Athentikos Logo

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After years of producing films in Guatemala,

I saw the country through the eyes of my Guatemalan sons,

during our 1st family trip to their birth country.

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Born through adoption

After 15 trips to Guatemala, I was able to see Guatemala through the eyes of my sons, a mirror to my soul. It was like pointing a camera at a television and getting an infinite feedback loop, reminding me why Guatemala is so very precious to our family.


Our connection to Guatemala began in 2005 when we adopted our son Micah. Amelia and I wrestled with infertility for over a decade, so Micah was an enormous blessing. Shortly after adopting Micah, we adopted Elliot from Guatemala, because we wanted Micah to have a brother who could share his story and heritage. It was during that trip to Guatemala to receive Elliot that my identity was challenged in a way that changed my life forever. I visited a prison with a friend and saw the country through the eyes of an incarcerated gang member … a young man who didn’t have options and made decisions based on survival. He challenged my authenticity as a Christ follower, saying that I had the luxury of being a hypocrite, and that if he was inauthentic to his gang, they would kill him.

I had to respond … but how?

We wanted to do something that would bless the country that gave us our sons. After much thought and prayer, we decided to authentically use our talents in mission. We formed Athentikos, a non-profit that empowers at-risk communities through creative arts and story.

We had no financial resources, but we were too passionate (or too naive) to care. We produced Reparando. We toured Reparando. We produced Becoming Fools. We toured Becoming Fools. We developed the I Am Art initiative to connect creatives with at-risk children and empower both with new vision and purpose. We were caught up in a raging current of activity, and in the blink of an eye, a decade had passed. It was in this calm after the storm that we decided it was time to re-introduce our sons to Guatemala where they were born. It was an opportunity to fall in love with the country all over again.

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A monumental homecoming

To be honest, I was nervous before the trip. I was fearful that somehow my sons would view me differently – as some man who cared for them, but not as their father. I anticipated all sorts of questions from our sons about their stories and birth families — questions that would be painful to answer — if we could answer them at all. It was a reminder of the pain that brought us all together: parents unable to birth children, and children unable to be cared for by their parents.

History and future intertwined when we stepped on a plane together and turned the page to new chapter. We journeyed together to a foreign land with eyes and hearts wide open … and realized that it was home, because it is the place where our tragedies were transformed into comedy – not just for our Guatemalan sons, but also this Scottish-Irish-American, and his Mexican-American bride.

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Our trip was beyond epic …

Every day we embraced new adventure as a family. We explored Antigua, a 500 year old city filled with Spanish Colonial architecture. We climbed Pacaya, an active volcano, and roasted marshmallows on the lava. We watched a Lent procession in which Guatemalans carry floats weighing over a metric ton for over twelve hours, marching over meticulously crafted carpets made of colored sawdust, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. We rented a car and drove through winding mountains and crossed the border into Honduras to explore ancient Mayan ruins of Copan, a city famous for art and culture. We slept next to the beautiful Rio Dulce and sailed down river to the port town of Livingston to see where Guatemala meets the Caribbean, and ate lunch at an isolated restaurant surrounded by jungle. We swam in hot springs with cascading waterfalls, hidden caves, and covered our bodies with rich mineral mud that could easily be sold in the most luxurious spas around the world. We made new friends and reconnected with old friends who are like family. Each day we witnessed the beauty of Guatemala through the eyes of our sons. They soaked it up like sponges, and we relished every moment. It was quite possibly the richest experience we have ever encountered as a family …

we simply did not want it to end.

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Beautifully, Fearfully New

I remember sitting in the airport preparing to board the plan back to the USA, and welling up with emotion. Everything had once again changed, and it would never be the same. We crossed over into uncharted territory together and found it both frightening and beautiful – a maelstrom of paradox. I wished I could reach into their souls, caress their gentle hearts, and apologize for the loss of their birth families. At the same time, I wanted them to understand how profoundly Amelia and I love them – how complete we are because God wove their stories into ours. The filmmaker in me wanted stop everything, point the camera at my sons, and ask them countless questions: What was your favorite thing? Do you feel or think of yourselves differently now than before the journey? Where did you see pain? Where did you see beauty? How does this trip change the way you you experience life at home in Nashville? Who are you? Do you still see me as your father? Do you love us???

I held Micah’s hand as the plane roared down the runway, taking off into the sky above Guatemala City. I remembered the first time we flew together from Guatemala. He was just a baby, with huge brown eyes and a head full of crazy, curly black hair. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Nine years later, he still has those big brown eyes and crazy curly hair, and like before, I stared at him for the duration of the flight, with a heart full of gratefulness.

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Bright opportunity

I used to look into the eyes of my sons, and was transported into the past, when a gang member in a Guatemalan prison challenged my faith and identity. But this trip changed my vision. Now, when I look in my sons’ eyes, I see the future, and the future is bright with opportunity!


Athentikos has the opportunity to expand our I Am Art initiative around the globe, and empower at-risk youth and creative artists with new vision, hope, and purpose. We’re currently in discussion with 6 organizational partners in Guatemala alone. We also have the opportunity to bring I Am Art to South Africa in 2015. Organizations in Egypt, Nigeria, India, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua have expressed interest in collaborating in I Am Art. We’re thrilled with the interest … But we’re faced with a great paradox. We need additional financial support to embrace these wonderful opportunities.

Will you help us by giving a monthly donation or volunteering your time?

If our story inspires you, we’d love to invite you into it to share your time, talents, and treasure.  We hold our mission with open hands and ask you to join us to shape it as we walk forward in faith. We are not the author.

We are beautiful art of the Great I Am ….

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