Today we leave Guatemala. Yesterday was extraordinary. We were able to skype between the 6th grade class at the Montclair Cooperative School (Samy's class) and the 4th grade class at Escuela Kimna'oj in Santa Maria de Jesus. One by one, the children introduced themselves to their nuevos amigos with the American students speaking in Spanish, and the Guatemalan children in English (with a little help from their teachers)! I hope you can feel the excitement by looking at the children's faces. Most of them have never been down their mountain into the city of Antigua, let alone spoken on a computer to children in America. I hope this experience opens both sets of children's worlds.
On Sunday, we had a busy day bringing all the donations we've collected to our three families. They completely filled two duffle bags and a suitcase!
Our first stop was to visit our godson's family in Santa Maria de Jesus, a village high up in one of the volcanic mountains surrounding Antigua. It is 7000 feet above sea level, and the ride up the mountain is full of twists and turns and is a little hair raising! The village is 100% indigenous - the only gringos you see are other people coming up for service work. The sight of a car makes adults stop and stare; children run alongside shouting -- it's quite an event.
We had a joyful reunion with Edgar's family; our little godson, Elmer, has gotten so big and is talking! Here Samy holds Elmer, while 3 of Edgar's 11 brothers and sisters gather round.
Next stop, also in Santa Maria, was the first family for whom we built a house - Flor, Tomas, Blanca, Tomasito, Jessica and their new baby. Sadly, Tomas has been out of work for the past 4 months. In a country with no government assistance, this is a real hardship. The chickens we bought the last time we were here, and the well we financed for them, have helped them get by.
Then we drove down the mountain to San Antonio des Aguas Calientes, to visit the second family we built for. This video gives you the flavor of what it's like to walk up the hill to their little patch of land. There, we met the new baby of the oldest daughter, and were presented with some beautiful weavings made by Florinda, the mother of the family.
As we do each time we come, we took the whole family into town for ice cream -- the one time a year they all have such a treat. (Hard to imagine...)
We have to go to the airport for our trip home, so I'll leave you with photos of some of the beautiful "carpets" we saw in Jocotanango. They take stenciling to whole new level! So beautiful! People work all night to make them from flowers, tinted sawdust, and rice. They decorate the streets for the religious procession that takes place later that day, which destroys all this beautiful work, done as an offering to God.
To read more about our time in Guatemala, click here!
Thanks for stopping by! I read and treasure every comment and will answer any questions as quickly as I can.
PS: If you're interested, the wonderful organization that helps us help these families is From Houses to Homes. It is non-sectarian, and anything you give to them goes to help the poorest of the poor in Guatemala. We are truly blessed to have found them.