[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]