Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This weekend we had a great experience at a small hospital/orphanage called Hospicio San Jose located about 35 minutes from our home.  Hospicio San Jose exists solely for the purpose of caring for AIDS and HIV positive children and adults.  Around 70 children ages birth to late teen live on site and a few hundred adults are able to come there for up to date AIDS and HIV treatments.  A group of students from CAG went to volunteer and play with the children and our family went along.  At first Olivia, Gabrielle and Sydney did NOT want to go, but after some arm twisting we got them there...and then it took more arm twisting to get them to leave!  They especially like holding and helping with the babies.  We took along fingernail polish and Gabby and when Gabby and I pulled that out, we had NO problem making friends with the younger girls.  TJ and Cheney played basketball with the older boys...I really noticed that the younger boys liked to be on TJ's lap.  I wonder if any of them have any  memories of a Daddy. 
The children at H. S. J. appear well cared for with a very nice place to live, adequate food, and really up to date medications for their complex health needs.  Of course the one thing they do not have is a nuclear family unit. 
We do not fool ourselves and think that a few sporadic visits by well meaning Christians will make that all better.  As a missionary we are often forced to think the hard thoughts..."Why do we visit...is it really helping anyone?  What should we really be doing?"  And sometimes it is tempting to fall into futilistic thinking such as "There is so much need, pain, hurt...I have NOTHING to offer in comparison to the need."
As a family we DO NOT know the answers to these questions we struggle with.  We don't even know if we are asking the right questions.  We DO know that in Scripture Jesus says "that as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me".  So no, visiting Hospicio San Jose did not change much in the entire picture of the acute needs in Guatemala, it did not give parents to any of these sweet babies, and it did not solve any of the complex issues involving the care of thousands of orphans in this country.  Hopefully what it DID do was change our family, hopefully what it DID do was change our hearts and hopefully what it DID do was please Jesus.  In the end that is all any of us can aim for...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blessed are the meek....

Have you ever had one of those "I am getting what I deserve" moments?  Recently I sure did!  TJ and I along with my parents, Gabrielle and Olivia,and our friend Jodi McCauley and her daughter Marissa went to a small remote village in Guatemala called La Puente.  It was my third time to this village and TJ's first.  I was so anxious for him to see it and meet some of the amazing people that live there.  On the last part of our journey a 4-wheel drive is required so we had borrowed a 4-wheel drive Suburban to ensure our safe passage up the side of a very dry and dusty Guatemalan mountain.  Another team of missionaries was also making the trek that day so they graciously waited for us so that we could travel up the mountain together.  Before leaving we were offered seats in the back of their pick-up.  We politely declined and hopped into our air-conditioned Suburban.  Much to our surprise a couple of the missionary ladies from the other group climed into the back of the truck and BY CHOICE rode standing the entire way up the mountain.  The road (and I use that term very loosely) was rough and rutty...Jodi and I laughed to ourselves that we would not be caught dead riding in the back of a truck...especially with skirts on. (We were wearing skirts in respect of the dress of the village ladies.)  We also questioned the wisdom of anyone who WOULD ride in the back of the pick-up BY CHOICE.  All of this said in complete kindness and respect you understand.......lol
We completed our trek up the steep mountain road and began talking and enjoying time with the lovely people of  La Puente.  We had not been than an hour yet when TJ called me over and said the Suburban would not start due to a suddenly spent battery and that to ensure going down, finding a compatible battery in a small Guatemalan town, returning to the village to replace the battery and again descending all BEFORE dark, we needed to leave NOW!  I was very disappointed to say the least.  TJ assured me there was good news.  The nice gentleman with the pick-up was willing to take us back down the mountain right away.  Realizing that indeed was good news and I should try to be grateful I started towards the pickup.  Then it hit me...our group was eight people...plus our kind driver...nine.  Someone...or a few someones actually were going to need to ride in the back of the truck.
So this is how less than an hour after pointing out the obvious foolishness of riding standing up in the back of a pick-up with a skirt on, I find myself riding standing up in the back of a pick up with a skirt on.  The driver showed me (and my partener in crime, Jodi) where to hold on and left us with the helpful words of encouragement "If you need anything just bang on the roof."  Thanks.  As we careened down the mountain, Jodi and I laughed and laughed.  It is so good to serve a God with a sense of humor.  The funniest part however was the third passenger in the back of  the truck with us....TJ.  The only thing I really remember him saying to us was "You guys know this is all your fault, right?"  Yep, we got that part...

Dina's Parents Visit

In March Dina's parents were able to visit for eleven wonderful days.  We drug them all over showing them sights and ministries.  They were kind enough to act like they enjoyed it...lol.  It seems we rarely do 'new and fun' stuff unless we have company so we really enjoyed all the new things we got to see and do as well.  We visited the infamous Guatemala City dump...or as close as we were allowed to get, visited New Life Childrens Home, volunteered at the Lord's Kitchen (a soup kitchen that serves 300 to 400 people five nights a week, saw the sights in Antigua, took a day trip to a very remote village five hours from G. city and in general ran ourselves ragged.  It was a fantastic time spent with fantastic people!  This last photo is the History project Grandpa helped Jesse with!  Thank you Grandpa!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Middle School Banquet

Instead of an 8th grade graduation, CAG hold a middle school banquet. The 7th graders hold a banquet in honor of the 8th graders. Each 8th grader is honored personally for their gifts and contributions during middle school. It is a very special time for the 8th graders...and a LOT of work for the 7th grade parents. haha This year without realized what I was agreeing to do, I volunteered to be in charge of the decorations for the night. The 7th graders picked "Old West Town" as their theme. No big deal I thought...throw out some hats and ropes...dress up in jeans and away we go. About 2 weeks before banquet I was talking to the 7th grade sponsor. The unfortunate outcome of that conversation was my learning that the decorations for Middle School Banquet are indeed a VERY big deal...the whole chapel needed to appear to be an old western town....not just the tables and certainly not just a few ropes and hats. ouch.
An incredible crew came together and by banquet night the chapel truly had been transformed. Even the most proper city slicker among us had to stifle a "yee-haw." TJ was the guest speaker and was a huge hit. He told his "how to escape an anaconda story". If you have heard it you know why he was a hit. Unfortunately he uses the word "butt" twice in the presentation...once as in "kiss your butt good-bye"...we didnt get fired....lol. Olivia read a biography of an 8th grader that she had written and helped with serving food and drink during the night.
The night ended with 2 of the teachers doing "Dueling Banjos" with flashlights up their noses. I think they both wished the Iowans with all the 'great' ideas would just go away.....

CAG Spring Banquet

March 18th was the Christian Academy of Guatemala Spring Banquet. It is open to all High School students at CAG. Cheney chose not to go. His idea of fun is NOT dressing up and is NOT (at least not yet) asking a girl to go with him. For months he had told all of his friends he already had plans that night...as it turned out, my parents were here visiting that week so he stayed home and watched March Madness with them. March madness IS his idea of fun.

Jesse went to banquet..it IS her idea of fun..very fun. TJ and I got to go too as chaperones. I was happy to have a chance to get a new dress. TJ was happy for a chance to eat good food.

Jesse and I had our dresses made by a seamstress. We took in pictures of what we wanted and she took measurements and VOILA she made two beautiful dresses at a bargain price. We're hooked on custom made dresses now!

The night turned out very nice. It was at a hotel here in G. City. The food was excellent and the company was great too. The student council had worked very hard to make it a fun night for everyone.


Our family has been in Guatemala now just over ten months. When we moved here I had a personal blog set up and ready to go...and have not typed one single word into it since the big move! A few weeks ago as a friend and I were careening down the side of a Guatemalan mountain STANDING in the back of a pick-up (long story...need to BLOG it...lol) she turned to me and said, "This is why we should blog!" True words. The goal of this blog is to share daily experiences our family has here in Guatemala. Most of these will not be profound or maybe even interesting, but we recognize that in ten months MANY things have happened and yet few have them it in the newsletter or on facebook. Its not that WE are so amazing but we do have an AMAZING God. We pray that this blog will be honoring to Him always just as we pray our lives will be also.

If you are still reading, we want to thank you...you must really love us!! Thanks!!