(This mission to Guatemala which includes a number of people from Chebeague including Joan Robinson, Dennis Johnson, Elaine Clarke, Eldon Mayer, Tina Runge, and Carole and Ron Metz)

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January 28 - Linda's facebook: Karen and I just said our goodbyes to team one. I feel choked up about leaving them. It has been a spectacular week! We are now on our way in a pick up truck with Tomas to Chichi. Team two is safely in Guatemala and also headed on their bus to Chichi. Folks - we now have 31 missionaries in Guatemala!! The boat ride was amazing! I have my hair wrapped in Guatemala style. Maybe I'll have Karen take a pic and post it for you: ). I have found several houses I could live in. The people here have a piece of my heart. Prayers please for both teams as they transition each in their own ways. Love from Guatemala.

It is a beautiful day in Panajachel. The team is off to the "hills" for zip lining and other nature activities. I have stayed behind to enjoy the lake and it's beauty, to renew my energy, to refresh my spirit. What better place than here.

I am up early this morning anticipating the day. It is a free day for the team to relax and have some fun before the journey home and back to their normal daily activities. Team 2 left their homes at 3am for the journey down. I feel restless as I lay in bed and listen to the roosters crowing and the sounds of people and traffic moving about outside. This has been a wonderful week and I pray for another Spirit filled week to come.

Today there will be zip lining and nature walking and a butterfly garden. I am planning for a boat trip across lake Atitlan to one of the volcanos. Water is the place of rest and renewal for me and i need that as i look to spend another week in this beautiful country. We will all be doing what our hearts draw us toward. Then early this afternoon Karen and I will slip out and head back to Chichi where we will wait for the next team to arrive. It will be hard to say our goodbyes. We have become so close and it feels like we are leaving the nest.

But God has been good to us and with God's help this next week will be a week of blessings. Blessings for Karen and I as we work with a second team. Blessings for team 2 as they experience the beauty of the people here. Blessings for team one as they arrive home to share their stories and pictures and many many purchases. Blessing for you my friends as you experience this county and the people through the team members and through my continued posts.
Love to you this morning.

Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2012 6:25 PM

Guatemala Mission Trip Friday
After leaving the hotel, we got a special treat on our trip to the mission – some of us rode for a few miles on top of the bus as some of the locals will do on the “chicken buses”. An experience we won't forget. Our final day at the mission was one we knew was coming, a time to finish what we could of the projects we had started and the coming goodbyes. By now the children were very familiar with us and couldn't wait to have their recess time and come out and play on the swings, be held or take pictures. One of the amazing things that has happened this week was how the children learned to use cameras. Can you imagine handing your camera over for a kindergartener to use? That is what happened at Salud Y Pas this week and their was true joy on the part of the children to take a picture and see it on the screen. It is amazing to think that God's love was shared with a digital camera. Some of them didn't even turn out too bad! It was one more way the team gave of themselves unreservedly.
We said our goodbyes to the staff and some of the people that we had worked with during the week. These people touched us with their hard work, dedication and humility. Eric guided almost everyone on the team at one point or another in the building of the shed. He was hired for the week to come to the mission and assist in the project. We learned of his wife and 2 children (and saw pictures) that were back at his home 2 hours away. He taught us Spanish, we taught him some English and tried unsuccessfully to communicate about snow and frozen lakes. We gave him safety glasses to protect his eyes, something that he had never had, some gloves and a Frisbee for his children. Our team was blessed with big hearts, and one member even gave him a pair of shoes because Eric's were falling apart. God's love in action.
After heartfelt goodbyes, we made the trip to Panajachel for the evening. After dinner, our worship service included having Juan tell us his story of why, after growing up in Guatemala and then moving to the United States, he returned to his native country. It was a story that moved us all and demonstrates how God moves through us if we accept the call and in doing so blesses others.

Tomorrow will be a day for us to unwind a little with time to explore the local market, visit a nature preserve, go zip lining or simply take in the beauty of the three volcanoes surrounding the lake. Our thoughts are turning toward home and being again with family and friends. Most importantly though, we look forward to sharing with everyone the incredible blessing that we have had of getting to know the people of Guatemala

So as I lay here flipping through my pictures, I want to share the classroom Karen and I had the joy to spend an hour in yesterday morning. They are first graders at the school at Salud Y Paz. Karen and I learned colors with them by coloring letters the same color as strings we had made out of pieces of crepe paper. Of course I ended up with strings of different color and somehow didn't follow the directions. We then glued the strings to the colored letters. At one point the teacher left to copy a paper and the kids serenaded us with the Abc song (in Spanish ). It was so much fun!! the children have a spirit that I have not known at home. I offer thanks to God for children everywhere.

Photos from Linda's facebook page:



From Linda Friday morning:

This morning we had the time of our life riding on the top of the bus! Climbing up and climbing down was exhilarating to say the least. Joanie Is climbing up in this picture. God continues to bless us!

From Linda Thursday evening:

Heading to bed! I am exhausted but a good exhausted. We spent the morning at the mission continuing our work. We took a half hour out during the school recess to play with the children. We played with the parachute game we brought down last year and it was a blast. Hearing the children scream with delight and just be children was so awesome. Maybe even incredible. In the afternoon we braved the market where we were met with color and people and sounds galore. The children (some the same from the mission) were selling their wares and boy were they insistent. As we reflected on the day we realized that all the children were loved by Jesus and we were to love them the same no matter where they were or what they were doing. Thank God for the love of Jesus.
It was another great day!

This team is wonderful and I have come to love each of them deeply. It will be hard for Karen and I to say goodbye in panajachel On Saturday but we are looking forward to greeting another team.

Elaine and I found a nice duplex for 10K and it has a view : ). the spirit of the people in the villages is deep and desirable. I could stay with them forever. I know I can work as an NP. And just maybe I can help the movement for women ministers!! I always am
up for a challenge.

Night all
May you rest well this night.

From Linda on Thursday:

What a wonderful day we had yesterday at the mission! A LOT of work was accomplished and we were wonderfully tired last night. We were one together with each other, with another team from Florida, with the native employees, and with the American staff - working to build to create to make beautiful all things. We are headed back for a half day at the mission and then lunch at the Methodist church and then on to experience the market, the Catholic church, and whatever else we find to explore. Know that we are well and loving every minute in this beautiful country with our beautiful brothers and sisters! We all send our love to our family and friends.

From Tim McCarty
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:23 PM
Guatemala Mission Trip
!Hola! Last year's team brought down a giant play parachute for the kids to play with. We had arranged to play with it and the children at recess time. On the trip down to the mission we blew up some small beach balls to have ready to use with the parachute, and at that point some people's inner child came out and the balls made the rounds on the bus as we pitched them around. Our work at the mission today continued much as it has for the past couple of days. Our group just dug in and knew what to do, where to go for supplies and who we were working with. Everyone seems to have gotten out of tourist mode which has given us more space to focus on our work and most importantly the meaning of our work. Once the recess bell rang, we all stopped our projects to focus on the most important reason that we were here. The parachute came out and the children took a little coaxing to try and hold onto the edges and bounce it up and down. Soon there was a crowd of laughing, shrieking and smiling kids. With the children, we learned the Spanish word for “out” trying to coax them out from under it. Even two of the teanage mothers got in on the fun and ran across under it to the delight of the children and we were able to witness a little childlike joy on their faces for a few minutes. All God's children, young and old, felt His genuine love and the young ones a sense of acceptance for who they are.

Juan Toj has been our guide and interpreter for the trip, sharing meals, bridging the language gap, providing information, becoming a friend. His official capacity is the Assistant Director at Salud Y Pas as well as a pastor, dentist and an ambassador – coming to the US regularly. Each day, his wife, Manuela and her mother have made us lunch that has included wonderful homemade soups and tortillas. She is a wonderful woman and her quiet and loving presence has touched us all. After lunch today at the church we presented her with a prayer shawl and homemade mixing utensil called a spurtle. We have also had the pleasure to get to know Juan's sons, Mark and Jason. We also left with Juan all the beautiful hand knit items and school supplies (that the team brought) for him to distribute to the village of Patulup.

All of us will be packing up tonight as tomorrow, after working at the mission in the morning, we will be leaving for Panajachel where we will stay through Saturday. One of the things that many of us prepared for was being able to leave behind clothes we don't need for the journey home. They will be collected along with money to have women at the local church launder them. After dinner tonight, we gathered for our last worship time in Chichicastenango. Every night we gather to read scripture, pray, share our reflections on the day, laugh together, sing hymns and take communion.

We see our efforts are making a change at Salud y Paz and while our team has some sore muscles and are a little tired, we are finding that our faith is strengthening.

From Linda:

We are on the road again heading back to the mission to work. Everyone's spirit is singing and all is well. Only casualties have been a few blisters on soft hands and perhaps a couple of minor sunburns. Continued prayers are comforting.

From Tim McCarty
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 10:43 PM

Guatemala Mission Trip
We arrived at the mission in high spirits to work another day. As exotic as the landscape, people, and buildings are, we are starting to get used to the ride out of the city of Chichicastenago on narrow streets, along ridge lines and down into valleys. As we have stepped out in faith to join this trip, we have had to have the same faith in our driver to get us their and back again.

Some of the projects we are working on have allowed us to combine our efforts with another mission team from Florida. The shed's walls continued to be built up today with a great deal of physical labor. There are no cement mixers, that is done by hand on the ground. Sand has to be sifted – by hand. Even wetting the cement blocks and carrying them is a physically exhausting job. The team also worked to complete the construction of 6 benches for the waiting area in the clinic and get the first coat of paint on them. Several team members got involved working in the clinic with the staff sorting medications and counting them out into dosages, moving dirt piles, painting walls – an amazing hubbub of the spirit at work.

One of the more fun activities is to play and interact with the children. At lunch the executive director and the education director (a husband & wife team who took early retirement in the United States, and are here for a long term mission commitment) both spent some time with us to talk about how the work we accomplish manifests itself with the children. The school is now well accredited and has a pre-school, kindergarten and first grade. What the mission is trying to accomplish is to teach them basic Spanish so they are able to enter the public school system. All of the children speak a dialect of Mayan, mostly Quiche. The average school level achieved for the Mayans in Guatemala is just over the third grade. For these children to even have a chance at an education, they need to master some basic information. The education director shared a story that she must have been proud of, because she shared it with us twice. She talked about how they are working with the children to learn about nutrition, as the people as a whole are malnourished and make poor food choices. They give the children meals, breakfast and lunch, and the pre-schoolers leave their broccoli on their plates, but by the time they hit first grade, it is their favorite vegetable. The foundation that they are giving these children will help them to grow up healthier and better equipped, and in the process, impact the villages they live in. Now about that play time! We are encouraged to take a break from our work when the children are on recess and simply push them on a swing or kick a ball with them. You can see from their faces and in their laughs how much this means to them. As we are all striving to learn a little Spanish, we are speaking with them and they are learning it too. The work we do builds not just sheds and benches, but bridges. Connections we are all feeling in a profound way.


From Linda:

Didnt have internet til today! Talk about withdrawal. We had a wonderful day yesterday hearing the story of a Mayan woman whose husband was killed with all the men in her village in the 1980s. Talk about having your heart ripped out. We supported the strong women of that village by buying their handmade goods. We also went to Patalup. It is the village we visited last year. What progress they are making. The money we sent last year went to constructing an addition on the school. How neat to see our gifts at work!! We are making many connections and I can't wait to share with you the stories. Today we are at the clinic painting and building concrete walls and making wooden benches. Learning new skills. Everyone is well and having a wonderful experience. Love to you all!

From Tim McCarty
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:48 PM

Guatemala Mission Trip
As has become our practice, we start the day with a sung prayer and devotional prior to breakfast. If you were to push your chair back from the table and listen and look around, you would just naturally assume that had known each other a long time, a lot longer than a few days. We have really seemed to bond as a team, God has brought us together. We headed out early for the mission at Salud Y Pas, about a 45 minute drive over the now familiar switchbacks and hairpin turns. There was true excitement at the three suitcases and a bag full of medical supplies when they were delivered. The staff gave us a brief orientation and tour of the medical clinic and school classrooms. The medical clinic's rooms are multi-purpose and can be configured depending on what types of medical teams are in that week or what the specific needs are, a very efficient system. We were struck by the excellent quality and dedication of the teachers at the school; their lessons include basic hygiene in addition to academics.
Our team was dispersed in a number of directions to tackle various needs throughout the facility. Our tasks were mostly outside and we helped lay concrete block for a sort of shed, this also included setting up the rebar into shapes for reinforcement, sifting sand and mixing it into mortar, there was construction of benches, painting of a wall, playing with the children, the list goes on. Our work was made meaningful because the time we took yesterday to understand the lives that the people live, what they struggle with and how far a little goes. Linda and Karen, our team leaders, reflected on the growth and positive changes that they have seen in the mission in the last year giving us the perspective that our work here, even for this short, will make a difference.
Back to the hotel before dark tonight, which is good as we have had long days and today's work was physically challenging. Everyone is doing well, tired, in good spirits and will be going to bed early tonight!

From Tim McCarty
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 11:33 PM
Subject: trip update

Hello all, here is the message. We are all doing well.

Guatemala Mission Trip
Immersion, diving in, being engulfed, that's what our team was about today. Our first venture out after breakfast was to village of Chantala, about 45 minutes out of Chichicastenango (where we are staying). There we visited with Maria Panto and the women that are weaving and supporting themselves. Each women is unmarried or widowed and has limited options to feed and clothe their families. We toured the community, viewed and purchased some of their work, a blessing to them as they have a difficult time getting their work to market. Maria then told us her story, of how her husband was taken and killed along with 40 other men and boys in the village as part of the governments ethnic cleansing program in the early 1980's to wipe out the indigenous Mayan people. We knew about many of the atrocities in this land, but hearing them firsthand from a person who had gone through it, was indeed soul-wrenching. She founded the community with the help of the Methodist church to provide the survivors with the basics to live. She shared about how it is God that has sustained her through all of this. She had actively sought a way to help herself and the other women heal from all they had gone through. She knew that forgiveness was important to heal. She was able to forgive, though it was very difficult. A lesson we need to carefully consider in our own lives.

We had a wonderful and simple lunch at the Methodist church in Chichicastenango of vegetable broth rich with cilantro and hand made corn tortillas filled with cheese. Our afternoon was spent getting to a remote village, Pataloupe at 9,000 feet. This involved switchbacks on the road so tight the driver had to back the bus up to reposition and make it around. The view down the side of the bus was breath-taking – or we were at least holding our collective breath for much of the trip. God was definitely in the driver's seat – or at least had his hands on the wheel with our driver, Josua – we not only made it back safely, but there wasn't a scratch on the bus! Our goal was to visit the school, church and health clinic that are a testament to faith in God, a vision of what can be and the support of many. What they have accomplished in just a few years is pretty incredible. Many of the students will walk an hour to school each day, then back home, just to receive this education. Several of the students sat with us for a special meeting and one young girl in 9th grade touched us with her passion for improvement in her life and those of the entire comunity. When asked what they wanted to do for work when they got older, they were able to identify a bigger world than growing corn and eking out a living as their ancestors. They are beginning to believe that they as a worthwhile people, not worthless as they have been told in the past.

Our expectation was to be working today and as we reflected upon our day, it was a day of accomplishment, just not in the way we expected. Our work today was witness to these brothers and sisters in Christ that view our trip to hear their stories and be in fellowship as a blessing we gave them. How much more blessed we feel.
Tomorrow will be spent mixing concrete, painting........................................

day21 day22

Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 8:49 AM

Our group got a few hours of sleep after a very late arrival into Antigua, 3 am EST. It is Sunday, market day, and after a breakfast, we spent a half hour looking over some of the crafts and items for sale, and they really want you to buy. We spent the rest of the day riding on a bus from Antigua to ChiChicastenango. Imagine 5 hours of driving up and down Cadillac Mountain, constant curves, switchbacks, grades we had never seen on a road before, with people walking along the side of the road, carts, and other vehicles passing while lined by businesses and homes. That was our exciting journey. We got into town in time to change and head out to the United Methodist Church for worship with our brothers and sisters. The pastor did a wonderful job in giving the sermon in both Spanish and English. The passage that was preached on was Luke 9:57-62. What a powerful message for the team to hear, about following Jesus, without delay. Our team all have stories of obeying the call to join this trip and the message resonated loudly in our ears. We made an offering in the service by singing Sanctuary in Spanish, the congregation clapped for us at the conclusion, we weren't sure if it was was for the effort or because it was over – we all admitted it couldn't have sounded too good. After the service we visited with the congregation and we all felt a warm welcome. It is amazing how much you can communicate without really speaking the language, we were all touched. One of the areas that the mission works in is to empower the people to raise their standard of living and they are teaching the women to sew. The church opened their shop specially for us, the work was beautiful and in making some purchases, we support these women directly.

Everyone has heard you can't drink the tap water. So we use bottled water for not only drinking, but even brushing our teeth. If we make a mistake, like even having our mouth open in the shower, we will end up with severe cramps, fever and diarrhea until we can be treated. The people of Guatemala suffer with these symptoms on a daily basis as they can't get uncontaminated water. We are learning the value of clean water firsthand, it is easy to take for granted when we have a wonderful clean source like Sebago Lake for all our needs, a blessing we can't take for granted.

On Monday, we are off to visit a womens cooperative, another way to empower women and families, and then up more into mountains to bring supplies to some remote villages.

January 22, Received 12:31 EST

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Hi all. We have had a spectacular morning in Antigua – breakfast and market time. We are now headed for Chichicastenango on our bus with Juan our host. Everyone is well and enjoying all that God is offering us.

Love from us all!