This week has been a very busy one but it has been fun with 29 sets of hands and hearts eager to collaborate. The Connexus team has given its best service to Guatemala and the most needy. We thank the leaders and youth members for their service and sharing their heart with others.
Thanks to their help we were able to make many improvements in the Centre of Hope such as continued construction of the 3rd grade classroom, painting of walls, carpentry projects, and construction of a wooden fence for the perimeter of the property. They came together to make bags of food for the March distribution . Thanks to the donations they brought we were able to distribute clothes and shoes to the families which is part of this program. They also brought school supplies for our children at school.
We are very fortunate to have been offered their help. And we thank them for their diligent support, hard work, and love, showing others their love of Jesus.
Looking forward to having them next year!
On Saturday, March 10th we held our monthly food distribution. All of the families that are part of this program from Corrales, Parrojas, Paraxaj, Chitaburuy, and Parramos attended this month’s distribution at our Centre of Hope. This month we were joined by the Connexus Team. They helped packed the food and some members of the team even shared their own testimony.
The team also prepared games and a skit for the children.
While the children were with the team the mothers received a nutrition workshop provided by Dr. David Perez. He spoke to them about the ways they can make good use of the food they get every month and the importance of a good nutrition.
After food distribution every family got the opportunity to select clothes and shoes that were brought by the team. We want to thank our sponsors that allow us to help these families in such an important area such as nutrition. Every month sponsored families receive their food packages and we were blessed that we got to share our March offering with the Connexus Team!
On Friday, the students held a farewell assembly for the team since that was the last time they would see our team:
Next, Brian’s team finished the house so that it was ready to be dedicated to the village elder.
The team also helped with Loving Arms monthly food distribution. The cover page of this blog showed the wonderful smiles from those receiving the packages that our gracious sponsors have provided!
Members of the ladies’ sewing group learned to make lovely bags using the traditional Guatemalan woven cloth.
Loving Arms also delivers an adult literacy class and the team had the opportunity to meet their teacher and the students.
Here’s the latest on what our most recent volunteer team has been up to on their trip down to Guatemala!
The team’s first event was to attend the graduation of the kindergartners to Grade 1. It was an eye opening day at the Centre of Hope where each graduate had multiple family members on hand to celebrate their big day with them. It was also a chance for Loving Arms President Linda Coghlin and Guatemalan Director Alicia Mendez to acknowledge the hard work put forward by the teachers the past school year.
Next, team member Meghan Coghlin hosted a clinic for new mothers to teach them the basic fundamentals that we in North America may take for granted. She gave new mothers or pregnant mothers a toy baby and provided information for these mothers and mothers to be about stimulating their baby, talking to them, and playing with them. She also gave these mothers a hygiene kit, blanket, and some baby clothing to take home.
Next up, the group held deliver food packages to 70 families who travelled to the Centre of Hope to receive their precious food. It also had time to do a little sprucing up of paint at the Centre of Hope.
During their trip, President Linda was also able to meet with Amy rose, a Canadian teacher working at Colegio Intermericano, a private school in Guatemala City. Amy volunteers at Loving Arms along with several of her co-workers to provide workshops to our teachers at the Christian School of Hope to improve our curriculum. Amy has contacts at other private schools and will work with Alicia and Linda to book an information session with the parents of the students at these private schools with the intention of securing child sponsorships at our school. Many parents at these schools are American, European, Canadian, or South American and might be interested in helping a needy child. These private schools tend to partner with other schools like ours to help give back to the community. The schools we will be attempting to secure sponsorships from are Colegio Maya, Americano, AIS, and Amy’s school Colegio Intermericano.
The team also met with Carolina Lantán from the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce. They wish to partner with our charity for a fundraiser for the children and the school. Suggestions have been discussed and Linda and Alicia will work together to coordinate an event to celebrate Loving Arms’ 10th anniversary next year.
During their trip, the team also met with CA Travelers
to create a partner to create packages for adults who wish to have a volunteer and tourism package. The program would be called “Voluntour” packages to launch for our 10th anniversary and can be for 1 week or 1 month stays. A month-long package for Cultural experience/community service/tourism and sight seeing/volunteering with Loving Arms can be geared towards high school and university students to learn Spanish. The volunteering portion would contribute to Loving Arms programs such as food packages, home construction, building stoves and water filters, and helping at the Centre of Hope at the beginning of the trip and end with sightseeing famous Guatemala landmarks such as Tikal, Lake Atitlan, amongst others.
Throughout all this hard work, the team was even able to celebrate our President Linda’s birthday as well! She was surprised with fireworks and a cake… what a treat!
Today was a heavenly day. We began with a visit to Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm. In Viking mythology, Valhalla is akin to paradise or a heavenly home. The farm lived up to its name being both beautiful and peaceful — a wonderful place for the team to rejuvenate after our first 3 days of travel and work. It was also very educational. Who knew that the Macadamia Nut tree flowers and produces fruit at the same time; or that it converts twice as much carbon dioxide as most trees (think antidote to global warming) and is a rich source of vitamins and essential nutrients.
Listening to all this I thought, “Macadamia Nut trees could be part of the solution to so many of the health problems we have seen at our clinics.” So it was really exciting to hear from Linda that Valhalla’s owner had donated 10 trees to Loving Arms. These trees will be planted on our property and will provide much needed nutrition to combat the malnutrition, stress, and depression that plague the poor we serve.
Next we drove to the Centre of Hope for Sunday Service. On arrival I was struck by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. Another surprise was soon to come. A special service had been planned to honour Linda’s father, Ralph Height, who passed to be with Our Lord in June.
The gratitude, love, and respect given to him was a reflection of the great gratitude, love, and respect the people have for Linda which was evident in their response to Pastor Oswaldo’s sincere, passionate words:
“Where is Ralph? …. In Heaven.
How are we sure? … He loved Jesus, and this we know because of Linda who has brought HOPE to Parramos. God has provided for our needs through you and the teams you bring here.
We see Jesus in you.
We love you and we sorrow with you, Linda.
Yet we also rejoice with you, Linda, that your father is with Jesus in Heaven and that you, and we, will be together there one day.”
What a blessing it was to be here! It was an emotional time for all of us, but none more than Linda who was gracious and composed as she tearfully expressed her gratitude to her Guatemalan family. Her closing words: “Be open and obedient. God will change your life” will stick with and inspire me.
After service it was Food Distribution time. Oh how we loved doing this! 130 bags of food were distributed to the sponsored children and elders of Parramos, Paraxaj, Parrojas, Corrales, and Chitabury. For Barb and Jeff, and myself the time was made even sweeter as we had the chance to speak, with the help of Loving Arms staff, to some of the those we sponsor personally. Words cannot express the depth and mix of feelings.
We spent the fifth day in Guatemala high in the mountains in the village of Parrojas. We treated women and children at the local public school. Once again we see that children are children no matter where they live. They played, ran, teased each other and grinned at us shyly. The women work hard, cooking and cleaning, carrying heavy packages on their backs and heads – no wonder they appreciate the support we offer!
After lunch we brought craft supplies up the hills to play with the kids during their food distribution visit. Once again the kids proved to be fun-loving and creative – kids will be kids. Witnessing the food delivery was humbling, realizing just how much the stoves, water filters, cows and sponsorships have helped. Alicia, the program director, is gifted and has a deep rapport with the people she serves. Finally, a prayer of blessing was offered and we left inspired.
I’m very happy to be able to share this experience with my daughter. Sincerely, Susan McNair
Loving Arms is excited to welcome a nursing team from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia! Led by Barb Irving, this team has a busy schedule ahead of them. Throughout the week, they will run medical clinics in Chimaltenango (with Pastor Oswaldo), La Hermita, Los Encinos, San Lorenzo, El Llano, Parrojas, Caleras, Cajagualten, Corrales (Centre of Hope for Elders), Paraxaj, Chitaburuy, and Parramos, as well as the children of the Christian School of Hope. The team will also participate in food distributions in some of the villages and host training clinics for local doctors and nurses. During their 11-day stay in the Parramos area, we know this team will make a great impact in the lives of the people. We can’t wait to hear about all they accomplish and learn!
The week wrapped up with Mack, Brian, Stephen working along side Josue building the walls of the new classroom. Stephen gave the exterior a fresh coat of paint and Ron tidied up some of the electrical wiring and propane tank mounts. Much time was spent time researching local septic systems that need to be installed as a result of the additional classes. Much of this is new to the staff and workmen here but a local engineer verified the plan Brian developed so the bar has been raised in terms of the sanitation system here. Margaret accomplished much in the classroom and painted the new admin office and took some awesome pictures with her amazing Nikon.
A trip to the mountain villages and the food distribution there was an eye opener for the first timers as they saw first hand the deep level of poverty that exists.
The garden has produced a fantastic and abundant crop of vegetables that will be sold at the local market.
Much was accomplished and a good week overall. Kudos to Linda, Alicia, Sergio and the Centre of Hope staff for the excellent work being accomplished.
Linda and Stephen Coghlin, who will stay after hosting the SHARE team, will be joined this week by Ron Shantz, Mackenzie Boyce, Brian Gore, and Margaret Shaw. The team will be involved in the construction of a new classroom which will be housed on the Centre of Hope property. This classroom will be for the Gr. 1 students for 2017 as they graduate from Kindergarten in Nov. 2016. The Ministry of Education requires that we apply for our Gr. 1 teaching rights by June 2016 this year in order to be inspected, approved and receive registration to open it for Jan. 2017. They will also be involved in the school, working with the children and women’s co ops, assisting with food distribution for the month of Feb. and hopefully find time to build a stove or two for families in La Hermita.
We have been busy here in Guatemala! Yesterday, we worked on the home all day. We were able to finish the roof and paint the home. Monday, we will return to help build a stove for the family. We have loved getting to spend so much time with this sweet family. All of the children are so kind and helpful. We can’t wait to see them again soon!
Today, we spent some time working at the Centre of Hope. We started our day packaging over 200 bags of food for the children in the Loving Arms Sponsorship Program. When we finished with this, we helped sort some jewelry and medical supplies. It was a long morning with many tedious tasks but we were looking forward to an exciting afternoon at the food distribution.
Around 3:00, we met most of the families who are a part of the Sponsorship Program. All of the people were so full of joy! It was a very moving afternoon, as Monique and Viola were able to spend time with their sponsored children and elders. Everyone who witnessed these reunions was moved by the emotion and excitement that was shared. It was an afternoon we will not soon forget