No more wooden planks

From Brad

Today was our house-build day.  We have been anticipating meeting Filomena for such a long time.  It was a day of joy, but also sadness.

Our day started off with another wonderful devotion led by Tom.  Each day has been encouraging and the study always seems to match with something during the day.  Emily led the music this morning.  She has such a sweet voice.  All of us were blown away.  She definitely made us sound better!

After loading up building supplies, we headed straight for Filomena’s house.  It was very close to Tecpan.  As we pulled up, we were pleasantly surprised by the area she lives in.  We called it, “The Valley of Laundry”.  There were clothes lines as far as the eye could see.  Filomena was waiting for us as we pulled up.  I recognized her right away.  Such a sweet woman.  It seemed to be quite an agricultural area.  There were sheep, pigs and lots of chickens.  We had to take all of the supplies up the rough path to where her house would be.  As we were spreading out the supplies on the concrete foundation, I asked Filomena where her old house was?  She said, “You are standing on it.”  Because there was not a lot of room on her land, they had to completely demolish her old house.  It was piled up in a large stack of boards and trash.  They have been sleeping in a large, and very dirty shelter their relatives let them use.

The house build went great.  The winds died down, which made the build go faster and safer.  Jeff helped Juanito build the bathroom. It looked really good.  I personally would not want to go there in the middle of the night.  There was a VERY sharp drop-off outside the bathroom.  But, it works for their situation.

The biggest surprise of the day was when Juanito’s wife Anna showed up to watch us build the house.  Her arm is broken in 3 places and has one hairline fracture.  They are going to do surgery this Saturday.  She was in great spirits and was so helpful to have work with the family.

Filomena’s kids were so sweet.  They greeted us right away and even helped drag all the supplies up the steep hill.  Roxanna is 14-years old.  We asked her when she stopped going to school.  She said two years ago.  She said she just didn’t want to go to school anymore.  She has a job cleaning houses for neighbors.  Two of her younger siblings go to school.  They are very eager to learn.

As we finished building the house and bathroom, we prepared the house for the dedication.  Tom brought many supplies, and my family had several people donate items as well.  From sheets and mattress covers, to a cross Tom’s wife decorated with a scripture verse inscribed on it.  Filomena was extremely thankful for our team and everyone who donated items.  Her daughter also spoke and thanked everyone involved.  We blew bubbles and hung balloons.  It looked wonderful.

After loading up the truck and van, we headed back to the hotel.  We had the chance to get cleaned up before our men’s Bible study.  The men from Juanito’s church cooked a special meal for us.  We had beef and sausage, as well as rice and beans.  We had a great time talking.  Each man spoke about how their lives are going and shared special thoughts for the men of the group. 

Juanito closed the evening by sharing a story that made me happy and sad at the same time.  He said that as we finished up at the house, the oldest son of Filomena ran up and grabbed his arm.  The young man thanked Juanito and our group.  He said, “Thank you for my bed.  I will never have to sleep on a wooden plank on the floor again!”  Juanito had tears in his eyes as he told the story.  I had tears in my eyes as well.  It breaks my heart that so many children sleep on the ground, in the cold and rain, and do that night after night.  It shouldn’t be that way.  But, I am thankful for ministries like Bethel.  So many lives have been changed.  I feel completely blessed to be a part of this team.  I pray that you will continue to help us change lives in Guatemala.  The need is so huge!  We need your help!!!

This team has been so much fun.  I have enjoyed every minute of the trip.  I got a great picture of Rick, Tom and Jeff goofing around.  What a pose!  I called them, “Chris’s Angels.”

We have one more full day.  We have our big wheelchair distribution in Chimaltenango tomorrow where we will give 50 wheelchairs to the disabled.  It is such a rewarding day.  Then, we will head to visit our friends Juana and Luki, then go to Antigua for a couple of hours, then spend the night at the Barcelo Hotel near the airport.

Thank you to everyone who donated this year.  With your help, little “Juan Pablo” is sleeping for the first time ever in a regular bed.  It will probably be the best night sleep he has ever gotten.  With his new blanket pulled over him, he will sleep soundly.


Dios te Bendiga!

Posted in 2018 Guatemala.

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