Short Term Mission Trip 2018

13 adults and youth are preparing to serve along side the missionaries of Groundwork Guatemala Team at four locations in and around Guatemala City, Guatemala this summer from July 21-July 28, 2018.

The Team is preparing a Bible Lesson on “God’s Protection” using the Bible story of Moses being found in a basket at 3 months old by the daughter of the Pharaoh. The lesson will be presented along with songs in Spanish, and craft project and activity booklets for over 600 children, teens and adults during the week.

In-Kind Donations are being collected from four area churches that the team will transport down to Guatemala. Health items and medical supplies and as well as needed items for the ministry will be collected thru the end of June.  Cash donations can also be made for this purpose.

Your gifts of financial support for the Mission Team can be sent to Trinity Lutheran Church, please add on the memo line “Guatemala Mission Team”. 

Your prayers are greatly appreciated. If you would like to be a prayer partner and receive all team updates and reports from the mission field, send an  e-mail to Rev. Dennis Lassanske at  and you will be added to the prayer partners contact list.



Update #1

Hola Amigos!!

We safely arrived in Guatemala last night!!
Saturday morning our team gathered at Trinity at 8:30am for the send off of prayers, hugs, and sang: "Light my candle....go into the world." While Liz made her way to the Denver airport. As we got to our designated airports, we discovered that all of our flights were delayed. This ended up being a blessing for all of us. We had kind people to help our team get the bags all checked in, and they had plenty of time to teach the newbies our traditional card game of Golf.

As God would have it, Liz and the team's flight landed in Atlanta at the exact same time. Liz was headed for the tram and bumpped right into some familiar faces. We were all together now and could relax before our final flight into Guatemala City. Flying right at sunset was so beautiful to see from 32,000 feet. Not only did we get a painted sky, but a lightning storm to follow. Little did we know that a miraculous trip throught customs would close out our travel day. We walked right through, no questions asked, no bags checked thanks to the two young men helping us with our luggage. All we had to do was hand in our customs forms and bypass the baggage scanners.

Waiting for us at the exit, there they were, our lovely hosts, Ginny, Kevin, and Manual . We loaded up the two vans with 13 checked bags, 13 carry-ons, 13 backpacks, and just as many people. We got settled in the mission house and had a good night's sleep.

Today, Sunday, we had breakfast just the way we like it (as Kevin always says), recieved some more house & saftey rules, and headed to church by 10am. Experiencing praise and worship in a different cultural setting was a wonderful time for all of us. There was liturgical dancing, passionate prayers, enthusiastic singing, and a powerful preached sermon. We could all feel the Holy Spirit moving in the room even when we didn't know what was being sung or prayed during the service. Each of us were impacted in a positive way by the worship experience today. We walked back to the house to eat some homemade grilled cheese sandwiches thanks to Ginny.

All afternoon was spent unloading, sorting, organizing, and doing some house projects together. We are so grateful for all the in-kind donations (toothbrushes, medicine, school supplies, craft items, etc.) that supports the work of Groudwork Guatemala Ministry. Thank you to all those who contributed. A little later in the afternoon we had a surprise visitor, Gisele. She is Lilivet Ryder's sister. She has helped this ministry out before by doing some translating. She also brought a surprise snack, fried plaintains with refried beans, and sugar on top - cultural, interesting, and good!

The evening was spent by preparing teaching lessions, practicing our spanish songs, and sharing the first lesson of our daily devotion, "Crourageous" based off of Joshua 1:9.
We have an early morning tomorrow; please keep us in your prayers as we visit people in their homes and learn about Only a Child Ministry.

If you would like to see daily picture updates you can visit the Groundwork Guatemala Facebook page or copy this link:

Dios le Bendiga (God Bless You)



Update #2

Hola! Hola! Hola!
We survived our second full day here in Guatemala. Our team experienced the culture on a deeper level than yesterday, and the Guatemalans have already made an impact on us all!
     This morning we were able to reconnect (or meet) the Guatemalan missionaries that work with Ginny and Kevin. We sat in the upper room and introduced ourselves, as well as, had a devotional led by Jullian, one of the missionaries. The devotion theme was all about how to be generous. After being encouraged by Jullian's lesson, we headed out to see a man named George.
George is another missionary from Boston. He has been here for 20 full years running the ministry called "Only A Child." The heart behind what George does is to take in street boys and teach them about God, family, good work ethic, and how to create beautiful wooden boxes. We got to hear the story of how this ministry came about. Whether this was our first time or our fifth time hearing it, we were all amazed at how God orchestrated every detail for George and these boys to come together with what was needed for a safe work and living space. We then got to meet all of the boys. They told us how long they have been with the ministry and what their personal goals are.
Normally after we visit George's, we make a stop at the Guatemalan City Dump. Today, however, we did not. Kevin took us to the entrance of the dump instead of looking down into it from the bluff of the cemetary. We saw all of the garbage trucks and the people going in and out. Kevin explained the cycle of the people in this area, the reasons why they work in the dump, and some of the sad stories of these people.
Next we headed back to the mission house for some traditional beans, rice, and tortillas to enjoy for lunch. The Guatemalan missionaries ate with us and then helped us prepare for our Bible lessons, crafts, and songs that we will present tomrrow at El Ricon. We will be split up into 3 groups: adults, teens, & children. We are teaching the story of Moses in the Nile and how God protects us in times of trouble. You can look up our theme verse for the week in the Bible - Psalm 46:1 & pray that we will have courage and strength to procalim God's love through what we have planned. Pray that the people's hearts will be open and ready to recieve the Hope of Christ.
The afternoon house visits at La Libertad challenged us to step out of our comfort zones. For some of the team it was being in an unfamilar neighborhood and for others it was speaking to the people what God had placed on our hearts. We were split up into two different groups, and each had some of the Guatemalan missionaries leading us to see specific families. House visits are all about building relationships, sharing God's Word, and praying together.
One of the houses we went to, we met two ladies, Elaina (48 yrs old) & Maria (16 yrs old). They both work in the dump to collect sacks or bags. They take them back to their house to get washed, and then they try to resell them in the market. They told us they wash about 1200 sacks a day. Maria doesn't go to school anymore. She stopped at 3rd grade. We asked if she wanted to go back, and she said 'no'. Elaina wanted us to pray that her kids would study hard so they could have a good future. If you do not have an education, you will have almost no chance of getting a good job. This is how people end up working in the dump.
Another house visit was spent at a young girl's place named Lydia. This home revealed hope in an overwhelming family situation. Lydia has lost her parents, was abandonded by her husband, and is pregnant with a second child at age 20. She and her sister manages a household of 12. With her young family, she still goes to school with younger siblings in the evening. Upon our arrival we were welcomed into her house as she quickly got out her Bible and pointed us to her favorite Bible passage, Joshua 1:9. We were encouraged by her derterminitation and desire to better her future. We were privlidged to pray over her that God would continue to give her courage and strength in the days ahead.

It never ceases to amaze us how the families we visit deal with and rise above what seems or looks to us like impossible situations by finding hope in God's love.

Monday was concluded with sharing our highs and lows of the day, final preprations for tomorrow, and our team devotional on courage.
Once again please check out our daily pictures using this URL:




Update #3

Hola Amigos!!!
Today was our first offical day out on the road! We ventured out to El Ricon, which means "the corner". We'll tell you more about that later, but first...
     ...The start of our day began with devotions led by Manuel. He talked about the story of the leper. A big point of the message was to have faith for Jesus to heal us, but also for us to take care of our hearts by getting rid of the sin in our lives. It was encouraging once again. After devos we got on our "sun sauce" and "bug sauce", made sure we had our TP in our pockets, and loaded up the vans. Riding in the vans is an experience in it's self. Julian and Manuel are our divers, and they do a marvalous job weaving in and out of the traffic. If you are not used to cars swooping into your lane and motorcycles riding inbetween the two lanes, then you are in for quite the adventure!!
We made it to El Ricon after about 45 minutes of riding in Guatemalan traffic. We got closer and closer to the volcanos as we drove. What a beautiful sight! We started out our time there by doing house visits. We split up into three groups, and each of us seemed to have a difference experience.
     Groupo #1 consists of Henriet, Connie, Barb, Caitlyn, Randy, Aracely, & her husband, Ronnie. We visited Elvira and she directed us to the home of her son, Mario, when we asked her for prayer requests. He had been involved in a car accident while riding his bike. He broke his hip, lower leg, and had multiple scrapes on his face. His wounds are not healing well and needs to see a doctor tomorrow. When we had asked what to pray for he said he didn't know what to ask for. He never really attends church unless he is going for a wedding or funeral. Our prayers for him focused on blessing family members who are providing good care of him, asking God to heal his fractures, and for direction in his life that leads to Jesus as he heals.
     Groupo #2 consists of Pastor L, Liz, Don, Brian, Carole, Kevin, and Sandra. They went to Maria's home. She is a 68 year old woman who has been suffering with sciatic back pain. She demonstrated trusting dependence on the Lord. Our group offered encouragement, the strength of God's Word, and prayers. On our way out, a family member drew a bucket of water from their deep well in the home. We discovered the water to be extremely hot. The high temperature is due to the volcano nearby.
     Groupo #3 consists of Michelle, Emily, Joel, and Carlos. They saw Cesar, who is Jason and Lilivet's sponsor child. It is always a blessing meeting your sponsor kids. Cesar is doing great in his studies and is planning to be a mechanic in his future. They shared how thankful they were to be able to be sponsored. The mom, Hilda, shared Psalm 91, which is the passage to encourage her with strength and guidance. They ended with prayer.

          Also, a special surprise visitor came to us in El Ricon today, a young man named Rolando. He is Barb's sponsor child. He lives in Gonzalez Park, our Thursday location. He knew he would have been in school the time we would be there, so he decided to attend classes in El Ricon today so he would get the special opportunity to see Barb.
House visits really give us a glimpse of how the Guatemalans live and what they go through. Their prayer requests tend to be very similar: blessings on their family, health, and good education.

     Previously when our church has come here, Kevin always takes us to see a woman named, Margarit, and a man named, Carlos. They have the miraculous story of the well. Briefly, the story: Margarit hired this man, Carlos, from Nicaragua, to build a well at their home. Unfourtunately, he had abused Margarit's daughters, and at one point when he was building the well, he fell in. He now has one leg and is in a wheelchair. The amazing part of this story is God's love and forgivness in Margrit's heart. After the tragedies that happened with her daughters, she forgave him and chose to care for him. For those of you who know the story of the well, the newest update is, their home has been overtaken by a local farmer, and their land is now full of corn stalks. If you look through the corn, you can still see the well. Looking at it, buried behind the greenery, we were reminded of God's great love and forgiveness for us.

After lunch, the kids started to arrive for the faith lesson. We all had a blast attempting to read to them in Spanish, attempting to jump rope, and attempting to talk to them as best as we could with the little Spanish we know. This was a big highlight of the day for most of us. Seeing the joy and laughter of the children melts our hearts. We then separated into our groups to do the teachings. Emily, Liz, and Caitlyn taught the 10 teens today. Barb, Carole, Michille, Joel, Brian, Connie, and Randy worked with about 100 kids. Pastor and Don led the 75 adults. So we had a good size crowd today. Again, it is a joy to see the people grasping God's message. We pray the Word will soak into their lives. We shared so many hugs, smiles, and waves 'goodbye'.
We hopped back into the van for the crazy, fun ride back to the mission house. Once again, Ginny blessed us with an amazing, nutricious dinner when we arrived. We shared our highs and lows of the day. It is always special hearing everyone's insights to what they were touched by each day. We ended the night by chatting with George from "Only A Child." He brought over the homemade boxes and told us how the ordering worked. We also got to ask him some more questions about the ministry and the kids that work there. It was also neat to hear the story behind why George came up with the name, "Only a Child!"
It was a busy, but life-giving day! We are on the road by 6:30 am tomorrow for a 2 hour ride to Buena Vista. Thanks everyone for praying!
Dios te bendiga! (May God bless you!)

Pictures from this week:


Update #4

Hola Amigos!
Today was spent in the lovely village of Buena Vista! It was very hot, but very beautiful; very heart breaking, and very life-giving.
     We left early this morning for the 2 hour van ride into the sub-tropical area known for the suagr cane fields. We got a clearer look of the volcanos: Pacaya, Agua, Fuego, & Acahtango. We could see the smoke coming out of some of them. As we got closer to the village, those of us in the non-air conditioning van could feel the air getting warmer and warmer. The road eventually went from bumpy paved road, to bumpy rocky/dirt road. Having two hours in the van with the Guatemalan missionaries gave us good opportunity to get to know them better, to hear their stories, and for language practice. It is such a blessing and makes the time fly by so quickly.
When we arrived in the village, we drove down the narrow street, which used to be an old railroad track. We arrived at the pavillion, unloaded the vans, put on a lot of bug spray and sunscreen, and then jumped right into ministry!! The clinic was open with Henriet, Ana, & Julian, while Pastor L and Don started their time teaching time with all of the adults. The rest of us went on house visits. Our first stop was the school. For most of us, this was a heartbreaking experience. Kevin took us around the building. All of the classrooms were dark, hot, and crowded. Some had 57 students in there. The kindergarten teacher didn't come to the school today, so some of those kids joined another classroom. Some children had books and some did not. We all thought, "how do these kids learn with so much chaos happening around them?"
We split up into three groups again:
     Groupo #1 - Liz, Caitlyn, Emily, Michelle, Joel, Carlos, and Marvin (from Only A Child). We were so grateful to have Marvin join us today to help translate! We walked a long way down the road to find this cute little girl named Adriana. We chatted with her mom a little before we went next door to see Maria. Adriana followed us. She really liked Emily and Randy, probably because they entertained her with peek-a-boo at her house!! Back at Maria's, we listened to her prayer requests and discovered she had diabetes. The doctors also thought she may need a dialysis, but the doctors office that provides that is not in Maria's range. It is very hard for the people here to get to the doctors quickly and to get to the type of doctor they need. This was also the case for little Adriana. She has a lot of bad upper respiratory problems that none of the doctors near by could take care of. These situations were hard to hear. We prayed with great faith for healing and brought encouragement to these families.
     Groupo #2 - Don, Carole, Barb, Connie, Cesar, and Sandra. We went to see Debra, a 20 year old girl. She had a full term baby. Unfortunately, the baby died 2 weeks after the birth. Debra was still so sad and tearful as we shared scripture and prayer. She seemed to have good support. Most of us felt she will come through this trying time with the help of the Lord. We encouraged her for when she is feeling alone and sad to read the scriptures. God's Word is powerful, and it's His strength that gets us though these sad tough times. His heart is feeling what Debra's is feeling. We prayed over her fervently.
     Groupo #3 - Pastor L, Henriet, Kevin, Julian, and Ana. We visited Domino in Xaya (pronounced "Shy-ya"). He is a 25 year old man who had a stroke 1 year ago and was near death, weighed 75 to 100 pounds, & he had the apperance of a Holocaust survivor. His grandmother was his caregiver. Ana & Julian visit him regularly and bring him hope. They care for his physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs. They encouraged him to complete exercises to give him strength. He smiles a broad smile when he hears Ana's voice. Today he weighs 125 pounds and looks healthy. He was glad to demonstrate his ability to walk the length of parallel bars. Ana and Julian built them for him. Julian was correct when he said, "This is love in action!"

In these hard scenarios, we have to remember the Truth of God's Word. James 5:11 says, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have perservered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

After our PB&J lunches, we did the kid and teen faith lessons. It was harder to get the teens to get into the music, but the little kiddos just loved singing. Oscar does a wonderful job getting children to listen and pay attention. Cesar was the one translating for the teenagers today. For the teens, they answered the questions about the story very quickly; one girl in particular knew every single answer. It was a little crazier over with the kiddos. Brian was telling us about the several children that kept asking him for help with the craft and with the little Spanish he knew, he would tell them, "un momento, un momento!" As he would turn from one kid to the next! It is always a joy working with the cute little ones.

On our ride back, we made a special stop at the "puente de misterioso". We were surprised with the outcome, but we can't share what it is. I guess you'll have to come here and experience it for yourself.
Also, for those of you who were wondering, Don is in the lead in our game of Golf!

Today was, overall, a great day! Thanks for praying!
Buenas Noches!




Update #5

Guess what everyone!? It finally rained today! It's the rainy season here, and we were starting to wonder if it truly was with all of the sunshine we've been getting. The downpour in the middle of the day really showed us.
   The start of our day beagn with Oscar leading the Bible study. He even did his own translating. We read the passage of Jesus telling Simon to cast his nets again which led to their boats over flowing with fish. Oscar shared how those fish are the blessings Jesus provides when we listen to Him. We then had our normal routine of getting ourselves ready to hit the road once again. Sadly, this was the last time traveling to another location for ministry, but what a great day it was!!

A lot of the teams' sponsor kids were at this location, Gonzales Park in Amatitlan. Things are not always as they seem. It was a giant slab of cement, wide open space, in between the building walls. There were two places like this about 2 blocks apart. The kids are in the new location, John the Baptist Park, and the adults in the original park, Gonzalez Park. The attendance keep growing and growing. The ministry has moved the teens to the house across the street, which is actually Barb's sponsor child, Rolando's house. The clinic is held in this house too, but today we didn't run it because Ana needed to stay with one of her sick babies. Please keep baby Madeline, who has been hospitalized, in your prayers.
     The morning started with meeting sponsor children and going on house visits of those families. Randy, Liz, Michelle, Emily, Connie, Don, Henriet, Barb, Carole, and Kevin all got to meet either their sponsor child, the family of the child, or meet the child for one of their family members back in the States. This encounter is one of a kind. Being able to have a sponsor child is more than just sending a check, it is a real life relationship, almost like a pen pal. It is so meaningful to be able to bless someone with the oportunity to go to school. It's something we take atvantage of in America. Families here have to make the decision of which child to send to school first because they can't afford to send them all at one time. The parents may rotate siblings going year after year, meaning the other kids are getting behind in their studies. The parents all showed their gratitude over and over and over. Like I mentioned earlier, the parents always ask for prayer with their children's studies. It seems like such a simple thing, you send your kids on the bus with their school supplies year after year from age 5 to 18, and you never have to worry about which child to send, or how you are going to be able to get uniforms or new school clothes for all your kids. Something we take for granted is such a treasure for these people, and it affects their entire future. All of the encounters we had today with these families had a unique story worth telling. If you get the opportunity, ask one of us about it! We'd be happy to share!
     The lessons were all a positive experience for the three different groups. We were amazed with Oscar and how he gets the kids attention. He played "Simon Says" to start the lesson. The kids would change their moves quickly, almost too quickly that they very moment when Oscar wouldn't say the words, "Simon says," they would do the move and mess up. There were very many laughs. They were super attentive and eager to answer the questions. The kids needed some help with the craft, but they liked the outcome. Things really got interesting when it started raining. Children and leaders had to squeeze together under the tents to start dry. Some kids wanted to get wet!
For the teen faith lesson, we really hoped today they would get into the music. Getting teenagers to sing with enthusiasim can be quite the challenge as we discovered with the other groups. In the middle of our time with them, we got that rain. We had a tin roof in the house we were in, so it was very loud as we were teaching and singing. Not only was it raining, but the parrokeet in the house was squawking/talking to us. We think he just wanted to answer our questions, but none of us speak Spanish Bird. We helped most of them put the baby Moses basket together, and ended our time with prayer. Overall, this was one of the best times with the teens according to Caitlyn, Emily, and Liz.
Today was by far the most adults we had attend the lesson. It was close to 175 women with some men. They prayed ferverantly, sang enthusiasticaly, and listened intently to our faith lesson as the rain began to fall. Everybody squeezed under the 6 portable tents we had set up, plus the ladies off to the side with their umbrellas. No one left until the last prayer and blessing was said. The women volunteers amazed us as they broken down the tents, tables, and chairs and carried them to storage as the rain continued to fall. They wouldn't let us assit them. Don was a good example. He tried to help carry the tables but the women pushed his arm away. Sandra said, "Yeah, it's women power!"

     We headed back to the house in the rain. There was so much water rushing down the streets. We had to roll up our windows so that we wouldn't get splashed from the cars zipping by us - a whole new experience!! To end the evening, we ate, shared highs & lows, had our team devo time, made some mazah (for tomorrow morning), and played Golf. Brian is now in the lead!!
Tomorrow we will be doing the faith lesson at the house. It's hard to believe our trip is getting near the end!
Dios te Bendiga!


Pics from the week:


Update #6

Hola Amigos!!
Can you believe we are getting to the end of this trip? It is hard for all of us to come to that realization. Today we did ministry at the house and had a few small adventures near by.
     This morning was a very unique morning. We celebrated the Christian Passover meal with the Guatemalan missionaries. A very special thanks to Lynn Lassanske for planning this special celebration. This is the very first time the Guatemalans got to experience this event in Jewish history. They thought it was very interesting...all the meaning and symbolism behind everything.
After the meal, we split up into 2 different groups. One group went to the Mayan Ruins and the other to Godoys Gourmet Organic Coffee. At the Mayan Ruins we saw some cultural sights - people were praying to their gods, lots of mayan priests were there making offerings to their gods, and there were underground structures. Many new sights were being studied by archaeologists. We thought it was very interesting to see the artifacts, information about the Mayan culture, and be in such a historical place.
For those who went to Godoys, we picked up all the coffee we ordered and got a small tour of how the coffee is made. It is really neat to discover the long process of what goes into our daily cup of joe. We discovered that this coffee is avaible in the States, bought by "Snooze" the restraunt. Liz in Denver has enjoyed several cups of this coffee without even realizing it!

Lunch was just the way we like it, hotdogs in a tortilla, fruit, pasta, fried potatoes, and some left over mazah. To top all that off, Aracely and Cesar bought us Krispy Cream doughnuts! It was such a special treat that they wanted to bless us with. After eating our wonderful assortment of food, we took some group pictures on the roof. Today you could see, plain and clear, the volcano, Auga. We then got ready for the final faith lessons.
     The people that came to the house were from near by. The Adults were in the garage, the kids were in the back courtyard, and the teens were in the dinning room. It just seemed like the hour flew by today as we taught the story of baby Moses for the last time. After we wrapped up the lessons, we had to say our final goodbyes to the Guatemalan missionaries. They were so grateful for us coming to their country to share God's love. Oh, how we were so grateful for their service here at Groundwork Guatemala for the Kingdom of God. So many laughs and memories were shared. It's always hard to say goodbye, but we pray we see each other again. The Guatemalan missionaries showed all of us how to have lots of faith, step out with boldness, and to love deeply.

Dinner was on the roof tonight. We had PIZZA!!!! It was such a beautiful view and fun to share a meal up there. Shortly after we entered a team time of sharing some hard hitting questions about the week. Most of us ended up in tears, realizing how impactful this week has been. God showed each of us more things about Himself and about ourselves. There were lots of surprises and frustrations as we reflected on the week.
Each day here was so different as you may have noticed from the previous blog posts. Each person we encountered had a different story to tell. Each city had different challenges to overcome.
To leave you with some final questions, "What is God's plan for your life?" "Are you listening to His voice in the day to day?'
God loves us and has a place for all of us in life. He knows where we are before we even get there to do it. He is at work and goes before us in all we do. We all came to realize this tonight.

Tomorrow we will be headed to Antigua to see a little bit more of this beautiful country before we have to pack and head home. Thank you all for praying over us and the people here this week.
Dios te Bendiga!!




Update #7

Hola! Hola! Hola!
This is just a short update for you all as our trip comes to a close.
Today we had brunch in Antigua. Kevin was our tour guide as we visited the historic city. We were acompanied by Kevin and Ginny's spanish teacher, Karmen. She is a native, so she was able to provide us with a good history lesson as we walked through the cobblestone streets. There were many tourists in this area, very different from what we have experienced all week. Lots of street venders following us around as we repeated, "no gracias." We also headed up the mountain to get to Cerro de la Cruz. It is a beautiful look out over the city and a stunning view of the dormant volcano, Agua.
When we were done exploring Antigua, we came back to the house and started the packing process, relaxed, and journaled. For dinner we ordered "Pollo Campero." The Guatemalan version of "KFC." It was delivered on a motorcycle!! We all enjoyed it. After dinner, we did some cleaning and ended the evening with praise and prayer for the last time in the upper room. We had an incredible lightning storm happening in the distance to top it all off.
This week is one we will never forget. God has blessed us as we came to bless the Guatemalans. A special thanks to our prayer partners for walking along this journey with us by prayer support. Dios te bendiga (God bless you)! Tomorrow we head to the airport around 9:30am for our two flights home. It's crazy how fast this week went by.
Much love,
Guat Team 2018

Carole discovered the mens bathroom, and decided it was the on-sight suite of the house. She blames the men for hiding it the past 2 trips she's been here. As for the golf game, Caitlyn won the last round! Way to go newbie!


Pics from this week found here: