) ran up to us and proudly announced, "I didn't wet my pants!" She was so proud she made it through the service without an accident. And we congratulated her like she'd won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family trees

The school year is winding down at Colegio Shalom. Here in Guatemala, classes end the first week of October and exams are the second week. That leaves just a few weeks left of school. In my high school classes, I'm currently teaching family-related vocabulary to the students. It is a subject they are interested in, but it's also touchy because many of the students from the orphanage don't have a family, or at best, it's a very broken family. So, I have to modify my in-class exercises. For example, in the photos below, my freshman students create family trees. Instead of using their own family, however, they had to create a fictional family, including grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. The students enjoyed the chance to be creative - when done, we decorated the classroom with their family trees.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A fun fiesta and some good news

Today, our missionary friends, Kirk and Michelle Lightfield, threw a party for the kids. There were hot dogs and cupcakes, face painting and piñatas! Unfortunately for the kids, I was in charge of the face painting, but they didn't seem to mind that my face-painting skills are clearly not up to par. They enjoyed the food, the treats, and especially the candy- and toy-filled piñantas. Our ear drums are sad to report that the kids are making good use of the toy whistles they all received!
Good news, also: The doctor who visits Casa Shalom periodically today examined all of the babies to check on their health. He was happy to report that every one was in improved health from the last time he visited - their weight has improved (meaning for most of them that is has gone up!), their teeth are better, and they are developing as expected. Praise God! (Photos: 1 -Cesar and Sarai show off their face paint and new toys. 2 - Jessica attempts to paint Angel's face 3 -Tony looks cool in his new sunglasses. . 4 - Director Jorge Mario and his wife Noemi serve cupcakes 5 - The boys whack a piñata with balloons, cheered on by our friend Kirk

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday's Featured Child

This was intended to be yesterday's post - but due to strong storms, we didn't have power for most of the day - so this is Friday's post - on Saturday!

This Friday's featured child is Nixon Roberto. Nixon is patiently waiting for someone to choose him as a sponsored child! He is 17 years old and is starting University, studying to be a science teacher. Nixon has one big passion - soccer, scoring a majority of Casa Shalom's goals when the boys from the orphanage play against other church or school groups. Nixon dreams of one day becoming a professional soccer player, but says that he wouldn't mind being a teacher either. Check out the video of Nixon's most recent goal, below. If you're interested in sponsoring Nixon, or any other child from Casa Shalom, please visit the Casa Shalom Child Sponsorship webpage: http://www.sponsorachildatcasashalom.blogspot.com/
or email us at: http://www.TheHansonsinGuatemala@gmail.com/

Thursday, September 18, 2008

From the oldest to the youngest

Carlos, one of the oldest children at Casa Shalom, patiently puts up with the curiosity of Sarai, one of the youngest children.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A few days ago, a church from the indigenous K'iche region of Guatemala visited Casa Shalom to bring snacks, presents, and candy-filled piñatas for the children at the orphanage. We were fascinated by their native dress and by the fact that many of them didn't speak Spanish, communicating instead in K'iche, an indigenous language that researchers say has been spoken since the time of Christ! It was humbling to see these obviously needy people with such a desire to bless the less-fortuante. The children of Casa Shalom were blessed by their presents and we were blessed by their giving spirit.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy 187 years of independence Guatemala!

The children of Casa Shalom celebrate Guatemala's 187th birthday by saluting the flag and singing the national hymn.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A 10-mile celebration...Independence Day in the U.S. is less tiring!

As we've been blogging about all week, Guatemalan Independence Day is tomorrow. Guatemala has been celebrating all week, and today's celebration was a run called "La Torcha" (the torch). Groups all across the country celebrate liberty by running in groups, led by a person bearing a torch. Churches, schools, civic groups, groups of friends, people of all ages and social classes all participate in torchas. The distance and route are chosen by each individual group. This evening, Casa Shalom ran a torcha from San Lucas to back to the orphanage - a nearly 10-mile run! We decorated the vechiles, laced up tennis shoes, and took off from a central point in San Lucas. The babies even got to participate - they ran for a block and then were loaded in a van to follow the rest of the group - even baby Tony, the youngest child at Casa Shalom, participated! To make a 10-mile run even more interesting, a big part of the torcha tradition is bystanders lining the route, throwing water on the runners. Everyone gets pretty soaked, but being that I was the ONLY non-Guatemalan (and a very obvious non-Guatemalan at that) participating as far as I could tell, I was a prime target for the water-throwers. By the time we arrived, I looked like I'd jumped in a swimming pool, thanks to countless water balloons and buckets of water hurled in "the gringa's" direction! I'm proud to say that I finished the run and kept up with the kids. What a interesting, albeit tiring, experience! ~ Jessica

Photos below: 1-Director Jorge Mario and Alfonso decorate the van with the Guatemalan flag and balloons 2- Elias, Martin and Spike rest and hydrate in preparation for the run - yes, Spike ran the 10 miles 3- Jorge Mario and some the kids pose with the decorated van 4- the lighting of the torcha 5 - Jessica talking with Edwin and entertaining baby Tony before the run 6 - Elias and Spike taking a break during the run 7 - Kevin and Flora about mile four 8 - Vinicio showing that he's not tired 9 - Juan and little Alex are happy to be done running 10 - Jessica and her running partner, Flora 11 - Sarai eats a well-earned sandwhich after the race.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Glitter paper

A visiting group brought the toddlers presents wrapped in glitter paper today. The kids loved the presents but they loved the wrapping paper even more! They quickly discovered the glitter came off and we soon had shiny, glittery kids like Angel and Antonio! In the video below, Jose Marcelino makes his first phone call. He may not have much previous experience with a phone, but he sure likes to talk (he's talking to Erica, Josh's younger sister).

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Independence Day Celebrations!

Continuing the pre-Independence Day celebrations (Guatemalan Independence Day is September 15th), the Colegio Shalom students came to school today dressed in traditional Guatemalan clothing.