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Thoughts about 2014 Guatemala Mission Trip – Part 6 – Wednesday & Thursday

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If Tuesday of this week was described by the word “concrete” then Wednesday could well be describe by the word “holes.”

After finishing the floor at the kitchen at Nueva Victoria we moved on to begin work on a playground at the school in Las Canoas Baja. This school has over 325 elementary students with fifteen teachers. When we arrived at the school they called a student assembly outside in the cement plaza. The principal introduced all the students and had each of us introduce ourselves. This has been the pattern everywhere we have been this week. There have been formal introductions and welcome rituals. It is heart warming to be welcomed with such joy and enthusiasm!

We spent most of Wednesday afternoon digging post holes in preparation for the construction of a wooden playground structure – slide, swings and jungle gym. As per usual, by the end of the day we were tired and dirty but we did get a lot of holes dug.

I spent most of the morning in a truck with Dave Burns who, along with Tom Heaton, is one of the primary forces behind Mission Guatemala. We spent the morning getting a small cement mixer to the our companion work site (yes, they got a small electric mixer making us a little jealous) and picking up a truck full of lumber to be used for the playground equipment. After we arrived back at Las Canoas Baja our team unloaded the lumber and moved it to a second story room at the school where it would be stored until we needed it.

On Wednesday night we had an evening shopping in Panajachel and then a nice dinner at a restaurant where we enjoyed great food but also some wonderful cultural entertainment. The entertainment was provided by the owner of the restaurant and his family. His three daughters played marimbas with renditions of traditional Guatemalan tunes. We had a hands on course in tortilla making which included a tortilla making contest. Then the owner shared some history of Guatemala along with some stories about faith and traditions in Guatemalan culture. It was an entertaining and satisfying evening.

On Thursday morning we began with a little adventure by walking across a suspension footbridge that crosses a beautiful ravine. It was absolutely gorgeous.

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In the morning we finished digging holes and then began constructing our first section of playground equipment. It was in the construction of this equipment that we encountered a developing world problem. Although we had a nice power drill at some point someone had lost the chuck key which allows you to tighten the drill bit. In America replacing this would require a five minute trip to the hardware store for a part that would cost a couple of dollars. However, we weren’t near a hardware store and even if we were it is not likely that their meager inventory would include what we needed. So a job that could have taken a lot less time and had a lot less frustration was stifled because of the lack of a chuck key.

We were able to set the first section of the playground which involved mixing more concrete. It was gratifying to see some visible progress and we look forward to tomorrow’s work. We have a constant parade of onlookers from the children at the school and several of our younger team members have enjoyed playing schoolyard games with them. A particular favorite is “The Hokey Pokey” which one of our team knew in Spanish. It is a joy to watch!

There are many details I am sure that I am omitting but suffice it to say that we continue to find God’s presence manifest wherever we go and have found the people of Guatemala to be warm and welcoming.

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