Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thank you to the Compton Family Foundation for enabling us to build a home this month in Guatemala.  Your generosity and support has made the difference for the Pol Family and they were very appreciative of the gift of a home.

The Pol family is a very needy family in Parramos. Their home is made of cornstalk and tin roof. When it is rains the water comes inside their home.  The family has affronted many challenges as recently their daughter of two years old died tragically and the family is still grieving.  We know that the home will bring them hope. Maria (mom) is a homemaker and Damaris (5) is in preschool at the School of Hope. 

Our week with the family working together to build the house was a wonderful bonding experience.  

Thank you to Brian Jones for putting this video together.

GS Mission Team

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Saturday April 13, 2019

Greenbank-Seagrave Mission Team

Saturday April 13

Stan, Rod and Brian went on a hike of a lifetime. With their guide, Kevin, they hiked up the active Volcano Pacaya. After purchasing walking sticks the 3 amigos began hiking the 3 km trail. The first 500 metres were the hardest part of the trek. The horses followed close behind just in case they wanted to trade their walking sticks in for a horse ride up. Our young guide, Kevin, set a brisk pace up the volcano. 

It was hard to regulate their breathing in the high altitude. One step in front of the other, mind over matter, focusing on the breath. They were determined to keep their walking sticks. After a number stops to stay hydrated they finally reached their destination. The views were absolutely spectacular. They crossed a cool section of Lava flow, that was created 10 months ago, to get to sections that were so hot that they roasted (a few) marshmallows on the lava. Then a stop at the lava store, 2300 meters above sea level, where local artisans sell jewellery they create from lava and vegetation covered by lava flow.  It was a remarkable experience!  27, 000+ steps on the Fitbit!

Krista had a quiet down day and caught up on some much needed rest at the Hotel and was kind enough to pack the team bags of bags so that we would be ready to go for our 3am departure tomorrow.

The rest of the team chose to do a tour of small towns around Antigua.  We followed the “falda” (skirt) of Volcan de Agua and visited many towns, each unique in their own way.  We learned that the Water Volcano got its name several hundred years ago when an earthquake broke apart the crater at the top of the volcano releasing all of the water held inside of it. It wiped out entire towns, and the capital of Guatemala was relocated as a result of it.  It was eerie walking the streets and being in what would have been the direct path of the flood.  

We visited a few different churches in Antigua, and each although different were preparing for Holy Week festivities.  Some with carpets and vegetable offerings, most with large purple banners and music blaring. One church had a tree that was planted by an early church leader in the late 1500s.  

One church that was massive, was the first church center in Antigua, the “bishop” was a little crazy with some of his antics…some believe the stories have been altered over time, and some believe the stories to be true.  He did much good in Antigua at a time that was precarious with the Spanish infiltrating the indigenous peoples.  He erected a hospital that is still used today and doctors from all over the world come to, to offer free medical care to those who are in need.  Back in day he would walk the streets of town ringing a bell, teaching Jesus’ word and recruiting help and those to serve through his church.  Some believed he was a Saint.  From here we went to an active Monastery and learned deeper history around Guatemala regarding slavery, racism, Spanish invasion, earthquakes and devastation that has shaped the Guatemala we see today.
We visited a chocolate factory, had samples of hot chocolate and dark chocolate from 45%-100%.  What a fascinating process to make organic and delicious and healthy chocolates.  We then visited a local winery…which was a backyard of a local family in San Juan.  He offered tastes of his pear and cherry wine…which were very strong!  We walked some more through the village before heading to a more traditional village of indigenous peoples.  We toured another church here, were re-routed because there was a funeral happening.  They closed the street and placed all of the extra chairs on the road for people to sit for the service.  We found our way to an indigenous market, where they were selling their vegetables, used clothing and other necessity items.  We noticed lots of garbage here, unfinished construction projects and extreme poverty.  This is a town that could definitely use some support. 

 From here we went to another village, that was much cleaner, women were sweeping the streets.  In the church the youth were preparing for the procession and decorating the float that they will be carrying.  In this town there was a market, an indigenous woman’s market.  They were weaving, and making the items that they were selling. We spent a good amount of time here, interacting with the women, dressing in their traditional clothing, and shopping for treasures for our friends and family back home.  The women were so pleasant and kind to share and show their wares.  We also visited a Jade Museum…where they showed us how it is mined, what minerals are included to give it different colors – did you know pure jade is actually white?  They discovered a new Jade following an earthquake in Guatemala in 1998– a Lavender Jade!  It is rare and very expensive!  We toured the shop where they shape and carve and create the jewellery, and then some of the team did some shopping. 

 From there we headed up the hill to the lookout over Guatemala where the big cross is. It is a stunning view here and we were able to see/find our hotel from way up there!  Our final stop (at 3) was for lunch at a little eatery in Antigua called Puerto Once (door 11).  We were filled with nachos, french fries, burgers and paninis.  Krista joined us here and then some went for a walk through the local markets while others headed back to pack and clean up.  Carmen prepared our final dinner (pasta – but everyone was still full from lunch – we ate again anyway!) and we presented her with a bag of gifts that will be useful for her and her family.  Another emotional moment saying goodbye.  Linda brought a cake for dessert for the team from a local bakery.  It was delicious with glazed fruits and shaved chocolate on top.  A lovely celebration!

To end the day, many from the team went for a night walk through Antigua, back through the markets, to the Merced Church, to the main Central Square (and another church), and then over to Santa Domingo (an old monastery ruins that has been well preserved and converted to a restaurant and hotel).  The city is bustling as they prepare more sawdust carpets for the parades happening tomorrow.

We returned by 9:30, exhausted…and with 14000+ steps on the Fitbit for this touring group!  We chatted briefly and packed…bed by 10:30 as we have a 3am pick up to depart Guatemala.

It was a busy and full day but a great end to an amazing week!

GS Mission Team

Friday, April 12, 2019

Greenbank-Seagrave Mission Team

Friday April 11, 2019

We were up with the birds again today.  It was hot and humid off the start.  Carmen had breakfast ready for us at 7:30.  The house has a dinner bell, so the team has been taking turns ringing the bell letting each other know it is chow time! She served us beans, fried eggs and fried plantain with fresh papaya and watermelon.

Today was set to be a busy and full day…more so than all the others.  We have much to complete on our last day of work here.  

The Science Fair finished up today with a workshop on Structures for the Grade 2 class and the Grade 3's studied rocks and minerals. Cathy and Judy  were able to keep the students engaged while learning about foundations, framework and a how to support a roof. This session culminated  with a very creative Lego Build! Since Guatemala is in Volcanic area, the rocks and minerals program was a hit. The students learned about the rocks found in their area along with
pumice.....which really floats in water!!. Did you know the mineral graphite was found in your pencil?...the students were fascinated by this. They expressed excitement with discovering the shiny crystals in the granite and diorite. Several of the students seemed to love the feel of the smooth stones against their cheek. All in all a great morning at the Science Fair. The science seed has been planted. All of the teachers and the principal were thrilled to have these experiments presented and left for future work.

Stan, Rod, Stephanie, Krista and Brian finished the final touch ups of painting the “build a home” using teal paint. With Stan’s height we were able to finish under the roof. It was quite a task as the painters had to suck in their guts to squeeze behind home to finish the painting. By the end of the task the team were speckled in teal paint, which they proudly wore as their badge of honour. 

Kelly, Doug, Juli and Dianne started the morning assembling the food hampers for distribution to the families later in the day. They contained rice, sugar, 2 pasta, protein powder, chicken stock, oil and Raman noodles.  We assembled 63 bags. Once the bags were completed the team  wrapped school books in the assigned colour code for the class lessons. It was a very productive morning at the School of Hope. 

Our team along with Jhoseline and Linda Coughlin (the Founder of Loving Arms) gathered at the Build-A-Home site to dedicate and bless the new home at 11:30.  Stephanie and Judy showed Mom how to make the bed with sheets, pillow cases and quilts, as this is an entirely new experience for them. They were also presented clothing, shoes and toiletries for everyone in the family. Linda thanked our team for our dedication and hard work to making the house build a success and also expressed gratitude to the Ron and Nancy Compton Family Foundation for their generous financial support that made this project possible. Juli set an intention of use for the home and offered a prayer to bless the home to be happy, healthy and safe for all those who dwell there.  The team acknowledged that all of our work was made possible through God and how blessed we have been to have support from our friends in Canada. It was an emotional exchange, especially Mom and Grandma spoke to the group and offered thanks and blessings to the team.  They explained that they work hard as a close knit family to help and support each other, but the men don’t make enough money to build homes like the one they received this week.  The Grandma was so full of gratitude for the gift for her daughter.  We were chatting about how their words were so kind, but their body language and their faces spoke more than their words.  There was a vulnerability, humbleness and timidness in their eyes and expressions that really spoke to our hearts.

Back at the School of Hope, the team met for a presentation from the chiildren.  Each grade of students from the School of Hope prepared a presentation to us.  They included traditional dance, stories and short plays. The team and the teachers performed a song with the bells for all of the children – and we all had fun doing it.  Afterwards, each of the teachers had the opportunity to speak to us.  The expressed how grateful they were to our team for bringing new lessons, teaching techniques and supplies to the school.  They were especially grateful for Brian's English lessons and Cathy's Science instruction.

We were treated to a traditional Guatemalan lunch on the second story balcony. Both Linda and Alicia joined us for our last lunch at the school. Lunch consisted of a broth soup to which we added big chunks of chicken including the bones, potatoes, carrots, chayote (which is a delicious vegetable similar to potatoes) squash and rice. We enjoyed cake for dessert.  Alicia entertained us with several of her parenting anecdotes.

The ladies and some men came to the School of Hope with their children for a Woman’s Workshop. The interpreter was Alejandra. Stephanie introduced the team members that were present, lead the call to worship and Dianne lead in prayer.  The message focused on how Jesus reveals the love of God for all people and how we are all created in the image of God/image of love. This was centered on the story of the anointing of Jesus by the woman. Stephanie gave her message in a monologue. We sang Santo Santo Santo in Spanish which many sang along with.  After the message Cathy demonstrated the bracelet craft which tied the circle of the bracelet to the circle of love.  The guests that gathered all enjoyed creating the bracelet and proudly worn them home. 

Food Hamper Distribution to the sponsored families took place after Stephanie’s Women Workshop message.  Each family was called forward to receive their monthly bag of food. Those of us handing out the food hampers to the families held back tears as some men and women signed their name with a thumb print, unable to read or write.  Each sponsored family also received a hygiene kit from the team. 
Doug, Cathy and Rod set up tables outside at the front of the school for clothes distribution. They unpacked 2 hockey bags and a large tote of donated shoes, socks, hats, belts, dresses, shirts and sweaters. The shoes and socks were paired up. The hats were stacked and the rest of the clothes were folded. Everything was placed on the table so that the families could "shop" for 2 items to take home. By the end of the day the table was bare and all left with some well needed items.

During the Women’s Workshop, Stan and Kelly entertained all the kids at the playground and playing with some of the sports equipment that we will leave behind for the school.  The kids always enjoy Stan’s antics!

At the end of the day, we said our goodbyes to Jhoseline and Alejandra with a few tears and expressions of thanks.  We piled in the van to head back to Antigua.  Once home, we quickly went for a walk to the Iglesia de La Merced…where a festival and Lent Procession have the roads closed here.  The church was decorated spectacularly with vegetables, fruits and flowers.  It was quite a sight, and it appears that there are 10s of thousands of people who have come to partake in the festivities.  We enjoyed a brisk walk through the markets and streets, arriving home to Carmen’s fine cooking for 6:20 – she served ham, (Guatemalan) small squash and rice with a beautiful sauce.

 We have spent the evening debriefing an emotional day.  It takes time to process the things we see and experience, so we are sensitive to each other’s needs as we find a place to put our feelings.  It is amazing how closely connected we can become to those we work with in such a short time.  We truly become family, not only with each other but also with the families and children that we are working with.  Many are journaling, chatting and going through pictures tonight reminiscing over the week.  We are so blessed to be here and have this experience.  

Tomorrow is a free day for us.  So we will be adventure seeking.  Stay tuned for our wind up!

Love to all back home, 
 GS Mission Team

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Greenbank-Seagrave Mission Team

Thursday April 11, 2019

Breakfast at 7:30 again.  Carmen had pancakes and fruit ready for us…and coffee.  We had an 8am departure for our busy day ahead.  The weather is beautiful and muggy this morning – perfect for outdoor activities!

We arrived at The School of Hope ready to hit the ground running.  Today’s format was a little different – we were at the school for their entire morning class rotation.  We held 5 stations for the 5 classes, and each station was roughly an hour. The teachers rotated with the children to learn new activities and teaching resources that we were offering.

In the morning Brian with Stan’s assistance led the English classes. This time with the other teachers and principals rotating in to observe the children engaged in the lessons. Through songs, poems, movement and chants the children were immersed in rich language. Stan helped them with creating sentences from their word banks. Students enjoyed saying their newly created English sentences to Stan and Brian. The grade three students  learned another two notes on their recorder. Stan noticed an “ah ha” moment when the students started to recognize a familiar tune with only four recorder notes.  The grade two and one students continued to learn notes for their hand bells while learning a corresponding English song with new vocabulary emphasizing syllables, rhyming words, punctuation, pronouns, tenses and little words inside bigger words.  The pre-school and kindergarten students recapped their new phrases from previous days.  It is a busy morning for teachers from 8:30-1:00 to keep the students engaged and focused on rich tasks. The goal is to instill a love for learning. Education is their ticket to the future. 

Today's Science Fair was attended by Preschool, Kindergarten and Grade 1 students.  Cathy designed age appropriate experiments for each group.  Preschool worked on investigating the magic of colour.  The Kindergarten Students played with Kitchen Chemistry which involved experimenting with yeast, blowing up balloons with vinegar and baking soda and playing with a non-Newtonian fluid. The Grade 1's had the opportunity to investigate the water cycle and power the power of water.  Science is not a topic offered in schools in Guatemala, and for all of the children, and even some of the teachers and interpreters, this was their first taste of the magic of science.  Their little faces delighted in seeing the effects of their experiments - sometimes squealing with excitement. The morning was organized chaos and completely magical. In the afternoon, Cathy prepared each individual experiment to leave with the School. This enables the teachers to continue teaching a few aspects of science for years to come.

The covered balcony overlooking the front of the School of Hope was a fabulous location for Judy's craft classes this morning! The students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 were eager to learn how to make friendship bracelets and excited to see them take form. The Kindergarten teacher commented on what a great learning project this was for her students! 

Rod, Doug, Kelly, Dianne and Juli all helped organize games and soccer with the students of the School of Hope this morning.  Doug, Kelly and Rod played soccer with the kids as they rotated through the stations of activities.  Rod played goal and made some impressive saves.  Kelly split his difference while in goal. Dianne set up a relay race, an obstacle course and tic tac toe. Juli gave the kids a crash course in yoga. All in all another fun morning with the kids.

The team high-fived the children and handed each a goody bag on their way to the school bus at the end of their school day at 1pm.  They had smiles, hugs and happy voices as they said their good-byes for the day.

While all the organized chaos was happening around the school, Stephanie ran a concurrent Barbering Workshop with three women (Marisol and Monica and Monica) who returned today to finish their barber training. The focus was on learning how to cut long hair. A total of six children received haircuts  today. Two teachers were able to squeeze in haircuts between classes as the women in training watched Stephanie and learned. The children who received the haircuts were so patient and well behaved. Thanks to the generosity of Whal Canada, Laurie-Anne Richardson, and Kathleen Potts the School of Hope and two women are equipped to build upon the new skills learned this week. 

We were all starving by lunch at 1pm – exhausted, sweaty and ready for a siesta…but no rest for the weary.  We had a quick lunch of fruit, sandwiches, fresh guacamole and chips.  We ate on the balcony with stunning views of the mountains. We then headed to the afternoon projects.

On our last official day of the Build-A-Home project, Doug, Dianne, Stephanie and Krista headed to the build site in the afternoon to finish up.  When they got to the home, Miguel, the labourer (and the son of Carmen, our cook/cleaner) had completed the roof and windows in the morning and the crew set to work on completing hanging the door, installing the trim and painting the exterior.   At one point, a hinge went missing.  The whole crew with the exception of Doug was stuck in the house as the door was only half installed and the hinge was required to open it again.  As everyone else looked frantically inside the house for the missing hinge, Doug played marbles with some of the children.  Coming back to check the progress he asked if they needed the hinge inside.  Oh, but they did.  In the meantime, Stephanie climbed through the window to continue making progress on the paint outside. As they worked, a faint noise could be heard over and over next door.  Stephanie peeked over the fence to see that it was the next door women removing dried kernels of corn from cobs, to grind into maize (corn flour).  With the exception of the last colour (teal), the house painting was completed.  The rest to be applied in the morning.  Before they left, Krista noticed that another neighbours roof had a loose tin panel.  Every breeze folded the panel over, opening the roof.  Krista used the ladder and climbed up, hammering several new nails in to hold it in place for a while longer.

Brian led an education professional development session with 15 teachers representing five schools. All the teachers and principals appreciated the strategies and activities that moved the group through inclusion, influence, and community. Brian’s Tribes instructional strategies allowed the participants to see the benefit of working together to learn from each other. “No one is as smart as all of us”. Using “collaborative professionalism” the teachers saw benefit of learning together. The Guatemalan teachers were impressed to learn the research behind collaborative cooperative learning. The workshop was completely translated into Spanish thanks to Dan Ingram from Ontario, a friend of Brian’s and on the spot translation by Carlos, Brian’s teaching partner here in Guatemala. The workshop moved the teachers through instructional strategies that focused student engagement, cooperative learning and student voice. Many of their current lessons focus on rote memory with teacher directed lessons. They learned about multiple intelligences of their students and metacognition strategies through the TRIBES' process. They loved their new learnings and could hardly wait to weave curriculum content into their newly learned strategies.  These teachers are highly valued and are making a difference in the lives of the Guatemalan children. Brian is always pleasantly surprised to see how exciting it is for the teachers to receive their very own personal hygiene kit: tooth paste, shampoo, tooth bush, comb, face cloth, hand lotion, soap, Q-Tips, and band aids and classroom supplies.  
Overall, it was an extremely successful afternoon. After the workshop each participant received a certificate of completion and enjoyed refreshments that were provided by the host school. All the attending teachers had a mobile cell number that works in various Internet cafes in the city. Brian decided to put them all on the “What’s Up” App to create an online community of learners. This made Brian’s day! 

Kelly and Rod spent the afternoon in the shade, scraping, washing and painting the wrought iron bars on the windows of the school.  It wasn’t a hard job, but it gave the entrance of the school a fresh look and the windows are now ready for the rainy season that starts any day now. After a sweaty morning playing soccer and games, both men were nursing a sore bodies, so they were thankful for the shade!

Juli spent the afternoon with 3 women from yesterday in the sewing co-op.  They were all ready to continue on with their drawstring backpacks.  There was little conversation today, as they were focused and enjoying “playing” with the machines.  We gave them the freedom to create new patterns…and they amazed us with placing pockets on them using their traditional weave of fabrics.  They lined them and paid attention to details…and they were so happy and proud of their finished products!  Each woman completed 2 backpacks by the end of the day. Marisol, Rosa, and Gladys were so grateful for their time at the Sewing Co-op and the opportunity to learn and make practical items for their home use.  It was a happy and sad goodbye as we have been working with these women all week in one way or another.  They all asked to come back “manana” and wanted to know when we were returning to teach them more.  Their eagerness was an awesome display of their gratitude.

We landed back in Antigua around 5:20 – and half of the team went off to the market for a quick tour, and the other half of the team got cleaned up and ready for dinner.  Many of the team sang “Happy Birthday” to Adrianna all the way from the streets of Antigua, Guatemala.  Carmen made chicken and vegetables for us for dinner – it was in a delicious authentic sauce that only Carmen could make.  We spent the evening chatting, blogging, reminiscing over our work this week. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day in the field…the week has flown by.  The rice, beans and guacamole is catching up with most of us, so as a team we have decided that the one word that sums up the day is “shart”.

Thanks for reading again today, and we look forward to sharing more stories tomorrow.

Buenos Noches, 

GS Mission Team

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Wednesday April 10

Greenbank-Seagrave Mission Team

Wednesday April 10, 2019

Breakfast was at 7:30 again this morning – it was a beautiful morning to sit on the porch and have coffee.  Cereal, fruit and the last remnants of peanut butter were on the menu.  We shared our morning devotional (we do this every morning at breakfast) and were ready to hit the road by 8am.  We are falling nicely into a routine now.

Enrique took us to The School of Hope to drop off Brian and Stephanie who were working together to teach the English Classes with Carlosusing songs and poems to build upon their English vocabulary. Their songs of choice included:

*If you are happy and you know it
*Old MacDonald
*He’s got the whole world in his hands
*No more Monkeys jumping in the bed.
*Head Shoulders knees and toes.
*Hokey Pokey

Grade 3 and Grade 2 students were eager and did very well creating sentences from their word banks. They were able to add a couple more words to their banks today.  Regardless of their cultural background, there are some things primary students share. “A love for learning in a fun and active way.”

The grade Threes were introduced to the recorder today and it was amazing to see their eyes almost pop out of their heads when they were able to make their first musical note G. Thanks to Cindy Sutch and her granddaughters Ava and Aubrey who donated 33 recorders for The School of Hope.

The grade one and two students continue to make progress with the hand bells. (Thanks to Air Canada for donating the hand bells). Teacher Carlos shared that he loves working with the children and that Brian’s coaching this week has been invaluable to him and has given him strategies to teach the children. Stephanie applauds Brian for working with the children all week. She is exhausted, but a good exhaustion. 

Paraxaj School Visit
The rest of the team made its way to Paraxaj…a remote Indiginous farming village of about 40 families.  There are only 31 children at this school that is built into the side of a mountain. It is a spectacular drive out there as we see their crops, meticulously planted into the mountain, beautifully rowed and hand tilled earth.  Row upon row, and there are no weeds.  It must be back breaking work for them.

The children were eager to greet us, racing up with big hugs and excitement in their voices.  The school has just one teacher, and she is the Principal too.  She welcomed the team and we began our activity stations.  Today we had Science, Crafts and Game stations. 

The students were up to the challenge of building structures with Lego, blocks, sticks and foam triangles. Teamwork and an enormous supply of materials, allowed the students to build solid structures over 3 feet high!  The wind added an additional challenge forcing the students to strengthen their structures. In the end the wind won. A fabulous day of fun learning was had by all!

Krista led the craft group with the kids this morning.  Many of the children took to it immediately and it was a pleasant surprise that a group of three, 13 year old boys set to finishing their bracelets quickly, working while the other boys played soccer - and each completed a bracelet for their mother.

Rod, Kelly and Dianne lead the games this morning.  They had a smaller group of students in the rotations today but that did not diminish the enthusiasm as they joined our station.  The parachute was the first activity which they loved as usual and then they moved to skipping ropes and sidewalk chalk. Tic-tac-toe was a game they knew and created with chalk and Rod drew the hop scotch grid and later added candy to the game. They tossed a candy in a square which meant they could not jump in it as they passed along the grid. They picked up the candy on the return jump which they got to keep and eat! This became a very popular game needless to say. We ended with adding soccer, frisbee and Velcro ball toss to finish the morning. Fun was had as always for the students and our team. 

Once the children had all been through the stations, they had the lunch that was prepared by a few moms in the community.  It was rice with milk and protein powder wrapped in a corn husk.  They ate on the ground under peach trees in the shade.

 After the kids had their lunch, they resumed soccer and games, and small groups were invited in to “shop” for one item each and a hat.  The kids could pick from a pair of shoes (we have limited selection left) or a sweater/clothing item.  And then each got a baseball hat of their choice.  Once all of the children came through we brought the girls back in privately to give each a pair of underwear.  We then invited the moms and the teacher in to choose a few items for themselves and their families.  Everyone was excited to receive something, and it was kind of cool with a small group that they were able to choose what they liked.  One boy tried a Hurley Sweater on three times, but he also found a pair of women’s running shoes that fit him.  He was only allowed one item today (because of our limited supplies and we wanted to be fair), he went back and forth with his decision, but in the end the shoes won out.  He was happy with his choice, but we wonder if it was a decision between want and need.

We presented the teacher/principal with a suitcase of school supplies and soccer balls and jerseys.  She was excited to have jerseys for their gym class as theirs are old and worn and too small for the older students.  She explained that the government doesn’t provide enough resources for the children, and she doesn’t make enough money to buy them herself for the children, so they often go with-out writing utensils and supplies for the classroom.  She was overjoyed to see crayons, pencils, scissors and glue!  Juli applauded her dedication to the students, as their behaviour was so respectful and courteous to the team.  She is a great leader for the school and the community and in recognizing her work, she had tears in her eyes.  It dawned on the team, that working solo in a remote village she likely doesn’t receive positive reinforcement or encouragement all that often.  It was a moment.

Most of the team rode in the back of the pick up truck back to The School of hope for lunch.  Monica made us guacamole, fresh tortillas, boiled vegetables, chicken salad, cake and cookies.  We dined on the balcony again and regrouped for the busy afternoon ahead.

Dianne, Rod, Brian, Kelly, and Judy headed to the Build a Home site with Miguel and Carlos. Today’s project was to erect the walls on the cement pad that was poured on Saturday. We lifted 14 panels into place, drilled the studs and connected the panels with bolts. Two panels contained windows and one panel contained the door. Then we secured the sill plate to the cement pad with nails. Brian involved a local teenager, Juilo who was watching the action. Once Brian gave him a pair of work gloves and an RP Oil hat he was part of the crew. We could have used a sharper drill bit but we made it work. With a 2 ft machete we were able to make adjustments fit. The onlookers enjoyed candy. Kelly provides toys for the kids.  Miguel called “manana” and we packed and left the work site.  

Juli and Stephanie had the pleasure of teaching the sewing project of making draw string backpacks to five women from different villages today.  It was obvious that one of the women was new to the craft. After a few removed stitches and re-dos she completed her very first sewing project. All the women are eager to come back and make more backpacks tomorrow. Monica, the cook at the School of Hope joined in and completed one for herself. Juli somehow managed to step on a straight pin...The love and appreciation of the women as they leave is so heart-warming and rewarding. With this new skill they will be able to create beautiful backpacks with their traditional material and sell them or make them for their families as a practical bag for coming to and from the market.

Stan and Krista travelled into Parramos to complete the work on both stoves, and provide the families with their care hampers. The first family had strong family ties and were excited and grateful for their stove.  The father spoke some minor English and was very thankful to us.  The second family was a large family.  When Stan and Krista arrived, only 3 young children were home.  The older siblings and parents were out working.  They painted the stove and left a care package, as well as some extra goodies for the kids and sadly left, knowing the children were alone - but that is life in Guatemala.

Cathy and Doug spent the afternoon preparing for tomorrow’s Science Fair at the School of Hope.

Enrique made a quick stop at the grocery store on the way to Antigua…the team has run out of peanut butter!  Carmen had our laundry cleaned and set out for us and she also had dinner ready for us at 6.  She really is a remarkable woman!  Dinner tonight was lasagna, corn on the cob, salad, rice and beans.  It was a full and hearty meal!  We have spent the evening blogging, sharing stories and reminiscing over pictures from the day.  Thanks for reading and we will check in with you tomorrow.

Hasta Manana!

GS Mission Team