Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Look into 2009

Happy New Years! We hope you are spending the holiday with family and friends. We are excited about the start of 2009. Many people are asking us about our plans for the coming year, so we thought we'd share just a bit with you our thoughts and feelings about the upcoming year.

We will be returning to Casa Shalom on January 12th and right away will begin work at Colegio Shalom. Jessica will be teaching English again to all the grades from pre-school through the last year of high school. Josh will have a new position as the discipline coordinator of the school and will be implementing a reorganization plan he created to help improve organization and productivity at the school. He can't wait to use his skills as a teacher to help improve Colegio Shalom!

We are committed to staying in Guatemala until this Spring. As the end of our one-year commitment draws closer, we are fervently praying about our future in Guatemala. We feel the Lord is calling us to continue our work at Casa Shalom and we are praying that He guides our path and opens/closes the right doors. In order to stay at Casa Shalom, the Lord will need to work a miracle and make it financially possible for us to continue our work with the children. We ask that you pray with us regarding our future at Casa Shalom - in a way, we feel like our work there is just starting!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Impromptu English

Jose Ramiro is Jessica's little shadow! He's very interested in English and speaks it better than almost any other child at Casa Shalom. He follows Jessica around with his English notebook, asking how do you say (insert any word here!) in English.

Ice cream fiesta

Brandon enjoys a strawberry ice cream cone at a recent ice cream fiesta (party!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Celia and Josh

Celia and Josh are all smiles.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A miracle, a parable and an old joke

Take a moment to read an interesting reflection found on

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the parable of the talents, and an old joke you’ve all probably heard might help us ponder what it means to be a steward of what God has given us.
Recall the story about the feeding of the five-thousand (
Mathew 14:13-21). The disciples brought complaints about the hungry multitude to Jesus, and he responded compassionately by blessing the bit’s of food from a boy’s lunch – five loaves of bread and two fishes. “Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people”). Now imagine a scenario in which the disciples just kept thanking Jesus for all the bread and fish – without passing them along to the people. Imagine the disciples starting to be overwhelmed by the piles of multiplying loaves and fish surrounding them, yelling out to Jesus, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” all the while never passing along the food to the people. And beneath the mounting piles of food, the disciples even could be heard complaining to Jesus that he wasn’t doing anything about the hungry multitude.
Now look again with fresh eyes at the Parable of the Talents (
Matthew 25:14-28). In this parable the Master entrusts three servants with different amounts of His wealth. Each does as he thinks best and when the Master returns he commends the two who multiplied His wealth “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” He then chastises the one who did nothing of use with the talents trusted to him and subsequently takes them from him to give to the faithful stewards.
Clearly, a lot of lessons are meant to be learned from this parable – however, even the “wicked, lazy” servant had the sense to say “see, here is what belongs to you.” What would we say of this servant or of a fourth servant who took the wealth entrusted to him and spent it on himself? Not just the profit, but all of what was put in his charge? What would the Master say or do to return and find His wealth that was entrusted to His servant squandered as if it was the servant’s to do with as he wished for himself. As the richest Christians in human history have we spent the Masters wealth that has been entrusted to us on ourselves by way of our homes/cars/clothes/etc. We know everything we have belongs to God and is to be counted as a blessing, but do we see that blessing as deserved or undeserved? What do our actions and attitudes reveal? Are we the “fourth servant,” can we at least say to God “here is what belongs to you?”
An old joke used by many as a sermon analogy about how God works in this world provides us with more to think about. The joke is retold here:
One day there was this preacher and he was having his usual sermon when all of a sudden it started raining, really, really, hard! After about one full hour of complete non-stop rain, they started making evacuations because the whole church was flooding, but the preacher just stood there in the ankle-deep water.
A guy in a car came up to him and said. “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” But the preacher just replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” The man then said “Whatever!” and drove away.
The water was now knee-deep and a guy in a raft came over to the Preacher and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” Despite the second warning the Preacher just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” The man then said “Whatever!” and rowed away in the orange raft.
The water was now waist-deep and a guy in a power boat came to the Preacher and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get in here before you drown!” Despite the third warning the Preacher just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” With that the man said “Whatever!” and jetted away in the power boat.
The water was now neck-deep and a guy in a helicopter came and said “Preacher, Preacher you better get your butt in here before you drown!” The man still just stood there and replied “Don’t worry God will save me.” And with that the man said “Whatever” and flew away.
The water then got so deep that the Preacher was sucked under and died. When he opened his eyes he noticed that he was in heaven. He then saw God and asked, “God! Why didn’t you save me from that horrible flood?” God then replied, “I sent you a car, a raft, a power boat, and a helicopter! What else do you want from me?”
Indeed it is reasonable to conclude that God wants those who are dying in a world of plenty to be cared for. The amount of injustice and suffering in this world can be overwhelming, even angering, as we wonder how a good God could allow so much pain. Many have thought this to be good question to ask of God when we meet Him in heaven “why did you allow for such injustice in the world.” Many more would not dare to ask such a question in fear that God will ask us the same thing (read again
Matthew 25:31-46, which incidentally immediately follows the parable of the talents). As we cry out for justice is it possible that God is saying “I’ve given you the wealth, the knowledge, the peace, and all the means to accomplish these things – what else do you want from me?”
What does the LORD require?
Written by Brian Kammerzelt

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Feliz Navidad

From the Hansons in Guatemala and all the kids at Casa Shalom, feliz navidad (merry Christmas!). We pray your Christmas is filled with joy and happiness. Please enjoy the video of the Casa Shalom toddlers singing Feliz Navidad.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Casa Shalom's own rock star

In this video, Josue, house dad to the boys age 9 - 13, shows off his guitar skills.

Monday, December 22, 2008

All dressed up

Jessica and Evelyn, 5, all dressed up for the Christmas party.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Soccer stars

Edwin and Cesar show off their soccer skills at the Casa Shalom talent show last month.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


We posted this video a few weeks ago, but for some reason, it didn't work correctly. The video is of part of the fireworks show that was donated to Casa Shalom for our Christmas celebration.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Toy horses

The toddler boys got toy horses for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breakfast Program Inauguration at Rio Bravo

After weeks of preparation and receiving donations of food and funds, the daily breakfast program has begun at the church in San Jose Rio Bravo. We've posted several times on the poor conditions of the city and its many children who are suffering from malnutrition. 7 days a week, around 100 kids will be receiving a nutritious breakfast and will learn about the love of Jesus. We were blessed to be able to attend the breakfast program's inaugural day. Enjoy the photos of the first day of the program and please keep the children in your prayers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas at Shalom + Updates

Thanks to churches in Labelle, Florida and to Maranatha Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, we were recently able to celebrate Christmas with all the kids at Shalom. After a pizza dinner, the kids received a mountain of gifts - clothing, shoes, toys, electronics, jewelry, backpacks and more! Please enjoy the photos of the party, below.

In an administrative note, Josh and I have returned to the United States for about a month. We will be spending the Christmas season with our respective families and are grateful for this time to rest and rejuvenate. Please keep watching for updates - we will still be updating the blog frequently with photos and information we have gathered in the past weeks.

And the kids? Well, they're enjoying Christmas away from the orphanage, too. Every Christmas season, the children who have families and are legally able visit them spend about a month with them. Those who don't have families or those who can't visit them instead spend the Christmas season with pastors' families in the area. This gives the kids a chance to spend time in a new environment and experience a family Christmas! Please pray for the Casa Shalom kids as they spend the Christmas season away from the orphanage. They (and we) return to the home on the 12th of January.

Photos: 1 - Antonio shows off his remote-control car set 2 - Ana loves her new pink shoes! 3 - Jose Ramiro and Pastor Harold Hanks of the Labelle Church of God display Jose's new remote control car track 4 - Sarai got a talking baby doll 5 - Clemente wasted no time unwrapping his new skateboarding shoes 6 - Brayan got a giant remote-control Hummer! 7 - Wilson sports his new backpack as he opens another gift 8 - One of the newest children, Abigail, was more excited about the ribbon than the present 9 - Tony sports his new jacket and Evelyn her new sunglasses 10 - Many of the boys from the Rayos house pooled their Christmas money to buy a Nintendo 64, controllers and games.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Newbies - New babies!

Today, Casa Shalom received 2 new children - a little girl named Abagail and another named Anggie. Abagail is 6 months old and Anggie is 1 year, 2 months. The girls came to Casa Shalom because the orphanage where they were living in Guatemala City closed due to lack of financial resources. The kids from the home were all moved to other orphanages - and we got these 2 beautiful little girls! That brings the total number of children at Casa Shalom to 60.

Photos: Bottom- Abagail is content after a bottle

Top - Anggie smiles when Josh clowns around behind the camera.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fashioned to save the world

Forget "Save the cheerleader, Save the world" (From Heroes, for all of you non-tv watchers) - how about "Buy a t-shirt, feed an orphan"?

The Moju project is a great website that allows you, for the price of one t-shirt, to feed a hot meal each day for a month to an orphaned child in Africa. I came across this site just in time for Christmas shopping - instead of spending $25 on a Starbucks gift card for your niece, brother, or great-grandpa, get them a t-shirt that will directly impact the life of a needy child.
As the Moju (which means "to impact" in Estonian) website points out, if we work together, we can help change the lives of the millions of kids that live in poverty in Africa and can prevent some of the 16,000 hunger-related deaths of children each day.

Check out Moju's site, get a t-shirt for that hard-to-buy-for relative, and make a difference!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Labelle, Florida

Yesterday, a group from various churches in Labelle, Florida arrived to minister at Casa Shalom. The group of 16 women and 4 men is already hard at work, cleaning buildings, painting, fixing plumbing issues and preparing for our big Christmas party on Friday night. We appreciate the blessing they've already been to the kids of Casa Shalom!

Photo: Jose Marcelino tries on some big glasses for size.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hats and Mittens

The toddlers are suffering from cold little hands and ears no more! They recently received a gift of new hats and mittens. Photo 1: Sarai insisted on immediately wearing her new set, as it matched her pink PJs. Photo 2: Brandon was absolutely delighted with his Iron Man hat and gloves. Photo 3: Jessica with Jose Marcelino and Antonio.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Santa comes to San Jose Rio Bravo

Santa Claus has been making the rounds in Guatemala! Today, he went to San Jose Rio Bravo, the impoverished community we have been aiding. He brought toys to all of the children and his "helpers" brought food for the breakfast program being run by the local church, which serves 100 children breakfast 7 days a week. Santa was a hit with the children and they all left with smiles on their faces.

Please continue to keep Rio Bravo in your prayers. While progress is being made in the town through the breakfast program, the area's issues are multi-faceted and include an extreme parasite program, lack of jobs, alcoholism among the men, and lack of education. The local church is currently able to provide breakfast for 100 children, but the pastor has a roster of over 800 children who are in need of the daily meal. Please pray that the Lord will bless this town with the relief it so badly needs through groups like the Enochville Church of God (where Santa goes to church!)

Photo 1: Mrs. Claus helps Santa into his suit.
Photo 2: Santa gets a warm welcome
Photo 3: A mother waits in line for gifts for her boys.
Photo 4: 2 little ones get presents.
Photo 5: A little girl likes her doll but isn't so sure about Santa.
Photo 6: She got a Barbie!
Photo 7: Getting a boost from the man in red
Photo 8: The team from Enochville Church of God in North Carolina, along with Josh, Jessica and Pastor Freddy, the leader of the church that's providing breakfast for the children.
Video 1: Santa's grand entrance!
Video 2: The fact that Santa doesn't speak Spanish and has to use a translator doesn't bother the kids.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today, Casa Shalom received a visit from the North Pole's most famous resident! Tommy, a member of the team from North Carolina that is currently working at Casa Shalom, has played Santa Claus on missions trips to several countries and brought his red suit to Guatemala. The team invited the children from the local neighborhood to come see and Santa and to receive gifts - about 100 kids came, heard about Jesus from Santa Claus, and received presents! After they left, Santa made the rounds to all the houses at Shalom. He brought gifts to the kids and had a nifty little photo printer that allowed him to print photos in under a minute. Each child at Casa Shalom got a photo of him or herself with Santa!

Photo 1: Santa leads the kids from the neighborhood in prayer. Photo 2: This little guy wasn't too sure about the man in the big red suit. Photo 3: Santa and a little girl from the neighborhood. Photo 4: Santa and director Jorge Mario Photo 5: Santa and Celia Photo 6: Santa and Karen Photo 7: Santa with the Luceros house Photo 8: The newest member of the Luceros house, Victor, and Santa - Victor is proud to be a member of the "big boy" house and hasn't looked back since leaving the baby house Photo 8: Santa and Kevin Photo 9: The Rayos with their gifts Photo 10: Santa gives Edwin a poke in the tummy Photo 11: Edwin switches things up Photo 12: The teen boys with their soccer jerseys that Santa brought them Photo 13: Alejandro and Santa Photo 14: Santa and the babies Photo 15: Brandon couldn't resist giving Santa a big hug Photo 16: Ana and some of her presents.
Video: Santa's arrival!