H.E.A.R.T. Institute Community Development

In the early 1980’s, a vision was born to establish a practical training center for Christian workers going to serve in developing regions of the world. In the late 1990’s I considered attending the HEART Institute in preparations for my missions and community development plans, but ended up taking a different route.  While I’m glad I followed a different path to the mission field, I think H.E.A.R.T. can be a huge benefit for anyone planning on living in rural areas as part of community development and missions.

via HEART » Missionary training – cultural adaptation, problem solving, and community development

Tip for Selling Your Car in Guatemala

If you have ever sold a car in Guatemala, it’s important to make sure it is no longer legally in your name!
A fellow missionary, Marty, found out that a car he sold was still in his name. Read his story…

Last week I came face to face with this in an unexpected way. I purchased a used vehicle and in the process of the transfer (traspaso) of the title, I was told that one of my 3 vehicles was overdue for the calcomania payments for 2011 and 2012. But I only had 2 vehicles; or so I thought. I sold my 1992 Chevrolet Suburban. It turns out this buyer never completed the title transfer. When I found out he had not completed the transfer of the title, I de-activated the license plates. I could do this, since in the eyes of Guatemala law, I was still the owner. It cost me about Q1,000 for the 2 calcomanias for 2011 and 2012, a tramitador and several misc. expenses and almost two days of my time.  ~ Marty

Marty said I could share his tips on how to make sure you really sell your car in the eyes of the government:

Here’s how to do it:
Go to any SAT office and simply ask for a “reposicion de tarjeta de NIT”. While there with the clerk, ask for a list of all vehicles in your name. If there is one still listed that you sold at any time in the past, and you have no idea where it is you should start the the process for “Inactivacion de placas”. You will want to apply for “Retiro definitive”, not “Retiro temporal” unless you know where the car is located and can convince the “owner” to complete the title transfer and pay back taxes and/or other unpaid expenses, if any. If you don’t deactivate the plates, you are legally responsible for any and all costs due to accidents, crimes, unpaid traffic violations, past due taxes (yearly calcomanias) and late tax payment fees related to a vehicle with a title still in your name.

Thanks for the tip Marty! Click here for tips on buying a car in Guatemala.

Marty wanted to pass this along too…If anyone tries to sell this car to you or anyone you know, there may be problems in getting it licensed now that the license plates have been invalidated.
1992 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 S silver and dark blue
Placas: P-813BFH
Serie (Serial number): 1GNFK16KXNJ325539
Motor: KNJ325539S
Chassis: KNJ325539
Poliza: 3292 ( Aduana in Santo Tomas de Castilla)

Navigating the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala

We needed a validated copy of our passports from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for some our residency paperwork so we can stay in Guatemala longer term.  So we showed up at the U.S Embassy with our passports in hand at about noon on a Monday. Here’s some basic info on the Embassy and lessons we learned there.


The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is located:

Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala

View Larger Map



Lesson #1 The office is closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

In a modified ally that has a nice cover to shade the crowd that gathers while waiting to get in, we stood in the disheveled line for about an hour and then were kindly ushered in through the security check. (They’ll take any cellphones, cameras, cords, even headphones, flashlights, ipods, etc. that you have with you. You’ll get them back but they don’t let you take them in with you.)\

Embassy Office hours are:

Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. (but there are exceptions so keep reading)Click for Embassy Contactinfo for the embassy.
Lesson #2 Ask questions.

We didn’t really know how things worked so we asked questions to find out. At security they have the airport style x-ray machine and metal detector. Then you pass through a secure rotating gate. Then we went up the stairs in to the main waiting room. There was a small sign with an arrow pointing to the left indicating that Citizen Services are around the corner (Windows 1-3). We missed this at first and had to ask directions. People at the embassy were helpful though things were slow at times.

Lesson #3 Get there in the morning.

We got there in the afternoon and had to wait 24 hours before we could pick up our validated copies. Had we come in the morning, we could have gotten them the same day.

So, here’s what we discovered: Go to the U.S. Embassy early, get an appointment if you need one:

(Note: You will need an appointment if you’re going for:

  • Reporting the birth abroad of a child of a U.S. citizen
  • First-time passport issuance
  • Renewal of passports for minor children under the age of 16
  • Renewal of passports for applicants who are over 18 years old and whose previous passport was issued before the applicant turned 16 years old
  • Replacement of passports issued more than 15 years ago)

Lesson #4 Friday schedules are different

I arrived shortly after 11 a.m. on a Friday to pick up my son’s passport and report of a birth abroad. Turns out that on Fridays they close the American Citizen Services office at 11 and do not open in the afternoon. I had to wait two weeks until I was back in the capital to take the 5 minutes it took to pick up the paperwork.

Lesson learned: Get there early.


Comment below and share your experience and how you navigated the U.S. Embassy!

APROFAM Medical Clinic in Quetzaltenango

Are you an expatriate looking for a women’s health clinic in (Xela) Quetzaltenango, Guatemala? Maybe you’re a Spanish school student, missionary, or traveler needing some extra medical attention.

We moved to Xela for Spanish school and we also happened to be pregnant so we checked out the APROFAM (Asociacion Pro Bienestar de la Familia) Clinic. Since we were looking for a place to have our baby in Guatemala. Here’s what we thought…

Especially for women,  APROFAM provides a full-service clinic and mini-hospital complete with multiple in-house surgeons, doctors, overnight rooms and birthing facilities.

This clinic is part of a nation-wide clinic service and offers an all around good choice for locals and expatriates as well. Located on 3 Calle 7-02 Zona 1 in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, APROFAM is just a few blocks from Parque Central (Central Park) just off of octava avenida (8th Ave.) Phone: 7765-3886 Continue reading

Ojibwe Language Resources

North American native languages are surviving. One of them is the Ojibwe tongue  which is spoken by about 50,000 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and by about 30,000 people in the US states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota. (Ref. omniglot.com)

Want to learn the Ojibwe language? Here are  some helpful links:

  • A simple site with common words to get you started.
  • great overview of the history of the Ojibwe language. (It gets a bit technical but could be helpful, especially to linguistics nerds.)
  • A list of schools where you can study Ojibwe

Training Guatemalans to reach the world

It was late April and the volcanic slopes of Guatemala were dusty green as warm breezes gradually made way for the coming rainy season. Clouds growing in the sky signaled that it wouldn’t be long until fresh rains would water the dry volcanic slopes until they burst into colorful bloom.
For 13 years missionaries John and Sharon Harvey have experienced this cycle of dry and rainy seasons as they’ve shared the Gospel in the Central American nation of Guatemala. Each season they watch more than just flowers bloom as thousands of lives have been saved, pastors trained and children fed through the Asociacion Equipando a Los Santos Internacional (Association for Equipping the Saints International (ASELSI)). This ministry provides physical care and spiritual training to villagers across the remote mountains of northwest Guatemala.
Based in the department (state) of El Quiché, ASELSI includes both medical and Bible training branches.

Sharon Harvey, a registered nurse, organizes medical care for the villagers and trains Guatemalans to provide a much needed milk distribution program to battle the six-percent or higher mortality rate for children below the age of five. In 2004, ASELSI provided medical care for 5,700 people including milk for 250 children each month.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in their lives,” Sharon said. “By reaching them at the point of their need, it opens the door for me to also pray with them and to minister to them on the spiritual side.”

While the clinic helps care for physical needs, many of the local pastors had few educational opportunities until John Harvey started a comprehensive Bible training institute. ASELSI is providing Bible training in a region where many of the pastors and church leaders have less than a third grade education.

Through the training classes at ASELSI and in 12 extension centers scattered across the mountains, pastors and church leaders expand their basic knowledge of the Bible and actually earn diplomas and degrees in two or three year programs. Currently, ASELSI is looking for ways to expand training to other countries in Latin America.

ASELSI’s courses provide excellent Bible training that is practical and something that pastors and church leaders can understand and teach to others. Not only are students learning, they’re sharing that knowledge with others.

“About all the students…are doing discipleship,” John said. “Communities are being transformed.”

The combination of medical clinics and outreaches also provide positive opportunities for ministry in new communities where medical teams along with Bible students work together to provide for physical and spiritual needs.

The lives the Harvey’s touch have blossomed in these villages and towns as they take the fresh rain of the Gospel throughout the nations.

Resurrection Life Church is one of the several churches helping support this ministry in Guatemala. For more information about the Harvey’s visit www.aselsi.org.

Reaching out to the heart of his city

For most of his life, Kevin Curtiss did not believe in God.

Even when his wife, Donna, started attending Resurrection Life Church, Kevin made it clear he wasn’t interested.

“You could consider me an atheist at that time,” he said. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with [church].”

For several months Donna prayed that Kevin would open up to a relationship with God, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. It took some time, but gradually Kevin realized that the church experience would be a valuable for their teenage son. Still, Kevin realized that he would have to set the example by going himself.

“It was time to get Tony involved with [church].” Kevin said. “And he wasn’t going to go unless I did.”

Putting aside his own apprehensions, Kevin announced his decision:

“One day I said, ‘That’s it! We’re going honey.’,” he said.

And they did.

One week after his first visit to ResLife, Kevin raised his hand in response to pastor Duane Vander Klok’s invitation to accept Christ. That decision has changed his life. Kevin soon began reading the Bible regularly. He completed the entire Bible in just over a year and supplemented his reading with other Christian books to learn all he could about his new faith. The changes in Kevin affected not only his reading habits but also the way he lives and leads the whole Curtiss family.

“I’m a lot more family oriented,” Kevin said. “God is first in my life, my family is second and my work falls somewhere after that.”

Now, not only is church a regular part of their lives, but Kevin has sought out other ways to be involved beyond Sundays. While reading through the ResLife Web site to see what opportunities there are for getting involved, Kevin discovered the inner city outreach called Power House and something clicked.

“I knew I wanted to do something outside the church,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what, but I clicked on the Power House site, saw the kids and thought, ‘I want to try that.’ I got involved in Power House, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Now, Kevin, along with much of his family, spends Tuesday evenings teaching children about the God he didn’t believe in.

“I never really in my wildest dreams three years ago, thought I’d be out teaching kids about God,” he said.

Street Light ministry to youth in downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Mich. — On Friday nights, 15-year-old Olivia Cooper-Jones likes to hang out at an old storefront on South Division Avenue next door to a biker’s club.
While it’s not the neighborhood of choice and sits squarely in an area stigmatized by the more unsavory characteristics of this city, Cooper-Jones and scores of other teens have found something that breaks from the typical fare of the inner city at the Division Avenue Outreach Center.
“It’s a place to go to chill out and not have all the drama,” Cooper-Jones said. “They’ve got a lot of positive stuff to do. All my friends are down here.”
Part of the downtown outreach of Street Light Ministries, DAOC (pronounced “dah OC” in the adopted hip hop lingo of outreach leaders) is changing the outlook of teens across the downtown area by providing a fun hangout in a positive environment. Continue reading

An atheist, a car show and a new life.

Dan FagundoDan Fagundo was only 11 when he decided God did not exist.
For him, the decision to become an atheist wasn’t so much a denial of God as it was a matter of not finding evidence for His existence. Even as a youngster, Dan had been thinking deeply about God, but the questions he asked were left unanswered by his family and their Jehovah Witness beliefs.
“I started asking a lot of questions just really in-depth questions that my mom couldn’t answer.” Dan said.
Without answers and seeing poor examples of Christianity, he gave up on the idea of God.
“I decided there absolutely was no God, there was nothing to believe in, there was no heaven, no hell; there was no consequence for anything I did. And that led into where the rest of my life was going—in a very bad direction.”

Starting in elementary school, Dan made a point to pick on children who were Christians. A couple years later, Dan was in middle school and found his atheistic beliefs reinforced by science class lessons on evolution.

Continue reading

Community service sent him to church, his heart kept him there

Jason HansonJason Hansen first came to Resurrection Life Church because he had to.

He was sentenced to serve community service time with the church maintenance crew. He wasn’t looking forward to serving time at the church and he didn’t expect a warm welcome because he wasn’t a Christian and didn’t plan to change that.

“When I started in community service here I wasn’t going to try acting like a Christian. I wasn’t one,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be received or accepted well.”

To his surprise, Jason found he was welcomed on the work team Christian or not.

“The warm reception that I received; the love that everyone showed me was just amazing,” he said. “(It) really opened my eyes and made me think ‘What is going on here?'” Continue reading