Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Different Kind of Soccer Game

This is a special blog update to give you another glance into our life here in Guatemala. Life is very different here, and it shows up in the little day-to-day activities that are a part of our lives.

This morning Jeremiah had a soccer game, so we loaded the van and headed out. We knew it was located in our town, so we anticipated no problems. However, we had to turn around and trade the van for our Toyota Forerunner because our van could not make it through. So, I thought I would give you all a little taste of a Guatemalan soccer game with a few pictures and descriptions.


The Road to the Game


The Parking Lot


The Field


The Concession Stand


The Public Restrooms


The Half-time Entertainment

By the way, they ended in a 0-0 tie.

That’s all for now! Have a great day!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Birth of a Ministry

What an amazing week we have had! There are times when I struggle to keep up with the blessings and movement of God, and the last seven days have been one of those times.

DSCF7161It started last Friday when another neighbor rang our door asking for help. She has a 13 year old boy who she took in shortly after he was born who has some profound disabilities. We don’t know for sure what has caused his disabilities, but we suspect spinal meningitis. Meningitis is common here and, unfortunately, many Guatemalans believe the best treatment is to wrap the child in blankets to help with the fever chills and withhold liquids. As a result, permanent brain damage is often the result.

Her little guy’s name is Marcos Antonio and he is severely cognitively impaired. He has decent balance and can take short steps, but has no bowel or bladder control. He is underweight and they have no bed for him, so he sleeps on a thatch mat placed on a concrete floor. He has a bright smile.

We provided some Kids Against Hunger food packets along with diapers. Today I will purchase a roll-out mattress for the floor to provide some padding. We are hopeful that our children will be able to take him out in the street to play and provide some stimulation and interaction with other children. I am pleased to say that we already have a sponsor to assist he and his family on a monthly basis.

DSCF7209On Monday we had the inaugural trip of our 4-Wheel Drive ministry, and what a wonderful trip it was! Jessica Huwer (our visiting nursing student), Pat Duff, Paul Branch and I drove out to Los Palmos to deliver a new wheelchair to Ponceano. The excitement on his face when we pulled up was worth the entire trip. We made the necessary adjustments and he was riding comfortably quickly.

DSCF7221Then we took him to their backyard where I taught him and his family some basic stretches and exercises to improve his range of motion and increase his upper body strength. My desire is that we will be able to eventually get him up and walking with a walker. He and his family were excited to know that there are some things they can do to improve his situation.

DSCF7210While we were working with Ponceano, a line of people formed hoping to get some medical help from Jessica. A little girl with a skin infection, a lady with a nagging cough, a man with chronic hip pain resulting in a fall from a tree. Jessica was kept very busy.

DSCF7211aTwo cases especially tugged at our heart. Ponceano’s grandmother came asking for help. She suffers from chronic arthritis pain, but has also lost her appetite in recent months. We were alarmed to see how malnourished she was and immediately conferred together as a team to discuss how to best help. In the end, we decided to drive back to the nearest town (25 minutes of rough roads) and purchase some Ensure and ibuprofen. I will be doing follow-up with her very soon as I don’t know how much more weight loss she can survive.

DSCF7223Then, David’s mom took us next door to visit an elderly lady named Reyna (translated “Queen”). This sweet woman has struggled with a nasty respiratory illness for over a month, and Jessica quickly confirmed that it had turned into full-scale pneumonia. In addition, she had lost her appetite and was severely under-nourished. She was dehydrated and showed signs of anemia. We had the antibiotics with us to treat her respiratory problems but, after conferring together, it was decided that she needed to get to a doctor quickly. We stressed this to the family and they told us that they didn’t have the money to pay one of their neighbors for gas. We quickly provided the funds along with a two week supply of Pedialyte to help with her dehydration. The family wept as we provided the help and then prayed with them. Please pray for Reyna. I don’t know if we arrived in time to save her or not. Jessica and I plan on heading back to Los Palmos in another week-and-a-half to do follow-up with her and several patients.

At the end of the day, we all returned home tired but praising God for the success of our first trip. As always, we left with a plan, but God graciously changed it to make it better.

DSCF7261Tuesday was Brittney’s 21st birthday. When we asked her what she wanted to do, she didn’t hesitate. She told us that she wanted to go to Hermano Pedro and take some of the kids our to Pollo Camperos to eat. So we did, and what a wonderful day it was! Sonya, Veronica, Willie, Angel, Carlitos, and Diego all joined us for chicken and we laughed until our faces hurt!

DSCF7273What a blessing it is to have children who care about things that really matter! On that day, Brittney showed Jesus’ priorities, but all of my children model them on a regular basis. I am humbled to be the father of kids who love the least of these that most overlook. They teach me more about the heart of God every day.

DSCF7170Speaking of my kids, Jeremiah had another soccer game last Saturday. The game was held, as always, on a dirt field, so it was hard to see what was going on much of the time due to the cloud of dust that followed the action. But occasionally a breeze would clear the cloud and you could actually see the ball. His team lost 4-2, but they had a great time. After the game Jeremiah was so dark from the sweat and the dirt he almost looked Guatemala. I am posting a team photo below. If you have trouble spotting Jay, just look for the white spot.


Dick Rutgers continues to heal from his surgery in one of our upstairs bedrooms. The first few days were painful and difficult for him, but now that he is feeling better he is starting to act like a caged lion. Yesterday he convinced me to walk with him down the street to visit Joni and double-check my measurements for his wheelchair. (I don’t think he trusts me.) Now that we have his chair he wants me to bring him back to our house today to do the final fitting so he can supervise. (I told you he didn’t trust me.) As he takes less pain medication he gets a little harder to handle. Fortunately, we cook his food so we can slip some in occasionally.

That’s all for now. Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Blogs are a double-edged sword. When things are busy and a lot is happening is when you most need to update to let everyone know what is happening. But during those times it is most difficult to find the time to update. That is the perfect description of the last couple of weeks. I apologize for being lax in my postings, but it is difficult to write about life when you are living it. Let me now try to bring you up to speed.

DSCF7088Wanda’s mom and dad, Chester and Ruth, came and visited with us for nine days. What a wonderful time we had with them! They spent time with us at Hermano Pedro, got to know our town and neighbors, and were able to learn more about our ministry. On the last day of their trip they went out to visit a few families with Dick, Pat, and me. They listed that day as the high point of their trip.

DSCF2523While we were out we went to visit David and his family. You may remember that I wrote about David, who has spina bifida, over a year ago. He and his family are remarkable people who have thrived in difficult situations. David’s mom used to carry him on her back to and from school (and that journey involved wading across a stream). She did that for three years trying to get the teachers of the school to teach her son, but they would not. During the last year the teachers actually made fun of David because of his lack of bowel and bladder control that resulted in him having to wear diapers. Finally, she stopped trying.

Dick found him when he was around 13 years old and arranged for a tutor. He quickly caught up to the other students and eventually went to a high school that would teach him. He graduated with excellent grades last year and is now pursuing his bachelor’s degree. We stopped in to check on a bed sore that has given him problem for years. While it is improving, he will still need surgery to repair it in the fall.

IMG00428-20110511-1128From there David’s mom took us to a neighbor who is in a wheelchair. The man, now in his 40’s, had a bout with either meningitis or encephalitis when he was five years old. Since that illness, he has been unable to walk and has diminished strength in his upper body. He was sitting in an old wheelchair with rubber tires that were completely worn off. We were able to measure him and find a sponsor to provide a new chair. Next week I will deliver his chair and teach his family how to do physical therapy on his legs and arms.

IMG00433-20110511-1204While in the village we walked over to Henri’s house. Henri is a little guy with cerebral palsy that I helped Dick fit with a chair over a year ago. We made some adjustments, played with a few of the neighborhood kids, and then hit the road again.

IMG00436-20110511-1425From there we traveled up the rough roads to visit Jesica’s family. I wrote about them a few weeks ago when we traveled up to install a water tank. We wanted to make sure the tank was functioning properly and were pleased to find that it was working perfectly. We were also happy to discover that Hector’s head rash had almost completely cleared-up. From there it was a two hour ride home, including a brief stop for ice cream.

IMG00448-20110519-1117DSCF3319That evening I headed out again to Guatemala City to pick up Marissa Spencer and Jessica Huwer. These two college students have been friends of our daughter, Brittney, and our family for some time. Jessica, a nursing student, will be spending the next month helping us with some of the medical needs of our ministry in our community and the villages. Marissa will be loving on the kids in the various ministries with which we work. We are very glad to have both of them with us.

One of the real treat of living in San Antonio Aguas Calientes has been our opportunities to minister to our neighbors. We have formed wonderful relationships with those who live in our aldea, and our home is now known as a place of caring. Late last week a young man name Christian showed up in front of our house. He looked quite sad and Brittney was able to talk to him and realize that his parents were both drinking and he didn’t want to go home. After getting the permission of his older sister he enjoyed supper with our family while expressing fascination with the workings of our household. Later, we met his mother who thanked us profusely for caring for her son. Now our biggest challenge is helping Christian understand that he can’t stay here all the time.

DSCF7155Last night (Wednesday) a lady came to our door. She is one of our neighbors who lives about four doors down. I was excited to find that I could understand most of her Spanish as she explained to me that some of her neighbors had told her that we were people who help children. She explained that she has a 16 year old son with severe cerebral palsy. We had never met him because he rarely comes outside their home and courtyard. I asked if I could come down and meet him, and she excitedly agreed. We walked to her home where I met Joni. Joni is very malnourished and in need of a new bed and wheelchair, but his primary need is for good, nutritious food that he can eat.

I quickly came home, grabbed Wanda, a tape measure, and some food packets from Kid’s Against Hunger, and headed back to their home. I measured Joni for a wheelchair which I hope to get to him in the next two or three weeks. We will be returning today with some additional groceries, and Jessica will be giving him a physical exam. While there, I will also teach the family how to do stretches on his arms and legs.

This family needs some long-term support to care for Joni. One thing that would be a tremendous blessing is to have a sponsor to help provide food, medicines and supplies for him each month. Is there one of you out there that would be interested in sponsoring him for $30 a month? If so, every penny will go directly to food and supplies that we will purchase for him. If you are interested, please e-mail me at

What touched us deeply is that after such a short time several of our neighbors have come to see our home and our family as a source of hope and help. Thank you, God, for opening so many doors so quickly!

On Monday our friend, Dick Rutgers, had surgery. When he told me that he was having a procedure done I got excited. I thought the doctor’s had finally discovered a way to cure his bad driving. But, alas, they have decided that his driving disability is incurable, so they just decided to do prostate surgery instead. He will be staying with us for the next two weeks, so pray that his recovery goes smoothly. Also, continue to pray for his driving because we know that, with God, all things are possible!

hallan decapitados en PeténOne other issue over which we would like for you to pray is for protection for us and others who are in Guatemala. If you have seen the national news you have probably heard about the drug related violence in Flores and the areas surrounding it. While this area is several hours north of us, it is part of an overall escalation of violence in Guatemala. Last week, about an hour from here, an entire chicken bus full of people were gunned down. Likely this was gang-related and simply involved innocent passengers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. These things, combined with an escalation of kidnapping for ransom, have caused us to increase our prayers for protection. We have also spent time discussing how to best increase security in our home and when traveling. We are not afraid, but we do appreciate your prayers on our behalf for wisdom, safety, and courage to follow God’s call wherever He leads.

Because of Him!

Daryl, Wanda & the Crew

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hanging Out the Shingle

Over the last couple of weeks things have been very busy. In addition to having my parents-in-law here for a visit, I have also been busy with the purchase of the new 4-wheel drive vehicle and arranging for the necessary modifications to get it ready for trips into the villages. Those things, combined with the work to prepare for our summer teams and a pretty nasty sickness, have left very little time for anything else.

DSCF7069However, I did find time for one addition project. While Dale and Anita Beyer and their family were here Dale offered to make a sign for our front gate. Using some wood we had on-hand, he hand-carved the Hogar de la Esperanza logo on both sides and then stained and painted it for us. The result was quite beautiful. Once the project was completed it took me a little while to purchase the necessary hardware and take the time to actually hang it, but late last week I finally got it done.

DSCF7072When we moved here I was determined to wait to hang any signage outside our home. There are a lot of missionaries who move here with pre-made signage and literature advertising their new ministry, even before the ministry is in place. And all too often, the advertisements never become reality. I did not want to be that guy. I was determined to wait until we were known to our neighbors as people who care and love them before hanging any sign. I felt that we needed to earn the reputation as a “home of hope” before hanging a sign that made the claim.

Recently we were told by one of our neighbors that we were a blessing to the community and viewed well by those living around us. I was deeply humbled and moved by those words. Before we moved we were told that it would be difficult for us to be accepted here as gringos living in a Mayan community, yet we have been warmly received from our first day here. And, after hearing those words, I knew we were ready to hang our sign.

So, the home that we dedicated to the Lord now has a name in the community…Hogar de la Esperanza (Home of the Hope). Please pray with me that we will live up to the words on that sign.

Good afternoon from San Antonio!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The 4-Wheel Drive Ministry Has Begun!

IMG00423-20110506-1624This has been a very full week and I haven’t had a chance to do any updates on the blog, but I wanted to take a moment to share a praise. As you know we have been praying for God’s provision for a 4-wheel drive vehicle that we can use for our rural village ministry. I am pleased to report that God has answered those prayers!

We received a $10,000 donation two weeks ago that has enabled us to purchase a well-maintained 1995 Toyota Forerunner with an off-road package. With the help of a Christian mechanic and our friend Esdras we have been searching for the right vehicle for over a month in faith that the money would be available when we found the right one. We believe this vehicle will be the perfect fit.

With a powerful engine and a rugged suspension it should be able to handle the rough conditions we encounter on a regular basis in route to the families we serve. And, at a price tag of $6,500 we will be able to make the necessary modifications, purchase needed equipment and still have about $2,000 left over for maintenance in the months ahead.

Please join us in praising God for His provision and asking Him to protect our team and make them effective as they travel and serve. Thanks!