Guatemalan Seed Project opens the door for the Christian gospel
by Patty Unruh
Part two of a two-part series
In part one of these articles about the Guatemalan Seed Project, we told how students in second- and fourth-grade classes at Gilpin Elementary School learned a bit about life in Guatemala. Gilpin resident Josh Bloom visited the children to tell them about the Seed Project, an endeavor that helped people in the village of San Francisco improve their lives in several ways.
Bloom and others traveled to Guatemala last fall to build a fish pond, animal pens, and plant beds that will help feed the villagers. The group also taught the people how to maintain this food source and grow enough extra to make money for additional needed items. The project will greatly benefit the community of 1,000 people.
In a separate interview with the Weekly Register-Call following Bloom’s visit in the classrooms, he shared the religious aspect of the ongoing mission, which was not part of the presentation to the children.
Bloom, whose background is in commercial construction, first heard about the need for the Seed Project through his mission partner Isaac Sabioa.
“Isaac and I became friends when we worked with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Tyler, Texas. One night, God gave Isaac a dream about this project. Isaac explained it to me, but he didn’t have the skills or ability to do it. I wanted to help make Isaac’s dream become a reality. We worked together about a year dialoguing back and forth about how to build it.”
The project is a joint effort of several Christian ministries. Bloom is now affiliated with Christ the King Community Church in Gilpin County and is sponsored through the church. Sabioa, a Brazilian who lives in the U.S., serves through YWAM. A third partner named Julio is from a group called My Hope Forever (MHF). Another Brazilian named Adrian started MHF; he is a businessman who does missions through business.
“We explained to Adrian what we were doing, and MHF partnered with us and helped supply financing for the project. Rather than just giving money, MHF goes into small villages and supplies animals to help build communities. MHF is also big on discipleship and sharing the gospel.”
Bloom’s journey to the village of San Francisco was quite an adventure. He flew from Denver to Dallas, then drove from Dallas to Tyler, where he rented a car and met up with Sabioa. They drove from Tyler to Houston, where they could get a cheap flight to Guatemala City. There, they got picked up by a local contact, who drove them in a truck about four hours to the town of Salama. From Salama, they drove 45 minutes to San Miguel Chicaj. It was another half hour to San Francisco in the back of a truck over narrow roads. The project site was a half mile from San Francisco. The men ate their meals with the villagers, but for lack of other lodging stayed in a small hotel in Salama each night.
The project was laid out during a two-week trip in September, and supplies were located. By the time Bloom returned in November, several village workers who were excited to help had the pond dug out by hand. Bloom and the others worked for four weeks in November and December to complete the pond, animal pens, and planting beds.
Supplies came from everywhere. Bloom and Sabioa brought nine boxes of pipe fittings and other parts from the States to ensure that these necessities were available.
“The generator and pump were from Guatemala City. We got lots of materials in Salama. It was a struggle, because we just had small pickups to use, and sometimes they didn’t work. The roads were very bad. Men and women would help by carrying cement blocks on their heads from the trucks to the site, because we couldn’t get the trucks there.”
Equipment was also a challenge. Pumps stopped working, and a borrowed tractor was “worse than nothing.” They had to drive through the river every day, which was sometimes high and flooded the truck. Another truck would have to come and pull them out.
The tilapia fish were purchased at a fish farm, and transporting them was a whole day project.
“It was a two-and-a-half-hour trip each way to the fish farm. We filled 55-gallon barrels with water, then put the fish in the barrels and brought them back. As we’d go through the villages, people would really look at these white Americans,” he laughed. “We’d call them over, reach in and pull out some fish to give them.”
The primary reason for the project, Bloom said, was to show God’s love to the people and to tell them about Jesus Christ. Helping the villagers with their physical needs was a means to caring for their spiritual needs as well.
“We had three community gatherings to share who Jesus was,” Bloom advised. “The invitation got out by word of mouth. At first we’d look around and think no one was coming, because the terrain was steep and we couldn’t see them. Then all of a sudden, they’d appear over a hill. We made friends with a bakery owner in a nearby town and brought little cakes and juice to share.”
The people’s beliefs were a mix of Catholicism and witchcraft. Some had heard of Jesus but thought they had to pay to hear the gospel message, as they would pay a witch doctor, in order not to have bad things happen to them.
“We shared a basic message of who Jesus was and what he did. He already paid the price, his blood washes all of us clean, and when we put our faith in him, that’s it. We don’t need to keep paying the witch doctor. Some of them really got it. They accepted the Lord and were set free.”
The missionaries sang songs with the children, told stories, and handed out candy when kids answered questions about the stories. They also got out and played tag and had fun with the kids.
Wednesday, February 20, Bloom and his teenage son Josiah left for a third trip to Guatemala. During the two-week trip, Bloom will check on the progress of the project and do some Bible teaching. And, as an ordained minister, Bloom may be marrying “Larry” and “Adela,” the local managers of the project – or at least, attending their wedding! He also plans to help put footers in for a house for them that will be near to the pond.
A fourth visit is being planned to build a church, which will be called Christ the King Church-Guatemala.
The project’s physical and spiritual help will expand, as Larry and Adela plan to help their own community and to serve as missionaries in other countries. Another local, “Santos,” hopes to come to the States for training in social work so he can go back and help his community.
Bloom summed up the tremendous impact of the Seed Project.
“They struggle for what little they have. I was the first white man the villagers had seen, and it touched them that an outsider cared enough to come and give them a better way.”
Dreams really can come true and bear fruit. For one small community in Guatemala, the Seed Project bears promise that all things are possible for a hopeful future.