A Chance To Make A Difference

go min van

It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.

Tom Brokaw

I received a Facebook message this week from James Cook.  James is a connection I made in Guatemala this past summer.  We have a few things in common:  a funny sense of humor, a love for our wives and kids, and a big heart for the people of Xenacoj.  James proposed to me an opportunity to make a difference in the village of Xenacoj.

James was recently back in Xenacoj for a medical missions trip.  As he explained the trip to me, it was his hardest trip so far and his best trip so far.  When you are in Xenacoj, it’s easy to fall in love with the people who live there and the people who serve there.  Our mutual friend, Dave Sgro, is one of those people we both love as a brother.  Dave lives in the United States, but he returns to Xenacoj about once a month to continue missions through GO! Ministries.

GO! Ministries brings the gospel message to Xenacoj through practical service, connection, and teaching.  GO! doesn’t require a lot of on the ground resources, but there are a few indispensable tools.  One of those tools is the van.  Currently, GO! has a white Chevy 15-passenger van that is used to transport short-term missionaries into and around the village of Xenacoj.  Dave drove the van from the United States through Mexico and down to Xenacoj when his family with 13 children lived in Xenacoj.  When the family returned to the United States a few years ago, he left the van there to be used for the ministry.  The van has traveled many miles and has many stories.  The van has seen its better days, and the costs to repair the vehicle and to keep it road-worthy are becoming too much to be truly practical.  In other words, it’s time for a new van.

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If you’ve been to Xenacoj the last couple of years to serve with GO! Ministries, you probably have a van story or two.  One of my favorite van stories surrounds my first visit to the village of San Antonio.  This is a small mountain village three miles and forty-five minutes outside of Xenacoj.  We took the van up to San Antonio.  The first two miles where fairly easy as the van navigated the windy paved roads outside of Xenacoj.  Then things took a bumpy turn when we turned off the payment and onto a dirt road.  Before we went to far, the van stopped and Dave invited us up on the roof to enjoy the views as we continued the journey.  The ride was not comfortable at all, but the views were spectacular and the memories made were incredible.

When we arrived at the top, we had the opportunity to serve a meal to the children of this small village.  We also served them frozen pops we brought up from Xenacoj.  These were the poorest conditions we saw during our trip to Guatemala.  The experience left a mark on me forever, and this would not have happened without the van.

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The cost to replace the van is $21,000.  When James reached out to me, he spoke about trying to find 21 organizations to donate $1,000 each.  I don’t think he was necessarily thinking about The Stretched Community being one the 21 organizations, but I couldn’t help but imagine the chance to make a difference again for Xenacoj.  Why not?  I have seen the impact GO! Ministries is having for the people of Xenacoj first hand, and I know a new van could help make a big difference.  Let’s see if we can be one of the 21 organizations to contribute.  Let’s see if we can raise $1,000 together to make a difference.

Won’t you join me in supporting this cause?  Won’t you take the chance to make a difference?

For more information or to give directly to this cause, click here.

To sweeten the pot, I’d like to make an offer:  For anyone who gives $25, I’ll send you a copy of Traveling Nomads: (Black and White Version), a book written by six World Racers who traveled to Xenacoj.  For anyone who gives $50, I’ll send you a copy of Traveling Nomads and Giving Jesus Skin (Black and White Edition), another book written by another group of World Racers who traveled to Xenacoj.  For anyone who gives $75, I’ll send you the first two books and a copy of my book, On Track: Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  And for anyone who gives $100 or more, I’ll send you the first three books and Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins.  This is a book that I read right before my first trip to Guatemala.  The book had a profound impact on me, and I’d love to give it to you in exchange for a generous donations towards the van.

In order to get these books, you need to make a donation through the site (click here) and indicate “Stretched” as part of your donor information.  (Then send me an email at jonstolpe at gmail dot com.)  Once you’ve done this, I’ll find a way to get you these books.

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!