Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hole in our Gospel

"When...Jim Wallis was a seminary student...he and some of his classmates did a little experiment. They went through all sixty-six books of the Bible and underlined every passage and verse that dealt with poverty, wealth, justice, and oppression. Then one of Jim's fellow students took a pair of scissors and physically cut every one of those verses out the Bible. The result was a volume in tatters that barely held together. Beginning with the Mosaic books, through the books of history, the Psalms and Proverbs, and the Major and Minor Prophets, to the four Gospels, the the book of Acts, the Epistles and into Revelation, so central were those themes to Scripture that the resulting Bible was in shambles. When Jim would speak on these issues, he would hold his ragged book in the air and proclaim, "Brothers and Sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of holes. Each one of us might as well take our Bibles, a pair of scissors, and begin cutting out all the scriptures we pay no attention to, all the biblical texts that we just ignore." Jim's Bible was literally full of holes."
  ~Hole in our Gospel, Richard Stearns - President of World Vision

 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
   and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
   and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 58: 6-7, 14

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Well today is actually Easter, which I'm sure all of you already know, so that means I am a bit behind on the blogging front! Se la vie...
Another huge aspect of the week are the beautiful alfombras or carpets that are made all through-out the week. There are two type of carpets made during Semana Santa. The first are carpets in the churches that are made for the holy vigils and are made by the brotherhoods.

The carpets are made in front of the religious figure on display and are surrounded by fruits, vegetables and candles brought as offerings to the church the day before.
So much food going to waste - eek!
Jesus cake and lizard bread
The second type of carpets are along the processional routes in the streets. These carpets are made by residents or businesses and express both religious as well as contemporary messages in the designs.  Preparations for the carpets begin weeks, sometimes months, ahead. Sand or sawdust is generally used to level the cobblestone roadway.  Sawdust is then collected and dyed in different colors.  Favorite colors are purple, green, blue, red, yellow and black.  Flowers such as bougainvillea, chrysanthemums, carnations, roses and other native plants and pine needles are also used.
Carpets are started the day before the procession and the construction is timed so that the carpets are finished just before the carriers of the float arrive so that carpet looks its best.
The carriers of the main float are the first ones allowed to walk over the carpet.  They are followed the rest of the procession. These are a few of my favorites that we have seen this week:
yes those are bank pens, free advertisement!
bottle tops, cheetos, and tea bags. por que no?
toilet paper rolls and mayan worry dolls
no quite as pretty after the procession
So that is Semana Santa in a very small nutshell. We had a great time this week hanging out with friends in Antigua and soaking up the cultural experience. God had truly blessed us with an amazing community here in Guatemala and we are already getting sad to leave them in only 2.5 months :( On a happier note we are excited for tomorrow when we will be adding to our awesome community by welcoming the new Mano Con Mano missionaries, Gerry and Barbara to Guatemala! Stay tuned for more on that front...

Happy Easter and He is Risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Semana Santa

Buena Pascua! All this week Gregg and I have been in Antigua to join in the out of control celebration that is Semana Santa or Holy week. These Guatemaltecos sure do know how to party - well the Catholic ones at least. 

Antigua is famous for its Catholic celebration of Holy Week, which commemorates the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The entire city participates in the event, and thousands of national and international visitors flock to Antigua to witness the dramatic happenings. The main events are the daily (sometimes twice or thrice daily) processions that depict Jesus and Mary in the events that led up to his crucifixion. Processions generally begin with incense carriers and the brotherhood's banner, followed by the carriers and the float. The floats can weigh as much as 7,000 pounds! Carriers will carry the float for a block and then a new group will take their turn. A block behind the main float, the women carry a smaller float with the figure of the Virgin Mary. Following behind is a funeral march band. There is even one day of children's processions. 
Semana Santa: brought to you by Pepsi
Although there are a lot of beautiful aspects of this week, at the heart of the celebrations is the Catholic sacrament of 'penance'. Believers actually have to pay for the privilege of carrying one of the Jesus floats. It's considered to be a special form of penance, that wipes away their actions of the previous year and lets the person start the coming year with a zero balance in the sin department. When you learn that, the whole event becomes a little less appealing. Especially when you see the poor little niños struggling under the weight of the floats. One article I read said that the weight will feel lighter or heavier to each person, depending on how much one sinned during the past year. Gracias a Dios that we know we have been saved by grace and not works!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lovely lice

One of the many enjoyable things we get to do while working for Mano Con Mano is hosting teams from the US. Last week a team from South Carolina came down and helped build additional rooms and desks for the local public school. Later on in the week we stole a few of the team members to have a 'spa' day with 50 of the kids. We deloused their hair, painted their fingernails (even some of the boys!), applied lotion to their very dry skin, and basically just loved on them. Kids don't get touched or talked to by adults very often in Mayan society so its pretty special just to have physical contact with them. You would think that they would hate the hair washing part but they actually loved it. Probably because none of the home have running water so 'showers' and few and far between. It is days like these that make all the data entry, being unable to communicate anything in Spanish, and 'what is wrong with this country' days worthwhile!

If you didn't already know that we deloused kids last week, then you need to 'like' Mano Con Mano Health Reach on facebook!! Do it now! Please, and thank you :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hogar Dulce Hogar

We're home! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind - 5 States, 1 bus ride, 2,700 miles in the car, 1 wedding, 2 Universities, and lots of friends, family, food, and FUN! 
We seriously had a blast in the states but we are happy to be 'home' and to get back to business. Especially now that we know we will be heading back to Seattle in July(!), our time here is quickly coming to an end. One of the blessing of going back to the States but being able to step back from our work, remember why we are there, and get re-jazzed to work harder. 

We're so thankful that we had the opportunity to make the trip, made possible by the help of friends and family and the unexpected money that showed up in our account from Gregg's Boeing bonus (crazy).  Because of this we were able to see Gregg's friends and family, my Mom (thanks for making the trip down to Austin Mom, it was a blessing to have you there for sure), and attend Chris & Nia's wedding - so beautiful and fun.  We are blessed with a great support system of friends and family and we want to say a specific THANK YOU to:

Joel & Amber Pinkston & the Pinkston parents for giving us a ride to KC, letting us stay in their house and letting Gregg eat all their M&Ms/chewy chips a'hoy :)
Chris & Nia Pycior (yay) for letting Gregg crash their wedding despite the late notice, a really awesome homemade groomsmen gift for Gregg, and a super fun wedding
Our Parents Janice and Billy, Carol and Murray for spending time with us on the trip, helping us feel comfortable about our upcoming decision, lending us a car, and putting us up in awesome hotels
Aunt Jill & Uncle Chad for letting us spend the night at their place
All of You for praying for us and for our decision

As for that decision, man it was a tough one. Honestly we really wanted to go back to Seattle, but I guess God has at least one more adventure for us in the meantime. Before we left we were praying and praying that God would make it obviously clear which school/city we were supposed to choose. Unfortunately that didn't exactly happen as we really liked both. Yikes! Once we got home it was spreadsheet time (Gregg's specialty), where we determined every category that is important to us and ranked which city was better. Of course, they were practically even. In terms of the school, Chicago definitely is a better fit, has more opportunities and resources, and had a better feel overall. As far as a city however, we really liked them both but like Austin more than Chicago. It has a feel like Seattle, tons of great outdoorsy stuff, and the weather - don't even get me started on how much better than Chicago that is. So now we really had a dilemma on our hands. Fortunately we talked to a few very wise friends, prayed some more, and decided...

Whew! Thank goodness that is over! Although we are bummed we won't be living in Austin we decided on Chicago because the school was better and really, that is the reason we are moving in the first place. Plus, Chicago is awesome as well and we are excited to experience life in the big city! It's also a great place for visitors...hint hint. So thats that. Now we just have to figure out how to plan a cross-country move from another country...geesh