Suffering and Anger (Oct. 30)

I have been overwhelmed by the response to my post on Oct. 27 about the family who was starving.  Many people have offered to help, and this family will be well cared for.

Some of the responses I got, however, focused on how God can let things like this happen.  I can understand this reaction, as I've struggled with it more than once myself.  Even to the point of getting angry with God. . ."How dare you let this happen?"

Over time I've come to realize that anger is an appropriate response when confronted with suffering.  But anger at God is misdirected.  Sure, He's a safe one to blame, and He can handle our anger.  More and more, however, I've come to realize that He's not the source of our suffering.

God created us for a perfect world--Eden.  We were not meant to live in a world of suffering and pain.  That's why our hearts fight it so much.  So what went wrong?  We did.  We each have chosen to trade paradise for our own will.  Sure, I can blame Eve, but if she had not sinned, I believe I still would have.  Even my arrogance at Him, blaming Him for the suffering which has resulted from the choices we've made, is sin. 

I will admit that the entire car ride home from Esquintla I was fuming with anger over starving and dying children.  I realized, though, that I could not justifiably direct my anger toward God.  He did not intend for us to become ill and die.  He has provided enough resources on the earth to feed everyone.  My anger needed to be directed at the one who brought sin and suffering and death into this world when he tempted Eve. The enemy could not defeat or destroy God, so he set his sights on those created in God's image (I've borrowed this from John Eldridge).  And what better way to destroy us than to convince us to blame the One who has come to save us from ourselves. . .

I also, though, need to recognize that "the devil makes us do it" just won't cut it.  We chose to sin.  The result of sin is suffering and death.  While there may not be a 1-to-1 correspondence between our personal sin and the suffering in the world, all our sin adds to the cumulative effects of sin on our fallen world.  Every time I chose selfishness over love, my own will over His, I add to the suffering in the world.  Sometimes it's only me who suffers for my sin.  Too often, however, my personal sin causes another pain.

When confronted with starvation, it's easy to say, "It's not my fault."  It's convenient to blame and omipotent God--if He doesn't do something about it, why should I?  But I believe He is trying to address the suffering in our world--through His Body, the church, us. . .

And we can impact suffering.  The fact that the Reyes family will have food for more than a year demonstrates this.  Can we eliminate starvation in the world?  No.  There will always be the poor.  Jesus Himself told us that.  But when confronted with one starving family there is much that we can do.

So I have to confess that some of my anger is at God.  For making me aware of the suffering of my brothers and sisters.  For positioning me in such a way that my awareness of their suffering causes me pain, disrupts my denial.  The fact that when facing their suffering, I have to chose to turn away or respond.  The fact that I have to do something.

In no way am I suggesting that you should respond to every need that I or anyone else who works with the poor presents to you.  I am suggesting, though, that each day God places those who are suffering in our paths.  We daily have to chose to ignore their pain, or step into it with them.  Just because their suffering is not my personal fault does not mean I am not asked to share their struggle. The Good Samaritan did not cause the pain of the man he rescued.  When one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts.  And, oh, how much easier it would be to remain unaware. 

I have a friend who suggests that when we ask God, "Why don't you do something about the suffering in the world?" He just might ask us the same question.  So, we can continue to chose to blame God for all the suffering in the world, and that gives us a good excuse to do nothing about it.  Or, we can embrace what I believe to be the Biblical world view, and not worry about who caused the pain, but consider what we can do to alleviate it.

"Let us be the ones who say we do not accept that a child dies every three seconds simply because he does not have the drugs you and I have. Let us be the ones to say we are not satisfied that your place of birth determines your right to life. Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold."                                                                 (borrowed from Dick Rutger's journal)

October 29

I spent much of my day today at Hermano Pedro.  We have a new boy, Julio (sorry, no pictures yet) who is pretty amazing.  He can't walk, but can crawl while carrying a tote full of toys.  He also understands everything, has some spontaneous language, and can meaningfully repeat many words, though his articulation is somewhat difficult to understand.  He knows colors, and will repeat number names while counting up to 5 objects.  He's really going to be fun to get to know! I got to feed him today, and he could feed himself with minimal assistance.  I think with a little adaptive feeding equipment, he'll be good to go on his own.  Have ordered some to bring back from the States.

I also was in malnutrition for a longer period today, and played with toys with Jessica.  Once again, she amazed me.  She will follow an object with her eyes as you move it through her field of vision, would cuddle a small stuffed animal as if it was a baby doll, and loved to kick at rattling toys with her foot!  When she would knock the toy out of my hand kicking it, she would just laugh and laugh. 

I also saw Flori, my Faith in Practice friend from Oratorio.  Marcus, the young man we hope to get surgery to correct his cleft palate, had been in to see the doctor who had ordered more tests.  Through the generosity of some friends in Omaha who have made a donation to start a medical fund, he will be able to have these tests and hopefully his surgery.  We have also been able to provide medication which has stopped his seizures. 

Flori proudly displaying a certificate of recognition
which she recently received from Faith in Practice.
After Flori left, I couldn't help but reflect on the many Guatemalan women I've met who are working for the betterment of their people.  These women often don't have much more in the way of financial resources than the people they are trying to help, but use what gifts they do have to serve others. Besides Flori, I think of Dona Mari and Doris in Retalhuleu, Flori at the clinic in LaGomera and her team of volunteers.  They are amazing ladies, who I am honored to work with.  Some, like Doris and Flori are even becoming friends.  They are an incredible blessing to this country and to me personally.

I guess, according to Leslie, a volunteer from England, there is a volunteer teacher coming in to do summer classes with some of the kids.  I have to be honest. . .when she told me that, I wanted to say, "What do you think I've been doing?"  It was even harder to keep my mouth shut when she told me that the hospital had found a place for this lady to hold classes. . .finding room to work has been my biggest challenge.  (In fairness to the hospital, however, I've not asked for space, partly because I was afraid they might tell me to share the classroom with Nineth, and she already has a room full.)  Leslie then proceeded to tell me that perhaps this lady could "teach" me how to work with the kids.  Those of you who know me well can probably picture how red my ears became at this pronouncement.  I'm guessing that I probably have taught a few more years and a few more kids than this gal, but we'll see.  I'm open to new ideas, but have to admit I'm not looking forward to someone coming in as an "expert" treating me like I really don't know what I'm doing.  Dick keeps reminding me that no one here really cares about my credentials, but at times like this it's hard not to want to trot them out. 

As I'm praying through this, I'm asking God for grace to receive this lady warmly. I ask for your prayers, too, in this regard.  I know it's not about me, it's about the kids, but I can't help feeling a bit pushed out of the way.   Really, though, I don't know what I'm worrying about. I feel very comfortable with and accepted by the nurses, and I don't think that will change.  I can't imagine that there won't be enough kids for both of us to work with.  I don't want to succumb to the plague that affects too many missionaries--protecting one's turf.  On the other hand, I do have strong feelings about how the kids should be treated, and this lady was described to me as having taught in the Bronx, so she "doesn't take any crap from the kids."  I pray she has respect and love for the kids, and doesn't just want to whip them into shape.

When I went back and read what I'd just written above about my Guatemalan women friends, this all seems pretty petty.  I decided to leave it in, though, because first, I'd like your prayers for this situation, and secondly, well, those of you who know me know I can be petty at times.  I ask your prayers support in growing my heart. Again, I'm worrying about things over which I have no control.  We'll wait and see how this all plays out. . .and each day I grow a bit stronger in my willingness to stand up for the kids and their needs.  I don't like doing it. . .but I learned that sometimes I'm called to speak for the Lion of Judah, and not just the Lamb!

Lunch with World Racers (Oct. 28)

Today I went to lunch with an amazing group of young people.  Four of them are in wheelchairs and live at Hermano Pedro.  The other five are visiting Guatemala as part of The World Race.  Prior to meeting this folks, I'd never heard of this Christian mission program in which teams serve in 11 countries in 11 months.  This team, Lionheart, has begun their treck here in Guatemala.

I've watched this team at Hermano Pedro over the past few weeks.  They have totally connected with the kids, though some of them shared with me that this was difficult at first.  They obviously, though, put aside their own comfort to love on our kids who need love so much.  Their last day with us is next Tuesday, and they all seem a little sad to leave, even as they anticipate their next stop of service.

A few days ago, one of the team members had mentioned to me that they'd love to take some of the kids on an outing, but didn't know how.  I offered to go to lunch with them and some of the kids, and they jumped at the chance.  I know the kids get excited at going to Camperos, but this time I think the volunteers were more excited than the kids.

A number of things impressed be about this group, even before we left the orphanage.  First, they chose kids to take who are often overlooked by volunteers because they are not particularly outgoing.  I was so pleased they had noticed the "least of these" among the "least of these."  Secondly, they repeatedly thanked me for arranging for the outing, and for taking my time to come with them.  It never occurred to them how grateful I was to them for genuinely caring about our kids.

So, about noon, we loaded up David, Deigo, Nelson and Gloria, and set off.  My first surprise was that, as soon as we were out side, Nelson, who usually is so bland and passive, seemed to come alive and was all smiles!  I've never seen this side of him before, and hearing him actually laugh blessed me beyond measure.  The blessing was doubled when I turned to see how excited the team members were with his reaction, and it seemed EVERYONE was stopping to take pictures of his joy as if he were a celebrity. 

These folks had never really had much experience pushing wheelchairs, and Antigua, with its cobblestone streets and high curbs is a difficult place to learn.  But learn they did, with only a bit of assistance now and then.  We got to Campero's in short order, and after a bit of rearranging, sat down to eat.  Here again, I noticed a unique gifting of this team.  They were not concerned at all about what they would eat, but focused on what each child could eat, how they could eat it, and most of all, that they (the kids) enjoyed their lunch.  I don't think I've ever been with a group at Campero's where I've done so little.  They really knew the kids they had chosen to take to lunch, and were skillful at feeding them.  It was a joy to sit back and watch this team in action.

When the check came, Angela told me they were treating us.  She also told me that they had carefully watched their food budget to be able to have the money to take the kids out to eat.  This really touched me, as this outing meant a lot more to them than just a hour or so of  "do-good-ing."  They really wanted to bless the kids.  And they did, blessing me as well.

If this team is any indication of the quality for the people who are racing around the world with this ministry, they are truly amazing.  While some travel the world in "The Amazing Race" to win money and get a bit of fame for themselves, these young people are traveling the globe to give themselves away.  It was a blessing to meet them and a privilege to work along side them.  Come Tuesday, it will be hard to say good-bye.  I'll miss them, and I know the kids will even more!

A Visit to the National Hospital (Oct. 27, part 2)

After leaving the clinic, we headed on to Rony's house to spend some time with Dad and the six other children.  This family is so special to me--I've known them for years, and am especially attached to the girls in this family.  They are really struggling with Rony being so sick and in a hospital far from home.  They seem to understand, though no one spoke it, that there's a good possibility that Rony is dying and they will not see their brother again.

It is a privilege to be invited into these most intimate moments in the life of this family.  It also is somewhat overwhelming.  What do you say to a four year old who wants to know where her brother is, and why her mom is not at home?  What do you say to a fifteen year old who has been one of the primary caretakers for her older brother who is now so ill?  I guess you don't really say anything.  There is nothing to say.  We can just be with them as they walk through this difficult time.  We can just let them know that we care, because God cares.  But sometimes it's hard. . .really hard. . .to stand beside someone you love and know you are totally helpless to take away their pain.  But, just as I know how hard this is, I know that this is what we are called to do, and so we do it.

After visiting with the family, we left for the hospital taking Jessica, the oldest daughter with us. She was going to be a companion for mom and grandma as they took turns sitting with Rony.  What an extreme responsibility for one so young.

We got the the hospital about 2:30.  Unfortunately, the one hour patients are allowed visitors ended at 2.  Both Rony's mom and I asked the receptionist for permission for us  to spend 5 minutes with Rony.  I have to admit that this lady lived up to to every story of indifference and rigidity I had heard about those who work in the National Hospitals in Guatemala.  Mom looked at Dick, and said Rony really wanted to see him, and she thought maybe if Rony could see Dick he would get better.  I thought my heart would break when she said this, and I know Dick's heart did break.  We knew we had to keep trying to get in.

We were fortunate, however, to have a nurse supervising the men's ward who had compassion on this mom whose son was dying and just wanted us to see him.  We also encountered a merciful guard to let us up to see Rony, though we didn't have proper permission.  So we got to spend some time with Rony. . .and this time was so bittersweet.  Rony, who had not opened his eyes in almost 2 days, forced his eyes open when he heard Dick's voice.  Both Dick and I "lost it" when this happened.  I don't know what broke me more, seeing Rony struggle so hard to see this man he loves, or watching Dick once more say good-bye to a child he has known and loved for years.  I knew the grief I was feeling paled in comparison to his anguish.  I thought my heart would break when I heard Dick quietly and confidently tell Rony he would see him again. . .knowing Dick was talking about their reunion one day in heaven.

We tried to hold to our word of five minutes with Rony, but leaving was very hard.  Both Mom and we sobbed as we said good-bye. . .and we thanked her for inviting us into this delicate time in the life of her family. 

I fought tears the entire drive back to Antigua.  I couldn't quite put my finger on what I was feeling--guess I was just overwhelmed at all I had experienced in one day.  And I struggled with feeling guilty, because this really wasn't about me.  I had started out the day asking God to lead my steps where He wanted me to be today. . .and now I was complaining to Him about where He had led me. 

La Gomera Clinic (Oct. 27)

Monday Dick had gone to Rony's home to take him back to the National Hospital in Esquintla.  Rony, a 16 year old with Muscular Dystrophy, had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and was seriously ill. Tuesday night Dick and I decided to head down to the coast to be nearer to the family and see Rony at the hospital on Wednesday.

The hotel in Santa Lucia where we usually stay was full, so we drove on to one nearer the coast.  This place was beautiful, air conditioned, and practically empty!  After dinner we even had time for a swim, and the night seemed almost like a mini-vacation.  I didn't realize how much a needed a bit of a get-away.  Even as I was enjoying this respite, though, it seemed God was preparing me for what we would face the next day.

Wednesday morning we started out at the clinic in La Gomera.  Dr. Jose, an excellent doctor from Cuba, greeted us like long lost friends.  What he manages to do in this under-equiped clinic continues to amaze me.  I also finally got to meet Sra. Flori de Vasquez, the wife of the mayor of La Gomera, who helps operate the clinic.  She assists Bethel ministries in getting food to some of the families who live in their area.

While we were there, a young man who works in the community of La Terreno approached us to ask for help for a family seriously in need of food.  When we were introduced to this family, I could not believe the level of malnutrition suffered by each of the eight children.  I have never before seen an entire family malnourished, and this family's need was intense. If the community workers not brought them to our attention, however, they would have just faded in to the many others waiting to see the doctor.

The amazing thing to me, though, was how friendly and receptive these kids were.  For the life of me, I can't imagine how they had managed to find the energy to walk the 6 km from their home to the clinic, but they had.  They sure enjoyed taking pictures and seeing them on Dick's camera.

I was also introduced by Flori to a young mom who has two children, ages 1 and 3, who are currently in the National Hospital suffering from malnutrition.  She seemed to be nothing more than a child herself.  So much need. . .I know I can't help every hungry person in Guatemala, but I also feel a strong conviction to try to help those who God puts in my path each day. 

After checking with Sra. Flori about two other families receiving help from Bethel Ministries through the clinic, we reluctantly left so that we could get to Esquintla in time to see Rony. Our new friends followed us to the door to say good-bye as we left.  How I wish I could have promised these families help before we left for Esquintla. All we could do is tell them we would do our best to find them sponsors. After sending out an email appeal, I am happy to be able to say that we have help for these families, and possibly a few more in need of food for the next year.


Spending time in Malnutrition Oct. 24

Saturday morning was filled with chores, but I managed to get to Hermano Pedro in time to feed some of the kids lunch.  Most of the kids were outside when I got there, but Audrianna was inside.  I thought maybe she was sick, but when I asked the nurses they said I could take her outside, so I did.  She was so happy today and full of giggles.  She really didn't want to be put down, so I held her while I fed Byron and Henry.  It was a bit of a challenge, but we did it.

Dick was in Santa Lucia this morning (Sunday), so he and the boys weren't at church.  Seemed strange not to see them.  Guess I'm getting used to hanging with the gang on Sundays.

After church today I had a quick lunch in town and went to Hermano Pedro.  I originally planned to working with the kids downstairs, but at lunch realized I haven't spent much time with my two Jessica's in malnutrion, so went upstairs first.  (It's really hard to pull away from the kids downstairs to go see them. . .) 

The atmosphere upstairs in malnutrition is so different than in the children's area.  Downstairs it seems that there is always someone crying or clamoring for attention.  Many of the kids want to work as soon as I walk in, and I hardly get time to just sit and hold any of the kids anymore.  I'm kept pretty busy.

Upstairs, I can sit and hold and focus my attention on one kid at a time.  It's almost like a mini-vacation.  And today I guess that's what I needed.  When I walked into the malnutrition unit, I could hear someone crying as I washed my hands.  I didn't recognize the cry, and was surprised to find that it was Jessica Vanessa lying in her bed just sobbing.  It broke my heart to see her so sad.  Then, one of the nurses came to feed her, explaining to me she was crying because she was hungry. 
She just about inhaled a bottle of formula and a bottle of  "papilla,"  or baby food.  I guess the nurse was right, because as soon as her tummy was full, she was her bright, happy self again.  Then I realized what a good thing it is that she now recognizes hunger, and responds to it as any "normal" child would.  Before coming to Hermano Pedro, though she was starving, she seemed to be used to constant hunger.  Now she knows the difference, and I think that's progress.

Jessica Vanessa was much happier after eating!
I spent a lot of time cuddling her, and she "talked" up a storm.  Her babbling and smiling made my day.  She is so content these days.  And she's so much stronger.  She can support her weight on her legs, and when I was carrying her, I realized that she was supporting her head and back without help.  Her balance is still a bit off, but she is developing so quickly.

I fed the "other" Jessica, and find her very interesting.  She seems to prefer being played with while she lies in her bed to being held.  I don't quite get that, but since she likes it, that's what we did!

I also got to spend some time holding one of the new little ones--he's only a month old and is in the unit because he has a cleft palate.  He is the sweetest little guy, and I was thrilled to cuddle him for a while. 

So, I guess I'm getting "hooked" on these kids as much as the ones downstairs.  All I know is that the afternoon flew by, and I had a great time.

On Sundays there always is someone performing in the park
or on the street.  This is one of the things I love about Antigua.
On the way home I treated myself to an ice cream cone and stopped in the park to watch a local band that performs in the park every Sunday.  I think this is the way the Sabbath was meant to be spent!

Campero's and the Park (Oct. 18)

This is a little out of order, since I wrote it and forgot to post it!  I claim being overtired (rather than age) is the cause. . .

It's been such fun having Anita visit this week--I'm especially enjoying having someone to walk with to Hermano Pedro.  She a great encouragement to keep me walking rather than just hopping a tuk-tuk.

Dick brought in two of the boys, so, with Anita, we were able to take 5 kids to lunch.  It's always amazing to me to see the kids outside the orphanage.  I've never worked much with Beverly, though she almost always reaches out a "calls" to me when I walk by her chair or crib.  Today, she was my lunch partner, and we had a great time.  She totally surprised me when I discovered she could finger feed herself (the nurses had said she needed very tiny bits of food only), and even grabbed a french fry from my plate!  I was speechless when her ice cream came and she could eat it herself with a spoon.  There is so much more to these kids than I realize, and I am thrilled every time they surprise me with their hidden skills.

After lunch we played in the park for a while, and I think they all had a pretty good time.  The fountain is always a favorite stop, and the wetter the kids can get us by splashing us, the better they like it.  Today was a pretty good day for them, and I was grateful that Antigua is warm during the day!

When we got back, the kids who had not gone really wanted to work, so we did.  There are a couple of new volunteers who really are into doing activities with the kids, and though I miss working directly with the kids, enjoy helping them find activities the kids can do.  And there was so much less calling "Patty" today, that I actually got to start taking pictures of activities so I can make a choice board for the kids.  I think this might be progress. . .

Hugs, Kisses, and Ice Cream (Oct. 21)

Today Anita and I took two of the older boys to the park for ice cream.  I've only known Elmer since I've moved down here, but I've known Moises for about 4 years now.  It's been fun to watch him grow from a little boy to a young man.  Sometimes he's too "cool" for the childish things I often do with the kids, but today it was easy to see the kid in him come out.

While in the park, we ran into two shoe-shime boys who Anita knows.  These children spend their days trying to convince people to let them polish their shoes, at the cost of 5Q (about $.62).  Antonio, only six, polished Moi's shoes, and you could tell he was just learning his trade, but proud to be working and helping support his family.  Domingo, however, at 8 is an accomplished tradesman who did an excellent joy on Elmer's shoes.  Moi wasn't so sure he liked polished shoes, and would drag his feet on the way back to the orphanange trying to get his shoes to look "normal."  Elmer, however, proudly showed his shiny "zapatos" to everyone and anyone we met along the way.

When we were starting to head back, a family came along with a Husky puppy.  Moi reached out for the dog, and I explained to him that it's not safe to touch dogs without the owner's permission.  The family walked on, but a few seconds later, the son return with the dog, so the boys could pet it.  This small kindness made my day, as I continue to be moved by the acceptance the Guatemalans are beginning to show our kids with disabilities.  This definitedly was not the case 10 years ago when Dick Rutgers first came here, but we continually see more openness in this area.

When we got back to the orphanage it was time for dinner.  Today, I saw two major accomplishments from kids during mealtime.  First, Ervin, fed himself his entire meal using a spoon (he only tried to use his hands twice today!) and Byron spontaneously came up and gave Henry a hug while I was feeding him.  Small things, maybe, but for our kids, milestones.

El Dia de la Revolucion (Oct. 20)

El Dia de la Revolucion, Oct. 20, commemorates the almost bloodless democratic revolution of 1944 when discontented university and military leaders overthrew the military dictator Jorge Ubico y Castaneda.  Today it is celebrated as a national holiday, with massive protests, mostly by the indigenous Mayan population, who still seek the truth about the desaparecidos (vanished), more than 200.000 victims of the Guatemalan civil war.

Here in Antigua, as with most days of protest, things are pretty quiet.  It is not a day to take to the highways, however, especially now since many of them are still only one lane due to wash-outs and landslides.  I discovered an unexpected benefit of this day, however, when I arrived at the orphanage.  Many Guatemalans had decided to spend at least part of their holiday visiting the kids at Hermano Pedro.

Some, like Henry's aunt and uncle, were family members of the kids, but many were just individuals who wanted to make the day a little be brighter for the kids.  It was pretty amazing to see. 


Jessica Vanessa
Since I sometimes get overwhelmed with large numbers of visitors, I spent part of my day up in malnutrition, visiting the two Jessica's.  I continue to be amazed at the strength Jessica Vanessa is developing and her constant movement.  I think she burns at least half the calories she takes in! I can't help but contrast it with our other Jessica, about the same age, who, while gaining weight more rapidly, has little voluntary movement.  It has taken her a long time to warm up to me, but finally, when I come to her bed, I'm rewarded with a smile most days.  Today I got to feed her, and I think I ended up with as much of her food on my clothes and in face (she sneezed and coughed a lot).  Eating is not her favorite activity, to be sure. 

I did spend some time working with the kids after lunch when things were more quiet and they were in their beds.  There are a couple of volunteers here for a few weeks who are really getting into working directly with the kids, and I'm happy to share my "toys" with them.  I spend a bit more time explaining tasks and helping these volunteers, but they multiply the amount of work the kids get to do.  While not as much fun as being right with the kids, I think this is a good investment of my time--though if this keeps up, I'm gonna have to make more tasks pretty soon.  What a great "problem" to have!

Tonight Dick invited me to go to the circus with him and his neighborhood kids who had received good grades.  I wasn't too sure what to expect, since I've never been to a Guatemalan circus and had heard that they were nothing to write home about.  Obviously, since I'm writing about it, it was a good as Dick had promised it would be.  So, 12 kids and two adults watched aerialists, clowns, trained horses, a magician, and even a nine tigers with their trainer and ate chocobananas.  The animals were all healthy and well cared for, and the tiger act was amazing.  I'm not sure I've ever see tigers as big as a couple of these were!  I think this has been one of the most enjoyable things I've done since moving to Guatemala.  Thanks, Dick and kids, for letting me tag along. Thanks, Dick, for the pictures from the circus.

The "good grades" crew

A Visit from Jessica's Family (Oct. 19)

The mom, sister and brother of Jessica Vanessa (our little one in malnutrition) came down to visit her today.  Dick has found someone willing to provide food for this family on a monthly basis, and so we needed to open a bank account for her.  I really am getting to love this mom, and we got to spend quite a bit of time together today.

You'd think opening an account would be a simple matter, but, it sometimes seems that nothing is simple here.  We did take her to the bank I use, and they were willing to open an account for her, but there was a snag in that she has neither electricity or water in her house, and so had no way to prove her address.  So, because Bethel Ministries would be depositing into this account, they agreed to accept their phone bill as proof of their address.

The only snag was that Bethel's shop is in Chimaltenango, a twenty-five minute drive from Antigua.  Since Dick still doesn't have his Land Cruiser back, we all piled into the pick-up (yes, the kids rode in the back. . .illegal but commonplace in Guatemala.  We talked with Carlos in the shop, got the needed papers, and actually tried to open an account at a bank in Chimal.  We had NO luck with this, and decided we needed lunch, so we went to (where else) Campero's. 

Hector, Jessica's brother, seems to have fallen in love with Dick.  His dad died about a year ago, and it seemed he really enjoyed getting attention from a guy.  It didn't seem like Dick minded too much either.  Blanca, Jessica's sister, is a beautiful young woman, who absolutely adores her little sister and helps care for her.  These were two of the most well behaved kids I've ever eaten lunch with.  I'm sure that the chicken they had was more food than they usually have to eat in an entire day. . .and they each took a piece to save for later.  It was a good reminder of just how well off I have it, and it was a pleasure to watch them enjoy their meal.

After lunch, we went back to Antigua, and, thankfully, the bank there opened an account for her.  So, all things considered, it only took about 4 hours to open one bank account.  But we did it!  I was rather satisified with my ability to navigate this system without help, and feel like I'm starting to acclimate to the way things are done here.  Jessica's mom only had to help me out with understanding the bank officer one or two times.  (No, she doesn't speak English, but is very good at explaining things in a way I, or any three year old with equivalent language skills, can understand.)

Hair weaves in the Park (Oct. 16-17)

This weekend was pretty calm, especially when compared to last week.  Saturday passed very quickly, with me doing housework and paperwork.  Had wanted to get to see the kids at the orphanage, but time just got away.  I continue to be amazed at how much time is required just to take care of the things required in daily life.  I would SOOOOO much rather be with the kids, but I guess I still live in the real world.

Sunday, after church, I ate lunch with Dick and the kids at Camperos.  I continue to be amazed at how willing the kids are to let an old gringa tag along with them.  While we were waiting for Dick to move the car, the kids and I watched a street mime entertaining right outside the restaurant.  While not the most impressive performance I've ever see, it was fun to watch how he engaged the audience.

On the way to Hermano Pedro after lunch, the kids wanted to get woven yarn braided into their hair, so we spent some time in Central park. I was a bit surprised at these macho boys wanting a "hair weave" but they seemed to have fun.  A bonus was that it was a woman from our church to was doing the weaving.

Today I  spent time just holding and playing with the kids.  They love to do "trabajo" (work) but sometimes I feel so busy shuffling activities that I don't feel like I have much meaningful contact with them personally.  Today was good for my soul!

On the way back to the car, the boys dared us (Dick and me) to get "hair weaves" also.  Dick couldn't resist the challenge and decided to get two put in is beard!  Not to be outdone, I did get one in my hair.  If you ask me, Dick looked like he had two worms crawling out of his mouth, but the kids seemed to have fun and that's what counts. 

In all, it was a good weekend that passed way too fast (don't they all?)!