PILAS Weekly Highlights: July 13 to July 19 2014

After the hustle and bustle of hosting a small team for over a week, our household returned to normalcy once again.
OK maybe not 100% normalcy…we began week three of Emily’s internship and our niece Kayla is starting her first week with us.
We love having visitors, sharing our lives, and more specifically what God is doing in and through this ministry.
It’s a ton of fun and we hope you are getting a sense of that through our updates. Enjoy!


After seven months of reading through the Bible and watching the corresponding scenes in the DVD series: ‘The Bible’, we took time to review our favorite lessons and learnings from the Old and New Testaments.

Emily has been doing a great job teaching English at CETEDI as well as integrating herself in the daily recess activities. Not only is she a decent goalie but in one game she scored three goals. NICE!

The Club Conexión lessons continued on the theme of personal hygiene with the lesson focusing on healthy eating.

Our master nutritionists concocted some delectable food samples for the kids to identify. Once the food was recognized, a ‘healthy’ discussion took place about if it was a good or bad food.

Pictionary with a twist – draw the food as quickly as possible and receive a point if your team guesses it first. Here again, we would place the food in its correct category and talk about whether it was good or bad for us.

Club Conexión is grateful for the partnerships we have with the schools in the four different villages. But let’s be honest…sometimes getting the equipment from the car to the classroom can be cumbersome and takes time.
We appreciate the helping hands that are waiting for us when we enter a village!

Today’s unique lesson was how to count to 20 in four languages: Spanish, Kaqchikel, English, AND French. Gerry thought he could still count fairly well in French. NOT the case as he drifted to Spanish time and time again, messing up Kayla in the process.
It was still fun to hear the different languages and many of the kids noticed that some of the French/Spanish numbers sounded similar!

Club Conexión games are always a blast but this new one was a tad different and quirky.
The gist of the game was to tag your neighbor BUT if you miss you freeze in that position.
It made for some interesting tags (i.e. awkward!) as well as caught some people off guard.

Seeing as PILAS is new to our latest Club Conexión location, we took some time this week to explain more about the ministry’s philosophy and in particular its five values: Excellence, Collaboration, Respect, Character, Integrity.

Two of the ministry’s values (excellence and collaboration) were linked to a Minute-To-Win-It game. Working together as a team, the kids had to bounce tennis balls off the ground into a plastic receptacle on a person’s head. Retrieving and transferring the wayward balls was key to success and enable the team to count as many points as possible.

The Club Conexión kids at our newest location spilt off into small groups and drew a map of their village. This provided a great opportunity for us to inquire about the village’s services and location of any soccer/sports fields, etc.
Apparently there is a place where we can play baseball…hmmmm…

Crazy Soccer is quickly becoming a village favorite but man oh man does it ever suck the energy out of you FAST!!!!
Three balls on the playing field: one color that only the guys can kick, another color that only the gals can kick, and another color that everyone can play with but only pushing along the ground with their hands.
The goalies have to always be paying attention as there can be three different balls flying at you at the same time! Talk about high scoring games…and insane mayhem!

Let’s play Crazy Soccer without a concrete floor and the confinement of walls. Replace it instead with a large dusty soccer field in the blazing scorching sun. Needless to say we all needed showers after this game!

What’s been great about having visitors is that they are willing to help out wherever they can.
One task that has been put on the back burner for weeks (OK months) has been rearranging our storage areas and related inventories. Kayla was a HUGE help for us as she cleaned up and categorized everything for us!
Insert a big YAY here!

Both Kayla and Emily cataloged our books to create a mini library in our teaching area. The students were very happy to have access to these books for study / homework purposes.

All work and no play/fun makes life sssoooooooo boring.
Emily enjoyed an ongoing friendly competition with one of our students: Wii Tennis. Her goal is to beat him before she returns to Canada. Kayla enjoyed meeting some of the younger kids in the village, taking their pictures then showing them back at them, which they all love!

Speaking of all work and no fun - - - all work and no ice cream is NO fun! Enjoying a waffle cone after a dusty sweaty Club Conexión is always a nice treat!

PILAS Weekly Highlights: July 05 to July 12 2014

This update is a super duper special one as we chronicle the work (and shenanigans!) of a short term mission team. More specifically our home church: Heart Lake Baptist.
By the way…our Canadian intern is in her second week with us AND our niece arrived for a two week visit. Talk about a full house, eh?
Why is this update a big deal? This is the first official team to come work alongside us and understand what we do as the newly formed ministry ‘PILAS’ under Catalyst Resources International.
Therefore this week’s highlights will be more in-depth than normal so that everyone can get a sense of how a team, interns, and visitors can assist and support a ministry.
We have to share that ALL our visitors rocked the entire time they were here and we had a blast reviewing the photos/memories from the past week!
Our hope is that through this update other teams would be inspired to come serve alongside us! Enjoy this week’s highlights.


The week started off with a BANG as we hosted Club Conexión in our home in conjunction with Iglesia Santuario.
There is nothing like a friendly yet spirited competition to get groups mingling together. That was certainly the case as the first ever (and perhaps last?) Canada vs. Guatemala Lime Eating Competition took place.
Who won? Check out the Canadians’ reactions in the photos and you’ll get a good sense!
By the way – it is tough beating Guatemalans in a lime eating contest any day!!!!!

Hula Hoop Pass was next on the agenda which was a great way to have everyone working (and laughing!) together.

Worship was lively as one of the team members played the violin (think: Canadian hoedown) and another taught some basic dance steps. We sang Spanish songs but also introduced two new English songs including teaching everyone the actions to “Days of Elijah”.

Our intern Emily shared her personal testimony with the group. We have seen God use these moments to impact those listening and help them with their comprehension of who He is in their respective faith journeys.

Anyone interested in a competitive game of Spoons? Not only was ‘Spoons’ THE game of choice throughout the evening with all the youth, but the elimination showdown at 11 pm was definitely the talk of the night.
Barb won against Marvin in what can only be described as riveting drama!
Bonus with the final showdown: not one plastic stool was broken! YAY!

The team had several opportunities to bond with the students throughout the week.
The ministry places a high emphasis on learning English and members took the time to read and correct pronunciation.

Wii is quite popular with the kids and the team challenged them to games of tennis, bowling, etc.
Gerry was not having much success in this particular picture! LOL!

It is nice to have supporters around when we celebrate special events or days.
Not only was it one of our student’s birthdays, but the team gifted everyone with a “Canada Eh” t-shirt!

Attending the church service at Iglesia Santuario was unique as two of the team members were integrated into four songs (singing and playing violin) alongside the regular worship band. It was cool to hear them trade off on Spanish and English lyrics on well-known contemporary worship songs. The team also met the pastor and his wife.

This was a common sight throughout the week as we traveled around Guatemala: ‘ooh’ing and ‘aah’ing at the incredibly beautiful landscapes.

Who knew that we had three Oscar-worthy actresses on the team?
Emily’s hygiene class for the week was shared not only at Club Conexión but at other activities and events. Through fun and over-the-top acting, everyone learned more about how to properly brush their teeth, bathe themselves, and other general hygiene practices.
The week’s Bible verse was from 1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
More on that later…

Thanks to the team’s efforts in collecting and bringing down donations, all the Club Conexión kids received a hygiene pack which included a face cloth, soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste!

A tasty snack was served to all the Club Conexión participants but not before they washed their hands with water and soap.
Practice what you preach right? All the kids were greeted by these smiling, welcoming Canadians! No wonder they all wanted seconds!

Club Conexión wouldn’t be Club Conexión without high-energy whacky games.
Dodge ball was a hit as both Guatemalans and Canadians were targets.
Poison Chair was a hoot as the Canadians were clear targets once again. It is difficult to win these challenges when it is 3 vs.1 or 2 vs.1 but let’s give the team credit: they did their best to represent their country proudly!

Pool noodle lacrosse is becoming a favorite in all the villages and the team was able to sense the competitiveness as they played with the kids.

Seeing as pool noodle lacrosse mania is sweeping the villages we serve why not introduce it to the CETEDI students?

The team had the opportunity to participate in CETEDI’s Principles & Values class. English worship songs were lead by the team - - - a nice way to introduce an English lesson to the básico students (grades 7-9) and their teachers.
The theme for the lesson was Caring for the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Barb taught the lesson which incorporated Emily’s hygiene lesson and an opportunity to see the amazing actors perform one last time!

A practical way of showing God’s love is doing something . . . anything!
The team dedicated themselves to painting some of the CETEDI classrooms and one of the bathrooms.

All work and no play is just plain wrong! During recesses the gals played with the elementary students and got to know them better.
We were also able to see Emily in action teaching English to the various grades at CETEDI.

What a blessing to receive the gratitude from the students and teachers after the rooms were painted. Hugs (and even kisses!) were shared in abundance to the point that we were all tearing up. WOW!

What a difference for the classroom we painted. The teacher was so content as were the students.
Another gift from the team was a much needed, larger water tank!
CETEDI has more needs that you could help out with. Send us a message if you are interested in giving them a hand!

Guachipilín is a tiny isolated community of approximately 91 people.
PILAS has two scholarship students from this community and also hosts Club Conexión each week.
We approached the community leaders and received an invitation to have a community event.
What an afternoon of fellowship and fun!
The men and older teens played soccer in what can only be described as God’s Country. What an unbelievable landscape!
It must have inspired Dave as he scored the first goal of the game! We’d like to say that it was a beyond belief ‘chilena’ but quite honestly he lifted his leg at the right time and scored. Hey – they all count right?

While the kids watched a movie in one classroom their mothers and older teens sat with the team members sipping coffee and making bead necklaces after a very valuable health talk presented in tandem by Emily and our scholarship student Maria del Carmen.

Maria del Carmen and Emily planned the entire hygiene lesson together! They were well prepared and had the attention of the women in the room as their talk was very interactive. It included personal stretching, how to wash hands properly and competitions to determine which foods were nutritious and which were not. Before the lesson Barb took some time to describe PILAS’ mission and vision.

As the women were wrapping up their time, the men cooled off with some refreshments.
Gerry took the opportunity to share what PILAS is all about and it was well received by everyone.

It is very difficult for people to travel to and from Guachipilín. Buying inexpensive clothes is best done at the Mega Paca in Chimaltenango – two bus rides away IF you can get out of Guachipilín!
Today’s used clothing sale was a HUGE help to the community as not only did they not have to use precious financial resources to travel to Chimaltenango but there was so much time saved staying right in Guachipilín.
The team collected tons of age appropriate gently used clothing to sell at the event and sell it did!!!
$80 Canadian was raised selling items as low as $.25 to $3.00. This money will be pumped right back into the ministry and more specifically Guachipilín as we plan to have another sale later in the year.
A BIG THANKS to everyone who donated items for this sale!

As someone famous once said: “It ain’t a fiesta if there ain’t a piñata”.

OK we are lying. Nobody famous said that – we did!
It was one heck of a fiesta because we had TWO piñatas! To make it fair for everyone we had one for the gals and one for the guys. We asked two older youth from the village to be in charge of this event. Our goal is to always give members from the community we are serving in the chance to take leadership roles and be examples to others.

Face painting was a huge ‘draw’, not only for the kids but the adults as well!

Check out some of the creative designs that the kids requested. Well done ladies!

To thank the team for their efforts one of the families prepared a typical Guatemalan meal.
Check out the mom’s reaction as we all dug into her delicious food. Priceless!
One of the village’s leaders shared that ‘never has an event like this taken place in their community and they were truly grateful for all the planning and efforts’.
The team received a heartfelt wave from the community as the bus left for Sumpango.

Prior to the team’s arrival PILAS held Club Conexión in three villages. That is not the case anymore as we launched Club Conexión in a fourth village! Over thirty kids showed up and we had quite the time introducing ourselves AND remembering their names! 

Pool noodle lacrosse was officially introduced to Las Flores and what energy displayed by everyone!!! Crazy!

People Pretzel was a great way to mix up the groups and have them work in teams to untangle themselves from a web of hands and arms.

To get to know the kids better we asked them to create a ‘personal information sheet’ by cutting out images from magazines or drawing.
This included their birth dates; grade, number of members in their family, likes and dislikes, etc.
It is a very creative way for the kids to express and describe themselves even though some took more time reading the magazines more than anything! LOL!
Plus, it gives us something to take back and study so that we know the students a bit better the next week.

What did we say in a previous picture? Oh yeah: ‘It ain’t a fiesta if there ain’t a piñata’.
Here again to make it fair for everyone we had one for the gals and one for the guys.
Marvin and Rodolfo (two older students from other villages who are now our helpers in Las Flores) were a tremendous help today and we look forward to their participation in future weeks as we anticipate groups of 30+ to come out in this new village.

What a joy it was for us that the team was able to meet Fontaine and Edgar from CRI.
They took the time to visit the areas that CRI is serving in and explain the dynamics of each village along with the various projects.
It’s such a privilege to be a part of Catalyst Resources International!

The team also visited the CRI compound to get a sense of their team hosting facilities and education programs.
The gals sang a few worship songs for the church teams that were staying and serving with CRI that particular week.
A lively game of Cheat ensued where Justin and Isabel proudly represented San Cristobal! What a hoot!

How did the team do representing their church, serving the least in Guatemala, and being Jesus’ hands and feet? We think these photos say it all.

Well done guys! ALL OF YOU!
We enjoyed an amazing week with you and hope to see you again soon.
We miss you and love you guys!




PILAS Weekly Highlights: June 29 to July 05 2014

Another first this week as a Canadian (EH!) intern arrived to work alongside us for four weeks!
Our connection with Emily goes back several years as we were members of a church house group with her parents and aunt/uncle. Time flies when the kids that we knew ten or so years ago are now old enough to be interns and come visit us!
This week was all about introducing Emily to the ministry and those we interact. Once you read the update you will see that it was mission accomplished!


It’s pretty official when you get your PILAS tee.
Emily will be working alongside us for the next four weeks, teaching English at CETEDI, sharing hygiene best practices at Club Conexión/CETEDI, and getting involved in our ministry wherever and whenever she can!
Bienvenida a Guatemala y PILAS Student Ministry Emily!!!

Teaching can be rewarding but also thankless. Or perhaps it feels thankless.
When Iglesia Santuario mentioned having a special appreciation event for their church’s teachers we quickly offered to host it.
With Emily’s help, we planned a fun morning of activities as well as a hearty typical Guatemalan breakfast to express our gratitude for the teachers’ service at the church.
One game was “Who Am I?” but with a Biblical twist. By asking others questions the person determined which Biblical character’s name was pinned to their back.
Teachers have often been referred to as pastors who shepherd their flock (children). We judged how well a teacher drew a sheep . . . while blindfolded.

How well do you know your Bible verses or more specifically Bible words?
Very quickly the teachers searched a word that we announced.
The first one to ring the bell, read a Bible verse with the word, wins a point.

Gerry explained the origin of Sunday school with the teachers as well words of encouragement. They were well received by all and the church’s lead pastor also added his perspective.

All the teachers received a certificate of recognition to further encourage their passion for working with the church’s congregation.

Club Conexión lessons over the next four weeks will focus on hygiene and personal health.
Why? That is what Emily is studying in university and it is a great topic to share with ANYONE!
This week was all about living an active life. Exercise. Sports. Etc.
The kids all listened intently as Emily explained the importance of exercise as well as properly stretching before AND after any physical activity.

Stretch…stretch…and more stretching.
Forget about doing anything more than that.
Gerry & Barb were exhausted!!!!
The kids? They were all over it.
To be young (and flexible!) again!

More physical activity was in the cards with pool noodle lacrosse.
We were grateful that we stretched beforehand . . . !!!!

How about a game of soccer to top off the physical activity for the day?

We are privileged to serve in some villages that have some spectacular landscapes.
It was difficult to keep your eye on the ball at this location.
One word: WOW!

How about this beautiful location to blow off some steam?

We loaded the gals’ team with a few ‘ringers’ (the adults) and they still lost against the guys!!!

One of the benefits the PILAS students have is learning English from our visitors.

Emily spent some time with the students to help them with their pronunciation.
We hope that with the influx of visitors this year that the students’ English will improve dramatically.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: give the students the materials and their creativity will shine through! That was certainly the case as they created their planetary systems for their school project.

We are thrilled that Las Flores is the next village where we will be hosting Club Conexión.
As is the case with the other three villages, we have the full support of the school directors and the permission to use their grounds/classroom.
Today was all about building hype for the first day. We anticipate 30 - 40 grade 5 to 6 students and with the anticipated extra help (Emily, two students AND Heart Lake Baptist Church) we should be more than ready to launch successfully.

Hang tight . . . more to follow!!!

THE LOST SON – LUKE 15: 11-32

LUKE 15:11-12
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Typically, a son would receive his inheritance at the time of his father’s death. The fact that the younger brother instigated the early division of the family estate showed a rebellious and proud disregard for his father’s authority, not to mention a selfish and immature attitude.

LUKE 15:13
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

It was party time for the young son. However…actions do lead to consequences…

LUKE 15:14-16
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

Pigs were unclean animals. Jews were not even allowed to touch pigs. When the son took a job feeding pigs, even longing for their food to fill his belly, it reveals that he had fallen as low as he could possibly go. This son represents a person living in rebellion to God. Sometimes we have to hit rock-bottom before we come to our senses and recognize our sin.

LUKE 15:17-19
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’

Needless to say, after some tough times, the son was looking pretty rough himself! OOF!

LUKE 15:20
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

What an incredible reaction AND welcome by the younger son’s father!
The father is a picture of the Heavenly Father. God waits patiently, with loving compassion to restore us when we return to him with humble hearts.

LUKE 15:21
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Talk about repentance! With a genuine heart the son confessed his wrongful actions (sins) to his father.

LUKE 15:22-24
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

The father was truly grateful and overjoyed that his younger son returned home.
God offers us everything in his kingdom, restoring full relationship with joyful celebration. He doesn’t even dwell on our past waywardness. It was party time once again but this time it was alot healthier and deserved!

(We need to share here that Phoenix’s dancing skills are waaaaay better than Gerry’s!)

LUKE 15:25-32

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The older son was angry and jealous that his younger brother returned to an obviously ecstatic father. He is so consumed with questions of injustice. The older son is clearly a picture of the Pharisees. In their self-righteousness, they have forgotten to rejoice when a sinner returns to God. Bitterness and resentment keeps the older son from forgiving his younger brother. It blinds him to the treasure he freely enjoys through constant relationship with the father.

The larger question(s) for all of us to reflect on upon reading this parable is: Who are you in this story? Are you a prodigal, a Pharisee or a servant? Are you the rebellious son, lost and far from God? Are you the self-righteous Pharisee, no longer capable of rejoicing when a sinner returns to God? Maybe you’ve hit rock-bottom, come to your senses and decided to run to God’s open arms of compassion and mercy? Or are you one of the servants in the household, rejoicing with the father when a lost son finds his way home?

PILAS Weekly Highlights: June 15 to June 21 2014

What can we say? The past five weeks have flown by and it has been such a pleasure and privilege to have hosted an incredible young lady during this short period of time.
We have more photos than normal this week as we say so long, for now, to our first ever intern, Phoenix. She has been such a blessing to our ministry in so many ways…she will be missed by many!
We don’t have much time to think about her departure as a new intern arrives on Friday June 27 to work alongside us for four weeks.
Keep on checking our updates as we introduce new visitors/supporters to our ministry! It is going to be one crazy whirlwind summer!!!


The Club Conexión kids were so excited to receive their custom designed picture frames to give to their fathers as gifts.
One boy’s father works in Escuintla and he does not see him that often. We offered to post a picture of him on his Dad’s Facebook page on Father’s Day. That is probably why he has the biggest smile we have ever seen on his face!!!

The Club Conexión activities AND lesson were planned by Phoenix this week.
Club Conexión game number one: throw a ball to an opponent and if they drop it THEY then drop to one knee. Drop it another time and then down another knee. This goes on and on until someone is on their elbows and it is pretty much game over at that point. Come on…how can anyone catch a ball with their elbows touching the ground?

Club Conexión game number two: direct someone around obstacles while they are blindfolded. Believe it or not this is not as simple as it sounds!

Club Conexión game number three: a twist on the wool game a few weeks back. Pass a hula-hoop around while holding hands…you cannot let go of your partner’s hand!!! As the game wore on they were getting pretty good pitching the hoop over their partner’s head to help speed up the process.

Club Conexión game number four: as quickly as possible pop balloons by sitting on them. The team with the most balloons popped wins the competition. Some of these kids are light-weights, and with some balloons being quite full, it was quite humorous seeing their attempts to bust their balloons. At times they needed a little help from the adults! LOL!

We could not let Phoenix return to Kentucky without participating in the balloon busting competition. Check out the guys’ reactions as she prepares to bust a move. Too funny!!!

Once again we acted out this week’s Bible lesson: The Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10: 25-37.
This passage begins with a conversation Jesus had with a Jewish teacher of the Law. After Jesus taught the great commandments, the man was trying to justify himself. His questions were aimed to lower the morals bar Jesus had presented him.
So, the Great Teacher tells a story to make the point stick. It speaks to our prejudice and hard hearts toward suffering. In the context, Jesus is showing the Kingdom of God consists in action – not just talk.

In groups the kids came up with lists in how we can help our neighbour(s).
Before we jotted down the examples we had a great discussion as to who exactly is our neighbor.
The conclusion was that EVERYBODY is our neighbor regardless of skin color, religious beliefs, country of origin, etc.

During her five weeks in Guatemala Phoenix really integrated herself in many aspects of our ministry as well as those we partner with. On her last day at CETEDI the Principles & Values class were divided by gender and she was able to teach the female students about understanding their identity in Jesus Christ. It was a powerful message for the girls to hear and it resonated with many of them this particular day.

The teachers at CETEDI were very appreciative of Phoenix’s passion and efforts.

It was a week of heartfelt teary goodbyes. Needless to say Phoenix has made a significant impact on many of the young lives she was in contact with during her stay with us.

Throughout her final week there were plenty of opportunities to pray for Phoenix as she prepares to re-enter her culture.
Not only did the Club Conexión kids pray for her, but our students and Iglesia Santuario leaders did as well.

We had many discussions over the past five weeks as to how the letter ‘x’ should sound…really deep discussions. Such as why does Mexico sound like Mehico in Spanish? If that is the case why isn’t Phoenix Phoenih?
We told you they were deep discussions!
So nobody would be confused as to how to say Phoenix’s name we had her cake correctly reflect the pronunciation.
To ensure that Phoenix would not forget our passion for all things hockey, we gifted her with a t-shirt that clearly states one of THE most important trophies in the sports world: the Stanley Cup!

The PILAS students planned and executed a special farewell celebration for Phoenix.
Piñatas are standard fare for Guatemalan fiestas and we just had to have one for today.
We are not sure how many candies Phoenix was able to snatch but it was a lot of fun for everyone!
All the students created/prepared a personal gift for Phoenix which touched her heart.

When in Guatemala one has to try on traditional clothing. It is not as easy (or comfortable) as it seems.
The skirts can be quite long and large and the belt wrapped really tight to keep all the garments together.
What a hoot it was watching the gals help Phoenix with the clothes.
It took a bit of time but they finally succeeded in getting her dolled up Guatemalan style!

Ask a kid to take their picture here and you’ll likely either get a smile…or not.
Some people have been brought up to not smile for photographers. This can make for some pretty interesting wedding photos!
One of our students likes to have his picture taken with visitors but smile? No. With this kid smiles are quite rare.
Phoenix was able to make him smile for his final picture today. Well done!

These looks sum it up quite nicely. Phoenix – we are not happy that you are leaving us HOWEVER if you do not come visit us again we’re going to be even more ticked off than what we are now!!!! Come back soon!


While waiting for the church youth to show up a new sport was created that is sure to sweep the nation: volleyolin. (We are working on an easier/catchier name.)
There are two people on the outside of the trampoline peppering balls over the protective wall while two people jumping on the trampoline return the serves.
Yep. Gonna sweep the nation!

We were not sure how to prepare for 30 or so youth invading our home given the unpredictable weather lately.
We decided to set up indoors and offered up different board / card games.
There was a ton of interest in the puzzles we have on hand!

UNO is ALWAYS a MASSIVE hit with our friends and tonight was no exception as two games were going at the same time in different locations. We enjoyed watching the PILAS students socializing with the youth from church. Our goal is to enlarge their circle of Christian friends…. looks like it’s starting to happen!!

BLOKUS and JENGA were also very popular.

After several attempts to herd the youth into the garage (they were loving the games!) we finally were able to start worship.
The singing was loud and energetic as we belted out four songs in Spanish AND one in English.
When we mentioned to the youth that we have a church group coming for the next event and we are planning to sing in English, they were very excited!

As part of the church’s message that evening, Phoenix shared some of her testimony with the group.
It was very powerful as she honestly shared some of the challenges and struggles she experienced in her teen years.
She implored the kids to not succumb to peer pressure, to find and accept their identity in Jesus Christ, and honor and glorify Him.

We try to support local families who are in need by purchasing food as snacks for our events. This evening a mom of one of our students prepared 50 tamales for everyone. They all agreed that they were MMM-MM GOOD!

PILAS Weekly Highlights: June 08 to June 14 2014

There is so much to share from this past week that we decided to be adventurous and post not one, not two, but THREE different updates from the past seven days.
It is difficult to believe that four weeks have passed by since Phoenix arrived and we are heading into her final week serving with PILAS. She has developed some strong relationships while with PILAS and there will be some sad goodbyes next week. (Insert sad looking face here.)
Take some time to check out the updates. We hope you enjoy them!


Marvin was recently approached by the church’s pastor to consider accepting the privilege of reading Sunday’s messages after the service is concluded.
This is a great credit to Marvin’s involvement in the church’s youth group as well as the admiration and confidence that the church leaders have for him.
Congratulations Marvin! We are so proud of you!

How to learn country flags without being bored?
EASY! Incorporate the lesson with the start of the FIFA World Cup!

We didn’t have too many ‘action’ shots of Phoenix at the elementary school.
We corrected this oversight this past week and have this photo of her teaching English.
The kids love her and the school is so appreciative of her teaching skills and passion.

Eating limes is no big deal here. The students put lime juice on a lot of foods that they eat.
Challenge a Guatemalan kid to a lime eating contest and look out! They take it real serious!

Our newer students have only been learning English for the past six months. Today many can read fairly well, and even read out of an English Bible during the morning devotions.
One of our students is a sponge when it comes to English and is quite good so we gave her a development opportunity this past week: help teach the other students with their English.
She did pretty darn well!!!

What does an invoice look like for 153 pairs of children’s undergarments?
Like this…

Youth group shenanigans were at a fever pitch this week.
We took a tarp and instructed the kids to ALL fit ON the tarp without their feet touching the floor. Each time, we folded the tarp smaller…smaller…and smaller.

It was hilarious watching the kids work as a team to figure out the best way to fit on the tarp.
At times they were successful and other times . . . no!

Who knew that clothespins could be this fun?
Two minutes to pin five clothespins to other people’s clothing or hair.
Of course the leaders were massive targets AND badly outnumbered.
We cannot wait to have small groups with us to even out the odds!

Father’s Day is celebrated June 17th in Guatemala which means we will probably hear fireworks and firecrackers going off as early as 4 am that day. (Insert sarcastic YAY!!!! here.)
We developed a special craft for the kids this week that took a little time to create.
Glue colored Popsicle sticks into the shape of a picture frame, and then add words and/or decorations to your frame.

Phoenix took pictures of the kids which we will print off and then affix them into the frames.
The kids will then give the frames to their fathers or respected male figures in their lives the following week.

PILAS Weekly Highlights: June 01 to June 07 2014

This past week Tropical Storm Boris brought heavy rains, flash floods and landslides to large parts of the southern Mexican coast and Guatemala.
Needless to say but it was a pretty soggy week and we had to be flexible with many of our activities.
When you read this week’s update you’ll get a sense of what we’re talking about.


The rainy season in Guatemala normally runs from June to November, coinciding with the hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Monday was the worst day for rain however the showers and thunderstorms continued throughout the week. As a precaution, the schools decided to cancel classes on Tuesday to allow families to be together in case of flooding or damage to their homes/property.
The scholarship students wrote their 2nd bimester exams the prior week so they did not have any homework to start the week – good timing! As a result we were able to change our teaching style and program.

The students and Phoenix got to know each other better as they answered questions about their lives. Phoenix also shared a Bible lesson that encouraged everyone to understand and embrace their identity in Jesus Christ.
To further expand on this topic we painted a card that had our name written on it and included the Bible verses Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 2:10. It was a fun morning. Thanks Phoenix!

Our PILAS teacher is quite creative and she had the students thinking AND laughing as they tried to forget about the pouring rain outside. Many children do not feel comfortable expressing themselves in public therefore the planned activities helped them with their shyness and boost their self confidence.
One lesson was acting out a word in front of one person who had no clue what the secret word was. Another lesson was reading recent newspaper articles and then writing and sharing your opinion with the others. This sparked some healthy debate at times.
One particular discussion was about dreaming for the future. The answers to ‘What do you want to do?’ And ‘Who do you want to be?’ were very interesting and encouraging.

Let’s not forget about English! BINGO anyone?

We haven’t found a better game to practice numbers in English. Olga was our champ in listening and quickly understanding which number was called – she won most of the games!

After the afternoon classes, the students have to wait for their buses to leave for their respective villages. Sometimes they will come by the house and hang out, which may include sipping on some hot chocolate during the wet season.
A favorite pastime is spirited bowling competitions on the Nintendo Wii console.
We thought: why not bowl ‘for real’?

That is exactly what we did in our home’s front entrance as the rain continued.

Due to the storm we needed to improvise for the first two days of Club Conexión.
In one of the villages there was so much water that the school’s toilets backed up, resulting in water and schtuff spilling over into the classrooms and general school area.
A fairly nasty smell permeated throughout much of the school grounds. YUCK!

In another village it was too slippery to walk up the hill to the classrooms.
We have a solid relationship with the village leaders and they offered an alternate location: a small rustic community room that also doubles as their church building on Sundays.

We’ve been told, and have learned over the years, that a missionary must be flexible in adapting himself to new situations. That certainly was the case this past week!
Despite being in two different locations, the Club Conexión lessons went smoothly.
The kids appreciated our efforts to host youth group as normal as possible despite the abnormal conditions.
Get this…we did not experience a drop in attendance. In fact in one village the attendance was slightly higher than normal. Sweet!

In small groups the kids created houses out of playing cards.
Their intense looks expressed their seriousness in building as many houses as possible in two minutes. Some of them became quite proficient at it, attempting at times to add a second level for extra points!
The playing card house activity dovetailed quite nicely into the Bible lesson.
Matthew 7:24-27 is another well-known parable from Jesus Christ where He describes what happens when someone builds their house on sand or rock.
The parable illustrates the importance of building one’s life on obedience to the teachings and example of Jesus.

God couldn’t have planned a better time for a downpour than during the talk about the storms of life!

The mention of heavy rain, strong winds, and rising floods in this particular parable were all metaphors for the problems we will have in our lives. It is not a matter of ‘if’ we have challenges but ‘when’.
John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The kids created lists of problems that could impact them or their families. Coming from impoverished conditions some of the lists were quite extensive.
We then countered those challenges by having the kids read God’s promises that can be found in the Bible.
In the face of life’s challenges, it is reassuring to know that this life is not all that there is. Placing our faith in trust in an all powerful God is so much better than going solo.

There is nothing like a live demonstration to drive home a lesson.

We constructed two similar houses out of Popsicle sticks then placed one on sand and the other on a rock.
As the water was poured onto the two houses, the one on sand toppled over like playing cards, while the one on the rock stood strong.
Talk about ‘building’ a case to trust and follow Jesus Christ!!!

It isn’t Club Conexión without high energy games and competitions.
How about bouncing a tennis ball off a table into a plastic bucket that your partner is holding on top of their head?

Slow and sure wins the race most of the time.
Pitch in steadiness and we have a classic Minute-To-Win-It game!
Place a Popsicle stick between your teeth, stack five dice, remove your hands then count to three.
The more times you can do this in one minute the more points for your team.

You never know who will pop by for a visit. This particular day a couple of Club Conexión gals had errands to run for their mothers in Sumpango.
There was time to kill before their bus departed for their village so they knocked on our door and we shared hot chocolate with them and played several games of UNO.
Fun times!

PILAS Weekly Highlights: MAY 25 2014 to MAY 31 2014

This week we switched gears. There were no official classes as the students were writing their second bimester exams. This allowed us to focus on preparing the students and giving them a little extra help with the tougher subjects.

It was also an excellent opportunity for Phoenix to further integrate herself into the school she is teaching at.

More on that and the Club Conexión activities in this week’s update!


The local college inquired if Phoenix could share some of the key lessons she has learned at university. Our living room became a planning room as she prepared her presentation for later this week.



Kaqchikel is one tough language to learn. The scholarship students and the Club Conexión kids were keen on teaching Phoenix this past week.She did pretty well and should be able to meet the challenge the students gave her: count up to twenty in Kaqchikel before she leaves.



The Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25: 1-13 is not only a great lesson but great fun to act out. The kids were giggling so much as they dressed up like the ten bridesmaids and started to act out the lesson.

The story in a nutshell is that ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise, and five were foolish. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.



So the bridegroom was delayed, and ALL the bridesmaids became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.”

Then all the bridesmaids got up, and prepared their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No!  There will not be enough for us and you: you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came; and those that were ready went with him to the wedding: and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But He replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you”.

The lesson is here is that all the bridesmaids knew the bridegroom was coming. ALL of them. Then why weren’t they all ready? They got sleepy and weren’t prepared for the long wait. The foolish bridesmaids didn’t bring enough oil.

Jesus says we must be like the wise bridesmaids that were prepared. We must be ready during the wait. What are we waiting for? For Christ to come.



When will Jesus come back? No one knows the day or time. It could be in the next second or sometime in the future.

We did a quick test and found out nearly all the grade 5 and 6 students did not know how to read a clock. With the tie-in to this week’s parable, we took the ‘time’ to teach all the Club Conexión kids how to read and tell time.



Phoenix’s presentation to the college teachers revolved around the theory of multiple intelligences.

Over thirty years ago the author Howard Gardner chose eight abilities that related to the way people like to be taught. These included musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

Each teacher completed a short self-exam to determine where they fit into the eight abilities. As they read the posters related to their ability there was opportunity for discussion.



The goal of today’s presentation was to help the teacher’s better understand their personal ability and apply it to their teaching style. The teachers were also able to tap into their fellow teachers’ experiences and abilities/styles in a round-table discussion.

The second part to this exercise was to understand that each student is unique and have different learning styles. As a teacher it’s important to remember that all eight abilities (learning styles) could be represented in a classroom.

With smaller class sizes at the college we focused on different ways to incorporate as many as possible. The teachers all appreciated Phoenix’s presentation and we hope that the day’s learnings would be applied in their respective classrooms.



Minute-To-Win-It has now been officially introduced to Club Conexión! This was another excellent tie-in to the time lesson with the two activities being well received at all villages.

One minute to work as a two person team, bounce a ball two times to your partner, and then throw it in the basket. Do this as many times as possible in sixty seconds and if your group wins the aggregate score they win.



Next up: stack five wooden blocks on a plate for three seconds…that is balancing on your head.

Talk about concentration!  

Many of the gals did much better than the guys, no doubt from their experience balancing water jugs and wood on their heads since an early age.

However…not everyone was successful…



See what we mean?




PILAS Weekly Highlights: MAY 18 2014 to MAY 24 2014

This past week we shared a teary farewell with our dear friend Jennifer Vis and warmly welcomed Phoenix Skye to our home and ministry.
Jennifer made a big impact with our scholarship students and the Club Conexión kids. We all hope to see her again in the future. Maybe she can bring a few other family members along! ;-)
This was week one out of five for our first ever intern. Phoenix has settled in quite nicely and is developing relationships with many people. It’s been a blast having her around the house and getting to know her.
We’ll have her share some of her experiences in a future post so stay tuned for that!
Enjoy this week’s update.


Phoenix assisted our two oldest students with their English comprehension and homework. She was a huge help to them and us as it eased our workload those two particular days.

Looks like Phoenix is feeling quite at home in the classroom she will be teaching English for the next five weeks. She has quickly connected with the teaching staff and students. It was heartwarming to see her get hugged when she left school each day to return home for lunch. Keep up the great work!

This week’s school project was creating a puppet using your own creativity. The teacher encouraged the students to use a sewing machine. Let’s be honest here. Not too many families have sewing machines unless you are a tailor. Barb just happens to have a machine and taught the kids how to use it this week. Some took to it quite naturally, like a duck to water. Others needed a little more help as they manned the machine like Steve McQueen in the classic car chase scene from the 1968 movie Bullitt. (YIKES!)

Here are couple of the unique puppets. Check out the funky sassy chain on David’s puppet AND the snazzy fashion statement on Olga’s! NICE!

This week’s Club Conexión Bible lesson was the Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13:1-23). It was another moment to teach the kids how the Bible is structured and read the verses together.
We love hearing them read along, slowly but surely, and then explaining to them the content and context of the reading.

In this story, a sower dropped seed on the path, on rocky ground and among thorns, and the seed was lost or never grew; but when the seed fell on good earth it grew, yielding thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
The kids each received some egg carton and painted each of the sections: white, green, red, and black. They then placed healthy dirt, thorns, rocks and a seed in the different sections and were ready for the next part of the lesson.

Jesus Christ’s explanation of this parable highlights four different responses to the gospel.

The seed is “the word of the kingdom.” The hard ground represents someone who is hardened by sin; he hears but does not understand the Word.
The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed, and when trouble arises, his so-called faith quickly disappears.
The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts; the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word, and he ends up having no time for it.
The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word - and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his life.

 Here are some of the Club Conexión kids with their egg carton creations.

Remember the board game classic “Battleship”? We decided to introduce “Human Battleship” to Club Conexión and it went over fairly well. Blindfolded and divided into teams, the kids sat on a stool then had to peg off their opponents.

Sometimes introducing a new game or equipment is all it takes to make these kids happy.
Playing catch with these Velcro gloves and fuzzy tennis balls was a hoot!

The perfect end to a day is always a high spirited game of soccer.
Gerry ended up playing on the girls’ team and gave them an energized pep talk before battling against the more talented and experienced guys’ team.
How did they do? Well…the girls’ team scored one fabulous goal. “Nuff said.
They could have used the photographer’s help, as well as Jennifer and Barb who were visiting a home in the village.
Wait until our two groups come this summer. Then we’ll give the boys a run for their money!