Open Gates

How are things progressing at the hospital?  What is your patient load?  What changes have happened?

These are all questions that I get on a regular basis.  And ones that are difficult to answer because each week it is different.  Except the fact that the people keep continuing to come.  More people are coming on scheduled clinic days and the ultrasound, pediatric room, chronic room and general consulta rooms are getting a lot of use.  The laboratory is up and running as well as the pharmacy.  Take a look at what it looks like with people.


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 They accepted their first overnight guest a few weeks ago, a little boy who had severe pneumonia.  His family works for us so it gave us grace in being able to figure out how best to work out shifts and care.  But as the clinics expand, they will be taking in more overnight patients and more critical needs.



 Staff are being hired and trained and numbers are being added weekly. 

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They are finishing the roof for the second story which will be on call/ office space/ classrooms.



The operating rooms are near completion and will be ready to roll when the physicians and staff are able to take on that responsibility.



Along with that, will be the birthing rooms and postnatal care.


They are finishing the last of the walls and everything is looking more pristine each day.  There are so many small, small details that go into a hospital from what happens in the office to medical records to sheets and new staff and the kitchen.  The amount of decisions that have to be made are endless.




As I flew over the hospital and watched it come to life in front of my eyes, I am reminded over and over again of God’s faithfulness.  Of the itty bitty parts of a vision have come to reality.  And how God’s words have not fallen on deaf ears.  If you build it, they will come.  And that has been true.  There are so many small, small pieces that have gone together to make this a reality and God deserves all of the credit for that one.

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The prayer room is getting more use and putting Christ at the center of all we do.



 My heart’s cry so often is… Break my heart for what breaks yours…

I am burdened.


In a different way.  But I have recognized it as a heart burden.  A grieving.

It is easy to be in an area of need and be burdened.  But being in the states for a longer period of time and then being in the city has given me three different perspectives of the world in a short period of time.  And to each place, there are adjustments to be made.  Yet, there is a fresh way of seeing life here as well.  Being away gave me perspective.  Turned my eyes from the focus here to the focus there.  Being away reminded me of changes in the world and changes in myself.  A perspective that isn’t developed in a short trip back to the states.

And so, to step back into life in the valley here, in a way is to see it again afresh.  Many things were forgotten and my senses take it in again.  I see the burden.  I feel the burden.  I feel the difference.

Burdened.  There is something here.  Burdened for the older generation.  As they lived through a war and are on the other side.  As development happens, yet they cling to their old ways. Burdened as technology passes them up and I see the structure of family changing.  They are saddened.  They are struggling to understand the change.  I pass an old man a few times a week along the side of the mountain.  He is in his field with his hoe in hand.  Barefoot.  Trying to plant a crop of corn so that he can continue to eat.  Yet he barely has the strength to raise his hoe.

Burdened for the middle generation as they seek to work.  As they look for jobs and to provide for their families.  As they have hope now for change and as the Western influence comes.  Burdened because there are more materialistic things for them to desire, yet in this valley, the opportunities for jobs are scarce.  If they have an education and want to stay here, they find themselves in a corrupt system to struggle for a job.  You must be the right political party or family or associated with the right people.  Burdened because they want to provide a better life than their childhood produced.  Many of this generation has left leaving mothers to raise their children alone or aunts or grandmothers who now have the burden of raising children left behind by immigration.

And the burden grows. For the younger generation.  As I have listened to conversations and dialogues, I hear a change in the way that young people are talking.  Here in this valley.  They want out.  They want something different.  They hope for something that they have not had.  They want an education.  They want a change to dream.  They want the things they see in movies.  Many of them are looking to the states as an answer to that.  They know that there are opportunities out there, and yet they are ill equipped to embrace them.  They have pint-sized practice at decision making.  And yet, they are making decisions that completely effect their path for the rest of their lives.

And so as I listen to the youth here talk about their futures.  As I talk with students who have left to study.  As I talk with those from the mountains that have come to town, the general consensus is that they are searching.  Many go to the bigger cities.  Many go to the states.  They are searching for something that would satisfy.  Something that will help them make a better life for themselves than the previous generation had.

I had a flashback as I was thinking.  That much of what is happening here is not much different from what I have seen in my hometown.  Or in the small towns around me in Western Pennsylvania.  They were mining towns.  Oil towns.  Boom towns.  The economy was built on what was around them.  Over time the people left, the industries were not able to keep up with the change.  There were no jobs.  There was nothing to entice young families to stay.  Adolescents graduated, went away to college and settled elsewhere where there were opportunities and promises and a better job market.

I have a soft heart.  I am often burdened.  But this burden is real. I am constantly thinking of how to break that cycle.  How to provide hope.  How to create jobs that will keep the educated here, within their communities.  Bettering the town.  To have role models to point to.  And above all, for God’s mercy to shine in this country.

March Pictures



The dry season – hot, dry, hot, dust, hot, no rain, fires, hot…. but beautiful sunsets!





Easter Sunrise celebrating our Savior together!

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Traditions  – new and old!  The egg roll as done in England signifying the stone being rolled from the tomb.  Congrats Grace!

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More roof is set and rooms continue to be readied.


A trip to the top of the canal!


Who do you live with?  This is a common question that I am asked, and one that is forever changing.  There are the families and individuals that are here permanently, but as 2016 rings in, we have had over 60 visitors already that have come through our doors, for three days, a week, two weeks, six weeks.  Each group comes from a different chunk of time.  And each person leaves their footprint here.  Sometimes it is difficult to keep track of all the coming and going and where everyone is…. but these individuals and families pour into our ministry and visit.  It is our hope always for those that come that they would be touched by what God is doing as well as to see the people for who they are.  Here are just a collage of those who have been here in the first two months of the year.


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The Epperly family with their enthusiasm and joy!  They were here for 6 weeks with other family members helping in the clinics and at the hospital.


Sherwood, Areli and Rebecca were here for a month to help in clinics and join in the community.


A group of young people came from Spain and spoke in the schools and encouraged the young people from the area.



Arlen came and helped facilitate conversations between the medical team leading up to the opening of the hospital


A team from Chicago came and helped build cabinets and serve within the ministry.

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Sharing community time around the bonfire.

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Heidi Bell was here with residents to introduce them to Guatemala and Pastor Phil brought his friend Stephen to check in and encourage us.


Ryan Korpral made a quick visit and the Lifegate group was back.




As well as friends of Katie and Ryan to help wherever they could.


Life here is much different than it was three years ago – and the amount of visitors are constant and there is always change.  But it also helps us connect with life outside of Guatemala.  This understaking is something that God is pulling together, little by little and we trust that He has a purpose for each person that comes thorugh our ministry.  I don’t have pictures of all the people that have come through the front house…. but looking over who has come and gone just in two months, helps put things all in perspective.  Be blessed today and walk with the King!

Market View

I wanted to show you that we really do have all we need here.  There are plenty of “thrift tarps” that contain jeans and shirts right in between the fruit stands, pharmacy table and toiletries.  Corn to grind for tortillas, the local fruit that is in season, chickens and a tuk tuk to take you home after your arms are full with purchases.


Tour of Canilla by Air

One of the questions that people always ask is “Is the hospital and school on the same property?  How far away from the school do you live?”  I am going to give you a tour in pictures.




This is the hospital property on the right and then the housing for mostly everyone on the left.  It is a two minute walk from one property to the next and we do not own the property in between.

As for the houses, in the front there are two red roofs that make a sort of L shape.  I currently live in the one that is parallel to the road with short term visitors and Luis and Naomi and their family.


This is an updated view of the hospital property.  Each day it changes.  They have been working on the roof and will soon have the prayer room enclosed.


This is a view of the town of Canilla from the north.  As you look out of town, the road turns into a “V”.  As you follow this road, at the very top corner there is a patch of trees on the right and left side of the road.  The school property is the patch of trees on the right side of the road.


Here is a better shot of the school property.  There are many trees on the property which cover over the school, but the property if found in the middle of the photo


And here is a picture showing the distance from the school to the hospital.  The hospital is found in the upper right corner and you can hopefully identify the school in the middle of this photo – about half a mile apart.

Independence Day



This year’s celebrations were small – the government has squashed the running of the torches and there were not enough students to form a band.  Here are a few pictures of the parade of schools.  None the less, it was another day for Guatemala to celebrate and be proud of it’s heritage.  There have been good years and bad years, but I have been able to see the progress as my time here continues to stretch over another decade.

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My favorite part of the day was watching the students perform “gymnastics”.  It was quite risky – no mats below to catch falling students.  The group above was the most impressive as they created human pyramids and threw classmates in the air.  I am sure this would not have happened in the states on a cement basketball court.


The Simple Life


So many times in this last month I have taken a time warp.  When I was younger, Little House on the Prairie was one of my favorite series.  I read the books, watched the series as well as other shows like Christy.  As I rode through town on my old school motorcycle, and nearly missed a chicken running across the road and then watched a young girl scoop it up and put it in a bag without hesitation….. I was reminded of how I used to visualize things like this in my mind and now it is a reality.  I went to the tailor to get alterations done and bought rice by the pound in market.  There are some days here that feel like a time warp.

We have also experienced these life changes in the school, in the way education is done and nursing is done.  We are constantly asking ourselves, how do we raise the level and yet keep the Guatemalan system.  How do we do it with integrity and hold the students to a higher level?

What do you do when someone comes into clinic and is in need of a surgery that we cannot offer here?  We do what we can and pray.

What do you do when the roads are blocked with protests and you need to get to the city?  You suspend your trip till another time?

What do you do when the electricity is out for a “planned” power outage ?  You go to bed early 🙂


The stark differences between two cultures that are extremely different are evident the longer that I live here.  Likewise, there are things that I notice less and less.  I am accustomed to people urinating wherever or riding in tuk-tuks.  I am accustomed to 28 people loaded in the back of a cattle truck or adobe houses.  I turn my head when I see a new truck in town.  And many of reversions to a simple life and now every day life.  There are fewer choices to make – because they do not exist.  And so we live this life and ask for patience every day to endure that which comes at us challenging our faith.

A Day Off

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Here’s the gang…. we took an adventure on our day off and traveled the bus system to Solala.  If you never leave Canilla, you feel almost as if you are living in a bowl and forget that there are humans anywhere else at times.  It was nice to get away – and very, very stress free.  We were definitely noticed wherever we went because of the amount of white skin.

Let God Come





When we began our Spanish worship night, it was to provide an opportunity for our workers and families to seek the presence of God.  And as we have continued, God has been faithful to bring this group back week after week.  It is the young people that are hungry for something…. something that they cannot put into words.  Something that keeps them coming back.  And it is just what God has purposed for them here – to know God and to seek His truth.  So many of them have been broken – by their families, by the church, by broken promises.

It is something different – something different for them to experience.  And as I have learned, different many times teaches us more of who God is.  More of what God wants for us.  It has been my hope that these students can learn how to encounter God and hear His voice.  To know His truth.  And so we seek opportunities to open the door.  Opportunities for His truth to shine through.

These opportunities have brought about conversations that show how God is working in their hearts – how God is working in the hearts of all of us.  They are seeking acceptance.  They are seeking to know who this God is and what he has for them.  They are seeking to choose the right path.  And we want to encourage all of this.  I have seen change.  I have seen hope.  And this encourages me to press on.  Please pray for them.



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Currently my favorite Spanish worship song

Dame Tus Ojos

Dame tus ojos, quiero ver
Dame tus palabras, quiero hablar
Dame tu parecer

Dame tus pies, yo quiero ir
Dame tus deseos para sentir
Dame tu parecer

Dame lo que necesito
Para ser como tu

Dame tu voz, dame tu aliento
Toma mi tiempo es para ti
Dame el camino que debo seguir
Dame tus sueños, tus anhelos
Tus pensamientos, tu sentir
Dame tu vida para vivir

Déjame ver lo que tu ves
Dame de tu gracia, tu poder
Dame tu corazón

Déjame ver en tu interior
Para ser cambiado por tu amor
Dame tu corazón


Give Me Your Eyes

Give me your eyes, I want to see
Give me your words, I want to speak
Give me your likeness

Give me your feet, I want to go
Give me your desires to feel
Give me your likeness

Give me what I need
To be like you

Give me your voice, give me your breath
Take my time; it’s for you
Give me the way I should follow
Give me your dreams, your desires
Your thoughts, your way to feel
Give me your life to live

Let me see what you see
Give me your grace, your power
Give me your heart

Let me see inside you
To be changed by your love
Give me your heart