Monday, February 28, 2011

This post lacks a title.

Ok, so you'd think at this juncture in life I would have said Hasta la Vista to the habits of a student.  Not so.  Here I am, in Antigua sitting at a table for two with a whiteboard, the smell of dry-erase markers, and a stack of books.  My teacher has vacated the premises and so I study.  I'm finding a little more determination knowing the benefits that sit on the other side of this mountain of language, dreaming about the possibilities.

I'm actually feeling quite blessed (though I don't like that word, feels overused and lacks a certain sufficiency to how this truly feels, but alas…).  Upon entering this country, I knew what to expect.  I was aware that I'd have a LOT of time to think and process and analyze and drive myself crazy (without the help of others, thank you!).  And so this is where I land, feeling favored.  Not favored above others, but favored in light of this time and reflecting.  February has been a full month.  January and February brought life and liveliness, love and lots of laughter-admittedly, with a few intermittent tears.  A lot of prayer, a lot of trust, a lot of believing beauty for ashes AND the opportunity to be a witness to those promises from Isaiah.

He is GOOD.

So we move on.  March.  I'm smiling.

Maybe my next post will be in Spanish?  Yeah, no!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

to know Love

Come out from behind, little one.  You have something to teach me.

Maria.  Doesn't make eye contact for too long.  Would rather be in the shadows than in the center.  Didn't want her picture taken in the beginning, but now smiles for my camera…on occasion and more willingly with a newfound friend.  Cried for days for the one whose hand caused her harm.  Is, for the first time, sitting in a classroom.  Is learning how to play and, it seems for the first time, laugh and run free from fear.  Speaks more Spanish than she let on in the beginning!  Her story is hard.  It reminds me of the books I read in junior high when I first became aware of the term "child abuse"-though I could not comprehend-still cannot comprehend.  I want to grab her and hold her and hug her…touch to her seems foreign.  I smile when I see her running hand-in-hand with Karen.  It seems like progress.  She smiles timidly and speaks quietly when I ask her her age, if she speaks Kaqchikel, if she's ready to play 'Escondite' (hideout, aka hide and seek).  I want to know her.  I want her to know Love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A little more culture please.

Today is your (and my) lesson in culture.  I thought I was going to write a post today about the clinic in the Mayan village where Dr. Jim volunteers on Tuesday mornings, and you'll get a bit about that, but this is primarily about the Mayan culture.  Errrr- a microscopic fraction of said culture.

TRAJE (pronounced trah-hey) is the traditional clothing worn by the indigenous people here.  It is beautiful, colorful, full of patterns and textures.  I've been trying to figure out if the patterns are related to familial decent or just random, creative beauty. At some point, I'll have that conversation with Reyes (Dr. Jim's translator at the village clinic), but I need a few more vocabulary words to ask and understand!  After a quick google search, I did learn this-those patterns and colors have rhyme and reason.  "Moreover, in Guatemala, Maya traje is village-specific or language-group related."  Which then leads me to question, what specifically makes you aware of the village or language group???  Color?  Style?  Pattern?  Flowers?  Birds?  Here are a few of my encounter…I have yet to see a man wearing traditional garments.

Maria, looking beautiful in her traje, with Miss Kay at the clinic. 

Virginia displaying her traje.

A baby's beanie (sorry for the blur, snapping pics while driving on dirt roads) and Maria (dos) on the left wearing her traje and a sweatshirt.  SIDE NOTE:  Maria (dos) is new to Prince of Peace.  She arrived a few days before I did.  I was told about her, "You'll recognize her.  She has hollow eyes, still wears her traje, and cries all day long."  I intend to share more about her, not in this post, but let me say this, she has made progress-I've seen her smile and she does in fact speak Spanish!

IDIOMA And did you know, Guatemala has 23 languages and 30 different dialects.  I believe most of the individuals in the mountains who travel to this particular clinic for medical attention speak Kaqchikel.  Reyes, a lovely lady who works at the clinic interpreting, speaks both Spanish and Kaqchikel.  Today, we had three languages going on as Dr. Jim explained some of the patients' conditions to me and Reyes interpreted for Dr. Jim!  I asked Reyes if she grew up with both languages in the home.  No, her mother spoke Kaqchikel and her schooling was in Spanish.  Same for her daughter.  Reyes taught Dr. Jim and I how to say Buenos Dias-Good Morning in Kaqchikel, but I'm afraid it just wasn't happening.  It was close, and she was kind, but they make sounds with their throat that we are not accustomed to.  Anyway, close, but no!  I also heard a lot of clicking in the back of their mouths…hard to explain, easier to hear.  Here is an audio clip of the language.  I wanted to try and get a video, but didn't want to interrupt the ladies speaking.  If you listen carefully, you can hear a lot of "sh" sounds.

There you have it, a little culture for both of us today.  I'll end with this photo of the back of the vehicle trying to leave the clinic today.  In total, 10 adults, 2 boys, 2 babies…not bad!


Saturday, February 19, 2011


Last weekend, I was on my way to the laundry/kitchen up the hill from where I'm staying and spied some of the girls hanging out on the bench swing.  They ALL had babies in their arms and it just made me smile.  I quickly stepped back inside, grabbed my camera, and snapped a couple pics and this video.  Oh how I pray they will be good mamas when they are (much) older.

P.S. Notice Velveth, standing on top of the swing, baby strapped to her while the other girls cradle theirs!  Made me laugh.  That girl is too busy climbing something, hands-free necessary.

Music- Fatima's Waltz by Justin Roth

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Somedays, it's not all smiles.

"He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.  Finally, He will cause justice to be victorious.  And His name will be the HOPE of all the world."
-Matthew 12:20-21

How do you keep from falling into pieces?  How can a heart be acquainted with pain and hurt and disillusionment and still survive?  How can abuse be endured and then crushed by the young innocence of a little girl? 

I don't know how, but I'm witnessing-DAILY-examples of young ladies who stride forward.  

I encountered it this morning.  And, I knew it was coming.  It did not crush, thanks God it has lightly brushed my soul.  If otherwise, I don't know how I'd keep going.  I knew it was coming because yesterday was one of those calm before the storm kind of days.  

One instance, merely one.  Sarahi.  I shared pictures of her here last week.  I spoke of her spunk and how she came to the home.  Unfortunately, not much is known.  During recreo (recess), I usually play basketball with the girls.  Sarahi is a natural.  She is barely big enough, tall enough, to dribble the basketball, but she has great ball handling skills!  Such a coordinated little tot.  I swooped her up and said to her, "Sarahi, I like you and think you are beautiful."  She just smiled and started pushing my chin up so she could see how in the world I had a nose piercing and then started pulling on my earrings and asking if they were painful?!?  She just cracks me up!  I can say honestly, I don't have favorites here.  How can you?!?!  They are all amazing and beautiful!  But, this little one had my full attention today.  

I'm not sure why, but Sarahi (pronounced Sah-Rah-E) leaves school after recreo and heads back to the house with the Tia AKA House Mom.  Maybe it has to do with her being new?  Maybe her age?  Maybe they're working with her behavior?  I don't know.  She was meandering up the hill behind me and mumbling to herself, wearing a gloomy face.  I went into my house, came back out, and found her standing there crying.  Crying for her mom, "Quiero mi mama."  I want my mom.  Ok, let's go find her and take you home.  Right!  I (we) still do not know the story with mom…was Sarahi left on purpose?  Is mom looking for her?  They put ads out in the paper for missing people, much the same as home, I assume.  I grabbed her and sat down with her waiting for the Tia.  She just kept quietly crying and mumbling I want my mom.  

All that to say…what do you do?  How do you answer?  And how do these wonderful folks who work diligently here keep their heads above water?  You just do.  You look ugly in the face, name it, and then keep moving forward with these girls.  Thank God for Ninoshka-the counselor who works with each girl individually.  Thank God for Vilma- the social worker who represents these girls in court and who grew up at Prince of Peace, went off to university, and returned to work here for the sake of these girls.  And Violeta and Laura and Blanca and Lizet and Dr. Jim and Kay and Juan and Salvador and Vicki and Deisy and Celeste and Soli and Nancy and Marii Cruz and the teachers… (separate post on these wonderful folks soon).

I wrote this on my first day here, within the first few hours.  It was in my daily reading and seemed so fitting for the circumstances.  This scripture, on this paper, has floated about my mind and my dwelling-on my nightstand, next to this computer, on the table, as a bookmarker etc.  Today, it was time to share.

"He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.  Finally, He will cause justice to be victorious.  And His name will be the HOPE of all the world."
-Matthew 12:20-21

And guess what???!!!??  These girls need sponsors!  I'm praying God will BREAK YOUR HEART for the benefit of these beauties!  (Sorry, but not really;)!)  Leave me a message or send me an email.  It's easy to get you info and I believe this is yet another reason I'm here.  

Yeymy-Sarahi-Vanesa on the tire swing.  


The sparkle shows up in a smile! 

***I know this place, Guatemala City, is not any different than the city you live in.  Unfortunately, what I'm writing about is all to familiar across the globe…this is merely my experience---brown eyes that press my soul on this ordinary day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dia Del Cariño

Little Melanie!

I shared photos a few posts back about the little girl on the mountain who did a number on her forehead.  She was in the clinic this afternoon so Dr. Jim could remove the stitches.  It was GOOD to see her and she seriously could not STOP smiling.  I'm glad she still likes us!!!  Just wanted to share her smile with you all.

Yes, she is smiling here!  

Still smiling…:) 

Friday, February 11, 2011

For you to pray...

This morning, I want to tell you about two girls who I'd like for you to add to the conversation when you're talking with God.  In the last two day, these little girls have encountered much.

She wanted to show me her traditional clothing.

Meet Virginia.  She is beautiful. She is smart.  She is real.  I asked here a few nights ago how her day was and she replied, good.  Then rescinded with a very real answer, No.  I'm not good, I'm ok.  To which I asked why? and she responded, I'm sad because Rosemeri left today. (The court allowed Rosemeri to go back home with her mom.)  She has a heart-warming smile (that she is hiding here).  She has lived here @ POP for nearly 2 years and will turn 9 years old later this month.  Yesterday, I happened to be in the office when her older sister came to tell her that her mother had passed.  I saw her at lunch and the older girls in her house were loving on her.  She seemed to be ok, actually good (a handful of us did a little Hokey-Pokey jig after lunch that she readily joined!!!).  I just don't have a way to understand how these girls triumph over such life circumstances except to believe that this home, this place named Principe de Paz, is a place they are loved and cared for-physically, spiritually, emotionally.  And that makes the difference, thanks God.

Sarahi  "Sonrisa!"  

Sarahi y Maria 

Meet Sarahi .  She came to the home two nights ago.  I did not meet her that evening, but Deisy was over having hot cocoa and told me about her.  She, Deisy, was trying to explain her cute little bangs and then decided, "Dora the Explorer!"  That's exactly what she looks like, don't you agree!  She is a doll.  I usually walk the hill in the morning and pass the girls on their way to school.  They are lined up in pairs, youngest to oldest.  You should see Sarahi!  She is the leader of the pack and you can tell she doesn't mind one bit.  Both mornings, even before we officially met, she came running down to me and gave me a MAMMOTH sized hug.  And she won't let go.:)  Lively might be one of the top 5 words I would use to describe her.  

On the playground, Sarahi y Dafne 

From what I know thus far, she was found-lost somewhere in the city.  I don't know if mom is looking for her…the story is still a mystery to me.  So, please, pray for Sarahi.  The older girls have ABSOLUTELY taken her in and loved on her.  They play with her and dote on her…as you can see over there to the left!  When I see Sarahi running around, I usually see Dafne among a troop of other girls.

Sweet, precious loves.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Much to say, trying to mentally pare it down.  Is it best to share one story?  Nah, several.  I'll start with the adventure of Monday.

For the last week and a half, we have had a men's team, plus two lovely ladies, visiting from Kentucky and Arkansas.  It was awesome watching the girls as the team loved and celebrated them!  Most of the individuals on the team have been here several times before and are VERY involved with the work Prince of Peace is doing.  So, you can imagine the relationships that have been built over many visits and how excited the girls are when these people show up!!!!  Not to mention the time some of the older girls have spent in the US with these folks.  Anyway, about Monday…

After breakfast, several of us jumped in the van, headed to the grocery store, and then made our way up the mountain.  "Up the mountain" refers to a more economically depressed area situated up the hill from the POP home.  Many of these families living up the mountain come down and use the clinic at POP.  And, over time the team(s) and older girls have built relationships with these families taking them food and other necessities.

It didn't take long to arrive at our planned destination, a family of 30 (or so I was told) living in a complex of lean-tos.  Darrell asked the grandma of the house how she was and said her face was just white.  Apparently we had arrived just minutes after one of the little girls, six year old Melanie, had fallen and gashed open her forehead just above her brow line.  Kevin quickly grabbed her and carried her back to the van as mom followed along with the rest of us.  We made our way back to the clinic and thus began a process I have NEVER encountered before!

I'd love to share pictures of the wound with you, but I think only 4 of you would appreciate seeing those.  Suffice to say, the wound was about an inch long, through the dermis, and maybe a quarter of an inch at its widest point.  Dr. Jim went to work!  The anesthetic was the worst part- Kay, Mom, Dr. Jim and I held her, but as Kay said, "You can only do this because you know it's for their good."  Verdad!  After the anesthetic, Dr. Jim used 3-5 (my mind was not on the number, but the process) subcutaneous sutures and then 7-8 on top.  Those were actually the more difficult because it was obvious she could feel them.  Ugh!

I had the best possible perspective.  I was standing at her head, holding the light for Dr. Jim and literally 18 inches from her face, watching every little thing.

One brave little girl. 
We returned to the mountain with a sewed up little girl and these faces were waiting for us!  They love having their picture taken and then instantly want to see it.  

Maybe love at first sight?  Yes, I think! 

She looks much happier here! 

Love again! 

Today, Sonia, Edgar, and Melanie returned to the clinic.  I greeted them as I entered and was SO HAPPY to see a wide smile on her face.  I told her I like seeing her with a smile instead of a sad face.  She kept smiling. 

And mom, I kept thinking of you and Kathy and Shirley…where are the EMTs?!  

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


In the present.  Not planning for tomorrow or pining about yesterday's gains and losses, simply present.  Holding onto the gift that is this moment, this look, this laugh, this hug.  Estephany, mira!  Estephany, mira!  

Dafne.  Every time she sees me I get the world's BEST hug.  

Monday, February 07, 2011

a few quick words.

What a day!  I'll tell you the story tonight, but for now…another experience with stitches at the clinic.

The ChipIn over there to the right will be updated when I have more time, but I wanted to say another thank you!  Money was sent to Kentucky and I'm thanking you on behalf of the beauties I am living with!  Just this morning I was praying for an uptick on the ChipIn and God has faithfully answered.  Day by day, they continue to amaze me and I'm in love with their piercing eyes and vibrant smiles.

***Ok, it's fixed.  I'm still raising $4,000, but the $3,900 reflects the $100 sent in to Kentucky.  More info on sending donations and tax receipts can be found under the Pages tab (top right of this page) "Giving to Guatemala" link.  :)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I smell Latex gloves

I can hardly contain myself! Today, este dia, I gave my first injection! Wha???!!?? I'm not sure if I should share that, but it's true. Kay, Dr. Jim's wife, showed me a few more of the ropes today. I've been observing patients in the room with Dr. Jim, but today she asked me if I wanted to help on the pharmacy side. (That's the best I can explain, but I promise a lengthier post to really give you the inside scoop soon.)

Here it is: A young guy, probably about 15 or 16, has a bad infection and needed a shot instead of pastillas (pills). I watched Miss Kay (as she is lovingly called here by the girls) give an injection prior to a young woman and she talked me through the steps both times.


Also, you need to understand this from the young guy's perspective…he did not know this was my first time :) (OF COURSE NOT!), imagine it for him and take into account the culture! Two woman, a young guy, "lower your pants just below your hip"…he was chatting, he was so embarrassed. And then, when I finished, he turned around and was sweating!!! Now, I know the shot was a bit painful, but I kinda think it was the embarrassment. I understand, poor guy!

So, here it is, a picture of the exact spot. It sort of feels like that first dollar bill you make and you hang up in your new business. Wow, I know I'm weird and silly, but it sure felt affirming!