Yes, I know I probably say that every year, but that’s because it’s true. In our 15 years as missionaries in Guatemala, I have seen that every year I learn more and as a result our programs get better and better. Our time here has given us the opportunity to build a solid foundation. Yes, we have experienced hardships, made mistakes and faced incredible challenges. Yet, as we persevered, constantly trying to learn from our mistakes and striving to improve, the results have borne fruit.
Seven years ago God brought us to Colonia Santa Fe; one of the most dangerous slums in Guatemala. I set up a computer classroom and started teaching Bible classes to students in a small school. Now our program has grown from 60 kids last year to over 100 this year, with more on the waiting list.
Children come in for 1 ½ hours, 3x a week. They have a Bible class and prayer followed by computer classes. They started off learning how to type, and are now learning graphic design, web development and coding.
One of the top tech companies in Guatemala helped refine our programs and taught an advanced computer course to our top students. Our kids now have a greater vision of what they can achieve in life and are receiving the foundation in I.T. to make it possible.
Two home groups from our local church committed to regularly serving with us and assisting in outreaches, Bible clubs and ministry to the children and parents. They have been a tremendous blessing and it has had an impact, both in the lives of those serving as much as those being served.
Sharie started a women’s Bible study group for mothers and women in the community as part of the whole family focus of our ministry.
We see that our program had an incredible impact in the lives of the children and we know that if we have more time with them, we can accomplish even more. However we are limited by the space of our tiny classroom.
We need to rent a bigger facility so we can increase the time the kids spend with us from 1 ½ hours to the whole afternoon. By hiring a second teacher we can expand the time children spend in Bible club, start math classes for kids who struggle in school, start cooking, robotics and woodworking clubs for them so they are inside our center learning, instead of out on the streets exposed to drugs, gangs and violence. We need to start a nutritional program so that students are not hungry when they are learning, and we need a building with several classroom and a large meeting space for group activities to accomplish this.
This is a not a dream of something we want to do! We have spent years refining our programs, we have built relationships within the community, we have our local church involved and we are ready to expand. This is the next step of a proven ministry that is validated and works, but we need funding to grow.
God has given us a wonderful opportunity to partner with an existing community outreach ministry that works with an at-risk population of impoverished families. We will be implementing our Skills for Life programs for the 200 children and starting a Bible study for the mothers.
Our Skills for Life programs continue to teach the students practical skills, give them opportunities to explore their interests and help them develop their passions
In our workshop, students as young as 12 produced pens, bracelets and crafts which they sold at a substantial profit and kept all the earnings. We placed a special focus on Christian Work ethic, the quality of their work and learning business skills in everything we did.
The students who participated in the engineering classes learned the design and manufacturing process necessary for the production of cutting boards, signs, crafts and the 500 Christmas ornaments they made. They participated in the entrepreneurial process, had to invest their own money and commit to working long hours in their free time to finish, but they received a huge payout at the end for their labors. They produced and sold over $2500 worth of products. This money belongs to them and will help them build their lives once they are of age.
In culinary arts, Sharie used the classes not just to teach cooking skills, but to demonstrate the real life application of things they learn in school, by having them double or reduce the recipe, students were forced to think through the process of adding, multiplying or dividing fractions.
As student’s age out of the orphanage we have found ourselves providing continuity and community by regularly staying in touch, texting, calling and messaging them. Shaire takes time to talk, pray, provide counseling, meet them for lunch, invite them to our house or give them a place to stay when needed. We regularly receive calls from youth who have left the orphanage and need someone to pray with them, talk to them or just stay involved in their lives.
Our programs continue to serve not just the children here, but they serve as an incubator, refining classes we expand to our community centers. In order to expand our engineering program we need a laser cutter and a 3-D printer. These tools are key to giving them an understanding of engineering and will provide them with the opportunity to learn so much more.
In our culinary arts classes we need to hire a teacher to take over some of the classes at the orphanage and free Sharie up to expand this program to our community center and give her time to teach more Bible classes.
Our ministry to the children who age out continues to be an important part of the calling God had given us to serve the orphaned and fatherless. We need funds to hold retreats for the girls who have left, as well as resources for simple things like taking them for a cup of coffee, celebrating their birthdays or giving them bus money so they can come to visit, attend a Bible study and go to church.
Tim took over running a daycare for children and adults with profound multiple learning disabilities. Our caretakers and therapists work tirelessly to love each and every one of them with the love of God, seeing them as people made in Gods image and worthy of the same respect and dignity as each one of us. We have been blessed to have volunteers from both our local church and the U.S. come and serve alongside us.
Our ministries are growing and we need greater resources to keep up. Please consider that we are not asking you to invest in hopes and dreams these are not projects and ministries that we hope to do. These are viable programs that have been refined, validated and provide proven results.
We are not fly by night short term missionaries serving for a few years. We are committed professionals who have embraced service with excellence to the orphaned, vulnerable and disabled as our life’s calling.
To those of you who are already partnering with us; will you continue to do so? To others, will you consider partnering with us for 2018 and being a part of something bigger than you and me? Will you be a part of what God is doing to impact and change the lives and hearts of the people of Guatemala so that His kingdom comes and
His will is done, on earth as it is in heaven?
Sincerely, Tim and Sharie Martiny