Sunday morn at 5AM. The roosters are in full force announcing a new day. What is it about that hour that they like so much! My last day of this trip. I think of all the visits, all the ways this place has changed me - and all the ways Guatemala has changed since than that first time in 1998.
Now there is a palpable wave of hope. The man who was a powerful president here just 2 months ago is in jail along with the former Vice President and a host of federal judges and heads of large government departments. When the Vice President (a female) tried to say she was ill and was hospitalized instead of incarcerated, thousands swarmed the hospital to make sure she did not escape.
Manuel Baldizon, one of the most corrupt politicians on the globe was sure to win the election just 3 weeks ago and then, with all of the sudden hope that things could change, the people voted instead for the only "honest" person on the ballot - someone with no experience who is a television comedian!
I have wondered what has spurred such sudden change? Why did tens of thousands of people march in Guatemala City for months without anyone even leading them? What gave them the courage to take on a government run by "narco-politicians"?? The political pundits will debate this for years, but from what I hear it is that the masses have now had their eyes opened with a new world of technology. They all talk about the Arab Spring and they suddenly believe that to be the "poorest of the poor" is not inevitable. Extreme poverty and the treatment of human beings as "disposable" is really not OK - and although it is a relatively small number who realize this, it is a start. They are hearing the message that indeed all people are created equally . Pope Francis is now reminding us of what the Gospel has always told us - that all people are not only created equally but that God may be even more present in those who suffer.
Yes, the pope is finally speaking the words upon which our faith is supposed to have been based. It's amazing to me that people seem so moved by words that in reality should have been in all of our hearts all along. You don't need to be a bible scholar to know that the central message of Jesus teaching was to "restore the Kingdom" - reach out to those most in need - the widows, the orphans, the imprisoned, the forgotten. Isn't this Bible School 101? Yes, thank God that the Pope is finally saying the very words that Jesus preached but perhaps it wasn't until the poor had the tools to speak up that anyone cared to hear the message.
So here in Guatemala, there is now a hint of hope - a small hint - the suffering and poverty and oppression continue for the majority. People cling to the concept that the days of extreme excess for the wealthy that have come by exploiting and oppressing the poor are starting to unravel. Or maybe they are not. "Only time will tell."
In the meantime, our little organization along with all of you who support us continue to fight for the very people whom Pope Francis and indeed our Gospel talks about - the lonely, the suffering, the oppressed - those on the lowest rung of the inequality ladder. This week, just like all of my weeks here, I surely see the presence of God.
Sometimes there are so many things that I wish I could do but I can't. I wish I could speak Spanish fluently; I wish that I never upset anyone. I wish I had the insight and brain capacity to fix the things I care about. But right now, I wish I was a great writer so I could bring all of you who are reading this, right here, right here in this moment. I wish you could see what I see. Maybe a few pictures of a few people and a few little stories will help.
Here's Jose. He started in our after-school program a few weeks ago. Already his ability to read and reason and do math is progressing at an impressive speed. He's one of those kids who always had it "in him" but never had a chance to shine. Orfe decided to start a running group. He's the captain! The other day, fifteen children told me they wanted to run with me in the morning. He was the only one who showed up at 5AM and ran 6 miles - this from some who has only ran twice before! He has no running shoes so lots of blisters. When I told him that we would buy them for him, I wish you could have seen his face! In the picture below he is volunteering to paint our new clinic! He's the kind of kid who could be a great gang leader or a great leader of a new generation. With help and love from all who work in our program, I think he will be the latter!
And here is one of our patients with Orfe. We diagnosed her with a very early stage of cervical cancer and were actually able to treat and cure her. None of this would have happened if our Social Worker, Orfe had not joined forces with other Social Workers in the local municipalities and brought these women for testing. When this woman was diagnosed, she refused to come for treatment because of unfounded fears. But Orfe RELENTLESSLY sought her down and thank God, she is now healed. How very blessed are we to have Orfe leading many of our projects.
Last night, a baby was born in our Casa Materna! Here is Catalina, our midwife. She takes such pride in this work.
And here are the children whom God has entrusted to our care. So many thanks to all of you who have sponsored them. You cannot imagine how their lives are changing......
And last and surely not least, here are photos of our clinic. The work that Ismael and Camillo, the construction team leader have done is beyond words. This has been a work of love and they have given up most of 2015 for this effort. A million thanks to them!!
It is so hard for me to ask you to consider contributing to this effort. It is something I struggle to do but all of this work takes resources. Every contribution you give makes a world of difference to so many. Thank you!