I was looking at our last posting and I have to say we are not doing a very good job of putting down our thoughts. It was August 13 when last we posted something on our blog. Wow! So much has happened since them. I guess that is why you shouldn’t wait so long to put down one’s thoughts. Mudslides and more rain, surgery team, preschool construction, road closures, road construction, clinic construction, volunteer absence, more rain, new volunteer, plans to open a newly constructed clinic, road closures, new teams for next year, more rain, cultural stresses, language stresses, getting lost stresses, faith stretches, sunshine at last, and our home church team came to visit including our son Jon. What a long journey in such a short time.
Life goes on down here in the cool tropics when the rainy season sets in, not tropics really as the elevation keeps us quite cool and when it rains, even cold. The weather has taught us a lot about ourselves and about mold. This has been one of the worst rainy seasons in over 60 years. It started with Agatha and didn’t end until our Battle Creek friends brought us some sunshine. We almost didn’t make it to the airport to pick up our friends because of slides that wiped out 3 of 4 lanes on the road to Guate (Guatemala City). The economy in Panajachel where we live has been hit hard by the effects of the weather and the world economy. Hotels and restaurants have seen so much lost business that many have closed. People don’t have much work and the weather has affected crop yields. We are so lucky because we have an income that does not rely on the weather or others. We are so lucky and yet we struggle every day as we try and work to help others.
We try to help the economy by eating out more, just kidding but we don’t mind helping out either. Janet buys things from street vendors even if we don’t need anything. We help with those that ask for help in the street and give support to Salud y Paz when they need something, or just a general gift. Giving to support and nourish those that need it is so difficult. There are many pitfalls and people who only want a handout. Our job is to figure out how to make a difference not only now but after we leave. We hear and see many efforts that have missed the mark, gifts that go unused, or opportunities lost because the givers don’t really understand the culture or the dynamics that money can play. I used to think giving money away was an easy job, but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support huge salaries or large bureaucracies that are unable to really move much along, but somehow feel that they really do some good. Our job is not to make those same mistakes but do good on a smaller scale. Our job is to keep and grow our compassion while at the same time improve our ability to see the world where we live and want to make a difference. There is a street here in Panajachel called Santander. It is a main corridor for vendors, restaurants, and shops. Janet and I have walked that street so many times. However, every time we walk it, something has changed and we can’t find a place we just went by the day before. The vendors take down there stands and the street scape changes. Restaurants close for the day and the street scape changes. The street is the same but it looks different and because of those changes, one can get a bit disoriented. That is the way it is to live here and to try and do good works. What was there yesterday is different today. What was there yesterday wasn’t visible then but is visible now. When making our way, it is so hard to find the path because the streetscape keeps changing.
Surgery, medical, and dental teams have a major impact but so do all the other types of groups that come to visit and serve in Guatemala. The Battle Creek Chapel Hill UMC team is a good example of having an impact without being medical professionals or having some other special life saving skill to share.
They spent the week with us and not only impacted our organization, the people we serve, but more important, they impacted us. We were so moved to see our friends, meet new friends, and see our son it was such a wonderful experience. We can’t tell you how much it met to have them visit. Being here has had a lot of challenges. We miss our friends and even though we have made many new friends, we find it difficult to to be separated.
We’ll keep on trucking and keep on doing because we have so much support from so many directions. We pray that we will be effective and that we will keep our connections to those we love and to those that we work with and meet.