The Wound Is Where The Light Shines Through

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I am sitting here at Lake Atitlan reflecting on my second I am art trip. Winding down and preparing to head home. This is actually my fourth trip to Guatemala in about 2 years. I came here originally to visit my son and family who were missionaries at the time. Earlier that year, my wife of 42 years passed away suddenly and I lost my job. It was a stressful year and honestly, I was angry with God for the tragic changes in my life. When I visited my son, he was providing food for about 50 homes in need in the area around Guatemala City. I ended up spending a day at a beautiful children’s home in Escuintla. I returned the following year with my church on a mission trip and I stayed on to visit the home in Escuintla. I have a degree in art and began painting seriously after my wife’s death. The year before she died, I felt lead to paint a large mural in the new addition to my church of Jesus seated and surrounded by children.  I had never attempted anything like that and after my wife’s death, I felt God was calling me to paint and I poured my grief into my painting.

While attending church in Guatemala with my church missions group, I met Rolando Monterroso who was filling in for the pastor that day. He found out I had painted a mural at my church. He started talking to me about I Am Art. The next day I found myself stranded for the day in Guatemala City waiting for my ride to Escuintla and Rolando showed me the mural at La Limonada and I was awestruck. We talked about I Am Art and Athentikos. I felt God had sent Rolando to me that day. Rolando called Amelia and Scott then and there to sign me up for the next trip. Honestly I was overwhelmed and skeptical of what was happening.  Here I was contemplating coming back to a foreign country after only ever leaving the US once. I came home unsure of the commitment I was making. But as we all know, God has a plan. Through that one mural that God led me to paint, I began my journey and a new life for me. At present, I’m working with 2 other artists creating the story of the Bible with 26 murals and transitions that upon completion, will be over a quarter of a mile long.

As awesome as that is, nothing compares to my two experiences with I Am Art. The first trip was to a home for sexually abused girls called Oasis. Initially was I very nervous and although I knew God sent me there, the unknown is always a little scary and so much in my life had changed. The experience at Oasis was amazing. I finally felt that my artistic ability that God gave me was being put to use. Spending an entire week with these girls was so moving. Just watching and seeing the arts impact their lives for 1 week and realizing that 1 week would in some way affect their lives long term and give them hope. Using my art as a tool to show them the love of God is always there. As impacted as obviously their lives were, mine was irrevocably changed forever.  That trip led to this trip to LA Limonada. After spending a lot of time working with kids in several locations and my fantastic experience at Oasis, I thought I was prepared for my experience at La Limonada.

I WAS NOT.

To go into the slums of Guatemala City gave me a glimpse of their lives. Spending time with the children was the most moving experience of my life. Seeing God and Jesus working in the lives of these children was beyond description. The people who dedicate their lives to helping these kids are amazing and in themselves a blessing from God.  Walking into some of the most dangerous parts of Guatemala City and seeing first hand the poverty and the people while standing with young men sniffing glue and seeing the hopelessness in their faces brought me to tears. I Am Art uses artists to bring hope to these kids.  To be able to work with I Am Art is a privilege and a blessing and will undoubtably change your  life forever as it did mine. I Am Art opened my eyes to the most important way that I can use the gift of my artistic ability to impact lives for Jesus. I will continue to work with I Am Art as much as possible and as God leads me, I will follow his plan.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” images=”7931,7925,7924,7929,7928,7927,7926,7930″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Between Today and Tomorrow

Kati joins Athentikos I AM ART

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’m currently fundraising as part of my Athentikos I AM ART Trip this summer, and my emotions include: frustration, hopelessness, doubt, despair, shame, anger, guilt, anxiety, panic, fear, rejection and loneliness.

This process of preparing for my journey to Guatemala has been MUCH more intense that I could have imagined. Yes, ALREADY. I find myself in an extremely humbling and uncomfortable place now: contacting people who I haven’t seen in years to ask for money, Trying to explain why on Earth would I work for free, and even PAY to do it, retaking video clips again and again only to find out it’s impossible for me to speak one minute of English language without pronunciation AND grammar mistakes.

I ask, am I really sure about this?

There was no voice, there was no assurance. But somehow, it felt logical and possible, surely inspiring and exciting. So, I jumped in. I wasn’t sure what I would be doing when I signed up, and I’m not sure of the details even now. I do know that traveling to Guatemala has been on my heart for 13 years! I also know that this journey is not about me …. And it’s not about the kids there either. It’s not about the donors, and it’s not about the man sitting next to me in the plane. It’s about all of us … together …

I was told that I will be amazed how much people will want to support me, how much I’ll feel blessed and believed in. I must say, I’ve been struck by how people actually DON’T want to give me support, or don’t think this idea is very smart at all.

But Also …

There are other people who are thrilled about this vision and want to help support my trip, including my colleagues, and people I hadn’t contacted in years. To my surprise, there are also other people who I don’t even know who wanted to help. I DON’T EVEN HAVE A CLUE WHO THESE ANGELS GIVERS ARE!

So, it is true. I AM AMAZED. This IS mind blowing. This is humbling. This is hashtag blessed hashtag seriously, with capitals. It’s not even about the money, weather or not I will be able to gain enough of financial support. It’s about what kind of a person I, we, you, are becoming in this process. It’s somehow about… Transforming pain into purpose? YUP. And I’m assuming this is only how it starts…

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”large” url=”http://athentikos.kindful.com/i-am-art-vidas-plenas-2016/connect-campaign-kati-korosuo” target=”_blank” bg_color=”#dd3333″ btn_hover_bg=”#000000″]Help Kati Fund Her I AM ART Trip to Guatemala[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Where Our I AM ART Trip Began

La Limonada

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Throughout my life, I have been profoundly influenced by the work of missionaries, and have been exposed to many of them personally.  From a cousin who served for many years in Haiti, to missionaries that visited my childhood church and shared the Gospel with me as a 3 year old in Cubbies clearly enough that I knew I needed to know Jesus for myself, to some friends from my years as a teenager that are now actively serving on the mission field in Bolivia, and very dear friends of ours who left the ‘American dream’ behind to obey the call of God on their lives to serve in full time mission work in Jamaica and in other parts of the U.S…..  YEP! It’s safe to say that missionaries have left their imprint on my life and world view.

Growing up with these influences, and in a Christian home, I always knew I wanted to serve on a short term foreign mission trip ‘one day’. In 2010, the church we attended at that time announced that they were looking for a small group of adults to go and serve in Guatemala City, for a ‘work trip’.  I knew I could swing a hammer and I could wield a paintbrush – but I didn’t really have an interest in going on a WORK trip.  But, after 3 nights of waking up in the middle of the night with GUATEMALA as my first cognitive thought, I asked with my heart pounding in my chest, “Is that you, Lord?” Turns out – it was!  The trip that was designed to be a ‘work trip’ ended up being a group of 5 women who did not once hammer a nail or paint a single wall. God was up to something!!

On that trip in 2010, I visited the community of La Limonada for the first time.  It is one of the largest slums in all of Central America.  It is a hard, extremely poor, often dangerous place.  No amount of ‘preparation’ could have truly prepared me for this trip. Our group ran a VBS type lesson with activities and crafts for the children attending the mission based academies within the slum, the heartbeat of the AMAZING ministry of Lemonade International/Vidas Plenas. Emotionally, I was completely undone on this trip.  As a mother of two small kids, I could not imagine what life must be like raising a family in that environment.  I found myself wrestling with the Lord all throughout the week on WHY ME?  WHY WAS I HERE?  WHAT COULD I DO?

On day 3 of our trip, we visited the second mission- academy on the opposite side of the slum, and there was a boy around 10 years old that was very quiet and shy who had deeply sad eyes.  I couldn’t stop staring at him from across the room.  I asked our translator if he had a sponsor family yet, and the translator told me that he didn’t think so.  In that moment, I knew what God wanted my response to this experience to be, and that was to sponsor Yeremi.  My translator introduced me to him as his ‘padrino’ which is spanish for ‘god-parent’.  That day started a relationship that is in tact 6 years later.  We write letters and send pictures and gifts and he knows how much he is loved by us and by his Creator.  It gives this dear boy dreams of a better future, one outside the walls of the slum, one that does not embrace gang culture, one that helps him to aspire to rise above the circumstances he has been brought up in. He has tangible proof that HE MATTERS.

Upon my return to the states in 2010, I tried to articulate all that God had done in my heart and mind, and how my world view had shifted on it’s axis.  I spoke of it so much, that I just KNEW I had to get my husband there to experience the slum and meet the precious people of La Limonada for himself.  At that time, we were leading a new college ministry and realized that many of those students would learn from experiencing it as well, so just 8 short months later in 2011, my husband and I traveled back to La Limonada a second time, with 3 college students in tow. The sheer size of the slum, and the vast needs represented there hit my husband like a punch to the gut, much like it had to me the first time I had visited.  Guys, this place demands a response from you!  We were able to work within the classrooms again with the students, and many of them remembered me from my first trip – and boy!!!… was Yeremi surprised to see us!!!!  We were blessed to have a day with him and his mother and little sister.  It was an experience I will never forget.  We also did many in-home visits and heard stories of so much hurt and sickness, and having to go without – something most of us in our American way of life never truly experience.  While life in La Limonada is hard and each day is with it’s own set of challenges – I could not deny the unwavering faith many people declared in our GOOD GOOD FATHER .  We prayed with them in their homes, we heard their joys through their sorrows, we saw their contentment with so little… and this place, that so many see as scary and terrible and dangerous?… took on a new quality to us.  Is it a sad place?  Yes, of course.  Is it dangerous?  Certainly. But you know what else?  It’s BEAUTIFUL.  In this place, I felt the presence of God more tangibly than any other place or time in my life.  His deep love shows all throughout Scripture for the least, the lost, the broken, the widows and the orphans…for the typical people of a place like La Limonada! This place matters to God!  God is there, He sustains when all else is empty, and it is etched into the faces of so many of the people there who have experienced His faithfulness in the midst of their struggles.

Since our trip in 2011, there has not been a single day that I haven’t thought about La Limonada and wanted and wondered when we could go back again.  It is a place that we cannot travel to on our own, due to the dangerous nature of the slum, finances have been a concern, and our timing has not been right….until NOW!  Now, this summer, my husband and I have been selected as team members for a trip with Athentikos – (another ministry we are very passionate about)  and we are so compelled to step out in faith and GO! The most amazing thing of all – is that this trip will be serving the people of La Limonada!  We are so excited to be going and facilitating an art camp for the children!  Through this camp, we will help the children discover who they are, and who God sees them as.  That each has value to the Creator who loves them and wants them to know Him.  We are leaving our own 2 children, ages 8 and 10, to be able to go and minister to these precious kids who need to see and feel the love of God and we want to be an example to our kids of what it looks like to serve and be uncomfortable for the sake of His name.  We desire to have Yeremi involved in this art camp as well, and hope we can somehow make that happen.  We want to be an encouragement to our friends on staff at Vidas Plenas that we have remained in touch with, and we want to once again, allow God to wreck us for His glory.  We are asking God to stretch us in this experience, we are seeking and asking what He wants our response to be this time, and we covet your prayers as we are trusting God with the finances and other details of this trip.

For His Glory and Our Good –

Harmony Charles

[/vc_column_text][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”large” url=”http://athentikos.kindful.com/i-am-art-vidas-plenas-2016/connect-campaign-sottharmony-charles” target=”_blank” bg_color=”#dd3333″ btn_hover_bg=”#dd9933″]Help Scott & Harmony empower children of La Limonada with a tax-deductible donation.[/mk_button][vc_single_image image=”7518″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

I Am Art 2014 Begins Team in Guatemala

i Am ART Team in Guatemala

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]The Athentikos is in Guatemala this week with their I AM ART program for the purpose of facilitating a weeklong art camp in La Limonada. The Athentikos’ I AM ART initiative enriches the lives of at-risk children by using creative arts to show them the power of their true potential. Our vibrant collective of professional artists teaches children how to find their voice and share their story. With I AM ART, our goal is to help each child find the art within so they can change the way they view the world around them. Through the I AM ART program, Athentikos raises funds, organizes projects, develops curriculum and provides spiritual oversight for several art programs: overnight art camps, art workshops, and theatrical performances, teaching training and mentorship. For three years Athentikos have organized the annual week long Art Camp for almost 100 children with the leaders in La Limonada. We’re excited to continue our relationships in La Limonada!

During the art workshops this week, the students will learn more about their rights as children. The Rights of The Child outline basic needs and rights every child should have. We will be focusing on ten basic rights: name, nationality, protection, love, education, recreation, food, housing, medical attention and family. We will also be exploring the truth that God “has wonderfully made” each of us for a unique purpose! It is exciting to see how art can be used as a spiritual and therapy tool. Art allows students to explore their world and discover new insights about God. And all the art produced during the week will be for others. The main project will be a 9×30 foot community mural project on the outskirts of La Limonada. The mural will be a public declaration of leadership and reconciliation as the youth work together in an area that is typically segregated by gang leaderships. At the end of the week, the group will host a Celebration Ceremony to dedicate the mural to the community. During the ceremony, the participants will share about their art workshop production and their leadership commitment to make positive choices.

Our personal journey in Guatemala began with the adoption of Scott and Amelia Moore’s two beautiful boys who are now 6 and 8years old. Through the process of adoption, Scott and Amelia were introduced to the beauty and destruction of Guatemala. The Moore’s were inspired to respond. Using their creative skills of film production and photography, God lead them to create Athentikos and partner with local creatives to produce two documentary films, Reparando & Becoming Fools. From those projects Athentikos have been connected to many organizations in which they have now organized artistic projects in various communities.

These art projects are made possible through generous individual donations, church support and grants. Would you consider making a financial investment? We would be honored if you click here and supported this project through a tax-deductible donation. The funds raised will go towards materials, travel expenses and scholarships for the kids from La Limonada to attend the I AM ART related programs.

Thank you and God bless![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

Crayons, paint, markers, LEGOs, banners, theatre, games, masquerade party, water balloon volleyball, swimming, screaming, singing, dancing and being free to be yourself: all beautiful memories from last year’s Art Camp and hopes for this year’s camp, ValorArte.  ValorArte, the name of this year’s Art Camp is a play on words in Spanish. “Valor” means “To Value”… and “Arte” means “Art”… but the word “Valorarte” means “Value Yourself”.  The focus of this year’s Art Camp is self-image in Christ.

The Athentikos team has the opportunity to serve again at Art Camp in Guatemala.  The Athentikos team and La Limonada staff will partner with the local ministry, Vidas Plenas and Lemonade International.  At ValorArte, we will teach art classes, Bible lessons, lead games and more.  The art classes involve music, clowning, sculpture, drama, collage and building with LEGO bricks.  Classes and activities at this year’s Art Camp will focus on teaching the kids how to value of ourselves, through loving ourselves, others and God.

Last year, LEGO provided a generous donation of various bricks and games along with funds for some camp expenses. This year, LEGO has again donated funds, but the remaining expenses still need to be raised.  Art Camp will cost about $12,000 for all campers to attend, supplies, food, transportation, etc.  Our hope is take 80 kids.  Some remaining funds are being collected in Guatemala, but we would like you to consider supporting this year’s Art Camp.  Athentikos and Lemonade International are teaming up to raise the rest of the funds.  All donations will make a difference in a kid’s experience at Art Camp.

All donations are tax-deductible.  Please make donations by October 15.

Check out last year’s Art Camp full of learning, processing and experiencing.  We taught kids from La Limonada how to deal with their emotions and life experiences through creating art.  It was truly an amazing experience for all involved, from campers to teachers, translators and counselors.  Click here to watch this great highlight video:

Athentikos Art Camp 2011 from Athentikos on Vimeo.

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

ValorArte: Value Art, Value Yourself

Photography by Athentikos.

 

LEGO awards Athentikos grant for La Limonada Art Camp

We are super excited to share this news with you: Athentikos received $4,000 from LEGO to support Art Camp in La Limonada the slum area featured in ‘Reparando.’ La Limonada is one of Latin America’s largest, most dangerous slums in Guatemala City, La Limonada.

The LEGO headquarters in Denmark awarded Athentikos a $4,000 grant in order to provide funding for an Art Camp at a partner school in La Limonada. Tita Evertz, founder and director of 2 schools in La Limonada, hosts an annual week long Art Camp providing children the opportunity to learn basic art skills and develop loving relationships. LEGO project manager for the World Robot Olympiad at the Denmark Headquarters, Claus Christensen, nominated Athentikos for LEGO employee grant after watching, ‘Reparando’ and learning about Art Camp in La Limonada. This grant awards minor funds to organizations recommended by employees.

“Everything I do has to be done with the children in mind. Our core values are centered around giving children the best of the best and the opportunity to use and develop their creative skills. The Art Camp does exactly that. So there was a great match between the cores values of LEGO and the ambitions of the Art Camp,” said Christensen.

The presentation of 10 LEGO employee grants was held on August 23 in Denmark. The LEGOs president, his family, CEO, Chairman of the Board and 100 guests attended the presentation. The employees that recommended the winning organizations gave a short presentation about the organization and cause for the grant. Below is our friend Claus accepting the award from the LEGOs president, Kjeld. (And Claus gave him a copy of ‘Reparando.’) We are humbly grateful to Claus for recommending the La Limonada Art Camp for this grant!

The Art Camp in La Limonada will be held this fall, October 31- November 5, 2011. Local and international staff, volunteers will be working with 100 children, ages 9 to 15 years old, at the camp providing skill and social development. Classes include drawing, dancing, yoga, media, drama and more. Contact Amelia Moore at ameliajmoore@athentikos.com if you are interested in traveling with the Athentikos team to assist in the Art Camp this fall.

“We believe in the therapy and healthiness that art can bring. This [Art Camp] gives them an opportunity to get to know something greater than their reduced boundaries and lets us mark their hearts with the love of God,” says Evertz.

In addition to the funding, LEGO will be donating 20 boxes of assorted LEGO bricks, enough LEGO bricks for 200 kids, to the schools in La Limonada! The bricks will be used at the schools in La Limonada, at Mi Casita and at Art Camp. Athentikos is excited about this partnership with LEGOs, Tita and Lemonade International.

Check out Athentikos’ new project: www.becomingfools.com. Athentikos is raising funds for their upcoming project, Becoming Fools, which will feature youth that live on the streets of Guatemala. Check out more info about how you can be involved in the project.