Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fr. Brian's Construction Group- Day 4

Friday was our fourth and last day working on construction
and the group was able to finish a kitchen AND house
by 3 pm!

(Above): Lucia and Fidel's kitchen before...

(Above):  The finished kitchen
It only took 4 hours to build...amazing!

Our last project was building a house for this humble, humble man named Juan
who is an orphan in the community with no family.
(Above left: Juan / Above right: Juan's old house)

(Above: preparing the foundational posts)

Team work!

(Above: Juan still in shock of the generous gift given to him!)

Thank you all who made this amazing week possible!

So many great memories, hard work and awesome conversations
to give thanks for...and 3 families who will be forever grateful for your support.

God bless you all...your presence will be missed!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fr. Brian's Construction Group- Day 3

Meet Fidel & Lucia Arenales Jacinto!

I have mentioned Lucia before...she is the mother of one of my cooks
and even though she is in her 60's, Lucia has been bed ridden for 4 years now 
with 2 herniated discs in her back and a broken right arm 
(surgery is not an option because of her severe osteoporosis).

Lucia and her husband met at the Mission's first clinic:
Fidel was the patient and Lucia the nurse...the rest was history 😊 

(Above left: The old house / Above right: The happy couple 😉)

(Above photos): The brave souls who tore down the house Wednesday morning.

(Above photo) It took about 1.5 hours to tear down the old house...
(and about 30 of those minutes were spent dodging 
the numerous spiders and fire ants that were EVERYWHERE!)

 (Above photo) Wednesday afternoon, 
we had a different crew help place the foundation and posts.

Thursday we were given a day with NO rain and we finished the house by noon!!!

Thank you again for giving another poor family
a gift they always hoped for... a beautiful new home
and new friends with the love of Christ in their hearts!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fr. Brian's Construction Group- Day 1 & 2

This week we are busy
with an awesome group from western Minnesota
(and some also from Nebraska, South Dakota,
Iowa & North Carolina)!

On Monday (while the group was traveling)
I was able to do a kitchen with 2 other Guatemalan workers
for an elderly lady (Candelaria) who struggles with diabetes
and who receives little financial support from her family.

(Above photos: Candelaria & the old kitchen)

(Above photo: new kitchen)

On Tuesday, my Guatemalan workers and I were joined
by 4 hard working women with beautiful smiles...

 Despite the rain (and REALLY stubborn wood that didn't want to be nailed!)
we got through the day making great memories 
and getting half the house finished!

Today we had 10 awesome workers that finished the house by noon!

(Above: Old house)
(Below: New house)

Giving thanks for all who are here serving with their hands
and to all those who are afar serving us with their hearts and prayers...
we feel the love and the support and are so thankful!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Un poco de todo...

"A little bit of everything"
...that just about sums up this past month! being a missionary, it's not so much what we "do",
but how we give ourselves and open our hearts to those around us.

And this includes remaining with the people...
in their joys, in their sufferings, 
in their hopes and in their despair...

This past March, our dearest and oldest elderly in the program
(Andrés, who will be 100 years old on December 1st)
was unfortunately backed into by a "tuc tuc" taxi
as he was making his way into our weekly feeding...
and being his age and fragile condition, 
Andrés broke his right knee and dislocated his right hip;
which means he will now be bed ridden until the day he dies.
There is no medical insurance in Guatemala
and there is no way a person who is 100 could undergo
a double knee/hip replacement surgery and survive the therapy.

The reason I share this tragedy is because this is life here...
it is raw, it is real and there is no way to cover it up or run from it.

Andrés humbly accepted his fate 
and continued to sleep in his delightful spring-only bed frame 
with cardboard as a "mattress" (photo above left)-
with a broken hip and knee (photo above right). 

One cannot help but be moved to make this person's cross lighter...thanks to the LEAST fund, 
we were able to buy Andrés a new bed (picture on left)
and thanks to the generosity of Fr. John Goggin, 
(who now is going on 50 years of being a missionary priest here in Guatemala!), 
Andrés was able to receive the Anointing of the Sick (picture on right).

And of course, we celebrated a beautiful Holy Week 2 weeks ago
and were able to make the elderly their favorite dish:
                                                    -White beans with pork and rice (left picture)
                                                    -The traditional Holy Week sweet bread (right picture)

It brings so much joy to see the friendships that have been made
and fellowship that the elderly enjoy
after almost 2 years of consistent meals provided!

More additional activities have been 
taking some elderly to the hospital for emergencies (above...) 

...and some joys have been collaborating with Butch Mueller
to provide some elderly with beautiful new stoves.

(Before and after stove for Gumercinda & Alejandro in photos above)

Our last housing project from Mission St. Luke was also finished last week (above left)...
and yesterday, we lost one of our elderly (Román, 70 yrs old) 
to a sudden heart attack as he was coming home for lunch.
As hard as it was to walk with the grieving family today to the cemetery (above right)
to bury their husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend...
is this not the least I can do?
Is it not as valuable to these people to give them my heart, my emotions, my sorrow, my faith...
and not just material things like a stove, or a house, food or medical care?

"We just finished with Lent up through Easter
and we were asking to enter into the suffering of Jesus
and we can enter into the suffering of Jesus
through prayer for those in the world who suffer and are less fortunate than ourselves."
-Kim Lamberty (Catholic Relief Services)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mad Construction!

Last month we were blest to have the
Mission St. Luke / Little Man Ice Cream group
from Texas, Oklahoma, & Colorado
come and do some mad construction...
2 houses, 2 kitchens, and 1 bathroom in 4 days!

Day 1: New home for the Juarez family!

This elderly couple (with their daughter and 2 grand-daughters)
were so happy to finally leave their metal housing 
for a new wood home...
(Metal housing causes extreme temperatures:
really hot during the day and really cold at night).

Words cannot express how thankful this family is to have a new home!

Day 2: New house for Petronila & Rodrigo!

This couple may look familiar:
Last year, the Mission St. Luke group built them a much needed kitchen
and now this year, they have patiently awaited for them to come back
and build them a much needed new house:

(Above left) The old know, dried sugar cane stalks for the back wall?!
(Above right) Day 2 morning...demo and leveling the house floor.

The second house was finished by Wednesday afternoon (Day 3)...
many hands make light work!!

Some of you might also recognize this man from last year (above photo)-
Lorenzo, the blind widow who was the first house we ever did!

This year, Lorenzo did his own demolition of the kitchen
(even though I told him we would do it!).
He wanted to make our burden light... such are the hearts of the poor...
always looking for a way to give back.

Kitchen before...

(Day 3) Kitchen finished...

Again, words cannot describe what a joy it is
to seek out the "least" and forgotten of society
and give them what they most need...

Day 4: Our last project that we literally squeezed in at the last moment
was a new kitchen and new bathroom for this elderly couple, Alberto & Zotera, 
who have no way to improve their living conditions.

Alberto suffers from dementia and is frequently found out wandering in the community
and his wife Zotera broke her wrist 10 years ago
and for lack of finances, was never able to be operated on.
She lost her ability to weave and thus her ability to make money.

Providing Zotera with a new kitchen was the least we could do 
to make her life a little less burdensome...

Kitchen before...

Kitchen after...what a difference in her smile!  😊

A big THANK YOU to Butch Mueller from Paynesville, MN
who donated the stove and found workers
to build it in such a quick and efficient manner!

Last, but not about a bathroom makeover?!! 


The left photo was the old bathroom that this elderly couple was using
(with a perfect expression of how we all felt about it, compliments to Ronnie 😉)

The photo on the right is the finished product...
all completed within ONE day!

Again, a deep and heartfelt thank you to all who participated in this crazy but blessed week!  
Can't wait again for next year...