Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Call to Prayer

I told you about Luis in my last blog...well, Luis comes from a single-parent home. His father left when he was young because of Luis's illness. However, there is an English man who has come to Antigua for many years who has taken Luis and his family under his wing. He has helped them financially over the years, although by all accounts he had no right to as he had no money himself.

Paul - known affectionately in these parts as Padre Pablo - is 79 years old. Over the years, he has taken Luis in as the son he never had, teaching him about the Lord and helping out however he was able.

Padre Pablo was not in best of health and was sent back to England last year for medical help (they have socialized medicine there). He returned to Antigua some time ago and has been back at work - not only with Luis, but also with some other ministries as well. Truthfully, I don't know how he did it! Every time I saw him he was falling asleep on the couch or in church!

About 10 days ago he was riding his bike and fell. He broke his hip and his femur. He went to the National Hospital, which is free (or almost free) - but then checked himself out and went home when they didn't do anything for him (he didn't know what the problem was at that point). After two days at home his room mate took him back to the hospital in a taxi - it took him 40 minutes to get him into it and another 40 to get him out!

They found out about the broken hip & femur and advised him he needed surgery. Well, he doesn't have any money for surgery. His blood pressure was too low and he went into cardiac arrest. We really didn't think he'd make it, but he has. We've been in contact with England and the English embassy and trying to figure out what to do. As it turns out, he is going to have to return home to England for surgery and then for post surgery rehab. This will be a long, painful process. There was some question if he would be able to make the trip and live, but his doctors seem to think he will be able to. The airline is requiring he upgrade to 1st class and have someone with him for the flight - there will be three separate planes he must take. The cost is exorbitant and no one knows where the money is going to come from at this point.

Luis is just beside himself with everything that is happening and the possibility that he might lose his Padre Pablo.

Please pray for Pablo - for his healing, for his comfort as he travels (with broken hip & femur!) back to England, for his finances and for those he is leaving behind.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shoe Shine Boys

If you've ever spent any time in Latin America, you know that Latinos love to dress up and look nice. No matter how hot and muggy, they always look clean and fresh.

As part of that culture, there are myriad shoe shine boys always around who will shine up your shoes and make you look real spiffy, all for about US $0.50 cents.

In general, the boys shining shoes work all day for about $3 dollars or so. Generally, they are not in school because they are trying to help earn money for their families, who are very poor. One of the ministries we have in the coffee shop is to offer these boys a nutritious meal when they come into the coffee shop.

When the boys come in, we give them a bowl of black beans and an egg, and sometimes we also have a little cheese. While they are eating we have an opportunity to visit with them and spend time getting to know them, while also sharing the love of God with them.

Some of the boys are pretty "rough around the edges" - they've basically been living on the street and have poor (or no) manners and pretty rough language. They are not always easy to love! But Christ calls us to love them anyway - which sometimes means being tough with them and setting boundaries and following through on rules. For the most part though, one of the highlights of my day is when the boys come in for some food. I love hanging out with them and just engaging in their lives.

Last Friday, one of my guys - Martin - turned 12. His family didn't celebrate his birthday, so I made a big deal of buying him a piece of cake and putting a candle in it and singing "Feliz Cumpleanos" really loud for him. It was fun for me, but for him, it was speaking value into who he is and showing him that he is something special.

One of our regulars is Luis. He is about 22 years old and is mentally disabled. He has gran mal seizures, which have caused brain damage. He has the mental capacity of an 8-10 year old. He is very sweet and also very demanding! He loves to say "hey! hey!" all the time to get our attention and to practice his English on us. He tells me every day that his cat is hungry as he rubs his stomach. He repeats the same things over and over every day - "hellohowareyou? berryfinethankyou" "moon-dai,too-dai,three-dai,free-dai,sat-dai,soon-dai". He also loves to pat us on the arm while he giggles. Another thing he loves to do is show us how big his muscles are! The chair he carries, along with all the shoeshine supplies are about 40-50 pounds, so he has big arm muscles (and he's quite proud of them!)

One of the things he loves best to do is to recite Genesis 1:1-4 to us from memory. I don't know if he doesn't remember that he's done it 38 times previously or if he really just likes us telling him how impressed we are! I tried to help him memorize Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you a hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you." However, he would rather recite Gen. 1:1-4 again. Haha!

Widow Maker

Ok, so here in Guatemala, the showers are rigged up a little different than they are back in the States. Here, we call them "Widow Makers"...of course, not being married, I call them "Orphan Makers"...just kidding!

Instead of having a water heater that heats up a certain amount of water and holds it until it is used, the shower head heats up the water as it goes through it - using an electrical current. Yes, that's right - everything your momma told you about not mixing water and electricity is thrown out the window here!

There are 220 volts of electricity pulsating through the water as it flows through the head, effectively heating it. Sometimes the water gets a little "zingy"!! And God help you if you touch the shower head while you're in the shower - it gives quite a jolt! The more water pressure, the colder the water - so if you want to have a hot shower, you have to minimize the amount of water coming out so it can be heated.
Below is a picture of our sink...it's pretty small!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

When it rains, it pours

It was raining all night last night - the kind of rain that makes you say "it's raining cats and dogs!" Why we say that, who could know? Lightening came down to the top of the volcano, and thunder rolled in the distance.

We awoke this morning to the sound of rain pinging on the metal roofs. From the base to the bus stop is about 6 blocks - and after a night of rain it's about 6 blocks of river! The water was 4-6 inches deep across the entire road - we tried to stay up on the narrow walkways as best we could (when there WAS a walkway!). The sidewalks here are more like wide curbs - about 8 inches wide. At times we were forced to cross the street because the sidewalk would end into a tangle of overgrown bushes and weeds. Sierra and I were laughing as we slipped off the curbs and soaked our feet or as we hopped across the street trying our best to jump to the low spots in order to not completely soak ourselves.

When cars would pass, they wouldn't slow down. As they passed, a wall of water would shoot up at us and we'd quickly bring our umbrella down to block the barrage of dirty rainwater. Needless to say, we showed up at the coffee shop fairly soaked!

Unfortunately, water isn't the only thing raining down this week! It's been a week of mishaps - our computer isn't working right (all Sierra's school work is on it), so we took it to the shop. A minimum of 1 week and $50. Our camera isn't working, either. Then I misplaced the memory card with all of our photos, plus Sierra's pics from China this summer (thank God - we found that one!!). Finally, my ATM card was stolen and some unauthorized charges have been made on my card. It was a hassle, but it's been cancelled now. They are sending me a new card, but it could be a few weeks before I get it so in the meantime it will be tough to get cash.

Please pray for us!! I am feeling frustrated and discouraged...however, I am determined that I am FINE...Faith-filled, In Christ, Not married to my feelings and Eternally Minded!! (Thanks to my sis for that little acronym!). Now I'm just waiting for my EMOTIONS to catch up to my HEAD!!

Sorry no pics this time...hopefully we'll be able to do that soon! In the meantime - be blessed!

Monday, September 08, 2008

A little idea of what we've been up to!

We left Sacramento last Thursday and headed to Guatemala, where we will be for 3 months. We had a red-eye and it was exhausting! Our first flight left at 12:30 am and landed in Houston, TX at 4 am where we had a 4 hour layover - then we hopped on another flight to Guatemala city. All I can say about Continental is this...NO LEG ROOM!!! Oh my goodness! My knees were totally up into the back of the woman in front of me. Ugh. But it was a good indication of things to come for the next 3 months - because let me tell you - there is no leg room on the Chicken buses, either!

So, we landed in Guatemala City and were picked up by Bruce and Marianne, who work at the Antigua base. Bruce is the director here. We grabbed some lunch and went to the base to get settled in. Later that evening we went to worship night at the coffee house - it's really cool there and we think we're going to really like it!

So far we've settled in and found our way around a bit...Guatemala is beautiful and green and the people are very friendly. They remind me a lot of the Mexican people, although they would probably not like that as Mexicans and Guatemalans have a bit of attitude about each other!
In order to work at the coffee shop I have to get a health card that indicates I am healthy and do not have TB. I got a chest x-ray last week and then I had to give a blood, urine & fecal sample. Ewww!! I was handed a plastic OJ single serve bottle to go pee-pee in a Gerber baby food jar for my poo! I was pretty grossed out!! The things I do! I was gagging and coughing and Sierra was worried I was sick...ugh!
Tomorrow I need to get to the health department by 6:30 am to stand in line (reportedly a fairly long one) and get my card. That entails catching a bus at 6 am and walking about 1/2 - 3/4 mile through town - hope I find it alright!
Here is a video that gives you an idea of where we're living...as you can see, there are mountains and volcanoes all around! Only one of them is active - it is called Fuego (Fire) and reportedly you can see it having "mini" eruptions on occasion. I'll try to get a video of that when it happens!!

Most of the time we'll get around on "Chicken Buses"...these are old US school buses that somehow make their way down here, then they are painted wild colors and outfitted with ginormous speaker systems that blare latin music and have icons of Mother Mary and Jesus all over. They are called "Chicken Buses" because you will often see baskets full of chickens sitting on top, along with all manner of other things - fruits & vegetables, bikes, blankets, etc. Inside it can get very, very crowded, with 6-8 people sitting across the 2 bench seats that are intended for 4. The two who sit on the aisle part of the seat prop each other up with their shoulders to make a complete row across. Add a few kids on laps and you've got the idea! If I didn't feel big before...Haha! Sierra says I constantly smack people in the head with my backpack. Here is a picture of one, but there are not chickens on top - alas, we'll have to get that another day!

Sometimes we'll ride a "tuk tuk" - they are 3-wheeled vehicles similar to a golf cart. The steering is done with handles, like a bike. You can see a tuk tuk in the picture above, at the lower left hand corner, next to the motorcycle. Tuk tuks are a bit more expensive, but they get you right where you need to go and are a life saver if you are carrying a lot of groceries! Below is a little video to give you an idea of what it's like to ride in one! Caution - ride is bumpy!

Well, that's all for now - I'll put more in soon! Be blessed!