The following is an account from Tony and Carol while serving on HELPS Stove Teams.
In June, 2007, I participated in my very first mission trip to Guatemala with Christ Church Plano members and HELPS International. We were assigned to work in Cipresales, and we stayed in Panajachel. It was a challenging trip, with long, difficult hikes between houses. When we arrived at the last house of the first day, the family did not have all of the supplies yet. They made multiple trips up and down the steep mountainside, bringing us the materials: huge bags of sand, cinderblocks, the cement cook top, etc. Three young boys would run down the mountain carrying cinderblocks, while their very pregnant mother helped carrying other materials. She disappeared while we were building the stoves. A brahma bull watched our every move from about 15 feet away. Chickens with their chicks following them were everywhere. As we were finishing up, we noticed the father running back and forth between the buildings. Then we heard the cry of a newborn baby. The pregnant woman had given birth to their fourth son while we were building their stoves! What an incredible experience! The husband asked us to wait a bit so we could pray with his wife and their newborn. About 45 minutes later, we were ushered into the tiny bedroom. We stood around the bed, holding hands, praying, and blessing the family, the new baby, and the stoves. Our team was blessed immeasurably that day.
This year, I completed my fifth Stove Building Mission Trip to Guatemala. My husband, Tony, and I have gone together for the past four years. Every year has been amazing, no two years the same, with some years easier than others, but God has blessed us on every trip, sharing His incredible creation with us, and keeping us safe. It is more blessed to give than to receive, but when we leave Guatemala each year, our hearts are filled with love and gratitude. We are already looking forward to next year’s trip.