- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Agatha and Pacaya

Agatha caused alot more immediate trouble in our area than Pacaya did. Some houses went down. Doesn't take much to take down corn cob walls and rusty tin roofs and mud floors. We had some mud in our kitchen, dining room and bodega, but the kids from the school came for lunch and tutorials and Dominga and Gil cooked and taught as usual.
I am sure alot of the families lost their crops they had just planted and I am also sure they don't have the money for more seeds. I am also sure the kids and adults will have lots of colds and pneumonia from the wet and cold and parasites from the bad water. No money to buy either food or medicine.
Robert's house suffered some mud damage and he lost his water pipes. The roads are covered with mud and rocks and he could not get to Los Robles today. He is going tomorrow even if he has to walk the whole way.
Pacaya is causing it's own problems as teams can not leave and new ones can not come in. We have one that was supposed to arrive on Tues. and their flight was postponed until Sat. Two of them can not make it at all because of the postponing. I can not stress to you enough how important our teams our. You are my eyes,ears and hands. And I need you down there now. It is frustrating, but I am sitting on my nice, dry magnetic and foam covered mattress as I write this. Image the frustration of having little ones, your floor is all mud and slossy, your one mattress for the whole family is sopping wet as are all your clothes.. And you can't afford medicine if your kids get sick.
If you can help please do. we are up to $1000 donated as oone time gifts and $200.00 committed for the long term. PLEASE HELP US GET THE ORPHANAGE GOING. I can not let go of the existing programs; they are needed too much and we have the funding going for them. Let's get the orphanage going now. Any committed amount is gratefully appreciated. Next blog will give you two more reasons why it is needed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Volcanoes and Hurricanes

Many of you have asked about the natural disasters going on in Guatemala right now. I have kept up with them because my daughter Hannah was supposed to fly to Guate on Friday. She left Charlotte, NC early Friday morning with the assurance of Continental that her flight was still on. She got to Houston and was told it was canceled. After spending the night in Houston she flew home to Charlotte to wait until the airport opens. My friend and supporter Evelyn is in Guatemala with a 15 member team that has been working on our projects. They checked into the Barcelona Thurs night to do some touristy stuff and were there when the volcano exploded. Three members of the team had thought to hike Pacaya on Thurs. and at the last minute changed their plans and went with the rest of the group to Chichi. They are stuck now at the Barcelona but were able to go to Antigua and then to Tikal by bus. The city is supposed to look awful with lots of black "snow". My friend Nancy, who lives in Antigua, said when the volcano blew her house shook like it has never shaken with an earthquake. Evelyn's group was told they can not fly home until Weds.
The first hurricane of the season is causing lots of trouble in Panajachel. If you google Bugle Basin , you might get to see a picture of the river between Pana and Jucanya. It is massive. The main bridge is closed to traffic and pedestrians. One foot bridge is destroyed.The bridge between Pana and San Andres ic closed to everything but pedestrian traffic.The combination of the 3 days so far days of massive rain and the volcanic ashe is making a cement like mud that is difficult to clean up and deadly to agricultural crops. The massive rains are flooding even more crops. Crops that are desperately needed for this food poor country as many of the people live on a subsistance basis.


While in Guatemala this last time, Jody and I and the kids and Robert, the new director, were able to find one family of children who had been in our old orphanage.We went to visit them on Saturday and the pictures show what we found. Manuel, Rosa, Rolando and Carlos had been with us since Rosa was 9 and Manuel was 13. The boys were 6 and 8 when they came. They are the children of finca [ plantation ] workers and their alcoholic father and mentally challenged mother could not feed or educate them. They signed them into our care with finger prints on the legal papers. Within the year they went from dirty malnourished uneducated kids to extremely neat and clean kids who seemed to appreciate a bath and clean clothes [ at least Rosa and Manuel did ]. Rosa was top in her class and Manuel was winning art awards for his artistic ability. Then we were shut down [ which is another long story that I was lied to about and will have time to write about someday ]. The kids went back to their mom and dad. The dad has left them now and they live here. There are eight children in all. Manuel-17, Rosa-13, Rolando-12, Carlos-10, Carolina-8, Victor-6, Reuben-3 and David-1. The day we arrived Rosa was tending the younger children while Manuel and the other boys were with their mom on top of the mountain gathering firewood to sell. It was a surprise visit for them. When I hugged Rosa she just balled into my shoulder. I imagine life has been very hard for her. All the kids were dirty, but Rosa had been my most prim and clean girl at the orphanage. She was now filthy. She is at the prime age to be raped and there is no one to protect her alot of the time. David, who she was holding when I hugged her screamed at the stranger hugging his sister, which made me wander what horrors these kids had seen. There was not a drop of food in the house. They slept on the floor on two thin blankets with nothing to cover them. Some of the kids did not have shoes. The older four were enrolled in school, but not attending as they did not have school supplies or the monthly fee to attend. The boys and the mom would each carry off the mountain 100 pounds of firewood for a 5 mile trek so they could sell it for food. It broke my heart that Rosa, my little student who had tried so hard to be clean and studious, was now reduced thru no fault of her own to being dirty and not in school. Reuben, the 3 year old, was sleeping on one of the thin blankets. We had saved his life when he was 1 month old. The mom had come to the orphanage to visit the four oldest. She told me she had no breast milk and we had hired her on the spot to live there with the younger children and have formula for Reuben. My staff hated her as she did not work and 2 months later the dad whisked her away with the younger children.
Saturdya , two weeks ago,we brought food. Big bags of beans and rice and oats and a big bottle of oil and the cans of tuna and peanut butter that one of you had sent to me. We brought shoes for each child from the shoes that you had sent. We committed to coming back with blankets and clothes as they seemed to have no more clothes than those on their backs. The pictures are pretty self-explanatory except the ties. We had been taken to their home by their Sunday school teacher. The children had attended church services every Sunday while in the orphanage. The boys had saved their ties and wore them every Sunday. Manuel made sure that all 8 children went to church with him each Sunday even tho the mom did not go. AMAZING. AN AMAZING BOY.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

day 3 Our first Sunday

By this time we had been in the country for 2 days and I had still not been to Los Robles and seen all the progress our projects had made. I wanted to so bad, but it was complicated. Pedro's "resignation" had not been under the best of terms and I did not want to see him. I was not sure who had Jose's loyalty and the first time I went up there, I wanted to make sure Jose understood he either worked for us or Pedro, not both. I did not want him telling Pedro our every move. So I needed Robert with me when I went and Robert could not go until Monday , so I waited and planned all I would do while we were there. It was hard esp. this Sunday.
I tried to rest as I knew once I got going, there would be no rest. Took a couple of pictures. The pretty one of the bougainvilla in the yard of the Pana house and the one of Juana. Spent time walking around Pana and Jucanya where we used to live with Jody and the kids. Went to church in San Andres and collected some medical donations the missionaries there had been keeping for me so they would not be stolen. Had a stupid fight with Jody over something small. And read. I was reading " Stones Into Schools" by Greg Mortenson trying to figure out how to bring in more money for our projects.
I spent time thinking aobut Juana. She is 70 and if you have the pleasure of staying in our Pana house, she will clean and possibly cook for you. She goes strong all day from 5am until the supper dishes are done and then crashes. She is humble and smart and never raises her voice and always has a smile for me and the kids. She has no formal education and can not read or write, but she can think. Education is very important to her and she works to help make sure her 37 grandchildren have a chance at it. The jobs for the elderly basically do not exist as the younger Mayan girls have more strength, but I love Juana and if given a choice will always pick her. There are no social service programs for the elderly in Guatemala and Juana will never have a medicaid card. She will always have to buy her own medicine and pay for her own doctor and when she can not do for herself, she will have to depend on the good will of others.She was our personal maid for 3 years and when we moved back to the USA, I could not find her. That was because Pedro did not want me to find her as she would tell me that he had sold my dogs instead of what he did tell me. We are back into each others lives and I hope that will continue for a long time.
And finally, I found three quotes today that I liked so I am going to pass them on.
1. By Elbert Hubbard, "Down in their hearts, wise men know this truth; the only way to help yourself is to help others."
2. D&C , "Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness"
3. Albert Schweitzer, "the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."

The next blog starts all the things that happened. They happened fast and furious for the rest of the time we were there and it was good I had had this Sunday to reflect and rest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our First Sat. in Guatemala

First thing I do when I get there is get in groceries. I go to Pana Super that has all the gringo supplies and send Juana to the market for all the fresh fruits and veggies. There is now Sandra's place that is a great gringo grocery store.
The two kids with us had Sat. dentist appts. as our dentist works mostly in Guate City, but works out at the Lake on Sat. We decided to get settled in on Sat. and Sun. as not much goes on at Los Robles on the week-ends. So we unpacked the 8 big suitcases we brought down of donations and laid them out so it would be easy to see what we had. So many great shoes. 100 plus pairs from several different groups. Some clothes, and some medical equipment including the walker we brought for Samuel. That is what the pictures are of.
I used the internet later that day so I could keep up with the family news, the for profit business needs and the Safe HOmes For Children emails. It is so crappy. A keyboard that should have been thrown away 3 years ago plus a Spanish keyboard that I do not know where half the markings are. Plus open air and flies. Oh well I did the bare minimum as many of you know by the emails I sent back.
That is all for sat. Oh did I mention sitting out on the great porch at our volunteer house and looking at the beautiful plants in the yard. Plus not having internet means I was not on it constantly like it can happen at home sometimes, like today.
Well gotta , the kids will be home from school soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

We leave For Guatemala

April 29th we left VA to travel to Atlanta to catch our Apr. 30th flight to Guatemala. I hate to fly and the going up and going down messes up my ears for days. The Atlanta flight is a straight one so only one time up and one time down. My husband gripes and complains about the 6 hour drive and always gives in. It was really hard to leave the kids. I had my 15 and soon to be 14 year olds with me, but my 20 year old college daughter was keeping the 5 youngest. The 17 year old was home in charge of milking our milk goats and keeping the animals and greenhouse plants alive. Everyone survived and Hannah did a great job. But I cried half of the way to the airport. The kids at home with Hannah were so excited to be with her as they love their big sisters.Hannah just finished her first year at the Univ and made great grades. Plus she was working two jobs at the time. The kids were never late to school and were fed and clothes in style, Hannah's hippy style.
The hotel night was good as was the flight and I was starting to enjoy some time with my two teens and not having so much responsibilty with the younger ones. Oh did I mention, I did not have to get up at 6am for bus duty or cook or clean the whole time we were gone.
Bottom picture is 3 that stayed at home and the older boy who went with us.
Next is of Alisa who also stayed.
Third from the bottom is of Johnny the goat milker. hey we get two gallons a day and did not want to loose it.
Next is Seth, the muscle boy.
Next is Juana who is the reason I did not have to cook or clean. She now does all that at the volunteer housing. She was my maid when we lived in Guate and I never had anything stolen from me. Plus she was always on the look out to make sure no one esle stole from me. Do not let her size or age fool you. She can run circles around most US 20 year olds.
And the final picture is of Hannah. Without her help and willingness to take over my responsibilites, I could not have gone at all.