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Tuesday, 29 June 2010
The families we were helping today lived straight up the side of the mountain, on a “road” that we could not even try to drive up. Thank God for Josh! Due to some of my own health challenges - I asked him to come with us today to help carry some of the bags of food and clothes. Although he wasn't really excited about leaving the build site, he agreed. It was hard for him to be a part of this side of the mission, but his help was absolutely invaluable!
There was one little girl who came by herself to represent her family. She was so pretty, but did not want to smile at all. Among other things, the girls found her a really cute little green dress. When we were ready to leave that afternoon, she came running down the hill at full speed, she was wearing her new dress and had a smile from ear to ear.
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
I wish we had brought more shoes with us. We quickly ran out of anything in children’s sizes 5-2. Unfortunately, that is the size we were constantly in need of. We had the same thing happen with boys clothing. We had three bags of little girl sizes 4-16 and only one small one for the boys. Well, I guess I know where the focus for the drive next year needs to be J Something that happened on the distribution after lunch reminded us how much Christ is with us on this trip. I went into this part of the distribution feeling unprepared. I was supposed to fit all the boys and I knew I only had 2 shirts, 1 pair of pants and a pair of shorts. When we pulled up there were at least 15 boys standing there waiting for us, granted – not all were there for the distribution, some were just there to see. As we were setting up, Cathy, Molly and Marlene began going through the girls and woman’s suitcases just to see if there was anything that might work for boys. As the distribution continued, I was giving out clothes and they would toss over anything they found in the other bags. When we left the site, I had four times as many boy clothes than when we arrived and that was AFTER the distribution. God is good!!!
Monday, 28 June 2010
Day 1 of the house build was fabulous. Once at the site, we split up into 2 teams – one for the house build and one for the food and clothing distribution. The house team was Ted, Stacy, Kari, Brad, Lucy, Josh and Ellis. The food and clothing team was Cathy, Sharron, Marlene, Nancy, Allie, Emma and Molly. Both teams were working in the same area so even though I wasn’t on the house build, we were able to see the progress. Once again, those kids worked so hard!
The site was cleaned up first and then they began leveling the area for the house. The dirt floor was packed so hard that the boys had to use pick axes to break it up. Once leveled they began mixing cement for the foundation – Brad and Ellis moved ALL that cement!!! They were so excited. Kari and Stacy had the whole family put handprints in the cement by the “door”, the daughter even made a heart with an E in it for Edger. He was unable to do it for himself as he was taken to the hospital last night and is still there. It sounds like he has developed pneumonia.
The food and clothing team had a bit different experience. The area we were in is called the colony – the first lady of Guatemala gave us armed escorts to go into the area. I think that made us all a little bit nervous. We realized very shortly into the distribution why we had these escorts. We were not in type of danger we were originally afraid of – in fact the people were wonderful, but there is so much need. As soon as we would stop to get the things out of the back, people would appear from every direction asking for food or shoes or whatever we had. It reminded me a lot of standing in the t-shirt line at general admission concerts in the 80s. Way too many bodies trying to fit in a very small space, our guards were there to prevent a mop scene. We had a group of about 17 children that followed from place to place the entire time so we had to keep stopping to get them off the van. We only got really stuck in the mud once and we were able to get unstuck without getting the boys!
Monday, 28 June 2010
Today we walked to a church in downtown Jalapa. It was a Spanish speaking Assembly of God church, and the people were warm and inviting. They treated us like royalty, and let us know how much they appreciated the work we were doing, or rather God is doing through us in their town. It was very humbling. The youth enjoyed the service, especially when they recognized the tunes to a couple of the praise songs. It was so cool to hear two languages being sung at the same time praising God as one voice. And do these people love the Lord. It was contagious.
After church we changed into our work clothes and had lunch in Jalapa at Pollo Camperos. It is a popular chicken chain in Guatemala, and the food is pretty good.
We went back to the hotel and waited for our escort to the build site. Argentina was playing Mexico in the World Cup, so the guide was a little late. It was very interesting watching the game with the hotel staff and several people staying there. Most were for Argentina as Guatemalans still resent the invasion by Mexico hundreds of years ago.
Our guide finally arrived, so we headed for the build site. It is located in an area called “The Colony” and is known for thievery and malice. Because of this, our guide, who works for the First Lady of Guatemala, hired two police officers to guard us. They helped us feel secure, however we were so focused on our task that we had little time to think about our security.
The home we are replacing belongs to a single father of 5. Only 4 of them are actually his. The eldest, a 16 year-old boy, has a disability that has rendered him non-ambulatory. The new structure will be wheelchair accessible and have a “kitchen” with an outdoor sink, that is also the laundry. The stove will be made of cinder blocks and metal pipes. The walls of the home will be of currogated metal purchased from the store, not found in the dump. And no more used tarp to keep out the rain.
You can probably imagine that we were quite the show in the small rural community. By the time we were tearing the house down we had a bit of a crowd, thus the security was appreciated. It was a joy working around the home owner who had the biggest smile on his face as we tore down the structure that had taken him 6 years to build. Even though he’d put the effort into it, it had been hard scrounging the materials that were pieced together as best as he could with what few materials he had. It was obvious he knew that what he was helping to build with us would be much better for his family.
It was a wonderful day, and the team worked as hard as I’ve ever seen a mission teamwork. We are blessed to have each member on this trip. Tomorrow Ted is leading half of our team at the build site, and Chris and I will take the other half on a food and clothing distribution. Hard work, but extremely rewarding thanks be to God!!
Sunday, 27 June 2010
We went to a church service at the local evangelical church. Of course it was all in Spanish, but God speaks to our hearts so we do not need to understand the language. I felt the service spoke directly to me and I understood the message. Several of the songs that we sung I knew and the teaching was very easy to follow. Chris was asked to preach to the congregation, which he did with great enthusiasm. He has so much love for Christ and that light shines so brightly that it is impossible not to be absorbed. Whenever I hear him speak I am again amazed at his ability to touch those listening.
After lunch we headed out to the build site and spent about an hour and a half demolishing the current house the family was living in. The family consists of Hugo the father, the oldest son Edger who is in a wheelchair – in fact, we fitted him at the wheelchair distribution, a daughter who has been cast in the role as “mom” since she was 10 and 3 younger boys. They do have running water to sink outside and a nice hole in the ground for the restroom, but we can’t wait to get started on their new house.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
The wheelchair distribution this year was amazing. We arrived with the truck and began by unloading and assembling all the chairs. We had about 50 with us, 25 regular chairs for adults and 25 specialty chairs for children. This year there were so many more children! The first gentleman we saw had been struck by lightning. That was very shocking to us and hard to see. Brad worked with Saul while Ellis worked with Jorge to help Dick with specialty chairs. Cathy, Sharron, Ted, Josh, Marlene, Stacy and Nancy were also fitting chairs for adults. Kari was running all over the place translating for us. Molly, Allie, Lucy and Emma where playing with all the kids, giving out toys and painting nails. We finished the adults fairly quickly because so many were unable to make it down to the distribution. There were so many children and each chair took so much time to custom fit. Once we had finished all the adults, Cathy and I were unsure how we could help. We decided Dick would tell us to jump right in so we chose to try a specialty ourselves. So we all did!
Friday, 25 June 2010
Today we spent the morning at the wheelchair shop. We were able to sort food, shoes and clothing for the distribution next week. Thank you so much to everyone who donated items for our trip. The need is so much greater than when we were here last year. We will be in a completely different area this trip and will be able to serve a whole new group of people. While we were sorting, Ellis, Brad, Molly, Josh and Ted went to the other location to pick up more wheelchairs. Once they returned, we were able to load the truck for the trip to Jalapa.
Quote for the day: “Let’s load the house!” – Chris. We did load the house and then the food and then the clothes and shoes and then about 50 wheelchairs. 2 hours later it was time for lunch – how time flies when you are having fun. We left for Jalapa about 2:00 and arrived around 7:00. After dinner most of us headed straight for bed.
Friday, 25 June 2010
We made to Guatemala city a bit before 10:00 (9:00 Seattle time). It was so good to see Chris and Saul at the airport – almost like meeting family. It is so interesting to me that I can go to a country where I know so few people and put my life and Brad’s for that matter completely into someone else’s hands. Having written that, I guess it is really God’s hands and our friends here are just the visible sign of that.
We arrived at our hotel about 11:30 and were settled in by midnight. It is so cute and peaceful!!! It has been such a long day and the kids, well the youth ambassadors, are very tired, but also so excited. It is so amazing to watch them.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Ok, so we are finally in the air – YAY! We were delayed for a while at the gate after boarding, but we are in high hopes of making our connecting flight in Dallas. The team is in good spirits and ready for adventure. I just got an amazing view of 4 volcanoes although I am not sure which 4 (Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens for sure, probably Mt. Hood and … ) So far our trip has been very eventful, 2 forgotten passports, 1 lost wallet, delay at the gate and we haven’t even left Washington state yet.
It looks like we are over Colorado at the moment and we are making good time. The flight has been wonderfully smooth and clear. We should have about 20 minutes between touch down and takeoff for the next leg of our journey. I am getting the feeling that we are being given a few reminders that our faith will need to be strong to really make a difference this trip. On that note, I will close with quote from Robert Schullerv - "When God calls you to do something, he enables you to do it."
By the way - the Rocky Mountains look amazing!
Monday, 21 June 2010
Yesterday the Guatemala team had their commissioning service.
The parish, represented by Scott and Denise, agreed to send us out as hands and feet of Christ to minister to those in Guatemala. Thank you to all our friends and family who were able to be their to send us off.
We feel surrounded by prayer and are truly honored to be ambassadors of such a wonderful church family.
We will work hard and hope to make you all very proud of us. We also look forward to our homecoming, remember, you also promised to “pester us enthusiastically” upon our return.
We are truly humbled by all your love and support - thank you!
Friday, 18 June 2010
Things are starting to come together for the Guatemala mission trip 2010. As you know, last week the Chancel Choir was invited to sing in Leavenworth at the church that Marcia and Tony Banks attend when not at St. John’s. Through an amazing “Godinsidence”, this trip just happened to fall on the exact weekend that we needed to get over 200 pairs of shoes ready to make a container to Bethel Ministries. We were able to load the shoes on the bus with the choir and send them off to travel with the wheelchairs collected. Both should be on their way to Guatemala shortly.
We still have plenty of shoes and a supply of clothes to take with the team when we go next Thursday. This does, however put us in a bit of a bind – which is a wonderful problem to have! We currently have more items to take with us than we have bags to put them in. If you are interested in getting rid of some old luggage (it does not have to be in great shape – we have duct tape) our team would love to take it off your hands. We will be leaving all the luggage with Bethel Ministries for future distributions so please do not donate anything you would like to see again J
Thank you again for all your support!!
Friday, 18 June 2010
The focus of this event was not on fund raising, but on raising awareness. Recently Guatemala has been impacted by a volcanic eruption that sent families fleeing their homes and tropical storm Agatha which washed much of what was left away.
Since May 28th, Pacaya Volcano has had two significant eruptions. Currently 2400 families (14,400 people) are living in temporary shelters. Following quickly on the heals of the first eruption, Tropical storm Agatha (the first of the 2010 hurricane season) dumped nearly 16 inches of rain in a very short time. More than 220,00 people were directly affected by the storm and 89,000 remain in shelters.
Relief-web International posted the following quote on their website this morning. "Coupled with the heavy rains, volcanic ash from the eruption a few days earlier of the Pacaya Volcano, aggravated the situation by clogging sewers and collapsing the water drainage system. Guatemala was already suffering the effects of food insecurity and acute malnutrition", Delbert Field, IOM Chief of Mission in Guatemala.
St John's Guatemala team is ready to be used wherever and however the Lord sees fit. I cannot even imagine what he has in store for us.
We want to thank you to all who attended this wonderful event. As you know, this mission is something that is incredibly dear to our hearts and we truly appreciate you honoring us with the opportunity to share our passion for the people of Guatemala.
We are so blessed by your support!
Guatemala 2011 - The Journey