Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Day at the Office

Some of you might wonder what a "typical" day at the office looks like for those of us missionaries that work at the AMG head office.  After dropping the kids off at school at around 7:45 we drive from San Cristobal (a suburb) to Verbena which is in Zone 7 of Guatemala City (considered one of the more dangerous zones of the city).  The distance from the school to the office is perhaps only some 13 km or 8 miles, but it can take up to an hour/hour and a half to get there although most mornings it takes around 30-45 minutes. The biggest problem with traffic is getting out of San Cristobal.  Once you get closer to the city traffic thins out a little as people go in different directions.  
We arrived at the office around 8:30 and spent the next hour or so answering emails before running off to a special event in the chapel of the school. August is the "month of the Bible" here in Guatemala and so AMG had set up a special event celebrating the Bible through presentations and Bible memory recitals by students from the various AMG city projects.  This was neat to see.  A little 3 years old girl started off the program by reciting a whole Psalm.  It was very impressive! Each city project participated through drama and dance and there were also awards given to those students who excelled in Bible memory.
We could not stay for the whole program due to a meeting we had to attend and a skype call to do with one of our donors. Today's conference call was with Rick Postma and John Otten from Word and Deed Canada to talk about the hospital and the education program in Cubulco. The call was very positive and hope will lead to a fruitful outcome.
As the morning and the afternoon wore on the skies darkened with ominous looking thunder clouds.  During our skype call with Word and Deed Canada it started to pour and it became hard to continue on with the call as the rain drowned out our voices. It continued to pour for several hours and soon the streets turned into rivers as the storm sewers were overcome by the deluge.  Needless to say the drive home was interesting and fun (when in a 4x4).  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Trip to Cubulco

I went to Cubulco this past week for several days together with Brian Dennett (director of AMG) and Alex Orellana (administrative director of AMG) to meet with the teachers and the church regarding takeover of the education project by AMG.  For those who do not know, FRMI (Free Reformed Missions) wants AMG to take over the administration of the education projects in Cubulco although they will continue to fund them.  The reason for this is that AMG has been involved with education in Guatemala for many years and have the resources to do a better job than we could do on our own. The meetings we had were very fruitful. On Monday afternoon we met with the teachers from the center and from the aldeas.  Brian Dennett explained to them some of the history of AMG and what AMG stands for.  He shared with the teachers the Theory of Change which basically explains how AMG would like to transform individuals, families, communities, and whole regions through its programs. This transformation is centered around the Word of God and Christ since no true transformation can be achieved apart from Christ. The teachers seemed to be excited about the possibility of working for AMG starting 2013.  On Tuesday we met with the steering committee of the church and Brian once again explained what AMG stands for.  Alex Orellana also briefly covered some administrative areas. 

The committee responded favorably and enthusiastically to what was presented to them. I see many possibilities and opportunities with AMG taking over the program and I think we will be able to accomplish much more in Cubulco than if we would do it on our own. 

On Wednesday I took Brian and Alex to visit Pichal and meet with our teacher there and the students from the school.  We drove 45 minutes to Chitomax which is where the road ends.  This is also the place where the bridge used to be. The government promised to rebuild the bridge and construction appears to be under way.  The bridge will be bigger than the previous one.  After a tranquil river crossing we hiked up to Pichal. On our way up to Pichal we veered off the main path to witness an exhumation of a man who had been murdered 31 years ago during the civil war.  The family has been looking for his body for many years and it appears that they finally have found him although DNA analysis will need to be done to confirm that. I knew some of the extended family of the victim as some of them are part of the church in Pichal.  We stayed for some time until the body was uncovered by the forensic anthropologists and then we left. It was obvious from the remains that the man had died a violent death. It was disturbing to think that several decades ago some one did an evil act in that place. It brought home again the fact that many people in Guatemala are still dealing with the aftermath of the civil war. Many families are still wondering what happened to their loved ones. Many are still searching for clues. Many are also still demanding justice. From what I have read, only 2 Guatemalans have been convicted of crimes against humanity stemming from the civil war.  None of the masterminds have ever been brought to justice. I ask that you pray for justice and healing in Guatemala.

After the exhumation we hiked the rest of the way to Pichal to meet with our teacher Juan and the students of the school. Juan is the son of the obrero Santos from the church in Pichal. We spoke to them for a while explaining who we were and what we are doing in Guatemala and in Cubulco. We also spoke of some of the opportunities that these kids might have to be able to go to the AMG camp which would be very special for these children since none of them have ever been to Guatemala City.  We hope an pray that we will be able to work something out so that we can provide this service to the children in the aldeas.

Our trip to Cubulco was very fruitful. The highlight was going to aldea of Pichal. I think that through this trip to Cubulco and Pichal we clarified and shaped our vision for the future of the ongoing work in Cubulco. Please pray with us that God will continue to shape that vision and that the people as well with capture the vision. One of the challenges I left with the teachers and with the church committee was to dream and be visionary. This is some times hard for the people to do since they often have daily struggles that keep them from dreaming. As I mentioned before, I see so many possibilities with the education project being in the hands of AMG, but as nice as that maybe, I want the people to see that for themselves. I want them to dream and envision the future for Cubulco and be an active part in carrying out this vision!