Our group converged on the Ted Stevens Airport at 3:30am Thursday morning, March 31, and we arrived in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, on April 1st at 5:30pm. This was after a 3 hour flight to Seattle, a 4 1/2 hour layover, a 2 1/2 hour flight to LA, meeting a team member in LA and a 6 1/2 hour layover, a 4 hour flight to Guatemala, a 1 1/2 hour wait at the airport, a wonderful breakfast at Hostal Los Lagos along with a 2 1/2 hour wait, a stop at Texaco to get some water, a 3 hour bus ride to Chichoy for a delicious lunch, a 2 hour bus ride through the mountains on turns tighter than a hairpin to Panajachel where we hauled all of our gear, 14 totes, and 12 five gallon buckets of paint through the city street down to the dock, and then a refreshing and beautiful 1 1/2 hour boat ride across Lake Atitlan. Don’t add up those times, because there was a 2 hour time change, and we slept every opportunity we had and could. The adventure created many laughs, fun conversation, and great pictures/videos of people sleeping.
As we approached the dock at San Pedro La Laguna, we were warmly greeted by some of the staff from Colegio Bethel waving their hands with welcome wishes. A human assembly line of 25+ of us unloaded the gear from the boat to a truck waiting. After we dropped all of the supplies off at the school, we weaved our way to our hotel on narrow cobblestone streets dodging dogs, tuk tuks, and children playing soccer. We are staying at Hotel Sakari, a quaint spot overlooking Lake Atitlan. It’s even been rated on Trip Advisor. Back at the school, a delicious dinner called caldo de res consisting of broth, carrots, potatoes, güisquil (a type of squash), and meat was served with rice and tamales. We got back to our rooms about8:00pm for the night.
Saturday the 2nd began with the sun shining in the windows, the birds singing loudly, and Lake Atitlan looking like a sea of glass. We met Jorge and Luz Elena at Colegio Bethel at 8:30am for a Tour of the new clinic and the school. Luz Elena is the doctor at the clinic. She moved here from Florida 5 months ago to be on staff full time. We shared a belly-stuffing breakfast of pancakes, sausage, fruit, and cereal with the workers who we would spend the day helping. Lively conversation always ensues when you think if you talk slower and louder somehow they’ll understand your language.
Work teams began around 10:00am. The priority for our week is having the clinic ready before we leave, because a team of 26 medical staff from Alaska will be here on the 15th of April to hold a 4 day clinic. After breakfast the local workers began choosing who they wanted on their work crews. Remember when you were a kid and the captains were picking teams for dodgeball? You didn’t want to get picked last. With this work day, you didn’t know whose team you wanted to be on or when you wanted to get picked. Ultimately we were divided into 3 teams: a team that sanded metals bars and railings in preparation for painting, a painting crew who painted the clinic while they were waiting for the sanding crew, and the dirt crew. Before the painting and sanding crews began, they hauled about 175 boxes of tile from the clinic to a new home on the school property. The digging crew began in the jungle, digging up dirt and mulch. I’ve never seen so many spiders, ants, millipedes, centipedes, worms, slugs, beetles, and other slithering and creepy crawly insects in my life. I’m an Alaskan girl who wants to see a bear or moose any day. We hauled 25 pound rice sacks full of dirt around to various parts of the property.
Lunch was at 1:30 and hungry stomachs and already tired bodies were ready for the break. Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit, and veggies hit the spot. After the break and a siesta by some, it was back to work at 2:30. More sanding. More painting. More dirt digging and hauling. Work ended at 6:00 and dinner was at 7:00. We shared funny stories from the trip so far and heaping platefuls of spaghetti and garlic toast. Codey shared a devotional after dinner and it was back to the hotel around 8:00pm. Some sat outside and shared conversation and laughter. I had zero sympathy for the occasional spider that was seen, the scream that followed, and the guy that heroically stomped it with his shoe. Those girls would not have made it in the jungle with me and my team today. As the pillow beckons, the rain is falling and Lake Atitlan is raging with waves: completely contrary to our morning wake up call. Tomorrow is a new day; we are grateful for the work accomplished today; excited for a day of fellowship and worship tomorrow.
**This post was written Saturday night but wasn’t uploaded until Sunday.*
To see more pictures from this team, click here