Saturday, September 3, 2011


We spent the greater part of the day in the
lovely town of Antigua. It's one of my all-time favorite places on the planet. Quaint, colonial and full ofLatino culture--not to mention the sight of numerous gringos on honeymoon or cultural exchange programs. The afternoon featured the Guatemalan version of "Battle of the Bands." Imagine seven or eight marching bands with multiple drums all playing in the town square at the same time. The noise reverberates off the buildings and does on assault on your ear drums. I needed the strong cup of cappuccino after that!

We arrived back in Sumpango around 3:30 and went immediately to the church for a meeting with the leadership team of Los Olivos. At 5pm we met with the combined leadership teams and I did a session on "The Character of a Leader." I was very encouraged by the response to the message. Several leaders came up afterward asking probing questions or inquiring about specific situations. I could tell by their comments they were processing what they heard. It's always humbling to get this kind of immediate feedback in situations where you are teaching through a translator. Such feedback tells you a lot about
either how clear or how confusing your communication has been. Fortunately in this case, it appears it was more of the former than the latter. This is a good thing!

Tomorrow we finish up our time at Los Olivos. Lots of conversations about future partnership here. I am very encouraged.

I'm reminded of your prayers for us each day. I continue to be...


Friday, September 2, 2011


This morning Oscar and I visited the small village of El Yalu. It's a very poor village of approximately 2000 people. About 500 of those are children who are severely malnourished. Some years ago Los Olivos decided to start a church in the village. They bought two small parcels of land that the church was hoping to build a small church building. God had other things in mind. About 4 years ago a non-profit ministry called Mano con Mano (Hand-In-Hand) began a feeding program for the children. The leaders of the ministry wanted to identify with a local church and heard about Los Olivos, met Oscar and invited them to partner.

Every other day each week the center feeds some 240-280 children, sponsors an after-school resource center and also doubles as a sanctuary for the church on Sundays. Oscar
introduced me to Lorenzo and Dr. Ephraim as well as several other leaders in the church. The entire operation is an example of micro enterprise at it's best! They have managed to start a medical clinic, as well as several small businesses. One of these is producing stoves for each home. The stoves are made of reinforced concrete and efficiently utilize about one-third of the wood of an open fire thus reducing deforestation. They vent the smoke using a simple smokestack which reduces respiratory illnesses while conserving heart to warm their homes. Another group was working diligently to produce brightly colored toilets. They have already placed 1000 toilets in homes in this village and plans are in place to provide another 500. Each weekend Los Olivos commissions 7-8 people who travel washed out roads to serve this simple rural village and its people. It's a terrific example of people proclaiming the love of Christ through their deeds.

It's almost 4pm and Quique and I are getting ready to go over to the church for the first training session. I haven't even met yet with the leaders, but what I've seen thus far is enough impress.

We appreciate your prayers.

S t r e t c h e d

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I wrestled my groggy body out of the bed at 3am, showered, grabbed a bite to eat and dashed off to Mitchell Field to catch a 6am flight to Guatemela City. The flight went well until final approach into Guatemala City when the plane slammed violently down onto the tarmac. Even the flight attendant sitting in front of me had a panic-stricken look on her face. Hers wasn't the only furrowed brow or anxious expression.

I grabbed ny belongings, cleared customs and headed outside where my friend Enrique Fernandez was waiting for my arrival. We headed toward the city stopping only for a bite to eat before making our way to Sumpango. I had forgotten how much I loved the city of Sumpango. It's nestled among the foothills about 42 km east of Guatemala City. You actually can see several volcanos (one of them active) from the streets. Cobblestone streets are lined with tiny brightly painted tiendas. The sight of fresh vegetables and the aroma of street vendors wafts through the air. I was tempted more than once to sample the fresh salsa at several but resisted.

I've been told that every city in Guatemala has it's patron saint. Sumpango is no exception, for the city still bears witness to the festivals and celebrations that occurred just last week to commemorate and honor her beloved saint--Augustine. No wonder I have a fondness for the city--she and I share a common affection--Augustine of Hippo.

It is here in this city that the Chaquito family has resided for years. Humble, hard-working people--Jose, Alejandra, Armando, Oscar and Karla. They are some of the sweetest most hospitable people I've met anywhere in the world. All of them are knee-deep in their commitment to their local church Los Olivos, a church affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America. Tomorrow afternoon Enrique and I will begin equipping and interacting with their leaders.

It's good to be here. Thanks for your prayers for us.