|Love these boys!|
We got up early this morning to head to Panajachel/Lake Atitlan. Before leaving Lee and Karin had about 5 minutes of painting n Gabby's flower and we got to see the kiddos before the older ones left for school.
|Completed Project! Thanks Ladies!|
Lake Atitlan is always listed as one of the twelve most beautiful lakes in the world. Panajachel (Pana) is the headquarters of Mayan Families and is where Maria and Edgar live (the siblings we sponsor to attend school). Pana is about 2.5 hours away from San Lucas (3 hours from Guatemala City). Edwin rented a larger van for us although Tamara was unable to go as she had too much to do at the Hogar.
|And we are Off!|
|Front gate to El Amor de Patricia|
|Nothing is unusual to see in Guatemala!|
|Chicken bus on left|
We decided to then take a slight detour and go to Ixcheme, Mayan Indian ruins. Shane and I've been there once before. It's a real quite, peaceful place. We saw two different ceremonies. One involved illnesses and the "priest" was hitting (not violently) a woman's back and then a man's back and saying some kind of chant/prayer. Some sort of sacrifice is typically given at these ceremonies, such as chickens or an item special to them. The other ceremony was just setting up with lots of candles. Ceremonies can also be one of celebration.
After leaving Ixcheme, we headed to Pana. The road is very curvy, as well as climbing up and descending down the mountains. Not a good road for anyone who gets carsick. I told Lee, Karin, and Lauren how beautiful the lake is but word or pictures don't do it justice. They couldn't believe their eyes! What makes the lake so beautiful to me is the volcanoes that surround it.
We checked into our hotel, Jardines del Lago, located on the lake with a magnificent view of the volcanoes. Dwight one of the founders of Mayan Families, met us to take us to Mayan Families headquarters. We met Sharon (Dwight's wife and co-founder of MF) who gave us a tour. I wish I could remember everyone's name that we met but there were so many employees and volunteers. In the courtyard area, families or students are waiting for something whether it be a food basket donated to them, gifts, medical care, etc. I honestly an speechless by this organization and all the do.....they have approximately 2500 sponsored students, preschool program, elderly feeding care, medical clinic, music room, sewing classes, orphan care, family aid, micro loan program, off-sight carpentry shop...the list goes on and on....it was mind boggling. I was happy to met Sharon, Dwight, Elizabeth, Gloria, Laura, Jeaneth, and FB friend Cindy....and many others! I am amazed this organization, founded in 2005, stared as a result of one little baby boy needing a $4000 heart surgery that Dwight and Sharon believe was "worth" the cost. This child is now one of their sponsored students!
Elizabeth and Gloria then took us to meet Maria and Edgar. I was so very nervous! Can you love a family you have only seen in pictures, a family who you need an interpreter to communicate, a family whose life is a daily struggle to survive and mine is a life of luxury in their eyes? Absolutely...a picture says 1000 words.
|Pictures are worth 1000 words!|
Maria and Edgar were waiting by the road for our arrival. I was so overwhelmed with emotions. I look back now of all the things I wish I would have said and asked. Now I don' have that opportunity. They live in a one bedroom "apartment" home. their sink, bathroom and stove area is in a central location and used by the other 3 families in this home. Maria went and got her older sister and her baby for me to meet. I do believe what touched me the most was the picture of our family they framed on their head board. This was a picture Gabby sent to them in a note she wrote to Maria. Shane had made the Gabby bowls. One large fruit size bowl for Maria's mother, Maria. And a set of four nesting bowls for Maria and Edgar. I knew the family probably had very few pictures of themselves so I made an album for them and I think Maria really liked it. Before we left Maria gave me two red flowers. And right as I left she caught up with me for one more hug. I hope they know how honored I am to have them in our lives.
|Left: Edgar....he reminds me of Tucker|
Right: Mom Maria with her Onil Stove, the round
stand with ashes is what that use to cook on.
|Oh....How I wish I would have said more.....Looking forward|
to seeing you again!
We got back to the hotel in time to see the sunset at the pier area....no words or pictures can do it justice. Karin said the she used to think Watagua Lake was nice :). I was able to Skype with Shane and Tucker and promised Tucker to Skype the next morning at 6am so that he could see the volcanoes again!
We had dinner with Sharon, Dwight, their children, Zoe's boyfriend, Elizabeth, and Jeaneth at an Italian restaurant, el Bistro. It was great getting to know them more. Seeing some of the families (both the young and old) in their programs run up for a hug or to talk. Lauren once again attracted an man who appeared to be a tourist but the feeling wasn't mutual. Especially when he and his group started dancing. I was glad when they left the dance floor and two little Guatemalan Boys (approximately 2 and 4) took over.
Hearing the stories of children whose parents died of alcoholism, mothers who are prostitutes, a child who died from eating a radish, uncles who want custody of kids to work the in the fields and keep their money... And knowing this isn't a painful chapter in their life but their entire life is filled cover to cover with pain and despair. It does make you know in both your head and your heart that you are blessed. But it does more than that. I teaches you that YOU are responsible for doing what is right and good. I have no idea why I was born in the US, a land with so many opportunities available and why Maria and Edgar weren't. But I do know....it is my honor to help them anyway I can. Not because I have to because I want to. My life is no longer about me....but I guess it never was or it never should have been.
- Picture of our family above Maria's bed.
- Although my heart will always ache for Gabby, I do know a few things...she loved us and we love her more than anything, she was happy, and she lived a great 8 years. Some people in Guatemala as well as all over the world will never have an 8 years like she had....like we had. But we can all do something to make sure they have the best life possible. No necessarily filed with things....but filled with smiles, hugs, and hearts full of love.