If you’ve been to Guatemala during the rainy season, you know just how muddy Tactic can get – and the outdoor play area at Vida Chijacorral School is no exception! While it’s not usually quite as wet as it has been this year with Tropical Storm Eta, we still regularly expect many, many rainy days in our region!
We’ve often thought what a difference a covered sports field would make – a dry area for our kids to run and play both during their gym classes and during their breaks. We know that physical activity and recreation are vital for the healthy development of children.
Then Covid hit, and suddenly having access to a covered outdoor area has taken on an additional sense of urgency. For months the health officials have been encouraging us to move our social interactions outside whenever possible to reduce transmission. Hard to do in “the great white north” in the middle of winter – but definitely possible in “the land of eternal spring”!
Will you help us build a large, covered, open air structure over the existing playground area at Vida Chijacorral School? As part of our Build a Brighter Future campaign, this project looks ahead to the benefits of a dedicated area for physical activity for our students, regardless of the weather. But right now it also fills the need for a Covid-friendly space accessible to our largest school that we can use for classes and devotionals.
When it’s done, it will look something like this:
As an added bonus, this project will provide employment opportunities: jobs now for construction workers who have been struggling to find enough work, and future employment for some of our students. You see, covered sports fields are in high demand in our part of Guatemala, and we’ll be able to rent out the field once sports are given the green light once again.
How’s that for win-win?
A brighter future is something Carolina doesn’t take for granted.
As a young Q’eqchí female, the odds are stacked against her. Like many Indigenous Guatemalans, she lives in poverty in a remote rural village. She’s the oldest of a bunch of brothers and sisters. Her parents are barely scraping by, but they desperately desire a brighter future for their children.
Will you help build into Carolina’s brighter future? This Christmas you can double your impact – every dollar you give to Build a Brighter Future will be matched!
When she was little, Carolina’s parents sent her to the local rural elementary school. But there is no junior high anywhere near her village. So, in January, Carolina and her next-oldest brother started attending Vida Chijacorral.
It’s a long way! Carolina and her brother would walk for two hours just to get to the nearest bus stop that would take them to school. Her father, worried about the lonely, dangerous road, often joined his children before heading to his work as a day laborer in the nearby fields.
Carolina hadn’t missed a single day of Grade 8 – even the rainy season couldn’t dampen her love of learning and her desire to be at school with her classmates. Each day, she had pulled on her worn rubber boots and splashed along the muddy paths alongside her father and brother, knowing that at school she would have the opportunity to learn and grow.
But then came Covid. Two months into the year, schools were shut down, churches were shut down, public transportation was shut down, the economy was shut down. Carolina’s father was left without work, another unemployment statistic amidst the global pandemic.
As teachers around the world scrambled to connect with their students from a distance, Carolina wasn’t sure what this would mean regarding her chance for an education. After all, she lived in a place beyond electricity, beyond telephone lines, beyond the internet – even beyond a mobile signal.
But Carolina’s teachers hadn’t forgotten her. They made the long trek to her remote village. Some of them had never walked that far in one stretch before! They encouraged Carolina and her brothers and they prayed with them. And the teachers came bearing food baskets, study guides, and school supplies. Carolina could continue studying from home!
Carolina has put an amazing amount of effort into the assignments that her teachers brought her. She completes each activity diligently and enthusiastically. And she’s thrilled that she can continue her studies – her key to a brighter future – despite the distance and her family’s lack of resources.
Carolina is eager to return to school and rejoin her teachers and classmates. She hopes that school will be in session again in January. And so do we. But we know that even if schools remain shuttered, the work of building a brighter future for children in Guatemala won’t stop. Will you help us build a brighter future for Carolina, for her younger siblings, and for so many girls and boys like her?
Your gifts will be used to construct a water well and a Covid-friendly outdoor structure at Carolina’s school, in case schools are allowed to open with distancing restrictions – and to develop distance education resources in case they’re not. And your gifts will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $65,000!) until the end of the year.
Will you give to Build a Brighter Future today? Because girls like Carolina need you to keep their dream of a brighter future alive even in the midst of a pandemic!
It’s #GivingTuesday today, and usually we’d be asking you to give to our #NoHungryKids campaign. But this unusual year, you’ve already given so much as Impact Ministries pivoted to providing relief for the immediate needs of our communities: provisions for those evacuated by tropical storms, food baskets for families affected by pandemic lockdowns, all intensified by the underlying poverty so prevalent in this part of Guatemala.
So first, let us say THANK YOU. Thank you for all your donations, and thank you for all your prayers. You have allowed us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Guatemala, and it has not gone unnoticed. Impact is characterized in the community as a ministry that comes alongside during the hard times - something we have been able to do again and again thanks to your generosity.
But today, too, we want to lift our eyes beyond the immediate needs, and look towards the future of these same communities. What will it take to build a brighter future for families that will last after the food is consumed and the houses are rebuilt?
Impact Ministries is founded on the principle that quality of life grows out of restored relationship with Jesus Christ. Providing a solid academic education based on the foundation of God’s Word will build a brighter future for the children in our communities. We’ve been offered matching funds of $65,000 towards school construction and educational programs. Your impact will be doubled as you help us accomplish this life-changing goal!
In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing stories of how donations to our Build a Brighter Future campaign will be leveraged. Please watch for these stories, and pray with us that we will be able to build a brighter future for our communities!
Eliseo worked very hard to make it to junior high school, but Covid has threatened to destroy all that. As schools in Guatemala locked down, Eliseo was left without access to the technology to communicate with his teachers and receive his school work. The brighter future he was working towards suddenly seemed out of reach.
When his teachers came to bring a food hamper to Eliseo’s family, they learned that Eliseo and his younger sisters hadn’t been able to access any of the study guides at all. So the teachers made a plan to deliver the schoolwork to them.
Eliseo was so thankful when he received the home learning guides to allow him to continue his studies. He worked hard to catch up on his assignments.
But life got even more complicated. Eliseo’s Dad, who was a groundskeeper at a local farm, lost his job during the pandemic. This left the family completely without an income. Eliseo tried to do a few odd jobs to help out, and his father was forced to leave his family behind and search for work far away. He finally found a job as a gardener in the capital city.
Dad soon brought his family to Guatemala City to join him - the distance and transportation costs were just too high for him to make the trip home regularly, and he wanted his family together again.
Once again, Eliseo was unable to receive his home learning guides and his Grade 9 year was in jeopardy.
But as soon as they could afford to, Eliseo’s family got a phone so that the children could receive their study guides online. They didn’t want their children to lose the school year.
Eliseo’s teachers are continuing to support him so that he can complete the school year from far away, and he’s sending photos of his completed assignments back via WhatsApp, which is the cheapest way to communicate in Guatemala. Eliseo’s brighter future is back on track.
Thank you for building a brighter future for kids like Eliseo who have seen their lives turned upside-down through Covid, lockdowns and economic hardship! Although the supports might be happening from a distance, you’re still providing access to academics, a loving community, and affirmation of God’s faithfulness.
Until the end of the year, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $60,000!) to Build a Brighter Future for Eliseo and children like him. And some of those dollars will be going specifically to develop distance education resources to allow students like Eliseo to continue learning even if schools don’t immediately reopen in January.
Back in 2007, Impact Ministries was running an afterschool program in San Antonio. One of the children who came was 6-year-old Coralia.
Little Coralia wasn’t impressed: “I had to walk so far. Also, it meant a double effort for me, studying at school in the morning and studying in the project in the afternoons.” But that soon changed. Coralia liked meeting team members from the US & Canada, including the family who would sponsor her for many years, as well as others from her own community. “I received a lot of love from the people who were part of it day by day,” Coralia says.
And love was a big deal for Coralia. Coralia felt unloved in her family. Born with health issues to a single mom, Coralia was often left in the care of her grandmother while her mother went to find work. “As I was growing, my whole family looked down on me,” recalls Coralia. “Each one showed me that they did not love me, including my mother.”
As Coralia outgrew the public school in San Antonio, she started attending Vida Chijacorral. “I was so happy!” says Coralia, “If I had not gone to Vida Chijacorral School, I would not have been permitted to continue studying.”
But Coralia didn’t outgrow the health issues. She often had difficulty breathing, and her family couldn’t afford the recommended operation. Weeks into Junior High, she was hospitalized and critically ill.
“Although it was very difficult, now I realize that the Lord always has good plans,” says Coralia. “Through this illness, my mother met the Lord.” People from church prayed for Coralia, and taught her Mom how to talk to God too. The next day, Coralia was stable and ready to go home! And as Coralia saw her Mother’s faith, she too, accepted Jesus. “My Mom began to pay attention to me and to love me,” says Coralia, “She is still faithful to the Lord.”
After graduating from Grade 10, Coralia continued on to the new Teacher Training Program that Impact Ministries was offering at her school. She graduated with honors in Early Childhood Education, and was soon asked to come on staff at the Vida Children’s Home.
Now Coralia is no longer a student, but a fellow worker with Impact Ministries. As she shares love with abandoned little ones, she reflects: “God knows that His plans and purposes in my life are so beautiful and all I can do is say thank you.”
Coralia turns 20 soon. As Impact Ministries is celebrating 20 years, we’d like to thank you for coming alongside children like Coralia through the years. Coralia is passing on the love that you shared with her!
(If you received our Fall Newsletter, you’ve likely already read Coralia’s story. But it’s such a beautiful example about how your love for our children multiplies over the years, that we just had to share it again. We invite you to continue the impact for children just like Coralia who are growing up with Impact Ministries right now.)
We’re collecting photos and stories to continue celebrating 20 years of Impact!
Submit your team photo, favourite memory or Impact photo by September 30th for a chance to win “barely valuable prizes” – like your very own Impact Ministries beanie hat.
Winners will be randomly chosen from each category, so feel free to enter more than once (only one prize per person though)
Here’s the categories:
A google account is required to use this submission form. If you don’t have a google account, please email your photo or story to email@example.com and include the category, the approximate date of the photo or story, and your name and address.
(Impact Staff: you can definitely submit photos and stories, but sorry, you can’t win any prizes)
Can you relate? The other day, one of our young leaders said that he had made many plans for 2020. Of course, these plans were now not working out.
But then he felt God speaking to him. “Sorry about all your plans,” God seemed to say, “but the thing is, I had also made plans for you, and My plans for you are different from the plans you made for yourself. So, could you let go of all your frustrations about not fulfilling your plans, and submit yourself to My plans for you?”
Isn’t that good?
In many ways, that explains how Impact Ministries has needed to approach this year as well. Many, many of our plans flew out the window, as schools and churches were shuttered, mission teams were cancelled, and lockdowns became the new norm.
But we bow our knee to the heart of God and are committed to listening to His voice as He directs our steps. He has this year in the palm of His hand and He is hard at work.
In Guatemala, Covid-19 restrictions have caused us to approach ministry creatively. Our teaching staff are showing great dedication and commitment to their students with whatever means possible. Some students are reached during food hamper deliveries (which include study materials for our students), others through their parents’ WhatsApp or phone messages. Some teachers are sending greetings and study materials on a daily basis for students who have online access.
In fact, out of necessity, we have opened a new “technology” department in Guatemala with two full-time staff. Some of you may have joined us for a Sunday morning worship service online. This is just one of the ways that we are using technology to stay connected. The Rio de Vida Church has been streaming services and Bible studies.The Vida Schools have just started streaming weekly devotionals for the children. And our teachers have taken on a new and exciting project of putting curriculum for every subject online.
The school administrative team has formed small groups of teachers according to their subject strengths. Each group is working together to make outstanding lesson plans, dynamic activities and excellent evaluation processes. Even if classes go back to normal next year, we expect this to be a great resource for all our teachers in every one of our schools.
While this is definitely not what we had planned for this year, we choose to be thankful for the good that is coming out of it. Our mission is not cancelled – it just looks a bit different! We ask you to continue to pray for our students and teachers, and for the ministry as a whole.
(This fall, we are also planning to celebrate Impact Ministries’ 20th Anniversary online – watch for a “Save the Date” email coming soon!)
Last week, Pastor Mynor joined his wife, Principal Aydee, in delivering a food hamper to Alejandra, one of our Grade 3 students. It was such a long walk, all uphill, as Alejandra lives in a mountain village far from the school.
When they arrived, Mynor & Aydee found a pretty desperate situation. The single mom had fallen ill, and there was no food in the house.
The mother told them, “My 8-year-old has learned in the school that we have to trust God. She told me, ‘We need to pray and God will get us through.’” Alejandra had been reading the Bible to her mom (since her mother can’t read), and she had been showing her mom how to pray.
“We think she’s five. She was found wandering around barefoot and in her underwear. Her mother abandoned her some time ago and no one wants her”
“He’s six and his little sister is 14 months. They’re both terribly malnourished and he doesn’t talk. They were removed from their home because of physical abuse”
“She’s six and her mother abandoned her with a boyfriend she’d only known for a few months. He now fears violence against himself and the child”
For some months now, the Vida Children’s Home has been operating – as planned – as a Baby Home. Abandoned infants have found love and refuge in the arms of our nannies. Some only needed sanctuary for a short time. Others will grow up as part of the Vida Children’s Home family.
But change was in the air this spring. In the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, we suddenly started receiving calls about children – not babies – who are neglected, abused and abandoned. And we felt that God was moving us into the next phase of the Vida Children’s Home.
The nannies have their hands full! Several of the new children are malnourished and needed medical attention. One of the girls speaks only Q’eqchí, and the boy doesn’t speak at all. None of these older children have ever attended school.
We actually now have two new nannies who are solely in charge of the three oldest children. Both have worked as teachers, and one is also a nurse. The children are receiving remedial classes and are learning how to play.
The children are adapting well and are happy, though we know there must be a lot of emotional pain buried deep inside. The older boy has taken to Graciela, our cook and cleaning lady. He sits on a stool in the kitchen to be close to her. The girls are enjoying each other’s company and love their nannies.
Please pray for all eleven little ones currently at the Vida Children’s Home in Guatemala, both the babies and the older children. Please pray for our nannies and all the staff. And please consider coming alongside the Vida Children’s Home as an Orphan Care Champion.
Would you consider adding a monthly gift at whatever level is right for you?
Teachers around the world are struggling to figure out how to best support their students through this pandemic, and our teachers in Guatemala are no exception. But can you imagine preparing lessons for home learning when some parents can’t read or write?
Grade 2 teacher Grisley Suc explains how the Vida Teachers have developed study guides, and how they’ve provided photocopies to the families so that the students can keep learning at home with the help of their parents, but she adds, “I know that in some cases this is difficult, because some parents cannot read.” Grade 3 teacher Hilda Quej echoes the sentiment, “Home is difficult for some students because some parents don’t know how to read to be able to support the tasks, and the students aren’t yet able to guide themselves through the tasks on their own.”
“I teach in the stage of learning to read and write,” explains Yenifer Cú, who also teaches Grade 2, “It’s worrying and sad for me, since before all this situation, the students were making good progress, but now it has been limited. I thank God for technology, although many of my students don’t have access because they live in areas that are too remote or they simply don’t have the medium.”
Access to technology is limited, though teachers have been able to connect to some students through phone, text messages or WhatsApp, a common way to communicate in Guatemala.
Grade 1 teacher Paola Ac tells how she brought a few weeks of schoolwork to a student whose parents don’t have a phone for daily contact: “For me, that day was a great blessing to see him very well, and the huge smile on his face was enough to forget the long journey I had made to get to his home.”
We are so thankful for our teacher’s efforts and creativity as they maintain contact with our students during this time. We hear from our students that they are washing their hands and not going out on the street, they are praying at home and they are even singing – but they are also a little bit scared.
We are also thankful to all of you who are supporting a class through Impact Ministries. You are supporting our teachers and our students at this time.
All of our teachers are looking forward to the time when they can be back in the classroom with their students. They can’t wait to be able to see their smiling faces and enjoy devotionals together accompanied by the children’s voices.
In the meantime, the teachers are praying for their students, and supporting them as best they can from a distance.
As Grade 4 teacher Mayco Xoná says, “Each of these days have been filled with a lot of learning and drawing near to God.” May God continue to draw our teachers and our students near to Him!
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