Guatemala Day 6

So this morning we had the teary goodbyes at the airport with Cesar and his wife. Really going to miss them and I hope I get a chance to come back. But alas, we get through to the checkin area just fine and have our team debriefing inside the gate area. We share a lot, and cry a bit during an apology and other recollecitons. It was really good. And we get on the plane and fly back. We had a ton of fun on the trip, and met a lot of good people. And we all got safely back and are going to miss each other sorely. I have to thank all the people who contributed money and prayers to the team for this trip. And specifically to my sponsors. Without you guys I wouldn’t have gone, and I would have missed out on a fantastic faith building experience.
This trip really made me rethink things (again). God’s all about doing that, I’ve found. My life isn’t about worrying about work or what next to do on the todo list. It isn’t about worrying about whether or not I’m doing the most optimized activity at one moment or not. It isn’t even about worrying if my finances or actions are perfect. No, it’s about pursuing Jesus wherever he calls. And if there’s a need presented, for goodness sakes go and address it. It’s easy to feel guilty all the time about your lifestyle when there’s such poverty in the world, however, when you see how easy it is to do something about it, and you’re open to the call, it changes you. You realize it isn’t about guilt or feeling like you’re holy enough to take part in something like missions. It’s about hearing Jesus when he talks to you and responding. About following the proddings you receive. While things can get in the way of God, the worst thing to do is start thinking you’re too far gone or that this missions stuff is for some other person. No, if you’re hearing the call, it’s for you. And this trip is the realization and embodiment of that for me.
I went to Africa a couple years ago, and was unsure if I’d ever be able to do something like it again. Now I realize that I can. And not only that, that I can look forward to doing things like this or at the very least helping the cause via other routes in the future. And it just helped me feel a bit less worried about my life. My apologies if this doesn’t make much sense, feel free to talk to me about it and I’ll attempt to explain it in person.
Again, thank you sponsors, thank you prayer partners, and thank you God for letting me see and experience Guatemala. Please all, keep the Guatemalans in your prayers. Pray for food, for hope, for God’s Word to permeate their lives, and for Outreach for World Hope to be guided to help bring these things to the children and families in Guatemala and other areas in Central America.

Guatemala Day 5

Today was a relatively easy day. We started out sightseeing around Antigua, which is a touristy town. I got some shots of some old churches and they’re in my gallery. Also got to see the square downtown which looks like a fun little square to relax in, not that I had time to. They have market areas there too, where you can buy lots of well..not exactly “native” gifts. It really is odd to see an outdoor booth of electronics being sold next to cloth and belts and shoes. But yeah, there you go. I even found an arcade, which was packed, so I didn’t get to play.
In the afternoon we went to a village which holds several families that the the leaders of the Trip sponsor kids from. It was a combined birthday party for two of the people from the families with Allison from our team. So there were gifts and a great meal (we gave them money to prepare a party with and man, it was really good). They had the best cake afterwards too. We got lots of pictures of cute kids and for like two hours I kept trying to get a shot of the cat that was living there, but it was always running away as my camera powered up. Finally got it though. Also, one of the people there wanted one of their kid’s sponsored (you can only have one kid sponsored per family), and well, one of our team members got to them first. At that point, I think any of the team members who weren’t already sponsoring a kid would have said yes. So anyway, praise God for generosity and that this kid gets to go to school now.
As a side note, this village was a lot better off than the two we did the distributions in. Hence why we didn’t do one here. They team leaders have been involved in this village for some time, and showed us a school they helped to build. It seems that on one of the previous visits to the village we went to today they learned about the two villages we did distributions in, and thus our trip was made possible.

Guatemala Day 4

Today we headed up to the second village site for a distribution. This went pretty similarly to Sunday’s. We did have a larger room and were a bit more proficient at things. But it seemed to take longer, even though it certainly felt more productive. Anyway, Randy played with kids outside again, making extensive use of balloons and candy.
We eventually got through the distribution, and began giving out batteries to go with the flashlights we had been giving out throughout the day. By the way, if you want to start a riot, start handing out batteries. We had to almost start just chucking them out the door at people, it was definitely not as smooth as we’d hoped. In the end, individually handing them out was safer, while letting people grab from a tray was rather dangerous. Regardless, we got through distribution too, and were of course, quite exhausted.
So of course, it was time to drive 5 hours back to Antigua. We hit up the hotel Camp Real, said a bunch of goodbyes to the staff there and loaded up…and found out we had a grasshopper in the bus. Yeah, for some reason, despite staring at abject poverty, going up horid mountain roads in the back of trucks, and being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing familiar, this grasshopper seemed to be an incarnate evil the likes of which should be feared and screamed at like none other. So after about 4 minutes of scrambling and screaming and jumping and whatnot, I was able to pick it up and toss it out the window. Thus allowing the um…let’s just assume overly tired people to relax for the drive back.
Yeah, so know the drive back didn’t happen without incident. That’s right. We got pulled over…by police. Yeah. Apparently, they had pulled over one of our luggage trucks (they wouldn’t fit in our bus with us, so we sent them on another truck) and they cited that they were going with us, so they had to pull us over to verify and what not. It seems trucks of luggage are suspicious for reasons like drugs or whatever. Anyway, our driver handled it well, and just told the police officer that we were all doctors from the Peace Corps. At this point the cop smiled and waved at us and thanked the driver and let us on our way. Yeah, we couldn’t stop laughing after that.
Oh but it didn’t stop there. Now, I understand that it’s normal to ignore speed limits in other countries, I mean most people ignore them here. But I really had to wonder when we were keeping up with an Ambulance for a good long time. I figured maybe since we were a bus full of Peace Corps. Doctors that perhaps they expected us to help. But no, eventually they slowly pulled ahead and hopefully got where they needed to go on time.
Of course then we saw the fire truck. And we caught up to the fire truck. Yeah, it had its sirens on. So what do we do? That’s right, we passed the fire truck. After about five minutes of laughter where I couldn’t breathe, I suggested we get some water and help with the fire, cause really, it looked like we could get there before they could.
So all in all, a bus full of part time firefighter peace corps doctor missionaries pulled up to our Antigua, quite fatigued, and more than well laughed out. And we hit the sack.

Guatemala Day 3

Oh. my. Gosh. I had the best chile relleno tamale for breakfast this morning. It was so good with some lime on it. Too bad I almost used the lime Cesar to fix the car battery with (yeah, I didn’t know they were good for fixing car batteries either…). Anyway, after a good laugh about that, we’re off to do the first distribution.
Enter our trek up the mountain. We had to take trucks due to the steep unpaved roads, so we all got to ride in the back 🙂 A short bumpy ride later and we were up in the first village. Lots of kids running along…strangely similar to that scene in Lord of the Rings where the kids run along after Gandalf…yeah..okay maybe not quite but I’m looking for similes here. Anyway, we setup shop in a school building and dedicate one room to food and medicine/vitamin distribution and the other to clothing distribution. Of course, we have no luggage….well not yet.
We had gotten a call, our driver that we sent to pick up the luggage reported that it had indeed arrived, and after a brief run in with customs where they tried to get him to pay a bribe, he had it on its way to us. All we had to do was kill time till it arrived.
So we start off with an introduction of who everyone is, and that we were there because we believe Jesus called us to spread the good news of the gospel and help feed and clothe the poor. Then we have games like musical chairs for the kids, and I start a marathon frisbee session for a couple hours. Randy had some fun bouncing rubber bouncy balls way up in the air and blowing up balloons and generally had a large mob of boys around him for a while. Anyway, finally the luggage arrived! Hoorah!
We unload the suitcases and finally begin the clothing distribution (we had enough medicine and of course bought the food there, so that was going on during the game time). We went family by family and gave everyone one piece of clothing and all the kids a game and as supplies lasted shoes or flashlights to the men and women. We learned that Guatemalan men were a lot skinnier than Americans…most of the mens clothes we had were “muy grande” and asking if we had anything smaller. I tell you, it’s very odd to see poor people get picky about the free stuff they’re getting, but I guess if this is your only shot to get stuff for a very long time, you want to make it as good as possible. Anyway, it was fun finding clothes for everyone (which is good, cause it took hours to get through everyone).
Afterwards, we dropped off the clothing and food for the next day and went to the hotel for dinner and to rest up before distribution two…which would be followed with a nice long drive back to Antigua.