Making Lemonade

I AM ART Lemonade Stand

We’re all familiar with the idiom, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. But what do you do when life gives you lemonade?

For the students in Emily Litsey’s high school art class, the answer is to sell the lemonade and donate the proceeds to Athentikos. For the last four years, this group has raised funds to offset costs of specific art projects. In 2019, their efforts allowed kids near Lake Atitlan at the Opal House the opportunity to create a beautiful mural on their new school building.

Like all nonprofits, Athentikos depends on the generosity of our volunteers and donors. Stories like Emily’s inspire our spirits and enable us to impact the lives of at-risk youth at our camps. Emily first learned about Athentikos through her involvement with Lemonade International when she took a trip to Guatemala, specifically, to La Limonada. La Limonada is a huge slum in one of Guatemala’s “red zones”. Athentikos’s documentary, Reparando, highlights La Limonada and a few of the people living there and using their creative power to make a positive change in their community. Everyone who goes to Guatemala with Athentikos comes back with inspiring stories about their experience. Emily was most inspired by the response Guatemalan kids had to art and the creative process. As an art teacher, she found the reaction to creativity was similar to her U.S students. Emily describes her trip as a reminder that kids are kids no matter where you are, and that art is a universal language. She didn’t want her trip to be a single event in her life that she completed and quit. She plans to return to with Athentikos, but in the meantime, Emily wanted to stay connected with Guatemala and bring her experiences home to the students in her art class.Highlights From Emily’s Trip to Guatemala with Athentikos

Emily originally began having her students do projects like creating personalized pieces of art for kids in the La Limonada school. However, one day, a student suggested raising money to help benefit Athentikos programming and sending kids to camp. In honor of La Limonada, which translates to “lemonade”, Emily’s students began a lemonade stand at the school. It runs for a full week during the spring semester each year and has become such a staple at the school that students anticipate its arrival each year. Emily loves the lemonade stand because she believes her students benefit from having the opportunity to learn how to organize and implement a project/fundraiser as well as being involved with philanthropy. But what is even more powerful, is that it also teaches her students about being aware of other’s needs and the ability of each person to serve others. While Emily has always loved art, she says that now she has a richer understanding of its importance. She’s motivated to help students realize there is more to the world than just the town they live in. We praise God for Emily and her students and for all of those who help support Athentikos by donating their time, money, and

Virtual Classes Cross Borders

A Girls' Home in Guatemala joins An Exchange Workshop virtually

Athentikos hosted an online workshop in June focused on Lettering taught by Alejandra Barillas (Ale), a Guatemalan graphic designer and professor. The workshop was open for anyone to join live and the recording is now available to our Exchange Members.

While our friends at the Oasis Home for Girls have been taking our I AM ART workshops for six years, this was the first time they joined us virtually. This was made possible because our Exchange Members GIVE ART opportunities through their generous support. 

Ale lead this three day workshop teaching the foundations of forming letters by discussing a Biblical truth: Process & Growth ending in this beautiful theme, “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”

We were thrilled to hear, from Betsy Baker, that the girls enjoyed the class. Here’s a little of their response and work. 

What did the girls enjoy about the Lettering Workshop?

They really liked doing the end design! Decorating the page, making it their own!

Did anything surprise you about the process?

I honestly was surprised by how good they already were! They really like writing and drawing!

"I really liked this workshop because it taught me something new and I think I could be good at it! I want to keep practicing!"
Oasis Participant

Why did you decide to participate in this workshop?

We decided to participate because I knew that several of the girls already had a great interest in lettering, and I thought this would be a good way for them to take it to the next level.

How was this workshop beneficial to your organization?

During this time of quarantine, the girls’ schedules have become repetitive with homework, housework and playing outside. I think they really enjoyed spicing up their day!

Join the I AM ART Exchange and MAKE ART by accessing this workshop and GIVE ART to under-resourced communities.

Ten Camps and More to Come


About the Author:

Ivette Alvarado is currently is studying communications at one of the private universities in Guatemala. She has been volunteering on Athentikos teams since 2016. Then two years ago, Ivette joined our staff team in a more permanent and indispensable role as the I AM ART Guatemala In-Country Assistant Coordinator working as the communications liaison for our Spanish speaking volunteers. She also serves as a translator, leads our large group game and teaching time and currently is our online translator for our I AM ART Exchange workshops. We love her ideas, energy and deep love of others and God. Her enthusiasm and vigor are a great asset to our team and we couldn’t imagine carrying on ministry without her! If you ever join us for one of our Guatemalan I AM ART camp experiences, you shall be blessed to meet this smiling face!

“I’ve worked and volunteered with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) around Guatemala for the past ten years; from medical trips, prayer walks, house construction, to well you get the picture. Somehow I really never felt like I belonged to any of those missions, but rather each week was just one more opportunity to volunteer. All that changed after my first week with Athentikos at an I Am Art camp. I asked God to keep me here serving with Athentikos, to keep me around, to keep me in touch with Him through the IAA experiences. It is kind of crazy to think that that was my prayer request TEN camps ago! Ten camps, sounds like a lot, a lot of paint, laughing, weeping and transforming myself into a better version of me every day. During this time God has been telling me to keep moving, to trust Him, to trust in the creativity He has planted in me, to fall down on my knees and be humble, to learn from others, to love and to forgive others.  What a blessing these past ten camps have been to me. 

Every camp has been so different from the previous, every kid, every workshop, and in every way. God has spoken to me through each experience. This is what I love about Athentikos: the IAA program works from the inside out, working at chipping away something that we can’t see at first glimpse but we know each person experiences: pain, suffering, insecurity, lack of identity, different kinds of poverty, etc. But what a good and beautiful God we seek, He never fails; seeing how kids learn to love themselves, to forgive themselves, to believe in what God is doing in them, that is what has kept me here. This time with Athentikos has taught me another way to experience God, another way to see Him. 

I would never change this experience. I look forward to the next camp; to all the camps God will lead me to. 

One of the main reasons I love doing my role with Athentikos is that I get the chance to call my own people to join the mission, to answer the call; Mathew 28:19-20 says, we are all called to share the gospel and build community with discipleship and when we do this, we don’t just bless others but we are blessed too.” 

~ Ivette Alvarado

Ivette (on the right) emceeing one of the I AM ART camps.

The Beauty of Being a Beginner

About the author:

Cristha Fuentes is a powerhouse artist. She is a beautiful Guatemalan designer who uses the art of leather design to tell graceful stories. Her shoe and bag designs are outstanding. (Yes, most of the Athentikos teams now own her work.) Her work is inspiring and her compassion is even more contagious. She has been volunteering with Athentikos since 2016 and while she has participated in helping with several of our mural projects and has led other workshops, this was the first time she was in charge of the whole mural project. And it was a BIG ONE! On top of that, half of the artist mission team had to cancel at the last minute due to the growing concern at the beginning of March 2020 of the impact of the cornavirus. A week after this camp the world shut down. However, this “small” team completed one of our largest projects to date and still engaged with nearly 100 kids to encourage personal growth through various creative workshops. Each child loved participating in the mural project and loved picking a bright color to represent their home and presence in the community. Now as the kids walk by the mural daily, they will be reminded of their value, their rights and their unique purpose as a child of God.

Cristha’s reflections on this process below are inspiring. Cristha, THANK YOU for sharing your talents and passion with us. You are generous, kind, patience and beyond talented!  Check out Cristha’s work here.

“You only get to be a first time muralist once” David Lee, the Athentikos Team Leader said in one of the team meetings during the preparation time for an I AM ART camp. “That’s right!” I thought to myself. His comment made me put aside whatever conflicts I was facing in the first days and just focus on enjoying the beauty of being a beginner.

Before this mural, the last time I felt like a “beginner” was my first Athentikos camp in 2016, and it happened to be with the same community in Guatemala City of, La Limonada. God works in mysterious ways by bringing me back to this same place to experience being a “beginner” again.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into until Sunday when we arrived at the church and I stood next to that 13x3m wall. It was overwhelming. I had no words to describe that feeling, other than I immediately felt myself shrinking and becoming a tiny human standing in front of a giant.

Frustration came first, then fear, but after that humility and excitement reigned; I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to face that giant by myself. I had an amazing team! I had the talented Perry Tibbins (the master muralist) and the girlboss Jen Tercero to help me out during this process. And the kids loved being a part of something so large together. Sure, I’m an artist in my own way, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn something new, especially from such talented people. In that moment I realized I didn’t have to face this alone, and God’s plan started happening: my ego was broken, my mind was open, my heart enlarged.

Thanks to this mural experience, I learned so many lessons and so I want to list some of them:

By God giving me the feeling of being tiny, He was giving me the lesson that I’m just a small piece of a big work of art. I’m a tool in his master plan and I don’t get to choose if I like it or not, I just need to answer his calling and be open to whatever he wants to do. In this particular case it made me more humble, more aware, definitely less perfectionist and more happy; more like him, less like Cristha. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve grown in your relationship with God, there’s always something else to learn, some area in ourselves to improve. We have to make ourselves small so that HE grows.

Being a beginner is FUN. Since you don’t really know what you’re doing, you get to approach everything from a place of openness. You don’t know what to expect, you have no control and it allows you to be more aware and present. It’s really fun, it makes you feel like a kid again, and God loves kids (Matthew 18:2-4)

There are 2 ways you can approach things, whether in life or with a huge mural project: You can choose to be a critic, and try to find the faults and errors (and you will find them and you will never be satisfied.) OR you can practice grace, see beyond the flaws, and focus on the story behind the process. You will not only find beauty but also contentment.

I Am Art camps are amazing because they not only have a huge impact in the lives of the kids, but also in the lives of the leaders and team members. I’ve seen it not only in this camp but in ALL of the ones I’ve been to. God has so much to say and so much work to do in each person that attends these camps. I can honestly say that after all I’ve lived through and seen I want to continue doing this all my life. I’m simply amazed how God really works in mysterious ways, and I want to see how far He is going to take not only these camps but the whole vision of Athentikos.

Always mix the paints before using them! (This is not a deep lesson, I know, but for future muralists.) Don’t ever forget this, you’ll save so much time!

I could keep going, because there’s honestly so much to say…just like John 21:25 says: “There are so many other things that Jesus did. If they were all written down one by one, I suppose that the whole world could not hold the books that would be written”, there are not enough words to describe all he did.

To my amazing team: THANK YOU! You are family, and coronavirus couldn’t stop us!

– Cristha

Athentikos has been partnering with with Vidas Plenas and Lemonade International since 2010. Their work with the community of La Limonada is Guatemala City is featured in our documentary, Reparando.

The mural was generously sponsored by Veronica Riedel.

Pre-K Play-doh Artist’s Transformation into the Pro World

Seasoned Guatemalan clay animator, Jen Tercero (Morena), volunteers  with Athentikos by leading an online clay workshops as well as art camps in Guatemala. We are thrilled to have her as part of our volunteer team and love her heart to invest in others. She combines her life experience and love of art to inspire others

Morena is a vibrant Guatemalan artist, graphic designer and enthusiastic of experimental art. She has been teaching model clay since 2016 at universities, kids events, and several exhibitions. Morena has published two beautiful children’s books. She likes to share the art of using modeling clay as a way of art for all ages and professions to engage in art and understand the power of creativity. Morena has been serving with Athentikos since 2019.

What was it that got you interested in modeling clay?

“Ever since I was in preschool, I enjoyed play-doh…who doesn’t like play-doh?! My interest didn’t stop there but only began. When most people grow out of creating with such material, I took it to the next level. I remember when I was little my mom had a collection of claymation figures. I loved to look at them and always asked to play with them but was constantly denied the opportunity. So, I took to making an attempt at creating them myself.This would give me the chance to play with those different characters. As I continued to grow, claymation animation and stop motion movies fascinated me.”  

Now how do you use clay modeling in your work?

“I am a graphic designer. This basically gives me freedom to experiment with my illustrations. I feel like modeling clay is a versatile and limitless material. I have made a lot of material focused towards children as I believe it’s a material that children identify with, therefore, it makes the illustrations more interesting to them. The process is simply to create the scenes, take photos, upload & process and then print in whatever format desired. I have printed books as well as various products for example backpacks and accessories. “

What has working with modeling clay taught you  about yourself?

“Modeling clay is a material that you can never be 100% in control of. There are always textures that are produced without my intervention; it’s teamwork between the material and the artist. This has helped me realize that I can’t be in control of everything and even when things don’t turn out “perfect” it doesn’t mean that the result isn’t beautiful. I have learned to be patient, disciplined and open to appreciate the end result without looking for things to be perfect.”

What will we learn in the online modeling clay workshop?

“We will be making characters out of modeling clay. During the week we will learn how to work the clay, create textures and colors to be able to personalize our characters. But most importantly, we are going to have fun being creative!”

What is important about the creation process?

“The most important thing about art is EXPRESSION and ENJOYMENT!”

Thank you Jen for sharing your art and heart with the Athentikos community! The above  projects were created in the Clay Workshop at the I AM ART camp with partnership organizations, Kids Alive International and Lemonade International.

To learn more about Morena and her work, follow her on instagram. 

Take the Clay Workshop by joining the I AM ART Exchange!

Athentikos, Art and the Presence of Jesus

Athentikos, Art and the Presence of Jesus

For most of my life, I have underestimated the power of the arts. I have had the privilege of taking colors, music, and words for granted. I have been ignorant to the influence they have had on me and the influence they have throughout all of humanity. However, one of the things that Athentikos has offered me is a renewed understanding of art. The deeper I dive into myself, the more I understand the profundity of art (and I have Athentikos to thank for nudging me in this direction).

The better I know myseIf, the more I understand how much I owe to writing. I have experienced so much growth and peace through my journals. In fact, I would even say that they have been a catalyst in my relationship with Christ. It’s helped me understand God, myself, and my place within His movement. It’s shown me another side to Him, for I now understand how much God cares about beauty. Why else would there be so many different kinds of flowers? Or change of color in the sky? Art is a way we can embody Him, and art is one step further into the presence of Jesus.

Not only has Athentikos exemplified the power of art to me, but they have also given me a chance to put this revelation into practice: as an Artist in Residence, I have an opportunity to share this beauty and transformation with others. As an Artist in Residence, I am hosting weekly art clubs (with the help of Kathlyn) for various groups from January-May 2020. How lucky am I??? I hope to accompany others in their relationship with Jesus through the arts. I hope to make His love known through His beauty. It is such a privilege to be able to praise Him with colors! 

– Elianah, ART TERM Intern

The Heart of Fundraising

I (Scott Moore) founded the nonprofit, Athentikos with my wife Amelia in 2008 after adopting our two sons from Guatemala and seeing the overwhelming needs in the country.

Athentikos has accomplished a lot since 2008, but we’re still a “nano-nonprofit”. People often think that Athentikos is a large, funded organization. But we’re not directly connected to or sponsored by a major church, denomination, or other organization, and we don’t have a lot of resources.

We’re dependent on tax-deductible donations given by and through people like you. We have a vision to heal through creative arts all over the world, and you are a part of that vision …

Your fundraising multiplies the Athentikos mission.

For those of you  fundraising for your trip, the fee covers hard costs associated with your trip in addition to admin and supporting Guatemalan artist involvement, . But, we’d like to encourage you to think about it in a different way. Your fundraising helps grow I AM ART to heal around the world.

We encourage you to think of fundraising for your trip similar to a 10k for Breast Cancer Awareness, and challenge yourself to raise beyond the minimum goal. Together, we can impact the world through healing creative arts!

In addition to I AM ART, we produced two films which highlight the incredible needs in Guatemala, as well as people who are responding to those needs.

We encourage you to use Reparando and/or Becoming Fools  in your fundraising. Show our films to your family and friends, and discuss I AM ART as a way to inspire them to support you and the Athentikos mission.

Thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions, please let us know.

“I Am Art”

NOTE: Currently our I AM ART Mission team opportunities are on hold due to the global pandemic. We hope to resume our mission trip opportunities in 2021. However, Athentikos is still supporting it’s partners and vendors in Guatemala by essential gifts and art related tools. Donate to be a part of this life-changing ministry.

"I Am Art"

Three small words make such a huge impact.

As children of God, each one of us is a unique and beautiful creation, a work of art by the Father’s hand. But sometimes that work of art gets damaged by cruel and careless people, and that’s where the therapy tool of art comes in. If you’ve ever deeply desired to make a difference in the world, or felt like you had more to offer but weren’t sure where to offer it, Athentikos is a great place to start. Having just finished my third I am Art camp, I can honestly tell you that I feel like I gain far more than I give on these trips. To be a part of something bigger than yourself is such an uplifting experience, and I find new friends, form precious memories, and gather new art techniques with each trip. Even if you don’t speak the language, when you’re creating a piece of art together there’s a special bond that forms which doesn’t require words. To sit next to a girl who has been through so much trauma, and is still so open and loving that she reaches over and holds your hand during a prayer…that kind of vulnerability will change the world and I’m honored to play a small part in it.

If you love to craft and create, and long to serve others with your talents, your creativity is welcomed and needed here! Whether you’ve been through deep trauma like these kids, or you just want to give back so others can find their way to healing, there’s a place for you on the I am Art team. Counseling is therapy for the brain, but art is therapy for the soul; and we need both to be able to fully heal and be the masterpiece God created us to be. I promise you, it will change your life for the better.

– Carla 

Black Paper Project

Black Paper Workshop Project

Leader: Dawn Elsenbroek
Opal House 2019
Photography By Bev Abma

This workshop used colors and found objects to make their own paper.

First, the group painted homes, using colors which represented parts of their personality and who you are.  ie: artistic, athletic, tall, short, big family, small family, introverted, extroverted, etc. 

On day three, we added our sketches and black paper to the pulp blender. The black paper symbolized how yucky stuff happens in our lives and messes things up.  

BUT on day four, we made something beautiful out of this yucky stuff……just like God will make something beautiful out of our bad circumstances… On the dried black handmade paper, we drew plants using oil pastels to make beautiful pictures. The color showed up really nicely on the black paper!

Finally, we create a village out of our houses and pictures and built a community tree in the middle of our village which show how the community can come together and help each other. We can look around and see the houses (people) in our community and how we might relate or help each other in our  struggles. Some beautiful things can be created through the process.  

I think if kids can understand the concept of God taking a bad situation and making something beautiful out of it, that would be a huge source of hope and motivation. 

T-Shirt Design Contest


Who wants a reason to be creative!? I DO! We thought we’d put together a friendly contest to get our creative juices flowing for 2020! Are you ready!?

We want to see your design for our 2020 SOY ARTE/ I AM ART shirt design! Anyone is welcome to enter the contest.

Vision Board:
This is for inspiration don’t feel like you need to copy anything here.


Feb 15  – Submission due to
Feb 18 – Online voting begins! 
March 1 – Announce the winner

We can’t wait to see what our creative community comes up with. Thank you for joining this fun contest to showcase the amazing talent in our community. The final design will be printed early March and proudly worn by all our 2020 teams! We will feature the winning designer on our social media all year!

Design Away!!

Here are the details:


Athentikos Logo: download below

Design Notes:
Yes, we want to Incorporate both “Soy Arte” and “I Am Art” in the design! This can be done any way, but if you need a starting place, perhaps think of a negative/ positive space design. Since our mission is healing through creative arts, here are possible themes: art tools, brokenness, community, cultural exploration, self discovery, art in process. The design can be visual or typography driven… words can be big or small…

Max dimensions: 16” wide x 20” wide (this is the max; it doesn’t need to be this large)
One color printing: White, Black

We will accept digital designs and sketches.

Shirt Color Options:
Pick from one of these colors:

Athentikos Logo