Operation Central America

Come and see what is happening on the Operation Central America missions trip. Also learn about the teams and their prayer requests.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Last Night in Guatemala

Good evening. We just arrived at the Pan American Hotel in downtown Guatemala City. We left Santiago about 10 this morning and spent the bulk of the day wandering the streets of Antigua, shopping, eating, and just enjoying the sights.

Everyone is feeling good and ready to go home, although it is hard to leave our friends who have been our drivers and interpreters. We will spend a little time together reviewing our experiences and then we will get to bed at a reasonable time (I hope) as we have to be up at about 7 tomorrow in order to be to the airport by 9.

We will see you all tomorrow night!

Here are some last notes from the students and pictures from today.

Dear Granlund/DePesa/Solberg family,
I love you and miss you all. I cant wait to see you. Amanda, I would love to go to lunch with you. You are the greatest sister in the whole world. Mom, I got you the greatest stuff. I cant wait to see you. Craig, I want to be in your band.
See you all Sunday! Love you.
Ok so I am super excited to come home to all the fruit…and you guys! Be very excited for the gifts that I got you guys, I’m excited to see your reactions. The R&R has been so great. I have put on sunscreen papa and I swam laps tonight after dinner mom. I have been leading a workout the past three nights and we are getting in great shape. I’m told that I should get a job as a trainer at the ymca. Well I will be seeing you guys soon and I can’t wait to see you guys at the airport.

Friday, June 25, 2010

R&R in Santiago

Good afternoon. We have enjoyed a nice day off today. Last night we had a nice dinner and then met for a couple hours of worship and teaching. We are working on helping the students translate what they have learned over the last couple weeks so that they will be able to take that learning back to their "normal" lives. Hopefully they will now have a new normal!

Everyone slept in until 9 this morning, which was well-appreeciated. We spent the morning shopping in the local marketplace. It was fun practicing bargaining and hunting for "special deals". We came back for a lunch of hamburgers and fries, and this afternoon the small teams are doing some debriefing and everyone is just hanging out by the pool or lake and enjoying the exquisite weather. Tonight we will have some more time together to talk about how each of us has grown and worship more in music.

Only 2 more days! Remember we will be coming in Sunday night from Houston on Continental flight 616, leaving Houston at 7pm and arriving at Minneapolis at 9:54. Everyone is excited to see their family and friends again. I will get more student comments tonight at dinner and over the course of the day tomorrow and make one more blog post tomorrow night.

Thanks again for your posts to the blog. The team appreciates the support. See you soon! Here are a few pictures from last night and this morning...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello from the TuriCentro Tiosh Aboj in beautiful downtown Santiago Atitlan.

We had a half day of service this morning, then had lunch at Camp Eden before moving up to the hotel for R&R. We will be here tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night. The kids have been working hard and so are now ready to relax a bit and enjoy the wonderful sunshine (although we have warned them multiple times about the sunburns…).

We had good service days in Santiago. It was a little more challenging with a number of places speaking a Mayan dialect instead of Spanish. We were able to work it out, though, and saw good results at the programs. Service got to spend the day and a half building a baptism beach for the local church so they are the first team to officially spend time actually in Lake Atitlan. Medical was able to do a clinic and a half, even though they were down to the last bits of medicine. We stopped and refilled a number of he meds on the way from Malacatan, but we went through all of that as well. The positive side of that is the number of people they were able to help, people who otherwise would probably not receive any medical care.

We have had some good teaching times for various leaders during the trip during our evening get together. Those, along with the devotional book, have hopefully helped the students develop a better understanding of What missions really means and how to translate what they have experienced on this trip to their lives when they return to Minnesota. We will have at least one more time together to recap the trip and talk about ways we will be able to encourage each other and make this more than a passing experience.

Tomorrow we will sleep in a little, spend the morning shopping in Santiago and the take time in the afternoon to let each team debrief their experiences and then just enjoy the pool and hotel grounds. Saturday we head for Antigua and then a hotel in Guatemala before we fly out Sunday morning. We are all looking forward to the homecoming crowd we anticipate will be waiting at the airport for us.

Following are some more posts from team members, and then some pictures from our time in San Marcos.
Hasta manana.

Hi Family and Friends!
This is the first time I have been able to read the blog so I am sorry if you have been waiting! This has definitely been a life changing experience! My heart has been totally broken by the degree of need the people hear have. The medical team has worked many long hours and we have seen over 1000 patients. I have seen things that I have seen in medical books, but never expected to see face to face. The kids are getting some awesome experience. I am really looking forward to hugging my family. We are soooooo blessed! If you have a chance to blog on the Colorado Blog Please tell Mari I miss her and I can’t wait to hear how things have been going for her.
Scott was sick when we were leaving San Marcos but it passed pretty quickly. I had one day that was pretty tough, but I think it was something I ate. The gluten free diet has been a challenge, especially when you can’t speak the language. Everyone is currently healthy which is a blessing for the nurses! I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with everyone. God has worked Miracles and has been very very good! I love all of you so much! See you soon! You better be at the airport Kirk and Trent!
Love tons! Wendy Stensrud.
Hola Familia y mattsons/hansons!!
This is my first chance to write!!! Yeah!! we are doing so well and building great relationships here both on the team , with the interpreters and with the beautiful people of Guatemala. I miss all of you, rol (aka gringo grande rollie /butt ka), boppa, luke, jen, mickey, ben, Zach, Krista, and of course my sweet little piper (bee-girl) we have seen about 1,000 patients and still have energy left!! Nellie is now almost fluent and I just now sat with 3 little mayans who taught me how to count in Tzu-to-hil!! I pray you are all well and happy! We are really doing great things here, including surgery. The talents on our team all compliment each other so we have such a well balanced ability to serve. It is so cool. Luke and mick, say hi to boppa and tell him I miss him, too!! JAIME SAYS HI TO GRINGO GRANDE AND TOMORROW WE PASS OUT THE SHOES FROM THE KANTARS!!! WOW, HOW GREAT THIS TRIP HAS BECOME. CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL
Kirk are you out there?
This is amazing. Today all I could think of while we were riding in the back of a pick up truck to our clinic was that this is surreal. God is dong amazing things here and I’m so thankful to be a part of it. We are staying in dorms now and it’s so fun getting to know all these wonderful senior highers. I really have a heart for all of them and love being called mom by many. Thankfully Jess is only slightly embarrassed of me and her hugs are getting me thru some of the more emotional days after seeing really sick patients.. Only 4 nights left until I can come home and squeeze you kiddos. Claire, have so much fun at camp. Please, be careful and look for a letter from me. I really love you guys. Chris, thanks for encouraging me to do this. I will be changed because of it. Emma, I hope you’re having a fun summer so far. I bet you love sleeping in. Chris jr, I miss your smile, see you soon. Thanks for all the prayers. It’s working. We’re healthy and happy.
Hugs and kisses,
Heather, mommy
Jessica Krocak
Hola! Today was pretty hard core for the service team. We were basically moving sand to a spot on a lake where people are going to be baptized , which is super! I’m really enjoying the time here in Guatemala. I think I enjoy it because I’m really connecting with God. Being here is like finding pieces of God. I just love it! I am also getting to know new people. I never thought that are OCA team would be so encouraging and so inclusive. I can’t help but feel welcomed everywhere we go. I don’t want to go home, its just so beautiful here. Sorry I wrote some random stuff, ADHD does wonders. I just wanted everyone back home to know that this trip is worth going on. BUENO! BUENO! BUENO!

Hi family!! It’s Lisi. I just wanted to tell Catie that I am seriously right by tons of volcanoes and that it’s awesome. Miss you! Bye.
Hi mom and dad!
Today we start R&R and we only have 3 ½ days until I come home!!! I’m so excited to see you guys! I’m already planning my Sunday night meal, which is macaroni and cheese, an apple (please buy some apples), and milk! I’m having a great time but I’m definitely ready to come home. Well we’re starting lunch now so I have to go but have a great weekend and I can’t wait to see you Sunday night!!
Love you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buenas dias from beautiful Lake Atitlan.
We had an uneventful trip through the clouds from Malacatan yesterday, arriving at Camp Eden juts outside Santiago about 6:30. It truly is an Eden - beautiful flowers and trees everywhere, surrounded by high (and dormant!) volcanoes. The camp is is enclosed within a high cement wall and so is very secure and quiet… at least until our students got there. We are all staying together again in the dormitory-like rooms. While I think everyone enjoyed their homestays, they like to be able to come together at the end of the day and share stories, and it is nice to start the day sharing plans (more like guesses) for the day.

Sorry I was not able to post a note last night. There is not internet at the camp, so I had to come into town this morning to post this. I will not post another note until Thursday night when we are at our R&R location, so please be patient.

The students and leaders are doing great both in terms of health and behavior.
Thank you once again for your prayers. God has been gracious in His providence for the team and generous with opportunities for each of us to meet Him in new and challenging ways. Please pray that we will all finish the next day and a half of service strong and committed to our purpose, and then be able to enjoy a well-deserved R&R time.
Following are a few notes from the team and a couple pictures from Malacatan and Camp Eden:
Guatemala time is an approximation. Today, we’ll make it to Santiago after a 4-8 hour bus ride. Nobody knows due to traffic and landslide hazards. But I’m convinced nobody knows anyway.
Same with our ministry. This absence of knowing what’s going on has acclimated us to a Guatemalan style ministry; knowing neither its next form or function. We know we’re going to share the Gospel, but often times we’re not quite sure how. In Malacatan, the service team (and recruited help) painted the worship center of the church. While we weren’t sharing God’s word firsthand, we prayed diligently for the mime team and their precious ministry. Hopefully our painting and prayer for the church will help them be welcoming both physically and spiritually, respectively.
I have seen countless example of students quick to volunteer for all forms of service. Either to each other, our Guatemalan team, or strangers, please know, our students are present and willing. Please expect us to come home changed for the better… for God’s glory.
We’re driving through a cloud now, and I cannot see the road out of the front window, nor do I know how God will bless us this travel day. I am trusting for both. And hey, we’ve only got 1-5 hours to go.
-Justin Satterberg
NOTE TO THE DAVIS & GRANLUND FAMILIES: Write back to your daughters from previous days. They’re important. We miss you <3
I miss you a lot! I’m excited to see you.
I have a few favors…
1. Could you possibly figure out what nights I’ll be at Jessi’s cabin…and POSSIBLY call my work?
2. Could you possibly email Heather Flies and tell her I am for sure in for summer camp. I forgot to email her back and she emailed us the day before Guat.
I have many stories for you and I’m really excited to see you. My last home stay was super nice and the people were so sweet. LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU! See Sunday!
I am so happy that you finally wrote to me! I was getting a bit nervous. My home stay was super funny. The family just loved to laugh at me trying to speak Spanish. The aunt who was only twenty thought Jack was very bonita! The mom was only twenty one and she painted lady bugs on all of my nails and then today when we left she let me pick out a ring and bracelet! Yesterday we had five performances in mime and so today we are super tired but excited for the new town that we are traveling to right now. I can’t wait to see you guys at the airport and tell Jack to tell lisa that I read her letter and I loved it! Ok see you guys soon!
Love Brianna
Hey familia
Jon here. I've been having a great time in Guatemala. I also have experienced God in a unique way. Our service team has painted at least four buildings and it is so powerful the way people pray for people. I have been growing stronger in the word every day. I also got to help out the medical team and got to see a tumor being removed. Ok. That’s all for now
Hi Kyky! And Mom! And Nana!
I am having so much fun here in Guatemala. We are on the bus right now, driving to Santiago! The drive is so beautiful. We are surrounded by mountains and everything is so green. It is also awesome singing all of my Latin American Studies info in reality! Like, right now, I am looking out on hills and hills of terrace farming. I learned about that! Anyways, service team is really fun. We painted the entire inside of a church yesterday. We started at nine in the morning and ended at seven thirty. Long, long day. I can’t believe that we only have a few days left, it is going to be weird to come home, but I’m excited none the less. Mom- can I please get my hair cut when I get home, asap, like this upcoming Tuesday J thank thank thank you!
Love you all,
Hi family!
I’m having such a good time here in Guatemala. So far I haven’t got sick (knock on wood). I have too many stories to write down in this message so I will tell you about all of them when I get home. I just woke up from a nap on the bus and the view from my window is beautiful! Today we just left Malacatan and my host family was the best. The father of the family owned his own television station and he also owned a ranch so they were pretty wealthy. Their house was beautiful and so was the family. My host mom was young and last night we stayed up and talked for at least an\hour. She gave me her address, email, and phone number so I can write her letters, send her pictures, and the next time \I’m in Guatemala I can call her and visit her. Love you guys so much and I will see you in five days! Oh and Jo, Brianna Coleman was wondering if you were going to be at the airport to pick me up because she wants to see you. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to but if you do great! And the little kids love my hair!
With much love,
Mom and Dad,
Hi! We are heading to Santiago and Lake Atitlan. I am so excited to see the lake, everyone says it’s so pretty. I hope you guys are having fun painting the house. When I get home, I would love some fresh fruit like strawberries and raspberries. Just don’t make me chicken, rice, or pizza when I get home J . We’ve been eating a lot of that here! I love you both, see you soon!
P.S. Aimee says please make a haircut appointment with Ian as absolutely soon as humanly possible. (I believe he works Friday, right?, and I have nothing currently planned for that day.) AND please stock up on strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (and don’t let dad eat them all before I come home) THANKS! (and yes, I survived another day).
Hi daddy
The trip has been a lot of fun. The medical team is good, I will tell you the stories when I get home because they are long and as you know, I have trouble getting my words out J I can’t believe Heather and John are engaged! Kevin is married to Sarah members? But that’s so exciting! I guess my pep talk worked at the wedding. See you on Sunday
Love, Nellie
Hey Erickson Girls,
Hope you might have a chance to read this. I miss you three very much! Thank you for letting me go by understanding that this is what I am called to do as a missionary. Michaela, you asked me over the phone how many people have come to know Jesus. I love the fact that you cared enough to ask. Hundreds Michaela…hundreds of people have come to know Jesus! God has answered our prayers in a way that goes beyond our expectation. Jessi, everyone here is crazy about the World Cup. They are soccer fanatics and watch it everywhere. I’m sure you would love the excitement that is always in the air. You would also love all the opportunities to do the mime programs here. I’m sure you would get a lot of attention as a younger team member, like you did the year you were on this trip with me. Maybe next year? J Christina, I know you are serving the Lord in Chicago. I’m very proud of you and look forward to you being a part of this trip next year. The mime team has been great! They have presented 20 programs and have witnessed to more then 5,000 people. I’m very proud of each of them and the way they have handled themselves here. I’m sure the Lord is working in each of them as they serve Him in this place. I know He’s been working in me J The whole OCA team has been great with each person working within their own team while supporting the work of the other teams through prayer and encouragement. This is a very unified group in spirit and purpose. It has been a blessing to be with them and share in their struggles and their victories as we’ve served together here in Guatemala
Looking forward to seeing you guys and wrapping my arms around you. I’m missing you, that’s for sure!
Love you tons,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Full day in Malacatan - yikes is it hot!

Today was our last day in Malacatan. When the Guatemalan’s warned us it would be warmer here, they weren’t kidding. I understand it was up near 100 degrees today, with a humidity to match. We went through a lake’s worth of water, though, so everyone (so far, at least) is coping. We haven’t seen any serious sunburns on anyone, either, so praise God for continued health for the team.

The mime did 5 shows today, 3 in the sun. It was a draining but rewarding day with many of the audience members indicating they had made a decision to ask God into their life. The local church brought along a lot of their youth so they mingled with the crowds after the program to make a local connection with those making decisions and giving them information on what steps to take next. It was a true partnership between our team and theirs.

The childrens team “only” had 3 shows, but they spent a lot of time in the sun playing games and putting on puppet shows for the kids. At the last program 4 of the older kids (6th or 7th grade) not only raised their hands to indicate they had prayed to accept Christ, but were also willing to step forward out of the crowd to pray with the church representatives and talk about how to connect with the church. Between the mime and childrens teams we will have lots more company in heaven!

Service spent the day painting the inside of the host church, turning it from a perky orange to a soothing off-white. They finished the entire sanctuary and most of the stairs leading up from the street entrance - it looked great when they were done.

And then there is medical,. The saw nearly 300 (yep, 300) patients today, many who had very difficult situations. Apparently there is not a lot of medical care available for the people in the area and so many had gone without care for sometime. We used up a lot of the medicince we had brought and more that we had purchased here. It was a hard day for the nurses because a number of the patients had conditions that we just couldn’t treat. The whole team held on to the fact, though, of how many people they were able to help who would otherwise have continued to suffer. The kids have grown into their medical roles incredibly well. All I can say is God knows how to pick a team!

Tomorrow morning we had back southeast to the Lake Atitlan area. We will be driving about 5 hours back over the same roads we recently took up from Guatemala City. We have experienced many things over the days since we were last on those highways. We will end up in Santiago where we will have 1 and a half more days of service before we head into R&R time.

A couple prayer requests:
1) energy for the team to finish strong in Santiago. With all the performances that have already been done it is sometimes hard to be as energetic do the same thing one more time.
2) medicines for the medical team. Because of the volume of patients and the severity of the cases we have used up nearly all of our medicines. Pray that we will be able to find (and have the money for) the medicines we need to finish the next clinics.
3) overall focus for the team. They have been great so far, but the pace is wearing us all down little by little. Pray that we end strong in Santiago so we head into R&R with confidence that we have done our best for God and the people of Guatemala.

Gracias for you prayers and support! Enjoy the pictures from today’s activities and some notes from team members…

Hola Tebbe & Sullivan Families,

It’s Monday today and we just finished doing children’s programs at 3 schools. Many kids raised there hands to indicate they had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior! It was definitely worth all the sweat due to the heat and humidity. What a privilege to part of this missions trip. It only took 1 full day to recover from being sick and 2 to be back singing and dancing with the kids, God is Good Sabu!!! Happy Father’s day Larry, hope you had a fun and successful fishing trip. I Love You and miss you Grande! Jill, hope you got the job you wanted and all is well in Fargo, missing you Mucho! Que Pasa Steph, Victor and William both say Hi back to you and wish you were here besides me. Maybe next year?!
Thanks for all your prayer’s Mom, Laura, Tom, Connerton’s, and all you Sullivan’s, and friends, we couldn’t do any thing without them. I’ll see you in a week. Got to go, I miss and love you all!


Hi Denice and Danielle,

We have been seeing many children ask Jesus into their heart on the mission trip. We are at Malacatan which is near the border of Mexico. We can see the highest point in Central America from our home stay. It is where Danielle’s birthmother lives, Volcano Tumulaco. Trying to get some good pictures of it, but I do have our home stays e-mail address here and they have some very nice pictures that they could share. Learning some Spanish, but I still have mas to learn. Hope everyone is doing well. I miss you guys. We have a day of travel tomorrow and some mission work in Santiago Atitlan.
Love you, Terry.

It is so hot we are melting like popsicles.
Katie Unger

Hi family. Its super hot and humid in Malacatan. I’ve been pushed way out of my comfort zone over these past few days. My home stay doesn’t have a real shower so I had to take a basin shower outside. Church here on Sunday was VERY different from anything I’ve ever experienced. All the Guatemalan kids were crying and screaming and falling down on the floor. Even though it was quite frightening to me, I’m glad I was able to experience something so unique. Love you and I can’t wait to get home and take a hot shower and sleep with a real pillow.
PS. I sprained my ankle the first day we got here, but the bruising and swelling is starting to go down and it doesn’t hurt as much. I’m starting to think I might live. Love ya!
From, Aimee

HEY family!! ITS Autumn. Thank you for the support that you have been giving our group on this blog. It haws been a really cool experience down here and I cant wait to share all the stories with you. Tell Bowe I say happy belated birthday and tell Ron and dad I say happy fathers day!! And Rayna as well. Anyway its all good. Just keep praying for us. LOVE you all.
-Autumn Blatz

Mom I forgot to feed Magenta (my bamboo plant next to my bed.) it would mean the world to me if you would feed it. Thanks mom. Love you lots.



First time on the blog. The mime team has been doing a great job! They’ve presented the 30 minute program 20 times in a variety of settings to a total audience of over 5,000 people. Many people have received Jesus……hundreds. Everyone is tired after doing 5 presentations today, but now enjoying a pizza dinner and I’m sure a good night’s rest tonight. It’s an amazing time. Keep praying.

Chris Erickson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday in Malacatan

Well, we start week two tomorrow. The first week seems to have gone by very fast, but then we look back at all the people we have touched and how many have made decisions for Christ through our various ministries. It has been a great first week. Today being Sunday, we served in a different way. This morning we attended a church service at the church hosting us here in Malacatan. It was their youth service, with a wonderful message about finding and recognizing your purpose delivered by their youth pastor. The worship time was charismatic in nature, so all of us had the opportunity to experience that kind of personal expressive worship.

After church we went to a waterpark that lies next to the border crossing into Mexico. We actually had to go through the Guatemala side of the customs area to get to the park. So we made it to within about 50 feet of Mexico. It was a nice sunny (and very warm!) day so everyone was excited to be able to spend it swimming. The local church grilled a churrasco (grilled beef) lunch for us there that was amazing. After about 4 hours of water slides and virtual water volleyball (no net) we packed up and headed back to the restaurant for a spaghetti dinner (which made many of the students happy as they had been longing for pasta). We used lots of sunscreen and so far no sunburns have shown up. Tomorrow morning will be the proof, though.

Tomorrow is a full service day. Mime is scheduled to perform 6 times, which in this heat and humidity will be a test of the kids endurance and a proof of God’s sustenance. The other teams have busy schedules as well. Please pray for energy and good health (and maybe a few clouds without rain) so we maximize our opportunities to share the good news of God’s grace and mercy.

Below are some entries by the students, along with a picture of the highest volcano in Central America (which looms over Malacatan), pictures from yesterday’s medical clinic and today’s time at the pool. See you tomorrow!

Hello everyone back home!
We are all having such a wonderful time here in Guatemala J. It is beautiful to see the places and people, and all the joy God has put in this place. We just moved into our second homestays, and I am having so much fun attempting to communicate in Spanish. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. Mommy, I love you! Kyky, I love you too! Nana, please keep them in line while I’m gone. I am praying for you, Ky and mom, on this day. Stay strong I love you. Oh and I want to bake cookies as soon as I get home next Sunday J

I am in my second home stay now, and although the home is a bit rustic, it’s a really cool experience to see how the people here live. Today was our relaxation day, which was much needed! We have been working hard, and it’s so cool to see all good work that is being done here for God. I miss you mom and dad, and I can’t wait to get home and tell you all about my adventures and show you my pictures! Happy
Father’s Day Dad, I hope you had a good day. I love you!
P.S. Aimee says Happy Father’s Day!
P.P.S. Nellie says Happy Father’s Day!

HEY FAMILY!!! I love love love how beautiful everything is here in Guatemala. I eat everything they put in front of me and so far I love it all! Today we had a free day and we went to a pool with multiple waterslides. Tomorrow my children’s team and I will go to different schools here in Malacatan to show love to the kids. The children here are sooo cute and the littlest things fill them with joy - a smile, a balloon animal, a hug. I love that. Mom and Brynn, I hope you guys are having fun at the Rushes but not too much fun without me! Dad, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! We will celebrate when I get back I promise! I miss you and Julie and Gin-Gin. Love you all!
Love, Katie
Ps I miss candy sooo much! but not the cats.

Your favorite loving son,

Hello. I am writing to say hi to Mom, Craig, Amanda, and Dad. It is very hot here and I have worn the same shirt 3 times. We have done the mime show over 12 times and tomorrow we are doing it 6 times… the car rides are really long but I have been drinking a lot of water and pooping a lot so that’s nice. I hope everything is great at home. I hope you had fun at camp, Amanda. I have a boyfriend named Pedro. He is 13. We WILL be getting married so start planning the wedding. Amanda, I also found you a husband. Pedro’s twin… his name is Neri. He has already agreed to marry you so no need to worry about dating.
I love you all a lot.
P.S. mom, will you please pay my two parking tickets. They are due on the 27th. They are on my dresser. Thanks. Love you.

Ok so I’m super sorry that I didn’t really celebrate your birthday with you and I feel so bad now that I look back on it. When I get home we WILL be playing ultimate Frisbee because I can cream you! I miss you all and I hope you had a great day dad!
Love Brianna YOUR FAVORITE DAUGHTER (towards dad).

Happy Father’s Day For Real This Time!!!
Miss you guys.