Thursday, July 30, 2009

The littlest soccer players

Yesterday, while walking by the soccer field at Casa Shalom, we came upon a very intense soccer game - but instead of the usual older soccer players, 4 of Casa Shalom's youngest boys were playing their hearts out. Sergio and Angel were pitted against Obed and Victor and for some reason, decided to play shirts versus skins! They took their match very seriously and put on their game faces! Sergio especially turned out to be quite a soccer player and quite a showboat! Check out the photos and video below.

Angel, Sergio and Victor

When professional soccer players score a goal, they sometimes slide across the grass field on their knees. Sergio tried this out on the concrete!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Perhaps the symbolism is a bit obvious, but we want to share these photos that Jessica's dad took during our last trip to Rio Bravo. This barbed-wire fence is located by the local school. The beautiful butterfly and the sharp wire to us are good representations of Rio Bravo's current, seemingly-impossible poverty, and the hope that the breakfast program and free pure water offer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Church

Today was family visit Sunday at Casa Shalom, so we held church in the Casa Shalom gym. The kids put on their best and enjoyed a wonderful service!
Enma takes care of baby Fatima and Anggie before service.

Celia with her sister Ana and her brother Jose Marcelino.

Angel with his family that came to visit him (his father is on the left).

Josh helps Fatima take a walk.

Ana and Evelyn peek in on the musicians who practice before service.

Alejandro, Clemente, Cesar and Vinicio settle in before church starts.

Jorge Mario preached a short sermon on God's faithfulness. All parents who visit their children on visit Sunday are required to also attend the service - they are hearing God's Word at least once a month!

Cesar wasn't paying a lot of attention during the service, but he sure is cute!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sarai is back!

After our regularly-scheduled rainy-season Internet outage, we are back online and have some wonderful news to share!
We previously posted a few stories about Sarai, the precocious 3-year-old who was removed from Casa Shalom by her father. Her leaving was particularly difficult because her father is known to be an alcoholic and unwilling to work.

Well, as of 2 days ago, Sarai is back at Casa Shalom! The story of her return is sad - 2 days ago, her father was arrested for public drunkenness and sentenced to 40 days in jail. When he was arrested, some neighbors, who knew Sarai was not being cared for, took her from her home and took her to the local court, where they left her. When director Jorge Mario found out about her being at the court, he set out that same night and brought her back to the orphanage around mid-night.

According to Jorge, Sarai was not in very good shape - she was barefoot, dirty and appeared malnourished. That is especially heartbreaking because when she left just 2 months ago, she was sent away with several pairs of nice shoes and a lot of nice clothes. Jorge speculates that her father sold the items, because he admitted to using drugs frequently since Sarai returned to him.

When Sarai saw director Jorge, she ran to him, gave him a big hug, and told him she didn't like being dirty and barefoot. He told her she was going to return to Casa Shalom with him and she then said, "When we get there, can I take a bath?"

As saddened as we are by this turn of events in Sarai's life, we are so thankful to have her back in a safe, loving environment. She has been examined by a counselor and a doctor, who diagnosed her with malnutrition and dehydration. We will be working hard to get Sarai back to where she needs to be!

We appreciate the prayers of all those who have been lifting Sarai up! Please continue to pray for this little soul, that she will not be greatly affected by all that she has been through, and that she will grow and thrive at Casa Shalom! Enjoy the photos of Sarai that we have taken since her return.

Top photo: Sarai, showing off her brand-new sunglasses, with her buddy, Tony
Right Photo: Sarai and Tony again.
Photo below: Sarai being the goofy little girl we love!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Spelling bee!

Today we were invited to judge an English-language spelling bee at a school in Guatemala City that is run by the sister of Noemi, director Jorge Mario's wife. We were happy to accept and were very impressed by the children's English-speaking abilities. Not only were they required to correctly spell the words, but they then had to translate them into English. The school's youngest students showed off their English skills by singing songs!

One of the winners accepts her bee-shaped trophy. She won with the word "interrogative."

The top 3 students from the youngest category.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rio Bravo Update

There have been many exciting updates at the Rio Bravo feeding center! We are happy to share with you the exciting news and some photos of our most recent trip to the coast. The number of children attending the program has increased to 200, so many more children are now able to receive breakfast 5 days a week. We are also in the final stages of setting up the first of 4 water tanks that will provide free, clean water to the city's residents!

The children pray over their meal

Beans, rice and tortillas

There was no way this little guy was going to smile

Feeding a younger sibling

This family has 8 kids, all being cared for by their single mother

This little boy was excited to show me his marbles

Little ones walking home from breakfast


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First International Casa Shalom Assembly

We are excited to give you some more details regarding the First International Casa Shalom Assembly, which will be held here in Guatemala on October 28 - 29, 2009! As Casa Shalom's facilities are simply too small to accomodate so many visitors (an estimated 250 Guatemalans and North Americans), the event will be held at the Casa Santander hotel and event center in Guatemala City. Please check out their website here . The event is open to all sponsors and supporters of Casa Shalom and will feature the history of Casa Shalom, the future of the home, and how and where donations are used. The total cost of the event will be $80.00per person, which includes all transportation, admission to the conference and materials, hotel stay at Casa Santander (on the 28th and 29th) and 4 meals (lunch and dinner on the 28th and breakfast and lunch on the 29th).

If you are a current supporter of Casa Shalom, we highly encourage you to attend this event! For more information, contact us at

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Light up t-shirts

All the boys in the baby house received light up t-shirts recently. They were very proud and there was a fierce debate among those who got Hulk shirts and those who got Transformers shirts about who is faster and stronger!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The work on the chicken farm is coming along very well - the LifeChurch team is still working hard during the day, and spending the afternoon playing with and ministering to the Casa Shalom kids!

Pastor Dennis Whitter hauls a wheelbarrow-full of rock to use in the cement mixture.

Josh, David, Josh and Emma work on digging a big hole that will be part of the living quarters for a pig that will be raised next door to the chicken farm!

David digs a hole that will be part of the pig's septic system.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Last week, every child at Casa Shalom got a new pair of tennis shoes, thanks to the congregation at Maranatha Church in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Check out a few photos of the kids and their new shoes!




Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

We celebrated the 4th of July at Casa Shalom with a lot of work and a lot of play! Work continues on the chicken farm, and the LifeChurch team is making great progress. We ended the day with a small fireworks show and a hot dog roast with the kids!

Josh and David lay block for the chicken farm

David and Josh mix cement

Baby break! Emma and baby Fatima, Emily, and Mrs. Pogin with Anggie.

Fatima is looking cool is some huge sunglasses

Anggie makes a fashion statement.

Sonia and Mrs. Pogin

Eliza, Vinicio, Flor, Flora and David

Emma, Eddy, Krystine, Josh, Elias and Erica

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Pollo Project

We are excited to announce that work on Casa Shalom's chicken farm has begun! Yesterday, a team from LifeChurch, in Minnesota, arrived - the team will be funding and building the farm during their 10-day stay at the orphanage. The chicken farm will be a big blessing for Casa Shalom - as we raise our own chickens, we will be able to save the equivalent of the salaries of 2 staff members each month! We will also be able to increase the amount of meat the children eat each week. Please keep the LifeChurch team in prayer as they work hard this week!

Erica lays block for the chicken farm walls

Emily carries a concrete slab that will be part of the farm's outer wall

Mrs. Pogin sifts through sand to remove rocks, so the sand can be used to make concrete - no premixed concrete in Guatemala!

David mixes concrete

Mr. Pogin hauls concrete slabs that will form the farm's outer walls