“Once You Learn, You Never Forget How”

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“It’s a lot like learning to ride a bicycle”, that’s how one team member described setting up a medical clinic, “once you learn you never forget how”.  The medical team from the University of Missouri certainly has perfected the art during the past several years while working with ASELSI.

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This past week that wealth of experience was put to the test.  The twenty-two members of the team set up and tore down three different clinics in three different locations.

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On Monday the team was greeted with “open arms” in the town of Momostenango.  During a very busy nine-hour day, the team was able to treat more than one hundred twenty patients not to mention putting up a new roof for two local families.Image  Somehow during that hectic day Andreas found time to ride some kid’s bicycle.  I guess that makes Andreas the “spokes”person for the team?

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After a short night’s rest, the team set up the next clinic in the town of Pologua.  What started off as a slow day quickly turned into an extremely busy one, almost two hundred people were treated by the men and women from Missouri.Image  Of course during that wild day another couple of families were treated to new roofs courtesy of the team.

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Chuicha was the next destination for the “meds from Mizzou”.  Wednesday was only a half-day clinic but they still found time to treat another sixty patients.

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During a crazy three-day period almost four hundred Guatemalan men, women, and children were treated; but the numbers don’t really tell the story.  The past three days was a story about a group of young men and women from Missouri who sacrificed their time, their money, and their spring break to make a difference.  It was a story about a bunch of current and future doctors who not only shared their medical talents but also their hearts, their love for God, and many of their tears with the people of Guatemala.

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Spring Break? Are You Kidding?

Image     Like a bunch of caged animals the mission team from Oral Roberts University unleashed their fury on the boys and girls of the Belen School near Chichi.  Ok that might be overstating things a bit.  Anyway for a couple of hours, nine American college students shared their talents and their love for Jesus with 150 school kids from Chulumal, Guatemala.

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Testimonies, songs, games, were all part of the program and as you can see, the kids certainly got a kick out of it.

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The team from ORU is spending a week at ASELSI ministering to people and from the moment their “boots hit the ground” in Guatemala they’ve “been on a roll” (pun intended).

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Thank you ORU for sending these incredibly passionate and talented men and women to us.  They have certainly touched many lives.

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Spring break, are you kidding?  I thought the idea of spring break was to get out of the classroom.  Not for this group.  They decided to head back in.

There are 150 Guatemalan children who are very happy they did.

“Kounting for the Kingdom”

Image   For a few members of the Gateway Church mission team the day started off by counting gummy bears.  Actually they were children’s vitamins but they looked like gummy bears.  Hey whatever it takes.

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Whatever it takes was pretty much the theme of the day here at ASELSI.  Besides counting gummy bears, the forty-eight members of the mission team presented programs for the children, dug ditches, treated patients in the Father’s Heart Clinic, and of course shared the love of Jesus with everyone who walked onto the ASELSI grounds.

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Oh yeah, almost forgot, Wendy even cut hair.

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It was a busy day for the team and tomorrow promises to be just as busy.  All told we estimate more than two hundred Guatemalans were touched by these wonderful servants of God this morning.  But then again, who’s counting?Image  Actually the guys with the gummy bears.  Ok I can’t “bear” to write any more puns.  Thank you everyone for making ASELSI possible.  God bless you.

 

A Clear Vison of “The Vision”

   Image  The vision of ASELSI has always been one of “equipping the saints”.   Simply put, to train Guatemalans to help Guatemalans with their spiritual and physical needs.

Here we have the perfect example.

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     Twelve years ago Dr. Jim Gamble of Columbia, Missouri was asked by a friend to visit AELSI for a week and help the Father’s Heart Clinic with eye examinations.  “Dr. Jim” wasn’t too sure he was the man for the job.  Jim said he wasn’t the kind of guy who could help as many as he could for a week and then “drive off with so many more needing help”.

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     He decided to come on one condition, that he be allowed to set up a program to help people in need and to train Guatemalans to run that program.   Here we have the continuation of that program.  Using new equipment he just had sent from the States, Dr. Jim is spending this week training the clinic staff as to how they can use that equipment. 

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     Equipping the saints.  It has been and will always be the vision of ASELSI.  Dr. Jim Gamble “gets it”.   You might say he has a clear vision of the vision but then again what’d you expect from an optometrist.   A big thank you to Dr. Jim, his wife Anita, and their friends David and Jean Neely for all the work they’re doing this week in Chichi.  And of course another thank you to all of you who keep alive the vision of ASELSI with your prayers and support.

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Feet

 

     An old Irish proverb says, “your feet will take you to where your heart is”.   In other words, getting to the “heart” of things begins with the feet.  That certainly was the case at ASELSI’s Father’s Heart Clinic.

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     A couple of times a year the children attending the milk program are given an extra treat and walk away, or should I say carried away, with a brand new pair of shoes.  Of course first things first, washing those feet.   The mission team from Old Town happily supplied the hands to do the washing. Image The moms were more than happy to supply the feet.  But what about the shoes? Image The shoes of course came from you.  A pair at a time, dozens at a time, sent throughout the year from people who care about the children of Guatemala.

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    We would like to thank each of you individually but space doesn’t allow.  Lets just put it this way, “if the shoe fits, wear it” and just know your generosity has made a difference.  

 

     Finding the appropriate words to end this blog was quite a “feat” but here goes….

 

 

 

The pitter patter of little feet

 

Leave behind something dear and sweet,

 

A precious treasure for us to keep

 

The memories of your little feet.

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God bless you.

 

 

 

     

 

Santos

Matthew 11:28  “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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Santos would be one of those people who truly understands the phrase “heavy laden”.  This 36-year-old married man with three children spends most of his days carrying quite a load.  Santos is a “cargador”.  He makes what living he can carrying fruits and vegetables to the market in Chichicastenango.

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Today, a typical day, Santos was hauling potatoes but as Santos soon found out this was not a typical day.  On this day a smiling member of the Old Town mission team approached him with a ticket.  That ticket allowed him to sit down for an hour and have both his soul filled with the gospel and his stomach filled with a typical Guatemalan meal.

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Image  This was the first ever “Cargadores Appreciation Dinner” in Chichicastenango. For sixty minutes some of the hardest working, most underpaid and underappreciated people in the country of Guatemala were made to feel like kings. For an hour on a Tuesday afternoon, Santos and his fellow cargadores were served by the Old Town team and a group of young people from a local church.

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As he left dinner and headed back to the market Santos kept repeating “muy amable” , very kind.  We echo those words to those of you who are faithfully supporting the work of ASELSI.  Those of you who make things like this dinner possible.  Those of you who ease the burden of people like Santos and give them rest.  Thank you so very much.

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Gettin’ Dirty

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     Thomas Edison once said, “We often miss opportunity because its dressed in overalls and looks like work”.   For the past seven days, no opportunities were missed by the 12 member mission team from The Crossing of Columbia, Missouri.

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Their nickname, “The Dirty Dozen” was well earned.

     They earned it putting a new roof on the home of Manuel and Micaela.   They earned it building a stove for Juana and her children, Beverly and Edwin.  They earned it planting flowers in front of the Jesus’ Little Lambs Center.

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      Because of their efforts and sacrifice, Manuel and Micaela will sleep in a dry bed.  Juana, Beverly, and their mom will be eating hot meals.  The special needs children who attend the center will have the beauty of God’s creation greet them every morning.

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     Make no mistake, it was an exhausting week for “The Dirty Dozen” but at the same time the opportunity of a lifetime.  As one member put it, “it was as if a light bulb went on inside my head,  I can make a difference in this world”.  Light bulb, huh,  Thomas Edison would be so proud.  The entire ASELSI staff is very proud of our friends from The Crossing.  Thank you so very much.

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Time

   Image  Dr. Seuss once wrote, “How did it get so late so soon?”  John and Sharon Harvey were wondering exactly that while watching a slide show highlighting their 20 years in Guatemala.

    Image In January of 1993 John, Sharon, and their daughter Joy packed up the car and headed south from Columbia, Missouri.  Despite a few bumps in the road, the Harveys arrived in Guatemala and have never looked back.  Ok that’s not quite right, they looked back at ASELSI as twenty years flashed across the screen.  They looked back at the first time John spoke without a translator to a group of local pastors.  They looked back at the numerous “home visits” they paid to the impoverished people of Chichicastenango.  They looked back at the smiling faces of the first Milk Program graduation class.  They looked back at the opening of the new Father’s Heart Clinic.

     Image It was quite a celebration at ASELSI for the Harvey’s 20 year anniversary.  By the way, for the record, there are gifts for such an occasion.  The traditional gift for the 20th is china.  The “modern” gift is platinum.   China is symbolic of beauty, elegance, the delicate part of a relationship.  Platinum represents strength and endurance.

All words that aptly describe John and Sharon’s love affair with the people of Guatemala.

     Happy anniversary John and Sharon and may God continue to bless.

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Back to Class

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Outside it was nothing but grey skies and drizzle but inside, as you can see, it was all sunshine.

   Today was opening day for ASELSI’s “Little Lambs Center”.  Remember that first day back to class?  A day full of new shoes (and some not so new), new hopes, and new faces.  This will certainly be the case at the center this year as we welcome several new special needs students.  New faces to be sure, but our 23 students will be tackling some of the “old” subjects.   Reading, writing and yes “rithmetic” but no hickory sticks unless they are part of a science experiment or a prop for a Bible story.

     Each student spends four hours a week in the center, which is four hours more than most special needs students in Guatemala.  Often children with special needs aren’t allowed in public schools so coming to the center is a wonderful opportunity.   It’s an opportunity thanks to you, the supporters of ASELSI, who make all this possible.  Ok got to go, time for recess.

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Pastors’ Visit

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“We are all visitors to this time, this place.  We are just passing through.   Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”

Those are the words of an old Australian proverb that pretty much describe a group of visitors to the ASELSI mission.

    Five pastors from the Guatemalan Church of God denomination wanted to spend a few hours with the ASELSI staff to learn ways they can better serve their communities and their congregations.  Their emphasis this year is to become more involved in social work and to bring much needed relief to their areas.  Since ASELSI has been doing that for years the pastors thought ASELSI would be a good place to observe, to learn, to grow, to love….and then, of course, they returned home (reluctantly I’m told).  They promised to return.   It was a very good visit for all involved.

     The mission of AELSI has always been “to equip the Saints”, today that mission was accomplished.  We were honored to have these men in our presence.