Today when we arrived in the community of Saqib, we went straight to work on building stoves. The best thing about this stove project (besides improving health, of course) is that we are able to enter people's homes and really get to know the families in the community. These people are gracious beyond belief. They embody the meaning of hospitality.
The first place we went to this morning was the home of Ignacio and Candalario. When we finished installing the stoves (which typically takes about 45 mins to 1 hr), Candalario served each of us delicious coffee with sugar and gave a long speech which Jorge translated as saying, "I do not know where you have come from, how long it took for you to get here, or how much money you spent to travel here, but I believe that God wanted you here for a reason. I'm sorry that I can not speak to you in your language, but I want to thank you. I hope this is not the last time I see you." I had tears in my eyes (maybe partially from the smoke that still lingered in the air), and although we could not speak directly to one another in the same language, I felt very connected to Candalario. I said, "Bante osh" ("thank you" in Q'eqchi), smiled and gave her a hug - a language we all understand.
Mary, Becca, Charlie, Ignacio, Cassie and Candalario
The next place we visited was the home of Alfredo who has six children an 1 granddaughter living with he and his wife. This is a family of many talents. Alfredo showed us the wheel and loom that he uses to make hammocks. And his daughter Savina gave each of us women an ornate hair tie to keep as a rememberance of her family. She tied it in our hair and again, we said "bante osh" with a smile and a kiss on the cheek. The mother served us Tang drink and white rolls before we left to continue our work. The generosity was overwhelming.
This afternoon, Charlie and Jorge worked really hard while Becca and I worked a little bit and then mostly played with the children (thanks guys!). The children are beautiful. I seem to relate most to the children, especially when there is a language barrier. Little Danny at first seemed shy and timid, but once we started a game of hide-and-seek, he really broke out of his shell. Literally. He broke out of it running. He was a sneeky little kid, but we were able to communicate by clapping, giggling and howling like an owl (odd, I know) to find where each other was hiding. Danny and I ran all over the hills surrounding his house, and when I finally found him we just smiled at each other and walked back home laughing and looking at each other - our only realy way of communicating. I wish I had a picture of Danny to show you, but he was so sneaky that it was difficult to catch him on film!
And then there was Aldofo. A child who only spoke to me with his eyes. I would call his name and he would simply raise his eyebrows and giggle. He somehow reminded me of my nephew who, although is blond-haired and blue-eyed, has the same expressions. It reminded me that children all over the world have that same joyful spirit.
So despite language barriers, today was a day of connecting deeply with the people of Guatemala. Many expressions of thanks were exchanged for the opportunity to share a bit of our lives with one another.