Update with FTLOM & All That Has Been Going On With Us..
I figured it had been awhile since i have posted on this blog and so it was probably time to do an update! Currently we have been busy planning our FTLOM Fiesta Fundraiser which i am hosting September 24th at our farm in Paola. Our hope is that we will be able to raise funds to help us cover some of the expenses we pay each month in Guatemala that we do not receive monthly support for such as : our in-country assistant's salary for the year which is $800 a month and the monthly salary for the 3 gardeners we pay salaries for which is $272 a month per gardener. Tickets for our fundraiser are still available and can be purchased on our website on the fundraiser tab! We would love to have you join us!
A few of the ways we make money to help pay for the things above that we do not receive a monthly sponsorship donation for is by bringing teams to Guatemala on mission trips and anything left over after expenses can help pay for these things, in addition we do online and in person fundraisers. At times I do feel a lot of pressure worrying how the funds will be covered because I know those in Guatemala that receive this monthly salary depend on them to feed and provide for their families, I don't want to let them down. Somehow things have worked out up to this point although as we come upon the time that we will need to pay salaries again. ( My December 2021 Mission team fundraised money to help pay for these salaries for a year so i went ahead and sent the money over to Guatemala and was able to pay in full for a year.) PRAYING HARD that we are able to raise enough money at our fundraiser to cover these again for another year!
The 3 gardeners work in the garden 6 days a week and work long hours. The fruits and veggies grown in the garden are them distributed to the children in an after school program, to home bound elderly in their village, orphanages, hospitals, and disadvantage families in their community. My assistant and I have suggested to the two leaders of the garden project that they start selling some of their veggies and fruit so that they can use that money to buy garden supplies and seeds they need throughout the year instead of relying on the donations of our mission teams. I really have learned a lot
over the years and one of the biggest lessons is that these projects need to be able to be sustainable. That is one of the big reasons I loved the garden project, I can see how sustainability is possible with what they do although, its been a little harder getting some on board with it.
I just got back in June from leading a mission trip to Guatemala where we accomplished quite a bit and immediately came home and started planning our December Mission Trip. We do have a smaller group going in December which i think it probably due to the pandemic and some of the financial constrains so many are having. Thankfully we have been able to continue to do so much monthly for our projects in Guatemala! Right now we have 13 outreach projects we support to some degree on a monthly basis. We have built 34 homes in Guatemala already and have 4 more that we will built by December. That is 38 families with NEW homes to live in with their families because of our AMAZING supporters!!! We have around 40 or more families currently enrolled in our grocery program. So our assistant purchases the groceries and then delivers them to the families each month. We also still help support Esperanza Juvenil monthly by sending over a significant amount of money from our sponsors that sponsor a child at their home/school to help cover some of the expenses involved with the children living there and going to school.
FTLOM has been around now for 10 years, i led my first mission trip in June of 2010. What we have been able to create and do together is amazing! It has far exceeded anything I thought we could have ever done!
We have three memorial funds through FTLOM that have been able to provide all kinds of support in communities as well as in Guatemala.
The TJ Braden Legacy Fund has continued to support educational based programs and has been committed to supporting children in Guatemala by sponsoring 50 children each year to receive scholarships to go to school. They have also paid to have a classroom built in TJ's memory, in Yalu where an English Immersion School was started. ( This is one of the two classrooms that FTLOM was able to build at that school alone.) TJ's sisters, Danielle and Jessica have worked hard together to raise funds each year to continue being able to do all they do to help keep their brothers memory alive!
Laura's Trust in Gods Plan Fund was started in memory of my best friend, Laura Park who passed away in August of 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Her family put this memorial fund together to help people in need, just like Laura would always do. So far their fund has provided groceries to multiple families in need, paid to have a home built in her memory for a family in Guatemala, paid for a water system and seeds for the community garden in Guatemala that FTLOM supports on a regular basis, as well as provided donations to churches and organizations locally that were near and dear to Laura's heart. Her family continues to bless others through her memorial.
Karen Loar's Helping Hand Fund was started in memory of Karen Loar my mother who passed away on September 11th, 2022 after years of declined health. My mom was a mother to 6 children an was just shy of celebrating 50 years with my dad, Bill Loar ( their 50th anniversary would have been August of this year.) Growing up we didn't have a lot of money and experienced many times when they were blessed by others to receive a hand up; whether it be someone helping change a flat tire as she was stranded on the side of the road with the 6 kids, or providing food, clothing, and or gifts for our family during holidays or hard times. Since mom passed, her memorial fund has been able to bless others in many ways; both in our local community as well as in Guatemala. In Guatemala, there have been 5 homes that have been built in my moms honor for families in need, a family is being sponsored monthly to receive groceries, scholarships have been donated to families in need of a hand up to help them get through the holidays, teaches have had school supplies donated to help them start off their school year, and hundreds of books have been donated to schools in both Guatemala as well as in our local community.
Life gets so busy sometimes, it seems when i think things will calm down or go right, something else happens that shakes things up. Although i have been around long enough to see God in action first hand and i know if he brings me to it, he will see me through it. Every part of FTLOM is because of God putting people in our path that allowed us to meet a goal, or help someone be able to achieve a lifelong dream of getting to serve others on a mission trip. Currently I lead two mission trips a year to Guatemala, one in June and one in December. In 2023 I will be leading a trip in July and one in December due to prior engagements in June of 2023 ( a big one...my daughter Adyson is getting married at our family farm!) When I feel tired or stressed and find myself worrying about where the money will come from; I have learned to find a quite place and calm myself to the place where i am able to TRUST and REMEMBER that this organization was Gods plan, he will be the one to FIGURE OUT what is needed. I try to think of all of those that have passed on and who are not able to be here physically anymore and how I know if they could, they would. So I feel like I need to get over my own stress and anxieties and LIVE each and everyday in gratitude and with FULL and COMPLETE TRUST in the God and his plan for my life; including the hard seasons. His plan has always been greater than my own!
I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you who have prayed, donated and or served FTLOM and our outreach projects in someway. You are the HEART of what we do!!! Bless you and your family!!!
xoxo, Val Edwards