Sunday, December 2, 2012


Saturday Dec. 1
We arrived yesterday Friday Nov. 30 in San Lucas. We are staying at a small hotel owned by the Mica family,Felipe and his wife Marbilla. It is very simple and primitive to what we are accustomed to but very hospitable. The dinner they served was stupbendo they are truly a gracious couple. Feilipe is the only one of the two who speaks English. He has had throat cancer and speaks through a tracheotomy. It is a standing joke among them that I introduced my self as Migualito which is “Little Mickey” because this is a very macho culture.

This afternoon we visited San Gargordio the community where we will be building our stoves. We were welcomed by a large contingent of women. Most of the men are off harvesting coffee to make a little income. The project, however, is spearheaded by the women and the very concept is empowering to these women. Its fascinating the way things are working. After an introduction we visited each of the houses that are to receive the first of the ovens. The living quarters are quite modest – concrete block structure, while the kitchens are detached and formed out of corrugated metal. The insides are black, coated with creasode from the smoke. An article in this months Smithsonian explains that most of the undeveloped world cooks over these open fires and that an hour under these conditions is the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes. This as you can see is a significant problem for these beautiful people and their children.

Afterward we were given a detailed description on how these stoves work. They were designed by a NASA Engineer and are truly a remarkable improvement in the existing technology these people have been using for centuries. They are far more fuel efficient preventing the destruction of forest and provide a smoke free environment. It's a wonder to behold and to which be a part.

The third aspect of this endeavor the empowerment of these women, the fabrication (of which we are a small part) is the education. These women undergo an extensive program so that they can utilize and take advantage of these stoves. Its an ongoing program and as long as they utilize the stoves properly and do not modify the design (e.g. Enlarging the opening to burn larger pieces of wood.) The stoves burn only twigs and small branches. They will be entitled to future help and repairs as necessary to the stoves.

We road back to San Lucas in the open air pickup truck. Each of us truly moved and encouraged by what we had learned not only from Candace, our director, but from these newly empowered women.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guatemala Transformational Journey Blog June 19 - Back Home!

We have made is back from our Journey, and what a Journey it was! All the projects were completed as 7 stoves were built for women and their families.   The roofing project was completed Friday and the family was extremely grateful for having that completed.  Reflecting back, it was an amazing trip!  It had it's share of challenges:  many of us got ill for a day or two, the roofing project had to be modified a little, some rain issues slowed some projects down...and yes, some language barriers that made communication interesting!  In Summary, it was a blessing for us all, and refreshing to know that God works in many ways that we do not see or understand at the moment.  The people of Guatemala were awesome...people of strong faith and work ethic, and one thing that many of us learned from them is that we should keep a strong faith in God, while giving what we can to help others.
Kathi Vandel giving a Gift to a grateful Lady who had a stove built in her home.

Jeremy Abshire Talks about the Roofing Project Completion (Below - You Tube Video).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guatemala Transformational Journeys Blog June 14

Hola from San Lucas Guatemala!

It’s hard to believe that things are coming to a close here in San Lucas!
The roofing project is almost complete, and could have been finished today..but the rain had different ideas.  At noon the rains came and shut the construction down, but according to Rogers Strickland, should be completed tomorrow on schedule (sounds like a construction guy!)
The stove project is nearing completion also, and should be wrapping up tomorrow as well.  As far as the schedule for this group.  Friday – wrapping up work projects,  Saturday – a day in Antiqua, Sunday – Trip Back.   This is part of the journey to where we are sad to go, but are looking forward to getting home to our families and friends.

Aaron Sommer gives a “thumbs up” on roof construction progress.
May God Bless!
Adios Amigos until next time!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guatemala Transformational Journeys Blog June 13

Buenos Diaz!
Yesterday (June 12) the group worked on finishing the first round of stoves and started the second round of stove building.  The people were quite excited to have this installed in their homes (replacing for most situations an open flame on the floor), and were the talk of the neighborhoods.  The children were happy to interact with us, and learned some new words from us (Jay Nower = Mucho Gringo) and other activities (Mattie Vandel teaching the young girls cartwheels like a cheerleader). Below are the stoves and the progress….exciting progress!

The roofing project is in full swing, and made some amazing progress yesterday.  Some of the leaders say we are 60-70% completed.  Below are some pictures..
Rogers Strickland was on the roof and with the aid of Jereme Abshire & Crew, made great progress.

Jereme Abshire running the impact wrench

Daniel Strickland running the Roof Seamer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Transformational Journeys Guatemala Blog June 11

Wow!  What a blessed day we had working down at San Lucas!  Some of us worked on the roofing project (more on that on the next blog!).  About half of the group worked on installing stoves that were installed in homes in San Lucas.  Now....these weren't the kind you buy at Wal Mart, Sam's Club, or Nebraska Furniture Mart.  These are made from Concrete Blocks!  Today we spent the day with 3 local masons who helped with these Stoves.  To construct these stoves, we had to cut concrete blocks with a machette (Large Knife normally used to cut vegetation).  We also had to mix the concrete and help with the construction of these stoves.

It was a great a rewarding time to help these families to get something that is more effecient, safe, and healthy for the family.  This will keep the women from cooking over an open flame...and help them prepare meals more effeciently!  Tomorrow we will be working on the roof.  Adios until next time!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Guatemala Transfromational Journeys Blog June 10

June 10, took a tour around lake. Got the history of San Lucas, which is almost 500 years old (est 1515). San Lucas also was moved from another location to the lake as a result of Animal activity (Lions & Tigers), and they moved to the lake near San Antonio (NOT the one in Texas, this one is in Guatemala!)  This community of San Lucas grew because people immigrated to town. 27,000 people live here now, that started with 11 families. Around lake there are 3 mayan dialects that are spoken around different towns on the Lake. 80% of the land grows coffee (cash crop). The other 20% grow corn, beans for local consumption.

With the Mayan Culture, we learned about the importance of corn, and how it it planted.  The corn is planted 2 feet apart with 4 seeds per hil..and is planted in rocky places and hand cultivated there.  After a 5 kilometer hike, learned about permaculture and the local seed bank. The corn colors coincided with the color associated with direction. (white corn marks north), it also matches the moon phases.  The theme of the Discussion is to use the energy to your advantage which includes: gathering seeds, planting, and other activities that rely on energies for best results. The Mayans have practiced the art of using the moon signs for activities for thousands of years.
Tomorrow the Work Projects Begin....Stay Tuned!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guatemala Crew June 9 Blog

Good Evening (Buenas Noches) from San Lucas Guatemala!

The San Lucas Transformational Journey's group has arrived in San Lucas!  Below are pictures from the trip down to San Lucas...over 5 hours in the air, and about that much on the ground!
We are glad to be here!  After some introductions and orientations, we went to some of the areas where we will be performing some work.
We  had a really neat tour this morning that showed different areas of the mission, such as the women's center, hospital, and the coffee processing facility.
We went to some of the homes that we will be building stoves for.  The ladies are happy that they are going to be actually cooking on a stove and not an open
flame in their kitchens.  Some of the pictures below show a before-after scenario as what the stove should look like when completed.

Looks like we have some work to do here and we can't wait to get started!
Until Next Time!  Adios!
Jay Nower

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spots still open for July San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala trip!

We have a few spots still open for our July trip to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. Trip dates are July 20-29. We will be building fuel-efficient woodburning stoves. If you are interested, email us at!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trip News: San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala: June 8th - 17th

11 travelers (from Gashland Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and Weston United Methodist Church in Weston, Missouri) will be making a Transformational Journey to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala from June 8th to June 17th!

The Project: roofing a home built by the San Lucas Mission and building 7 fuel-efficient wood burning cook stoves (which is an on-going TJ project).

We will be posting updates here on their projects and progress here on the TJ blog, and on TJ’s Facebook page.

Check Out with daily blogs from San Lucas Guatemala! Some roofing to be done, and some stoves to be built! Check out the Blog on and right here at!