Hailing from Michigan, AJ and Alaina Westendorp are currently serving in Guatemala City through TEAM. It was great to have them join the GRACE Ministries team in late January for a week of home building and medical clinics.

AJ recently sent a report that he and Alaina returned to the town of Chua Cruz, the area where the teams in January and early February had been building. They did it to, “…experience pueblo life, make new friends, and enjoy the view, and for them to hopefully see that we care enough to come back.”

What was it like? Here’s what AJ had to say:

We were so blessed, spent hours around the “plancha” (fire/oven/stove) sharing life, practicing Spanish and not understanding kaqchikel. Two of the three new houses are fully occupied, while the third they are just waiting for the money/opportunity to get a bed in there. Victor and Jaime and Lisbet loved playing catch with us and shooing their dogs (Hueso (bones) and Shovel). Not much can grow on the farm in the dry season , so until they plant corn and peas again in May, the guys pick up work cutting coffee in a small family plantation, working on a tomato farm, etc. We went to church (a mile or so walk) with them only to find that the 3 men are skilled musicians (trumpet, keyboard, drums) al by ear and one of the girls is a sought offer Pentecostal soloist in the area! The dad is also pretty active in a few church/school/civic committees. And Alaina got to wear one of their guipiles to church!

We slept in our hammocks in the trees (it was stilllll too cold!), made tortillas (from their own corn) and Alaina answered some health questions they had for themselves and some others in the family network. Today we spent the day taking one of the couples to a health clinic in Escuintla we’ve become acquainted with. They’re such nice folks, we’re glad they have a house and that we have a home in Chua Cruz if we need it.

Based on a couple conversations other locals had with us, there’s still a need for houses in some of the surrounding villages and a big need for scholarship programs or other ways to allow kids to stay in school without the “steep” (in their terms) burden it puts on families once primary school is done.