Guatemalan orphan girl at Eagle's Nest Orphanage

Be the change you want to see in the world."  Mahatma Ghandi


This post is the first in a series about Humanitarian Work - how can we make a positive contribution to the world? How can we discover what our contribution is?

One thing that our travels continue to teach us is that there is so much need in humanity - starving children, orphans, poverty, ignorance, disease.

One person can't do everything. One person can't help everyone. But one person can do something and help someone. And that's enough.

I call this the 'starfish principle.' (Thanks Colin for the idea).

Your job is to find out HOW and WHO.

It's been about 8 weeks since we left Belize, visited Tikal, and then came to Panajachel, Guatemala.

We've rented a nice little house. We've gotten into a comfortable routine of chores; education/study time; writing (posts, guest articles and our free Living Deliberately book).

We're also working on recording videos (as answers to your questions, and for our Living Deliberately course that will be re-released soon), and my husband's newest site.

Life has been pretty, you know, ordinary. Regular. Routine.

Buying produce at the mercado

Well, I guess as 'ordinary' and 'routine' as it can be when you're living in Guatemala.

We still find delight in the colors of the native dress, with the women in their huipils and cortes. We love the bliss of buying cheap, fresh food that nourishes your body, and the pleasure of a year-round, spring-like temperatures.

Other wonderful things have been taking place as well. We've had friends visiting for our Unconventional Family Convention. We've been discussing education; essential oils; homesteading; exploring organic farms and agriculture schools; studying self-sufficiency, permaculture, vermicomposting, and other fascinating subjects.

So after another 'normal' day, we arranged with the Unconventional Crew to visit a local orphanage.

I hadn't thought much about it, or what to expect. Our friends arranged it all, and we just needed to show up.

A woman with a baby strapped to her began giving us a tour of the campus. We started in with questions about her family. She and her husband had just moved to Guatemala last year with their nine children (yes, nine. Five of them are adopted. Two from Guatemala - one from this orphanage. Two from Texas. One from Ethiopia.) They'd given up the corporate life to devote themselves to serving orphans.

Wow. Talk about incredible.

The Block family with their nine children

She showed us their 'Manna Feeding Center' where they serve meals to local children from the community who qualify for the program.

Then she told me about the baby she was carrying in her sling. One-month-old Abby was given up by her very young mother due to some unpleasant circumstances (I was asked not to share too many personal details.)

Looking into her sweet little face, tears nearly overflowed with this incredible desire to not only HOLD her, but to HELP the world become a place where situations like this don't happen.

One month old Abby

The Manna Feeding Center

I've felt this feeling before - the intense desire to make a difference. It motivated our initial adventures. It burned within when we moved to India. It's been the topic of much discussion between my husband and I.

Yet I think the feeling has gone a little dormant. The blaze has shrunk to a spark.


Just today, I picked up my computer case that had been sitting on a bedside table for over a week. It was dust-covered, and had to be brushed off. Without regular use, we tend to collect a little bit of dust and grime. We get a little stale.

Seeing the orphans, and being inspired by people who are devoting their lives to 'being the change,' it felt like the dust was brushed off my soul, and sparks were re-ignited. And I recognized that my desire to be a change agent had gotten a little dusty from lack of use.

It's not that we've never committed ourselves to 'humanitarian efforts.' I mean, we did spend five months in India (while I was pregnant), working with the leprosy affected. We've visited orphanages and passed out books in Mayan villages along this trip.

We even talk about the best way to approach humanitarian work on a regular basis - how to make it truly 'self-helpful' instead of a crippling handout.

But something about this visit stirred my spirit. It made me think about if I'm giving enough focus on what I want my life to be about. What legacy do I want to leave? What example do I want to set for my children?

There's a big difference between doing humanitarian work and devoting your life to creating change. We've done humanitarian work. We've worked on other peoples projects. But what have I devoted myself to changing about the world?

It's easy to return back to normal life after participating in an orchestrated humanitarian project. You build the house, dig the well, feed the orphan, and then go home.

It's something entirely different to become the person who inspires change, orchestrates improvement, and lifts humanity - where ever she goes.

I want to become that kind of person.

But I have to ask myself, what change do I 'want to see in the world?' And then I have to 'BE' it.

We don't all have the same mission, or interest. Some want to eradicate leprosy. Others care for orphans, or special needs.

Some devote themselves to bringing clean water to the world, or liberating children soldiers. And there are some who serve the all-important role of financing those 'on the ground'.

They are all needed. They all fill a worthwhile role. The only difference in the work that is done relates to the individual who initiates it.

 One person is all it takes to start a movement. One person is all it takes to create change.

That's how this orphanage came to be. Someone saw a need, and rather than asking why somebody didn't do something about abandoned children in Guatemala, they decided to be the 'somebody' that did something.

Now these children, although parent-less, at least have a home to live in, food to eat, and a chance for an education. They have hope.

So how do you discover 'your change' that you want to BE and SEE?

Start by asking what's important to you, and what's 'wrong' with the world that you'd like to fix.

For me, I want to do more than feed someone. I want to teach them to fish. Instead of handouts, I want to support self-sufficiency. I'm passionate about education. I want to do something for others that they can't do for themselves.

In general, people don't lack food, or clothes or 'things' that others need to give to them, as much as they lack ideas on how to provide it for themselves.

I want to be an Idea Spreader. I want to plant knowledge.

What is the change you want to BE and SEE? Please share with me below.

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”  Mahatma Ghandi


Click here if you're interested in learning more about the Block family, or here if you would like to support their mission.

Click here for more about Eagles Nest Orphanage.

The video below shares our visit, as well as:

  • Adopting in Guatemala
  • Current needs of Eagles Nest
  • Special Needs teacher needed
  • Sponsorship opportunities



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11 Responses

  1. Donald

    Thanks for highlighting this ministry. I like being able to support real change. Thanks for the opportunity.

  2. Mike Routen

    I want to be the example of the middle-class American that walks away from their mind-numbing, soul-sucking job, gives up on the materialistic race that is all around us and starts living his own dream.

    The one that causes other to stop and at least ask themselves if they are also living life on auto-pilot and if they want to take back the control of their lives so they can live the life that they were destined for.

    I want to see families that long for a life more worth living to be able to get out from under the burden of debt and seeking approval from society. To be able to see their own dreams come true and to see how they can make a positive impact on their world.

  3. Pete

    Great site, guys. Love the message.

    Not to sound shallow at all about the value and power of service, but at first blush it does seem kind of difficult to “be” the instrument of change you seek, but still have the freedom to travel. You have more experience than I do in both the service and travel arenas. I’d be curious for your thoughts. Thanks.

    • Rachel

      Hi Pete,

      That’s a great question. I think travel has helped me to see ‘what’s out there in the world’, and to care more about doing something about it.

      I think it’s possible to combine ‘being change’ and traveling. It might require slow travel though, so you have enough time to implement change in the places you’re visiting. We’re currently organizing some self-sufficiency projects with the locals, teaching them gardening and animal husbandry to provide for their families needs. But we’ve been here for two months already, and will probably be here a while longer while we work on these projects.

      Maybe that will answer your question?

  4. Joe Carney

    Thank you and bless you for sharing about this mission’s story. I’ve been looking for one to support that I trust will use the money for the right reasons. Your report was much more effective than receiving an advertisement. So I donated and will continue to donate at regular intervals.

  5. Megan

    Thanks for this post! I have been looking for a Christian orphanage that I can serve in for around 6 months in the coming year (preferably near Guatemala City) and was wondering if you knew any that I could look into? Thank you so much!!

  6. RachelDenning

    @Megan  I don’t know of any orphanages in Guatemala City, but I do recommend which runs this orphanage in Huehuetenango (from this post


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