Friday, August 26, 2016

The simple things just are

I love that song by Jim Brickman and sung by some lady (I just googled, is it Rebecca somebody?) that says the simple things just are.  I know it's kind of a love song but when you stop and focus on that one phrase, well that's kind of where I'm at right now in this mission.  Just trying to overlook the tough parts (slept three hours total during my twenty four hour shift the night before last) and dwell on the awesome. When it is all said and done, in another few months, the simple things are what I want to remember.

Focusing on the simple things is kind of another way of being grateful.  When I stop to look at what's important, well, I'm really stopping to recognize and be grateful for what I have in my life.  Like smiles, and giggles, and goodnight hugs and kisses from my kids.  Or friends stopping along the road and offering me a ride in their truck.  Or just someone wanting to meet me for coffee.

Last Sunday I was sitting with my kids in the sala (living space with a bunch of couches and a television), just painting our nails and playing with play-dough   We made butterflies and cats and snowmen.  One girl sat on another girl's heart and smushed it.  We all just laughed.  Then one of the girls fell and I picked her up and brought her to sit next to me.  She curled into my side while another little boy rested his head in my lap and sucked on his finger.  The simple things just are.

My mom is coming tonight to spend the week.  I am ecstatic!  We're going to take some of my kids into town on Sunday and buy flowers to put at the feet of the statue of the Blessed Mother in our church.  I've been wanting to do this for a while but haven't found enough time to make the trek.  Then we'll sightsee a bit in Antigua and take in the coast for a day or two.  Can't wait!

Hey, time won’t wait, life goes by

every day’s a brand new sky

every tear comes to dry

all that really matters in this crazy world
is you and I together baby, just remember

the first leaves off the tree, the way you look at me

a thousand chiming church bells ring, the simple things are free

the sun, the moon, the stars, the beating of two hearts

how i love the simple things, the simple things just are

Monday, August 22, 2016

Padre Wasson: In Memoriam

We celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the passing of Padre Wasson, founder and father of NPH, this past week on August 16th.  In his honor there was a beautiful Mass and then the different sections took the opportunity to perform an act of community service in local surrounding pueblos in his memory.  I don't know that I've said much about this man but I'd like to share just a few quotes.  The link above, if you hover over his name, will take you to his full history on the NPH website.  This link will bring you to his eulogy.

"You may only be one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child."
—Fr. William B. Wasson

“I don’t believe the Lord will let us be more generous than He is.”
—Fr. William B. Wasson

“There always were people in my life that supported our family and then there were those who tried to limit what I wanted to do. The first one was my bishop who at an early visit to our home in Mexico said: “Father, what you do is wonderful. But when you have 300 children, don’t take in any more.” “So what did you answer him?” we asked. “Nothing,” Father Bill would say. “I already had 500 children.”
—Fr. William B. Wasson

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Taking home the gold

While millions are in Rio watching world records be broken and the most amazing athletes from over 200 countries complete impossible feats, we attended our own Guatemalan Special Olympics this week.  You may remember when I posted on the special olympics a few months ago.  Well, that was practice for the real thing.

Last Tuesday we were up at 4:30 in the morning to load the bus with everyone in the special needs house and then some.  After a false start we drove for 2 and a half hours, just in time to enter the stadium to a marching band announcing the start of the Olympics.  Kids and adults from all over Guatemala were there with brightly colored jerseys and work out suits.  The kids' ability ranged from rolling their wheelchairs for a 25 yard dash all the way to running a 5K.  The competitors were serious and the day was awesome.

We also had a delicious lunch and snacks provided.  People walked around selling ice cream, cotton candy and donuts.  Our kids were awesome, taking home several gold, silver and bronze medals.  The best thing of course were their smiles and the pride with which they told everyone about their accomplishments after we arrived back home.  A special, awesome day!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Walking on water, healing the sick

 "He went around doing good and healing all." Acts 10:38

I totally get why Jesus healed that guy's hand on the sabbath and put dirt on that other guy's eyes to heal his blindness and even why he healed all ten lepers even though only one came back.  It's because he loved them!

I watch my kids and I think, "If only I could straighten so and so's wrist" or "Give feeling and control to so and so's legs" or even "Cure the damage a drunken mother did to her unborn child's brain."

Don't get me wrong!  I absolutely LOVE my kids, just the way they are!  But I want them to be pain free, take away their seizures, their frustrations, their hardships.

I know that is how Jesus looks at us.  He wants to heal our brokenness, our infirmities, our deformities: both spiritual and physical.  Why?  Because he loves us!  And that love stretches into eternity.  He can't help all the good things he does for us!

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me." Revelations 3:20

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hurricanes, Olympics and stopping to smell the roses

Today is my little sister's birthday.  And my parent's 37th anniversary.  I've been around for 36 of those years!  Not sure how time has flown by so quickly but it has!  I remember arguing with my sister for years that she wasn't born on my parent's actual wedding day, just the anniversary of it...but she was a tough one to convince.

Speaking of birth days, we threw a little baby shower for one of the women here at NPH who is expecting at the end of this month.  The NPH panaderia made the cake.  Have you guessed she is having a boy?

Now that I've adjusted to living here, I have found time to stop and smell the roses...literally.  Our homes are surrounded by them in all different sizes and colors.  I love living in a place that always has roses blooming!

 Last Friday was the opening games in Rio.  I went in to Antigua for some nachos and to watch the opening ceremony.  It was pretty neat to watch all the countries walk in together, filling the entire stadium.  
It was also pretty cool to find out how many people from all over the world were watching with us.  When a country walked in that someone was from, cheers would erupt from that section of the room.

It looks like Hurricane Earl damaged the coastline, but here at NPH we only experienced one day of cloudy, rainy, windy weather before everything was back to normal.  The nights are growing colder already.  Last night I put a fourth blanket on my bed.  If someone had told me before I came here that I would be cold in Guatemala in August, I wouldn't have believed them.  It's a perk to living in the mountains, I guess!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Our Princesses: Quince Años!

Quinceaneras is a pretty spectacular time in any girls life here in Latin America and for this reason, NPH strives to make it super-special for our girls.  Once a year, all the girls turning 15 are celebrated in a fiesta that includes all the children from baby house to universitarios.  Months of planning go into this and even the girls themselves spend weeks prepping with dress fittings and learning to perform a group dance along with their chosen partners.

The event started with Mass at 3pm.  The girls were escorted down the aisle to the front row and then participated in the readings and general prayer intentions during Mass.  

After the homily, Padre gave them a special blessing and they were escorted out for pictures and to receive congratulations from everyone.

Dinner was preceded by the choreographed dance the girls had been practicing.  They performed flawlessly.  It was lovely as they chose several songs and changed the style as the music tempo changed.

The kids attending were all so well behaved.  We all had assigned seats and dinner served to us.  The decorators went all out and I have never seen so many banners, flowers, and balloons in such brilliant array.  Our commodore (eating room) has never looked so good!

After dinner we all got in on the dancing action.  We congo-lined around the room, our kids in wheelchairs just as involved as our international visitors who had brought their best dress for the occasion.

The girls themselves were radiant.  Princesses in the most true fashion.  So blessed to be share this day with them!

“I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.” 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Putting on a show

Last Friday our kids in Montessori put on a theater production with each class performing a different skit, dance and even puppet show.  Some of the littles stood up and recited poetry (brave souls!) and one even sang.  It was adorable!  And the teachers put in a lot of hard work to make this happen!

Don't you just love the traditional dress???

I love how something is always happening here.  At first it was overwhelming because I felt like every time I turned around there was another activity.  I still value my alone time (which does happen) but I have finally adjusted to being with other people pretty much 24-7!

Tomorrow is the opening ceremony for the olympics.  A couple of us are going into Antigua after work to watch it on television.  It's funny but as little interest as I have in the presidential election (not sure if it's the candidates or just living so far away), I find myself wanting to at least take in a little bit of what is happening in Rio. 

I'm also shocked to realize that the Magnificent Seven competed twenty years ago!  And not to throw my age in my face but when we were talking about them my housemates were in awe that I not only was alive, but I remembered watching them!  Lol...I am so old!

I can't believe it is already August!  Only five more months left of my year.  Wow!

Monday, August 1, 2016

La Muela (or rather: Hiking in Xela)


I love Xela!!!  Best Guate city ever!  A weekend was way too short and I want to go back...however if I could fly, that would be preferable.  I have never been so sick as I was on those chicken buses, skirting our way on the edge of the mountains, in and out, up and down.  Okay, making myself nauseous just thinking about it.

Every fifth weekend is a free weekend for all the volunteers (which happens about every three months).  It's nice because then those of us who work on opposite weekends can have an excursion together.  This time we chose to head north to Xela, a beautiful city (also known as Quetzeltenango) and also the second biggest city in Guatemala.

Our trip included lots of eating and lots of fun.  We shopped, meandered, went out dancing and even hit the hot springs.  The highlight for me was the hike we took our first morning to a place called La Muela or the Molar.  

To get there we hopped a chicken bus to about a mile or so outside town before walking up a cobblestone road for another mile or so.  Then we found the trailhead and headed up into the woods.

Eventually we emerged above the tree line and found ourselves surrounded by volcanic rock.  Climbing further we eventually reached a huge rock face where we could look out over the entire valley.  The view was breathtaking and I sat and took in the tranquility while my friends made the final rock climb to the highest point.

At the almost top (where I summited :o) we encountered a group of boys who were from a local foundation for orphans similar to ours.   At first they asked us to take their picture but then they wanted a picture with us!  

On our way back to town their chaperones pulled up along-side us and offered to drive us back into town so we wouldn't have to take the chicken bus.  Made me smile that even on vacation we find ourselves connecting with kids!

Our next everyone-has-it-off weekend is in October.  I'm hoping we return and tackle Mount Tajumulco, the highest mountain (and incidentally, a volcano) in Central America.  Going to have to start training for that one!