Saturday, January 31, 2009

4 College Men

Last week, 4 of Casa Shalom's oldest kids (from top to bottom) Benjamin, Juan, Nixon and Cesar, began their career programs. After having graduated from high school last year, these four special young men have been given a chance to achieve something very few Guatemalans can.... a college degree! This month, all 4 have started their career programs. Benjamin is studying to be an accountant, Juan is studying car computer systems, Nixon is studying to be a teacher and Cesar is studying to be a mechanic. So do these over-18 boys still get to live at the orphanage? Yes! Technically, on the orphanage could have required the boys to move out on their 18th birthday. But to send them out into the world without a skill with which to make a living would only serve to continue the cycle of poverty. So the boys can continue to live at Casa Shalom until they finish their degrees, given that they continue to respect the rules of the home. To help them adjust to adulthood, the boys have moved out of the Embajadores house and are living in a small house on the property. They do their own housekeeping and pay a small amount in rent from the part-time jobs they hold on the weekend (the orphanage pays for their school tuition). Please keep these 4 young men in prayer as they trasition into adulthood!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Casa Shalom recertification

Due to new adoption laws, the Guatemalan government is requiring that all orphanages in the country go through a relicensing procedure. This six-month process will allow Casa Shalom to remain open and to continue receiving new children as we have the funds to take care of them. Please keep the home in your prayers as we attempt to meet all the requirements for relicensure - it is a lengthy and detailed process. We will need to pass inspections by several government agencies, fill out a mountain of paperwork, and the staff will need to undergo extensive training to make sure they are qualified for care for the children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Poultry Additions

Meet Casa Shalom's newest residents: a turkey and 8 baby chicks. These, along with 4 chickens and a rooster, are the beginning of our poultry farm, which we hope to construct and have functional this year! The farm will provide more meat for Casa Shalom's kids. And the older teens will help run the farm, which will allow them to leave the home with an additional skill to fall back on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monica and Oliver

We are happy to introduce Monica and Oliver, the new house parents to the babies and toddlers! The couple have served as house parents since the children returned from Christmas break in early January. Dora, the babies' house mother for the past 4 years, has graduated with her degree and is working in her field. Monica and Oliver are doing an excellent job parenting the little ones who range in age from 6 months to 5 years. When coming or going from preschool and kindergarten or church, the babies always walk in a line, holding hands. The house is well-organized and Oliver has even reported a decrease in bed-wetting incidents!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Karen, 13, has one of the biggest personalities at Casa Shalom!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New School Program

Gato, pictured inside of his closet, is part of a new program being implemented at Colegio Shalom this year. For the many kids who are behind in their education, due to learning disabilities or to not having attended school prior to living at the orphanage, the school is implementing a government-sponsored program to help them advance more quickly through their studies. With specialized classes and tutoring, the students will complete 2 grades per year, allowing them to catch up to where they are supposed to be, educationally. We are excited that around 12 kids from the orphanage are getting the chance to participate in this beneficial program.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back in Action

Hello! We are back in action at Casa Shalom. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to keep you well updated because our internet (suprise, suprise), isn't working. But blogging from a fast-food restaurant isn't so bad!

Things have gone well since our return to Guatemala. Jessica has resumed teaching English to all grades at Colegio Shalom and Josh is enjoying his postition as Discipline Director at the school. You can already see the positive changes caused by increased organization and discipline at the school.

Please be patient with us as we try work out all our internet issues. We'll try to post as often as possible, but getting away to a location with wireless internet isn't always possible. Please continue to keep the kids in your prayers as they grow and develop.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Returning to Guatemala

Tomorrow, I will be returning to Guatemala to join Josh, and our dog, Burrito! Thank you, again, to all those who have prayed for my family after the loss of my grandmother. I am excited to get back to work with the children. Please keep us in your prayers as we are in our 7th month of ministering at Casa Shalom! ~ Jessica

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Evelyn, 5, and Sarai, 3, clown around on a desk.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Edwin hasn't let the his disappointment about not being able to visit the U.S. get him down! More than ever, he's working with the teen boys, serving as a big brother mentor and teaching math and science at Colegio Shalom. Photo 1: Edwin amazes little Waltercito with his vertical jump. Photo 2: Mid back-flip Photo 3: Edwin and Waltercito.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Photo 1: The teen boys go for a ride, Guatemala style! Photo 2: A great shot our friend Matt took of the basketball court/soccer field. Awesome colors!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We'll miss you, Mary Lou!

Thank you to everyone who has sent kind messages and prayers for my grandmother. We are saddened to report that around 6 p.m. tonight, Mary went to be with the Lord. I consider my grandparents my true heroes and I am thankful for the Godly heritage they have given me. Please continue to keep my grandfather, mother and aunts and uncles in your prayers during this difficult time. Tomorrow, I will be traveling to St. Louis so I can be at the funeral on Thursday.

~ Jessica

Photo: Jessica with her grandparents Mary and D.J. at her wedding.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to Guatemala...partially

Tomorrow is our return trip to Guatemala, but only one of us is going back right now. Jessica's maternal grandmother has suffered from Alzheimer's for many years and has recently taken a downturn. In order to be with her family during her grandmother's illness, Jessica is going to stay in the U.S. For how long, we haven't decided, but she is blessed to be able to be with her family right now. Josh will be returning to Guatemala to get back into the swing of our ministry there. Please keep Jessica's family in prayer as they deal with her grandmother's illness.
Photo: Ada, Edwin, Karen and Maria show off their muscles.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sudsy boys

Brandon, Tony, Victor and Angel log some tub time! There's not much these boys, especially Victor, love more than bath time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thanks to Matt

In November, we made a new friend. Matt, from Texas, visited Casa Shalom for the first time. As a professional photographer, he walked around snapping photos during his whole visit. He was very generous with his talent and has provided us with many of the photos he took during his stay. We will be posting some of these great photos starting today.

As you can see, many of the boys at Casa Shalom are very good breakdancers. They like to practice on whatever surface is available!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who can you tell?

This year, who can you tell about Casa Shalom? Consider telling a friend or family member about Casa Shalom and this blog. Due to you spreading the word, more people are talking about Casa Shalom and about this blog, more people are logging onto the site, sponsoring kids, donating to the orphanage, meeting kids' needs, scheduling trips to Casa Shalom, and telling others! Who knows how the Lord wants to use those you know to work miracles at Casa Shalom?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

4 brothers

Brothers Rolando (back), Rosendo (front left) and Victor (front right), along with their oldest brother Angel (who refused to be photographed!) make up Casa Shalom's largest sibling group. The 4 boys came to Casa Shalom a few years ago after the government removed them from their parents' home, which was located inside Guatemala City's largest garbage dump. The boys and their parents spent their days digging in the dump for material to use or sell. After arriving at the orphanage, all the boys had to be taught not to dig in the garbages! These wonderful boys are the perfect example of why a safe, loving home like Casa Shalom is so needed in Guatemala. Make praying for Casa Shalom one of your resolutions for 2009 (one of the resolutions you keep!).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Director Jorge Mario gives Sarai a lift!

Friday, January 2, 2009

More presents

Alex poses with some of the clothes he received for Christmas. The kids at Casa Shalom were excited about every present they opened - even if the present was socks!