Aug 21

Life, Liberty, and Migrants

Being a missionary in an impoverished and gang controlled area of Guatemala, some of our friends have started asking for our perspective in the newly popular media trend of talking about children from Guatemala that are illegally entering the United States.  I’m wondering why it has taken so long for people to start noticing!  Since God called us here 3 years ago, we have been trying to tell others of the extreme poverty crisis here in Guatemala that causes Guatemalans to risk everything for the chance of living in the United States, if only to send a few dollars back for the rest of their family.

For those of you who didn’t happen to see our initial presentation we gave at various churches in 2012 as we prepared to come down here, I will directly quote the stats we gave as evidence of the ongoing problem:

If we can get communities to the point where people are happy to live in them, they won’t be flocking to the US illegally, further draining our resources. The 2000 US census counted 480,665 foreigners born from Guatemala, but the International Migration data suggest that approximately one million Guatemalans now live in the United States. Although the International Organization for Migration estimates that there are 200,000 undocumented Guatemalans living in the US, some civil society organizations believe the actual figure is higher. They also estimate that between 6,000 and 12,000 new Guatemalan migrants arrive in the United States via Mexico each year.  Why would Guatemalans want to move into the United States?  More than half of the population is below the national poverty line and 15% lives in extreme poverty.  43% of children under five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. 42/1,000 children die before the age of five, the highest mortality rate in the hemisphere after Haiti and Bolivia.To put that in a little more of a personal comparison, as of 2004, Guatemala has 56.2% of the population below the poverty line as opposed to only 15.1% in the United States.

Read the rest on Uniting 2 Serve

Jul 31

SARFing in the G.U.A.


We just said goodbye to our most recent team that came down here to work with us through the Serving At Risk Families ministry.  They did an amazing job of finishing the hard work needed for an elderly woman to move into her new home!  As you may recall, one of the families we help is The Monrroy Family(click the name to read more about them).  Since our last update about them, Maria Olivia has sadly passed away and the engineer has run out of money to finish the project.  So, with our team that came in April and the one in July, we were able to finish the work needed!

Click here to read more!

Jul 23

Feature Orphanage – Valley of the Angels

A short video clip about the Valley of the Angels orphanage in Guatemala, run by Father Michael Della Pena.

WELCOME, to the Valley of the Angels Orphanage! We are Franciscan Friars of the Order Friars Minor, Immaculate Conception Province, New York, USA. The orphanage is located in Guatemala, Central America, just outside the capital Guatemala City.

 The orphanage was a dream come true for it’s founder, Father Rocco Famiglietti. Upon his early arrival in Guatemala in the early 50′s, a seed was planted in him of wanting to help the poor, abandoned and needy children. The dream materialized in the late 80′s and today, Valley of the Angels ensures the educational, physical and spiritual needs of 200 children.

 Currently, the orphanage is run by Fr. Rocco’s successor, Fr. Michael Della Penna. In addition to carrying on the rich tradition of the Franciscan ideals and charism, he has also transformed the orphanage into a more efficient and modern operation, helping to keep alive and strengthen the “beautiful dream.”

 One of the key aspects of Fr. Michael’s vision for the orphanage is this web site. Not only is it an effort to accommodate all those who are interested in the orphanage, but also it is a way of reaching out and sharing with our benefactors, friends, all those who work here, those who have visited us and the world at large, the beautiful work God is accomplishing through all of us.

Valley Of The Angels Orphanage (Mailing Address)

Tel: Tel: 011.502.5053.3636

Address: PO Box 522505, 8305 North West 27th Street, Ste. 113, Miami, FL 33152


Jul 23

7 Reasons You Should Go on a Short-Term Mission Trip


This past week I traveled with 18 Americans to a part of rural Guatemala that I’ve visited seven times in 11 years. Our multigenerational team from Florida included a college professor, a lawyer, a salesman, a private school teacher, several teens and a 31-year-old veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Only one of our team members could speak Spanish fluently and a few had never been out of the United States before.

Lee-Grady-MissionsThe climate was hot, the food was strange and communication was a challenge. But the inconveniences didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The people on our team dug a foundation for a church building, prayed for people at the conclusion of many services, played soccer with local youth, hugged lots of kids, performed dramas, visited local families in their homes and made lifelong friends.

Not everyone can pack up all their belongings and become career missionaries, but many of us can go on short-term mission trips. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to consider these benefits of taking the compassion of Jesus to another culture:

1. You will encounter God’s heart. Our God is big and He cares about the nations. He’s a global God. And His ultimate goal is to gather a family that represents “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). When you step into a foreign mission field, you will sense God’s amazing compassion for another culture and you will begin to know Him as Lord of the harvest.

2. You will expand your limited perspective. Too many of us are stuck in spiritual ruts. Even pastors can get bored with the sameness of ministry in one community. Every now and then you need to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to stretch you. Experience how other Christians worship God with fervor. Discover how they plant churches and engage in evangelism. Recognize that the way we do ministry in the United States is not necessarily the only way. And expect to learn from the people you are going to minister to.

3. You will be become more grateful. I receive an attitude adjustment every time I go to another country—especially when I am with poorer Christians. Whether I am eating papayas and frijoles in Guatemala, sleeping on an uncomfortable bed in Uganda or riding in an all-night train in India, I come back from my trips with a renewed appreciation for life’s little blessings—air conditioning, running water, nice roads and flush toilets. There’s nothing like spending time with a family of seven in a house made of mud and straw to put your puny problems in perspective.

4. You will discover your spiritual family. When you minister alongside Christians in another country, you find that the Holy Spirit bonds us together supernaturally. In the community I visited this week in eastern Guatemala, there are people who have become like family members to me because of our spiritual connection. These relationships can last a lifetime. This is the same type of bond the apostle Paul felt with the people he met in Greece, Italy and Asia Minor during his travels.

5. You will build lasting partnerships. God gives us this strong bond so we will link arms and work for a common purpose across racial and cultural lines. I encourage churches to send teams to the same place annually to foster permanent relationships and effective projects. Expect God to link your church with a community overseas. Your connection to the same people over time can lead to the planting of a church, an orphanage, a shelter for women or a school.

6. You will overcome your fears. One woman on our team this week had never prayed at a church altar for people—and she felt totally inadequate because of her limited knowledge of Spanish. But when people streamed to the front of the church she swallowed her fears and did what her flesh didn’t want to do. Instead of running like Jonah she poured her life out for the precious people we came to reach. I guarantee she will have more spiritual confidence when she gets back home. Sometimes you have to run to the front of the battle line to get new courage.

7. You will expand the kingdom of Jesus. The Great Commission was not a suggestion. Christ’s kingdom cannot be built without bold, radical obedience to Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore…” Somebody has to GO. There’s no way around it. To share the gospel with the whole world, we must be willing to pack our bags sometime and leave home.

Of course not everyone can hop on a plane and go to a foreign country for 10 days. Some people have health limitations or family pressures that make travel impractical. Don’t feel guilty if you are in that category. Instead remember that those who can’t go to the mission field physically can go through prayer or financial support. And the reward will be the same.

When David defeated the Amalekites, he gave the same reward to the warriors who stayed behind to watch the baggage as he gave to the frontline soldiers who wielded swords (see 1 Sam. 30:22-25).

So, whether you go virtually or in person, let’s recognize the priority of missions. Let’s encourage every Christian to discover their role in God’s great plan to tell everyone about Jesus and His love.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and other books.

For Original posting click here:

Jul 23

Missions in El Progresso, Jutiapa – By Russ McDowell

What do you get when you combine 150 middle schoolers from the countryside and a missionary from Virginia in the mountains of Guatemala.  Answer:  Happy kids and a Happy Missionary.  Working as an accountant can be boring, but working with a purpose for Christ can be exciting.  I, Russ McDowell, work as an accountant in Virginia to fund my trips to Jutiapa as a missionary with my church, West End Assembly of God.  Work all tax season, save the monies, then three or sometimes four times a year, I fly to Guatemala to work teaching English in the mountains and countryside of Jutiapa, specifically Canoas, El Progreso and La Vega.

Timothy Martiny and his family have worked with me for Reading Glasses Clinics too.  Purchasing in mass reading glasses, then bringing them in my suitcases for Vision Clinics.  Give eyes exams, for reading glasses, to the orphans.  Instant clearer reading!  We also take food, clothes and shoes to some regions of Guatemala, specifically, La Vina del Senor in Santa Rosa and La Laguna, Las Uvas and Animas in Jutiapa.  What fun it is to share God’s love thru practical gifts.  To pray and sing our praise to God is wonderful to these grateful people.  And I do not have to answer tax questions when I am here!

God is good!  All the time!

All the time!  God is good!

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