We're writing this blog after returning from our week in Guatemala safe and sound. Sorry for the delay in getting news to you, but we had issues with the internet while we were there. You never know!
Other than a stomach bug that swept through and hit about half the group the last couple of days, our trip was busy, crazy, productive and extremely rewarding! We continued making progress with the painting of the Center. It's looking so brighter and cleaner and happier! In addition to the standard painting of the walls, we had an incredibly talented team member who paints wall murals. We commissioned him to paint a mural in the comedor (where the children eat) of Jesus and the children with the Scripture: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." It was amazing to watch the wall being transformed little by little into a message of love for the children to see every day! It was a beautiful addition! Thanks, George!
While on the subject of painting, the Team also decorated the halls in the lobby with painted frames and filled them with pictures of the children and workers from the Center. It was a great hit! When the families came to visit on Friday, they were thrilled to see their child on display! It further emphasized how special each of them are to us and to Christ!
In addition to our ongoing maintenance work on the Center, the everyday Bible stories and activities with the children, and the hugging and loving that goes on continually while we're there, we were excited to add an important element to our work by taking with us a trained dietician and nutritionist. He was able to evaluate the status and dietary needs of each of the children individually. Many of the babies were introduced for the first time to solid foods. It was an exciting time watching them eat from a spoon! They loved it! He reviewed the available foods, menus, and the process of meal preparation, in order to formulate a training strategy to help the workers in their care and feeding of the children. Thanks, Richard!
Our team was also blessed with two nurses, including a pediatric intensive care nurse who made an invaluable contribution, especially in the "Canary Room" where the babies are. She and our dietician worked together to conduct training sessions every afternoon with the workers on subjects ranging from proper formula preparation. to appropriate food temperatures, to the importance of dental hygiene. The workers were open and receptive and very appreciative for the help and training. Thanks, Tinsley and Doug!
As a part of the training each afternoon, one of our team members lead in a time of prayer and devotion just for the workers while the Team took care of the children. The workers were able to open up their hearts and share their hurts and needs and concerns. We rejoiced that five of the workers made a decision to follow Christ on our last day there!
The exciting thing is that the seeds of love and concern and hard work which have been planted and watered by every group that has been there throughout the last year are now ripe and we are reaping a harvest in so many ways! Thank you to all who have been faithful and have participated in this exciting and rewarding work! You, too, can share in the joys and successes of every team that follows you!
Continue to pray for the children and workers at the Center. There are children returning home, and new children are coming all the time. While we were there, two new sets of twin boys and a little girl were admitted. The little girl's sister, as well as another four children, will be admitted next week.
Some children we'd like to mention by name who are having some specific difficulties. Edwin is 11 years old and weighs only 27 pounds. After a year at the Center, he has gained only a pound and is still not gaining weight. He has been to the hospital in Guatemala City for testing, but due to recurring pneumonia, he has not been able to undergo the necessary tests. Pray that the medicines will clear up the pneumonia, so that they can do the testing and identify the problem, so he can begin eating and growing strong! He's a precious little boy!
Also pray for one of the new twin boys who was admitted this week. His name is Jerson, and he has a cleft lip as well as a mangioma that started as a dot on his nose and has almost completely covered his face. It can only be taken care of with special laser surgery. A specialist came to see him while we were there, but the surgery he needs is not done in Guatemala. Pray that God will provide for all his needs and smooth the way for him to have surgery, and will comfort his young mother.
Thank you for your faithfulness in praying and supporting this work with your time, your finances and your energies. We'll return to Guatemala on March 8, so be watching for further updates! Until then, keep praying!