The Return to Guatemala

9 04 2013

It feels great to be back.  We were ecstatic to be back in our home and have our own space (and beds) again.  We loved seeing Israel & Lily and their family as well as Suzanne and others that we have become close to during our initial years in Guatemala.

Benjamin was part of Centro Esdras’ 4th anniversary celebrations soon after we came back.  He is back in the office, helping with upcoming events as well as the ongoing Pastor’s Diploma course, and will be off next week to a workshop with leaders and pastors in Chichicastenango.

Daniel has loved being back at school with his friends.  In the Guatemalan system, he is in the ‘Kinder’ level.  He goes to a local private school so his mates are all Guatemalans and his Spanish comprehension is now very good.  He speaks well enough to communicate in Spanish and loves his school because ‘it is so much fun’.  Charmari does a little bit of extra work at home with him in terms of English reading and maths, but we are just happy that he is content and safe in a fun learning environment.

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Jonah has enjoyed his times at home with his mummy and especially his little brother.  We think that he might do a few days at the school later in the year, but at this stage he is happy at home.  Elijah keeps growing and learning.  He left at the young age of 4 months for home leave and has returned as a very different 9-month old who plays, interacts and sits at the meal-table with us.  At 10 months he now has two teeth, crawls quickly, adores his brothers, loves books, music and grown-up food (including curry – not with chilli just to add).  He sleeps 11 hours at night and is nearly walking.

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It feels like a new phase for Charmari this time round, especially as the early baby days are over.  She is part of a fortnightly mum’s group and is helping at Daniel’s school one morning a week with English.  She is also trying to find ways to get some childcare during the day so she can attend a weekly church prayer meeting as well as the monthly Centro Esdras prayer meetings in the city.  She is leading her first Spanish bible-study in a week at the Latin Link monthly meeting.  She is also praying for continued opportunities to connect with Guatemalan mums as well as missionary wives.

We are glad to be back and look forward to all that God has for us in the coming year.  He has taught us so much in the last few months, and we continue to grow and seek after his face and live with greater expectancy of seeing the Spirit at work in our midst.

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Four months of Home Leave

28 02 2013

From November 2012 to February 2013 we had our first experience of home-leave / furlough for four months. This was the period of Daniel’s main school break and also marked almost two years of us having been in Guatemala.

Our first month in the UK was very busy. We had interviews, presentations and Benjamin preached a few sermons at four churches during that time. We did a lot of travelling with the family and the boys adapted so well to so many changes.  There were a few weeks in November when Elijah was waking up 7 times in the night for feeds – aargh.  Thanks to Chris and Sarah Hill who put up with his crying at night during the worst of it.  On 2nd December, Elijah was baptised at St Paul’s Church in St Albans and we had a week’s break in the Peak District – beautiful and chilly!

The family in the Peak District

The family in the Peak District

Sarah & the boys

Sarah & the boys

During the three months we spent in the UK, we spent some wonderful times with family and friends in various locations including the South Coast, St Albans Herts, London, Wales and Manchester.  We were also hugely blessed and encouraged during the prayer meetings we attended and felt very supported by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christmas with Benjamin’s family was especially memorable as well as a special birthday outing to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth to celebrate Benjamin’s mum’s birthday.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Daniel & Jonah

Daniel & Jonah

We then had four weeks in Australia with Charmari’s family.  After the initial jet-lag adjustments (where the children woke up to start their day at 1.30am for the first three days), we had a very refreshing and relaxing time.  We especially enjoyed some of the summer weather after the England snow.  The boys loved reacquainting themselves with their cousins and had lots of fun times playing outdoors.  Benjamin and Charmari also were gifted an amazing 24 hours away at a posh hotel in central Melbourne – their first time without children for four years.  Very memorable indeed.  In February, Charmari’s parents hosted a fundraising event for Centro Esdras and we raised nearly $3000 AUD towards the work in Guatemala.

The Australian cousins

Australian cousins

Family Times

Family Times

As we had to route through the USA on our way back to Guatemala, we used the opportunity to visit one of Benjamin’s cousin’s as well as our good friends and Daniel’s godparents, Dave and Katrina in Redding California.  We also had the opportunity to be prayed for and prophesied over during our time with them and felt re-envisioned for the work ahead of us in Guatemala.

with Dave & Katrina

with Dave & Katrina

with Melinda

with Melinda





A Guatemalan Thank-you / Farewell Party (October 2012)

21 10 2012

One of the things that Guatemalan’s do well is a celebration!  And we decided to immerse ourselves in the culture and celebrate our first 2-years in Guatemala by inviting various people that have been important and influential to us in these early years.  We had a great time at the party held at our house in San Lucas.  About 35 people came.

We got one of our neighbours, who is from El Salvador to come with her huge cooking hot-plate to cook “Pupusas” (an El Salvadorian speciality – small corn tortillas with various fillings).  They all seemed to disappear.  Benjamin cooked a couple of puddings for afters and they were also a hit.

The Pupusas are ready

The Pupusas are ready

One of the characteristics of any Guatemalan celebration is a time for ‘speeches’.  Initially we spoke and thanked everyone for their kindness in welcoming us, for their support in tangible ways over the 2-years, for their friendship and of course how beautiful Guatemala is.  In turn, many of the guests spoke of us and what they saw and appreciated about our family.  In our culture, it is not always easy for us to receive compliments, but the Guatemalans are so genuine, warm and effusive in their words, and the language is so lyrical and beautiful in its expression of deep sentiment – it is heart-warming, tear-jerking and spirit-filled.  It is an amazing part of their culture that acknowledges and builds people up.  We are all up for that.

A time to share

A time to share





A Workshop in Chiquimula

13 10 2012

Last Saturday Benjamin went to a town in the eastern part of Guatemala with Israel and Lily (the Directors of Centro Esdras) as well as Trish who also works on a voluntary basis for CE.  Israel, Benjamin and Lily were teaching a group of about 45 church leaders from the town and surrounding area.

Lily in Action

Lily in Action

Benjamin was teaching on developing and maturing in our Christian faith, focussing on the three areas of relationship with God, relationships with Christians and relationships with those not-yet-Christian.

Chiquimula Workshop

Chiquimula Workshop

The first-ever Centro Esdras workshop we attended was also in Chiquimula, 18 months previous.  This second visit was in stark contrast in terms of how much we had progressed in our cultural acclimatisation, and the Spanish comprehension and conversation.  In fact Benjamin felt hugely empowered by the Spirit as he stepped up another level to teach theology to this group of leaders.

Leaders in Chiquimula

Leaders in Chiquimula

God has been incredible in assisting him to learn and now to teach in Spanish.  We are amazed at the changes as we look back over these first 2-years.  He is faithful.





Diplomado Graduation

4 10 2012

The first Centro Esdras diploma based in the capital finished at the end of September. The course ran over 7-months and we covered a range of materials in 8 modules. Subjects included Personal Spirituality, The mission of the church, and Designing Community Projects. We had about 23 attendees for the whole course, Israel and Lily were pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t the normal “drop-off” in numbers during the 7-months. The attendees were a mixture of Pastors and leaders. We divided some of the modules into two large groups, and at other times kept them all together in one large group. It was good to have a change in the group dynamics.

Graduation - The Pastors

Graduation – The Pastors

Part of the culture here in Guatemala is that of celebration. Often a good reason can be found to have a gathering of friends and family for a rites of passage or moment of transition (endings or beginnings). And the end of the Diploma course was another reason to celebrate. Some of the people who attended the course have not completed school, so it was a great opportunity to acknowledge all those who attended and how well they had done. It was an amazing achievement for many of them to be part of this group.

Graduation – The Leaders

For me, it was a privileged from start to finish to have the opportunity to teach on this diploma. I received such a warm welcome and openness to what was being taught. They were very gracious as I walked slowly through my sessions. This kindness continue throughout, and even at the graduation ceremony the classes made a ‘plaque’ for me to commemorate the way I had taught in a “open and honest way, willing to share my experiences and life with them”. This really touched me deeply, and it made me reflect on how could I be better at the “art of celebration” as well as acknowledging the impact of others on my life.

Receiving the love (and the plaque!)

It is great to see that through the process of teaching it is possible to be changed, and at its best, grown by the experience.





New video

30 09 2012

Latin Link Video

We are in this new video made by Latin Link. It shows the various interconnected relationships of Latin Link, as well as emphasising how important all our supporters are. Thank you!!

Give it a look when you get the chance, click on this link: http://vimeo.com/49383897





3 weeks with Latin Link team

3 09 2012

We have just said farewell to a summer Latin Link team that were in Guatemala to help in a children’s home. The five ladies (of a team of 9) stayed in our house, sharing bed and floor space of our master bedroom for the 3 weeks.  Benjamin was chauffeur for the team during the week.

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Latin Link Ladies – setting off for project

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Meal times

It was great to have them with us, and we felt privileged to be able to help them, but also to hear their stories and journeys.  The boys loved having them, and snuck into the girls’ room to have the odd ‘chitty-chat’, and sometimes to play the ukulele that one of them brought.  The boys were gifted the ‘guitar’ as they call it, on the departure of the team, and now we are the happy audience to the melodious sea shanties of the little ‘uns, accompanied by the lilting sounds of Hawaiian strings.

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Jonah and the Uke