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Courtland residents help paint orphanage in Guatemala

Two Courtland Township residents, Diane Johnson and Barb VanWagoner, recently traveled to Guatemala to work with an orphanage. Below is Diane’s account of the trip.

Diane Johnson

Diane Johnson and the iguana she painted on one of the walls of the new orphanage in Guatemala recently.

I recently had the privilege to travel to Guatemala to be a part of a newly formed ministry called Paradise Bound Open Doors Orphanage.  My friend and neighbor, Barb Van Wagoner and I were on the construction team that was painting the orphanage.
A dear friend of ours, Diane Brownell, lost her daughter Audra when a rock struck her while she was on a church youth group trip in CO this past summer. The proceeds from Audra’s memorial went towards the founding of an orphanage in Guatemala, where Audra had participated in a mission trip with Paradise Bound two summers ago. The ministry of Paradise Bound was born in 1998 after a long-standing civil war in Guatemala ended and Dan and Heidi Smith became missionaries to the Guatemalan people. By 2000 they had various churches involved on short-term mission trips to take part in building small homes (10 x 12 with a concrete foundation) there in the remote mountainous villages. Audra had helped to build one of these homes.

giraffe painting

This giraffe shows part of the mural in the infant room at the Open Doors orphanage in Guatemala.

Guatemala is a beautiful country in Central America, about the size of the state of Tennessee, with 14 million people living there. Of those, 75 percent of the people are living below the poverty line.  It was an eye-opening experience being in a third world country for the first time, in small villages where many of the homes were partially constructed of corn stalks, tin, or planks of wood with dirt floors and no running water.  The homes built by Paradise Bound are gratefully received and the people call them the “warm houses.”
The orphanage came into existence by the power of God and the power of prayer. A small group of people met each week for this purpose, to seek God’s will, as Paradise Bound had a heart for the many orphans there and the desire to provide a home for them. God opened doors in amazing ways as a result of those prayers, bringing the people and resources together that is involved with founding an orphanage; hence the name is Open Doors Orphanage. The country had closed its doors to foreign adoptions a few years ago, and the need for a well-run Christian orphanage is great. The site of the orphanage is connected to the Paradise Bound mission base, and it is a beautiful labor of love built by many skilled volunteers. We left behind a brightly painted building with lovely murals and Scripture passages on the walls. I even drew and painted an iguana!
If anyone is interested in supporting the orphanage, there is a newly opened Thrift Shop at 6661 Alpine Ave serves that purpose. After meeting expenses, all the proceeds go directly to the support of the Open Doors Orphanage.  You can also learn more about their ministry by going to their website at www.opendoorsorphanage.org If your church group or family are interested in helping out there you can also find out how at this website.

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