As we drove back this evening from Pueblo Nuevo, we all looked at each other incredulously! Somehow life in the U.S. is just never like this.
All started this morning at 6AM when we were at the airport in Guatemala City getting ready to board the TACA flight. One of the women working there asked for me. She said they were having a problem since there were so many of us and we had so many suitcases that it was too much weight for the plane. She wondered if it would be a big problem if 2 or 3 of the suitcases stayed behind and came later this evening. Trying to be an example of Christian patience, I said "no problem". But I wondered since we've had far larger groups than this in the past.
Well.........when we arrived in Flores, turned out that almost none of the bags came! My emotions waxed between anger, impatience, despair. We had everything in those bags! Weeks of planning, personal stuff, very valuable things, a "wound vac" that was loaned to us from a company that might save the life of a boy we've known down here, all our equipment for the water purification program, medical equipment, on and on. I'm still praying it will all arrive tonight but even so....we had especially not scheduled the clinic today so that we could actually be "organized" for once! It was weird because I had been reading this book called "The Blue Sweater" on the plane. There was passage in it about when you have everything, you start to think that material things are the most important but when you lose everything, you realize that it is ONLY the things that you have built inside that matter. Funny, because when I was reading that, I was smugly thinking that even if I lost my house and all my possessions, it really wouldn't matter. But here I am potentially losing the things that really matter to me and I realize my faith is not as strong as I'd like to believe!
So the negative emotions were short-lived because Ismael and Orfe were there to greet us and there aren't too many people in the world who make me so happy! They were both disgusted with this usual state of affairs in Guatemala but as with everything here, you just resign yourself to the realities.
It quickly gave me an opportunity to demonstrate to the group the kind of obstacles that we're up against here. All our best laid plans nearly always turn out so much different. But knowing that those changed plans usually mean far greater things, we moved along.
We decided that the group that was going to go to Tikal on Friday would go today instead so we could just have the clinic an extra day later in the week.
Then, Deena, Coral, Gary, Colleen, Ismael, Orfe and myself went off to Pueblo Nuevo. A couple of weeks ago we had heard the incredibly wonderful news that the community had chosen a group of leaders to form a committee to try to take control of the abysmal state of the education system there. Since they knew we were coming this week, they chose today to let the teachers know that they had formed and that they were going to insists on changes. Their meeting went on for about 2 hours and then this group met with us. It was such a time of inspiration!! It brought together so many of the things that we've been working so hard for for so many years. I was so glad that we had previously studied many books about education in Guatemala in general and about what works and doesn't work in these corrupt and desperate countries.
We talked for about 2 hours - ideas were spinning and these leaders seemed so encouraged. I told them that in 5 years, if their system was greatly improved, it would only be because they had taken the leadership to make changes. We laid out the whole situation the way we saw it and helped them to create a vision of what they want. They were so enthusiastic. It was unanimous that they do not want us to support the government school in any way and that the idea of a community center with after-school enrichment for the children is the answer. Ideas went back and forth about how this can be sustainable. They chatted about who in the community could lead the way on this and how the entire community will help. Too many ideas to cover here but the issues went from microfinance, to sustainability, to a need for a change from corruption to the great goodness of God who only wants us to seek Him.
They are going to have lots of meetings this week and will meet with us again on Friday with some realistic short and long term proposals. Deena did such a wonderful job inspiring them and keeping everyone on board with what was being said.
Driving back, we stopped at the home of "Blanca". She is a beautiful, young teacher who teaches first grade in San Benito. Sr. Pam had met her several years ago and had hoped that we could meet with her in the hopes that maybe she could somehow join our efforts. She was so charming and gracious. She has recently been married so didn't seem too interested in traveling anywhere else but is totally willing to help train any teachers that might need help. But then, the craziest thing happened! As we were sitting on her couch, we could hear a young man calling in from outside. Deena and I looked out the window and said "Is that Eduardo!!!!!" Sure enough, there he was selling his soups. (Eduardo is the boy we brought to the U.S 3 years ago to have his brain tumor removed.) Talk about shock!! We ran out and hugged. He started crying! I had just talked with Carol Doerffler last week about my hopes of seeing him on this trip. But we always seem to be so busy that we never find the time. And there he was!! He looked awesome! He was wearing the same pair of glasses we had bought him and said that his vision has remained as good as it was after the surgery and he still works and has a lovely girlfriend!! He cried and said to send his love to Pastor Paul and Carol and Dr. Zakeri!! The whole thing was surreal!
The Tikal group should be back shortly. We're off to dinner and then to the airport to hopefully get the suitcases. If they're not there, I'll just have to remember all the people in the world who lose far more than this. People have worked harder than us and lost everything. But hopefully, that won't be the case.
Oh....we saw Iris, Manuel, Marcus and Victoria last night. What beautiful children! Iris and Marcus are coming in the morning to work with us for the rest of the week. We're so happy for that.
Hope you're all well and we miss you mucho!!
Anne et al.....