Monday, June 27, 2011


I think it’s safe to say that the rainy season has officially arrived in Guatemala for this year.  Over the past week we have gotten over 10 inches of rain and it has been raining pretty much non-stop for the past 3 days.  If it were possible to turn into a duck, I’m pretty sure I’d be well on my way!!  =)
LOTS of rain!!

Even Oso has learned how to carry his own umbrella!

= )

Anyways, all this rain has made working with our teams a little interesting.  This past week we had a team here from PA working on our “normal” project, the wall.  Ok, some people worked on the wall, others painted, and still others went on deliveries!  Painting wasn’t really affected a ton by the rain, since most of it was inside, but the wall got a little tricky.  About a week and a half ago, the rain actually pushed about 6 sections of the wall over, so some people were working on rebuilding that and making sure that it would actually stay this time!!  Since we got one main section of the wall done with the last team, we started a new area with this team.  This means lots of land clearing (heavy mud from the rain!!) and pouring foundations and all.  It’s a lot of hard work, but so far it’s gone well!!
Adding a new section!

Lots of work!

Oops, this part came down!

Ice cream for the kids!!!

In addition to working, we took this team (as we do pretty much all teams) on deliveries.  This gives the teams a chance to see several different homes, help deliver the food and just get a different taste of Guatemala.  Occasionally we will also be able to take everyone into the homes and introduce them to some of the kids that we have come to know and love!  I really think it’s a lot of fun!! 

Hearing a little bit about the home

Lots to carry in!

Aside from the team we have also had some normal life, if there is such a thing.  Last Saturday (18th) we were invited to a wedding shower for a friend (American) here in Guatemala.  It was fun to just go, hang out, talk and eat!!  ;)  This past Saturday, my mom and I went to a women’s gathering at church.  It was fun to get to know some of the women in our church a little more and to just interact with some different people.  Other than those (and the team, of course), life has been pretty normal!!
"Sisters" at the party
This coming week is going to be a bit slower, I think.  Tomorrow we are going to a soccer activity down in the city (as long as it isn't raining too much).  From what we understand there will be two games (the Rojos against another team and a U-15 game), and a Brazilian soccer player will be coming to give his testimony.  Quite a few different orphanages will be bringing some kids, so it should be fun!!  Wednesday evening we are having dinner with Susan, Alisha and Hannah, who leave on Thursday.  Thankfully, 2 of them are coming back, but we still need to have one final meal and Hand and Foot tournament before they go!!  Thursday we’re helping a family move and then Friday is actually free!  Amazing!!  On Monday our next team comes and then we’re running like crazy until sometime in August!!! 

That’s pretty much my/our life at the moment.  If we have webbed feet and gills the next time you see us, you’ll know the rainy season has been a little too much!  With all this rain though, I am so thankful for a sturdy house, extra blankets and a dryer, but I can’t help but think about all of those that don’t have those things!!  So, continue to pray for Guatemala as the rains keep on coming!!!  

Some cute kids, just because...

This little guy had just arrived the day before, he's 3 months old and had been in the hospital for malnutrition.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I was trying to think of the best way to sum up our trip to Coban, but I’m not even sure where to start!!  So, I’ll just make a list instead…  =)

- 10 People.  Me, Abby, Risa, Francisco and Carol (our pastor and his wife), Susan and Alisha (two good friends from Texas that live in our community and work with the church), John (Alisha’s fiancĂ©), Aaron (John’s brother), and Dunia (was adopted from Guate, back visiting).
- 4 Days.  Left Sunday afternoon, kept Monday and Tuesday packed full and drove home Wednesday!
- 4 hour drives.  It took about 4 hours to get to Coban, so there were lots of games, lots of talking, quite a bit of Spanish (1.5 hrs on the way home!!), and fun!! 
- “Early” mornings.  Our goal was to be on the road by 8, grab breakfast on the way (McD’s or Pollo), and get to our destination at a reasonable hour. 
- Time in the car.  It took at least 1.5hrs to get to each place, which also meant we had to spend that time on the road to get back to the hotel in the evenings!!
- “Adventures”.  Changing cars about 20 minutes into our trip, being stopped at a police stop, trying to get up a slippery hill without 4-wheel drive (had to hang onto  the hood!), etc. 
- Caves.  Our first activity was walking through a cave.  From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but at some places the ceiling was 100mts high!  We only explored (with a guide) for about 30min, but they haven’t found the end of that particular cave!
- Semuc Champey.  That was AMAZING!!!!!!  Semuc Champey is pretty much a bunch of pools of water (which is pretty much blue!), one leading to another, then they all lead to one main river.  We started at the top pool and made our way (or rather slid and jumped our way) to the others until we were at the bottom. 
- Semuc Hike.  One of the things that we could do at Semuc Champey is hike up through the woods to a lookout.  From the lookout we could see all the pools and the amazing scenery around it.  There are really no words to describe how beautiful it was!!  The hike was a little challenging (but a lot of fun!!!!) and muddy, but so worth it!
- Late Suppers.  We didn’t usually end up leaving our “tour sites” until around 5 or so, and then we had another 2 hour drive on top of that, plus showers and all.  So, we didn’t usually finish supper until around 10 each evening, poor waiters must’ve thought we were nuts!!!  =)
- More Caves!!  On Tuesday we went to another cave which was close to Peten.  We thought we were just going to do the wet tour, but come to find out we had to do the dry tour in order to get to the wet tour.  Oops!!  So, we hiked about 1km into the cave.  Some spots were 120+ meters high, tons of stalactites and stalagmites and plenty of “ventanas” (windows) that let light in.  Some places it was completely dark, but thankfully the guide had a flashlight!!
- Tubing!  After the dry tour, we all got a tube and floated down the river that was in the cave!  There were also lots of windows for light, but some places it was COMPLETELY dark!!  At one point we were in a dark area and the bats started dive-bombing us… a bit freaky!  We floated along until we exited the cave and were floating in the main river.  At some places we had to paddle along since the current wasn’t strong enough, it was fun none the less!
- More Hiking!  On our way out on Wednesday, we stopped at a nature reserve and hiked through the forest.  The hike itself wasn’t too long or strenuous, but it was fun to be out in the jungle a little bit!  We were really hoping to see a Quetzal (the bird, not the money!!) since we were in their habitat, but we didn’t.  Yeah well, it was still fun to get out! 

Well, that’s a brief overview of what all went on during our trip.  I’m not sure words can describe the beauty that we saw, the conversations that were had and just the fun that went on during the entire trip!!  Here are some pics...  kinda hard to get pictures while tubing in a cave though!!  =)

Our hotel

Entering the first cave


Francisco and Carol

Risa and I with the eagle


Water coming out next to the cave

Semuc Champey

Lots of "layers"

On the hike up to the overlook

Semuc from above

Just amazing!!


Hike to see the Quetzales

Hmm, is he going to try to throw me in or not?  =)

Another sisters shot!

We thought we saw a quetzal around there...  or maybe it was a branch.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Something Different

This past week was supposed to be an “off” week from work teams for me, but instead I had the opportunity to translate for a team that came down through our church.  The team had several physical therapists and an occupational therapist, so they were working at a special needs home down in Guatemala City.  This was the first government run home that I had ever been in and it was a little scary getting started, but then it was fun!!  I pretty much hopped in wherever translating was needed, so I got to see quite a few different activities and aspects of the home!

Every day, the workers take some of the kids (and adults) from the home on a walk.  The facilities are rather tight, so this gives everyone a chance to get out and see the world a little bit.  I went along on the walk three days and it was quite an experience!  It was interesting watching those in the community interact with those walking.  Some were very receptive to saying “hi” and giving high-fives, others waited until we passed to even leave their houses.  Overall it seemed like those that went on the walk (both team members and kids) really enjoyed the experience, even if it gave people some gray hairs!!

One of the main jobs that the team tackled was re-vamping some of the wheelchairs.  Many of the children were slumped over in their chairs, sliding all over the place and really not adequately positioned or equipped for sitting.  I am not blaming anyone for this at all, the workers were doing the best that they could with the materials that they had!  Anyways, the team made adjustments to the wheelchairs and helped the kids to be at least a little more comfortable in their chairs.  It was amazing how much of a difference even the smallest adjustments made!!  In addition to the adjustments, the team was teaching the workers some stretches and exercises that can be done with the kids.
Just chillin' in his improved chair.

G-Man loves his chair!!

So often teams come down and focus all their work and time on those in the home, but they neglect to recognize the workers and all that they do.  This team actually did a “spa” time for the workers of the home; manicures, pedicures, massages, etc.  The workers at this specific home really have a very hard job.  I would go home each evening completely exhausted and emotionally spent; I cannot imagine how they manage to keep going.  I was talking to several of the workers though and some of them had been working at this home for 4-5 years!!  They really do love these kids, but it was obvious some of them needed a break.  This time was really a blessing to many of the workers, and the team members as well. 
Spa time!
When going into the home the first day, I really had no idea what to expect.  I knew that they had people ranging from 4 years old to 50 years old in the home and that all of them had either a mental or physical (or both) disability, but otherwise I was clueless, and quite scared!!  I stepped off the bus on my first day (team’s second day) and was immediately greeted by 10-15 adults wanting hugs and to say hi.  Seeing adult males coming for a hug with drool running from their mouth (literally) made me wonder what in the world I was doing, but I very quickly learned that they were (mostly) harmless and really a lot of fun!! 

We made our way to the younger kids and I was once again not sure how to react to seeing all of the kids.  Some were propped up in their wheelchairs, not really moving, drooling and staring off into the distance.  Others were sitting on the floor, making some noise, rocking and hitting their heads on the floor.  There were only a few playing with the toys that were scattered around and acting “normal”.  My first instinct was to go back to the bus and wait there for the day, but instead I went and sat down with several of the children.  By the end of the week those little ones had a place in my heart and they were perfect despite their disabilities. 
Sweet girls, she's 12 years old!

= )

As the week came to a close, I found myself wrestling with so many different emotions.  Ok, we were here for a week, some wheelchairs got fixed, kids stimulated, and workers blessed, but what will that really do in the future?  If these kids had daily stimulation, they could be so much more advanced and able to live semi-normal lives!  If these workers had others to talk to and had reminders about how much they are appreciated, how would they change?  But you know what?  Every hour that we spent with the kids was an hour more than they had before.  Every encouraging word that was spoken to the workers was a little more encouragement than they had before.  And I don’t know about the rest of the team, but I came away from that week with a different heart and a new appreciation for the body that God gave me to use to honor and glorify Him!  

Nail time!!

The team!!

Lunch time

She's 17...