Heading home

June 16th, 2014

Monday morning, very early!

We are heading home. We spent the weekend in Coban, without Internet access. We ended our time in Coban late last night, we drove from Coban (though the night) straight to the airport.

All has gone well, we would love to stay, but most are ready to be home too, in their own space in a smaller group.

We will try to write more, but I am not making any promises!

Gary Kuyper


June 13th, 2014

Yesterday we started are day early visiting Rosita,Hector, and Marie Mishel’s school. We met with the directors and toured class rooms. The younger kids were on a field trip. Then we headed back to zone 13 with pastor Avelino. We were four people short because the Kuypers’ went to meet Jake and Tony ‘s biological family. The day was some what eventful. During the first telling of the Bible Story session Jim was narrating the story and was suddenly pulled away and those of us behind the curtain had no idea he was gone until we no longer heard the English narration. It becomes very difficult to move the puppets when you understand very basic Spanish. Meanwhile in the craft group the kids were working on their craft on tables a team member came in and told us they needed a table immediately to serve the food. Scrambling we moved the kids and their crafts to another table. It seemed ironic that in Guatemala time there is usually no such thing as immediately. This caused a small amount of chaos with the craft group.  We did our best to stAy positive e and go with the the flow.  Two of our rotating groups switched but the third group, the game group did not.  After 5 no ties this was noticed and we had to pull the kids from Bible Story and put the to games and from games and put them to Bible Story.  Despite the momentAry chaos everyone had a good time.  Even though the adults were a bit flustered.  The time ended with the handing out of beanie babies.

Patti Welborn, John and Sharon Winkel, Vonda Smestad

The Rest of the story—shadow puppets

June 13th, 2014

Tonight I sat with our translator Andres and the missionary from Honduras. It turns out she has a puppet ministry and had never seen shadow puppets. I told her how I made them and everything else I learned about shadow puppetry from the internet.  So as you can probably guess I was far from knowledgeable about the subject.  I gave her our puppets and all the tools and supplies I had used to make them.  She was very grateful. Next week she is leading a training session For teachers, on puppetry and now she has a whole new workshop she can do with them.  Never would have imagined that would be one of the results of doing shadow puppets for a Bible Story.

Cheryl Kuyper

Invitation to Homes

June 12th, 2014

Here are Pictures from Yesterday and today too.


Today I was amazed by Joel’s speaking for the second time.  It is awesome to see and hear about how he views God and His people.  The true definition of awesome is: Inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe.  This is what I felt when I heard Joel speak the past few days.  His passion and fire for his brothers and sisters in Christ will take your breath away.  We had the privilege of being asked to his house today which is great in itself.  To be asked into someones home is an intimate action which stressed what he had to say even more.  It was all about how we perceive Jesus.  We may think of Him as one thing but totally miss what He is really like.  To get out of this preconceive notion of who Jesus is we need to step out of our routine and challenge ourselves to look for Him.  We could find Him in a woman who has had a serious injury for 15 years and is in need of healing or in a family with 5 children who lost their mom and their father cannot find a job.  Giving our best and giving what we can is a great way to love them but we can also get to know them and truly serve them this way.  Most people can fix a leaky roof by themselves but they can’t form a blessed relationship with themselves.  By getting to know each story we grow closer to our brothers and sisters.  These relationships are more valued than simple cold tasks done for them by strangers they never get to know.  It is an honor to get to go into someones house and listen to their story.  It’s crazy what some of them have to deal with yet we give them encouragement and support through prayer.  We offer our best prayers for them because that is what they deserve and it praises God.  So whether we are in the home of a great teacher such as Joel or a fellow soldier in one of the many zones we are blessed.  The Lord has blessed us immensely, which means that we must have that many more people to use our blessings on.  We are so loved and are called to love our brothers and sisters in the same way.  I also thank God for the interpreters who break the language barrier and help us communicate as well as provide fantastic relationships themselves.  My last shout-out is for Liz.  She cares about the people she interacts with so much.  She tries her best to get across the importance of what each organization does and how it helps each community.  So please pray for all of the organizations here that help  street kids by providing an education and a family for them.  Please also pray for the interpreters as they have a stressful job of switching between English and Spanish.  Finally pray for us so that our hearts may be softened to our selfish desires and focus our hearts on each one of Gods children we come across.  That we give all the glory to God.

Travis Koening


June 12th, 2014

Encouragement can come in the strangest ways sometimes.  I was struggling with our story of the fiery furnace for the Bible School.  I had planned to do shadow puppets for it.  Something I never did before.  The puppets were all made before we came down to Guatemala and I had written out the script for the story, but we had never practiced the puppets or figured out exactly how we were going to do it.  We struggled with how to set up our “screen”, how to work the puppets and basically everything about the show.  I got the distinct impression that my team had very little faith or confidence in my idea and I myself wondered if it would actually work.  Although, I must say they were very kind and very helpful!  I went  to bed last night hoping that it would work but not too excited about the finished product.  Then in the morning about a half an hour before we were to leave for the day a lady who is studying at the seminary from Honduras asked me about our puppet  show.  She had observed us setting it up and practicing and was interested in doing something like it.  That was just the encouragement I needed for the day.  If she had seen it in all its chaos and still thought it was something of value then surely God could take it and make it into something of value too.

Cheryl Kuyper


June 10th, 2014

Finally some Pictures!

Follow the link below to  or select here to see pictures from the first couple of days.



Day two

June 10th, 2014

We stood in a line, Vonda with the chicken stew, I had the rice,  Ali our translator was serving tortillas, Travis the drink and Paige the donuts.  Little hands reached up to us with plastic containers gripped tightly.  We took their containers and filled them with what probably was their meal for the day.  The line waited patiently.  The children were happy and thankful.  My eyes met the eyes of the mother’s and I wondered how it must feel to know that often times your children are hungry.  I wondered what the mothers were going to eat, for this food was for the children.  Did they share some of the meal?  If so then how very little they had.  I thought of  James 1:27 that commands us to take care of the orphan and the widow in their distress.   And I knew I had far to go to do this like I really should.

Cheryl Kuyper

different church experiences

June 9th, 2014

Today we were able to experience the different social classes in Guatemala. We started off at a Mega church, which was very contemporary and would be compared to as an “Ada bible” in Grand Rapids. This was where Middle Class Guatemalans go. It was a little difficult to stay focused for almost 2 hours of only Spanish. From there we went to a place that was considered a city for the extremely rich Guatemalans. Only 30% of Guatemalans can afford to go there. It was kind of like a “really nice downtown” there were condos, all sorts of shops, fudge, clothing, even a Starbucks! It was very different from what we are used to seeing in Guatemala. After we toured this beautiful place, we took the bus to Shorty’s church for the second time. The bus ride was a little scary going up such steep hills with traffic coming towards us, but some how we made it back alive! The area of this church is very very poor. However, the people were all so friendly and kind. We recognized a few from when we were there 2 years ago! After church and visiting with our “Amigos” we headed back to our home. We had pasta and pizza from Pizza Hut for dinner! We split up into groups and did some planning for the week and then called it a night. The days seem very long because the time change is 2 hours behind. So eating dinner at 7:00 really feels like eating dinner at 9:00pm! Joel compared our experience today with Neapolitan ice cream. 3 flavors in one ice cream however all so different! mega church with the middle class, The very rich city, and Shorty’s church which is a very poor area. We were also able to spend all day with our Friends Sandra, Rosita, Hector and Mishel, who we see every year and we consider them family. Its always very special spending time with them! Its sometimes hard to communicate with them, however we all laugh and smile in the same language, and that’s most important! We are all so happy to be here and so thankful for all your prayers and support! Thanks again!

Britany Smestad


June 8th, 2014

We have established some great relationships here  in Guatemala. With Joel, Liz and the CTM team that we come along side of to serve with and learn from. The world is so small,  I got to spend some time with a previous co-worker from Bethany, Justin Beene, and hear what he has been doing while on loan in an internship to CTM. He has done great work here for this ministry, it is great to see the developments and how God is working. We have also established an awesome relationship with a family here that we met 10 years ago when our first group came. John and Sharon have sponsored, prayed for, worked with  and loved. We had an opportunity at the end of our devotion time last night to pray for them. Joel Van Dyke stepped back and captured the moment. Besides the torrential down pours yesterday (but we can deal with that) and very wet shoes, all if well!


June 8th, 2014

I am sitting outside my room.  It is dark and quiet except for a few birds who are just waking up.  I love the early morning hours.  I love the quietness and calm.  I love to welcome in the day and see the sunrise.  But today I welcomed it a bit early and I invited my sister Patti to do the same.  The only problem, I was on Michigan time and that is two hours ahead of Guatemalan time.  So at 3:30 a.m we got up to walk with John Winkel.  We wondered where he was.  We wondered why no one was at the gate to let us out.  We wondered where the cook was and why the sun was not rising.  Not until after half an hour of stretches and step climbing did it dawn on me.  My kindle was on Michigan time.

Cheryl Kuyper