Sunday, November 30

Thanksgiving - Guatemalan Style

We had a GREAT opportunity this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with our neighbors.  One advantage of living away from the States is it forced us to dig a little deeper and reach out a little farther than we would have otherwise.  

Do Guatemalans celebrate Thanksgiving?  Nope.  

Did that stop us from joining in with all of our local neighbors?  No way!

Our kids gave a "presentation" of the history of Thanksgiving, which some of their friends translated into Spanish for our guests.  After hearing how Squanto the Indian helped the Pilgrims to survive in their new land, we appreciated even more what our neighbors had all done at one time or another to help us get the hang of living here in Guatemala.  From the doctor next door that helped curb our panic with our first sick kid, to our landlady who helped us work out our several-month-long telephone and internet hookup issues.  

We ended up with families from four different countries (USA, Guatemala, Columbia, and El Salvador), and it was an opportunity to get past the daily "hola" and "what a beautiful day" ruts that are so easy to get stuck in, especially with another language.

We got to watch the neighbor kids make funny faces as they tried American food, and we laughed with their parents as we told them about our kids first times eating the local food too.  We talked about everything from blueberries to southern accents, and colonial Williamsburg to Bogota Columbia.

We are so blessed!

Tuesday, November 25

Adventure with Nate

I took Nate out about 15 minutes south of our home to a dry riverbed at the base of Volcan Fuego.  It's still an active volcano, and in the pics, you can see some of the plumes of smoke coming out of the top.  

The riverbed was littered with volcanic rock, pumice, and the view of the mountains overhead was magnificent! 

Nate is also showing off two different colored volcanic rocks, which varied from black, to various shades of grey, to reddish hues.


Nearby was bedrock which had been worn smooth by the river, and Nate is sitting at the top of a waterfall.  On the way back into town, the sun was setting, and just lit up the patch-work of farmlands on some of the nearby hills.  


Just a beautiful day to explore, spend with my son, and to enjoy the beauty of clear skies now that dry season has begun!

Monday, November 24

Sad Goodbye

Today we took a team of 20 youth (from our home church, Pathways) to the Malnutrition Center. It's located about an hour north of Antigua, has between 35 and 40 children under the age of eight, and has attracted our attention because it has become neglected in recent years because of its out-of-the-way location.

As several of us were working with the children, the director of the clinic came in and invited me to meet a family that was admitting their daughter. As I entered the room, I saw a mother crying for her two year old child as she said her goodbyes. One of the assistants came in a minute later to take the child to what would be her new home for the next five or six years. I stood there awkwardly as the director asked a few questions from the family in order to update their records. It went something like this....

- How many children do you have? Five.
- One of them is already here, correct? Yes.
- So, you will now have three children at home and two here? Yes.
- Are there any illnesses? For the father, one kidney does not function, and he was admitted to the hospital last week to have his lung drained of fluid. (On his arm was also a very large growth of some kind).
- Actually, how about the child you are admitting? For the child, just a cough.
- Only a cough? Any stomach problems? Yes, she also has frequent diarrhea.
- Are you pregnant? Yes.
- You're pregnant? Yes, (embarrassed glances at each other)... and four months along.
- So this will be your sixth child? Yes.
- Are you breastfeeding any longer? No.
- So, what are you giving the child to drink...milk? No, she doesn't like milk.
- Ok then, some kind of nutritional drink? No, just coffee.
- Coffee? That's all she drinks? Yes, we can't afford nutritional drinks and she won't drink regular milk.
- Ok, tell me about your many rooms, etc? Two rooms, no kitchen, no electricity.
- What type of work do you do? Laborer in a coffee plantation.
- How much do you earn to support your family? Q25 each day (about $3 daily).
- Only Q25 ($3) each day to support a family of eight? Yes.
- How old are you? 35, and my wife is also the same age.

After the questions, the director politely dismissed the couple. As they walked away, the wife patiently waited while the man hobbled with great effort next to her. I stood in stunned silence for a while. Here was a couple my age, looking twenty to thirty years older as the years of hard labor, poor nutrition, and no hope had etched their faces and wrecked their bodies. The child they left behind weighed half of what she should have for her age.

I asked the director if this was typical, and she said yes, since this is such a poor village. An entire village in this same condition is too much to digest, too much to take in. What's harder to grasp is that the pain of poverty and hunger is only a faint shadow of the spiritual darkness and emptiness that is the root of all of this. Where does one begin to help?

Thursday, November 20

Two Weeks in Pictures

We had a special 2 weeks having family here. On their second day here, we had a 5th birthday party for Jackson. Jack likes to combine the words "fiesta" and "pinata" and just call it a "piesta!"

We took them shopping at our Publix, the market...

We celebrated Christmas early...

We celebrated 12 baptisms...

We experienced a Mayan village...

The boys got to experience the zipline at Finka Filadelphia...

We visited the Malnutrition Center and loved on the kids there...

It was a great reminder that family is special, that I am thankful for people who have known us for years, who know our history, our faults and triumphs and who love us just because. Thank you for coming, Mom and Dad O.!

Thursday, November 13

Family Days

Steve's parents are here for 2 weeks, and we're having fun taking a break from the routine and spending time as a family. On Sunday, Nancy, Manolo, Nan and I ran in a 10K in Antigua. Near the finish line, Steve and the kids "ran me in" like they did in the marathon. Our local race website,, got some great shots of the fam!