Last month was a time of celebration and dedication in Coyolate, but the story actually began many years ago. Coyolate is a small coastal village comprised of less than 200 families and what makes Coyolate unique is that the residents come from other villages throughout Guatemala. Tragically displaced during the 36 year civil war, they found refuge here and began to rebuild their lives in peace.
Life in Coyolate is humble. Most homes are made of dirt floors, wood and corrugated tin. There is no indoor plumbing or hot water and electricity is not guaranteed to work every day. Although water maybe abundant in this coastal town, it isn’t usable for cooking and drinking.
In 2010, Healthy Communities, a Mission Impact ministry, was approached regarding a water filtration and fuel-efficient stove project. After meeting with several of the families, it was clear, this wasn’t to be a one-time project, but rather a long-term relationship.
Healthy Communities ministry leader, Gerber Perez, frequently communicates his mission to the servant teams who visit. Many times ministry projects, no matter where in the world they are located, serve in a way that goes a mile wide but only an inch deep. His vision and purpose is to make an impact for eternity not just superficially. “I would rather reach only an inch wide but go a mile deep,” says Gerber.
A couple of years ago a servant team from Coastal Christian in Ocean City, New Jersey came to do just that. For one week they served the people of Coyolate but little did they know, the Lord had special plans for this team and in particular, Bruce Funk.
In addition to installing water filters and stoves, the team visited the Coyolate schools and if it wasn’t for the “zona escolar” sign outside, they would have never known this small shack with broken wooden slats was home to nearly 25 kindergarten students. The students may use pieces of crayons to color and there are no windows for natural light, but from the smiles on their faces and their desire to learn, you would never know the challenges they face.
The ambition to work and learn goes beyond the children – it permeates the entire family unit. The families of these young children saw the need for a new building and negotiated the donation of a small piece of land across the road. They wanted to volunteer the labor and invest in the community, but they needed some help with resources. Upon returning to the U.S., Bruce, who was deeply impacted by the community of Coyolate, reached out to the people of Coastal Christian and raised the funds for the building supplies for the new kindergarten classroom. The new room has a cement floor, block walls painted white and windows for natural light and air.
This past July, Coastal Christian returned to Coyolate for a week of water filter and stove installations and one very special dedication. A few of the servant team members put finishing touches on the classroom by painting colorful murals and stocking it with new supplies for the children to use.
At the end of the week, a dedication and celebration was held. There was music, dancing, speeches and prayer. It was time for Coyolate and Coastal Christian to celebrate God’s provision…together.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2