What are some of the activities you did today?
Wake up, wash yourself, eat, pray, brush your hair, brush your teeth, etc.
How about get angry with someone? Or did someone anger you?
It was interesting to see the number of hands go up with that question.
It was also fascinating to see the limited number of hands go up when we asked: did you forgive anyone today or ask for forgiveness?
After this initial introduction we started to read and act out Jesus’ Parable of the Unmerciful Servant found in the book of Matthew (chapter 18 verses 21-35).


Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matt 18: 21-22)

The apostle Peter thought his willingness to forgive seven times was much more generous than the Jewish tradition (forgiving three times) and also exceeded the righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
Jesus’ answer is summed up quite easily: forgiving others should be limitless.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. (Matt 18: 23-25)

Historians estimate that calculated in today’s currency, the ten thousand bags of gold would sum up to 400,000 dollars OR 3,066,000 Guatemalan Quetzales! That is one massive debt!!!!!

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. (Matt 18: 26-27)

WOW! 400,000 dollar debt canceled. Just like that!
How did the servant react? Was he grateful for the annulled debt?

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. (Matt 18: 28)

Double WOW! How can this servant be so ungrateful AND cold-hearted? In comparison to the $400,000 dollars he owed to the king the fellow servant only owed him $4,000! You could hear a pin drop in the room as we continued to read the parable…

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. (Matt 18: 29-31)

This is a great example of righteous anger as the other servants could not stand by seeing their friend thrown into jail RIGHT AFTER the first servant was forgiven for his massive debt!

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matt 18: 32-35)

The parable of the unmerciful servant is told by Jesus to illustrate the necessity of forgiveness and mercy. Essentially, we are like the first servant, and God has forgiven us of this massive debt by sending his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Out of thankfulness and appreciation, we are to forgive the much smaller debts of everyone else (meaning, if they sin against us, we forgive). It’s not always easy but it’s what God wants us to do! Otherwise, those who do not forgive are exactly like this first servant, and God will treat them as such.


Preparando e Inspirando Líderes Adolescentes de . . .

When we created the PILAS ministry it was with the initial thought that it would be preparing and inspiring adolescent leaders in the Sumpango area.
We are reminded on a daily basis that the outreach of this ministry stretches far beyond the town of Sumpango.
Case in point: we were invited to share our ministry’s mission and vision as well as our faith journey at a school in the capital by the name of Manos a la Obra.
Check out the day’s activities for more details…

Manos a la Obra is a fairly large school (1,000+ students) and extremely organized. Two students gave us a personalized tour and were great ambassadors for their college! Our visit landed during the school’s health week focus and a Zumba instructor had many students AND teachers working out!

We participated in the weekly chapel for two different groups of students and were impressed with the contemporary worship style and the high-energy of the leaders. It reminded us of past youth retreats we had back in Canada.

The college was just about to begin their second half of the year which has an emphasis on ‘missions’ so we were asked to come and share our story and ministry and encourage the students to get involved in serving in their own country.

At the end of both sessions we called up anyone who wanted to commit some of their time to helping others through outreach and missions. The response was amazing in both groups. We were humbled to be a part of their day and see them take this personal decision to get more involved in what God is doing here in Guatemala.

We had never imagined that we would be called upon to share and encourage locals to become missionaries! It was very humbling and encouraging to be used in this way.
We were thanked with a certificate of appreciation, a brunch and a promise to hear back from the college about how they might be able to help us with PILAS Student Ministry.
Some students showed keen interest in coming to participate and serve with us!
What is better than to engage locals to help serve their own people?

PILAS Weekly Highlights: July 27 to August 09 2014

 The last two weeks have been a little potpourri-ish.
Is potpourri-ish even a word? If not we are claiming the creation of it!
One of the villages had their annual fair so that meant avoiding driving through those locations (blocked roads due to religious processions, etc.), as well as juggling some of the lessons AND activities around.
All in all it worked out pretty good and we’re back on track!
Enjoy this two week update and don’t miss reading the other special PILAS updates for some cool pictures and/or stories!


Each PILAS scholarship student has a ‘prayer partner’ that is purposefully spending time praying for their studies and any other challenges that may be impacting their lives. It was amazing to have one of our students recently connect with her prayer partner in a Skype conversation. They chatted for over 20 minutes. You may think this is not a huge deal but think about it: this particular student has only been learning English with us seven months.
Now THAT is encouraging!!!!

For those in Las Flores that are interested in learning English we’ve introduced lessons at the beginning of Club Conexión sessions.
We’ve determined that they are not learning the correct pronunciation and we’ll make every effort to help them with that every week.

The field in el Yalu is in a beautiful location with one slight problem: it is quite the hike up and down to get there! It is not a far hike. The challenges are: it is slick from the rain, strewn with garbage, and quite rocky at places. We are so appreciative of the help we get from the kids lugging equipment up and down the hills when we have activities at the field!

Thanks to the recent HLBC team our bocce set made its way to Guatemala. The gals had a great time learning the rules and were getting quite adept at it!

The guys did not want to miss out on the fun and they switched places with the gals. It was such fun seeing the guys get serious about bocce and the gals strap on the baseball gloves to play catch.

Speaking of strapping on the gloves…For most, it was their first time putting on a baseball glove. They finally got the hang of it – the thumb goes in the large part of the glove!!!! Even with that revelation, there was still the need to explain the importance of getting the proper glove for your catching hand.

We are still providing supplemental teaching in el Guachipilin. Slowly but surely the kids are learning Spanish and Math, with the older students adding to their English vocab each week.

ALPHA Youth’s last lesson is the importance of the church. With only 14 families in the village of el Guachipilin and a priest conducting mass at a makeshift church building every fifteen days, it was quite interesting to hear from the kids how ‘church’ works in their village and then compare it to how the Bible describes church.

In one village there is no shortage of space so why not play a version of “Capture The Flag”? It took a little while for everyone to catch on to the rules and strategies but once they did it was a flurry of chaotic moves and attacks!

What do you mean you don’t know how to shoot elastics with your fingers? We quickly corrected that today with a “Minute-To-Win-It” game: shoot as many elastics at a stack of cans in one minute and knock off all the cans to count points.

“Gasta menos…compra más!”
That is Mega Paca’s slogan (spend less…buy more!), the local thrift shop. We stop in once in a while to see if there are any treasures we can use for our ministry. We recently purchased two bean bag targets DIRT CHEAP!!! The kids all had a blast honing their target practice skills!

A Club Conexión favorite was introduced in Las Flores to much amusement. Despite a great effort, the record of 31 balloons in Santa Marta was not eclipsed this day. But it was very close - - - 28!

Las Flores heard the sex talk lesson from the prior week. The kids tried to convince us that “this kind of stuff doesn’t really happen in our village”. Once out of the classroom and in more personal settings, the kids opened up to the true challenges the villages and their families face. While perhaps not as extreme as some of the journalistic reporting in this country, nonetheless the problem of ‘kids having kids’ is prevalent here as well.


It was such a joy to introduce baseball to two villages recently.
Their keen interest to learn and play a pick-up-game was incredible and we intend to play more often.
Check out these photos!





PILAS Weekly Highlights: July 20 to July 26 2014

Where has the time gone?

Four weeks ago Emily arrived to serve as our first Canadian intern.

Just over two weeks ago our niece Kayla arrived.

The house is going to be a whole lot quieter now that they have returned to Canada.

We, as well as the kids we interact with on a weekly basis, are going to miss them a TON!

This week’s update will give you a good sense of their last week and the impact they made on the ministry.

Kayla…Emily…y’all come back real soon!



Wanna learn English and not be overwhelmed in the process? Make it FUN!

That is what we try to do through interactive games and activities! A good ol’ game of Memory using flash cards about opposites was this afternoon’s game.



There was some paint leftover from the Heart Lake Baptist team’s recent visit so Kayla and Gerry picked up the pieces and painted whatever they could at CETEDI. Are there more teams that would like to spruce up CETEDI? If interested send us an email!



The CFL is in full swing back in Canada so let’s introduce an element of Canadian football to the Club Conexión games this week.

“Snap” a ball through to a quarterback ‘er we mean hula hoop. The more times you do it the more points your team receives.

The classic game “Red Rover” was introduced in the villages. Keeping consistent with the CFL theme, “clotheslining” was strongly discouraged!



Check out these cloud formations.A week does not go by that we have to pinch ourselves on how beautiful the surrounding areas are. Incredible!



It was three-for-one in the newest Club Conexión village as we rolled all the prior health lessons into one condensed lesson: active living, hygiene and nutrition. It was encouraging to hear the kids share that they knew how many glasses of water they should drink per day, how to wash their hands, etc.



Let’s face it…the kids were quite knowledgeable but they did not know EVERYTHING!

Their faces lit up as we talked about the importance of stretching before heading off to the fields to work, play sports, etc.

Why did their faces light up? They linked the stretching/exercise to their favorite soccer team’s practices. (Surprise surprise!)



Thanks to the recent Heart Lake Baptist team we were able to distribute a small personal hygiene pack to all the Club Conexión kids (face cloth, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrush).



An important lesson that we teach each year is on sex, the risks surrounding sex outside of marriage, and promiscuity. With media bombarding youth with various messages about this topic and what love is, we want to address this area and be clear that sex and love are not the same. We discuss the dangers of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and explain several facts that the kids are not aware in this respect. We also talk about teenage pregnancies and the impact it has on the youth, their families and society as a whole.



You may be thinking, why teach on this topic to those in grades 5 and 6?  Well, they may only be 11 or 12 years old, but many villages believe that once children graduate from grade 6, it’s time to start a family.

Guatemala has a real issue regarding teenage pregnancies with startling statistics published annually of many girls, as young as 10 years old, giving birth. Children having children! 

We are also very aware that young relationships and marriages struggle here, mostly because youth don’t take the time to get to know their potential spouse. We close the sessions drawing a timeline of an average person’s life and showing how many years a person has after choosing a spouse and that 3 months is NOT enough time to decide that you can be with this person for the next 60+ years.  

As much as many would like to deny that this is happening, we often hear from one or two during the session who share about experiences within their families. We believe that everyone knows someone in this situation, but because of the shame they carry they will not mention it.
All in all it is a very important topic as most have never heard nor discussed these issues with their families or others.



Each year with our scholarship students, we do a study of the “Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. We find it extremely beneficial for our local ‘family’ to understand how each of us communicates and expects to receive love from others.

We started with the survey and created personalized study booklets to use in the coming weeks. We are looking forward to this amazing study and getting to know each other better.



No one ever likes saying goodbye, and we had to do it again. :-(

Emily has spent the last 4 weeks teaching at the local school and sharing special moments with the PILAS community. CETEDI planned special send off parties for her; one in the morning with the primary school students and the other in the afternoon with the middle school students. 

Her day was filled with celebrations because the PILAS students also decorated the house and had a cake and gifts for her at lunch. Now, that’s one full day of goodbyes!!



Developing relationships is what ministry is all about.  

We love to see our interns and visitors connecting and spending time with students, playing games, teaching English, reading books, etc…. it’s pretty cool to see the love shared.  

These special times are lasting memories for both sides. The students often ask about past visitors, and reminisce about the special times they shared together. 

A frequent question we get: “when is so and so coming back?”



We work with our students on how to express how they feel. They are not all that familiar with verbal/outward expression as it’s not all that common in their homes. What they are quite good at however is sharing their emotions through crafts, letters, or special notes. 

Today was no exception as they filled our whiteboard with goodbyes and other sentiments for both Kayla and Emily. So special!!


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!