My friends in Tecpan

I first met Maria almost eight years ago when I visited her small community with a service team from my home church in Omaha. She had four children, the youngest only a new-born. Only a few months before we met, she had been widowed when her young husband was killed crossing one of the treacherous highways we have here in Guatemala. She was timid and scared and cried easily. Though I spoke limited Spanish, I could not really communicate with her, since she spoken only the Mayan language of Kaichikel. She had never been more than a few miles away from her small village in the highlands of Guatemala. She was timid and scared and cried easily. My heart broken for her and her children.

When I moved to Guatemala in 2006, one of the first places I visited was her home. By this time she had learned to speak limited Spanish, and with my limited Spanish, we somehow managed to become fast friends.

Over the years our friendship has continued to grow. I participated in the memorial service for the second anniversary of her husband's death. I was with her as she navigated the process of receiving surgery at Hermano Pedro Hospital to repair a hernia. I have watched both her and her children grow and develop over the years. I have purchased her beautiful weaving regularly to help her provide for her family. I am privileged to call her friend.

Over the years I have gotten to know her neighbors, many of whom are also widows, and they have become my friends, too.

When Dick Rutgers and I visited in November, we were distressed to find how conditions had worsened in this area. Though they live in the middle of some of the most fertile fields in Guatemala, they own only the small plots of lands in which their corrugated tin houses sit. They struggle to keep their children in school, and unfortunately many of them, such as Samuel and his brother Josue have had to quit school before graduation to work in the fields to help support their their families. My heart continued to break, now more profoundly, for these are my friends.

Samuel & his brother Josue who we hope will help with our project
In talking with the ladies, I discovered that a ministry which had been helping them had discontinued bringing them food to supplement their meager earnings. While they have continued to provided school scholarships, it's pretty hard to concentrate on your studies when all you have had to eat is a watery soup brewed with herbs they have savaged from the hillsides.

Dick, some of his boys, and I went back Christmas Eve, bringing each of the widows' families a small chicken and some basic foodstuffs for their Christmas dinner. It was nothing compared to what most, even the poor, would be a eating that evening, but the rejoiced as if it was a feast.

I longed to do something more. Our ministry was pretty strapped financially at this time, and I wasn't sure what we could do. I knew, though, that I could pray. As I did, an idea took shape. I have friends who have been working in sustainable agriculture in Nicaragua. As part of their work, they have been helping the women develop "kitchen gardens" so they can supplement their diets with fresh vegetables and even some fruits. Would thus work in Tecpan?

You can see these women don't have land to make a normal garden.

Talking with Dick, he didn't think the women had enough land to make this worthwhile. I didn't know enough about even backyard gardening to make any helpful suggestions. While my desire to help these women didn't dimish, I had no real idea what to do. I couldn't get the idea of small gardens out of my mind and prayers thoguh. How could I interest my Omaha friends in this project when they were already committed in Nicaragua?

But God knew what he had planned. A few months ago I received an email out of the blue from Mike Williams, one of the men working with the project in Guatemala. Would I "allow" him to stop in and visit us for a few days on his way home from Nicaragua? Of course he got an immediate and enthusiastic "yes!"

In early April, Mike spent four days learning about our ministries.  Mike fell in love with these women, too, and immediately began to strategize how we could make this work. He has a plan, and we are actively engaging others to join us in this ministry. (If you're heart is touched by these women, email Pat to find out how you can become part of what God is doing in this poor community.)

We hope to begin our first gardens next October. While this won't solve all the nutritional problems of the area, it's a start. Until this takes off, however, we would like to provide monthly donations of beans, rice and corn to these five women.

While they live amid some of the most fertile land in Guatemala,
these women do not own more than the small plots
on which their homes sit.
I realize that this is a bit outside of our usual focus of serving those with handicaps, but, because of our long time friendships with these women, I am stepping out in faith and expanding our work to this area. Do I expect to expand this aspect of ministry to other areas? Probably not. I know if we spread too thin, we become ineffective. (I know better than to pretend to know what God has in store for us, though.)

But could you see your friends with nothing substantial to eat, unable to spend their children to school, and stand by and do nothing? Neither can I. Would you join us in prayer that God will provide the funds (about $125 a month) to pursue this?

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? …~~James 2:14-16

Moises Jimon Garcia

Last November, Moises made Casa de Esperanza his forever home.  His journey to us was years in the making.

I met Moises on my first trip to Hermano Pedro Hospital almost nine years ago.  He immediately captured my heart with his radiant smile, strong determination and spit-fire energy level.  He was just a little boy then, and enjoyed the attention.  Even then, however, you could see that he longed to really belong somewhere. 

Moises playing soccer in a Mulholland walker. 
Oh, how I wish I could find one like this for an adult!
While well cared for at Hermano Pedro, it is an institution.  There is no one person who is always there for a little boy, and there is virtually no opportunities for self-determination.  Don't get me wrong.  They do good work at Hermano Pedro.  And while it far exceeds what we were doing to care for the disabled in the US when state institutions were the norm in the '60's and '70's, it is far from an ideal place for a young man with so much potential.

Life became more difficult for Moi as he grew into adolescence.  The normal strivings of a young man his age were seen as disobedience and rebellion.  With punishment, Moi became more rebellious, controlling the only things over which he had power. . .his eating and his learning.

Moi had been attending a private school in Antigua, thanks to another ministry which works through the hospital.  This only added to his resentment, however.  On a daily basis he could see what life was like "on the outside" all the while not being able to be a full participant.  His discouragement grew.  He more and more fought studying, and often refused to eat.

Moises and Sonia at graduation with
Nineth, their teacher from Hermano Pedro
Hermano Pedro was not designed or equipped to deal with a young man like Moises.  More punishment led to more rebellion and the cycle continued.  About this time we opened Casa de Esperanza.  I talked with Moi frequently about the possibility of him living with us, but I don't think he believe it would ever really happen. (I have learned that many promises have been made to these young men by people with the best intentions, who leave Guatemala and become busy with their own lives, and never return.  Your "word" means very little to them.)

Last July, Moises turned eighteen, and because he is mentally competent, became an adult in the eyes of the government, and able to decide for himself where he would live.  Moises does have a family, but they live in a very remote area where Moi would have no opportunities for education or employment. On top of that Moises' dad, like many of the men we encounter, is a practicing alcoholic, who, while caring about his son, had no desire to take him home.

The day after his birthday, we received a call from the social work department at the hospital.  Moi wanted to come and live with us.  In so many ways this has felt like bringing home my own child.  While all my guys are special to me, Moises and I have the longest history, and my emotional attachment to him is the strongest.

Moi leaving Hermano Pedro
to move to Casa de Esperanza
Moises has bonded well with his three "brothers" in the house.  I expected that he would be much closer to Fidel, who he had known for years, but he seems to divide his affections pretty equally among the guys.  Gradually he is opening up about his thoughts and hopes and dreams. 

I would love to say that it has been all sunshine and roses living with Moi.  Honestly, there have been struggles.  The life outside the institution Moi had experienced with me and other volunteers had been mostly fun and eating out.  Living 24/7 with someone is far different. (I'm afraid I'm not nearly as nice or as much fun as Moises expected!)  He is learning, as the other guys have had to, that with the freedom of living in a family, there are responsibilities, too.  These are not nearly as much fun, but are essential to adult living.

Moi watching the semi's that park outside our gate, and visiting with the drivers.
Eating is no longer a conflict area for Moises.  He can eat as much  of what we are serving as he wants.  He is free to ask for things to be put on the menu, just because he likes them.  It is a standing joke in our house that we need to double our budget to feed him.  Often when seconds are offered at a meal, and no one else wants more, we hear a strong, "Mas para mi," (More for me) from Moi. 

Studying is something Moises, I fear, will never enjoy school.  While he is bright enough, his interests are much more physical.  Soccer is still his passion and he manages to play pretty well while propelling his wheelchair with his feet. 

Osmi and Moises ready for their first day of school
He and Osmi are both in the first year of Basico, or junior high, and they are attending a private school in San Pedro which was an extension of the school Moises went to in Antigua.  The site director was Moises' fourth grade teacher, so he knows him well.  Thankfully, we are on the same page when it comes to letting Moises experience the logical consequences of his decisions.  I am hoping he does not need to repeat seventh grade, but this will be up to him.

I smile when I look at Moi, because in my mind's eye, I still see the little guy I first met, who was so longing for love and acceptance.  I see the same desires in the young man, and pray that we can help meet them, and draw him to the One who loves and accepts him completely.

Current situation

Help us make Casa de Esperanza 


Last May we signed a contract to purchase our present house in San Pedro Las Huertas, a small community outside of Antigua, Guatemala.  We moved in Oct. 26 with the help of a team from all Nations Church, having made a down-payment of $40,000.  We have been renting the house as we continue to raise funds to cover the balance of $130,000.

In the ensuing months, we have raised and paid and another $13,000, bringing our current balance to $117.000.

We're loving it . . .

This house has proven to suit our ministry needs in almost every way.  While the condominium struggles to accept our young men (there is still much discrimination against the disabled in Guatemala) the town itself has received our guys with open arms and they are enjoying the freedom and peaceful environment we have in this smaller town.  Moises and Osmi have started studying in a private school here (the only which would accept them) and are well accepted by the staff and students.  We a small connection group, members of our church in Antigua who live in San Pedro, who meet here each Friday evening.  God has just begun to use this house for his purposes and to reach San Pedro.

Our final payment is due next month,
and we are still short about $100,000
balance due.

We have met with the attorney for the owner, asking for an extension.  We should have the answer soon.  There is a possibility that we will have to nullify the original contract and find somewhere else to live, but we are earnestly praying that the owner will work with us to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Do I believe we have made a mistake in moving to purchase this house?

Absolutely not!

I believed in April that this was the house God had led us to, and continue to believe this.  I have counseled with fellow missionaries who have many more years of experience in ministry and fund-raising and they, too, agreed we should move ahead with the purchase in April, and still believe we should expect God to do a great thing.  I can do no more than believe Him and be obedient to his leading, even when it feels like foolishness.

Foolishness to the world . . .

And I do feel foolish right now, if I'm completely honest.  I am someone who likes to have their ducks in a row and craves security.  God is again teaching me to relinquish control of every aspect of my life and ministry to Him, and Him alone.  He is teaching me more firmly that my only security is found in Him, and in my obedience to His will as I understand it.  This is humbling and scary.  I have asked His forgiveness for anything I man have done to impede His movement.  

I continue to trust His goodness and great love for us.

Want to get involved?

We have a number of suggestions for you.

There is nothing more powerful than when the people of God join together in placing a need before God and surrendering it to him.

Contact one of the many restaurants that partner with non-profits to have fund-raising nights where a portion of the profits are donated to the organization.  In the Omaha area there are a variety of establishments which do this, including Texas Steak House, Chik-fil-a, and Le Peep.  Check out this list to see if your favorite restaurant is one of these.

Contact the individual restaurants for their requirements, and get in touch with me to let me know what we need to do to empower you to host the evening, and serve as a liaison between the restaurant and the Josiah Foundation to assure the funds are received and credited to our ministry.

Host a Missions and a Movie Night

Is there a new release out on video that you believe everyone has got to see?  Host a "Missions and a Movie Night" at your home. Invite your small group, even your neighbors, to join you for a movie and give folks the opportunity to make a donation to our ministry. You can even "sell" candy for donations if you choose.  It's a great way to build community and help us at the same time. Contact me at for more information and possible movie recommendations.

Spread the Word

Tell others what God is doing in the lives of the disabled through Causa de Esperanza.  Share with them how they, too, can partner with us in prayer, encouragement and financial support.  

Not sure how to do this?  Visit our blog and website to become more familiar with what is happening here in our ministry.  Talk about this with family and friends as God leads you to share.

 I'll be in the US in April.  Invite over a few friends and let me tell them about our ministries and our residents.  Talk to your pastor or small group leader about allowing me a few minutes to share our ministry with your church and/or group members.  Know someone who would be interested in what we are doing?  Invite us to lunch--I might even pick up the tab!  

This is NOT about asking for money.  It is about celebrating God's work in Guatemala, in spite of significant obstacles.  The Israelites joined together regularly to celebrate the great works of our God.  So should we!

A Week of Sacrificial Eating

Talk with your family about foregoing your usual weekly menu and eating only beans, rice and tortillas for one of more meals a day.  Remember us in prayer as you are eating this simple food, which is the typical diet of the people of Guatemala. Many cannot afford the beans and rice and subsist only on tortillas, and are grateful when there are a few beans to eat with them.

If you choose, you can take the money you have saved and donate it to our building fund.  Again, the money is secondary to the prayer and increased awareness in your family of the needs of those living in poverty.


We are in need of a team of  "Ambassadors" to keep our ministry in the minds of those living in the US.  With the daily rush and pressures of life, it is hard to remember that there are those in desperate need, not far from the borders of our own country.  

We need people to help with organizing our annual Taste of Guatemala dinner, managing our silent auction, cooking and serving the food, and helping with clean up.

We need others with expertise in graphic design and communications to help us improve our presence on the internet and in print.

We need people willing to send out mailings twice a year, updating our ministry partners on what has been happening here in Guatemala.

We need people to represent us at missions' conferences and churches on their "missions Sunday" activity when we are not in the US

We need. . .you tell me!  What are your ideas about how we can better spread the word about the work of Causa de Esperanza, to the glory of God!

Write me for more information.  Or call my Skype number: 402-557-0353 (this is a Nebraska number which relays toll-free to Guatemala) and share you ideas with me.  If I don't answer, leave a voicemail message and I'll call you back!


From experience, I know God will call some of you to invest financially in what we are doing, either through a one time gift to our building fund, or on a regular basis to cover our general ministry needs.  We are grateful to those of you who take of this challenge.  You may think you can't offer much, but your small donation is honored by God.  He puts together many "widow's mites" to provide for us daily.

You can send a check with your donation to:

The Josiah Foundation
Attention: Mission Guatemala
2112 S.163rd Circle
Omaha, Nebraska 68130

Please note on the memo line of your check your desire for the funds to be used for the Mission Guatemala Building Fund.  

You can also donate on line by clicking the button below.
The Josiah Foundation is a recognized 501 (c) (3) organization in the State of Nebraska.  All donations to the Foundation are tax deductible. Contributions are solicited with the understanding that the Josiah Foundation has complete discretion and control over the use of donated funds.  The Foundation has completely supported our ministry since its beginning in 2010.   

Christmas Eve in the Village

Christmas Eve day found Dick, six of his boys, one "girlfriend", and me on the way to a small aldea outside of Tecpan, about an hour and a half from San Pedro. 

We joke that this is the "Aldea of the Marias,"  because we have long time friendships with five widows who live here, all of whom are named Maria (with another name accompanying it.)  Having visited here the previous weekend, and were stunned at how conditions had worsened.  A number of the kids told me they had no food in their homes.  

I couldn't imagine being barefoot up here.  \
The temperature was very cool, if not outright cold,
and the wind was wicked the day we visited.

Dick immediately felt called to play “Santa Claus” in earnest, and decided we needed to go back with some food for the families of the widows, (if I count right there are 23 children among them) and to have a Christmas party with the kids in the area.  

Samuel's mom couldn't stop crying and repeatedly thanked us for the single roasted children, dried food and blankets we had brought.  They had nothing to eat for "Christmas dinner" and were thrilled to have the special treat a chicken.  Samuel and his brother (ages 15 and 12) have quit school to work in the fields to help support their mom and three siblings.  Samuel earns about 30 quetzales a day ($4) a day, and his brother who is younger makes only about 15 quetzales ($2) for a day's work because he is younger.  That is, they earn this IF there is work.  Right now, the cold has curtailed the harvest and they struggle to survive.

The kids in this aldea seldom leave their small community, and even more rarely see or talk to "gringos."  It is always a thrill to see them come running to us yelling, "Dick" and "Paty."  They are just as excited to see us come when we only come for a visit was when we bring gifts (which is very seldom.  Food perhaps, but hardly ever toys.)

What do you do when you can't afford a Christmas tree?  Cut down a cedar branch, hang bottle caps on it, and call it good.

Cesar, one of “our” boys (he lived with me for a year to go to school, so I claim him, too), and his girlfriend Gema coordinated the games and activities for the kids, and the other boys helped out in various ways. 

Dick and I respected our age and watched form the sidelines.  This little girl was new to us, and somewhat shy at first.  After a short time, she became my "shadow" for the rest of the day!

We had great seats, sitting on the side of a hill, watching the girls and then boys play soccer in a rocky field.  We did have to move once, though, when the bull tethered near us began to think we were just a little too close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Between games, we passed the time taking pictures, with the children learning about "selfies" for the first time.  The older girls brought these two little ones to me to photograph, saying they wanted me to save the picture to show it to the little boy and girl when they were older and getting married. LOL.  Even in poverty, romance exists among teenage girls!

The kids were very excited about the pinatas we'd brought--
one for the little ones and one for the older children.

While some of the children were initially a little hesitant,
this little guy had no trouble getting into
the swing of things!

And if you were just too tiny to reach,
tender-hearted Cesar was ready to assist.

After the games were over, we passed out cookies and juice with the help of Dick's boys.

Brian passed out cookies
Eber poured Pepsi
And I handled the juice.
We were surprised how many kids chose juice over pop.
Maybe it's because Pepsi is a common drink
 (it's cheaper than milk or juice)
in their homes
We finished by giving each little girl a small stuffed animal
and each little boy received a small car.
Praise God, we had enough that even the bigger kids received a Christmas present.
In all, we served over 50 children this day.
And I have to admit I was astounded
at how orderly and patient the children were
as they waited for their snack and gift.
They didn't need adults to enforce order.
The older children helped the younger be patient.

It was a great way to spend Christmas, especially when I had a chance to share with the kids and their moms why we had come. . .
because Jesus had come to love and save us

The hardest part was leaving--
especially driving out without any kids hanging on Dick or his car!

 I think this will become an annual occurrence, and I how to involve the guys at Casa de Esperanza in this project next year.