Sunday, July 22, 2007

Come to my house this Saturday

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
Ever since we've been here in Guatemala, Sonia, one of the home mothers, has been inviting us to come see her house. The plans never worked out until yesterday.

We were humbled and amazed as we walked through the "gate" to her house. She, her husband and four children rent a small piece of property in Villa Nueva. The house has a concrete floor and basically no walls (they use sheets hung over a rope to separate the rooms).

Even so, Sonia (and her family, pictured at left) was so excited to show us her home — everything from the chickens in the back to the bedroom that all 6 of the family shares. She even made coffee to go along with the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies we brought.

Her home, though it is meager, holds a lot of love. We were grateful to make the connection with Sonia and to see her family, but we also got a stark picture of what most of the kids at the home are coming from. For most of them, their previous lives were filled with abuse, neglect and pain. What a privilege to be part of God's gift of new life to them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
The other day we were playing cards with Sammy, an eight year-old here at the home, and he asked us about our honeymoon.

He was very interested about all of the details of where we went and what we did. We told him that we had gone to San Antonio, TX...which of course he had never heard of.

Then we asked him where he would go on his honeymoon when he got married. He thought for a good two seconds and confidently replied, "to the waterpark, of course," like there couldn't possibly be a better place in the world.

After about two more seconds he simply returned to our game of Uno Attack. If only all of life were so easy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SuperHero Party

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
From Superman to Catwoman...from the Hulk to Minnie Mouse...and everything in between made up our first ever SuperHero Party. The fiesta included dressing up in your favorite SuperHero costume (or any other costume for that matter), watching "The Incredibles", and eating a plethora of snacks and desserts.

We dubbed ourselves "Super Double C". For close-ups of our superhero uniforms and powers, as well as our fellow superhero colleagues, click on the above photo.


Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
After last week's Intern relationship skit, the older kids decided it was their turn. They approached Caleb saying that they wanted to put on a hilarious drama-sensation for the next group of gringos that came.

Caleb didn't hesitate to jump on that train. So, this past week we practiced with the older kids during the nights on another funny relationship skit.

In short, there was a lot of laughter...during the practices, while putting on the costumes, and for the actual performance in front of their peers and the gringos.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ready to get married...?

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
Though I've already got the ring, the Guatemalan cooks at the children's home now think I (Christy) am ready to get married...because I've had a breakthrough in tortilla-making.

I've been going in to help Minga and Patti in the kitchen a couple times a week, and I've been trying to perfect the art of making a tortilla. Patti is amazing; she told me she makes about 500 tortillas a day (that's right, a day!). So, I've been working and working, and I think I've finally figured it out.

Patti makes it look so easy, but it's really a complicated process. Getting the right amount of dough, having it not stick to your hands and actually having it come out in a shape somewhat close to a circle are only a few of the obstacle's I've overcome.

But I've made it. I know this because Patti told me I need to learn to flip the tortillas on the stove that they cook them on. I figure that if she thinks I need to learn that, then she thinks I can actually make them! What a sweet victory!

PS-Check out the flickr site for more on how to make tortillas.

Monday, July 9, 2007

1st Birthday!!!

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
On Sunday, we celebrated Javier's and Salomón's birthdays, complete with cakes, songs, and presents. Javier turned 11 years old and Salomón turned 14.

Javier only came to the Children's Home in April. He didn't even know when his birthday was, let alone ever celebrated it.

Caleb sat with Javier on the bus to church. Javier's face beamed the entire day as people wished him a happy birthday. He was so excited to tell Caleb that he was going to eat at McDonalds for his birthday....oh the simple and sweet things--it was beautiful!

Relationships, relationships

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
On Saturday night, we put on a Special Dinner for the older kids, complete with candlelit tables, falling stars, a lasagna dinner, and plenty of entertainment.

Everyone dressed up in their "Sunday-best" for the event. We had a photo-shoot-extravaganza before and after the dinner.

The team of interns served as waiters, as well as playing unforgettable roles in a crazy dating skit. We played a version of the Newlywed Game and shared from our personal stories about relationships.

Be sure to check out more pics from the Special Dinner by clicking on the one up above.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Another year of independence

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
The July 4th party went off without a hitch yesterday. The kids loved the games (three-legged race, dizzy-bat and wheelbarrow race), as well as the time in the pool and facepainting (see Javier and Giovani at right).

They also scarfed down the hamburgers and apple streudel and homemade ice cream. The carnival games were a great success, as well as the fireworks to end the night.

I must say that it was one of my most enjoyable, and definitely most memorable 4th of July's. One of the best parts was the thank you note left by our cleaning lady (who we invited to attend) thanking us for the day and congratulating us on another year of independence!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Man

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
Since today is the 4th of July, we're having a huge party for the kids, home mothers and staff here at the home.

To promote the event, Caleb dressed up as "Independence Man" and surprised all the kids at lunch with an announcement about the party. His costume included a tablecloth-cape, shoestring-headband and professionally done face paint (by his wife...not so professional!).

More info and pics to come of the party.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

English Classes

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
Caleb has been teaching English classes to the younger children of the Home. This week we have been learning about the parts of the body and clothing.

From dramas and modeling to crafts with clay, the kids are enjoying the quite crazy English classes with Caleb. In this picture, Javier is working hard on his "My Body" Project.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Supermom in Guate

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
It's not a bird, it's not a's SUPERMOM in Guatemala!

We have really enjoyed having Christy's mom at the Children's Home this week. From day one, the kids latched on to my "suegra" (mother-in-law) and affectionately called her "Supermom" because that is what Caleb calls her.

We have played everything from "Big Mama" to foursquare, pushed swings several thousand times, and had sleepovers. It was also really special for her to be here during the STOMP Praise Night.

As you can see, we also had the chance to visit Antigua and see the beautiful sites.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

STOMP Praise Night

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
We used everything from kitchen utensils to basketballs to paint and glue last night for our STOMP Praise Night.

We really wanted the kids to have an experience with God that was different from just singing a couple songs and having a devotional. So we planned our STOMP Praise Night with different interactive activities (including their own STOMP rhythms for a song and making the sounds of a storm) to show the kids that God has a rhythm for their lives that is different from the rhythm of the world.

The kids really got into the mood of the whole night, and the Spirit was definitely at work. Would you pray especially for the hearts of Maria, Debora and Damaris?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pedo the Snail

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
The boys found a snail yesterday in the garden. It became their mission to get the snail out of its shell.

They called us both over, and we even got a bowl of water to put it in, as they said that would help it come out. Come to find out, it's a land snail and we almost killed it!

The boys named the snail Pedro, but Caleb started affectionately calling it "pedo" (the Spanish word for "fart"), because of its distinct stinch. You can barely see little Pedo there in the picture.

We enjoyed showing Pedo off to the rest of the children throughout the afternoon, as well as scaring some of the girls to death!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Squatter's village

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
We went to the squatter's village with the Calvary team this past Sunday, and it was quite an experience.

To start out, it was raining, so the unpaved, steep streets were quite an obstacle for the van.

Being there and seeing it all really made me realize what a blessing the children's home is for the kids who live there. Their lives are drastically different because of the home.

But I know that the Lord loves kids everywhere, and I'm so glad we got to go and experience giving his love to the kids.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
A team from Calvary Community Church in Houston is here blessing the kids with an ArtReach project.

Yesterday, over 200 kids came to participate. Each day, they have an art project that relates to God's love for the kids. Though it was pretty chaotic, it was a lot of fun.

Please pray that the kids will see God's love for them in these projects.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Just hanging out

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
I spent pretty much all day yesterday at the little girls' house, just hanging out.

I laid on the floor and colored in coloring books with Emely (pictured right) and Karla. I talked with Francis, the home mother, and Jenifer as they cleaned the kitchen.

I helped Beth braid Yessica's hair into a million little braids. I read picture books to the kids and sang along with Christian music on the radio.

At the end of the day, I felt amazed at what a smile, a hug, an hour spend with someone can mean.

I'm used to deadlines and tasks and checklists. But here it's all about quality time, conversations and hugs. It's been difficult to get used to, but I'm a better person for it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hospital and a Happy Meal

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
We had to take Josué, one of the youngest kids at the home, to the hospital today. He's had a fever for almost a week and the antibiotics he got at the clinic weren't helping get it down.

Sooo..Beth, Josué and I piled into the truck with Vivian and had a horn-honking ride to the hospial, a very small building in the middle of Villa Nueva. When Vivian said we were there, I was sure she was kidding.

Of course there was no parking, so Vivian dropped us off and Beth and I went in with Josué to get him into the emergency room. I was expecting a long wait and lots of sick people...but the waiting room was just about empty.

After getting down the correct information (quite a task between the two of us and the hospital receptionists!), we were ushered right into the room.

After the exam, we had to wait 45 minutes for the blood sample to be run, so we walked to McDonalds (where Vivian had parked) for lunch. Josué was ecstatic about his Happy Meal ("cajita feliz" in Spanish), especially the toy.

It turns out he doesn't have an infection, and we have medicine for his fever. All in all, it was a crazy adventure!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


You probably heard on the news today about the 6.8 magnitude earthquake ("terremoto" in Spanish) that hit right off the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

We were in the cafeteria serving lunch (one of my most favorite things) when all of the sudden I felt a little off-kilter and then realized what was happening when Minga (the cook) pointed to a table that was shaking. We all just kind of froze and waited to see if it would get worse or ease off.

Luckily, it stopped and we resumed our normal flow of lunch. The only difference was that the kids' lunch table conversations revolved around which was more dangerous, a hurricane or earthquake (both of which Guatemala has been devastated by in the past).

Everyone thought it was great that it was my first "temblor" or tremor, and a few even said Guatemala was up for a big quake soon (like there's any way of knowing!).

We're safe here, with no problems. Thanks for all who called or emailed to check on us!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Two nights ago we learned that Edgar, a 17-year here at the home who is studying to be a chef, would most likely be leaving the next morning, unless the Lord worked a miracle in his heart. It was late when we found out, and we were crushed.

Caleb has connected with Edgar multiple times on multiple trips through playing cards (of which Edgar still has 3 decks that Caleb left him over 2 years ago) and hanging out. Needless to say, Caleb could hardly sleep. We sat outside the boys' dorm and prayed, leaving it all in the Lord's hands and crying out for a miracle.

The next morning, Edgar came by to thank Caleb for a note he'd written him at 1:00 a.m., as well as to say he wanted to talk to Kendon and Wendy. He said he wanted to stay, though he realized it would be hard for him. He admitted that he sometimes reacts with anger, which was a huge step.

So for now, Edgar is still here. We played cards with him last night and he seemed in great spirits. We praise God for His faithfulness and His work in Edgar's heart. But we know that Edgar still has a long way to go. Would you pray with us for this precious child of God? Pray that the love of God would envelope him; that he would open his eyes to see the love that the staff here has for him; that he would turn his anger and frustration over to God, in return for peace and patience.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Reaching out...

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
As we have started connecting with the kids again (or for the first time, in Christy's case), our hearts are truly broken for some of the older kids. While they may appear content on the outside, they still deal with much hurt, rejection, and anger.

While we love playing and being silly with the little ones, God has set our hearts on reaching out to those that are withdrawn and maybe even overlooked by many.

Would you please pray with us for the older kids at the home? Here are a few names specifically...Edgar, Esdras, Eslin, Ibet, Pablo, Franki, Salamon, Roni...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A tongue-waving good time

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
After an amazing 1st anniversary, we are back here at the Children's Home. It's great to be back with the you can see! We have been serving in the kitchen, tutoring, shopping for groceries (for the 49 kids at the home), and loving on the kids.

We are really excited that all the summer interns have now arrived. We have had the privilege of leading worship during our orientation together. With a team of over 10 of us, we are already making plans for some amazing fiestas with the kids!

PS-If you'd like to see more pics, just click on any of the ones we've posted, and it will take you to another site where we've posted some more pics.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

two crazy love birds

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
We just returned from leading worship for the Central American New Life missionaries at a beautiful little town on the edge of Lake Atitlan. We couldn't have found a better place to spend our numero uno you can see!

We're glad to be back at the Children's Home helping in the kitchen, tutoring, and getting ready for the 7 summer missionaries that will arrive on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Please pray for us

Originally uploaded by ccswaringen.
Our first assignment when we get to Guatemala is to lead worship for a retreat of missionaries serving in different parts of Central America with New Life, the mission we are serving with for this summer.

We are humbled by this opportunity and seek to be vessels of the Lord's goodness to these missionaries.

Would you pray for us in this? Please pray for:

• a restful and relaxing time
• the Holy Spirit to wash over us and renew us
• safe travel for all

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Home away from home

In just three short weeks we'll be on a plane headed for Villa Nueva, Guatemala, a suburb of Guatemala City. We're heading to New Life Children's Home, a home for over 40 orphaned or abandoned Guatemalan children run by missionaries Kendon and Wendy Wheeler.

They don't call the home an "orphange," because that's really not what it is. It's a home. The kids celebrate birthdays with cake and singing. They jump on a trampoline and play cards. They go to school and get help with their homework. They eat lunch and wash clothes and do their chores with their 40+ other "brothers" and "sisters."

So on May 31, we'll leave the place that's become our home — the Rio Grande Valley — and make our home in Guatemala for the summer. It's not easy to leave the place that has, in just under a year, become home to us. We'll miss the raspas (snow cone-like treats that go far, far beyond what any snow cone has ever imagined achieving), the palm trees, the signs pointing to Mexico with a "7" beside them (the number of miles we live from the border). We'll miss friends that we've made, our church that we've come to love. We'll miss the comfort of speaking "Tex-Mex," and being able to throw in words in English and Spanish at the same time, whichever comes to our head first (a luxury we will not have in Guatemala)! We'll miss the 85 degree mornings and 100 degree afternoons, the high humidity, the oppressive heat...oh wait, we actually won't miss those!

But what we don't want to miss is keeping in touch with our wonderful friends and prayer partners, and we don't want you to miss out either. So, we've stepped farther into the world of Internet communication than ever before...we started this blog! We hope it's a way that we can stay connected to you, and a way that you can feel a part of what God's doing in Guatemala. So check it often, and we'll try to have new pictures, info, and maybe even a video or two. And more than anything, we ask you to pray — for us, for the home, and mostly for the kids, that they would experience the love of Jesus in a new and fresh way every single day.