My last post left off on Friday, April 8th waiting for the elementary students to perform for us. The assembly started with the children singing. I say singing, but your natural inclination is to think of how we sing in America. Nothing will move and convict your heart like hearing these children sing from the depth of their toes. The students in one class quoted Psalm 23:1-6. Another class had six students represent the traditional dress of their culture. As they approached the stage, the children swayed and moved to the music. The teacher explained which of the 21 Mayan tribes each student was representing and if the tribe still commonly wore those clothes, only wore them for special events, or if the traditional clothes had been completely lost to western influence. The third class were four year olds who sang, “Every move I make, I make in You, You make me move, Jesus, Every breath I take, I breathe in you.” They performed their little hand motions, arm raises, and turns just not in unison, which made it all the more adorable. At the conclusion of the assembly, a young girl from the fourth grade spoke as a representative of the student body and gave a heart-felt speech of gratitude to our team.
When the assembly was over, the kids came through the cafeteria one class at a time and had a snack of chocolate chip cookies, fruit, and coconut milk. Afterwards we walked into each individual elementary class and had the opportunity to briefly encourage the students and then pass out age-appropriate gifts and candy for the students and the teachers.
We had a delicious lunch of cheeseburgers and fruit and then headed over to the clinic to work for the afternoon. We finished cleaning the last three rooms, installed the railings and metal doors, painted wooden doors and door trim, moved the last of the trash, scraped drops of paint off the tile floor, washed the baseboard, scrubbed dirt and paint off the stairs, and planted all the potted trees in the landscaped areas. We worked until 6:00pm, and then dashed to our rooms to get ready for a 7:00 dinner with Pastor Emilio, his wife Esther, and the staff of Colegio Bethel.
Nothing could have prepared us for the emotion of the night. The cooks, who had prepared delicious meals for us all week long, made traditional tamales with chicken and rice along with fresh tortillas, homemade bread, and beans. As we sat alternating between the staff and our team members, once again, we worked on our Spanish as they worked on their English and we did the best we could to communicate.
When dinner was over, Pastor Emilio expressed their gratitude for all we had accomplished and then they all sang a couple of songs for us, including Victory in Jesus. When they were finished, each staff member called one of our team members to the front. They commented on what they had noticed about that person throughout the week and how that person had made an impression on them. With heartfelt gratitude, they presented each of us with a gift. Needless to say, there were some tear-stained eyes. After we had all individually been presented with our gifts, we opened them to find locally woven cloths that we had seen adorn our tables covering our tortillas or bread at almost every meal. What a priceless reminder of our new found brothers and sisters in Christ.
When they were finished, individuals from our team expressed our gratitude to them for the food, fellowship, and friendships we had come to love and cherish. One of our team members even performed an Irish dance as we all clapped along. The evening ended with pictures together, laughter, and lots of hugs.
Saturday, April 9th, we had breakfast at 8:00 and did some finishing work at the clinic until 10:00. Before we left, we took a final team picture in front of the clinic, so I hope you will watch for the before and after photos. We grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed to the dock at 10:30 to say our final farewells. We boarded the boat and waved goodbye until our new friends were out of sight. As I looked around the boat, there were tears, there were expressions of satisfaction for work well done, there were smiles of a child that had been sponsored for another year to attend Colegio Bethel, yet still, there were gazes lost to Lake Atitlan as others processed what these ten days had meant to them.
We spent a couple of hours shopping in Panajachel for souvenirs for friends, family, and those who had supported us for this mission work. About 3:00pm we boarded our bus for Guatemala City. On our journey over the mountains, we saw a volcano venting. Later that night we noticed that near the equator the crescent moon makes a smiley face instead of sitting sideways as it does in Alaska.
We had Dominos Pizza for dinner and spent time as a team sharing special memories that each of us had during the trip. We also came to the realization that what we shared as a team would be something that only we would truly cherish. Although others would listen as we shared the memories and events, they would never be able to truly grasp what happened because it wasn’t their experience too. At first I have to admit I was disheartened by that thought, but then it made me all the more grateful for our team and what we would always share as a common bond and memory.
Before I submit this final post, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Jorge, Gabby, and Pam. Jorge and Gabby are the husband and wife team that work together for Proyecto Fe. They both speak English and were invaluable with their coordination of work projects and matching team members with children they wanted to sponsor. I had heard about the infamous Pam before we left, I brought gifts for her from others who had made this trip before and knew her, I even brought gifts for her before I knew her just because I had heard how amazing she was. She truly was all that and more. She has been in San Pedro for 18 years. She wears more hats than this post has time to describe, and she wears them with grace, strength, dignity, and resolute fortitude. She is truly an inspiration to all she comes in contact with.
As we sit in the LA airport and I submit this final post, I want to thank all those who prayed, all those who provided financial support, all those with Proyecto Fe, and all our team members who worked so hard to have the clinic ready for the doctors who will be there next week. Truly the greatest reward will be in heaven.
To see more pictures from this team, click here