Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home again!

We're back! The return trip was smooth and we are tired, grateful, and brimming with stories.

Watch here for a few more pictures (and the youths' facebook pages for many more. . .), and keep asking what a difference this experience has made. There will be a gathering for families and youth very soon at Common Hope, and a forum at ECLC in September.

Thank you for your prayers, your support, and this amazing opportunity!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 8 - Slackers in the Kitchen

Wednesday June 29th

This morning we rose for the occasion of another day of service. Some cooked while others did real work at the construction site. In the kitchen the smell of cinnamon wafted through the air as snicker doodles baked in the oven. This was the recipe exchange between the Guatemalan kids and our youth group. In return for snicker doodles and rice krispie treats they taught us how to make fried plantains with mole sauce. This all took place while the real troopers built doors, plain wood, and relocated dirt for the last day of service. We ended our day with a gorgeous pasta meal and toast. As our trip comes to a close we had one of the best devotions of the trip. Unfortunately we cannot share our discussion because what happens in devotions stays in devotions. See you at the airport...don’t be late!

Respectfully Submitted by Carly with input from Sam and Erich, Natalie and Ty set in on the session.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 7: more service, lots of stories

  There are dozens of stories from today, but here's the brief summary:

We began again at 8:15, dividing up into several tasks. Three of us had our scheduled sponsorship visits -- meeting the children and their families that we support through Common Hope. Each child is a world of stories and eye-opening realities. Camille and Grace traveled together to San Rafael, where both their families live. Grace's sponsored girl, a  7 year old, was very excited about a gift of markers. Camille enjoyed meeting the family of Linda, who was shy but whose family was very appreciative.  We were all informed ahead of time that our influence as sponsors can be attitudinal as well as monetary -- that we can reinforce the importance of staying in school, because many poorer children here drop out around age 12 or 13.

Meanwhile, the construction team again worked on panels that will be doorframes  and walls for family homes. One team was able to deliver a dozen or so of the panels to the village of San Pedro, in preparation for a house to be built. Because land ownership is often contested or undocumented here, these homes are designed to be taken apart again and moved should a family be forced off their land.

Another team worked on the remodeling project going on with the facilities here, where eventually they'll have improved play facilities and offices here for kids. This is the most strenuous of the jobs here, involving lots of shoveling of dirt. (We have fantasized about buying them a Bobcat, but it seems to be the way of the Guatemalan people to do things by hand.)

Another team spent the morning in the warehouse, where in-kind donations are stored and sorted before they go to families here in Antigua or at their other site near Guatemala City. It was fun to imagine, as we went through boxes of notebooks or glue, how these supplies will go to help children and their families afford the basic necessities of education here.

After another luscious lunch we spent the afternoon with about forty kids from the programs here, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Some of the group taught friendship bracelet making, while another group set up the badminton and volleyball equipment that we brought along. We were impressed with their energy and willingness to try some things that were evidently new. The volleyball game occasionally used some soccer techniques -- they sometimes had better results with headers than with using their hands.   There was great energy among all this afternoon. As Erich put it, the "power of play" was often enough to overcome language barriers.

Dinner was another luscious meal here on-site -- their cooks are amazing!

Fun note of coincidence -- as we were waiting for lunch, we spotted Anji Chadwick (a confirmation classmate of this group) in the courtyard. It turns out she, her father Bill and a group of their youth from Peace Presbyterian in Bloomington just finished a week of service in another town and are flying home tomorrow. It is easy to see why Guatemala is a popular destination for mission trips!

Pam's group: Sophie, Camille, Andrew and Grace

Day 7 pictures

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pictures from Pacaya and from construction

Here are a few shots of our rainy day on the volcano, and of our construction work.
For reasons of privacy, we can't take pictures on the social work visits -- but those images are seared in our memories!

Our first service day

Today was our first service day. We divided into two groups; one which did social work visits first while the other did construction. For the social work visits each of us were paired with a social worker from common hope. In these pairs we traveled to different villages and visited families. We were surprised at the hospitality that the Guatemalans offered to us and the warmth in which they invited us into their homes to share their personal problems. We were also amazed at their openness in sharing deeply personal issues that they were facing in their lives with complete strangers. 

Meanwhile the other group was working on making panels for homes to be built in the future. There was lots of hammering and bent nails, but we made quite a few panels, while others shoveled and painted buildings at the compound. 

We had lunch at common hope and the groups flipped roles. 

Some also had a chance to meet their sponsor child and their families. They exchanged gifts and conversation to establish this relationship. 

We ate dinner at the compound as well and did our own dishes. 

Then we ended the night with devotions.

Anna (Recorder), Kellie, Nora, Vance, Brenda

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 5 - The Volcano Adventure

Sunday, June 26th

We arouse with singing of roosters. Loosely translated as 5 in the morning.   At 5:15 we jumped in a van to start on another winding road headed to the volcano known as Pacaya.  We should mention that the volcano is active and appeared on the top ten lists to erupt next.  Upon our arrival we were surrounded by children wanting to sell us walking sticks and inviting us to take taxis aka horses.

Some of us purchased sticks, but all started strong without the need for taxi service.  Twenty minutes into the mountain two people fail victim to the harsh conditions of the mountain. Brenda, then Ty was the first to hail a taxi aka jump on a horse. About 20 steps later Kelly and Camille couldn’t take anymore, and cave in under the pressure of rain and steep terrain.  The remainder of the group held firm the entire 3 hour track. 

Once we get to the hot springs we felt like we were on Mars, The clouds and rain misted our vision but no one wondered from the path except Andrew & Vance.  We quickly found them standing out in the distance on a rock. When we get to the hot springs we realized that Natalie had turned pink from head to toe with the assistance of the die from her bag. 

Our volcano meal before reaching the sauna, we roasted marshmallows over the stem from the volcano. Then proceeded to a natural sauna, and then made our way back down the mountain. The entire hike was over 3 hours and we all survived.

The evening we decided to have Italian for dinner in the city before attending the 6:30 p.m. mass at the Catholic Church. I would love to share with you the sermon, but it was all in Spanish and I don’t have a clue what was said (Erich).  We shared the peace and had communion with the locals. Tomorrow we rise to start our service projects.

Respectfully submitted by Sam, Ty, Carly, Natalie and Erich.  We miss and love you all.

Gods Peace

In case of emergency please contact us
Pam – 502-558-13791
Carly – 502-447-63750