Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Update

Friends & Family - 
We realize that we do a lot of quick updates on social media, but rarely find the time to sit down and write newsletters to you. We hope that you know that this is in no part a sign of our lack of gratitude or desire to keep you informed of what God is doing through our ministry here. Life is just moving at a rate that doesn't seem possible and we haven't had a chance to sit down together and write anything in, well, a long time!

Here are a few updates from some areas of focus this summer. We hope you enjoy them.

Community Care Center - A huge part of 2016 has been dedicated to starting a community care center in Chimaltenango that Dan is overseeing. The goal for this program is to provide holistic care in order to focus on family preservation and health. In the long-term, this helps to keep the cycle of poverty and orphans creating orphans from growing. The main areas of focus initially are: spiritual growth, health care, and educational support through tutoring. Starting in September, we will be starting an after-school program for 40 children that are currently in this program. Part of the focus for health care has also been installing efficient, safe stoves into the homes of the 50 families in this program.

Sponsorship - As you know, we oversee the sponsorship program in Guatemala for Orphan Outreach. This has been a blessing to us in many ways. The extra one-on-one time that we get with the children we serve by overseeing this program is priceless. This year we have made it a goal to try to keep the donors, churches, and individuals more connected to the daily lives of the children they pour into. In doing so, we've been very busy with updates, receiving, translating, and delivery letters to the children and back to their sponsors, providing video updates, and doing our best to help those relationships feel as close as possible. 

Our time with the children has truly become a precious time and we pray that the Lord uses it to encourage, disciple, and mentor them. The words that He gives us and closeness we feel to the children as we look in their eyes and just let them speak from their hearts is incredible. Many of these children don't have deep relationships, especially with adults and it is a privilege to use this time to minister to them. 

Mission Teams - Dan has had the honor of traveling with several mission teams this summer, both individual teams and church teams. Because of growing up in the US, being on short-term trips, then eventually moving our family, learning another language, and culture, we offer a unique perspective to these teams. While he has countless opportunities to minister to the children, improve their living conditions, and teach them more about God's Word, he has also had a lot of opportunities to minister to the teams that come to serve. While we didn't know the Lord had that in mind initially, He's made it clear that it's definitely a unique spot to be in and that we can add a lot of value to mission teams in this way. 

While it is hard for Dan to be away from home many nights in the summer, we can see how the Lord is using his skills and gifts as well as stretching him in his walk with the Lord. Here are just a few of the highlights from the mission teams that blessed us this summer so far - 

  • Seeing familiar faces from a supporting church in Illinois 

  • Building and painting projects

  • Pouring into the caregivers

  • Helping an orphanage move to a new building

  • Ministering to families in the city dump

  • Receiving new children into the orphanages 

    Please keep praying with us for our time of discipleship with the children, for more opportunities to equip and pour into the caregivers and teachers, and for more lives to be reached with the message of Salvation found in Jesus alone!

    It is an honor and a great privilege to be able to serve orphaned and vulnerable children and their families here in Guatemala. We thank God and our supporters for this opportunity! 
On the homefront - We are 11 weeks shy of the school year finishing up here... but who's counting anyway ;). Malakai is finishing up his transition year (equivalent to 1st grade) and is now considered fully bi-lingual for his age. We are still navigating some health items with him and he has oral surgery coming up later this week, so we ask you to please keep praying for him.

Finley is 4 years old and attends pre-school part-time. She's finishing up pre-K and doing really well. She's come out of her shy shell a bit and has made some really great friends. Please continue to pray for her to have good friendships and for her heart - she really misses her grandparents.

Titus is also 4 years old and attends the same pre-school that Finley does. They have been blessed with an incredible, very small school that is the equivalent of the OT and ST that he needs. He's also continuing to do PT and ST at home and is growing like crazy. Please continue to pray for his development.

Isaías is 20 months and is the funniest little guy ever. He reminds us of Dan so much and is so easy-going, well until he's hungry ;). He enjoys having a couple mornings a week with just him and Christi. 

Here are a few photos of an opportunity we had to serve at an elderly home recently, together as a family. 

We love and appreciate you all greatly!
In Christ,
Dan & Christi 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Match met!!!

We are speechless!! 

We know this may not come as a surprise to you all, brothers and sisters in Christ... because you know just how BIG our God is. Nonetheless, we are speechless... we feel loved... we feel affirmed... we feel supported and prayed for. In the midst of all the chaos in the world around us, you all saw a need, cried out to our Heavenly Father, and through Him, met that need. THANK YOU ALL! From the bottom of our grateful, over-flowing hearts, thank you!!

Dan has been very busy with a mission team that is here ministering in Chimaltenango this week. Lives are being changed and transformed because of the Gospel and we are so humbled to be a small part of it. He is planning to go talk with the owners this afternoon and we hope to be sending you photos soon!

*Please don't delete us... we realize this is 3 emails this week... but it won't happen again! ;)

We love you all!
Dan & Christi (and the 4 little crazies) 


UPDATE: IT IS DONE!!! That's right, OUR GOD provided the remaining $6,810 in ONE HOUR!!! WHAT?!?!?!? Thank you all SO much!!!

If you weren't able to read the ASKING IN FAITH blog posting, read that first here.

Here's an INCREDIBLE update:

I'm trying to write through the tears right now... sometimes it can feel very lonely being so far from family and friends... then there are days that God just tangibly shows you HIS love... His never-ending, never-failing LOVE! 

We were just sent a message from an anonymous friend (whom we barely know) saying that they will MATCH UP TO $4,000 IN DONATIONS for our vehicle we've been raising funds for!! THIS IS HUGE! The truck has not sold yet and our deficit is currently $6,850.

When there are people all around us struggling to put food on the table, not enough jobs to go-around, and way too many children abandoned and abused... you think to yourself that something like a vehicle is not a NEED. But, God reminds us that because of the LOVE you have all lavished on us in allowing our family to have not 1, but 2 vehicles, we are able to minister to those that He loves so dearly and are in such great need! 

Please share. Please pray. Please give. 
*Please let us know if you give so we can keep this matching donor up to date.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Asking in faith

As some of you have seen on Facebook and our blog, we have taken a step of faith to ask for your help. And don't worry, we are already working on an update with lots of cute photos for you all that is coming soon!:) As much as we wrestled with the idea, we feel that the Lord is telling us to ask and take a step of faith in doing so. So, here it is - 

We've recently been praying about trading Dan's vehicle for a different one. His vehicle has become unreliable, has broken down, and due to long treks in a very mountainous area (to and from ministry sites), it is very beat up. We were feeling uneasy as we just aren't ready to fundraise for something like this, but because of our volunteer status as missionaries, we aren't able to get a loan. We received an email from a fellow missionary that is selling their truck, which is necessary for all the projects Dan does to serve orphanages and schools, that is in very good shape. It is well-maintained and we know it's been taken care of which is hard to know here unless you know the owners, and they have been the ONLY owners. This truck will sell quickly, so if we can't get all the funds raised, we won't be able to get it. So, we are boldly asking, knowing that if it's Gods will, He will work through His people. Would you pray with us and prayerfully consider giving for this need? We have been given until Tuesday to make an offer or they will be pursuing other leads. The Lord has already proven, once again, His faithfulness in those of you that have already stepped up and donated, THANK YOU! We are praying for $10,000 more so we can commit as soon as possible. If you feel led to give, you can do so here - PLEASE indicate that your donation is for a vehicle. We appreciate it so much! 

In faith, 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Coffee coffee coffee!

Friends - due to some additional medical needs for our children and a few people dropping support over the last year (completely normal), we are doing a COFFEE fundraiser! In the meantime, please pray for some additional monthly supporters too!

AMAZING Leiva's Coffee!!!
Fair trade. Organic. Supporting local families. And delicious!

-Blueberry Cinnamon Crumble *new (WB or ground)
-Medium Roast (WB or ground)
-Bold Roast (WB or ground)
-Butterscotch Brownie (WB or ground)
-Cookiedoodle (WB or ground)
-Jamaican Me Crazy (WB or ground)
-Pumpkin Spice (WB or ground)
-DECAF avail. in ALL flavors WB or ground

Bags are 16 OUNCES and $18 each plus shipping.

To order: Send us an email (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 May 10th.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT! All proceeds help our family serve orphaned and vulnerable children in Guatemala.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Quick Personal Update

Friends & Family -
March has been a whirlwind and we just felt led to send out a quick, personal update to you all with some prayer requests.

While we are very excited about all that the Lord is doing in the new community project we mentioned in our last update, it is a big undertaking! Please pray for Dan, especially, as he leads this initiative.

The beginning of March, as many of you know, Finley was in the hospital for 2 days for what we thought was appendicitis. We are so grateful that the Lord protected her, she was treated for an intestinal infection, and released two days later. She has recovered very well and does not even act like she was sick at all! Praise God!

Shortly after her hospital stay, our landlord informed us that she would be selling the house we have been renting. Since buying is not an option for us, we are forced to move. The Lord has been so good to lead us to another home just before we found out we would need to move and it will even be slightly less rent each month. We are so amazed at how God always provides! We had a hard time accepting this blessing as the home has more space than we have now and we felt it unnecessary, but God has removed every roadblock, including providing a Christian landlord that has used this home for last last 15+ years to bless others in ministry. He gave us an unbelievable price in a safe neighbor and we are just blown away. Please pray for us as we make a very fast move by the 1st of April.

We would also appreciate your prayers for protection over our family as we continue our ministry here! Ministry can be messy and overwhelming, because souls are at stake. We can always use prayer in this area.

Last, but certainly not least, please pray for wisdom for us as we navigate care for one of our children. This affects all of us emotionally, financially, and mentally and while we know the road ahead is intimidating, we trust the One who calms the raging sea!

We are so grateful for your faithful partnership to our family! We are coming up on 4 years here and it feels as though we never stop fundraising. We realize this can be overwhelming to our partners and supporters, but please know we do everything we can to minimize this.

We love you all!
Dan & Christi 

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