In an effort to keep you all updated on what is going on with our loved ones in Guatemala, we are starting this new "blog". Please, please feel free to add comments, thoughts, insights. We would not be where we are today without the great wealth of love and experience that so many of you have shared.
It has been a very difficult 2 weeks for our efforts in the Peten. For those of you who have not read about it, there was a terrible massacre there on May 16th. A group from one of the major Mexican drug cartels were looking for the leader of a rival group and approached of group of innocent workers who were laboring in his fields. When the people (including women and children) could not provide the information, they were brutally murdered and many were decapitated. The response of President Colom of Guatemala was to declare a state of "siege" in the Peten as they seek to find the killers. During this 30 day period of time, the United States State Dept has asked that Americans not travel to the region if possible. This meant canceling the mission trip that was going to be led by Dr. Coral Matus on June 11th.
While it is so unimaginable that human beings are capable of this kind of horror, we must remember that in situations of desperate poverty, despair and starvation, desperate acts can and will happen. It is disheartening to know that when one of the killers was caught a few days ago, he was found to be a member of the "Kailides", a group of counter-insurgency rebels, many of whom were trained in our own College of the Americas in Georgia. You can go to http://soaw.org/, to find out more about this.
The second great sadness is that Flori's cervical cancer has returned. While I knew that her cancer was advanced, I somehow believed that she would beat the odds and would spend many more years with her 2 small, beautiful children. To think that her little Joselin and William will not have their mom, is too heartbreaking. We must keep her always in our hearts as we move forward to start a functional cervical cancer prevention program in the Peten. As we know, this cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women in most developing countries and it is completely preventable!!
I know that many of you are greatly saddened by this news. Flori is suffering greatly and not only is there no possibility of treatment, but there is not even any type of hospice care available. We talk to her every day and Ismael and Orfe are doing all they can to help with all her needs. I can send along any wishes or prayers that any of you may have. It was just June of last year that I first met Flori but somehow she has become like a daughter to me and especially to my mom. For those of you who met her, you know the beautiful tranquility and feeling of love that pervades around her. Through all her incredible suffering here, she maintained her constant humor, gratitude, compassion for others and her personal dignity. Never would I have imagine the poverty she lived in had I only met her here.
On a happier note, the 40 foot container that we sent with 250,000 meals, 2 ultrasound machines and lots of clinic equipment is in the port in Guatemala working it's way through customs. Daniel, the boy with the massive rectal ulcer, is healing well. And Orfelinda is pregnant!! She and Ismael have 3 boys and they have always wanted a little girl - so we'll see! Her pregnancy is healthy and she is due in October. She and Ismael continue to amaze us with their fortitude, resilience and great compassion.
The students in the high school program are doing great and Mario (one of the community leaders in Pueblo Nuevo) has taken on our library and after-school enrichment program. The adult education program is also flourishing.
There are so many other things to share but most of all, at this moment of great challenge we need to continue to search for our Almighty in the midst of all the confusion. Several of us met last night to pray and study God's word. We read several passages from the Book of John which were highlighted by the simple words "No one has greater love than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends." And a similar quote that I was reminded of this week from Martin Luther King was "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
For all of you reading this who have joined us in this effort, please do not be silent about the suffering of our friends.
Flori's son, William
Flori's daughter, Joselin