Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 2016 Update

Friends and Family, 
It has been about a month and a half since we wrote, so we wanted to update you on life these days! 

In early December, we were blessed with visitors! Dan’s mom and sister came to stay with us for a week and even blessed us with 2 days at the beach on the Pacific Coast. It was spectacular and such a reminder of the beauty of God’s creation all around us. Our children really enjoyed connecting with their aunt and grandma too. 

Because our kids were out of school, we were both able to spend a few days each with a mission team in mid-December, Christi for a few days, then Dan. We were able to visit each ministry site and have a Christmas party with the children (and the families at the schools we serve at). It was a great time of talking about what Jesus has done for us and seeing the joy in their eyes was priceless. 

We had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas at 2 children’s homes together as a family. It was something that has been on our hearts for a long time to do, but we have not been in Guatemala for Christmas the last few years. It was such a joy to be able to take presents to one home from donors in the states and watch their eyes light up as we talked about the birth of our Savior and what it means to walk with Him in this life. At the other home, we had the pleasure of having a traditional Guatemalan meal with them and seeing so many come to celebrate the birth of Jesus. These children are truly loved by so many and it is our prayer that they would see the Father’s love through those He has placed in their lives. That, regardless of the pasts they have endured, the aggressors who have hurt them, or the pain of not being in a family, that Jesus would heal those wounds little by little and that they would be ushered into the family of God by putting their faith and hope in Jesus alone! 

Christmas day we had a wonderful, relaxing day at home with our children. We were thinking leading up to Christmas that it would be very hard for us to be away from family, but it was so precious to Skype with both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. And, we are seeing that traveling each year is hard for our children at this age. 

Shortly after Christmas, we began the process of doing what we call profiles on each child that we serve. We have the privilege of overseeing the sponsorship program here in Guatemala for Orphan Outreach. This means that several times a year, we are able to sit with each child, individually and talk about their lives, about how God has gifted them, about their dreams for the future, and pray with them. It is really a precious time and the sponsors in the US really love getting these updates. It’s not often when you go to a children’s home that you are able to spend one-on-one time with the children, which makes these times so precious. 

Early January, a team from Christi’s alma mater, Lincoln Christian University came on a mission trip to serve with us. Again, we were each able to spend a few days with them. It was great to have some Illinois people here with us, for Christi to spend time with her academic advisor who has become a great friend and partner in ministry, and to encourage the students in their walks with the Lord. The Lord has really shown us over the last few years, that we have so many opportunities when Americans come to serve to encourage them and pour into their lives, and we are so thankful. 

Mid-January, three of our children started back to school. Malakai is in his Transition Year at the same school he was at last year, Monday through Friday. Titus and Finley started at a small pre-school 3 mornings per week. They are all blessed with teachers that love the Lord and we can already see growth in them, praise God. Isaías is now 14 months old and may be enjoying his one-on-one time with mommy a lot! :) 

We thank you, again, for your financial help and prayer that went into the trip that Christi, Malakai, and Titus took to Illinois in November. We were able to get some additional resources for our boys and Titus has started additional therapies each week. Please continue to pray for his progress. We are also seeing some behavioral improvements in our children from several things we learned during those medical evaluations. 

Orphan Outreach is in the beginning stages of starting a community program in the town where we’ve served in the past, Chimaltenango. This is the area that many families are working in the garbage dump in order to provide for their families. As you know, we’ve had many opportunities to minister to these families and their children, so we are excited to expand this program. Dan is overseeing the project, OO has rented a building, and started hiring employees. We will start with an after-school tutoring program and a social worker that meets with the families in their homes, ministers to them, and works to help end the cycle of poverty in their families. Please pray for this new project, for peace for Dan as he takes on this additional responsibility, and for God to raise up the staff we need living in Chimaltenango. To read more about this new program, click here

February is already here, crazily enough! As of February 1st, we both started an online course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. We are only on our first week of this course and love it already. We would highly recommend this course to all Christians, especially anyone in ministry. To sum it up, it brings fresh knowledge and understanding of God’s unchanging purposes and why they are relevant to your live. Christi has been blessed with the opportunity to attend a women’s retreat, called IF:gathering this weekend. Some friends from our home church in Illinois gifted this trip to her as a time of rest and refreshment and we are so thankful for them pouring into her in this way. So, Dan will be flying solo the next few days, pray for him! Christi has also been invited after taking a course titled, Montessori at home, to attend a year-long certificate program, here in Guatemala to be trained in Montessori education. Because of our new program being developed in Guatemala, we feel that this will be a huge benefit for her to be knowledgeable in this area. 

As you can see, our year has started out wonderfully. Our children are thriving and we are loving every minute of being in Guatemala. It’s a crazy busy life, but an abundantly blessed life. Thank you for your prayer and partnership on this journey! 

Dan & Christi Ucherek

Merry Christmas from the Ucherek's

Friends - I apologize! I completely forgot to put this post up on the blog that we emailed out mid-December. If you are not receiving our newsletters via email, please let us know. The government here has changed some requirements so we will NOT be able to post photos of individual children living in orphanages on this blog, but can email them privately. So, now is the time to sign up for our newsletter! :)

Here it is, from December:

Friends and family, 
Merry Christmas from Guatemala! This is the first year that our family will be in our home for Christmas since we moved to Guatemala. It's definitely bittersweet for all of us! We will enjoy being in our own home and making memories and traditions together but will also be missing all of our family this holiday season. 
We wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your friendship, encouragement, prayer, and support. May you and your family rest in the true Joy found in celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

We hope you enjoy the photos below when we had the privilege to celebrate Christmas with many of the people we serve. 
With joy, 
The Ucherek's 
Prayer requests: 
-Peace during the start of a new school year in January. 
-Continued health answers for Titus. 
-Resources for physical therapy for Titus as well as a therapist. 
-Smooth transitions for 7 children from an orphanage we serve in who left to live with extended family. 
-Focus on Christ alone!
-A new community project with tutoring and counseling that is under way. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday to Isaías!

This is a bit late, but this little snuggle bug turned 1 recently! We snapped a few photos of him that we just had to share!

Things he loves lately: repeating words, throwing balls, snuggles, making everyone laugh! We think he's going to be the clown of the crew! :) so much sweetness in this little guy! We thank the Lord for the joy he brings to our lives!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Feliz cumple Tia Lilly!

We have the privilege of serving alongside this amazing woman of God that has been working in children's homes for several years. After working in another home, she started her own, focused on caring for teenage mothers and their children. This place is more like a home than any other children's home I have ever seen!

Today we got to surprise Tia Lilly, along with all the children and staff, for her birthday. She works around the clock, has loved countless children as her own, and deserves the world.

Here's a little glimpse into the celebration today! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

COFFEE... coffee... coffee!

Once again, we have partnered with Leiva's coffee to offer you AMAZING, fair-trade, Guatemalan coffee. Leiva's is an incredible ministry that is not only paying their workers a fair wage, but they are also ministering to their families and much, much more.

Bags are $16 each plus shipping (between $5 and $6 for 1-4 bags). 

-Medium Roast (whole bean or ground)
-Bold Roast (whole bean or ground)
-Dark Roast DECAF (whole bean or ground)
-Butterscotch Brownie (whole bean or ground)
-Cookiedoodle (whole bean or ground)
-Dolce Amaretto (whole bean or ground)
-French Vanilla (whole bean or ground)
-Jamaican Me Crazy (whole bean or ground)
-Pumpkin Spice (whole bean or ground)

To order: S
end us an email at ucherek1 AT hotmail DOT com with your order information, including mailing address and email address for paypal billing. You will be billed via paypal once items are shipped. On sale now through October 14th. 

Looking ahead...

Friends and Family,
We can't believe it is already October! 2015 has flown by! We wanted to give you a glimpse into what the next few months look like for us before they are gone and we realize we haven't updated you all.

We have 2 mission teams this month - a medical trip and a vision trip that we are preparing for. We are wrapping up the school years in the next 2 weeks at the schools we serve at, which also means our oldest son, Malakai, will finish Kindergarten. We are busy having vision and planning meetings for 2016 and beyond with ministry sites and mission teams. Christi and 2 of our children are taking a quick trip to Texas and Illinois in November for some medical evaluations*. Dan's mom and sister are visiting in December. We have a team in December that celebrates Christmas with each ministry site and blesses them with a gift for each child as well as spends some time reflecting on all that the Lord has done for us over the last year. We are in the thick of sponsorship 'stuff' which includes interviews, letter writing, updates, and more. And a host of other items that are in the works.

As you can see, ministry here is extremely busy but extremely important, humbling, and a blessing to be a part of. We thank you for your continued prayers and partnership and all that you do for our family.

In Christ,
Dan & Christi

PS - we hope you enjoy the photos below of a few of the precious people we get to serve.

*The nature of the trip to the states for Christi and 2 of our children is medical-related. They will be in Dallas for 2 days and then on to Chicagoland. It is a very short trip and while Christi will be doing some ministry-related meetings and visits, we need to focus this time on the appointments. Therefore, this year it will not be possible for us to meet with all of the churches that support us. We are praying though, Lord wiling, that we would be able to have an actual furlough as a family in late 2016. You will see a few fundraisers from us in the coming weeks on social media to help with the remaining trip costs as well as year-end items like health insurance and school.