Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inspection passed!

We have an exciting bit of news to share with you. A few months ago, we mentioned that Casa Shalom would be undergoing a rigorous recertification process, due to new government requirements for all orphanages. We are pretty far along in the process and our most recent hurdle was a surprise inspection of the entire orphanage by the government's adoption branch, the CNA. Although Casa Shalom is always kept clean and tidy, we were nervous because up until now, not a single orphanage in all of Guatemala has passed the inspection during the visit. If the inspectors would found even one area that needed improvement, the home
would have failed the inspection and would have been given 5 days to fix the problem or else the home would have been closed. Based on this inspection, several orphanages in Guatemala have been closed! The inspectors showed up last week, did their inspection, and we just received the news - Casa Shalom passed the inspection on the first try! The inspectors toured the whole home, even the garbage dump! They were impressed by Casa Shalom and said that the kids are "obviously growing up in a loving, safe, nurturing" place. We praise the Lord that Casa Shalom has been blessed with His favor!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Presenting a Need

Most of you are already familiar with the background of the Casa Shalom kids - nearly all come from broken homes, many have been abused in one form or another. Some were abandoned by their families, others had mothers who were drug dealers or prostitutes. Representing the most extreme cases, we have 2 groups of siblings whose parents were murdered right in front of their eyes. Although anyone who has visited Casa Shalom can tell you that the kids are happy and outgoing, they still suffer the effects of their difficult beginnings.
We have recently been blessed with the opportunity to help the children overcome deal with and overcome their tragic backgrounds - a Christian psychologist has offered to counsel as many children as need help, four times a month, for one-quarter of her normal cost. For $125 per month, all the Casa Shalom kids who need regular visits with a psychologist can get the help they need! As often is the case, however, the $125/month isn't in the budget. We are actively praying for someone to meet this need. If you or someone you know may be interested in helping Casa Shalom's kids get the counseling they need, please contact us at:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shopping for 64

When you are buying for 64 kids + over a dozen staff members, shopping at your average grocery store just won't cut it. When it comes time to buy fruit, vegetables, milk, grains and many other items for Casa Shalom, we head to Cenma, the largest outdoor market in Guatemala. Cenma spans several city blocks and offers nearly any kind of food you could imagine! Enjoy the photos from the Cenma market.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Update on Evelyn

We have had lots of people email us to
get an update on little Evelyn, who was returned to Casa Shalom by family members last week. Evelyn has grown up at Casa Shalom but a cousin stepped forward and wanted to raise her. The judge who presided over Evelyn's hearing decided that although Evelyn wished to stay at Casa Shalom, she would be placed with her cousin. She left that day and spent nearly 2 weeks with her family. After 2 weeks, her cousin decided she wasn't prepared to raise Evelyn and returned her to Casa Shalom. Many people who heard about this case have expressed concern that Evelyn will have been harmed by the back-and-forth movement. We are happy to report that Evelyn has jumped right back into life at the baby/toddler house. She has expressed her happiness to be back both with her house family and her classmates! We appreciate your concerns and prayers both for Evelyn and all the special children of Casa Shalom.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A round up

Our team from Florida left yesterday and we appreciate so much all their hard work and interaction with the children! And luckily for them, they missed the start of the rainy season by just a few hours! They left early morning and the rains started in the afternoon - and haven't stopped since! Remember, if the rains take out our Internet access for a few days at a time, we'll be back as soon as possible.
Enjoy a photo round-up of the last few days.
Photo 1: Jim brought illustrated Bible books for all the children! Photo 2: Jorge and Ana sport the crowns they made on craft night. Photo 3: Henry colors his "hacky sack" during craft night Photo 4: Clara Alicia and Enma show off the scrapbooks they made during craft night Photo 5: Jessica lines up with the oldest toddlers, to take them to school at 8 a.m. Photo 6: Evelyn and Ana were so excited to get new dolls. Photo 7: Jessica and Jose Marcelino

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A visit from Florida

On Monday night, we were happy to welcome a team from Florida that includes several pastors from around the state, Jessica's mom and Jessica's grandpa, who is making his first trip to Casa Shalom! They have accomplished a lot in their short time at the orphanage - they painted the outside of the 3 connecting houses at the bottom of the property, they threw a pizza party, they helped do lots of arts and crafts they brought with them, they have passed out a mountain of clothing they brought, and have handed out Bibles and lots of candy. Enjoy the photos of the Florida team thus far:
Photo 1: The babies enjoy one of the new Veggie Tales videos brought by the team. Photo 2: Jessica's Grandpa, David, and baby Anggie get to know each other Photo 3: Sarai and Maria show off the crowns they made with the group Photo 4: Edwin and Carlos make "haky sacks" during craft time. Photo 5: The girls had a blast with the scrapbooking kits the team gave them. Photo 6: Marvin with baby Abagail in her new dress and crown Photo 6: Jim and little Antonio.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cleaning day

We had our "spring cleaning" day at Casa Shalom and everyone worked hard to make the orphanage sparkle!

Eveyln and Ana swept and raked.

Celia, Rosendo and Sonia bagged trash.

Jose Ramiro raked leaves

Brandon raked in his pajamas!

Nixon raked too.

Kevin and Director Jorge Mario cleaned around the trash pit.

Wilson, Carlos and Maria (the director's daughter) also cleaned around the trash pit.

Elias, Alejandro, Marvin and Julio show off the animal skull they found...ew!

Edwin shoveled.

Celia hauled leaves.

So did Karen.

Edgar took a break on the swings.

Waltercito took a break on the motorcycle.

Obed took a break on a car.

Rolando stacked chairs.

Carlos got really dirty!

Karen, Elias, Alejandro and Victor relaxed at the end of a hard day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A pitiful post

Today's post has to be the most pitiful we've ever done. We took most of the babies and toddlers to be vaccinated today. Some of the babies took it well and didn't cry, but others screamed bloody murder! We held some of them during their shots, all of them after their shots, and got them all an ice cream when it was over. On another bittersweet note, little Evelyn has returned to Casa Shalom. As we mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, Evelyn went to live with a cousin. But the situation didn't work out and the family couldn't handle taking care of Evelyn. So the courts ordered Evelyn back to Casa Shalom permanently. She is happy to be back with the children she calls brothers and sisters.

Photo 1: Abagail is quickly gaining weight and is up to 19 pounds! Photo 2: Antonio didn't mind his shot so much. Photo 3: Sarai minded her shot very much. Photo 4: Angel was all smiles before his shot Photo 5: But he wasn't so happy during it Photo 6: Neither was Tony Photos 7 and 8: An ice cream after shots made everyone feel better!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Channel 27

This afternoon, Casa Shalom had a very special visit from Channel 27, Guatemala's very popular Christian TV channel. The team from Channel 27 interviewed director Jorge Mario, the house parents, some of the older children, and us! The program, which averages about 2 million viewers, will air in Guatemala in about a month and will revolve entirely around Casa Shalom's ministry. We are excited that the news about Casa Shalom will be spread all across the country! Photo 1 and 2: Kevin, Edgar, Wilson, Edwin and Carlos had a great time exploring the van housing the station's sound board Photo 3, 4, and 5: Victor, precocious as always, proclaimed himself camera man for a day and took his place behind his camera Photo 6: Director Jorge Mario interviews us for the program Photo 7: Jorge Mario interviews house parents Maby and Josue Photo 8: The babies line up to receive gifts from the Channel 27 staff Photo 9: Josh with Ana and Sarai