Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movin' on to Antigua

So now I'm WAY behind. The hotel wi-fi in Antigua was not working for me so couldn't get much done on my computer....that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. Sat. morning we were all packed up and ready for travel. Sharon and Dwight met us at the hotel to show us the video of our trip. It always amazes me that they can gather all our activities together and get a DVD made before we leave. We loaded up the van and off to Antigua we headed. Once checked in to Hotel Bucaros it was time for lunch. A favorite spot is Frieda's for margaritas and yummy Mexican food. Still a few touchy tummy's but all managed to eat lunch. Then we did a little tour of the village which is a UNISCO world heritage site and the original capital of the Spanish empire. It is a colonial village with beautifully colored exteriors and lovely hidden gardens behind the stucco walls. Antigua is a cruise ship excursion since it's only a couple hrs. from the Pacific, so many have seen Antigua w/o seeing the rest of Guatemala. So many wonderful things to see in Guatemala that you really should put it on your list of places to visit. I'd be happy to have you on one of our Grace of Guatemala Voluntourism trips or just help you with your travel arrangements to do a trip on your own. Then it was time for a siesta and to start to indulge in the chocolate we bought at Chocolalala. A Frenchman who knows how to do the most wonderful things with Guate. chocolate. Of course a little more shopping happened along the way too. I called my friend Susie who is now living in Antigua and invited her to join us for dinner as she knew several of the group from previous trips. We had dinner at another favorite place ..La Fonda...where they make the most amazing chicken rice soup. I can't go to Antigua w/o having it. During dinner there was a procession on the street in front of the restaurant similar to the one last yr. Not sure what the event was but the float carrying the body of Christ in a glass coffin was carried on shoulders not driven. I have no idea how many people it took to carry it but it was such a long float I couldn't get it all in one shot. After dinner we were 8 tuckered out peeps so off to bed early especially since six have to catch a 5:30 AM shuttle to the airport.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day of the Dead

I'm a little behind as I usually am towards the end of the trip. I'm pooped..what can I say. On friday we went to the kite festival in Sumpango which is part of the celebration of Day of the Dead. It is so amazing to see the kites up close. They are very intricate and colorful and made totally of colored tissues paper. The paper is then mounted on bamboo poles. My guess would be that there were a couple thousand people there before it was all over with. They always start flying the kites later in the day so we can't stay for all of it but we got to see several kites flown of the smaller size. I would say about 5-6 ft. across. Actually the first kite they flew earlier was a political statement..anti abortion. You know you have been coming to Guatemala for a while when you just walk in the gate and see 4 different people you know. The world is getting smaller all the time. I was glad I got a picture of the Peacock kite before the wind started to tear it form it's poles. I have no idea how many meters some of them are but you can see from the pictures the comparison of the size of the people and the size of the kites. We were able to see some of them being unfolded and mounted to the poles then lifted up into place. It was like a finely orchestrated dance. Since it is a 2 hr. drive each way, by the time we got back to Pana, everyone was pretty tired out. We have had a few sick and it seems as if they got a bug and just passed it around. It doesn't seem to last too long just a bit miserable for about 24 hrs. so Sandy decided to stay at the hotel and relax and the boys stayed behind to get caught up on there company business. The kite festival is certainly amazing and an event to take in if you have the opportunity but I have now seen it twice so I think I am good for another 20 yrs.

Friday, November 1, 2013

There are no pictures for day 5 since it is a free day so everyone got to do their own thing. Amanda and Angela went zip lining, Jay sat by the pool and did work stuff, Dave and Mike went to visit more of Dave's families and Sandy and Melissa were having some tummy issues so they kept a low profile. Sandy and Melissa were able to come to my place to help eat left overs and then back to the hotel to rest. I rested and picked up some jewelry I had made that was ready. Not very much excitement but much needed rest was had. Day 6 will be Dia De Los Muertes...day of the dead...kite festival.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day four and it's off to El Barronco to visit sponsored students. We were picked up at the hotel and transported to MF office to collect food that is being donated to the families we will visit. Dave and Mike stayed at the office to make up food baskets for some other families and then went to visit Dave's sponsored students that are not in EB. The rest of us proceeded to EB Where we went to the preschool first and Amanda brought the balloons she forgot on Monday. It just happened it was recess time so the kids were having a great time playing with the balloons. Then our first home visit was to Amanda"s student, Sonia, who is in preschool. It turns out that the mom is in Solola with another of her children getting their end of yr. school grades so we visit w/ the grandmother a bit, drop off the donations and will return after our other visits. Next is Angela's little boy,who's name has left me right now. He is the brother of Norma, who is my friend Joy's sponsored student. He's a bit shy at first but then warms up to the whole idea of this strange woman who has come to visit him. This is Angela's virgin trip so on Mon. when we visited the preschool she decided she would like to sponsor a student like her best friend Amanda, so this made it the first time for her and him to meet. This was the first time I had met the father and he was so happy to have the help to get his children an education. Many of these parents did not have the opportunity to get an education but they understand how important it is for their children. We had a good visit and found out what the the most important needs for the family were before we were off to the next home. Food is always the most important and then this family need a repair on their mud brick home because of a recent earth quake that left a big crack in the wall. Next was Jay's little girl who he met last yr. Two other children in this home are sponsored by friends of mine and so many improvements have been made with this collective effort. Electricity has been installed and a new bathroom with a flushing toilet has been built. Again this is the first time I met the father since these men are out trying to earn a living which in most cases means about $2-$5 dollars a day and they can't be at home when we are there. Jay brought gifts for each of the kids and the big hit was a tub of Legos. Between the kids and MF staff members LEGO building was happening while we visited with the mom and dad. It always warms my heart to see little Brenda Liticia peer up at Jay who is a teddy bear of a man. They look so cute together. We then were able to return to Amanda's family where Amanda and her family and friend had collected and donated clothing for every member of this large family including the grandparents. She had also made a photo album for them from her previous visit last yr. and she added two photos of her family. Photos are always a huge hit since they can't afford them and in some cases they don't even very often see themselves in a mirror. Amanda's parents sponsor the oldest boy and he was very exited to see pictures of his new sponsors. And the highlight was when Amanda was able to tell them she had raised the money to have their very leaky roof repaired. The mother was in tears and couldn't stop hugging Amanda. By then we were all in tears. Our last visit was to one of our poorer families, which in a country of such poverty is saying a lot. Sandy and her friend Kendal co-sponsored a girl in the EB preschool and now Sandy's daughter, Melissa, is sponsoring her sister. We walk through more corn fields than you can imagine to get to this families home. They live in a mud brick home and as he is able the father is making more mud bricks so he can eventually add another room. There are about 5 kids that sleep in one bed and the parents and infant sleep in another. Food was given and gifts of jackets and sweaters were given to each family member. They were so pleased with this since it can get quite chilly up in EB at night. After a long and tiring day we retuned to Pana for a rest before happy hour and dinner. W dined at Jose Penguinos for the tradition Pepion dish and Miguel, who is the owner, tells of the traditions of his people. Our friends Joy, Gladys, Kristie and Eleana joined us for dinner. It is always so enjoyable and humorous especially when everyone gets to try to make tortillas. More than a couple hit the floor!! Amanda must have been practicing this past yr. because after dropping hers 4 times last yr she won the tortilla making contest this yr. After a full day and a full tummy it was time for bed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 3 and it's a launcha (boat) to San Juan La Laguna. The day was beautiful...sun was out..and the sky was blue. After coffee at El Dorado I met the group at the hotel along with two of MF staff and our friend Stephanie who actually knew where to get the boat we were looking for. It was so nice to be on the lake again and with perfect weather.San Juan is a village of women"s co-ops and I have a couple of favorites. I had arranged ahead of time with Francesca, one of the ladies who runs one of the co-ops, to demonstrate the process that is used to achieve such beautiful textiles. They produce their own dyes from natural sources and then dye the cotton and wrap it around an apparatus that then creates a loop at each end that is then placed on a rod at both ends. One end is tied to a pole...or tree or any place they can put a hook...and then the other end is attached to a strap that they slip around their backside which makes them part of the loom...this is called back strap weaving and most all Mayan women's clothing with the exception of the cortes (skirts) are done by this method. From dying to completed product can take at least 3 days. With these fair trade co-ops the women who produce the product receive 90% of the sale and the other 10% goes to the running of the store. Then the shopping began! We worked our way up the hill and saw many beautiful things. We then arrived at the restaurant Artesano for a wine and cheese experience. I had heard of this place but had never been...I think it will continue to be on the agenda from here on out. It was a wonderful experience. As we returned to the boat a few other items were purchased and then it was another relaxing ride back across the lake to Pana in time to rest up before the party at my home. As usual Mathilda cooked a magnificent meal for us. I always invite my local friends so we ended up with about 26 people. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After raining hard all night I wasn't sure what to expect for the first full day of activities with the group but it turned out to be a very good day. MF picked us up at the hotel along with all the donations everyone had brought with them so we could take them to the office and sort them. All donations are appreciated and all will be used however in El Barranco (EB) the girls still wear traditional clothing so we don't take them western clothing. On tue. MF delivers food to each of the 7 MF preschools so part of the group went on the food run so they could see 2 of the other preschools on the way to EB. They went to San Jorge and Tierra Linda before arriving at EB. The rest of us stopped in Solola to drop off Jay, Dave and Mike at the back doctor since both Dave and Jay were suffering from back issues. It must have worked because they both seemed better for the rest of the day even before the beer and wine started to flow. When we arrived in EB there was a truck blocking the road. It was being loaded with the carrots that had just been harvested and bagged. The men were strapping them on their backs and carrying them to the truck and up the steps into the truck to off load them. These people may be small but even the women can put a full grown American man to shame. Once we were able to move on we arrived at the preschool just as the kids were getting ready to do some of their songs as a great way to learn Spanish. Most of these children grow up in homes where they speak only Kachiquel and when they attend public school it is only in Spanish. You can tell they love doing this because they have lots of hand motions that go along with it. Sara, the MF volunteer coordinator got right in there and sang and did all the hand motions too. The kids loved it. The older students performed traditional dancing for us. Since several of my group have been on this trip before and have sponsored students, their sponsored students came to sit with them and receive lots of hugs. My heart swelled as some of the children who I have known for several years and are sponsored by friends would look up and recognize me and give a big grin or the little ones who came to sit on my lap or just come for hugs. I love these kids so much I can't describe the feeling I get when I see them. These are a very shy and reserved people so to have the kids know me well enough to come up and hug me means so much to me. If you are a sponsor and have not come to meet your student or have but not for a long time I can tell you that they ask about you. They love to meet their sponsors and to have them come visit. They often ask me if their sponsor is coming to visit them. So know that if you have visited but it has been a long time they miss you and if you haven't visited they want very much to know you. Then it was time to relax on the veranda of the hotel for a bit before dinner. Poor young Mike was getting advise from the women in the group of what not to say to a girl. It was pretty funny and of course at 10yrs. of age he couldn't understand why you should ask her age or talk about her weight or ask if she is pregnant....he will never be the same I'm afraid. Our friends Stephanie and Michael joined us for dinner at El Bistro since they also know several of the group from previous visits. It was a good day!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The group arrived yesterday Oct.27. Sandy and Melissa were already at the airport cafe when I got there. There is no concept of "fill'er up" in Guatemala so on the 2 hr. 45 min. drive from Pana to Guate City my driver stopped twice for gas. About an hour later Jay, Dave and Dave's son Mike arrived. We then proceeded to load all of their giant bags and Rubbermaid tubs filled with lots of goodies for families in need....and what I mean by we, I mean they and I tried to supervise but men here have a hard time taking direction from a woman. Needless to say they had to eventually put the tubs on top of the van just as I had said to begin with. That is why I ordered the van with the roof rack to begin with. Then it was off to the Hotel Barcelo to pick up Amanda and Angela who arrived the day before. Again a lot of bag shuffling but finally we were on the road for the 2hr. and 45min. ride back up to Panajachel (Pana). We tried to drop the tubs off at Mayan Families(MF) office but the road was closed for repair so it all got unloaded at the hotel. Got everyone checked in and we all received a welcome cocktail which we enjoyed on the veranda of the hotel overlooking the pool and beautiful garden. Once we had a bit of relaxation off we went to hit the ATM for local money know as Quetzels (Q's). Then a walk to my place for for a glass of wine until it was time to go to Sharon and Dwight's home for a welcome dinner. This is a good way for everyone to get a little oriented to Pana. After dinner they got to meet some of the dogs and cats that have been rescued from the street. One was a sweet puppy who had two broken front legs in casts and Amanda decided this puppy should be her Christmas present. The rain had decided to set in so MF returned us in their vehicles. It rained hard most of the night so I am hoping it got it out of it"s system. The sun is now coming up and I can see some breaks in the clouds!!! Today we will visit El Barranco where we concentrate most of our efforts in trying to improve living condition for the Mayan living there. It is where most of the 70 plus children that have been sponsored in school by the members of my groups live. It's always a fun day.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Today I climbed a mountain and my legs are still quivering.
I visited Ronaldo's new home in Santa Catarina Palopo....well actually high above the village. It was straight up and even after 3 asthma meds I though my lungs would collapse and my legs wouldn't take another step. I don't think in my whole life I have ever climbed that far straight up or that high. The view from the top is a million dollar view but the price to get there is too much for me to ever do it again!! It is the land the mother, Erminia, inherited from her father. I can't imagine what it was like for the construction people and the family to carry up all those concrete blocks, bags of cement,re-bar, tin sheeting and all the other things it takes to build a house on a mountain w/o the help of big equipment. It is all manual labor here.
It is hard to tell from the picture how far up we are from the lake but trust me it is far. They still do not have electricity or water hooked up or a proper toilet. That will be the next step to raise money for. Hope all my Portland friends are eager to buy some beautiful handmade Guatemalan jewelry and textiles. In thanks for the new home the family presented me w/ a most beautiful guipil (traditional blouse)that was backstrap woven and hand embroidered by the two older girls, a faja ( belt) woven and embroidered by Erminia and a small table covering. It is overwhelming when you are presented with these gifts that take months to make and they could have sold them to have money for food. I am very blessed. Then it was time to walk back down that mountain.I thought my legs were going to give out on me because of the toll it takes on the front of your thighs going straight down. It is now about 4 hrs. later and my legs are still quivering. All in all a very gratifying day. Thank you so much to those who contributed to help build this house. Now lets hope and pray I can walk again by the time the group gets here Sunday.

Monday, October 14, 2013

This entry is a long time coming. I broke my wrist on the last trip and writing was too painful. The trip was wonderful but hectic with such a large group and so many sponsored children to see and a house to build. But all has been accomplished and a new group is about to start a their own adventure. Small group this trip and several have been before so should be a piece of cake after last Feb....that is as long as I can stay upright and not injure myself. I leave tomorrow for Guate and am very overdue for my fix of Guatemala and all my friends there. They have already planned a birthday party for me when I arrive. With all they deal with I can't even believe that can remember my birthday. Let the party begin!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 4 Wed. Feb. 2013

It really is time for a bit of down time but it won't be today. More home visits and a fiesta. The hotel I booked this time seems to be a big hit with everyone so I am very happy about that. You never know when you are going into a new place. It certainly is a lovely space and the rooms are the largest I have seen in Guatemala. Today some stayed in Pana to get some much needed shopping done and poor Kay is still working via the internet so she takes every opportunity to get that done. A part of the group were up early and on the truck at 7:30 AM to return to EB and spend the day doing manual labor. Apparently 88 yr. old Larry is running circles around everyone. He and his son, Jim, have hooked up the electrical lines and got juice to the house so they now are able to use some power tools. Michelle, Amanda, Charlette, Jessica and Laurin have been hauling, shoveling, lifting and toting for the most part. We have some tough broads here. Also apparently Jessica and Laurin are now apprentice brick layers...or cement block in this case. The house unfortunately will not be finished while we are here but should be in another couple of weeks. The mom that is receiving this home of her own, is often in tears from being overwhelmed at the generosity of her new found friends. The three ladies that sponsor her four boys in school are making sure she has everything she needs to set up a home. The rest of us went up to EB at 9...well at least that was the plan but today was a very important holiday for the Mayan ( and if I was better at this I would remember the name of it) so there were parades and lots of traffic to get through and I needed to go to the grocery to get lunches for everyone...so about 10:30 we headed out of town. Just to clarify the reason we have been taking our lunch fixings up to EB is we are very far from and grocery stores or restaurants. Again there were four home visits splint into two teams. I just hate it when I can't go to all of them so I pick the ones that either I haven't been to or at least haven't been to in a long time or if there are other issues or problems that the family is having so I know what is going on as best I can. I think I'm just plain nosey. The first visit was Brian's family who he has clearly adopted as his own. He brought, from the states, clothes, toys,beautiful sweaters his mother knitted for the kids and other household items and then shopped here for some cleaning supplies for the family. A side note...the mom is 8 mo. pregnant with #3. This family have embraced Brian as another family member. The father, through tears, said he didn't have a father growing up and so Brian is like having a father now and he felt so blessed for Brian's generosity since he himself can not provide his own children with these wonderful gifts. These two men stood in a long embrace with both of them sobbing. Joy comes to both the giver and the receiver. Our second family is one I haven't been to in a couple of yrs. They had some damage from the earthquake last Nov. so I wanted to see that. Sherry sponsors two of the girls and I think this family may have something like 10 members. She brought each family member either clothes or toys and even dad got a new shirt and shoes. She even brought food for the dogs since they just have to try and find scrapes wherever they can. Sherry may be robbing a convenience store soon but she is planning to help with repairs on the house which may entail building a new structure. They live in an adobe brick home and the earthquake put a crack in one wall. Exhausted once again we got back to Pana to clean up and get ready for the fiesta at my home. Anyone who has been privileged to have had Mathilda's cooking before doesn't like to miss an opportunity to have it again. Mathilda caters the parties for me and my Maria takes care of all the cleanup. This is the only way to have a party!!! Wish I could afford this in the states. Now for a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 3 Tues. Feb. 2013

Another day in El Barranco and most of us are sun burnt by now but still have a great time. We split up into two groups and the worker bees went to the building site and those who were scheduled for home visits, which are being spread out over the week, got to meet their families at there homes. On todays visits there were four, Laurie and Ari who had not met there sponsored students until this week so I tagged along with them. Joy and James, who is visiting his sisters sponsored student, did their home visits with Elizabeth from MF and we had Laura with us. Again it is so overwhelming when a family who has nothing, presents you with a gift for helping their child receive an education. This is a village of weavers and so often the gift will be a hand woven piece. One of the mother's who knows me from me coming to their village so often and her other son is sponsored by someone from a previous group of mine, gave me a piece of cloth she had woven and I'm not even the sponsor. I have to say that the sponsors are so often so generous to the families bringing them clothes,food, toys and many other items to help the families and yet I know they feel as I do, that their lives are more blessed by being able to be a part of these humble families. I always feel I get a great deal more out of it than I give. speaking of giving it happen to be the birthday of Laurie's sponsored boy so she brought him a birthday cake and he was so happy. After the visits we had lunch at the construction site and some of us went back to Panajachel and the troopers stayed and worked on the house. Apparently Lauin is a master cement mixer. I hope someone else has pictures. The children here live a very hard life because they must help the family in order to survive so it was so much fun to see them having such a great time with Grace and Shannon running and playing. In Pana we had one more home visit. Sherry sponsors 3 ancianos (elderly) so that they receive food and medical help. They are in their 70's and 80"s. The oldest was born mentally challenged and he is an example of how good it is to life a life of no stress. He has no concept of any worries and so he looks the youngest of all of them. We could take a lesson from that. The other brother was injured on the job and has been bedridden ever sense. Their sister also lives there and it is her daughter that looks after them. She does an amazing job of it too because the bedridden one has no bed sores at all. They were so excited to see us. Now it was time for showers and relaxation which included really good Mojitos and Mexican food.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Manday was a long, exhausting but rewarding day. We were picked up at the hotel and taken to MF offices to sort through the donations to be taken to El Barranco. All were loaded onto pickups and up the mountain we went. As always the best views are from the back of a pickup. Everything was unloaded then we went to see the house that is being built because of a generous donation by Michelle. It is right by the property where the family has been living. The boys sponsors, Amanda, Charlette and Michelle brought them more gifts than they have ever seen in their lives. I think they were a bit overwhelmed. It was so touching when Amanda presented the mom a photo album she had made for her of their families. All were in tears. We then did one more home visit. Jorge whom Michelle sponsors and two of his many siblings, Maura and Joquin, who are twins, are sponsored by Laurin who happens to be Michelle's daughter. Again many gifts were brought for the family. The part that touches us all so much is the generosity of a peoples who are so poor. Hand woven scarves and beaded jewelry. Things that could have been sold for income are given with much love. Grace and Shannon who are the two young teens on the trip brought balloons and a pump so they could make balloon hats for the kids. They were very busy because the kids loved them and lined up to receive one. The children of EB performed their traditional dancing which is always a treat. The the long lines were formed in hopes of receiving a new pair of shoes or article of clothing. Then we packed up and back on the pickups to return to Pana. Showers were on the agenda for everyone and then several of us had dinner at Pinquinos where they entertain you and teach you about the culture. Everyone had a great time but our beds were calling.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sun. Feb.17. Arrival Day

There is a reason I always say.."this is not a trip for "A" type personalities. First all two weeks after reserving a coaster bus...somewhere between and van and a bus....the owner calls to let us know he has already revered it for someone else that day so we only had one other option and that was to hire two vans in order to fit 18 people in. One of those picks me up for our 3 hr ride to the city. We arrive safe and sound at the airport a little before the first group to arrive at 11:30 AM. So much fun seeing so many familiar faces retuning to Guatemala. The majority of this group are those who have been here with me before. Maybe that says I'm getting better at not offending people...we can only hope. Once we have gathered everyone from the airport and loaded all their donations..which requires a pickup along with the 2 vans... we head to Hotel Barcelo to gather those who arrived a day and some two days earlier. I have divided the group so that I have the majority of the newbies in my van. A couple minutes after we are on the road the driver gets a call from the other van...there is a problem. I have to call Sharon of MF to translate to me what is going on. We turn around and go to the gas station where the other van had stopped to get more gas, since it wouldn't have made since to do that while they waited over 2 hrs. for everyone to arrive, and it turns out after much discussion and translation they have put gasoline in a diesel tank. Just like Oregon you don't pump your own gas here so it was not the drivers fault. Thank heavens Sharon had Eric, who was driving the MF pickup, come be with us. Eric is a driver for MF and I know him well and even though we speak different languages we can communicate. He understands just enough English and I understand just enough Spanish, then you throw in a few hand signal and we are good to go. Tanks are drained, filters are cleaned..all of this with much discussion....the problem is taken care of. So two hrs. later we are on the road again. Thank you Laurin to have the sense to use your time wisely at the hotel to go buy beer for everyone to have on the road trip. We needed it for our wait at the station. We get to the hotel in Panajachel none the worse for wear, unload and get checked in, which no matter how much advanced planning is still always total chaos. The hotel had a tray of Mojitos waiting for us and by this time I had to have two of them. Two MF pickups came to pick us up for the ride to Sharon and Dwight's home for a lovely welcome dinner. Zoe, who is Sharon and Dwight's oldest daughter, had invited one of my sponsored students, Belsar, to have dinner with us. What a treat. Everyone got returned to the hotel and I went home for some much needed sleep. Monday we will hit the ground running.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The wind started kicking up last evening and it has not stopped. However the sky is nice and clear this morning and my view of the 3 volcanoes is fantastic as ever. It has been overcast most days because they apparently are burning sugarcane on the coast. I hope all my lamina is still on my roof though since it has been rattling like crazy all night. Wind is common at this time of year and is often referred to as the "windy season". I will be off to the city in a couple of hours to gather the gang. Some came in two days ago and toured Guatemala City yesterday, which can I just say I have never done. Hope they have good pictures. Some came in yesterday and napped (Sherry, Laurie and Ari)! We have an agreement with a beautiful hotel near the airport so when anyone has to arrive before the start date we reserve rooms at the Barcelo. It is a 3 hr. drive to the city and should obviously be 3 back....but do you have any idea how long it can take for 18 plus people to take a pit stop?? The herding of cats begins. Since so many of this group have been with me here before I can pretty much already imagine the dynamics and it should be a wild ride through this week. There is going to be late wild nights and early mornings and energy gone amuck. Because Michelle, who is returning for her second trip, has raised the money we are building our first home. The house has already been started because it would be impossible to complete one in 4 or 5 days and we really want to see it pretty much done so we can have a welcome celebration of sorts for the sweet single mom of 5 wee ones. Her husband was found dead about a yr. and a half ago about two weeks after a couple of us had met him. We don't know the cause of death but now here she was with an infant girl and 4 boys and no home of her own and an income of maybe a dollar a day if that. They were and have been living with her in-laws and since the grandfather would not make a will out to the boys like he promised, so they could inherit the property, there was no guarantee they would let her continue to live there and we felt it very important for them to have a place to call there own. While I was here in Oct. we found a piece of land ( well actually Mayan Families found it) and Michelle quickly sent the money so we could purchase it. This land is deeded in all of their names....mom,4 boys and daughter. The mom doesn't have much in her life to smile about but she sure was when she was given the deed to her very own land. If you were wondering how we chose this family to build a home for it is because Michelle sponsors two of the four boys. Amanda and Charlette sponsor the other two and I am so happy they can all be here for this project. They have all been doing wonderful things for this family...buying beds and closets and a stove and clothes and sending money for food besides seeing to it they are getting an education which is pretty much there only chance to change their life of extreme poverty. There are some people in this life who touch your heart in a special way. This mom, for some reason, has always touched mine even when her very sweet husband was still alive. I am humbled and blessed to be a part of this project and bringing a bit of peace to a life which is a struggle none of us could fathom. Time to make the donuts...have to shower and get going. Good thing I got some good sleep last night since it will most likely be the last for a week. Side note...writing is NOT my gift so be patient with me as I struggle to keep you posted on our adventure.