Each day, we will have a different team member sending out our daily updates.
We've all made it safely to Guatemala! Praise God for smooth travels! Everyone got to the airport on time early in the morning and connecting through Dallas was easy.
Currently we are in Guatemala City staying at a guesthouse in a seminary doing prep for when we visit the churches around Chel. We're practicing 2 songs that we'll be singing in Spanish at the churches we will be visiting.
Tomorrow (1/3) we'll be doing prep for the puppetry and arts and crafts.
Pray that we'll be more familiar with the songs. Also after a long day of travel pray that God will give us rest tonight so that we can effectively tackle the tasks ahead of us.
We had a chance to tour a coffee mill nearby in La Perla. It's a long process of receiving the coffee berries, washing them, removing the berries, removing the shell of the seed that is the bean, and drying the bean. Some people also had a chance to go out to pick coffee berries as well. One group of four people picked a collective 50 pounds over the course of 4 hours. We learned that that would only come out to a few US dollars wage. There is also the factor of weather that affects how good the harvest would be. Higher quality coffee comes from ripe red berries but you're not always going to get trees full of them. They'll come in a spectrum of ripeness between red and green. But they can't afford to only pick the most ripe red berries; they wouldn't be able to get enough income. So they have to pick some that aren't as ripe to be added into the production. Another factor is how the international coffee market's prices are. Those affect how much demand and the price of wholesale coffee is. Then if farmers are dealing with a middleman sales person then it's likely they'll get paid a smaller amount compared to what it would be resold. Through hearing and seeing parts of all this we had a glimpse into just how difficult coffee production is. Gordon Mark
I was expecting Guatemala City to be more modern from first world perspective. Maybe that's because my only first hand context was San Juan Puerto Rico (pre-Hurricane Maria). Also this is not to say anything bad about it. It was just different than what I had in mind. Another thing that stood out is the terrain of the city. From what I saw flying in and out the city is built on whatever flat land available among the very wrinkly terrain. There are neighborhoods where it looks like they're on the verge of losing houses into a valley/ravine/crater. It's amazing both in terms of human tenacity and geology. The Same goes for all the housing built on the hills of the very mountainous countrysides. There's a certain beautiful underneath the rough exterior of this country. Gordon Mark
A lot of the roads we drove on in Guatemala were rough. First there the speed bumps placed in places where there are people around. There are a lot. Then the conditions of the regular paved roads aren't that well maintained. In fact, on our last day in Guatemala there was a protest by truck drivers over the conditions of the roads. For the roads that aren't paved with tar but are made with stones (not sure how to describe them) they'll definitely have pot holes with the potential to cause serious damage. On the rural mountain roads it can get worse. There are bigger potholes, rocks of all different sides, bumps in the road, and cracks at irregular angles. This is in addition to the threat of falling rocks, sharp drop offs on one side, random animals, and worse conditions when it rains. It reminded me of hiking but in a vehicle. You'd probably be best off in an SUV and pickup trucks but we saw trucks, motorbikes, tuk tuks and we were in a passenger van. But any vehicle your insides will be scrambled by the end of the trip. Much thanks to or drivers Walter, Alberto, Mario, and Pastor Rick for the expert driving. Protips: where a seat belt so you don't bounce out of your seat and bump your head on the ceiling, don't learn on the sides you'll only end up slamming into it and into a window, hold on to something, and take Dramamine if you know you get motion sickness. Gordon Mark
We had the opportunity to attend two local churches in Chel. There we sang a song, a few people shared their testimonies, and Pastor Rocky spoke. It's always interesting to me to see how church is like in another part of the world. I really liked how much prayer there was during the service. Unexpectedly we also got to play with the neighborhood kids after visiting the churches and everyday! So it did take me a while for me to get my mind around this because I hadn't expected it and I'm not great with little kids. But I came around seeing how enthusiastic they were about playing simple games like Duck Duck Goose, tag, and relay races. They were still very excited even though the games we were coming up with were iterations and variations on games we were already playing. We also learned a couple of games from the kids too, kinda. One was a Simon Says like game and another was a Ring Around the Rosy Tug of War hybrid. They seemed really happy just to play. They would ask us when they saw us if when it would be time to play. They would wait for us outside where we were staying to come back from work to play with them! Special thanks goes out to our friend and coworker Javier for translating our instructions into Spanish. Thank God we were able to come up with games simple enough because some kids didn't understand Spanish (they primarily speak Ixil, a type of Mayan language). Gordon Mark
This is the physical heart of a Guatemalan home where fresh tortillas are born and sweet coffee overflows. The soul of one of these homes would smell like sweet burning wood with roosters and ducks jabbering about. The spiritual soul is inexplicable - there lies this calm joy to live each day anew and to do your best because the Creator gave you breath. Mi Zhang Chan
Sabbath (/ˈsæbəθ/) (Hebrew: שַׁבָּת) is a day set aside for rest and worship. According to the Book of Exodus the Sabbath is a day of rest on the seventh day, commanded by God to be kept as a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation. Mi Zhang Chan
Chel, where we were primarily at, is a small town of dirt roads, wooden houses, and some concrete buildings surrounded by layers green mountains. The green of nature and brown of the buildings contrast well with the bright and vibrant colors of the clothing of the women and girls. Chel is also a mix of the burning wood smoke of stoves and flour mills (some how I still it on me), loud noises of the wandering animals (throughout the day AND NIGHT), and bus horns. It's a very different sensory experience from NYC. Gordon Mark
So what did we do? A lot, in retrospect. Specifically at the work site we, with the help of our partners and friends:
- leveled the ground for the pathway
- moved large rocks
- Begin prepping shipping container to be temp medical examination room: scraped rust, washed, and painted a shipping container outside and inside; and then rotated the shipping container and moved it
- Began converting the small house to be a temp clinic: Clean inside, measured and cut plywood to add to the wall and ceiling, nail plywood to wall ceiling, paint all the plywood
- Clean and paint a large shed for use as a guardhouse
All done while in the midst of changing plans, lots of rain, and bee attacks.
On the surface looking at the site it might not look like we did a lot. Also, I expected and wanted to complete more. But we know that what we did is part of a larger plan God has and helps sets up for whoever comes next to work there. This hit home when we prayed all around the work site on the last day. This was our part and we did it to the best of our ability. Gordan Mark