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Wednesday, 07 July 2010
Home at last! Although we arrived Saturday afternoon, I felt I needed a few days to reflect on this trip before I wrote my closing entry. The team worked really hard and I think we were all glad to get back to Seattle, although none of us will ever be the same.
For me – working with Chris and Dick has made one thing become very clear. Seeing how they care for those around them – not just the people of Guatemala, but for us also – was a strong reminder of what Christianity is supposed to look like. With these missionaries there is no difference between what they say and how they act. The words they use to give the light of Christ to others is the same light that shines through everything they do. I realized how rare it is to see that in many of the Christians in my day-to-day life.
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.
Each of the chaperones on the trip was asked to lead a devotional. This is one verse of the reading I first chose, unfortunately it was later used in a part of our pre-trip bible study. Although I tried to find another, I kept returning to this passage. During my devotional I was lead to couple 1 John 3: 16-20 with the following from Mother Teresa. “Let us not love in words but let us love until it hurts. It hurt Jesus to love us: he died for us. And today it is your turn and my turn to love one another as Jesus loved us. Do not be afraid to say yes to Jesus.”
After being a member of St. John’s for over 30 years, I have learned many important lessons and grown so much in my faith. I want to thank all of you for support – not only of me, but also of my family. Brad and I are so grateful for having the opportunity to serve twice in Guatemala and I know that wherever we go from here we will be always thankful and forever changed by our experiences.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Saturday, 03 July 2010
I just want to give an overview of the trip from my eyes.
The first day's trip down just took forever! When we got on the first plane to go to Texas we had to sit and wait at the gate as they FIXED A HYDRAULICS PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!
That made me not want to take off at all. But 30 minutes later they fixed it. We then got to Texas; since we where delayed the tower held the plane for us (about 1/2 the plane was from our connection). But then we had to sit at the gate again for a pretty bad thunder storm! Finally we took off and got to Guatemala. We had to stay at a small hotel in Chimaltinego for the night. The next day we left for Jalapa. Hey a road trip - fun! No not fun at all - less than 5 minutes into it I got car sick but we all made it ok.
The next day (Saturday) we had a wheelchair distribution in Jalapa. I had the privilege to be working on the specialty wheelchairs. That was really fun knowing that I helped 4-5 kids get what they needed that day.
The next day (Sunday) after church we destroyed a house to start a three day house build for a family who really deserved it. Wednesday, we left Jalapa to go back to the shop in Chimaltinego. There we also stayed the night.
Thursday I got up, ate breakfast, loaded the truck and went to another house build. This one only took 1 day because we did not have to lay the foundation. We stayed the night at the Lutheran Center in Antigua.
Friday we got to sleep in! We went on a tour of a really cool old church and then went to the orphanage. I thought it was so much better this time. I didn’t feel as intimidated as last year and had a good time playing with Henry, Edwin and some of the other boys. Later we shopped and then the team went to dinner.
The final day is today (Saturday) and I am now typing on a plane with only 5 more hours of total air time left before we land in Seattle!
Friday, 02 July 2010
Finally, a day we do not have to be running full speed ahead. It will be so nice to be able to take some time to reflect on the past 7 days and thank God for this opportunity. Dick says that if all we want to do is come down and do some good for others like build them a house or give them some food and clothing, then it is better to stay home and send the money we would have used to get to the airport. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, but he went on to explain. There are people in Guatemala that Bethel can hire to build houses, fit wheelchairs and distribute food, but really, that is just the mode we are using.
By coming here, teams have the opportunity to SEE firsthand what these people are up against. See, not only with their eyes, but with their hearts. Until you allow God to change your heart into that of a servant, you cannot truly be open to what he made you for. He brought us here so that we can return home and share our experience, not just what we did, but how God worked in us. I think it is easy for many people can see the need in places like Guatemala, I pray this experiences opens eyes to need in our own communities – our own congregation.
Thursday, 01 July 2010
Wow! This trip is way better than our last one!! So we arrived about 9 in Guatemala City and went to our first hotel in Chimale. The hotel was kind of creepy but very pretty! I roomed with Molly in the room next to Lucy and Allie. I set my iPod alarm for 6 am so Molly and I would have time to get ready. The next morning, we heard a knock on our door. Molly got up and opened it and it was Marlene and Nancy. They said that we are leaving in about a half an hour! I was like wait a minute; I set my alarm for six! So I went to go look at m iPod and it was set for Seattle time (which is and hour behind). The rest of the day we spent traveling to Jalapa which is about a 3 to 4 hour ride. When we arrived at the hotel, we were all in shock. The hotel was gorgeous!! My roommate for the next 6 nights was Lucy. Just because of experience rooming together, we have gotten to be really good friends. The first devotional was done by Nancy.
The next day was the day we did the wheelchair distribution with Dick, Chris, Saul, Jorje, Carlos, and 2 of Dick’s “kids” (Bryan, 12, and Cesar, 14). While we were finishing up the last kids at the distribution, we met the family we were going to build the house for. The father, Hugo, was married and had 5 children, one of them having a special need who is Hugo’s step son, with his wife when the family woke up one morning and the wife was gone. After a couple of months, one of the women, that new Hugo very well, tracked down the wife and found her in the U.S. The women said, supposedly, that the wife was trying to make a living in America. The wife had mortgaged the land until the lady that found her made the wife pay off the mortgage so Hugo could have the land. In less than a month, the last payment will be payed and Hugo will have his property back!
On Sunday, we went to Hugo’s house. The place was just like living in dirt with metal over your head! The wires were very close to the wood which could have burned down the house and the family in it. So we took down the house. The house took the family 6 years to build so it was very disappointing for the children to watch all their hard work be torn down by people they don’t even know. The youngest, Christi an, was crying the whole time we were taking the house down. It was very hard to take in but the good thing to remember is that the team is going to make the best house the family could even imagine!
On Monday, was the day the team would split up into 2 groups; one making to foundation for the house, and the other on the food distribution. I decided to go on the food distribution. The houses we visited were all very close to the house build. All the kids that lived around there followed the van and us helping with the clothes and the food. When we were finished, we headed back to the hotel to eat dinner.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided to stay and help with the house build and Josh would go on the distribution. I had the most fantastic time with the kids! They were all so happy and fun to play with. I don’t think I have ever had that much time with kids before. It was just amazing and heartwarming. My “boyfriends” well the ones that I played with the most were Cesar, 12, Kevin, 11, Omar, 6, and a bunch of other kids. Wednesday was our last day at the house build. It was hard to let go of the kids when you get so emotionally attached. Omar once called me mama, and Kevin’s mom told me that Kevin said he wanted to marry me! Kari reminded me that those kids will never forget us so when I go down in February, I’m going to Jalapa to maybe have dinner with Hugo’s family. After the house was finished, Hugo and his family were so happy! That night, the team traveled back to Chimale. I roomed with Molly at the hotel. The room had one bed…so that night I set my iPod for the right time! And it worked!
So today, Thursday, there was another house that hadn’t been finished. Half of the team went to finish the house and the other half went to another food distribution. I went on the food distribution. Where the distribution was, was right on the border of El Salvador. The road to the houses was closed and there was no other way to get there. So Chris stopped at a gas station to think of how we could get the food to the families. The social worker that helped us with the food distribution said she knew where she there was another way to the houses so she could deliver the food and clothes. So we met at a grocery store and helped load the suitcases into the back of the social workers truck. After that, we drove to the Lutheran Center in Antigua. Tomorrow we are going to Hermono Pedro and Saturday we leave.
This trip had been amazing!
Thursday, 01 July 2010
Chris picked us up bright and early today so we could load up and head for the wheelchair factory. Some of us are going to load up another bunch of food and replenish our clothing supply, while the rest are heading to Tecpan to complete a house that another team started. The food and clothing is headed to an area near the El Salvador boarder that was hit really hard by tropical storm Agatha. Unfortunately, we were unable to make it the whole way as the road is still closed. The social worker from the build site in Jalapa was able to drive down to meet us with her 4 wheel drive truck. So we stayed in a little mall while we waited – Stacy, Kari and the girls were so pleased to be able to shop even though there were not very many stores to choose from. We loaded all our supplies into black garbage bags and put them in the back of the pick-up and they were on their way.
At this point there was not anything for us to do, but head for the Lutheran Center in Antigua. This was definitely for the best as most of us are just raw emotionally. The girls are ready to go home and most of the adults are short tempered. The only ones who seem to be hanging in there are the boys – again, we could learn so much from them.
Cathy keeps saying that God has to break your heart before he can change it – I think we are all feeling pretty heartbroken this trip. For me, I have found this trip much more emotionally draining that last year. Randy has been dealing with some medical issues and would really like me to be there for support. I am finding it very difficult to be this far from home and not be there for him. It is a feeling that I cannot explain to the rest of the team and therefore feel quite isolated much of the time. I am so glad to have the mission work though, when I am working with the people of Guatemala I can see the joy and love in so many of their faces that I feel less alone. Thank God for Brad - he has been my rock this week! I am looking forward to getting home so I can begin strengthening myself for my family.
Thursday, 01 July 2010
Today we were able to put the finishing touches on the house. A group of us went into the market to buy some things to make the new house a home. We travelled there unrestrained in the back of a pick-up truck – that was an experience. Once there, we were able to purchase all kinds of things. We got many practical things like towels, soap, pans, silverware, plates and cups. Then we chose to shop for some special items just to make it more "homey". We were able to find some placemats that were both practical and beautiful. There were clothes, both old and new so we bought several outfits for each family member including a pair of shoes for each of the children. We also took a little time to shop for some toys for the three youngest boys and some hair accessories for Vilma.
There were several neighbor children that came to the build site every day. One little boy named Omar who was six really needed a new pair of shoes. We were able to fit all the other kids, but not Omar. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes I tried on him only to find out they were way too big. After three days of this, I don’t think he believed he would get a pair at all. Every time I had to take off a pair that wouldn’t work it just broke my heart. He was so disappointed. While we were at the market shopping for our family, I bought a new pair of shoes for Omar as well.
When we returned to the build site, the first thing I did was find Omar. Actually I didn’t have to look very hard, all the neighbor boys came running to the truck asking about patos (shoes) for him. Once I was able to get out of the truck and to Omar, I pulled out the shoes. There was so much excitement in the air when they realized they were new! They were a perfect fit and Omar ran straight home to show his family.
We left the site in the early afternoon to head back to Chimaltinego. We arrived VERY late to a different hotel than we stayed in last week. Once settled we had a quick team meeting and then it was off to bed.
Guatemala 2011 - The Journey