Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guatemala Stories

My little ragamuffin Sammy
Princess Maria
Happy Birthday Mother Maria!!
The very "fresh" lunch at the monastery
A new little sweetheart, Gabby
Me and my boys :)
Armando was unable to choose which sunglasses he liked better

I just returned from 5 days at the Hogar in Guatemala and it was a very nice break from all the chaos that goes with living in a First World country ~ telephone, email, television, hot water.....well, maybe I missed the hot water part, but the others I really didn't miss at all because I was so busy playing with the kids. My mom, dad, sister, friends of our family, and myself flew down on Friday and came back Tuesday night. We spent Friday playing with the kids, reconnecting with all the familiar ones and meeting 2 new adorable little girls. My neighbor was so kind to buy sunglasses for everyone and oh my goodness those glasses instantly turned the kids into movie stars who HAD to have their picture taken :) We always bring lots of donations (clothes, toys, etc.) for the Hogar and I try to take down something unusual each time. The past couple trips I took Pop Rock candy ~ you know, the little candy crystals that pop in your mouth and make crackling noises. It was a big hit, so I took down 24 packets of them this time and it was hilarious to watch the kids' expressions like they forgot what happens when you eat the candy! The "unusual" items this trip were stress balls made by my sister's class - basically a balloon with rice inside and 2 more balloons wrapped around the outside to keep everything together. I apparently did not do a good job of explaining in Spanish what they were because it soon turned into the kids trying to open each balloon and blow it up with the rice still inside. Yikes! So, we re-confiscated those from all the little curious children. But it was a nice thought and fun for awhile.

Saturday we spent the entire day at the Monastery celebrating Mother Maria's birthday. She is a very very special nun and it was such a joy to be with her on her special day. We ate tilapia from the ponds, rabbit from the rabbit hutches, rice, cheese, and yogurt. It was a "fresh" lunch....the tilapia were being caught still when we arrived :) Flan for dessert! Yummmm! Then we sat on the Monastery patio overlooking Lake Amatitlan, sipping Russian beer from the Russian Ambassador who was in attendance at the party, and watching an active volcano erupt right across the lake. Most of the children were also there, so it was a very relaxing day away from the noisy city.

Sunday we had church of course, then spent the afternoon playing in the park, watching a movie, eating popcorn, and just hanging out. Sundays are free days for the kids and we have the most delicious popcorn ever during the movie! I was heartbroken last time I was at the Hogar because the children were bad and didn't get a movie, which meant no popcorn :( They put a special seasoning on it that tastes sort of like a salty chicken bouillon mixture and is quite delightful!

Monday was Mother's Day in Guatemala ~ not Sunday ~ Monday. In Guatemala, that means anyone who is a mother does not have to go to work, so many of the teachers at the Hogar did not work. So, us missionaries became the teachers! We had the preschool and kindergarten classes. Preschoolers were pretty much content to sit at their desks and color....kindergarteners were NOT so easy to please. Some wanted to do puzzles, some wanted to dance to music, some wanted to read, and the others fought over who got to use the Leap Pad computer. It was clearly a "no teacher" day in that classroom, but I tried my best :) Mom and dad brought special projects to do with the kids ~ sewing aprons for the young girls and making wooden boxes in the carpentry shop for the older ones. Those were fun projects!

Tuesday we left and I made it back home around 11:30pm. Smooth flights for the most part and plenty of time to go through customs and eat a delicious dinner in Atlanta. NO ONE ordered black beans that night :)

I love and miss all the kids already and can't wait to go back in October for my sister's quinceanera!

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