This week is the first of 3 weeks of camp and I am finding that there are simply not enough hours in each day to spend time on my journal. I will do my best to do a bit of writhing when I find the time but since I am already 4 days behind don’t expect much more than just a few highlights.
A good part of my weekend was spent running back and forth to Guatemala City picking up American volunteers that were coming in to help out at camp. At last count 15 Americans have come in during the weekend.
After church on Sunday we took the volunteers to lunch in Antigua and then to the orphanage. My first impression of these volunteers was that they were fairly intelligent people but then they blew their cover by deciding to go souvenir shopping. I told them that I had a lot of junk at home that I would gladly give them but they seemed to want to help out the Guatemalan economy by buying the junk that was in the markets. I stayed at the orphanage until they finished buying their treasures. All I can say to any of their family members that receive these trinkets when their loved ones get back to the states is, please do not try to get rid of your gifts of clothing by dropping any of them in your church mission barrel. It could end up back here in Guatemala and there is no way even the poorest Guatemalan would be caught dead wearing any of that stuff.
Monday was our first day of camp and we ended up with right around 55 campers. Most of them brought friends or family member along with them so add to that the Guatemalan camp consolers and the American volunteers and there must be over 150 people at camp.
(18 year old Tim left & 14 year old Calin right)
This morning Calin and I went to the shop and repaired Tiny Tim’s power wheelchair. Tim who is 18 years old and the size of an 18 month old baby has been with out his power chair for a few months so I decided that repairing it had to be a priority. We got it finished just before lunchtime and then brought it out to him at camp. He was one thrilled young man.
After lunch Calin and I took 3 of the Americans that are here for only a week, out to visit some families. After stopping off at the grocery store to buy them some much needed food we visited several families that were in desperate need of food. It is so much fun to see how friendly these families are becoming now that they are getting to know us. Kids that would run away and hide from us only a few short months ago are now running up to us and begging to be held. Our visits went much too fast but I wanted to get the ladies back to camp before dark.
Tomorrow should prove to be an interesting day because we are taking all of the campers to the beach. Not only do we have to load all of them onto the 3 buses that we are renting but also once we reach the ocean we have to figure out a way to get there wheelchairs across hundreds of feet of sand to the beech. Well I am getting tired just thinking about it so I am going to say, “Goodnight.”
Yours in Christ: DickWednesday, November 19, 2008, 9:31 PM
It is amazing how much difference a 6000 foot drop in elevation can make. Last night a lot of our campers had to be given extra blankets because they could not stay warm but today most of them were wishing that the temperature were a lot cooler.
None of us complained to badly though because we had the choice of two swimming pools and the Pacific ocean to cool off in. Getting our campers into the pools or down to the beach proved to be quite a chore but judging
by how happy they were it was worth all of the backaches that most of us have tonight. For most of our campers seeing the Pacific Ocean was the dream of a lifetime. This may sound strange considering some of them live only about a half hour from the ocean but many of these people seldom get more than a mile or two from where they live.
This Photo was sent to Pastor Bill, Chris, and myself by our not so good X-friend Mat.Thursday, November 20, 2008, 9:53 PM
After stopping off at the shop to program a few power wheelchairs I headed over to camp to pick up two of the volunteers that came in from New York to help out at camp this week. Since neither of them have ever been in Guatemala before I thought that they would enjoy coming along with me to see a few families that live down near the coast. On our way out of town we picked up Calin and Caesar so that we would have an interpreter. Actually Calin was the one that was going to interpret for us. Caesar’s English is no better than my Spanish so he simply came along for the ride. Our first stop was at the home of Milton’s family. I have been promising him a wheelchair for quite some time but up until now could not find anything that would work for him.
Even though he is doing a lot better than he was doing a few months ago when we admitted him into the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro he still remains very stiff and cannot bend into a seated position. When we got to his home his mother told us that his sister had taken him for a walk. I was happy to see that Milton’s whole family seems to be taking an interest in him now. Every one but Milton was thrilled with the wheelchair that we brought him. Actually I don’t think that he minded his new wheelchair it was getting near me that he hated. Ever since I took him and his mother into the Hermano Pedro Milton associates me as being the one that was responsible for his two month stay away from his family, in the malnutrition ward, so now every time he sees me he starts to cry. Mother promised me though that once we left she would put him back into his wheelchair and push him around in it.
Next we went to the home of Gabriel and his family. Gabriel is a four year old that has spinal bifida. About a year ago I gave him a wheelchair that Ronny had outgrown. On my lat visit I had discovered that his family had some how lost a special cushion that I had made for his back. Today we made a new one and Gabriel’s family promised to secure it firmly to his wheelchair.
Our next stop was at Ronny’s home. Our two people from New York were overwhelmed by the friendliness of this family. The rest of our day went by much to fast because even though some of the members of our crew had just met this family they had indeed bonded to them. Not only did we visit with Ronny’s family but most of them went along with us to fist their aunt and uncle and their grandmother who we have also been able to provide with new homes. We could have easily walked there from Ronny’s house but some of the fields along the way have just been worked up so there was no way that Ronny could make it there in his wheelchair. Besides that his brothers and sisters love riding in my car. Today Ronny’s little brother Arlando did the steering.
Ronny’s aunt and her children were a bit shy at first but proudly showed us the new prefabricated house that Howard and Saul had put up for them last week. It is nothing fancy but to them it is a castle. It has a cement floor in it that is high enough off from the ground that this family of nine should no longer be knee deep in water every time it rains.
Grandmother who lives only a hundred feet further up the trail is equally as happy with the house that she has been in for a little over a year now. I don’t know weather or not my friends from the USA were prepared for the hugs that grandma gave to all of us but bruised ribs heal. It is hard to believe that this is the same lady that snapped at me telling me that she did not want a house when I first presented the idea to her a little over a year ago. That day she told me that she had been promised things all of her life and she was not about to believe that some one was going to come in and build her a house for free. Less then two weeks later I watched as her as she raised her hands towards heaven and thanked God for the new home that she was standing in. We had planned on making this our last visit of the day until Ronny’s mom told us about a five year old girl that needed a wheelchair. Soon we were all on our way down the dirt road to visit her and her family. Arlando quickly hopped onto my lap and proclaimed to the other kids in his family that he was designated driver for the rest of the day.
The family of the little girl that we visited with was excited to here that we were going to do our best to get her a wheelchair as quickly as possible. They were very friendly and would have liked it if we could have visited longer but we had to be back at camp by 6:00 PM.
Tonight is the final night of teen camp. I usually like to stick around and hear the speeches that the campers give as they go up to receive their certificates but I know that I had another group of kids camped out at my gate when I got home so after treating an ongoing bed sore that David, one of our camper has been fighting for over four years now, I headed for home where there were more kids. They have all headed for home now so I think that I will call it a day.
Yours in Christ: DickFriday, November 21, 2008, 10:29 PM
Today all of the teen campers headed for home for another year. This has been one of the smoothest running camps that we have ever had. Both campers and staff had a wonderful week and even though everyone was tiered no one wanted it to end. Tomorrow seven of the volunteers that are here from the USA and Canada will be heading back home but several are staying and nine others will be arriving for kid’s camp that will start on Monday. I have already been getting phone calls from some of the kids that will be attending and they are very excited. When I returned the teens to Hermano Pedro this morning all seven of the kids that will be coming from there seamed to be extremely excited as well. Mercedes was crying when I arrived at the orphanage though. She is still having a hard time understanding why Ascension got to go to this week’s camp while she had to stay home. I once again explained to her that she would be going on Monday along with Sonia, Moises and four others. Her tears suddenly turned into a large smile so I think that she is counting the days.
After visiting with the kids for about an hour I headed back to Chimaltenango to pick up the volunteers and take them to Hope Haven’s new wheelchair factory in Antigua. Mark gave us a tour of the facility and introduced us to the workers. Everyone was quite impressed with the work that is being done there.
That is when it happened. I don’t know if it was the fumes from the paint that was being used on the wheelchairs or I had misjudged the sanity of the volunteers that were here all week. I had almost forgotten about the souvenir shopping that they did last weekend because all during camp the entire group seemed fairly sane but once again today all but one of them went off the wagon and insisted on going souvenir shopping. Linda the only sane one in the bunch (besides my self of coarse) accompanied me to the orphanage while the rest of the group yielded to their shopping addictions. I made them promise to show me what they bought and tell me what they had paid when they had come back to their senses though. I told them that I needed a good laugh.
Linda and I figured that we would play and visit with a lot of the kids in the time that it would take for the rest of the teem to run out of money, but the first two kids that we picked up proved us wrong. When it was time to leave we found ourselves still holding the same two kids that we had picked up when we came in to the orphanage two and a half hours earlier. These kids have a way of doing that to you.
Well, it is getting late and I have to make several runs to the airport tomorrow, so I think that I will head off to bed.
Yours in Christ: Dick