Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
First off, I’ve finally got some photos of my time in Guatemala on the internet. If you’d like to view them simply click the link:
…And in the local news, both of the only two shops that I regularly visit in my neighborhood have been robbed. The peluqueria (barber shop) was robbed shortly before I left to the states for Christmas. The thief apparently used a sledgehammer to break the large padlocks holding down the cage door covering the entrance. He made off with both chairs, the hair dryer, both sets of shears, a 15” tv as well as a limited supply of hair products including the ever popular “Moco de Gorilla” (Translation: Gorilla Mucus, a popular styling gel among children… and yes it is the color green.) Sadly having insurance is not the norm. The owner was closed for three days looking for replacement chairs and some new-used shears. He is currently renting chairs until he, once again, has saved up the money to purchase new hair cutting chairs (according to the internet, that’s the official term). And there is no longer a TV with bad-reception in the upper corner giving customers something to do while waiting their turn for a friendly barber to remove their slender threadlike outgrowth of the epidermis (Definition taken from Webster Dictionary). Even still, life continues and for just under three dollars you can get a professional cut with friendly service (Sorry ladies, men only for this barber).
Just this week the local internet café suffered a similar fate, losing all of its computers to an unknown entity. At a cost of 75 cents for an hour of use, the time required to recuperate lost funds will be very long indeed. The café has been closed indefinitely. Fortunately for the rest of the populace the next one lies just 3 blocks up the road.
As for the news in zone three (the zone bordering the dump, and also the zone where Potter’s House is located), there have been 2 more murders within 3 blocks of Potter’s House over the last month. The most recent was a stabbing and killing of a 17 year old girl who was apparently out late at night in the Piedra Santa Colony (just around the corner from Potter’s House). The killer and motive are (and will likely remain) unknown.
In one of my previous updates I spoke of a 3 or 4 year old girl who was kidnapped. It has now been just over two months since the kidnapping and almost all traces of her existence have faded. No longer, do signs that read, “Girl Missing” decorate rusting walls. And there were reports from an eye-witness who saw the mother whether in happiness or out of an immense sadness, celebrating and drunk on New Years eve. When the eye-witness was asked if the mother was still mourning the loss, the response was, “Why should she? She still has five healthy children, and the lost one was likely sold to an adoption agency to be given to some family in the states.”
As is quite apparent, violent crime has been on the rise ever since the end of
On a lighter note, the new school year has begun and over 200 students now attend Potter’s House’s primary school. Additionally, the computer lab has been finished and a computer teacher is able to teach children valuable computer skills that may one day allow them to find a job outside the garbage. Also, an English teacher from the states fluent in both English and Spanish has volunteered a year of her life, and so students will begin down the path towards being bilingual, giving them a leg up in the job market.
Another highlight, is that this year the education department will begin offering adults without high school degrees the opportunity to continue their own education in the comfort (or lack thereof) of their own home. By broadcasting classes over a localized frequency adults in zones 3 and 7 will be able to take the courses required to earn their high school diplomas.
As for the weather, we are officially more than half way through the summer season (roughly October through April). To mark the occasion we had an absolutely astounding display of rain. October through April is known as summer because during these months it generally does not rain (This rain was the first that I remember since November). However, the temperature is on average a little cooler, the coldest month being December reaching average lows of 54 degrees and highs of 73. The winter runs from May through September and it will generally rain daily during these months. May being the hottest with lows of 61 degrees and highs of 84 degrees.
While, during this time (right now) the clouds in the sky are scarce, clouds of dust roam the earth in abundance. Within the dump a new flying specie now competes with the vultures for domination of the skies. On windy days plastic bags of all sizes and colors float amongst the dust for all (except those who work within the dump) to enjoy. Yet the dry season has one huge advantage over the rainy season. The stench has been greatly lessened. Also, your house is much less likely to collapse due to erosion or mud slides.
And finally, on to personal news. For those of you who were praying for my grandfather, thank you for your prayers. My grandfather passed away early Christmas Morning. While the event of death is a sad one and we are all definitely sad to see him go, my grandfather lived a good and full life of 91 years. He had a loving wife and a loving family as well as a host of adoring friends. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the memorial service and to see over 300 of these friends and to hear some of them speak and to listen as others gave their talents in honor of him. He was and continues to be greatly respected and loved by all. For those of you who were praying for him, I ask that you’d redirect your prayers now towards my grandmother who has just lost her husband of over 67 years. Pray that she would find comfort and encouragement from the Lord in this time and that she would know that she still has many on this earth who love her very much.
On another note, even though I delayed by 10 months, Allstate has graciously allowed me the opportunity to work for them and I plan on starting with them late summer.
That’s all for this segment of News in
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Dear friends and family,
It’s been a while and there are many stories I could tell since my last letter.
I could tell of Maria, a 4 year old girl who was kidnapped from her family on December 1st, I could tell you that when something like this happens in zone three, that actually nothing happens, there are still children smiling and playing in the street, the newspaper continues to print stories of soccer, and only a mother with a broken heart and a child who’s life will be forever affected will note the first of December 2005 as a day forever infamous.
I could tell of the second most commonly celebrated December birthday in
I could tell you of the Christmas celebration held yesterday for 150 children from the colony called New Sunrise, made possible by a volunteer group from the States. I could tell of the excitement as many received the only tangible gift they will get this Christmas.
I could tell you of how the money came in for Lorena to buy her house in answer to prayer, thanks to some very generous people.
But it is not about these events that I wish to write today. Today I want to write about what’s been happening internally.
After a little over half a year in
Just as it is not riches that keep you up, it’s not poverty that keeps you down. Poverty can and is being overcome daily. It’s broken families, abuse (verbal, sexual, and physical), drugs and gangs that keep people unhappy and hopeless, and I refer both to the rich and to the poor. If the dream of the 20th century was a second car in every garage, then the dream of the 21st should be a second parent in every home. The first thing that costs no money is the love of others and the currency for which it is paid for is time.
I am convinced that
neither poverty (though perhaps wealth) nor lack of education
neither infirmity nor inability to read and write
need separate a child from the love of a parent.
Furthermore I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
That blessed love which came in the form of a man. The only man to hold true throughout his entire life, without sin. On the true Christmas day Christ took the first step towards what would be the most costly payment ever paid for anything in the history of the world. The death of a deity.
Through this payment the path was raised up or rather lowered sufficiently for us to be able to enter upon it. The path that leads to heaven and eternal life. Still, difficult it proves to accept, for to accept this gift one must give up trying to earn it for oneself. We must give up the façade we keep up so well primarily to protect ourselves from the reality that we cannot achieve perfection, communion with God, or much less true happiness, peace and satistfaction on our own. We need the payment of the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He paid the penalty so we don’t have to. To us the gift is free but gifts cost the giver.
While physical poverty definitely exists and is an evil to overcome, I have learned that there are many types of poverty and physical poverty is neither the most evil nor the most widespread. Giving a man a fish or even teaching him to fish will not cure him from the wound his father left when his father left. And more importantly it will not cure him of our true emptiness and the lack of a purpose in life without God.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Contrary to the Bible, and in addition to presenting my prayers and petitions to God, I have been anxious for everything, at least to know the results for these three students.
Additionally, shortly after their round of interviews, I learned that one of the staff was also applying for this scholarship. Lila is a Bilingual receptionist at Potter’s House. Her parents are both full time in the ministry and their only source of income in addition to Lila’s is tithes from their home church.
One of the women who work at Potter’s House also happens to be a past recipient of the Walton Scholarship and additionally serves on the first round interview selection committee. So I at least had some idea of how the students did after round one.
Everyone was impressed by Farley, his confidence and gunuinely heartfelt answers had brought something out in the judges and he had received a perfect 60 out of 60. Eulolia did quite well, however, most of the students applying for the scholarship had received significantly higher grades in highschool and she received a 2 out of 10 in this category making it questionable whether she would pass to the next round. Alfredo and Lila both were very nervous in the first round, Alfredo giving mostly yes or no answers, and failing to prove both his English and to adequately describe who he was to the judges.
Saturday took an eternity to arrive, 28 of the original 68 would pass to the second round and 10 of those would receive the scholarship. Saturday morning I called Gabi to learn the results. Unbelievably, all 4 had passed, Lila receiving the 28th spot and Farley the first. I was thrilled. However, first round interview scores were taken into account in the second round.
The next round interviews fell on Thursday and Friday of the following week, however the kids were gone at an English school which had been provided with free tuition for 2 weeks. They had to leave early, and arrived home Tuesday night. We practiced 8 hours on Wednesday, allowing them to practice answers for most of the likely questions. Eulolia went first of all applicants Thursday morning, Farley and Alfredo wanted to continue practicing so they came with me on a work assignment and we practiced interview questions in the car. At around 10 we received a call from the Walton committee saying they wanted to come visit Potter’s House and specifically the houses of the three applicants. I was blown away!..until I talked with Gabi and found out that the first round committee generally visits the houses of those who don’t make it to give them some assistence buying books or something to attend classes in
Friday arrived, and we learned that it had been the directors who called, not people from the first round, this had to be a good sign right? However, Eulolia and Farley had both scored in the 60’s on a grammer exam taken immediately after their interviews, 80 was the minimum allowable in order to receive the scholarship.
When Gabi spoke with the directors, she learned that there were many good applicants and the decision was a hard one. Probably not going to be made until February of 2006, until after they had seen the applicants from all the countries to decide who would actually make it. I felt like I was going to die, I hadn’t been able to sleep in anticipation.
Just try to think for a minute what this would mean. Your whole life lived within a single zone in a single city. A few hundred meeters from one of the worst places on earth. Your streets are lined with trash, drugs, and signs of death. Amazingly you’ve just finished high school, but it’s time to start contributing to the family. This opportunity is beyond ones wildest dreams, I’ve had conversations with people who dream of escaping to the states in the tire wells of airplanes, and even should they get there they don’t have money or much of a chance. To live in a different country, to get a first rate education, to have the opportunity to tell your family, “That’s it, you don’t have to live here anymore.” To be able to actually start living and saving beyond the next meal.
These were the thoughts running through my head as Gabi and I went to pick up the directors. I sat waiting for the interviews to end on a beautiful leather couch in an extremely nice hotel. I couldn’t get over the contrast.
We finally got the chance to meet the three directors who held the future of our kids in their hands. They told us the decision they had arrived at and I was finally able to breathe again. We got in the car to drive to Potter’s House where all 3 of the kids whose houses would be visited had been waiting since 2 (and Alfredo when he returned from his Interview). When they got to Potter’s House after a brief presentation by the staff. The directors told the kids the results. Contigent on receiving an 80 on the English exams which they will take in April. All 3 will have the chance to begin classes in the fall. Farley at
God is good, beyond our wildest expectations. 3 of our 4 applicants were able to receive a chance to do something they could never dream of or provide for themselves. They were told immediately, the only three in
- PRAISE for the opportunity these 3 kids have and Diligence in studying for Alfredo, Eulolia and Farley
- That they would receive at least an 80 on their English exam in April
- A woman in zone three is a single mother and she must pay off her house by the end of this month. She had the money saved, but then she hurt her leg and now she doesn’t have a penny of it left. She is a widow and after the fire in February her kids are no longer allowed to help her scavenge and she is unable to walk to the dump. Should she be unable to pay she will be evicted. She needs just Q5000 to pay for her house. (between 600-700 dollars)
- Many children are unable to go to school because they have to work all day. This week I leanred about a 5 year old who sits in a room cleaning out plastic bottles all day long. She works in the dark because her parents don’t want to use the money for electricity and she is not allowed outside to play unaccompanied because they fear for her safety.
- My grandpa’s salvation and continued health
Thank you so much for your prayers and emails
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Dear friends and family,
In the midst of it all, sometimes I wonder whether what we do is really making a difference. Crime is at an all time high, just the other week the guard who watches the dump overlook was shot. Broken families are still the norm, and there’s no shortage of passed out or drug abusing men adorning the streets. Yet just the other day I had the chance to see hope in the form of three teenagers, and what a blessing it was.
Sometimes worse than the poverty itself is the monotony. You work unbelievably long days simply to provide food to survive, and you survive it seems simply to work. When you can’t save and you don’t have extra, there’s not all that much to look forward to. When an entire lifetime is contained within 8 or 10 city blocks, even hope becomes just a dream. However this Saturday was an event that oozed purpose in a world of such seemingly meaningless wandering. While for a majority of us in the states, finishing a year of school signifies nothing more than summer break, and graduation from high school is almost a given, for many of those in the dump it’s nothing short of a miracle.
If hope is to be found anywhere here, it’s in the kids. Maybe that’s one of the reasons people have so many. Saturday was a chance to reap that hope in tangible form. Saturday was graduation. Regardless of grade completed, all students are a part of the event, and almost double that amount of supporting family members. For a brief hour or two everyone forgets the myriad of problems that exist and we just enjoy the celebration at hand, admiring the achievement for what it is.
For three very special students, this is the last graduation at Potter’s House they will ever celebrate. Farley, Eulolia and Alfredo have completed high school. They are each the first in their family to have EVER gotten this far. But they aren’t finished yet. While attending school, in their spare time, with the help of volunteers, donations, and a scholarship to a language school, they have each learned English. On Friday I had the chance to coach them on interviewing and on Saturday they interviewed in the second round applying for a full scholarship to one of 3 colleges in the
Farley is the oldest of 7, tough and confident while still reserving a smile for everyone, he’s a natural leader and while his English is the worst of the three, his answers are the best. Eulolia is both smart and beautiful, she’s extremely shy one on one but is an excellent speaker in front of crowds. She gives a wonderful speech at graduation and has already finished specialization as a bilingual secretary. Her father still works in the dump, searching for tires that still have a bit of life left in them. Alfredo is outgoing and always looking to be helpful. Recently, his father has been able to find work outside of the dump and now makes and sells piñatas. Surprisingly, and quite revealing, is the fact that all three of them live in two parent homes. And none of their fathers drink. All three of them share a common goal. To go to college in the states in order to bring back their skills and help their families and communities escape life in the dump. Eulolia puts it best when she says, “I want them to see that life is more than garbage.”
As we practice interview, it’s evident that these kids are smart. Apart from the actual content of their answers, they could be kids from any
They find out if they advance to the next round in 2 weeks. I can’t think of a time I’ve wanted anything more badly than for them to be able to have this opportunity. Should they receive the scholarship, and should they keep their grades above a 2.5GPA. They will receive four years tuition, room and board, books, 2 round trip tickets per year (Christmas and summer), health insurance, and a $125 stipend monthly. Expanding their known world from a few miles to a few thousand. Thankfully, the applicant pool is small this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Of 68 applicants only 10 will receive the scholarship. Hope is there, but it has retained its slender figure.
Prayer Updates and Requests:
Hurricane Stan: Thank you so much for the support and prayer in response to my email. While here in
As far as the dump, while the City experienced unusual amounts of rain, the dump was not closed, allowing work to continue as normal. Thanks for your prayers
Stan Hill (my grandpa): I was absolutely overwhelmed by how many people are praying. Thank you so much I continue to covet your prayers. My grandpa is doing a little better physically. So Praise God for that. He has had the opportunity presented to him to accept Christ, and now the choice is between Him and God. But please continue to pray!
Farley, Eulolia, Alfredo: Pray for wisdom for the judges, that if it be the Lord’s Will all three would be able to study in the states. Also pray for continued diligence for the three regardless of the outcome, and that if they don’t receive the scholarships that they would still have a way to attend college in
Potter’s House: Potter’s House is about to celebrate its 19th year of service. It is an amazing organization that has accomplished an unbelievable amount thanks to God and the help of volunteers. Yet we all need the continued help of our Lord. As the organization continues to grow larger and larger, pray for the leadership as they learn to delegate responsibility. Pray for wisdom in how to delegate and that they would grant the authority to carry out responsibilities given. Also pray for me, that He would give me patience in times of frustration. That I would be understanding of differences in culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but we can all use prayer.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Today seems to just be one of those days. After writing the email about Hurricane Stan this morning I spoke with my brother and learned some more bad news.
My grandfather, Stan Hill, was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure. According to the diagnosis, he has between a few days and a few years to live. My grandfather is one of greatest men I know. His entire life has been devoted to other people, to youth, to education, to those less fortunate, to his friends, to his family, and to his wife. He has had a long and full life. He is a wonderful grandfather and I both love and respect him very much.
Once again I am asking for your prayer,
Pray for relief from pain,
For comfort and encouragement for Doris (my grandmother), and for his kids,
Also, while I realize that some of you do not agree with me in my beliefs of God and Jesus as the son of God, I include the following requests out of my love for my grandpa. If I truly believe in heaven and hell, and I also believe that the only way to heaven is through the son of God, Jesus Christ, that eternity literally does lie in the balance. Then respect for your beliefs must take a second place to my love for my grandfather and hope for his future. Therefore I ask ALL of you to pray for his salvation. If anyone could save themselves by works alone, it would be my grandpa. But the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9 that: 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. So Pray: that he would realize that while he is one of the closest to perfect people I have ever met, he still has sinned and needs a savior. That he would accept Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice on the cross as payment for his sins. And Jesus’ resurrection as well as the apostles writings as proof of his forgiveness.
Thank you all once again for your time, support, and prayers
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Dear friends and Family,
I realize that writing this so soon after my last email violates my no more than once every two week rule but I figured this was important.
Guatemalan Government has just declared our status as red. After Dennis, Katrina, and Rita many of us are hurricaned out, tired of seeing the suffering on our televisions. Yet the suffering continues whether we hear about it or not.
Let me introduce you to Stan, Katrina’s little brother. This past week, Stan has claimed lives in over half of the countries of Central America including
Remember the charming little hamlet of
But what is impossible for man is possible for God and that is my primary purpose for writing. Please Pray!
Pray for the families that have lost loved ones
For those who have lost their homes and possessions
That roads would be cleared and relief would begin
For the sickness and disease that comes from stagnant water and not being able to be dry
In and around the dump people have also been affected by the hurricane. While we have not received the brunt of the storm, the uncharacteristically high amounts of rain have made living conditions miserable, for houses that already couldn’t hold out the rain the increased load have soaked and even threatened to collapse the homes of many. Increased rain has also made the terrain within the dump extremely unstable and dangerous, preventing many people from their only source of income. The government is thinking of closing down the dump during this time. While that would keep these people safe from immediate harm, it raises the question of what these 10,500 people will do for daily income and food until the dump is reopened. Finally, unusually low temperatures have added to the inability to dry out and sickness is running rampant. The leadership of Potter’s House is meeting right now to decide how they should respond in the midst of this situation.
Pray for those who have lost their homes.
Pray for those unable to work and buy food during this time.
Pray for those who are sick and cold
Pray for wisdom for Potter’s House leadership of how to respond during this time.
Thank you for your time and continued support of the people of
Dear Friends and Family,
While I spend roughly 9 hours a day in the office, a lot of time remains to experience
Case and point, I play soccer on Saturday’s at 4:30 with a family…1 family. This extended family can create an entire team out of their male family members. They pretty much fit the stereotypical Guatemalan family to a t. A few years back they moved from one of the villages in the country to the city. Not because they wanted to, but to follow the money. The father of the family has 11 brothers and sisters including himself. Five have gone to the
Last week this family invited me to their village because there was a festival and a “cuadrangular” which means a four team soccer tournament.
Well after a 5 ½ hour drive in a car where the most English anyone knew other than myself was how to count to three, we arrived. We donned our jerseys and the father gave a prep talk. Even though I only understood the half of it, I was pretty pumped to play. It was a full 90 minute game and we won 3 to zero, luckily I scored 2 goals and so they let me stay.
Back at Eleodoro’s (the father) brother’s house, we dined on this absolutely bland tasting bread, potatoes with nothing to go on them, a vegetable called ava’s which seem to be related to peas, and coffee, this meal was repeated for dinner and breakfast the next day. I actually like coffee now and have started electing it when offered. There was a bit more verity including chicken (which was excellent) and some corn (not sweet corn and not good corn) as well as some pineapple (AMAZING) for dinner. The next morning Eleodoro took me for a tour through his family’s land, we went to Eleodoro’s house (which he still owns), and went inside, it was almost straight out of a movie, I felt like a little boy following the futbol guru around. Anyways, inside the house with virtually no belongings was a dresser COVERED in trophies and medals. The bed had a man sized trophy sleeping on it. Not wanting to disturb the trophy’s slumber, we quickly exited. Outside was a honeybee farm ran wild, a few pigs, a dozen cats, a pair of dogs, a chicken tied to a board and a picturesque soccer pitch lying in the valley surrounded by the houses of Eleodoro’s brothers. The pitch only had one entrance from the south, every other side was walled by cliffs that went straight up from the pitch and one cliff on the west side that went down into these gorgeous green pastures spotted by cows, horses, and empty Gatorade bottles (yeah, even the Guatemalan country side could learn a thing or two about garbage cans and littering). Needless to say, the weekend was a magical one. We ended up winning the championship 2 to 1. The game ended in a mini-fight and everyone started running onto the field which I guess meant the game was over. On the economic side, for lunch we stopped at a little stand, my lunch of a chuchito, two tostadas and a glass of rice milk cost me about 67 cents. We splurged on dinner, fried chicken, beans rice and of course, coffee. Total cost: $1.50. I returned from my adventure, arriving back at the Riveras Thursday night with an additional trophy for Eleodoro’s room, a sack of potatoes, (those that didn’t roll all the way down the hill and off the cliff while we were harvesting them), A bruise on my right side from 5 hours in a car packed way too full of people, and a lifetime memory of San Marcos.
Life is good.
Love and Blessings
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
As we clean the refrigerator I find a half eaten hot dog. Brenda, the second oldest daughter of the Rivera family assures me that her father will eat it later.
-This country could really use a Martha Stewards, or at least a Martha Stewards without stock options- I think to myself,
Honestly, no one in this country knows how to use a refrigerator.
After we “cleaned” the fridge (more of a rearranging than anything). I didn’t think much of the experience.
Work lately has been quite transitional. I’ve finished my stint at association Vida Nueva, and while I absolutely loved it there, I’m glad I’ve got a chance to see a few other parts of what Potter’s House does.
A week out of Vida Nueva, I find myself somewhat in charge of a youth group that has ratio’s taken right out of the loan department. 11 girls and 2 guys with two couples in charge. Monday morning we arrive at Aguilar colony, one of the 16 colonies that Potter’s House is currently doing construction projects in. A steep ravine frames the small hamlet, houses jutting out of the side of the steep edges. The other side looks like it might be a magic eye. But if you stare at it long enough, you won’t see a secret image, you’ll just see a pile of garbage built up over the years. As we walk down stairs built by another group from Potter’s House earlier this year, we are met by the sounds of gun shots, oh wait no, those are just fire crackers. The typical form of celebration and greeting in this country never ceases to make me jump just a little. Aguilar community is happy to meet us, we are introduced to Alejandra, the community leader and begin to play a game to get to know each other.
We also are introduced to our week’s work project, our estrogen endowed construction crew will be hand mixing cement, building a number of sidewalks, stairways, and retaining walls.
By the end of the first day everyone is tired, and this was only a half day. Alejandra informs us that Pedro, an 18 year old we’d met that morning, is quite sick. So the 18 of us literally jam into the one room house and make a crinkly circle around the bed to pray. His aunt is extremely thankful that we’d be willing to do it.
By the third day there is a general consensus that money should be raised for a cement mixer, but already the community looks a bit different, a stairway, a retaining wall and a new walkway have all been finished. As I lug yet another bag of cement, hardly able to hold it up, Lluvia, one of the strongest women I have ever met, walks by with a bag of arena (sand) on her shoulders that weighs nearly double mine. She informs us of how much better it has been since they have the stairs now. She describes carrying all her things up and down the side of a muddy ravine in the middle of rainy season. It sounds miserable. And now, they even occasionally have people come and visit them, something that never happened when their community was so hard to reach. The annual rainy season also takes it’s toll on the houses, every year a number will collapse, hopefully the retaining walls will give the houses a chance.
The second day I find myself working with Carlos, one of the men from the community. I soon learn he’s had the fortune to be a truck driver. Earlier in my stay in Guatemala, Julio, (my boss at Vida Nueva) informed me that if you want to pick up girls in Zone three, the best job to have is garbage truck driver, that’s practically the highest rung on their corporate ladder.
Carlos works incredibly hard, helping mix and throw cement, I learn about his family, all his children. Later I learn he’s younger than me and I want to throw up. But instead I smile and we decide to play futball (soccer) that Friday.
Everyone who has a chance comes to help us with the cement project, the children, the old, even a woman who’s 7 months pregnant picks up a shovel and starts mixing.
The girls from the youth group I’m with do a great job and somehow we manage to finish all the retaining walls by the end of the last day. They’ve also brought a number of suitcases of clothes to donate so that on the last day of work, there is a time for all the kids in the community to line up and get a new shirt or pair of pants.
The goodbye ceremony is surprisingly difficult. After a very cute rendition of David and Goliath put on by the kids of the community for our group translated by Samuel one of our two translators, everyone begins to realize that this is really it. By the end, everyone, even the guys are crying, God pitches in with a bit of rain to finish off the scene. Gifts, hugs and photos are exchanged and no one really wants to leave but the time has come.
For the last time Gethsemane Lutheran Church climbs the stairs, part of it mixed and laid by their own hands. The now familiar sound of firecracker sends us off letting us know that our time here was appreciated. The younger children accompany us up the stair way and as far down the street as they’re allowed. Another round of hugs and good byes to the kids and it’s over. Gethsemane heads back to Potter’s House but their hearts are still in the ravine of 1 room houses, of barefooted boys and wandering chickens. I however have a soccer game to get to. Quickly changing my clothes, Pedro, Lluvia, Carlos and a few more of Aguilar community accompany me to the local futball pitch. While the field is pure dirt it’s also pure soccer. They make fun of each other and me in the way of old friends and I try to defend myself in my broken Spanish. Shortly thereafter another crew from a different community arrives and we play community vs community. Our team wins 3-2 and as we head back Carlos invites me to share a coke with him. While I feel bad about him spending what little money he doesn’t have on me I’m also honored beyond belief. Pedro (who’s still a bit sick) and Carlos insist on escorting me back to Potter’s House and I return after one of the most tiring but best week’s of my life.
Back at Potter’s House, I haven’t been needing to eat my sandwiches that I receive daily from the Rivera’s because I’ve been eating with the volunteer group, but that’s no problem. There are now a host of boys who are willing to help me out with my sandwich hanging around the doors of Potter’s House when I return. The next week when I am working inside, anything the other volunteers or myself don’t eat at lunch, the lunch ladies are happy to take off our hands. And what do you know? I checked the other day and the half eaten hot dog was no longer in our fridge.