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Two middle schools in El Rosario???


First things first: Fundraising / Construction update

The Christmas tree was lit on New Years Eve!  By raising $20,000 we can begin construction!  Even though we’re still $50,000 short, our builder recommended starting now so we could get the foundation in before the rainy season.  We’ll be able to build through mid May.  If we can raise the rest before then, we can keep building and complete construction by August.


Construction is underway!

 Our favorite Instagram posts / photos:

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I recently took 85 year old Paula to visit a private doctor.  She broke her arm 6 months ago and like most people from Guatemalan villages, she went to the free National Hospital.  They X-rayed her arm and she had broken it in 2 places.  When I met Paula she had a huge plaster cast and her arm was so swollen she couldn’t move it without pain.

I was with three visiting nurses from the States who recommended she go back to the hospital the next day to have the cast taken off.

“We’re not supposed to go back for 2 weeks.”

“Go back tomorrow, and if they don’t remove the cast, let me know and we’ll get you to a doctor who will.”

Of course the cast was removed.  They gave her a prescription for pain medication and calcium pills for her Osteoporosis.  SHE’S 85 YEARS OLD!  The calcium pills are a total waste of money.

A month later the swelling had gone down but Paula was still in a LOT of pain.

When we visited a private Orthopedic doctor he X-rayed her arm again and as it turns out, the National hospital had not re-set the two bones she broke and they had healed out of place.  The only option for her constant pain is physical therapy for the next 6 months.

THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!  I’ve lost all the confidence in the National Hospital.  Almost everyone who visits comes home with a prescription for pain and vitamins.  The hospital is free but the prescriptions almost always cost around $50.  That’s a week’s income for most Guatemalan’s.

We’re desperate to build the clinic.  Once it’s built we’ll have our own, private doctor, once a week.  It’s not perfect but it’s a HUGE IMPROVEMENT on the crap healthcare they have now.

UPDATE:  I visited Paula the other day.  She was going on a walk and told me she had almost no pain.  She said she was glad to be able to get back to doing work around the house.  She felt that she wasn’t “doing her part.”

What we’re doing now / What we’re excited about: 

Three days a week for the last two months, the seven boys who will be attending The El Rosario Christian Academy, have been in “summer school”.  They’ve been studying and catching up, in preparation for the upcoming year.

On their first day I told them they would get a GREAT education, “but, that’s not why you’re here.  Do you know why you were chosen to study at the academy?”

They all looked at each other and shook their head.  They had no idea.

“You all know who Jesus is…but for the next three years, we’re going to get to know Jesus.  And if you want to get to know someone, you spend time with them.  Over the next three years together, we’re going to read through the bible, every word.  For the next three years we’re going to give God the best part of our day. So before class starts, we’re going to spend time with God.”

I explained, “You’re not here to get good grades.  You’re here to LEARN.  No cheating.  It’s a privilege to be here.  GRADES SIMPLY SHOW YOU AND I WHAT YOU KNOW AND WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN.  If you cheat, we lose that.  If you’re learning, the grades will come.  Trust me.”

For the last two months, the boys took turns writing on the whiteboard, why they were at the academy.

To talk with God every day.
To spend time with Him.
To Read His Word.

To learn.

What’s coming up?

Two middle schools in El Rosario???

I don’t even know where to begin.  Starting a middle school has given us a better understanding of how bad the education system really is in Guatemala.  There’s just no good news.

It all started with one of my 6th graders, Hugo.  He’s STRUGGLED with school his whole life.  He failed 8 classes in his first quarter last year.  Half way through the year something clicked with Hugo.  He made big improvements and he began to ENJOY LEARNING!  I made a deal with him, “If you graduate, I’ll pay for you to go to middle school, all 3 years.”

HUGO GRADUATED and I began to look for a middle school he could attend.  He was 17 years old and had failed at least 2 grades.  I interviewed 4 different “alternative-weekend” middle schools and settled on a small school that had great values.

The total cost to go to the middle school was $30 a month, about 1/3 the cost of a traditional school.  After meeting and talking with the principal I asked him if we might be able to work together.  I could continue to bring students if I could offer input on how the school could improve.


So, I interviewed 25 kids who wanted to go to middle school but couldn’t afford it.  My goal was to find 10 who REALLY WANTED IT.

I narrowed it down to … 16.  In faith, I told 16 students, TWELVE OF WHOM WERE GIRLS, that they had received a scholarship to study for 3 years.  I wish you could have been there.

In 10 days I’m meeting with the principal again.  We’re going to talk about moving the school to El Rosario next year.  (Shaking my head as I write this.)

Right now we still have 3 girls who need to be sponsored.  If you’re interested, send me a note and I’ll get you more information.

Hugo and his mom registering for middle school

Personal Life

This update is already super long so I’ll try to be quick.

Let me just start by saying, we’re doing really well.  I’M LOVING this age of my kids.  LOVING!

Tomorrow morning we’re getting up at 4:30am to drive to Rio Dulce for a night before we head to Tikal.  It’s the first family vacation we’ve had in 4 1/2 years, other than visiting our granddaughter Cora in Colorado.  Some very good friends of ours sent us on this trip and we are so grateful and so ready!

Tikal is the ruin of a Mayan city deep in the Guatemalan rain forest.  YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS OUR NEXT UPDATE WHICH WILL BE PACKED WITH PHOTOS!

We’re moving!  We get back from Tikal on Friday and we’ll start moving to Santa Isabel, Chimaltenango on Saturday.  We’re so busy, we need to be closer.  This will save an hour and forty minutes of drive time every day!  There was just no way around it.

We’re in a waiting pattern with our adoption.  Please pray for two specific little ones.  Pray they get amazing parents and selfishly, pray that we get to be those parents.

REMEMBER, in our next update we’ll have photos from Tikal, school will have started AND WE WILL HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT OUR MEDICAL MINISTRY YOU WON’T BELIEVE.  Seriously.  BIG NEWS!

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  1. Hi George and Vonda. I hope you and the kids are doing well. I would like to sponsor one of the middle-school girls you mentioned in your newsletter (great newsletters, by the way!). Please forward the information I will need to get started.

    Have a great week!

  2. Andrew! Wow! It’s been a long time bro. Thank you! I’ll email that information to you later today. I’ll be getting photos and profiles out to everyone this week.

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