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Church members on a mission

In October, Grace Community Church hosted a harvest festival to raise funds for their annual mission trip to Guatemala, where they volunteer at an orphanage an hour outside of Guatemala City. Church members, who are part of the mission, help pay for the trip as well.The pastor of Grace Community, Pat Jeffrey, said the mission trip is connected to What Matters Ministries and Mission, which is based in Colorado Springs. WMMM also founded Casa Angelina ó the groupís destination orphanage.ìWe do a wide variety of whatever they need to do,î Jeffrey said. ìIt’s all been put together, built and maintained by groups of volunteers.î Jeffrey said they will probably paint, sand, garden and paint some more. ìWe will take some extra clothing, some medical supplies. We’re taking a number of Spanish/English books we’ve been collecting. They can learn to read both Spanish and English at the same time.îThere is also a mercy clinic at the orphanage, which helps the people in the surrounding community. ìThey provide inexpensive care,î Jeffrey said. He estimated the cost of visiting a doctor or physicianís assistant is about $1.25. ì(The clinic) also provides clean water for the surrounding community.îThe orphanage is home to about 90 to 100 children, Jeffrey said. ìAll the children who are at Casa Angelina are ordered there by the court. Sometimes, there are concerns that people were pulling children from the street and adopting them out.î Only taking children directed to them by the courts of Guatemala ensures that the children are not taken off the streets. They take infants and children up to age 16. Jeffrey said that children older than 16 are not required to stay.ìCasa Angelina is a higher learning orphanage, meaning they will commit to help children who go through and graduate with a high school diploma to go on and get a college degree in Guatemala City,î Jeffrey said. The orphanage funds the students and helps them obtain their degrees. ìThe real goal is to break the pattern of the street life that they are exposed to and come from.îThe orphanage has been in existence since 2003. Jeffrey said the orphanage keeps meticulous records. ìLast year, when we were there in March they had six to seven students at the University of Guatemala at Guatemala City,î he said.The orphanage supports the children in education, but their emphasis is on family. ìAll the children who come there ñ- they don’t call them orphans; they call them children of the King,î Jeffrey said. ìThis is their family, their home.î Jeffrey said the goal of the orphanage is not necessarily to adopt the children out, but to raise them as family. ìThe real emphasis is that they are members of the family, and that family lives there at Casa Angelina,î Jeffrey said. He said the children help each other as they go through college, as brothers and sisters would.WMMM also reaches out to widows in the area. ìThere are quite a number of widows in the area,î Jeffrey said. ìThey live with and in next to nothing. A little of what we did last year was to also help construct a home for a widow and her children.î Jeffrey said the houses they build are from cement blocks and have a corrugated roof, much improved from their previous living situation.Jeffrey said that James 1:27 in the New Testament says to look after orphans and widows in their distress.Members of Grace Community Church will be in Guatemala from March 22 to March 29 this coming year.ìThe group we’re taking is a mix of youth and adults,î Jeffrey said. ìWe have a dozen at this point in time.î Last year, the church sent 19 members.Jeffrey said they have an application process and a deadline, so they can reserve airline tickets. ìWe had to have an early deadline in order to make those reservations, since it’s spring break travel time,î he said.Vaccinations are part of the trip preparation.ìIf our immunizations are up-to-date in the United States, we’re in good shape to go down there,î Jeffrey said. ìSometimes, we do recommend a typhoid shot. We’ll be working in the mountains in the dry season, so there are not really any mosquitoes, so there tend not to be worries about malaria. They (mosquitoes) tend to be near the coast, not where we are.îJeffrey said the trip not only impacts the people in Guatemala, but also the people who volunteer. ìOne of the powerful things we did last year that moved a lot of us to tears was to commit to bring two pillow cases for each child that was there,î he said. ìWhen you have absolutely nothing, a pillow case would seem absolutely insignificant to us but the joy of those children to get a pillow case … .î

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