- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: January 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life in a third world country with 7 kids still at home.Blog Days 17, 18, 19, 20,21,22, 23, 24

Trying today to get caught up with my blogs. Everything except yesterday's nutributter program. Last Fri. I mostly caught up with emails and paperwork in the am and took a Friday date with my husband. By the time we have both done all this "mission" work all week [ mostly my responsibility } and homeschooled the 5 youngest kids [ mostly his repsonsibility ] , we feel we deeply deserve time off starting Fri. afternnon. So we left around 2, Juana had cooking kid's dinner [ and then leaving until Tues. am ], and we headed for the weekly hour massage. It is also a medical massage as I have neck and shoulder issues and Jody has back issues. Afterwards we enjoyed dinner at an Italian Bistro that  makes it 's own noodles.  Then we came home, waved at the kids and went back in our bedroom , made a fire in the fireplace and watched a movie. Friday Date nights are usually pretty much the same down here excpet the restaurant changes and sometimes we can take in a music show. The best part is having time alone and away from the stress.
The next day is Sat. cleanup. It is mostly a hugh trial of my patience as I struggle to get work done and not yell at the kids who try hard to not get work done. Having a new IPOD that has my favorite songs on it and drowns out the kids help a lot. Sunday is a walk into San Andres for church. The 3 pictures of kids above are my kids ready for church. Alisa and Tony will soon be 10 and 12 and feel ripped off they have to celebrate their birthdays in a third world country with crappy plastic toys. This time I remembered to bring them each a second hand but working DSI [ think that is right}. They each want one really bad and I think we found a decent hotel, economical hotel on the lake with swimming pool and trampoline to spend a night at sometime between the 13th and 17th. Then we can rent a video and have a dinner and ice cream. They will think that is pretty special. Church is in Spanish so we stay for the first part and then go home and have a family Sunday School lesson.
Monday, Jody and I and kids go to Los Robles while Jody meets the new carpenter who will finish the guardian house and get it ready for the new family to move into. I go with Dominga to get a picture of the kids in the elementary school next door that will be in our feeding program this year. That is the bottom picture.
Tuesday, I go into town to get Scotia set up to do a culinary arts internship. She is in culinary arts in 11th grade in the states and has brought her book with her to study, but needed some practical cooking experience. So she starts tomorrow at our favorite Thai rest. Ling, the owner, cooks the lunches for the 20 kids at the private school Scotia and Caleb go to. Scotia will help cook the lunches. We are all excited for her to learn and cook at home. With Bethany an Italian cook expert from her 1.5 year mission there and now Scotia with Thai food, things are looking better and better for family reunions.
Wednesday we are back up to Los Robles for me to have a meeting with Mario and Dominga to discuss many things concerning future operations. I have Roy translating and it goes well. Jody checks the progress of the guardian house.
Thurs. is more of the same. Everyday we have emails and phone calls to do concerning the family and the for-profit business. Much time is taken with blogs and meetings with staff. Juan comes everyday to receive translations to give Mario and Dominga and to continue work on the never ending problems dealing with student sponsorships, medically fragile kids and nutritionally deprived kids. And did I mention budget that never seems to be enough. I can't download pictures here at the house so picture blogs require I got into San Andres, sip a liminoda and write blogs at the pizza rest.
Finally Fri. is here again. I am sick again with my first Guatemalan cold and a horrible cough and fever. The massage I am hoping with get me well enough to make the nutributter extravaganza the next day and Jody is plain exhausted. He is a wonderful teacher, but 3 of the kids he teaches are special ed and he is 61. We leave at 2 excited agian to have a few hours of free time and stress relief.. I do not sleep well that night due to 2 hours of coughing, but make Peter's nutributter program. I will wirte about it the next time I go to the pizzeria as I have a bunch of pictures. I come home exhausted and sleep from 8 pm to 8 am. Today Sun. is a rest day. Alisa is making a pasta dish she learned from her sister Bethany .TTL.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Look For Us on the USA New With Our Nutributter Program

Last week I decided to follow Mario and Dominga around while they finished up the 24 communities we were assigned to assess for the new nutributter grant form UDAID. I met them in San Andres where they were working. They had a community worker who helped them find the 6 to 24 month olds from the Central Salud list. They had to walk a million miles to find the 48 babies in this community as no one knew where they lived. Once found, they explained the program and then measured the child's length on a board they carried with them and weighed her from a hanging scale they also carried with them. Baby was not too happy.
And first time I have ever seen Dominga in pants.
Sat. is the big.... meeting before we start distributing the nutributter and begin the program. Casa De Sion did the best of all the NGOs so they will train the others. There will be USA news reporters at the meeting. Then the next week these same reporters will go with Mario, Dominga and I to some of our communities to film. Praying it gives help to these communities and that my 62 year old body can keep up.

Our New Pueblo: Chuti-Estancia

Last Weds., I went to Chuti-Estancia with Evelyn who is bringing a volunteer team here in April to do work. This is one of our new pueblos. Very large with many poor people. We already have about 25 mamas and their 75 tots in our feeding program and 35 students in our scholarship program from here. The top picture is of the inside of the first house we went to. Single mom with 2 little ones and her parents live here in one room and lots of smoke.


This is a picture is of the dad who is almost dead. Can not breathe, can not lift his head. I was going to pay for a doctor, but the daughter told me he was dying of alcohol poisoning and there was nothing anyone could do.

Here is the next family. Married mom whose husband works in the fields for about $100 a month when there is work. There are 4 children there [ the 4 month old is on her back ] and 3 more who were not there. One of them is a crippled boy [ sounds like clubfeet ] who works in the fields with his dad. They live in one room with a leaky roof and the kids looked so malnourished. Evelyn had blankets for the kids.

Here is another project. This is a kitchen for a commmunity of 5 or 6 families. It is falling down and the picture shows how bad the smoke is. How would you all like to cook your meals in this everyday. Just a little smokey.

 A family of 9 lives in this one room with the pink bed.. The kids all sleep on this bed. The parents sleep on a bed behind a nasty dirty ripped up tarp. I would be so claustrophobic if I slept there. My bedroom right now is not finished. The new quarry tile has not completely dried nor have the new plaster walls, but it is big with a lot of natural wood and skylights and a big bathtub. Every time I get upset about the wet stuff, I try to remember this place and how there but for fortune I could be sleeping here.

We went to other houses, too many to name. the last I will mention has a single mom and her 14 year old son in a small room in the middle of a cornfield. Dirt floor, leaky roof, one single bed. They take turns sleeping on the floor.

This last picture is of the elementary school here. 376 kids, all poor, all want us to start our after school feeding program. We also need to start our mama/tot program in this community as right now we spend $50 a month transporting the 25 mamas and their 75 tots who come twice a month. But if we did we would have 125 mamas and 400 tots. We need money or Kids Against Hunger meals to be able to help.
Write me at 20.vicki@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We recently hired two new employees. Mario and Juan. Mario will be in charge of the nutrition programs and Juan will be in charge of the educational programs. Both are growing by leaps and bounds. Both have an interesting history that is so Guatemalan.
Mario is close to 40 and grew up in Godinez. He is a very active evangelical. He has been woroking for a trucking company in Guatemala City and his job is to bargain with the gangs. In other words how large a bribe do we have to pay you to keep you from robbing us.? Talk about a stressful job. He wanted to move back to his homeplace and away from the big city stress. He is a friend of Domingas and they work well together. He is not afraid to be a boss.
Juan is 26 and grew up in Santiago on Lake Atitlan. He is a very active Latter Day Saint. We first heard about him back in 2005, right after Hurricane Stan. The mudslide outside Santiago took out his family home and all the money he had saved to go on a mission. His brother was head of the Mormon church in that area at the time. It had rained for 4 days straaight, not hard but steady. At 2am some mud slide. Juan's brother recruited everyone with a vehicle to go with him to this vulnerable area and get the people out. Juan and the rest of his family left then. His mom did not want to leave her belongings and the dad carried her to the car and put her in. Many people did not leave. At 5 am, the big mud slide and 54 of Juan's relatives died. No one knows how many died, but Juan thinks it was around 800 who were buried alive. He lost all his possessions. His brother asked us back in 2005 if we could help him with his missionary expenses. We agreed. Juan had graduated from diversicado by working and his parents selling some land. They lost the rest of their land in the mudslide. He went to Arisona on a mission and now speaks and writes perfect English as well as Spanish and 2 Indian dialects.  He came by last July to thank us for his mission support and let us know if we ever needed a bilingual employee he was available. He will work a lot with the teams.
Last Tuesday, my husband got started with the 5 youngest homeschooling. It is a lot of work and he is dedicated and I love him for it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Days 10, 11, 12 and 13 of 2012 blog

Friday was such a fun day. Erin and husband Mark were visiting and we rented a boat and had 4 adults and 10 kids on the Lake for a beautiful, sunny, warm, peaceful day. I am going to let Erin do the blog with pictures of that day so I have a chance to catch up with the other days. Sat. was a Home Sweet Home Day. Erin and family left early that morning to fly back to the USA and I was sick. But it was our first day at our new house and so we tried to settle in. We unpacked and put things away and felt not quite so homesick at the end. We also were looking for a big terrible looking dog for safety issues for the kids, but also wanted him to be sweet and lovable. We found him in the Pensa Libre a cute black lab. Only problem was he was in the city, but our wonderful shuttle driver, Jorge, said he would bring him to us next trip out to the Lake.
Sunday we went to church and tried to pay attention to the Spanish sermons we did not understand. Then we came home and taught the kids some of our own church lessons. In English. Then rested and then more settling in. We have decided to only have a maid Tues thru Fri. so it will  not be such a shock having to do our own chores when we return to the states in April. So no maid, so we do our own cooking and cleaning.
Monday we spent time processing issues with our two new employees,. Also took our two oldest to Pana to start them in the private school they will attend while here. PCI. The teachers will help Scotia and Caleb with their books from the states. It worked well last year and the schools in the states were pleased. Our new employees are Mario and Juan. Mario will supervise the nutritional programs and Juan the educational. They both have interesting stories and I will tell them in hte next blog.

Jan. is Trafficking Prevention Month

A friend of mine who has a lot of blog exposure has asked me for a while to tell my story. So the first part of it came out today. Since this is trafficking prevention month and since safe homes for children is going to add a partner organization called safe homes for trafficked children, I thought I would do my story on this blog also. It is the reason I am down here: working to make safer homes for as many children as we can.


From Child Prostitute to Child Advocate:  Introduction

This story has been a long time coming, primarily because we have had to mature and gain perspective on something so out of the ordinary that it boggles the mind.    This is a synopsis of a struggle it has taken years to digest and then comprehend and finally gain the understanding that we presently have.   And this perspective, too, may change further over time.

To be used as a child prostitute at the tender age of 9 and 10 and in kiddie porn throughout your childhood does something to the brain that is hard to undo.  I, Vicki, thought the rest of the world was living a “Brady Bunch” type life while I was caught in a hell that was mostly “how am I going to survive this next hour?”  My parents presented as normal functioning people. They were both college educated and my dad was a military man.  We lived in middle to upper middle class homes and spent summer afternoons at the pool. I was a Girl Scout and an honor roll student by day, but at night and on many weekends I was taken by my father to his little “parties” with his friends.  The PTSD I suffer now from what I went thru is difficult on a day to day basis.  For instance, most pictures of me show the haunted, terrified look in my eye of the little child who is being photographed in a porn show.

I hope by telling this story that three things will be accomplished.  One, I know it will help my personal healing to speak out to a general audience.  This produces a certain kind of validation that is cleansing.    Two, I want to help people, who live in the USA, understand that between 200,000 and 300,000 children domestically are being used in the commercial child sex trade each year.  This is a national tragedy and sadly not a well-known one.  We all lose when this amount of innocence is robbed from our children.  And I can’t help but think that we are all accountable—if only by our ignorance or inaction. And third, I would like for my own children to better understand what’s behind my PTSD and to more graciously accept it and forgive the lack of normalcy it created in their lives.  And maybe—just maybe—they might even understand that they, like myself, have developed a greater capacity for compassion because of their experience.

This is “Human Trafficking Awareness” month.  Our story is meant to aid in understanding the dynamics of this kind of child abuse—both victim and perpetrator—and especially to give insight into the violence of this particular kind of abuse.  In the process of writing this—as you will see—it became obvious that sexual trafficking is one of the most violence of crimes against children.  It creates shame and darkens the soul more than almost any other type of human desecration. 

It should be understood that I, Jody, am telling the bulk of this story from my perspective.    Vicki is actively engaged with the writing and you will see her hand in italics.  She is much more of a talker than writer.  We both think the story is more understandable when narrated by someone with one foot inside her world and the other in everyone else’s world.  And I have one additional purpose:  to tell the story for its own sake.  It’s an incredible story that I entitle “The Long Shadow of Darkness” because it invites you into an understanding of evil and its effects that I am sure is beyond your present ken.

If you would like to see the work we are involved with in Guatemala, visit our website at www.safehomesforchildren.org .  Our child advocacy work there is designed to keep families together which is the foremost deterrent to exploitation of children.   Vicki does public speaking on child trafficking in the States, and if you would like to support that work, you can make donations to Safe Homes and note its purpose.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Little Humanitarian(s)

Three years ago I took my then 2 1/2 year old daughter, Katie, to Guatemala to start the after-school tutoring and feeding program.  Ever since then she has been saving her pennies to help the kids in Guatemala.  Every time she found/received money she was more likely to put it in her 'Guatemala bank' then in her own penny bank.  She had a grand plan of buying each little girl a doll and each little boy a car, but since we don't have much change laying around the house, and there were going to be 250+ kids there, she had to settle on lollipops, bubble and tattoos.

Katie 2009 with the local kids
We had a party with all the moms and toddlers in our Tues and Thurs programs, on the Thurs I was there.  I went with my little family and then Vicki and all my little siblings came.  Vicki is super popular, EVERYONE was so excited to see her.  It was really fun to meet and see everyone we are helping.

My husband quickly started a soccer game with the little kids, he was really holding an interview trying to see which little girl he could steal and bring home.
Katie pulled out the lollipops and within seconds she was surrounded.

That is my brother Seth in the background acting as a bodyguard.
We were a little worried about her getting trampled so we had everyone form a line--for a lollipop.  And Katie and my other kids (and Samuel who decided he was part our little group) handed out all the lollipops.

Katie and Marcus and Addy (my 3 year old twins)

Samuel and Katie--he had some serious medical issues back when we first started working in the area and we were able to help him.  He now thinks he is part of an elite group whenever someone comes to visit.  We love him.
Next Katie and the other kids pulled out the bubbles.  They are a little bit of a novelty there.  Everyone had a lot of fun blowing and chasing them.

Last Katie and my little sisters set up a tattoo booth and put tattoos on all the kids that wanted them.

We had some great people send some stuffed animals, formula, shoes and backpacks (THANK YOU!!!) for us to take down.  So before lunch we handed out a toy to each child.

Some great young women knitted these hats and mittens.  We handed these out to all the babies.  It was perfect timing, because right now it gets pretty cold at night.

Vicki has written before about the two down syndrome kids in our group.  My little brother Seth spent a lot of his time hanging out with them.

As with most things in life, kids are the best example, may we all be like Katie (all our other little humanitarians) and put others needs before our wants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mamas are the Same everywhere

(I am writing this for Vicki bc her internet is acting up)
Word got out that we had helped the kids in our little area of Los Robles last year with scholarships for Basico (which is our equivalent of middle school).   The kids in Guatemala have to pay an enrollment fee, as well as pay for uniforms, shoes, back packs and all the other things kids need for school.  This may not seem like much for us, but when you put in terms of the enrollment each month costing more then they make, and then on top of the that, the other necessities cost the same as they do here in the states,  you can see why so many people in Guatemala only have an elementary education.  Problem is...without education they can not break the poverty cycle.

 IF THESE KIDS ARE NOT EDUCATED THEN THEY WILL STILL NEED OUR HELP WHEN THEY HAVE KIDS YEARS FROM NOW!  But if they can get an education then they can help themselves and their families.

While I was in Guatemala last week Vicki held a meeting with all the kids that were hoping to receive scholarships.  Some of them had to travel pretty far to get there.  We let them get there on their own because we wanted to see who was really serious about school.  As you can see from the pictures below, they are all serious.  We had a large crowd.  I had to explain to them that we do not have the money for all of them to go to school right now.  I took all of their pictures and got some information on them and told them I would ask YOU if you would help them go to school.

And, least you think we are giving them something for nothing...we aren't.  Those that receive scholarships have to give back through community service.  Those that live in our community come weekly to clean up our property and to help in the garden.  Those that live to far away to travel to us will clean up their own streets and churches. We have someone who tracks their service; we want to make sure they are learning to be self-sufficient.

1st yr Basico (12-13yrs)

2nd Basico (13-15yrs)

3rd Basico (14-16yrs)

Diversication (highschool-15+) Notice some of the moms stanidng in.

The moms

The funniest part about the whole meeting was the moms.  There were quiet a few there.  Some came to represent their child who was working or sick (said child had to show up the next day to talk to me to make it on our list).  Others came with their child and worked hard to make sure their child stood out of the crowd.  Before each picture they would primp their child, or tell them where to stand or sit.  And since I speak Spanish, almost every mom pulled me aside to talk about their child and how well they do in school and how special they are.  Think about it, if you couldn't pay for your child to go to school, what would you do to make sure your child got an education.

It cost $350/year to send each child to school.  That comes out to about $30/month.  So pick a kid, I will send you their picture and info and a letter from them.

Email me at erin.casadesion@gmail.com for more info.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Traveling with 7 kids to the third World

It has taken this long to get the internet up and running so I will catch up with my 365 blogs for 2012.

We left early Sunday with the 15 passenger van all packed up. Eleven check-ins, 8 little black suitcases and 9 bookbags for carry-ons. Oh did I also say 7 kids. We had a 7 hour drive to Atlanta where we were to catch our flight. on the way we stopped in Charlotte to go to church with daughter Sarah's family. I got to publicly thank the woman there who has been collecting formula for us for the last year.

Then on the road again. Got to Atlanta airport hotel at 7 pm, unloaded all of the above,kissed our son Bryan [ who had driven us down and was going back to Charlotte to spend the night at Sarah's house] and checked in the hotel.

We were up by 6am the next morning for the 7 am shuttle. By the time we got everything together at the airport and got to our gate it was time to load the plane. Jorge who we use for shuttles in Guate picked us up at 1 and took us to Pricesmart, the Guate equivalent of Sam's club, where I spent money loading up on cheeses and meats from the states and other neccessities of American life that can not be found out here at the Lake. Then on to our new house. Boy was I tired by then, both physically and emotionally. I kept asking myself " Why am I doing this?" Do I really care whether kids get fed, or are malnourished. Why don't I just stay in the states and be a wife, mom and grandma?" Hopefully it was just culture shock. But needless to say, there was too much to do to hang onto those thoughts for long.

My daughter Erin and her husband and 3 little ones were in Guate for the week. We had rented them a small vacation rental for the time in the same gated community that our newly bought house is in. When we got to our house at dark, they were just leaving and turned around to help us unload. Our old time maid Juana was there also. The house is about 20 years old and had this funky stucco thing that we hated so we had the construction guy who added our master bedroom to redo the walls inside. They now look nice, but apparently take time to dry so are wet some of the time. Because the house had been closed up they were very wet when we arrived and the sheets and blankets were damp. We started a fire in the fireplace and it smoked up the whole bedroom. So much for a new master bedroom. Luckily I was too tired to care about anything and crashed on the bed. Did manage to get some dry sheets on before and the smoke out of the room.

The next day was spent working with the builder to get the fireplace working, airing the house out, drying out the sheets, putting away some things and spending time with our visiting family.
We finally made it down to Pana and dinner at Chanitas. Time to just enojoy the grandkids and kick back for some great Thai food.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Kids Against Hunger

Well 11 bags to be checked are packed; 9 carry on black suitcases are packed; and 9 carry on book bags are packed so the kids can continue their schooling while we are gone.

Yesterday I got a wonderful answer to prayer. I have been praying for a way to help the children in the 24 NEW communities that we will be doing the nutributter program in. A friend emailed me a connection to a man who looks very promising for a bunch of KAH meals. We will meet with him on Fri. This would mean we could start our elementary and mama/tot feeding programs in many more communities. Please send positive spiritual energy , like prayer, our way so this happens.

Several of our adult kids gave us a going away pizza party last night. Thanks Joey and Crystal for thinking of it and Flossie and Chris and bethany and Erin and all the granadkids for coming. Will post pictures as soon as I have time to download them.


Saturday, January 07, 2012

Erin's family makes it to Guatemala

Many of you know my daughter Erin as she helps keep Safe Homes For Children and Casa de Sion organized. She and her family flew to Guate yesterday so Erin can see first hand the things we are doing and meet the Mayan ppeople we love. Their Delta flight had some trouble. Just as they were getting ready to take off, the pilot announced that the plane was not ready to fly. They had to find another plane to take them there. Kind of scary. Not the kind of thing you want to hear. better to hear it on the ground tho instead of in the air. For me today includes more packing. Thanks for the formula, shoes, clothes, and pack backs we have received. I am busy stuffing them in suitcases.My family here will meet them there in a couple of days.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The pictures are of some of the grandkids I will be leaving. The little blond is my daughter Flossie's. The one in the football shirt is the one I take a lot of care of.

The left picture is off my 26 year old son and his two boys.

The top picture is off my oldest son, the one who gave me the gift of songs.

They are the ones I wrote about yesterday.

For my hubby's and mine last hot Friday night date night in the states, we had a stroll down memory lane. For Christmas the kids got us an IPOD and speaker system. My oldest son loaded up a bunch [ over a 1000] songs and I downloaded from my computer another bunch so we were good to go for a music night. My oldest is only 19 years younger than I am and went to many music festivals with me as a toddler so we kind of like the same music. He had collected tons of the music we listened to at the festivals and taken a few hours to put them all on a couple of cds i could load onto my IPOD.

Hubby and I reflected on 35 years of marriage and the blessings that come with so many memories. We were playing songs from our hippie days and it's hard not to see all the changes that have occurred over those years. Like 18 kids and soon to be 21 grandkids. These are things we would have never dreamed of in our wildest imagination all those years ago. And now we have also nine years in Guatemala which has been a learning curve to top all of the others, but it has been very rewarding. Funny how we could sit in our bedroom [ only place we can get any privacy] amidst total packing chaos and be taken back to a younger time where worries seemed much less. We both relished our most memorable song of the time we met was "Wildfire" by Michael Murphy. Very apt considering where our life has gone.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Yesterday I made a public commitment on facebook to write a blog everyday for the next year. And then I forgot to write. So much for resolutions. But I am of the belief that if at first you don't succeed, try again, so here I am. Some days will be delayed as we are traveling to Guatemala for the next 3 months and nothing is certain there esp. internet connections, but I will write on paper and then later transcribe it to here. Also Sunday is my family blog day so will not write then.
Well how do I describe packing for 9 people, 7 of which are children, to go spend 3 months in Guate.? Frustrating as all get out. At first I tried to be perfect and make sure they have everything they need and all their little hearts will desire. Now I just am making sure they will not have to go naked. In guate where we are, you can not buy much esp. if you care about quality.
My biggest problem tho is leaving grandkids. Most of them have 2 great parents and I know their lives will run smoothly and easily until I return. But there are two precious boys ages 2 and 3 that I am finding it so hard to leave. I have taken care of them a lot since they were born. Their mother has had a prescription drug problem for years and at times could not care for them. So they lived with us. My son recently got full custody and now they live with him and with us. He is building a house for a man and has worked long hours so every other week they stay at my house and then the rest of the weeks at their house. They love my son and he loves them, but my son seems so young to have total care of a 2 and 3 year old. He is 26. I was 18 when my first was born and I was basically a single parent. My son has several sisters who will take them for a night or two to give him a break . But I know he is not a perfect parent and I am beginning to be a helicopter grandma. I was and am not a perfect parent so why is so hard to leave these tw for 3 months. Why do I go to bed crying about it and wake up crying about it.
Well there is my blog for today. if you have the answers, let me know.