Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Homes New Hope

Happy Sunday Fabulous Ones!

This week at our team meeting we learned about the families that some of our team members will be building new homes for during our trip. Each of these families have been selected by the local churches as being in particular need, none of them attend the churches but they are significant because of their desperate circumstances and thus are the people we are privileged to serve. The pictures below show the families with the Pastors who have recommended them as being new home recipients, please pray that our work with these families will bless everyone involved and above all, will make God look good.

1. Living in the first house will will be an aunt with four children, ages 10-20. The oldest niece Gloria Maria, who is 20, is pictured here with her one-year-old son Maurice and the local pastor. The mother of the four children has abandoned them. The remaining three children are Jesusita (16), Mariano (12) and Juan Rafael (10).

2. Living in the second house will be Cesar (pictured with the pastor of the local church), his wife Ana Maria and child Moises (10) who will live with Cesar's parents Alejandro and Rosiario. Rosario is blind.

3. The third house built this year with Bridge Builders support includes this grandmother, Inez, who speaks only Tzutuhil and has two grandsons from the same absentee daughter. The grandsons (pictured) are Pedro and Keneth (who has a heart problem). The mother of the boys does not visit and will not be living in the house. 

4. The fourth house will be the home of a 68-year-old mother named Teresa (pictured), who is deaf. She has three adult children. A daughter, Josea (27) pictured with the local pastor, will be living here too, and two sons Pedro (29) and Antonio (40). 

Another highlight of this week's meeting was the arrival of our rather gorgeous team t-shirts...

 ...Wow! Isn't it a beauty? The verse is John 15:11 which with verse 10 for context says this "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."

The whole group (60 something so far) will wear these when we travel on the February 18th and we'll leave them in Guatemala along with the wonderful items you supplied and various other bits and bobs we will take to leave. The idea is to bring home considerably less than we leave with, so we'll see how that goes!

As ever, I cherish all your thoughts, prayers, encouragement and contributions so please keep them coming :-) 

BEST blessings


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Happy Sunday Fabulous Ones!

We're having a super-slick-Sunday here in Minnesota with icy, rainy drizzly yuk, but I hope wherever you are you're warm and toasty :-)

Thanks again for all the support, encouragement, prayers and cash you've so richly contributed this week, it's just awesome to have such wonderful supporters :-)

This week has been an interesting one as I pondered my personal goals for going to Guatemala, I was a little surprised by what I learned and am intrigued to see what God does with it. Guatemala is a predominately indigenous language speaking county, with between 20-50 regional dialects spoken it's complex and thanks to Christopher Columbus the second language is Spanish. That's all good, but I don't speak Spanish (apart from being able to order a beer but that's not so useful on a mission trip - thanks John Malone!) thus I'm going to be reliant on communicating through others or in other ways. As you all know this is completely new territory for me, i'm usually the one that speaks up, reaches out and puts people at ease with words, but this trip those techniques won't be available to me. 

From my reading about missions work it's becoming increasingly obvious that to stop, look, listen and be open to learning from the people we are serving is about the best thing to do, so it looks like my 'temporary mute-button' and my work will go hand in hand - Yeah God!

My discoveries this week have caused me to think about a quote often attributed to Francis of Assisi "preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words" it looks like i'm going to get the chance to try this out without relying on my usual support of words and language because my words will be of limited size and quality, my challenge will be to rely on the God's support to show others the Good News of Jesus Christ by my actions instead.

Wow and Wooo hoooo!

As ever, I cherish all your thoughts, prayers, encouraging words and contributions, please keep them coming :-)

Best Blessings


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blessings of Bags, Bugs, Elephants & Mice


What a Crazy-Fantastic week and what a SUPER-AWESOME bunch you are! 

This week you chaps managed to fill my entire car to the brim  (only a small space for me to drive!) with bag upon bag of AMAZING blessings for the people of Guatemala, you gave shoes, backpacks, school, medical and dental supplies. It took three people and two trips to unload Betty-the bug and person commented on how fabulous my friends must be. I agree. YOU CHAPS ROCK!

You have also donated so very generously to the on-line giving site for our trip; I'm unable to see exactly who but we're told we will get a report soon - between now and then Thank You SO Much.

I know many of you are praying for us and I have to say that we covet every one of your prayers. They are making a HUGE difference already. Please don't stop!

At our team meeting today we were documenting, organizing, packing and weighing supplies into big 50lb cargo bags that we will take with us. The customs rules tightened two years ago and now everything has to be meticulously documented to ensure unobstructed passage into Guatemala. My job today was to work with a team of five children ages seven to ten to unpack toothpaste from the boxes and repack them in 50 count bags! We are proud to report that 750 boxes were opened and repacked without any tears but with much giggling and hilarity!

We also heard of a fairly major miracle that has occurred in one of the Churches we are going to serve. One of the very poorest Churches believed they had the resources to construct a small room to be used as a computer school, so we would bring old computers set them up in the room and start teaching people how to use them. Sadly this week they discovered they were about $1,500 short for building expenses and were about to contact us to tell us not to bother bringing the computers but another local Church (who themselves are in great need) stepped in and voluntarily donated a financial gift they had received to fund the computer room. It is stories like these that let us know that Good things are happening for God in Guatemala.

As part of my continued preparation this week I had to submit a book report. The book i chose to read was When Helping Hurts an amazing book written for folks from the west who are trying to help poor people near and far and explaining the inadvertent damage that can be done in the process.  Some of the book was sad, some was shocking but all the way through felt like it was really helping me step back from my unbridled enthusiasm and really think about what God wants from me during this trip. One of the most impactful parts for me was a story told by an African mission worker 

Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, "Mouse, lets have a party!" Animals gathered from far and near . They ate. They drank. They sang. And they danced. And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than the Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, "Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!" But Mouse did not answer. "Mouse, where are you?" Elephant called. He looked around for his friend and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant's feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend Elephant. "Sometimes that's what it is like to do a mission with Westerners" the African storyteller commented "It's like dancing with an Elephant"

My note to self for next week. Don't be an Elephant and watch out for Mouse wherever he may be.

Next week my homework is to do more reflection on my personal goals for the trip, why do I think God want's me to go? what does he want me to learn and what is he teaching me along the way? So if you see me staring into space more than usual this week don't be alarmed - i've got some serious thinking to do!

As ever, I want to thank you all for your fabulous support, encouragement and all-round awesomeness. If you have any spare thoughts, prayers (or cash!) we can still use all of it so please join me on my adventure.

Have a FABULOUS day and a Blessed week :-)



Sunday, January 8, 2012

YOUR mission should you choose to accept it...

Happy Sunday Joy, Love and Work-ers!

Firstly THANKS SOOOOO MUCH for all your notes, prayers, contributions and words of encouragement over the past week since I posted about my upcoming mission trip to Guatemala - I can't explain how uplifted I feel, so please don't stop!!

Last week my preparation was to gather supplies, write a presentation for the group about language in Guatemala (did you know that over 50 languages are spoken of which 21 are officially recognized and they are all rooted in the original Proto-Mayan languages which are about 5000 years old? - no, i didn't either!!) and finding a book that will help me understand the Guatemalan people and culture (my book review is due next week and i'll be happy to forward it to you upon request!)

At our team meeting today I learned that during our trip I will be working with the Leadership Training Team, our job is to design and deliver a 'Retreat' for the Pastors, Deacons and Elders of the local churches. I'm VERY excited about this opportunity as I always feel called to support leaders, and so for me to be able support and help refresh and revitalize these folk who are work so hard for God will be a real treat. I cant wait :-) 

This week is our LAST WEEK TO COLLECT SUPPLIES! the reason we have to have them gathered so early is to get all the correct customs paperwork completed in which every single item has to be documented. It's a long and dull process but hopefully will be well worth the effort when we see the faces of the Guatemalan's who will benefit from them. 

AND HERE'S YOUR MISSION SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT we need to gather AS MANY of the following items as we can by 12noon next Sunday 15th January. I'm happy to provide Caribou Coffee, Beer or Wine to folks who can get me these supplies just text, e-mail or call me and we can arrange a whadaya think?
  • Shoes for Children - new & gently used, from babies to adult size 5, no boot please!
  • Backpacks - new & gently used, non-branded if possible
  • School supplies - 
    • Notebooks without spiral binding
    • ballpoint pens - all colors - no pencils please as they don't have sharpeners
  • Medical supplies
    • Large bottles of Ibruprofen
    • Acetaminophen or Tylenol
    • Children's Tylenol meltaways
    • Children's vitamins (chewable not gummy)
    • Cough drops
    • Tums
    • Eye drops or natural tears
    • Neosporin
    • Bacitracin
    • Soap - regular sized bars
    • Eucerin cream
    • Shampoo - all sizes
  • Dental supplies
    • Toothbrushes
    • Toothpaste
    • Floss
Again, thanks for such wonderful support and encouragement. 

Have a Fabulous day and a Blessed week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm on a mission...

...well, I will be on February 18th!

I'm SO excited to be beginning 2012 by participating in a mission trip to Guatemala and it's all Beth Moore's fault!

For those of you unfamiliar with the lovely Ms. Moore she is a wonderful Women's Bible Study teacher who came to the Twin Cities last spring for a fabulous weekend retreat. During the event she ranted (which she does fairly often!) about how single Christian women should get their butts in gear and take as many mission trips as they can manage. I agree! The last one I participated in was to Swaziland in Africa where we were working with AIDS orphans to plant sustainable vegetable gardens which would help them feed their families with nutritious food. It was an AWESOME experience and one from which I hope to never fully recover...

There's something distinctly different about "Going in the name of the LORD", whilst in theory I understand that as a Christian my whole life should be set apart, different and dedicated to God, in practice I struggle and find that often I put myself rather than God front and center. Thank God for grace.

Anyway, back to my upcoming 2011 progressed I was drawn to a missions trip to Guatemala organized by my church Wooddale. I prayed, met with the leaders, signed up and fifty of us are currently preparing for what looks to be a FABULOUS trip all about Making God Look Good in Guatemala - Woooo Hoooooo :-)

Wooddale has been partnering in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala since the early 1990's with the philosophy of working with and through the local churches around the lake. This year our ministry areas will include 1-1 home visits, medical clinics, water filtration, business training & mentoring, computer training, home construction and teaching English as a second language. I'm not sure what my ministry area will be yet, but i'm excited to find out and get to work for God.

The way I look at missions trips is that I'm the 'lucky one' who gets to go to somewhere new and exciting, meet fabulous people and do fun things for God; I'm blessed with so much freedom, health and flexibility to be able to do this and I am hugely grateful for these blessings. I know many of you would love the opportunity to do something similar but for various reasons are unable to participate right now, so I'm inviting you to join in and partner with me in one or more of the following ways:

1. PRAY - That our trip will EXPONENTIALLY BLESS the people of Guatemala and everyone involved, that we will Make God Look Good and do great work with eternal benefits. 

2. FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK! Wooddale Bridge Builders

3. GIVE 'STUFF' BY JANUARY 15th - Guatemala is a poor country and many of the essential things we take for granted are luxuries for the Guatemalan's; so we will be taking items such as
  • Kids shoes up to size 5 (no boots)
  • School supplies - stitched notebooks (not wire bound), pens (not pencils) backpacks (neutral - non branded)
  • Medical supplies - chewable vitamins, chewable tylenol, eyedrops
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste

4. DONATE - Our trip expenses are $2,300 per person so if you are willing and able to make a tax deductible donation here's how:
  • Go on-line to
    • Select the "Give Now" button by the "Bridge Builders Guatemala" link
    • Create an account (or use your Wooddale Weblink account login info)
    • Choose participant "Alison Smith" and select your contribution amount    
As you may be able to tell, I'm SO excited to be Going With God to Guatemala and who knows, I may even get round to blogging about it too!

Have a Blessed and Awesome 2012.