Hope for Guatemala

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On Sunday, November 9, 2014 we drove from Antigua to Zone 18 and found hope for Guatemala.

Driving from Antigua to Zone 18 is like driving from Brentwood to East Nashville. Antigua is a tourist town full of ancient history and beauty, while Zone 18 is a crowded slum with traffic, diesel fumes, gangs, murder.  Zone 18 is listed as one of the places NOT to go while visiting Guatemala.  We were driving in the crowded slum for a while when we turned into a driveway … to our surprise we had arrived at Hope for Guatemala.  We were told it was at a farm “una finca” near Zone 18.  We didn’t see farmland anywhere.  But, this was it.  The gate and wall were painted with a fabulous mural that reads, “the place were dreams are planted …”

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The gate opened, we drove in, and found we have come to an oasis in the middle of the city.  There were lush green trees and plants, bright orange flowers in the trees, and a view of mountains in the distance.  There were no stores, no crowded streets, nothing but the farm house, a few outbuildings, and rolling hills with tall trees as far as the eye could see. How could THIS be in the middle of THAT??

Jose, the director of Hope for Guatemala, told us the story behind this place. This finca was the largest egg farm in the country back in the 80s and early 90’s, and has been in the family for 140 years. His daughter was kidnapped and the family fled the country. The house has been abandoned since the mid 90’s.  A year and a half ago Hope for Guatemala discovered this place and God opened the door for them to move their ministry here.

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So now, kids who live with three families in a one room shack with no water or electricity can come to this beautiful oasis in the middle of the slum. They can play on awesome playground equipment and with the goats, horses and chickens. They learn to work the land and produce a crop. There is a lake to jump in and catch tilapia. None of these things would not even be possible in their “neighborhood.”

There is peace here. There is freedom here. There is safety, love, and family here. Who would have guessed we’d find a place like this in the middle of the slum. God has planted Hope for Guatemala here to provide such an oasis for this community. What a blessing!

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Cross-Cultural Creative Arts

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We’re planning a cross-cultural creative arts project for Guatemala and Tennessee.

Julia and I are part of the Fall 2014 Athentikos I Am Art Team. We spent several hours the other day with Scott and Amelia collaborating and brainstorming art projects for our I Am Art workshop. I have been a little overwhelmed with the idea of having to come up with a curriculum for a 90 minute class each day. It’s great to have time with the kids each day without having to rush, but that’s a lot of time to fill! This trip requires time and effort, in addition to fundraising. That’s intimidating.  Yet, as the four of us came together, the projects came together as lots of ideas were honed and modified, and we developed a great plan for camp.  I don’t think we could have come up with it all individually, but together we made it great.  I can’t wait to see how it all plays out at camp!

I am realizing that because we are required to invest more in this endeavor, I am truly more vested in in it. We’re not just “showing up,” and being told what to do. We’re bringing an entire program, materials, and creative skills to the table. We are truly sharing some of ourselves this way. By sharing ourselves with the kids it becomes a shared experience between us and the kids.

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We’re neighbors with the Moore’s, so we have decided to hold a mini I Am Art workshop for the kids on our street. Our street is pretty special, and has really become an extended family. Next week, we will teach one of our lessons and help the kids with two art projects. I’m excited about the cross-cultural creativity. Kids on our street will start a project that we will take with us to be finished by Guatemalan children. We’ll also start a project in Guatemala for children in our neighborhood to finish, once we return home. It seems fitting to have a tight knit community like ours share with a similarly close community in Guatemala.

This collaborative, cross-cultural, creative experience with our community and the community in Guatemala is becoming a very rich experience – more than I expected … and we haven’t even left yet. I look forward to all that is in store!

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