| Sep 08, 2010
Thunder storms and lightening flashes during the night - fresh air and sunshine in the morning! Another glorious day!
The men take off with Mike Wenrick in the car. Can this really be my husband anxious to get behind a shovel or a pick ax? This team of grandparents (Sondra is way too young) are surprising themselves at how well they are doing with the physical exertions of our days.
First stop is the super market to buy soap for our village, Chris, Amalia & Carlos take the mission. We were about to send out the “Mounties” to search for them as the time seemed inordinately long when out they came with a shopping cart overflowing with boxes of soap! Soap falling on the street, soap everywhere! Chris must have remembered "if a little dab will do ya"!
Our last wild hare ride up the mountain, we just don't tire of the scenery! A group of uniformed school children is gathered in the middle of the road practicing for a parade to be held on September 15th to celebrate Guatemala's Independence Day (from Spain). White shirts and navy pants or skirts on a dirt road! These mothers do not have a washing machine to throw the uniforms in each day, how can they look so clean?
A little after our promised 9 a.m. visit to the school we arrive at the path to the school. It is immediately obvious that this group of children have been waiting anxiously for our arrival! They help us to unload the paper, notebooks, pencils and five soccer balls we will present to the school and down the path we go singing all the way. These children may be malnourished but they are like sponges. Soon we are all singing the ABC song! Our hearts are filled with joy!
Nancy, the school principal, greets us and tries to gain control of the mass of children surrounding us. Amalia speaks to the children and they present the gifts we have brought to the principal who is obviously grateful. The two other teachers who stand with her are dressed in their special occasion finest, we are honored by this display of respect. Instruction for the younger children to form two soccer teams and it happens, again we are impressed at how well behaved these children are. Chris, Amalia and I attempt to join the teams but these kids are as fast as little jack rabbits - this new ball flies through the air in contrast to the flat and dirty old ball sitting on the side lines. We quickly put ourselves next to the retired ball and watch these school children fly around the muddy field.
Anxious to see the progress on the new building we reluctantly give our farewells and climb back up the steep path to the road. And progress is what we find, corner foundations and columns are poured and in place using the rebar columns that were made earlier. The walls of cement block will set on these foundations that our team (mostly the men) had such fun setting as a team with the village men. They were amazed at how much camaraderie and fun they had in spite of the language barrier.
The Medical Teams International men felt like the language barrier fell away as they sweated side by side to with a combined goal, a goal to create a place where these people can come to learn ways to make their village healthier and stronger. They care about their future and know that we share that concern.
We also go to see the garden project. We follow up a steep hill for about 15 minutes with a small group of villagers and children surrounding us. Up a narrow path is a 20 x 20 ft. mounded garden. The soil is rich and dark in contrast to the red clay soil of the village. The speeches begin and thanks are given and then Mike interprets for us that … villagers can sign up to be part of the project and learn how to grow healthy vegetables themselves. They work in the garden for a growing season and are then given seeds to start their own gardens outside of their homes.
This village is still experimenting to find the vegetables that will thrive in this climate where it can get to near freezing at night. Another wonderful example of teaching these indigenous people how to improve and take control of their own futures. Mike Wenrick was moved to tears when he heard the leader repeat back to him his mission statement. This affirmation of his work is the fuel to his passion and commitment.
Down to the village we go, singing along the way! Lunch is ready.
We can hear marimbas being played below at the Church and we finish lunch and head down the steep path to the church yard. The building next to the church now has a terrace with a stage set up, big leaves are wrapped around the stakes that hold up the roof. Pine needles are a carpet on the stage that has benches around the back and sides. Past we go into the church.
Tears well up and I know our whole group was deeply moved by what we saw... the wooden pews are filled to overflowing, a choir is singing, four marimbas are playing and everyone is dressed in tattered but obviously their Sunday finest.
Benches at the front are set up for us - we are in the center of the choir and the marimbas. The leader of the community and the religious leader give more speeches of thanks - these people want to be very sure we don't leave here without knowing how much we have meant to them.
A small girl somehow ends up on my lap which makes it a little harder to get up and down from the low bench as prayers are said, songs are sung, more thanks are given. Mike thanks the village and Amalia interprets in the Q'egchi' (Kekchi) language. The procession now is led to the stage, where we take our places of honor. Mike says that he has never seen so many people turn out for one of these thank yous, there is a sea of beautiful brown faces and bright colors surrounding us and crowding behind us. The children push at each other to get a better view.
More marimba music and then a very short young boy walks up to a very large drum that is set up in the area below the stage. He is almost hidden from our view behind the big drum. Flute music begins, the music is very haunting and spiritual, we know that this too is part of the Mayan culture. The music adds to the mystical feeling we already have sitting on pine needles, surrounded by indigenous Mayan villagers. Finally gifts are presented to each of us. Sondra's lap is overflowing, a testament to how deeply she touched these people's hearts.
Clouds have rolled up the mountain and there is a threat of rain in the air so we attempt to give our final goodbyes but are told that they have prepared a small meal for us. We climb back up to the old health center where we have been having our lunches to find bowls filled with pieces of chicken in broth.
Our fearless leader Mike proves is just that as he eats as though it is the best thing ever. The rest of us use tricks learned in childhood to hide the food we pretend to eat! Great shows of more thanks and we hug our way through the crowd to our vehicles. Hands reach in through the open windows and we slowly move through the crowd.
Tears are flowing with promises to return. This team would love to see the building finished, villagers getting heath training and help within its walls. Mike promises to send us progress reports on his next visit. Our hearts have been touched deeply. The ride down the mountain is quiet as we each privately process our feelings and experiences.
A general consensus … we are leaving here much richer for the experience.