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