Red Paz

What’s in Your Hand?

Last summer I, Ted, attended a training with Global Disciples Small Business Development. The curriculum is focused on helping people in poor, developing countries start their own business. It gives them tools and knowledge on how to plan ahead, to budget and save, and to manage the risks. The main idea is finding what each of us already “has in our hand,” and how we can take advantage of our assets for the benefit of ourselves and our community. Not only is it good material for starting a business, but it contains excellent advice and tools for any of us making a family budget while saving and preparing for unexpected expenses.

I presented the material to the leaders of Red Paz AV, an organization that leads many trainings and projects in various K’ekchi’ communities. I learned a lot of things as I tried to teach the material to my companions at Red Paz.

First, it is difficult to teach in a foreign language. It was a challenge to keep the atmosphere fast-paced while trying to respond to questions and think ahead in Spanish. I found myself needing to prepare far more than I’m used to.

Second, it didn’t matter so much that my teaching wasn’t super engaging because the material is already so profoundly relevant. The “students” were constantly applying the material to their lives and imagining how to present it to the K’ekchi’ communities.

Ted teaching the lesson on cash flow

Third, their reaction was the same as mine as well as those I took the training with last summer: this material is life-giving and God-inspired. It is more than simply business training. Scripture is woven throughout, clearly pointing to the way that Christ expects us to steward our resources and to be loving and respectful in all aspects of our lives.

Fourth, I was once again reminded of the depth of the struggle here. It was eye-opening for me to try to make a family budget work when a good monthly income is around $90 in the villages. People have to choose between eating less, keeping their kids at home from school, or going another year without buying an outfit to wear.

The four students: Federico, Carlos, Reina, and Maria

We are working on translating the material into K’ekchi’ and modifying it to the specific needs of the communities. For instance, some are illiterate and there are some chapters that will take many weeks to get through. We are eager to begin presenting the material after the April/May corn planting season.

We are excited to get the material into the hands of those that need it most. Please join us in praying that God will speak through us and inspire new hope and that we will see new fruit spring forth.

Photo credits: Abby Smoker
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Pilot Project

**This article is from a recent newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletter and receive more about our work, use the sign-up link on the right.**

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Overlooking the village of Muyja with the new coffee plants in the foreground.

As I drove out to the small village of Muyja, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Federico had called me a couple days earlier and said the community would really like to invite me right away. I hadn’t visited this place in about six months and the urgency of the request made me nervous. We had been praying for this village especially since it was a a pilot program for growing coffee. We provided a business loan for this community and I thought they probably wanted to ask for an extension on the loan since the coffee trees would be too young yet to get a good harvest. In the Spring of 2016, we had planted coffee with them and helped them buy the fertilizer they needed.

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Alvina showing her coffee trees.

A K’ekchi’ woman named Alvina greeted Federico and me; she was eager to show us the coffee trees. I was amazed to see strong healthy trees with unblemished leaves shimmering in the sunlight. Not only did the trees look healthy, but they were also heavy with fruit. Even though it usually takes about 3 years to get to a full harvest, these trees that were seedlings a year ago were already producing coffee.

I work with Federico in the Red Paz organization. This organization works with several villages in Alta Verapaz each year. In the first year they teach peace and reconciliation from a Biblical standpoint, helping the people in the village learn to work together and resolve conflict. In the second year they teach health and nutrition. In this phase the community works together to grow an organic garden of vegetables that provides nutrients that are often lacking in the local diet. Following the success of accomplishing these together, the community is ready to begin working together in the business of coffee. I believe God called us here to help and encourage the K’ekchi’ people as they try to escape the trap of poverty.

Federico and I returned from our tour of the coffee trees to meet together in the house of Angustia. We sat together on wooden benches on a dirt floor with coffee in hand and waited for the others in the community to arrive. Not only was everyone ready to make the first payment that we all agreed on, but some paid their entire balance!

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Ted with Federico, Alvina, and Carlos.

We are planning to present the Global Disciples business training early next year. I received the materials and training myself this summer and I am looking forward to the tremendous impact I’m sure it will make with the people in the villages.

It is encouraging to see people who have felt the weight of oppression for so many years finally able to make a difference in their lives. Their excitement is contagious as we celebrate the literal fruit of our labor. Continue to pray for us as we seek God’s will for the K’ekchi’ people.

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