Apr 18, 2017
February - Sixes Road UMC Woodstock GA - new team!
Team leaders Charles and Lori Chase. Charles has been a good friend for over 20 years. He and his wife Lori are special people to Carroll and I and are very experienced mission team leaders. Some of their projects include; an amazing hexagonal (5) swing bonfire pit, girl & staff eyeglass ministry, staff BP testing (which uncovered a problem I am having), awesome VBS and outside project including a stove install in Peronia.
March - Coats Baptist Church - Coats NC - new team!
Team Leader - Diane Allen. This group sent project money that got the office addition off the ground. This team was filled with construction talent and we had planned to have them do a lot of the work on the office. However, the local contractor (from our church) didn't waste any time. It didn't work out the team was able to do much of the construction but must have dumped 1000 wheelbarrow loads of fill dirt! Initially, they planned on assisting with the Vocational Building we are planning, but the dream grew beyond what we were thinking so much more planning is needed. They made good use of their time with many activities with the girls, painting, building another swing frame we are blessed to have scattered around the property. In addition, they did outside ministry.
March Team - Mosaic Church - Winter Garden FL
Team Leader - Kerri Ann Hayes. Kerri Ann brought a passionate group. This was their second trip. Their focus was a little different than a typical team trip. Last year their focus was almost solely on ministering to the staff and girls. This year they focused more with the girls. But they did many programs for the staff such as led a Team Building seminar. They still found time to interact with the girls and paint. Last year's team Leaders Carolyn and David Hill once again came. You may remember David has a ministry: Iron Men of God. Check out their awesome ministry at ironmenofgod.com
March Team- Crist
Sharlene Crist - Team Leader. George and a small team proved you don't have to be large in numbers to achieve a substantial amount. They finished up painting some of the girls rooms, installed new CCTV cameras, installed a stove at Pastor Donavon's ministry in Peronia and many other items. The Crist's have been active in PoP for a long time.
Apr 17, 2017
The Shadow of the Almighty in Central America
If you have ever tried to describe an awesome experience to those who were not present or have not seen what you saw, you will know how we feel when attempting to explain our week at Prince of Peace Home for Girls (PoP) in Guatemala. Relating what it’s like to see the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands or Mount Everest is a similar, yet less difficult effort, for our trip not only involved the physical sights and sensory experiences but had the added dimension of spiritual elements that are hard to convey. Suffice it to say that God showed up in amazing ways that each member of our team was able to see and feel. All of us brought our own misgivings and doubts, and most of us were on our first mission outside of the US.
PoP is a home and school for girls, ages 2-22, who come from desperate situations that include being orphaned, being abused, and being destitute with nowhere to go. For over 30 years, the home has grown into a haven for giving those girls (currently over 50 of them) a safe place to grow up, be educated, and to learn of God’s love for them. We would encourage everyone to see their story at www.princeofpeacegt.com and to consider supporting this wonderful work that lives out the true message of our Christian faith.
Our team of 15 arrived with a fairly ambitious set of goals that included a) building a special, outdoor gathering place that features 5 large swings and a central fire pit, b) conducting several Vacation Bible School sessions for the girls at P o P, c) delivering and installing a special stove to a designated, impoverished family, d) taking food supplies to several other needy families in a gang-infested zone of Guatemala City, e) providing optical screening and glasses for all of the students and staff at P o P, f) presenting the girls with special donated gifts of sports equipment, musical instruments and Quinceanera dresses (for a special treat, just Google it), but most of all, g) to spend quality time with the young ladies and share the love of Christ with them.
Our hosts at PoP were the Directors of the home, Mike and Carroll Brewton, and Team Coordinator, Maricruz Itzep. The Brewton's lived in the Woodstock, GA area before going to Guatemala 2+ years ago. Maricruz has had very special ties to Prince of Peace for many years. These are amazing people with inspiring commitment that is demonstrated in all they do. They embraced us with Christian love and allowed us to get close to their hearts as they not only accomplished their very full slate of “normal” tasks, but also were dealing with an extremely difficult situation during our mission week. One of the girls, only 9 years old, was in the public hospital with a very serious, life-threatening ailment that was not getting proper medical attention. Through an amazing movement of God’s hand, little Imelda was transferred to a high-quality private pediatric cancer hospital and started receiving much better treatment. Her condition is still very serious with ongoing efforts to diagnose and treat her. In all of the unfolding drama, we saw the Brewton's and many of the staff members of PoP show why God has placed them where they are. There were so many displays of unconditional love and untiring efforts to care for this precious, helpless little girl. God’s shadow was unmistakably real to all of us as we beheld these events and were allowed to be a part of what was happening in the life of the home.
There were innumerable “great” things about our trip, but none was better than the love and hope we got to see in the eyes of the girls of PoP. Most of them have had devastating and tragic lives before coming to Prince of Peace. We saw how God’s love, demonstrated through kind and compassionate people, has put joy and peace in the hearts of these precious young ladies. Each of us had many opportunities to connect with several of the girls and staff members, and all came away with a new awareness of the power of His love. We were witnesses of what the Apostle Paul meant in I Corinthians 13…”faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” We felt we were in the shelter of the Most High among these girls in that very special place.
We are so grateful for all of the “extended” team members who generously made it possible for us to go on this wonderful mission. Lots of special people prayed and donated, many anonymously, to enable us to have the opportunity to see, feel and experience the incredible blessings of this week in Guatemala. Those sacrificing people were greatly used by our Lord to accomplish many wonderful things in the lives of every person who went and every life impacted by what we were able to do while there. May you all feel His blessings in every part of your lives.
If you’ve read this far, you can see that it is, indeed difficult to truly convey an experience such as our amazing trip to Guatemala and how blessed we felt to be a part of this mission and all are hoping to go back again as soon as possible. We’ve all been affected deeply by being in that awesome shadow and have to fall back on the old but true device of “you just had to be there!”
Apr 17, 2017
After collaborating with St. Jude’s Hospital in the United States, the doctors have informed us that Imelda’s diagnosis is Ewing sarcoma, a relatively rare type of cancer that typically originates in or around bone. This is what the initial pathology reports suspected but did not confirm, so thankfully she has been on the correct treatment regiment for almost 2 months now - ever since she was transferred to UNOP (the pediatric oncology hospital). Due to the applicable treatment being available in Guatemala, UNOP (a partner of St. Jude’s) is not planning to transfer her to the United States at this time.
Imelda’s intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments are taking a toll on her small body. A nasogastric (NG) feeding tube was placed since she has continued to lose weight and and her nausea has persisted. The NG tube is meant to supplement but not completely replace meals; it has become an even greater struggle this past week to keep her eating.
However, through the darkness and struggle, there is light and hope through our risen Savior. We are still praying for a miracle, whether that be in the form of modern medicine or an act beyond human comprehension. So much love is being poured out on Imelda through her sisters Ruth and Fernanda, PoP staff, individuals in Guatemala from several churches, and from afar all of you in the U.S. who continue to pray for her. We sincerely thank you.
Specific prayer requests:
That the tumor responds well to treatment & significantly shrinks
That she is less nauseous and will eat enough to keep up her strength
Protection from infection (her immune cell levels were a little low last week).
Strength for her caretakers Miss Marta and Mildred - that God grants them all the patience, love, joy, endurance, wisdom, and creativity in the world to best care for Imelda. Please also pray for Vilma and her husband Rafael, as she coordinates Imelda’s care in addition to all of her responsibilities as the Home’s social worker and as a mom to 3 young boys.
I hope that you and your loved ones had a blessed Easter reflecting on the Greatest Gift ever received. Thank you again for your concern for Imelda, and your involvement with Prince of Peace!
- Victoria Snyder
Apr 12, 2017
Prince of Peace is certainly a peaceful place, but it is certainly not always a quiet one. The vivacious hum of over 50 girls living together on one compound, constant gentle mountain breeze, bustle of neighboring chickens, and nearby city activity all mingle together to form the melody that is my auditory memory of Prince of Peace. These prominent sounds harmonize with gentler ones for the more careful listener. The whispered prayer of a mission team member, the shy giggle of a little girl, the crackling of a bonfire, and an early morning conversation about the goodness of God over coffee add fullness to the melody that is a day at Prince of Peace.
Like most songs, this one tells a story. The melody of Prince of Peace speaks of the beauty and resilience of the girls that live within its gates, as vibrant and diverse as the brilliantly colored casas they inhabit. It speaks of the vision and obedience of those that work there, of hope for the future. It tells a story of healing, second chances, and a little girl feeling safe and loved for the very first time. At the center of this story is the storyteller, the true Prince of Peace. His presence permeates the entirety of the home, filling it so full of His joy that it spills out into the surrounding community.
It is so easy to see God at work in huge ways in the bustle of activity at Prince of Peace. However, once we return home, our own busyness can all too easily cloud our awareness of God’s presence in our day-to-day activities. Daily routines and obligations, even admirable and healthy ones, can divert our attention from where God is at work in the people and situations we see every day. While God’s presence may not be as obvious to us in our daily activities as it is at Prince of Peace, it is just as real and powerful. God is using the melody of our lives to tell a story, just as he does at Prince of Peace. Is your story, your melody of every-day activities, interactions, and attitudes, one that brings glory to God? Just as being aware of the gentler sounds at Prince of Peace add richness to an experience there, awareness of the still small voice of the Prince of Peace is vital to finding meaning and peace in what often seem to be mundane daily activities. We just need to be still and know that the storyteller, the Prince of Peace, is at work.
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Imelda update: April 17Posted April 17, 2017
Peace and the Storyteller - Gracie Allen - Coats Baptist Church TeamPosted April 12, 2017