Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything: Long but informative.

Well, I have been crazy busy and so I have a lot to blog about, but no time to do it. Here goes a sort of summary of the last couple of days. (these are carrots that I bought in Zunil, a mountain village on our way home from Fuentes)

BoyD has graduated to a big boy bed! We turned his crib into a toddler bed this last weekend with the fear that we would be up all night putting him back in his bed. Well, we closed his bedroom door, he went to bed just fine, and he woke at 7am and got up and knocked on his door to get out! It went incredibly well. We put him in his bed b/c we are going to be travelling a lot very soon and having to take around 2 pack-n-plays would be much more difficult. Anyway, this morning he woke up at like 6:30 and we weren't ready for him to get up, so we put him back in bed with some books and he was content until 7am when I went to get him up. Hopefully it will stay that way.

BoyD loves his preschool. The first day, he didn't really want to talk about it (he said...Mom, will you not ask me again what we did?) I guess I was nagging. But, the second day he told me all about it and sang me a song in Spanish that he sang at school. Pretty cool.

He didn't go to school this week b/c he has the chicken pox. He was vaccinated so it wasn't very severe, but he has the little blisters that itch and all that, so until they all scab up he can't go to school. Sigh.

We got a package brought to us from the US filled with cloth diapers that I bought used on line for half the price. they are these awesome diapers that work like disposables but you wash them instead, and we are going to save SO MUCH MONEY! This way the pre-school can also do cloth with him. Very cool. And almost all of the diapers are 1 size fits all so I don't have to worry about which diapers are BoyD's and which are BabyM's.

BabyM has started to scoot. She isn't crawling just yet, but she really doesn't need to b/c she can get to wherever she wants to go by rolling, rotating, turning, and scooting. Nothing is really out of her reach anymore. Also her hair is really long.

I am going to start a women's Bible study here in my house pretty soon. Please be praying about this. The women who are interested are Gladys: the woman who works at our house. She is completely uneducated (although she can read) and loves the Lord but is living with her boyfriend. The next woman, Hortencia is a great friend. She also loves the Lord, but doesn't go to church b/c she likes the reverence of the Catholic church but she isn't Catholic. She has serious problems with a church that takes and doesn't give, and she believes demonstrative worship is incorrect and irreverent. (Loud instruments as well). Another lady is Edna, our language teacher who as far as we can believes in Jesus, but claims no religion. Interesting, but her first real encounter with the Bible has been with Brandon during language school. The other woman is Nelly, a CAM missionary (a Guatemalan) who loves Jesus and is in a sense discipling me. Very mature believer. Finally, there is a woman from our church but she might not be living in the country much longer, and she also works during the day. Please pray about timing and interest.

We are going to the city this weekend for a Peacemakers conference with CAM. It will be really good to fellowship with some other CAM missionaries and to get some additional training.

Finally, I went to the orphanage today. I forgot my camera, so I will take it next time to get some photos. It was fun, challenging, strange, a little frustrating, and incredibly sad. We had 22 7-9 year olds, both boys and girls. We played a name game, we read John 3:16, we made those salvation bracelets with the 5 colored beads, we drew, and we gave them a snack (gelatinas...homemade jello in baggies) It was hard b/c I have no authority with these kids. Some of them wanted to please me and so obeyed, while most just didn't care. They only obeyed when it benefited them. They were very easily distracted (2 hours is a long time for a 7 year old to sit still) and I don't think I really communicated anything that I wanted to communicate. By the time we got to explaining the significance of the colors, they were tired and antsy.

One of the little girls is there b/c she had fallen off of a 2nd story landing more than once, and the hospital where she went advised the authorities. They sent her to this orphanage and no one has come to visit her yet and it has been several months. Another little girl is there b/c her father is in prison and her mother is dead.

When it was snack time, a bunch of other kids came into the cafeteria (where we were working) for their snack and they all wanted some of the jello that we brought, but we didn't have enough. It was really sad. They were eating some sort of gelatinous mush in cups. Not even Nelly knew what it was. Anyway, there were quite a few mentally retarded or otherwise disabled kids that were hanging out where we were. They wanted jello, so we snuck a few of the extras to them. They kept hugging us and following us around. There was one little mentally retarded girl in a wheel chair (like 6-8 years old) who kept reaching up for us to hold her, or hug her or something. I just leaned down and hugged and kissed her. I wasn't sure what she wanted. It was so incredibly sad. As we left, we walked by the little ones eating their snack. There were 8 or 9 little kids (1-3 yrs old) sitting on a curb eating their snack. Several were filthy in clothes that were old and didn't fit right. Finally, when we left, one little girl was hanging on Nelly and told the woman who let us out that Nelly was her mommy.

I just kept thinking that all of these little children are alone, without parents. I am not sure which is sadder, that some of them have no family at all, or that they have family, but have been taken away and often times not even visited by what family they do have. The little toddlers not getting read and rocked to sleep. They mentally retarded don't get someone to cherish them and believe in them.

I wept at the sadness the entire way home. I am still crying. 2 hours a week is not enough. I am going to ask you to please pray for more workers. I would be happy to organize curriculum and everything if there were just more people who would be willing to love on these children. My heart breaks as our Lord's heart breaks for these little ones. Please pray that God will bless this work, that we would know how best to minister.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fuentes de Georgines

This is our trip to Fuentes de Georgines. It is a hot spring about 45 minutes outside of Xela. They have 4 different pools, bungalows for camping, a restaurant, picnic areas, and hiking trails. The water is fed from a volcano and it has a lot of sulfur and other minerals so it has no amoebas or parasites and it needs no chlorine b/c the water is constantly filling and spilling over into the other pools.

It is always foggy up there b/c it is in a cloud forest. It was sort of a mini vacation for us, as it is so incredibly relaxing. Today it was so busy but when we go during the week, there are often times only like 10 people there. The Guatemalans in the photos are our friends Hortencia, her daughter Carla, and Carla's son Alejandro who was born on the same day as BabyM.

Just so you know, if you come to visit us, we will take you here. SO COME TO VISIT! :) It cost about $3.00 to get in, plus another $3 for parking and you can bring in your own food. The water is normally the temperature of a hot bath in the first pool (the other pools are consecutively cooler) but today, we could not even put BabyM down in the water b/c it was too hot. I think they cleaned the spring or something and so more water is coming out making it much hotter. The other pools weren't too hot, but they are much shallower and you can't really swim. Anyway, it is incredibly beautiful and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First day of "School"

Well, Deacon started his first day of school today. We are only taking him for 2 days a week, but normally it is 5. This school is really cool to let us bring him 2 days a week for half the price. It is called Colegio El Pilar (Colegio is just a private school) and its Catholic. We can walk to it from our house. Its Catholic, but there are no nuns, priests, religion classes, or anything other than a statue of Mary that would suggest that it is Catholic. Most likely we can't keep him there when he gets older b/c of the ministry that we have with Evangelicals. They don't get along so well. So sad. Anyway, I am attaching some pictures. Like I said, he goes twice a week from 9am to 12:30pm. I am thinking that he will have a lot of fun and for 1 hour every day they do lessons in English. Knowing that at least some of the teachers speak English makes me feel better. Deacon is speaking Spanish like a pro, but we wanted him to learn some more and to have some friends here, and this is the fastest way to accomplish this. Anyway, enjoy the photos!Deacon getting ready for his big day.He likes the way he looks! This is his uniform more or less. He wears jeans, a white collared shirt, and a gray sweater that the school gives him that we don't yet have.Here we are getting ready to walk to school.

This is the outside of the school. It is totally enclosed with a door that is locked from the inside with a key so the kids can't leave with out the guard letting them out. It sounds incredibly harsh, but outside the school is just a street. (And I can go in when every I want, the kids just can't "escape")

This is the inside patio area (directly behind the doors in the previous photos). The ground is all dirt, but they have some good playground equipment and a beautiful garden.
Deacon inside his classroom getting situated and meeting his companeros (friends). When we walked in, he just started walking around the room looking at the toys, etc. All the other little children were seated quietly at their desks. We'll see how that goes. I go to get him at 12:30pm and will post later how everything went. Finally, here is a photo of the walk back from the school to our house. Don't we live in a beautiful country?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This is a video of the kids playing together a little bit. BoyD is enjoying her much more now that she can laugh at him and interact with him. You may think this is boring, but we LOVE it!

The next two photos are of BabyM while we are getting her ready for church. You might be able to see her earrings! Yes, we pierced her ears. It wasn't cruel or awful or torture for her. She cried for all of about 10 seconds, and as soon as they were finished, she was in my arms and happy as a lark. We have gotten a bit of backlash from the american side saying that this was paramount to abuse, and how dare we torture our parenting 101 it says to NEVER cause your child unneccesary harm....etc, etc. Well, it is what Guatemalans do, and I will post another blog another time explaining exactly why we chose to do it.

Anyway, we put on a little t-shirt underneath her dress b/c when I don't, EVERYONE comments about how cold it is and how she is still so young, and how she really should be wearing a t-shirt under her dress. I was even called a "mala mama" (bad mommy) to my face by a teenager b/c Madi was outside in 65 degree weather with a sweater on but with out a t-shirt under her dress. Sigh. So, we bought these little camisoles for $1 each and we put them on under her dresses when we go out. Being Greek to the Greeks so to speak. It's all Greek to me.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Another look at life here.

Here is a quick video of our pila. (And a photo of someone else's pila!) A pila is like a guatemalan washer and kitchen sink in one. It is concrete (although more recently plastic for those who have their pila on the 2nd floor or higher) and normally painted a bright color. In some communities, there are large fountian looking things that serve as the communal pila. Here in Xela, most everyone has a kitchen sink, but they still use the pila to wash their clothes. You can see in the photo that most pilas have 3 compartments, one for washing dishes (usually flat), one in the middle for holding "clean" water, and a third for washing clothes (usually a washboard style with ridges.) It is important not to contaminate the "clean" water. Even though is is full of bacteria, amoebas and parasites, you are not to get any dirt in the water. You use a little bowl to retrieve water out of the middle to wash and rinse.

You don't have to go very rural to see people use these for their sink. If someone is very poor, they either use the community's pila, or they go down to a stream or river to wash clothes. Some churches in rural areas have a pila like this one for their members to use.

B/c we have a normal kitchen, our pila is just a half pila, for washing clothes. We also have a washer and dryer, but we use the pila for washing out diapers, shoes, and towels and rags that get used everyday. It is THE BEST at getting out stains. Enjoy the little video.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Let the Work Begin!

Well...after over a month of praying, I will be beginning my work with the orphans on August 20th.

The process was a little discouraging, but the Lord is good, and opened the right doors.

When I first decided that I wanted to work with orphans, it seemed easy. I would just call the orphanage (or my language school would b/c they know the number and the appropriate persons) and tell them that I wanted to volunteer, and they would say: "sure! Thanks so much for wanting to help! Come on by whenever you want!" That was a little bit unrealistic.

The school did call on my behalf, and they were told that I could only work/volunteer if I could commit for 2 months of 4 hours a day 5 days a week. If not, then not at all. Well, there is no way that I could do that seeing as I have a full time job with my 2 kids, Spanish school, and now DTS studies. I was so upset, b/c there is only 1 orphanage now in Xela (after the other one closed when the director molested the children.)

I prayed and really struggled with that. I finally determined to go and talk to them face to face. It didn't make sense that I had to work 20hrs a week or none at all!

Well, a fellow CAM missionary (a Guatemalan) said that she would love to accompany me and help me explain my situation. We prayed right before we rang the bell to announce our arrival at the orphanage that God would open appropriate doors if this is what he desired for me to do.

We went in and Nelly did explain that we are missionaries and that I feel that God had led me to work/volunteer with the orphans in the Xela area. The woman who helped us was so encouraging and welcoming. She basically said..."When do you want to work? For how long? With what age group? What do you want to do?" When asked if I could teach about God, and Jesus, the reply was, "Claro que si!" (or well, sure! of course!) Anyway, they want me to present a "plan" of what I am going to do, with what age group, and if I am going to crafts, songs, etc along with what topics that I will cover each week. Basically a mini-curriculum. HOW COOL IS THAT! I will be working on that this week.

Right now the orphanage has 98 children from 0-12 years old. Most of whom are in there on a temporary basis , meaning that they do have families, just not families that can take care of them. Possibly their parents are in prison, or severe alcoholics, or abusive. Possibly they were abandoned. Some of them are just waiting for a judge to tell them who they will live with. There are still many children who are actually orphans and are there on a permanent basis. Those children go to an internal school.

I will begin working with 6-9 year olds and I will do a little class on "Who is Jesus Christ" and we are going to make salvation bracelets. (you know...the leather bracelets with the colored beads signifying the path of salvation) Well, I am so pumped. I am hoping that many of you will be praying for us as we use this time to freely minister to so many children. Can you imagine just having free reign to teach the gospel to 98 children? A captive audience! We are responsible to gather any craft supplies/ideas. If you have any ideas...I would love to hear them. Any good websites that you know of? Maybe a few of you could come for a visit and help me! I will be working basically alone so I can only handle like 20-25 kids at once (fewer for the younger ones) so if you could pray for some fellow workers. I am just going to be helping there every Wednesday for 2 hours. Maybe sometime in the future I can increase that amount.

Anyway, I am just so excited!

Ok....Here is a video of Deacon making tortillas. I hope he learns how to do this as well as Gladys (the woman who works for us) b/c her tortillas are incredible!