Heading for Home

July 1, 2008

We will update with a lot more pictures when we get home. But we had a good day shopping today. All of us were up and ready to go today. No more sickness. yet…

We visited Estuardo today. Please keep praying for answers in this family’s life. Pray also for the mission in his absence.

We are having our final devotions in just a few minutes. Plan for us all to be touched by God through our work together this week and in our closing reflections.

Pray for safe travel on the way home as we go through 3 flights Guate to Houston Houston to Cleveland and then on to grand Rapids. Our experiences in the last few days have been great. God has been at work within and around the team some times visibly, but always inside.

Look for more updates when we are stateside again and have more time to reflect and upload our experiences of the trip.

Thanks for your prayers,

Brandon for Team Allendale


Med Clinic #1

June 30, 2008

All but one of us was able to make it to the medical clinic last night.  Jessica got sick yesterday and it was a little touchy yesterday but she seems to be recovering today.  No one else has been too sick so far.

We journeyed into the mountains yesterday for our first medical clinic.  The weather was beautiful and much cooler than in La Bendicion which was very welcome.  This village had a lot of children.  It was not very large.  The road to the school was difficult so some of packed the meds and supplies in on our backs.  Later the vans made it down.  Unfortunately this would set the stage for some vehicular drama later in the night.

The village clinic was not too busy most of the night a steady stream of people.  We played soccer and frisbee with the kids there which eventually gave way to a full blown soccer (por should I say futbol) match.  The Gringos held their own and won the game about 6 to 4 but the score was not really kept closely.  We had a great goalie in Brandon (not me) the son of Marguerita some of you know who has cooked for us in the past.

The jesus film marked the end of the soccer game and we all broke for supper while the movie began.  Brandon (me) ate some food from the village on accident so I am praying that comes out all right.  The Jesus film went as usual and then followed with singing and testimony and then preaching from Hermano Jesus.  Several women and children and one man gave their lives to Christ.  A group of young boys was especially interested.  Several men were close in their eyes you could see the battle verses pride and individualism which was holding them back from their encounter with God.

We packed up to head for the night.  It had rained, but not too much.  We had taken three vans up to the village due to the extra staff.  Estuardo’s father-in-law Max led us up in the first van.  A narrow patch of road beside a wooden gate was very steep and slick.  The van lost traction and the rear slid into the gulley on the side of the road.  Stuck!  We began the effort to push the van out of the gulley and up the hill.  In the process we blew one tire, the one stuck.  a little more thinking and planning, and strategic rock placement and we went back to brute strength and pushed once again.  This time with success.  Now to change the tire and get back on the road.  We made it back to base without incident, except for a short stop with  the masked militia of San Martino, but they are the “good” guys.  So we were off without much trouble.

All slept well last night and we are enjoying a little relaxation before our next trip out tonight.  See the slide show for pictures of the trip last night. Click on view all images. Sorry we couldn’t get this to embed. So you have to follow the link.

More photos of Team Allendale

June 29, 2008

Mark and DanDan explains how to build the house.  Or he is just making a smart remark about nothing.  This is the frame construction portion of the building.

Power ToolsLoving the power tools.  This is Mark getting ready to “open the window” for the house his team is building. 

Tht’s all we have time for right now.  Mark has about 650 pictures to show you, wo we will get to those later.  Enjoy the teaser.

Brandon and Mark for Team Allendale

A few pictures from Team Allendale

June 29, 2008

Brandon and SamuelHere is a picture of Me holding Samuel.  He was the 6mo old son of the family we built a house for.  He is very loved by his family.  He was very cute and liked to go high up in the air and would laugh when you put him up in the air.

Brandon\'s Team with their FamilyThis was our house and faily we built for.  Please pray for Netty, he is the 19 year old in the Kakhi’s and blue shirt.  He has the potential to be a leader in the community for Christ, but is choosing to wait to give his life to Christ.  Pray that he will join the rest of his family to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. 

Our RoomThis is the rooms we stayed in at La Bendicion.  The dogs got in on the last day due in part to one of our beloved team members feeding the dogs on the porch.  At night they got so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face.

Frederico CaterpillarThis is the Frederico Caterpillar so named by our team of hikers deep into the forest around La Bendicion and up into the mountains with our guide (we discovered later that our guide had no idea where he was going and had never been up in those mountains before).  These Caterpillars were about 6″ long and over 1/2″ thick.  Like a big cigar.  We first thought it was a snake coiled around the tree.  Later I will post a photo of the leaf-cutter ants.

That’s all for me right now.

Brandon Sloterbeek for Team Allendale

Hola from Guatemala!

June 28, 2008

We are all alive! No one is sick (yet).

La Bendicion was very rustic. We had no electricity, which is very hard when it gets dark at 7:15. We are all very thankful for our flashlights.

A day in the life of a Team Allendale person at La Bendicion consists of waking up at 5 am which is really 7 am Michigan time. We have breakfast, get ready for the day, and have personal devotions then we go straight to work. After working for a couple of hours, we go back to our house and have lunch. After lunch, we usually had free time which consisted of showering (which was needed by all of us), playing soccer (futbol) with the kids, naps, climbing mountians (I could go on and on about this, you’ll have to ask someone about it when they get home) and interacting with the people in the villiage. We usually had dinner at about 5, sometimes earlier. We played with the kids some more and then we would have group devotions and singing. It was great singing in the storm the first night with the thunder and lightning. We had lights out at 8 (10 pm) which was no problem for us because we were all so tired. And we would start all over then next day.

We built a total of four houses for families in La Bendicion. The first day of building, Dan said that it was the hottest building day that they have had this summer. He also said that we were the fastest team to get through the buliding day one. We started to work the first morning at 6am (8am Michigan time). We all worked very hard and we got everything done by 2pm. The first day of building consisted of assembling the walls, putting them up on the cement slabs, and put up drywall on the inside of the house and cement board on the outside to help hold up the stucco. The next day, we put up the infamous “succulent spring salmon”-colored stucco.  As a first timer, I can honestly say that it is really hard to do. We were all very sore the next day. After stucco, next was decoration and dedication day. We all painted our houses inside and added personal touches like Bible verses, artwork and splatter walls. Next, we had lunch and went back to the villiage and dedicated our houses to our families. The team that built the house went inside the house with the family, Hermano Jesus, and Dan while everone else was outside praying and singing and surrounding the house and blessing it. Inside, the group handed out different items to our families like clothes, toys for the kids, and toothbrushes and toothpaste. Dan also had some gifts for them: beans, soap and salt. He also gave them a Bible and explained to them that all these items only work correctly if you take them out of the bag and open them. After this, Hermano Jesus presented the gospel to the family. If anyone wanted to accept Christ or rededicate their lives, they could pray with Hermano Jesus and the people who built there house would pray over them.

It was very emotional for everyone. Even in the rain, we all surrounded the different houses and prayed and sang songs. It was very powerful.

More about the rain-when they call it “rainy season” they are not joking. It rains every day. And these are not a few drops. It is a deluge every single day. Thankfully, God puts off the rain until after we are done working.

Now, we are enjoying our electricity at the blue hotel, loving the warm showers, and getting ready for group devotions.

We miss everyone back home, but our work is not done yet. Tomorrow, we are headed out for medical clinics in a local village.

Thank you for all of your prayers. Time for devotions, got to go.

Elyse Berens on behalf of Team Allendale

It won’t be long now!

June 24, 2008

Team Allendale will be leaving Grand Rapids at 5:30 am on Wednesday, June 25. We plan to arrive in Guatemala at 11:13 am. (They are 1 hour behind us). We will be driving directly to La Bendecion and sleeping there the first 3 nights. It is a village near the coast and we will be living among the people in this plantation house. We will not have electricity, so we will not be able to update the website. On Saturday we plan to drive to the mission base in Chimaltenango and will hopefully update then (if the internet power is restored there.)
Please continue to keep us in your prayers – for safety, health, unity, good weather for our building days and to be a Christlike example to those we meet.