Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Party 2017!

So this year, we decided to take the elderly out for a spin 
on Lake Atitlán again and enjoy lunch together out on the lake.

This year we had 2 bonuses:

We had AWESOME weather.....
and many people back in Minnesota collaborated
and sent down over 120 "ponchos" for the elderly to wear!

This year, we were given a yacht that could hold 300 people!
(We only had 115 people aboard this year):

Don't let their age fool you! 

The elderly were ready to board an hour early...
and it didn't matter if they were blind, 
in a wheelchair or walking with canes...
almost everyone came!

All my cooks and assistant cooks:

This year the lunch we provided was:
-2 "chuchitos" (a typical meal here which is similar to "tamales", but with meat inside)
-1 personal pineapple pie
-One soda drink

Everyone enjoyed the time on the lake, the company,
the food and the gifts!

Thank you to all those back in Minnesota who worked so hard
to provide these ponchos for the elderly...
Happy Advent and Christmas season to all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Casa Feliz wall progress!

The gratitude in my heart continues to overflow
and I thought it would be good to express some thanksgiving
during this holiday week.

Over the past 2 months, we've had 8 men work SO hard
to install about 530 feet worth of a security wall
around both buildings for Casa Feliz.

As you can see...the work has paid off....
it looks great!

Beginning stages (entrance):

Every 2 meters, they had to break up the old wall
to install support columns:

                 "How low can you go?" 😂                                Taking the old fences down (Below photo):

Entrance to Casa Feliz (before):


                 Left side of Casa Feliz (before):                                                        After!

           Left side of Annex dining room (before):                                               After!

A heartfelt thank you to all those who helped make this wall possible!
Please continue to keep the humble beginnings of Casa Feliz
in your prayers....

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Casa Feliz purchase & Minneamigos Mission trip! has taken on a new and fast pace since last month!

As of September 24th, 2017....LEAST became the owner of "Casa Feliz" 
& my father was able to be present at the signing of the new deed.

Jesus...we trust in You!

After the signing and final purchase, 
I spent the next 4 weeks having Guatemalan masons 
rip out the windows on the first level of the Annex building
and replace 28 metal-framed windows and 2 metal doors:

The Minneamigos group arrived October 3rd...
just in time to paint till their heart's content
and try to figure out how to repair the first level
(kitchen, pantry & hallway) from serious smoke damage.

After serving as an orphanage for up to 160 orphans from 1980-2000,
Casa Feliz was used as a shelter for families in San Lucas
who lost their homes in the landslides 
due to Hurricane Agatha in May of 2010.

Unfortunately, the Annex building suffered a lot of negligence
from those seeking shelter there and was eventually abandoned
until LEAST's purchase this year.

Kitchen at the time of the purchase (above):

It took Tom Wyrowski & our Guatemalan mason worker, Genaro
TWO days to chip away at the kitchen ceiling to get the char off (above left):

We had no other choice but break the chimney's on the second level
to unplug the chimney (above right).
It just happened to be plugged up by nothing other than 5 little chip bags (below): 😩

At least the smiling faces made the mess a little more pleasant to deal with!

It took 5 days to finish the stoves:

The finished kitchen!

The pantry also had a lot of smoke damage
and it was a fun learning adventure on how to NOT paint 
over smoke stained ceilings.

We also discovered (being that we are in the height of the rainy season)
how hard it is to work with completely saturated wood
trying to make shelves and tables...


(Almost) complete pantry next to the kitchen (below):

We put a little extra love into the renovation of the dining room
being that the elderly will spend most of their time there.

(Above left): The dining room at time of purchase.

(Above right): Mary & Mary Clare taking over as painting machines!

Getting ready for the "Mother Teresa" stripes (above):

Painfully worth it!
Finished dining room (below):

As life would have it, we were without water last week
in the entire village for SIX days (no comment) 😩

As soon as the water was turned back on,
I made sure to make use of the scaffolding brought to Casa Feliz
and was able to clean (maybe for the first time in 35 years?)
the "Good Samaritan" mural that Fr. Greg Schaffer made
in honor of what the orphanage stood for.

It was amazing the transformation the mural had just after a little soap and water.
I also found a hidden cross cemented in between all the pebbles of the mural
and it made me think about all the hidden beauties we miss in this life
because we don't take the time to pay attention
and attend to what God places before us each day.

I am so incredibly grateful for LEAST's first mission group
("Minneamigos" from North Mankato, MN)
who completely renovated the first floor of the Annex building
of Casa Feliz in 2 weeks.

Our bodies are exhausted, but our hearts are full
as we look back and give thanks for all that we could do for the "least".

A heart felt thank you to Tom & Mary Clare Wyrowski and Gary & Mary Zellmer
for your unconditional support, incredible generosity,
"slave-driven" hard work (partly because of my over-ambitious work goals)
and love for the Lord which inspired you to take this leap of faith with me.
I can't wait till the feeding center is up and running
and we are SO much closer to this goal because of each one of you! 

Please keep this ministry in your prayers!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Miracles still do happen...

It is with great joy and much anticipation that I am finally able to make this news public!

I have been holding in my heart for the past 3 years a call from the Lord
to turn the old orphanage here in San Lucas (called "Casa Feliz")
into a center for the abandoned elderly.
This building has the potential for many services-
(feeding center, nursing home and even hospice)...
but God will reveal His plan in His time.

As life would have it, the orphanage was roped into legal settlements
that the Mission went through after the death of Fr. Greg Schaffer
and in 2015, it was bound by law to be sold at a certain price...
which was way out of my potential or capacity!

Most of you know my history here in San Lucas,
but I began working with the elderly 2 years ago with the hope that God
would send a donor to help me purchase Casa Feliz.
Exactly 2 years after leaving the position 
as the volunteer coordinator of the Mission in San Lucas,
the Lord sent me a donor.

God willing the purchase will be finalized next month
and I can begin the work of converting the orphanage 
initially into our main center where we can continue to feed the elderly 
and bring them together for organized activities.

I've attached a video below (separated in 2 parts)
showing the history of the orphanage, 
the work that has been done with the elderly here over the past 2 years,
and ultimately the reason why I continue to live here in Guatemala:
to answer the Lord's call (Matthew 25:40)
and to honor the purpose which Fr. Greg wanted the orphanage to be used for
(to serve the "least"...the most poor and vulnerable in the community).

I feel that this project will bring to life once again the spirit of the Gospel
which Fr. Greg allowed to flow throughout Casa Feliz years ago.

As you can imagine, there is MUCH work to be done
in the restoring and preparing of the buildings for their new functions
(the building has been abandoned for almost 3 years).
The purchase includes (2) two-story buildings which together contain:
39 rooms, 2 kitchens, 2 pantries, 2 huge dining rooms,
7 private bathrooms, 4 communal bathrooms, a laundry room,
a basketball court and garden area.

If you feel called to support the humble beginnings of this incredible opportunity, 
you can donate the following ways:

1). (For smaller donations) Click the "donate" button on the top right to donate through Paypal.

2). (For larger donations) Make a check out to "Foundation for Saving Sight", place in the check memo "LEAST" and mail the check to:

Katie Wallyn 
1204 Lewis Ave.
Hutchinson, MN 55350

San Lucas continues to be blessed not only by the missionaries
who give their lives to work and live alongside the people,
but it is also blessed by people like you who feel called and inspired
to reach out and help us with your prayers and financial support.

May God continue to be glorified and the Heart of Jesus continue to be consoled
through our service to the poor in this humble village!

Part one:

Part two:

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!