Trip to Guatemala

  • The Trip Home…..the Spirit Airlines Experience

    My itinerary said that the plane was to leave at 1:36 PM so I was earlier than I really needed to be when Tim and Rhoda dropped me off at the Aurora Airport the morning of Feb. 21st.  I had printed my boarding pass the night before so I was supposed to avoid the long line and the $10 fee for having the Airline personnel print one for me.  The line was long so I asked the lady standing at a kiosk what I was supposed to and she took me around the line and to another lady on the right of the check-in counter.  The second woman looked at my boarding pass and passport and said it wasn’t the right one so printed off a new one, then took my suitcase that I was checking in.   She kept the old one so I didn’t get a chance to compare the two….so much for printing out beforehand.  They encourage you to do that to save time but if they have the wrong stuff printed out, it really doesn’t save anyone time.

    They directed me downstairs to the security area.  I took off my fanny pack, sweater and shoes and placed them in a tub and put my backpack into another.  Then I went through the little archway that screeched because of my hairpins.  I had to stand spread-eagle as a young woman patted me down.  Piece of cake, nothing to it…..so I went to reclaim my paraphernalia but lo and behold they had seen something in my backpack.  They sent it back through and decided to search it.

    Oh no, my little folding scissors that according to the website are perfectly ok since they were under 4″ in length.  I protested but to no avail.  There were 2 or 3 of the agents checking them out and commenting on how they were folding….trying them out.  I wonder if they had ever seen anything like that before.  They told me that if I didn’t want to part with them that I could take them back upstairs and have them put them into my suitcase.  I opted to do that because they were very nice and handy little scissors.

    When I got upstairs I was informed that my suitcase had already gone.  Rats.  A fellow at the counter offered to put them into his suitcase but he was going to Las Vegas so we didn’t do that.  Later, I wish had as we met up later on in Ft. Lauderdale.  Now what to do with them?  I put them back into my backpack.   (I didn’t think of putting them into my hair to go off with the hairpins.  :-) )  Anyway, back through security.  This time they not only took the scissors out but took my seam ripper and the little  knitpicker  and took them from me.  I didn’t have a choice in the matter so had to swallow my disappointment.  It did make me feel somewhat better to think that the Guatemalans are resourceful people and I could almost guarantee that none of those items really got thrown away.    In fact, I’ll bet that one of those agents is the proud owner of a nice pair of folding scissors.   If not, and they did get pitched, there are a lot of dump scavengers who would found them.  :-)

    Once I was out of security, I headed down the long hallway to my gate.  I was met by 2 passengers that told me that it was really warm down at our gate so they were headed the other way to a cooler place to wait.  I went down to the gate and it wasn’t long until I realized the wisdom of those women.  It was not even 11 o’clock yet so that meant a suffocating wait if I was going to stay there.  I ended up going to the other end of the hallway too and bought a meal at McDonald’s for lunch.   I found one of those  large golf-cart type of conveyances that had an empty seat and sat on that for awhile before going up closer to the McDonald’s  where I found a draft that helped lower my body temperature a good deal.  The place was absolutely stifling.

    The 3 hour wait got longer and longer as the time for departure came and went.  We didn’t know what was going on but finally we were told that the plane from Ft. Lauderdale was delayed.  Oh yeah, that was rather obvious.   As soon as it arrived and the passengers were off, we boarded.   I had been in that airport about 8 hours and was ready to get going.

    There were a number of people that were sure they had missed their connecting flights but when we landed in FL.  we found out that the other planes were held back for them.  I sometimes have to wonder if that was wise because it seemed to have caused one big gigantic problem by making everyone delayed.  It seems like it would’ve been easier and cheaper to take care of a few passengers by putting them on another flight than to mess up their entire schedule.   As it was, there was some push to get certain passengers through customs as soon as possible so the planes that were waiting could fly.

    I got through customs and claimed my luggage about the time my flight was scheduled to leave.  The time was 9:30 PM.  Those of us who were to leave for Minneapolis/ St. Paul were told to go to Gate 6.  We congregated there and then were directed to Gate 10.  So, we went down there.  We had plenty of time to wait as we were told (eventually) that the plane from MN was delayed because of the weather.

    I called home to tell Vernon that I was delayed about 5 hours in Guatemala City and I wasn’t sure when our plane would actually leave for MSP.  He was getting ready to leave home for the airport but I was hearing that the roads were very treacherous and that some of the highways were actually shut down.  I didn’t feel good about him starting out in that stuff.  If Vernon says the roads are bad……they ARE!!!  I just had a bad feeling about it all.  I told him not to start out if the roads weren’t safe.  I’d rather wait in MN than to have him risk his life to pick me up.   Finally at about midnight, I told him to just go to bed.  We had no clue what time we’d leave.

    I am not even sure what time the MSP flight did come but they scrambled to board us as fast as they could.  I think it was about 2AM.  We all got on the plane and were all situated when the flight attendants told us to gather our things together and de-board.  There was several upset persons muttering about the delay and the young girl sitting beside me said a few choice words as to what she thought of Spirit Airlines.

    We all traipsed back into the terminal and wondered what to do now.  We were told that the pilot and co-pilot had timed out and it wasn’t legal for them to fly for so many hours.   We were assured that the airline was going to try to get another set of pilots.    About 45 minutes a cheer went up when two pilots walked in.  Yay!!  But our cheering died out when we were told that now the flight attendants were now timed out.  Yells of:  “We can go with out flight attendants.  Let’s just go!”   We were informed then that it would be illegal to fly without the flight attendants, but they were trying to round up another group for us.  So, we settled back to wait.  By then a lot of us were on first name basis with each other.  :-)

    At 4 Am Spirit Airlines announced that our flight had been cancelled and we were to go collect our luggage once more and then go to the ticket counter to find out what was going to happen next.

    Before we did that however, another flight was cancelled after the plane had been boarded and the people brought back into the terminal.  What transpired was like watching a movie first hand.  There was some VERY irate persons on that flight, believe me!  Whereas our plane load wasn’t very happy, these guys were extremely vocal about their displeasure.  One man, who, by the way, had 2 young children with him, watching his every move, began to curse and yell at the personnel at the counter.  It was short of becoming a free-for-all and it wasn’t long until about 7 policemen showed up to keep order.  The man came close to being arrested and fortunately calmed down enough to avoid arrest….but I had to pity his children who has a hot-head for a father and will not learn from experience how to control their anger.   Someone from our flight told those angry people: “Hey, we’ve been there, done that 2 hour’s ago, but none of us went ballistic.”  :-)

    Anyway, we claimed our luggage and went back to the ticket counters.  I decided to wait for the line to thin out before I went through.  Finally I realized I’d never get through if I didn’t get in line.  We were told that Spirit was ordering a plane for us and it would probably leave at 7 o’clock.  Later we were told it was 7 PM not AM!

    By that time, new passengers were coming in to catch their early morning flights.  I heard someone ask “Why are there so many people lying around sleeping?”   After I was through I found a place to lie down in the hallway that was sort of out of the way.   Most of the chairs were full.  Each chair had armrests so it made it difficult to just lie down on them.  Some people wormed their way under the armrest to take advantage of several seats at a time.  There were people sprawled out all over.  I don’t know how many were on our flight but with 2 plane loads there were a lot of people camping out.

    A regular camp out.  :-)

    A regular camp out. :-)

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    This couple from northern MN taking advantage of the floor

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    Making himself comfortable in a corner

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    Welcome to Spirit Hotel.

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    People, people everywhere!

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    Trying to get a few winks of sleep

    I woke up a couple of hours later and found that my neighbors were a family from Nepal who live in Duluth.   They had a 6 year old daughter who was one of the politest, well-behaved children that I know of…..especially on this flight.  She should’ve had a pair of wings.  :-)   Anyway, after exchanging “Good Morning” I made the comment that a Mall would be a more interesting place to spend the day than in the airport.  I didn’t think much about it until later when the mother asked if I’d like to go along with them to a Mall for the day.   She said that her husband was renting a car and they planned to go to the beach and if I wanted to, they’d drop me off at a Mall.

    Dr. Puskar, Puja and Pari Kefle, my Nepalese friends from Duluth, MN

    Dr. Puskar, Puja and Pari Kefle, my Nepalese friends from Duluth, MN

    By then, I was ready to see something besides that airport so I took them up on the offer.  So, off we went.  I was amazed at how well Puscar Kafle knew his way around Fort Lauderdale.   They drove to a high class mall, dropped me off and said we should meet there again about 5PM.

    Most of the stores weren’t even opened as it wasn’t 10 o’clock yet.   I walked around and finally found to my delight on the 3rd floor, a rest area tucked back in out-of-the-way with several couches with nice big green plants for some privacy.  I laid my backpack on the floor and stretched out on one of the couches and fell asleep.  Since I was on the top floor and the place of business closest to me was a Children’s theater where kids come and do their own acting—obviously nothing was going on there that day.  Another was a dentist’s office so the traffic was almost nil.  A couple of women were doing their walking for exercise but the place was absolutely perfect for what I needed.  Later, I was able to charge my Nook there too.

    I had a hard time getting back up…..after I was awake I lay there just doing nothing and enjoyed it so well that I made it last a long time.  I wish I would’ve soaked up another couple hours of that but I finally got up, shouldered my backpack and headed out to see what the Mall contained.   I ended up downstairs at the food court.  I thought I’d grab a McWrap or McBurger of some kind but this place was too ritzy for that so I went to a smorgasbord and got a salad which I paid for by weight.  It was delicious.

    I made my rounds of the mall and decided to retire in my private spot until closer to 5 o’clock.  There was a young man sitting on the couch across from me who was sitting so still for so long that I wondered how he could do it.  The amusing thing was the poster on the wall behind him.  On it was a young man that looked very much like him.  I think he sat there for at least an hour.   I was so glad for my Nook.  I had downloaded all of Dave and Neta Jackson’s Trailblazer books onto it and so I had plenty to read and did get a couple of the books finished.  I also have the Bible on my Nook so was able to have my quiet time too.

    I tried out the Internet option and did get on Facebook but I had trouble navigating that.

    About 4:30 I went down to the area where I was supposed to meet the Kafle’s and wrote a letter to a friend.  Just as I was finished I looked up to see them coming.  They were looking for me and were about to ask someone to page me on the intercom.  They had tried to call me but my phone hadn’t rung.   What had happened was when we were on the plane the night before, I had been texting and it was going beep with every letter.  The young woman sitting beside me, (the one that had some choice words) had asked me in a very peeved voice to turn the sound off as it was irritating to her.  I told her I was sorry but I didn’t know how to turn it off and her boyfriend was kind enough to show me how.  What I thought I had done besides that was to put the ring on vibrate.  Apparently everything was turned off so when Dr. Kafle called me, I had no idea.  Well, we put that to rights pretty quickly.

    I found out later that they hadn’t gone to the beach after all but had parked in the Mall’s parking garage and took naps in the car.  Then they went and got lunch at a restaurant nearby and had come back to the Mall.  They found a nice rest area like mine on another floor and did the same thing I did!

    We checked in again at the airport and sort of stuck together after that.  The airline gave us food vouchers for 3 meals that day so we went “grocery shopping” before we got onto the plane.  I got an orange, water, chips, danish, etc so I didn’t need to buy any of the high priced stuff on the plane.  Btw—the 3 danishes I brought home for the children.  Mrs. Kafle said that we might as well take advantage of the food tickets, so I had $21 to spend.   They had $63 to use so she had a couple of big bags of food to take home.  :)

    They also said we could have a $50 travel voucher as compensation for our troubles.   By then I had racked up $150 worth of vouchers.  The only trouble is I only have 60 days to claim them and when I do, I have to redeem them.  I don’t have to fly right away, but the tickets have to be bought then.  I have no idea when I will need them, so am not sure if I will be able to use them, if I decide that I would travel via Spirit Airlines again.

    A number of us passengers were talking about whether we would travel with Spirit again.  Quite a few said, “No way.”  I am not sure.   It was definitely cheaper.  Was it worth it?  Maybe, I really don’t know.  In some ways I am glad for the experience…..now I know what its like to have my flight delayed and cancelled.  I know what it’s like to spend the night in the airport.   Broadens the horizons but I am glad I wasn’t traveling with young children.  I also believe that Spirit needs to inform their passengers as soon as they know there will be a delay and keep them informed not leaving them in the lurch.  On the other hand other people that I talked to said they never had trouble with Spirit before.

    I told Puskar that you get what you pay for with Spirit.  He laughed and said, “This time we got MORE than what we paid for!”

    It happened that the school where Pari goes had an unexpected week’s vacation so their family decided to go to Costa Rica for a week and a half.   They ran into a snag on their way down when they got to Ft. Lauderdale and were denied going on to Costa Rica because Puja’s passport only had a month of time left on it.  I am not sure why that caused a problem as they would’ve been back before it actually expired but they couldn’t go.  They decided to stay in Ft. Lauderdale for the week, and since their luggage got to take the vacation to CR without them, they had to find a mall to buy some clothes to wear.  Their luggage had just returned the day before our ill-fated non-flight so they had decided just to go home.  If they had known everything they would not have checked out of their hotel room that evening.

    Saying Good-bye.  She told me to look them up next time we go up to the North Shore.

    Saying Good-bye. She told me to look them up next time we go up to the North Shore.

    When our plane finally took to the air…..a loud cheer went up.  We were all in a celebratory mood.  I called Vernon and told him that we were actually on our way.  The roads were somewhat better so he and Kaitlyn were there to meet me.  We arrived at home about 3AM.  It was good to be back.  I had had a good trip.

    I titled my blogpost as a lesson in Faith and Trust.   There were several times during my trip that I struggled with trusting God…..like when we hit turbulence on the plane.  My first reaction was to be frightened and then God reminded me that I will die when He plans, not before and to rest in Him during the storms.  Same thing for the airconditioner over my head on the bus…..I had to trust God not to let it fall IF it wasn’t HIS will that I wouldn’t get hurt.  No sense losing my cool over it. (I did try to stay as far from under it as possible. )  So, when I did the zipline, I decided to have faith in the guides and enjoy it. And I did!  Also, through out that long 2 days of delays, I had to trust in God to get me home in His good time.

     

    PS.  I had trouble staying awake in church that morning.  :-)

     

    ~the end~

  • Part 2: Leaving…..it’s sometime very hard

    Benj put my luggage in the back of his pickup and everyone that wanted to go along piled in.  Judy and her girls got into her VW bug and off we went.

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    Saying good-bye to the world’s sweetest daughter-in-law and 3 wonderful grandchildren was hard,  it was one of the toughest times for me to say farewell.  I really did NOT want to leave.  I have to wonder when I will get to see them again.   But, on the other hand, I was missing my hubby and children at home.

    We stopped at the clinic as Benj and KL had some business there, then Benj took the 3 fellows back to the “farm” as the main mission house is called.  I thought it was amusing that those 3 guys said, “Bye Grandma!”   I wasn’t offended as I knew why I was dubbed that….they had been hearing me called that by family and they were just part of the family.  I will hold a soft spot in my heart for those 3.

    The rest of us stood beside the road and waited for the bus….laughing, talking and enjoying each other’s company.  I had never thought I’d like El Chal for a place to live but I think I could adapt quite well if I could handle the heat.  I have learned to love the people there a lot.

    The bus was slow in coming so Benj was back before I had to leave.    He had just put a welder on his pickup so I asked him if I could take a couple of pictures to show Daddy and Marv.

    Welder under the hood

    Welder under the hood

    Mobile welder

    Mobile welder        

    He needed to do welding at different times and so this was the answer to his problem.

    Well, the bus finally came and after the last minute good-byes were said, I ascended the steps.  This bus had a door in the side about 1/2 back and I realized that it was a double decker.  I had never been on one of those before so it was a new experience.  This time the seats were comfortable and I had no complaint about that.  The thing that I noticed was the swaying back and forth….it felt like we were top heavy.  :-)   I had the sensation that it wouldn’t take much to lay us over on our side.  Then I realized that I was getting a tad “sea-sick”…..so I tried to get my mind off of that.  I wasn’t really sleepy but I found that no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable the bus was, I probably will never be able to sleep well on one.    :-(

    I think I did sleep some because sometime in the middle of the night I woke up to find us stopped and the driver came up to inform us that we had so many minutes to use the restroom.  I stumbled off the bus after him and asked him how long he had said.  “Cinco minutos”.  5 minutes.  He pointed out the restrooms and I went over to where he indicated.

    The restrooms were sparkling clean but there was a woman at a table with piles of neatly folded toilet paper for sale for Q1.00 each.  I lay my quetzal down on the table when suddenly I heard the bus leaving!  I grabbed my Q and headed for the door, my heart in my throat…..surely the driver wouldn’t go off and leave me, would he?  I didn’t want to imagine that happening.  I saw to my relief that he just pulled up to the adjoining restaurant.   I went back in and paid for my TP, did what needed to be done and went over to the restaurant and bought a bottle of water.  As fast as I could I headed back to the bus.  I noticed that the front door of the bus was open this time so I got in, and climbed the few steps and back the aisle.  I think my seat was about 11 but I started noticing something very strange.  There were no passengers on this bus….I stopped to ponder this, I was sure that I was one of the very few people that had gotten off.  Where were they?  Suddenly it dawned on me,  I was on the wrong bus!

    As quickly as I could, I made my way off that bus, hoping that my bus was still there.   I went around it and sigh of relief, it was.  My heart was still pounding from the fright, I made my way to my seat and wondered if relieving myself was worth all that stress, but I did feel better and I was glad to have water again.  I had been feeling quite dehydrated and had not been too pleased with myself that I’d forgotten to take my water bottle from Benj’s.

    The rest of the night passed uneventful, mostly with me taking turns looking out the window and trying to catch a few winks of shuteye.  I was glad to pull into the bus terminal and looked out the window to see Tim and Rhoda waiting for me.

    That afternoon a couple of the hired girls wanted to go to Zone 1 to buy a piece of dress fabric for Rhoda for her birthday.  Tim and I went to the tourist market as I needed to buy a yard of corte fabric to make a purse for a friend.  I also bought a piece of fabric for Melisa for her birthday at another store.

    As I mentioned before, Zone 1 is known for its sections….there’s a section for hardware,  7th Ave. is known for vehicle parts stores,  5th Ave.  fabric.  This section, a couple blocks from the tourist market has store after store of pinatas.

    Pinata Block

    Pinata Block

    Pinatas for sale

    Pinatas for sale

    Later we took the girls back to the mission and the 3 of us headed down to Zone 10 to visit the doctors.  I was able to see Dr. Caceres again.  This time he gave us a little more of his background…..His grandfather was from Caceres, Spain and during WWII he went to Israel as he was a Jew and since he was from Caceres, he was surnamed that.   Later he came to Guatemala.   I asked him about the other doctors who we had that were German descent….Tornoe, Fahsen, Wyld.  I had no clue that they were of Jewish background although I had known they had fled Germany because of the war.  It makes sense now.

    Dr. Fahsen wasn’t in so I missed him again.  Later I tried to call him and left a message and he did return my call.

    Next we went to the Urologist Dr. Ricardo Tercero.

    Dr. Tercero

    Dr. Tercero

    Another quick visit to Dr. Wyld who cautioned me very severely to watch diet and blood sugar, we headed back to MAM headquarters.  I was ready to get to bed early.  Unfortunately, by the time I got done checking emails, etc. it was later than I wished.

    Galen Miller, Wendall Diehm, and Lee Burkholder  VS boys

    Galen Miller, Wendall Diehm, and Lee Burkholder VS boys

    My flight was to leave at 12:15 the next day so after breakfast Tim and Rhoda took me to the airport and then is when my troubles began!

    I think I had better wait until another time to start on that story.  Until then,  keep looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

    ~to be continued~

  • To Guatemala Again—a lesson in Faith and Trust Part 1

    I just barely got done with posting about our Oct. trip to Guatemala, I found myself packing my bags to return to the Land of Eternal Spring.  Here’s how that came about. As many of you know, our daughter Tiana accepted the Lord as her Saviour last February in El Chal, Guatemala.  She had been living with Benj and his family since the previous Nov.  This gave us great joy as we were beginning to wonder if she’d ever surrender to Christ.  It is like her Grandaddy said, “It certainly wasn’t a premature birth.”  She joined the Instruction class with several others and the baptism was planned for Feb. 16th.

    Her invitation

    Her invitation

    Of course I really wanted to be there for that event but since God had answered my prayer to go to Guatemala in October, I was sure that it would not be possible to go so soon again.  I even felt guilty in asking God to provide a way to go again even for her baptism.  But some of my friends didn’t feel that it was wrong to ask God for this only that I should be willing to take No for an answer.  Well, that wasn’t so hard to do since I figured I couldn’t go anyway.  Oh me of little faith. Benj felt very strongly that one of her parents at least should be there.  He asked me if we would come if it were a wedding….that her commitment to Christ is much more important than a wedding.  When he put it that way, it made perfect sense. Unfortunately,  Vernon didn’t feel he could do it—with the cold weather, furnace, and his backed up work, but he did say I could go to represent our family.

    So, I had a week to prepare.  We bought the ticket on Feb. 5th after we got home from prayer meeting. I did some last minute shopping like buying Mt. Dew, Mug rootbeer, pepperoni and Pringles to help celebrate Benj’s 29th birthday on Feb. 19th.  I decided I hadn’t celebrated with my oldest son for a number of birthdays and it was time to do it again since I had a chance.  Our family has a tradition of the 3 P’s:  Pizza, Pringles and Pop(namely Mt. Dew and Rootbeer).  When that started we were living in Guatemala and those 2 kinds of pop were not available there so I’d try to make sure we brought some back with us to serve on birthdays.  I also bought a big jar of Peanut Butter for his present. I spent considerable time packing and repacking my luggage. Also, this time I made sure my pair of knee-highs matched.  The last time I ended up with one Sheer Energy and one Hanes and it bugged me the entire trip.  :-)

    For one thing, I was going on Spirit Airlines and they charge for luggage:  $35 for a carry on, $30 for the first suitcase up to 40 #.  The suitcase I first tried was too big and the stuff sort of rattled around in it so I tried another…whoops, too little.  Let’s see about this one, “still too small”.  Etc and etc.  I was allowed a “personal” bag such as a purse or a small backpack measuring up to 12″ x 14″ x 16″ that I didn’t have to pay for. I wanted to take advantage of the free luggage so I found a backpack that was within the size guidelines and also a suitcase close to the proper dimensions and studied the guidelines what I could take and what I could not.  After juggling for awhile, I finally decided to pay an extra $25 at the check-in counter for an extra 10# in my suitcase.

    I had quilted Lanet’s quilt on the machine and wanted to finish taking care of the extra threads while traveling.  I read that you can now take small scissors if the blades are less than 4″ so I took a folding pair, a seam ripper and knitpicker (a teeny latch hook thing I had left over from our Qiana knit days).  These were in my little emergency  travel kit along with some buttons and a needle and thread and other odds and ends such as tweezers, band-aids, and Tylenol.  I put my purse inside the backpack.  Then, I put my camera, cellphone and passport in a fannypack around my waist.  I know, they went out of style a number of years ago but I need the extra space.  I used the quilt to keep warm on the flight.

    We started out at 8:15 PM from home to get to Minneapolis/St. Paul to be there a couple hours before the flight went out.  I thought the flight went out at 12:15AM but I saw later it was 1:15.  That was ok because the weather wasn’t all that great and it began to snow on our way over.  I am not sure what time we got there but I was delayed  in security when they found something forbidden  in my backpack. No, it wasn’t the scissors or the fingernail clippers but the peanut butter!  :-(   I was sure that was ok but he said “nothing creamy”.  Fortunately, Vernon was still there on the other side of the glass watching as I was frisked and the pb removed from my pack.  Oh rats.  There went Benj’s birthday present.  They did take the pb back and gave it to Vernon after they tested the outside of the jar to prove it wasn’t anything explosive, so at least it wasn’t wasted money on my part.  Oh well, I’ll know better next time.

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    De-icing

    Once on the plane we had to wait for awhile until the plane was de-iced. That reminded me of a scene in a Sci-Fi movie.  This huge unidentifiable creature blowing hot air on the wings.  :-)   Finally, we were off.   Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever flown Spirit but they are a bare-bones airline that only charges 1/2 the price and give you 1/2 the luxury of their competitors.  My ticket with the $30 for luggage came to $442.00 plus the extra $25 was still way below the next cheapest ticket I could find which was over $800.  I figured I could put up with a bit of uncomfort at that savings. Well, I am glad I wasn’t any larger than I am, as my knees came close to rubbing the seat back in front of me when it was reclined.  Yes, it reclined.  Some of the seats on the other planes did not.  I noticed that there are bigger seats toward the front of the plane and they got smaller and closer together as you went back.  I think the biggest seats were $50 extra and the middle ones $20 or $30.  And if I ever fly Spirit again, yes, I would very definitely consider paying for a bigger seat.  As it was, these in the back were the freebies and I had a lot of trouble trying to sleep.

    They have a menu card that gives the options of what you can buy.  Most of it was pop, pringles, candy or some kind of stronger drink.  All sweets and carbs.  Not so great for a diabetic to say the least.  I was glad for the little bag of jerky in my pack.  I did ask for water and was brought 2 bottles of room temp. water.  I thought it was interesting that those who bought pop or juice got a cup of ice to go with it.  I suppose I should’ve asked.  The least they could’ve done was said “no”.  I am not sure but I think the second bottle was a slip-up on their part but who was I to complain?  I had to use my credit card to get that at the tune of $3.  I ended up buying a Cup of noodles on the second leg of my trip.

    We arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL just as the sun was coming up.  I was glad to get off the plane and stretch my legs.  I was to have a 4 hour lay-over there so I settled down and began to work on Lanet’s quilt.  It was coming right along.  They had several places to buy food there so I got a sandwich and ate my lunch there.  We were to take off at 10:48 EST AM and get to Guatemala City a little after noon (CST), 3 hours later.  It was a little hard to keep up with leaving a Central time zone going to Eastern time then back to Central again so I had to keep adjusting the time in my head.

    The plane was delayed due to inspection, they said.  One of the unfortunate things about Spirit Airlines is they forget to communicate with their passengers.  I forgot how late the flight was delayed before they ever made the announcement that we were going to be delayed.  The sign board, of course, just said:  ON TIME.   Hummpf    :-( Finally at 2PMEST (1:00 CST) we boarded the plane and took off for Guatemala. I did think that it was better to be late and have the plane inspected on the ground than to be in the air and wished they had.

    We arrived there about 4 PM CST 4 hours late.  After going through customs and claiming my suitcase and more customs, I was out and was met by Tim and Rhoda Korver. Now my arrival was kept under hats so that I could surprise Tiana, so Tim hadn’t even told Rhoda who they were picking up.  Rhoda, thinking of her birthday the next day, thought perhaps it was one of her family coming to surprise her.  Tim told her not to get her hopes up so when she saw me she asked, “Is that who I think it is?”  Of course, she wasn’t a shocked as the last time we went to visit but we were happy to see each other anyway.  She has been a dear friend of mine for 12 years now.  :-)

    We arrived at Mennonite Headquarters in time for me to lie down and rest a bit before supper.  Since the plane was late, my scheduled bus ride that afternoon was no longer valid so we rescheduled one on the night bus at 10PM.   Harold Kauffman loaned me his extra cell phone (the same one we’d used in Oct.) so that I would be able to communicate with Benj on my way up to the Peten.

    A group of 4 young people from Chambersburg, and Bellville, PA had come that day too.  Tristan Funk had been a VSer a couple of years ago so he brought some cousins down to visit. Tristan and Tim took me to the bus terminal to get the night bus.

    I hadn’t thought I needed to change my dollars into Quetzales so was taken aback when they wouldn’t take my dollars.  I asked what the fare was.  Q180.  Gulp.  I was sure that 4 of us took that same bus line for Q600 which came out to Q150 each.  I asked Tim if he had any Q’s.  He had Q156…Tristan hadn’t changed any money yet either.  Tim showed the lady what he had and she adamantly said it was Q180.  Well, the fare must’ve gone up since Oct.  Now what?  Tim went outside the station to talk to Tristan.  Next thing I knew Tristan came in and asked the lady how much my ticket was and she said, without batting an eye: “Q150″! I teased him that they thought he was nicer looking than Tim.  LOL  what I didn’t see and what the ladies apparently had that was Tim went out and asked Tristan if he had any Q’s and saw that Tristan didn’t have any and saw Tim give Tristan the money and must’ve figured they’d give me a ticket for Q150. They also remembered Tristan.

    Anyway, I was relieved….I gave Tim my $20 bill and we were all squared. The bus left shortly after that.   This bus had 2 seats on one side of the isle and 1 on the opposite side.  I was seated by the window beside a nice enough fellow.  The seats were reclining but alas, mine was missing its foot and leg rest so that it left my legs dangling and cut off the circulation to my feet.  I am sure that poor guy thought he had the wiggliest seatmate ever.  So, not much sleep and rest for me that trip either.  At least the seat wasn’t worn out.  This was the ADN bus, one of the few bus lines that will stop in El Chal.  I was kind of bothered by the air conditioner over my head.  It looked like it could be sort of dangerous if it jarred loose.  I prayed that it would stay up where it was supposed to.

    This was right above my seat.  It looked sort of dangerous to me.

    This was right above my seat. It looked sort of dangerous to me.

    I arrived about 5:30 or 6 in the morning.  The bus driver asked me, “Primero tumulo?”  Which means first speed bump.  Sure enough there was Benj waiting for me.  I could’ve walked in to their house which was only 1 block from the highway but that suitcase was heavy with exactly 50# in it so I was relieved that he had come.

    Benj's house

    Benj’s house

    IMG_0155

    IMG_0152IMG_0156IMG_0160

    Neighboring property

    Neighboring property

    Benji's backyard

    Benji’s backyard

    IMG_0169IMG_0168

    Hammocks in backyard

    Hammocks in backyard

    I walked into their house as most of them were eating breakfast.

    Eating breakfast.

    Eating a meal at Benj’s

    A full table

    A full table

    IMG_0084

    Sue was still sleeping on the couch but the other two grandchildren were surprised to see Grandma walk in.  :-)   I went to the girls’ bedroom and pulled on Tiana’s toes to wake her up.  She just groaned and mumbled something but when the sound of my voice penetrated her brain, she was up in a flash giving me a bear hug.  “MOMMY!”  It made all the discomfort worth it. Sue too didn’t want to wake up but once she saw me she was up like a jack-in-the-box, happy to see her Grandma.  Sleep was forgotten.

    There were 3 young men at the table that I’d never met before.  These 3 had contacted the mission and had wanted to come and do some work project, they referred them to Benj.  Benj is building a house and so this was a very welcome work team.  Matt King is Amish and Leroy Brubaker and Darrel Horst are “Joe Wenger” Mennonites, I believe.  They added to the good times we had the week I was there.  I really enjoyed getting to know them.

    I did take a long nap that day.  I can’t remember if it was before or after lunch.   What I did mostly that week was wash dishes it seemed so I am not sure if I can recount each day as they were a lot alike.

    Doing dishes with the granddaughters

    Doing dishes with the granddaughters

    One of the first things Sue asked me was if we could have a Slumber Party.  I looked kind of doubtful but she assured me that her Mommy let her have Slumber Parties.

    Having our slumber party.

    Having our slumber party.

    So I agreed and was pleasantly relieved that their slumber parties was when the adult slept on the couch and the kiddos on the floor!  Now, I can handle that kind, thank you very much.

    Lanet, 2, hardly gave Vernon and I the time of day when we were there in Oct. but this time, she knew me and I found I had my built in “puppy” following me about.  She’d take my hand and say, “Grandma, come.  Come Grandma, sit down.  Read.  Or Chicle?  Sometimes she’d take me into the bedroom and point to my purse and ask sweetly, “Chicle?” (gum).

    Tiana and I took the little girls up town a little ways and bought fruit,veggies and meat.

    Going marketing.

    Going marketing.

    IMG_0100IMG_0101

    Want to buy a Tuk tuk?  This one is for sale in a store up town.

    Want to buy a Tuk tuk? This one is for sale in a store up town.

    On Valentine’s day Benj took the fellows to Ixpanpajul and on up to Santa Elena.  He came back with a bunch of flowers for his Valentines.

    These two were mine.  Grandson begged one from me so I gave it to him

    These two were mine. Grandson begged one from me so I gave it to him

    Holly's bouquet.

    Holly’s bouquet.

    IMG_0141Holly made donuts for her Valentine.  :-)

    Yummy

    Yummy

    I did get Lanet’s quilt done:

    Lanet's quilt

    Lanet’s quilt

    Butterflies on the border.

    Butterflies on the border.

     

    Another day, Tiana and I went alone as I wanted to buy a little broom for Kaity that I’d seen in one of the stores.  We also went to a Paca.  This is a used clothing store with clothes brought down from the USA.

    On Sat. Tiana and I took a Tuk tuk up to Judy Lehman’s house to make 4 flat sheet cakes for the refreshments after the baptismal service. That evening Ruben and Sandra Benito planned to make supper for us.  Those two are Jose Benito’s children….he was our bishop when we lived in El Novillero.  Jose lives in San Bartolome,  Ruben came up for this occasion.  Sandra lives in El Chal and is the pharmacist at the mission clinic.  Ruben  had lived with Benj’s for a year a couple of years ago.  He was baptized 2 years ago on Benj’s birthday and wanted to do this meal to thank Benj for all his support, etc and to celebrated Benj’s birthday and his baptism.  So, they lit a fire in the yard and Sandra made her famous Carne Asado.  Unfortunately, Benj didn’t get home until kind of late so by the time we actually ate, the meat was cool and tough…I should’ve put mine in the microwave to heat it up…but the flavor was still scrumptious.  Stephan’s came over that night too to help us eat it.

    getting the fire going

    getting the fire going

    IMG_0164

    Grilling with flashlight

    Grilling with flashlight

    Priscila Munoz

    Priscila Munoz

    Ruben and Sandra reading to youngsters

    Ruben and Sandra reading to youngsters

    IMG_0182

    Sunday, the church was packed with all the visitors.

    The church from El Naranjo/Santa Rosita came down to be there for this special event besides a work team from Ontario, Canada who was there working on the school Isaias Munoz and his family were up from the south….Oratorio as he has bishop oversight for the churches in El Chal and Sta Rosita since Mark Gingerich’s have been in Peru.  Isaias’ daughter, Priscila, lives with Benj’s family too and goes to school with Kendra Lily.  I teased Isaias that Jose Benito baptized our oldest 3 children, Harold Kauffman baptized the next 3 and if he, Isaias, baptized Tiana, he would need to do the last 2.  He said he’d be glad if we’d move back to Guatemala so that he could.  :-)

    We had a carry-in lunch at church and then had a little time to relax before evening services.   Holly is supposed to be on bedrest so she missed out on church in the morning.  ‘She did make it to church that evening where we had a beautiful service. We video-taped the service for the most part.  I was bummed out that we ran out of room on the camera chip for that last song:  “I want us to be together in Heaven”.  It was beautiful.  Everyone held hands and sang with gusto.  Tears flowing down cheeks unashamed.  I thought that was a little foretaste of Heaven!  I would like to post the videos on You-tube if I can.  I haven’t had any success posting videos on Xanga since they redid their site.  I hope you don’t mind but I think I will make a separate post for this occasion.  Here are a couple of pictures though to whet your interest.

    Mommy and daughters....at least 1/3 of them

    Mommy and daughters….at least 1/3 of them

    A glowing girl

    A glowing girl

    Tiana's baptism

    Priscila praying a blessing for Tiana

    Stephan and Isaias greeting Tiana

    Stephan and Isaias greeting Tiana

    Tiana giving her testimony

    Tiana giving her testimony

    My and my girls

    Me and my girls

    We came back to Benj’s to find that someone had come in and helped themselves to Benj’s Ipad (which, by the way, he had offered to let me use for a Bible…..I could’ve kicked myself for not doing that.) and their laptop besides some money.  I was relieved that I had my Q’s on me and that they hadn’t touched my dollars nor my passport.  The thief didn’t take any of Benj’s $$ either.  I guess its easier to track a thief when they try to change $$ into Q’s.  Also Kendra Lily and Priscila’s laptops were not stolen either so they feel the thief was in a hurry.  I felt bad as Holly had just downloaded all her pictures from her camera onto the laptop so we could use her camera chip for the baptism.  She said that she had just backed up everything on the computer about 6 weeks earlier so at least they didn’t lose everything.  That kind of put a damper on everyone’s spirits at any rate.

    Monday, I think, I went with Kendra Lily to the clinic for the afternoon.  The staff on duty that day was Julia King, Sandra Benito, KL and Priscila Munoz.

    MAM Clinic

    MAM Clinic

    Clinic lab

    Clinic lab

    Neb Center

    Neb Center

    KL's exam room

    KL’s exam room

    license

    license

    KL's corner

    KL’s corner

    From Luci Miller

    From Luci Miller

    KL's exam room

    KL’s exam room

    Pris' exam room

    Pris’ exam room

    Studying at counter

    Studying at counter

    nurses lounge.  :-)

    nurses lounge. :-)

    KL looking something up online

    KL looking something up online

    Counting pills and bagging them

    Counting pills and bagging them

    Clinic pharmacy

    Clinic pharmacy

    I also went over to the school to take a peek of what the work team from Canada was accomplishing.  Had a good visit with Waneta Erb the school secretary.  Unfortunately, my battery failed on the camera so no pictures.  :-(

    On Tuesday I was sewing a dress for Holly when Leroy asked me how much fabric it would take for Sue and Lanet.  I told him I thought I could do it with 2 and 1/2 yards.  He brought over a big bag of fabric that he had bought in the City and asked me to chose a piece for the girls.  Holly picked out a couple from the pile and then had Sue choose of those.  She chose a lite green piece that measure 1 and 3/4 yard.  Yikes.  Could I get 2 little dresses out of that piece without it being too skimpy?  What made it worse was big gold letters stamped along the bottom edge saying the name of the fabric and where it was made.  Holly and I found they could be scraped off and we managed to get it off!  When I got done cutting them both out, I think I had a left over piece about the size of my hand besides a couple of odds and end scraps.  Now that’s what I call doing it right.  Nothing left over that can’t be used.  A great feeling of accomplishment.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sew them up but hopefully Holly will be able to soon.

    I am not sure when I got to go up to the Hill to see the progress on Benj’s house.  I was glad to get to see what has been accomplished since we were there in Oct.  Benj has barbed wire all around the porch and side of the house for protection of falling off I suppose.  Guess who got it in the face, not just once but twice?  Fortunately, it didn’t hurt too bad and didn’t leave a mark.  Darrel’s scratch was a lot more obvious.  :-(

    Walls are up

    Walls are up

    Darrel Horst laying block

    Darrel Horst laying block

    Ready for the roof

    Ready for the roof

    This is Tulio's truck aka IBA truck (Jim Kauffman or Erv Shirk's)

    This is Tulio’s truck aka IBA truck Jim Kauffman

    I told the girls that I wanted to go to Ixpanpajul for the Tarzan Tour.  I don’t think they they took me seriously at first.  Here’s Mom, the person that is SOOO afraid of heights wanting to do the cable rides?????  No way!   They made plans to take me on Wed. afternoon. So, about 2PM the 3 of us left the house for the 1/2 ride up to Ixpanpajul.  We had just gotten off the microbus and was walking in when the heavens opened up and gave us an impromptu shower!  Oh help…just what we needed.  I wasn’t sure if we could do this Tarzan tour in pouring  rain.  When we got to the pavilion where we were to pay, went to the restroom and dried off as much as we could with paper towels.  By that time the rain had passed so we paid and got into the back of a truck to take us to the first part of the tour. IMG_0621

    Entry to Ixpanpajul

    Entry to Ixpanpajul

    so pretty

    so pretty

    IMG_0618

    3 bees nest.  I think 2 are actually hornets

    3 bees nest. I think 2 are actually hornets

    All the while Tiana kept telling me, “You’ll freak out.  You’ll scream.  You won’t be able to do it.”  And all the while I kept assuring her that I could, that I wouldn’t freak out, I won’t scream and that they were underestimating their Mama. The road up the hill and down into the jungle was as steep as I have ever seen.  I honestly believe that it must’ve been at least a 75 degree angle up that hill and back down.  I didn’t freak out but it was hard not to, especially, wondering what kept us from flipping over onto our top as we scaled that hill.  No, it didn’t take us up on switch backs.   And then going down the other side.  Whoa!  I tried to take pictures of it but you have to have it in 3D to get the real thing.

    A steep hill

    A steep hill

    The pictures all look flat. Finally we stopped at the base of a TALL tree with a ladder going up.   We geared up and started up the ladder.

    Getting into my harness

    Getting into my harness

    Tiana's turn

    Tiana’s turn

    Kendra Lily

    Kendra Lily

    Ready to climb

    Ready to climb

    Climbing up

    Climbing up

    I am making progress.  This was exhausting.  The last step I literally crawled up.

    I am making progress. This was exhausting. The last step I literally crawled up.

    Its a long way to down

    Its a long way to down

    The rungs were slippery and treacherous but I finally made it to the top.

    Looking down through the platform

    Looking down through the platform

    platform around tree

    platform around tree

    The guides clipped us onto the rails to keep us from falling off, then the first guide went off into space.  Then KL.  After her was me , then Tiana and the last guide.  The order was so that KL could video me coming and Tiana videoing me from behind.  They had to document this well.  :-)   Tiana was still sure I would freak out. They have made some changes on this cable tour since Jonny went almost 2 years ago.  It used to be that the person on the cable would brake himself by hanging onto the cable itself.  Jonny’s glove got caught in the pulley and he was stranded over the jungle until a guide came and untangled his glove.  Now the first guide goes it that way but when he reached the landing he hooked up the braking system which is something on the cable that stops the person from slamming into the tree. So, when it was my turn to go, I had some trepidation and forced myself into space.   I went flying over the jungle too fast to really enjoy the scenery but talk about exhilarating.  Wow wee!!

    Getting hooked on

    Getting hooked on

    Ready, set......

    Ready, set……

    GO!

    GO!

    Here I come!

    Here I come!

    Look out, get out of my way!

    Look out, get out of my way!

    What a ride.  Yahoo!  and all that stuff but no freaking out or screaming.    But suddenly the tree loomed ahead of me and I was going 90 mile an hour it seemed.  I was sure I was going to hit that tree and be knocked into Mexico or worse!  Still I didn’t scream.  I probably would have if  I hadn’t told the girls that I wouldn’t.  But that’s our secret, ok?  :-)   I had to put my trust into the guide’s ability to stop me on time. There were 6 of those cable rides on the tour and by the time we finished I was no longer afraid I’d slam into the tree.  I did get afraid that the first guide wouldn’t get me off the cable in time before Tiana came sailing into the back of me.

    Tiana's turn

    Tiana’s turn

    All in all I loved it and would do it again in a heart beat. By the way, the girls had to hand it to me, they didn’t think I could do it without losing my cool.  I think I rather impressed them.

    A soppy trio

    A soppy trio

    That evening was Benj’s birthday party.  I had told Judy Lehman about the party so she and her household….Vicky Hershberger, Sandra Benito, and another girl who is staying there temporarily joined us.

    Making the pizza.  Vicky is having some help with the crust.

    Making the pizza. Vicky is having some help with the crust.

    Of course, Matt, Leroy and Daryl was there too, besides Lucio Lopez, a boy that Benj is mentoring who was also baptized with Tiana. After the pizza, pop and Pringles, and the 2 ? meter firecrackers to celebrate,

    Birthday party

    Birthday party

    The birthday boy

    The birthday boy

    The party makers

    The party makers

    I told Benj that this time I wanted some fresh coconut.  His yard is full of coconut trees and piles of coconuts so there are plenty to chose from.  IMG_0157

    Coconuts

    Coconuts

    IMG_0150 He got Lucio to climb a tree and pick some coconuts.

    Climbing the tree

    Climbing the tree

    Up the tree

    Up the tree

    Coming back down

    Coming back down

    Drinking the milk

    Drinking the milk

    IMG_0629

    Matt

    IMG_0631

    Leroy and Darrel

     

    Then we opened some.  They scraped out the meat of one for me to bring home. Then the party was ove, but what a party!  At 9:45 I said good-bye to my 3 dear little grandchildren and the world’s sweetest daughter-in-law, gathered my bags and got into Benj’s pickup to go await the Maya de Oro bus. I admit, I had mixed feelings.  I wanted so badly to stay and yet my family in WI was pulling me home.  Oh well, all good things must come to an end. to be continued. I think this post is long enough….I’ll save the bus ride and the rest of the trip for the next post.  Or so.  :-)

  • Last day and homeward bound

    Ok folks, when I started this story I hadn’t meant it to be a book.   I didn’t even mean for it to be more than about 2 posts, but it has evolved into that.  I regret not keeping a diary while we were there as the longer it goes the harder it is for me to keep it all straight in my mind.  Good thing my memory has always been sharp.  LOL

    Anyway, to conclude the story, here goes:

    After we returned to MAM headquarters Sunday afternoon, Oct. 13, 2013 we had to say good-bye to our beautiful, sweet, graceful, talented, and beloved daughter, Kendra Lily.  (I could go on and on about her but I’ll spare you all.  :-) )  Anyway, she needed to head back to El Chal so she could be at the clinic the next day.   Vernon and Tim Korver took her to the bus terminal so she could take the night bus back up.  She said she got a really good bus.

    Tiana didn’t go along with her as Benj’s family was headed down to the mission that same night.  Holly’s parents were due to fly into the City from PA on Monday the 14th.  I am sure they met the bus KL was on somewhere in the middle of the night.

    I woke up early that morning thinking I heard the voice of little people.  I was up in a flash.  I told Vernon that our grandchildren were here.  We got up and went outside our room and there was no one stirring.  ?????  I must have been dreaming!  Looked at the clock and it was about 5 AM.  So, disappointed,  I went back to bed.

    Later on, we found out that Benj’s had gotten to the mission about 4:30 AM and apparently had come in to use the bathroom and then finished the night out in their pickup.  So, I wasn’t imagining things after all.  If I’d gotten out there sooner maybe I could’ve brought one of the little ones in to sleep or cuddle in our bed.  :-)

    Anyway, they were there for breakfast and it was a sweet reunion again.  We had only been gone for 4 days so it was fun for them too as they remembered us well.

    After breakfast, Holly and I walked down the street to Walmart for her to pick up a few needed items.  Later on, Vernon went with them to the airport to pick up James and Cheryl Long.  We hadn’t all been together since Benj and Holly’s wedding 7 years earlier so this was special.  Of course, we had to take some pictures of our shared grandchildren.

    With both sets of Grandparents

    With both sets of Grandparents

    They had planned to head north soon after lunch but Tiana and her Daddy finally had their much-needed father/daughter talk……so they patiently waited until they were done talking.

    Tiana and Daddy

    Tiana and Daddy

    Father/Daughter talk

    Father/Daughter talk

    Packing the pickup

    Packing the pickup

    Organizing the pickup

    Organizing the pickup

    Packing the pickup

    Getting the pickup ready for the trip back to El Chal while waiting.

    Of course, I used this time to fill up my Grandma Love Tank with the little ones and having a good time with Cheryl and Holly too.  Cheryl and I share a lot of the same interests.

    Vernon, Ruben Benito and Harold visiting

    Vernon, Ruben Benito and Harold visiting

    Even so, the painful good-byes came at last.

    Sad farewell

    Sad farewell

    Saying good-bye to another beautiful, talented and lovely daughter was maybe more difficult than it was with KL.  Tiana had planned to fly home for a visit in November but had just learned that she had missed her chance to use her ticket.  We thought that she had a year from the time she flew down.  Unfortunately it was a year from when it was booked in Oct.   She was so disappointed and was really trying to work through this so it was hard part but we felt it best that she stay in Guatemala for the time being.  (She is in instruction class and she has been blessing Benj’s family by helping with housework.)

    Bye!

    Bye!

    Tiana and a couple of little on the back.  7-9 hours ahead of them

    Tiana and a couple of Littles on the back. 7-9 hours ahead of them

    After seeing them off, we and Tim Korver’s went downtown to  Dr. Tercero (the Urologist) and Dr. Manuel Caceres’ office.  Rhoda had been having some issues with her stomach so I had made an appointment with one of my doctors who specializes in her problem.  We got there and were in the waiting room when the receptionist called us to go in.

    Dr. Manuel, didn’t know we were there and I wished so much that I’d had a camera ready.  He started to usher us into his office when his eyes lit up and a grin as big as it could go when he suddenly recognized us.  He stuttered a little as he got over his surprise.  “Yes. Yes. Yes, of course.”  :-)   That’s one of his favorite quotes.

    With Dr. Manuel Caceres

    With Dr. Manuel Caceres

    This man has been a very close friend over the years.  We met him when Tiana was just 5 days old.  I had had a gallbladder attack then and Vernon had brought me to the hospital.  Dr.  Fahsen called his brother, Julio, who examined me and turned me over to his older brother Manuel.  We clicked with him….(we hadn’t with Julio) and a couple years later he eventually operated on me and removed the offending organ.  He also saw me through a few other problems, such as sinus infections, kidney stones, etc.  He also did surgery on Vernon’s left middle finger that he had pinched off in the hammermill accident.

    The one thing I remember was how supportive he was in Joy Coates’ ordeal.  He had taken care of Melissa when she had an asthma attack.  He even had gone to the airport when the authorities took Joy and were going to fly her to the US.  (You can read about that in “A Song For Your Honor”….by Kay Evans published by CLP).  Even now, he will answer my questions via email if I happen to want to know something.  :-)   He works with the German embassy as he is fluent in that language.  He also works with insurance companies for the tourists.  If a tourist gets sick or has an accident, he will fly out to the tourist in a plane or helicopter and transport that person to a hospital in the City.  He also will fly with that person to his or her country for medical help.

    Waiting for the Korver's at Caceres' office

    Waiting for the Korver’s at Caceres’ office

    After we visited a little we left his office so that Rhoda could have her appointment.   When that was over we stopped on another floor to say hello to our Ob/Gyn Dr. Derik Fahsen.  He was not there as he was doing a C-section.  We were disappointed but it couldn’t be helped so we headed back to the mission.

    We finally got back to the mission and we packed up ready to leave the next morning.  Had a nice visit with Harold Kauffman.   Harold had been our bishop here at Sheldon Mennonite for a number of years but had returned to Guatemala in July to help out there.  He is amazing…88 years old and still going strong.  When he is here, he lives at Conrath Villa, only a block away.

    Harold Kauffman

    Harold Kauffman

    Harold and Tim Korver at MAM headquarters

    Harold and Tim Korver at MAM headquarters

    Next day came too soon as we had to get up early.  I don’t remember who took us to the airport.  Either Craig or Tim.  :-)

    At the airport

    At the airport

    We were there early so we took advantage of that by looking for a “Recuerdo” for Jonny.  I had gotten everybody else something.  Dress fabric for the girls, coffee for Marvin, an umbrella for Kaity but nothing for Jonny.  I knew what I wanted but it took us awhile to find the right one.  So here it is:

     

    The perfect souvenir for Jonny.   It had to be a red one.  Found this at Aurora Airport

    The perfect souvenir for Jonny. It had to be a red one.   Found this at Aurora Airport.

    We flew to San Salvador then on to Chicago.  The flights and lay over went well and once we were in Chicago we got a bus to Beloit, WI.

    Vernon called Arthur Kauffman, Harold’s son, who had come to the airport and took our car, a RED MUSTANG, back to Beloit so that we wouldn’t have to pay $17 a day to be parked at the airport.  (Vernon had warned him that he MIGHT want to park it behind his house. :-) )

    Arthur and Evelyn met us at a McDonald’s with the car and instead of eating there we decided to go awhile before stopping.   So away we went, headed north and home!

    I am not exactly sure where we stopped.  There were a choice of  2 restaurants….McDonald’s or A&W.  When Vernon asked my opinion, I said we hadn’t been to an A&W since 1986 so that sealed our fate.   When we got inside, there was a group of 15 or 20 youngsters with a couple of adults.  Looked like a kindergarten class.  They were a noisy group but when we were joined by a busload of middle school students we wondered if we had made a mistake in our choice of restaurants.  The din was awful!

    We gave our order:  I ordered a Coney Dog  and a rootbeer float.  He got a hamburger and a rootbeer float.   Then we got an order of onion rings to share.  We found a corner that we thought we could eat in peace but were soon surrounded by these preteens or young teens who were having the time of their lives, hollering, joking, laughing and of course, eating.  We didn’t stick around any longer than we had to.  We were anxious to get home anyway so the desire to linger wasn’t even a temptation.

    We were motoring up the highway for about a half hour when I casually mentioned to Vernon that my belly was feeling a bit gassy.  He asked me if I needed to stop.   I told him that it wasn’t desperate but I could probably use the restroom before too long.   Not long late,r I saw an exit ahead so I told him that I changed my mind, that I did need to use a restroom and it was getting urgent.  We pulled up to the gas station and I was out the door as soon as it was safe to get out of the car.

    I spent so much time  in the ladies’ room that I was afraid that Vernon would be worried about me….. ;(  When I finally felt well enough to return to the car I was surprised that Vernon wasn’t there.  I went back in the convenience store and was browsing when the urge hit me again so back I went to the restroom.   Finally, back on the road, Vernon confessed that he almost didn’t make it to the restroom in time.    Oh, did we ever laugh!  I think howling may be more like it.  Every time I thought about it I started to giggle and then Vernon would join in.  He told me that he was glad he had a wife that could laugh about things such as this.   We have wondered what caused the scoots but figured it had to be the onion rings.  Whatever it was, neither of us are too anxious to patronize an A&W again for awhile.  If it had been about 30 years since the last time, well maybe waiting another 30 years won’t hurt.   And Culver’s is a very good substitute in our opinion.

    Finally arrived home about 11 PM……and our bed and our own pillows felt as good as we had remembered them.  It was so good to be home.

    What a vacation!  What a trip!  All because of a 4.5mm kidney stone.

    ~concluded~

    One thing I forgot to mention:  Before we left Jonny had asked me to tell Lee Burkholder hi for him.  When I met Lee I told him I had a message from Jonathan Martin.  “Oh, do you live in the same area as Jonny?”  “Do you go to the same church?”  Imagine his chagrin when he realized that I was Jonathan’s mother.  :-)

    A rose at MAM headquarters

    A rose at MAM headquarters

     

     

     

  • Novillero and Nahuala

    After spending a little time with Lencho and Rosa’s family….they gave us some hard panes (kind of like sugar cookies and coffee for a snack.  I was getting rather hungry by then so had to consider this breakfast.  Lencho offered the use of their car to drive to church up the road about 10 or 12 miles so we took him up on that.

    We, of course, had not been there since they had put in the new 4 lane highway and had built some bridges over some of the barrancos and eliminated some of the excess curves.  It is amazing how much a place can change in a very short time.  We used to marvel at the changes we saw when we would return from a 2 or 3 month furlough so you can imagine what changes has come in the 7 years since we’d been there.   We would see something that we remembered and it was almost  like a long-time friend among strangers.

    We arrived at Chirijox before anyone else had arrived for the services.  We parked and got out of the car—had to park it on the street as they have the church yard fenced in now.   We used to always park up next to the church.  Jacinto, Ana Tzoc’s, husband,  who is now a member came to greet us.  Soon, his father-in-law, Miquel Tzoc came out.   They all live in a single compound right next to the church house.   Miguel shook my hand and asked me who I was.  “Soy Kim.” (I am Kim.)   His eyes lit up and he indicated to Vernon.  “Then that must be Hermano Vernon!”

    Yeah, it must be, I thought with amusement.  Miguel couldn’t tell who it was but he knew my name and of course knew that strange man must be Vernon.  I think his eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be but then it has been 11 years since we left there and Vernon now sports hair on his Chinny chin chin.  :-)    Too bad Miguel’s hand glasses don’t help him any.  (I said that for my children’s benefit…..Miguel used to entertain them during church by putting his hands up to his face and pretend they were glasses….I guess he was bored and figured they were too.  :-) )  Oh well, he’s a nice old man and we like him.  His wife passed away sometime after we moved to WI.   His children are all grown and only Maria, one of the twins is living at home now.    I am guessing she is around 30….not sure if she is older or younger than Susana but around her age.   Maria is a Christian but has never been baptized.  I am not sure what’s holding her back.

    Then Diego Tzquin and his family came walking up the street.  They walk a number of kilometers to come to church.  They live in an aldea called Pachipac up the mountain above Nahuala.

    Diego is the deacon and was Vernon’s helper in the church work the 13 years we lived there.  His family has been an inspiration to us from the time we met in 1989 and we are still very good friends.  Diego’s had 8 children but only 3 daughters lived.  None of the girls are married although they have had offers. Catarina said it something like this:  “We won’t give up Jesus just to get a husband.”    I am not sure why they didn’t find husbands in the church but I suppose it is partially they are more isolated than some of the other church in MAM (Mennonite Air Missions) and another they are Mayan Indians and a lot of the other churches are more Latin people.  The cross culture may have a part in it….I am sure it does, but it is the men’s loss because in our humble opinion, these girls are the cream of the crop.

    Catarina Tzquin

    Catarina Tzquin

    Catarina, Cata, as we call her is now in her 40′s but she was my right arm the last several years we lived in Guatemala.  We could TOTALLY trust her to care for our family when I couldn’t.  In fact, I did at times.  We knew that our children were always in good hands and that she would care for them as well as she would her own children.  I think our leaving was hardest on her as she had been living with us the last few months over the time Jonny was born.  I was on bedrest so she became our girls’ second mother.  Susana was over in Belize the summer of  ’02 cooking at Cayo Deaf Institute so Cata came to help.  She and 3 year-old Lavina were particularly close.  Cata and her sister Magda knit sweaters for us too.

    Anyway, we were glad to see them all…except Magdalena who had to stay home to watch the house in case of burglars.   They take turns so we missed seeing her.

    It had been Jose Benito’s turn to come to Nahuala that Sunday but he knew we were planning to go so he had called Diego to tell him that Vernon was going to preach and he wouldn’t be coming.  (Spoil sport.  :-( )  So, the element of surprise was gone but they told us they would bring our lunch for the day.  Usually we packed a lunch because the afternoon service starts about 1:00.

    It was interesting to sit through another service of Quiche…..of course, we didn’t get much out of it either but we are experts of pretending we know what is being said.  I guess I am not as expert as some of our family.  Its ok, though, if Vernon can encourage them in Quiche, I am glad he can do that.   We enjoyed singing in the tiny little church building and recalling the many memories of years gone by.

    After the service we had lunch with Diego’s family in the church’s new kitchen/Sunday school room.  When we lived there, we didn’t have any building there.  The children’s SS class was in the little school room in the back room of the church which sometimes caused a disturbance depending on what songs they sang and how loud they happened to be reciting their verses.   Seven years ago when we last visited there, they had a wooden structure that had been hastly put up for some special meetings they were having.  This new building was built to replace the shack and is a very nice improvement to the church.  We always picnicked inside the church or in our van on cold and rainy days or out in the front lawn on nice days.  If we needed anything heated we had to go to Miguel’s kitchen next door to use their plancha.

    Fixing lunch

    Fixing lunch

    Deigo, Cata, Maria, Kendra Lily and Dominga getting lunch ready.

    Deigo, Cata, Maria, Kendra Lily and Dominga getting lunch ready.

    Tortillas to go with our Chow Mein

    Tortillas to go with our Chow Mein

    Ana brought us some lunch too.

    Roasted corn ears

    Roasted corn ears

    Tiana and KL eating lunch

    Tiana and KL eating lunch

    You pick the kernels off one by one to eat this corn.  Nothing like your tender sweet corn.  This is field corn

    You pick the kernels off one by one to eat this corn. Nothing like your tender sweet corn. This is field corn

    Tough but we still like it.

    Tough but we still like it.

    IMG_9459

    Kernel by kernel

     

    Almost gone

    Almost gone

    Maria, Catarina, Dominga and Diego Tzquin

    Maria, Catarina, Dominga and Diego Tzquin

    Deacon + pastor = very close friends

    Deacon + pastor = very close friends

    Just for the record….When Marvin outgrew his shirts when he was 13, he gave them to Diego….they fit him perfectly.

    Jacinto and Ana and their 2 girls

    Jacinto and Ana and their 2 girls

    The kitchen was not the only improvement made on this property.  If we wanted to use the restroom, when we moved to El Novillero twenty-four years ago, we had to use one that was very primitive.   Sometime along the way the government had a project going to build “sanitary” facilities to everyone that needed one.  Now, this project, helped to upgrade the one at church.  Wow.  We thought this one was nice.  :-)   When I saw the new ones this time, I could hardly believe it.  They even have separate ones for the men and the women.   I told the girls that I took pictures of the new ones to show the family.   Cata told me I should take a picture of the old one that we had thought was so wonderful for a comparison.  I did just that.   But I was amused that the new door still had a couple of holes.  (Knotholes)

    The old upgraded toilet from the outside

    The old upgraded toilet from the outside

    The old upgraded toilet.  :-) 7 years ago, Jonny couldn't use this.  Wonder what he would've done with the first one we had?

    The old upgraded toilet. :-) 7 years ago, Jonny couldn’t use this. Wonder what he would’ve done with the first one we had?

    Really modern....Ladies

    Really modern….Ladies

    Hey, these even flush.  Men's  They have a tub of water outside between the two doors

    Hey, these even flush. Men’s.   They have a tub of water outside between the two doors

    Least we think we are too high class....the door still sports knotholes.  :-)

    Least we think we are too high class….the door still sports knotholes. :-)

    Least anyone thinks I am poking fun, please know that I am really impressed with these changes and I am not making fun in the least.  We would have loved having it this nice when we lived there.  Of course, we did in our house but a lot of people had corn stalk walls to their outhouses with a piece of plastic that served as a door.  Hey, at least they had an outhouse.  Some didn’t until the government program came and built them.

    Moss growing on the wall behind the church house in Chirijox.

    Moss growing on the wall behind the church house in Chirijox.

    Tiana posing beside the mossy wall

    Tiana posing beside the mossy wall

    Tiana

    Tiana posing beside church and mossy wall.

    After the afternoon service we headed back to Novillero.   Craig Martin, (a 2nd cousin) had gone out to San Marcos for the service there and offered to pick us up at 3 in Novillero.  I was so glad we didn’t have to get on another bus.  In case you may have wondered, some people love riding those buses but it never was my favorite activity.

    We had lived close to some Catholic nuns while we lived there and became very close friends in our later years.  Immaculata Burke was born in Ireland and Marie Tolley is a native of New York.  Immaculata immigrated from Ireland to New York when she was young and these two women have been in Novillero since the late 60′s or early 70′s.  When Mary Beth (Bentz) Hogan was our children’s school teacher in ’97-’99 she started having our youngsters go sing for these two wonderful women.  Our family continued that until we left in 2002.  The nuns were not happy that our family left and often had told us that we were their quietest neighbors.  They, of course, were referring to the loudspeakers that most of the churches around have mounted on their rooftops to broadcast their services.   Only those that have lived in or visited Guatemala can visualize the noise we were subjected to.  One Sunday afternoon I had to stay home with a sick child and I went out onto our porch and counted 9 different services being broadcast within a 1/2 mile radius of our house!  Big time racket to put it mildly.  I remind the nuns, whenever they say something about us being quiet,  that we don’t need any loudspeaker…..our family is loud enough.

    Anyway, the 2 times I have been back to Guatemala since we moved away….6 and 7 years respectively, I had wanted to visit with the nuns.  The first time, we got to see Marie but Immaculata was sleeping and they didn’t want to awaken her.  The last time another nun answered the door and said my friends weren’t home.  Talk about disappointment.   This time I prayed that God would allow them to be home.  They are both elderly and Immaculata hasn’t been in the best of health.  At 90+ years, and we only getting a chance to visit every 6 or 7 years doesn’t leave us a lot of possibility that she’ll live to the next time we visit.   We pulled into their driveway and were hopeful because there was a couple of vehicles parked there.

    A knock on the door brought Immaculata herself to answer it.  Her delight was evident when she called “Marie, we have very special visitors to see us!”  Marie didn’t guess who it was and began dancing in her excitement when she saw us.  They confessed that they thought they’d never see us again.  We had a delightful little visit which we terminated by singing “Jesus Christ the Son of God” and “All Things Work Together For Good” for them before we left.  I almost cried thinking how good God was to answer my heartfelt prayer to get to see them again.  I said that it made my day.  They assured us that we made their day.  Marie couldn’t get done hugging the girls and exclaiming how happy she was to see us….”And one more hug for the road, girls, just one more hug.”   (We just received a Christmas card from them in which they wrote: “We wish your family could Christmas carol for us this year.”  How we would have loved to do so.

    They run a medical and dental clinic there, right across the street from our old church house in Novillero, and they wouldn’t let us pay to do our dentistry.  Every dentist and doctor that graduates from college in Guatemala has to give a year in service (internship) somewhere in Guatemala.  Since Immaculata was a friend to the dean of dentistry she got first dibs on any of the students….so she would pick someone who got the highest grades to serve in her clinic.  So we had free dental work there.   Also, it was Immaculata who got the job of bandaging Vernon’s finger that got smashed off when the hammermill fell on it in 1997.

    Oh yes, every time we’d go to visit them, they’d give the children candy that was sent from the New York church for the heathen children.  They would joke: “Yours are heathens aren’t they?”  More than I cared to admit.  :-)   When our oldest son took his family to see them a year or so ago, the question was; “May we give the Heathen’s children some candy too?”  :-)   I suppose there might be a reason our children were partial to Immaculata and Marie.  :-)

    With our dear friends Immaculata Burke and Marie Tolley.

    With our dear friends Marie Tolley and Immaculata Burke .

    "You have made my day!"  A group hug with the "heathen girls"

    “You have made my day!” A group hug with the “heathen girls”  Marie and Immaculata

    I had a bit of a hard time seeing how frail and fragile Immaculata was.  She is such a sweetheart.

    Reluctantly we left them and drove back to Lencho’s.  We had just parked the car in the carport when Rosa came running over and asked Kendra Lily to come quickly.  They have a big swimming pool in their yard and there was a group of students from the Escuela Normal (Normal School for teachers) just down the road and one of the girls fell about 7 feet onto the concrete.  Actually, I think there is a pulley or something rigged up from up there that they could ride down across the water and drop in.  I wish I would’ve thought to take pictures.  Anyway, 3 girls were up there and the one who fell said she had been pushed.   The other two denied that but it really scared everyone.  They had laid the girl out and Kendra Lily checked her.  Rosa called Lencho who was at their restaurant and told him about the accident.  Lencho came home and he and Rosa took the girl to Solola to the hospital  for Xrays.   We found out later that she was ok.  I do hope that Lencho moves the tower closer to the pool’s edge so that in case it happens again they will just fall into the pool.

    We didn’t stay long as 3 o’clock was coming up fast and we needed to see some other people.   Juanita Ovalle in particular. As we got out to the main street, Kendra Lily said that we should see if Domingo Chavez was home as he always asks about Vernon whenever he sees them.   She knocked on his door and he let us in, very happy to see Vernon.  He took us through his house to his son’s house at the back of their courtyard.  His daughter-in-law Celestina and I had been very close friends when we lived there.  We sat down in her living room when her husband Max came in.  He had heard us talking and had come to investigate.   Unfortunately, we had to go as it was nearly 3 o’clock.  We had to try to see Juanita yet.  She’d never forgive us….oh, she would but some of her family wouldn’t.  :-(

    Max and Celestina Chavez....our next door neighbor's in El Novillero

    Max and Celestina Chavez….our next door neighbor’s in El Novillero

    We went out the back door at Max and Celes’ and up the alley past our old house.   It was kind of hard to see it sitting there abandoned as is also the church house in Novillero.  The mission has given up the work in Novillero, which, we think is what needed to be done, but it doesn’t make it easier to think about.  Many years and little fruit but we did have roots there and that is where most of our children grew up.  Susana was 7 when we moved there and 20 when we left….13 years is a long time…..the longest time we ever lived in one place.   We didn’t have time to even explore for a tiny bit because just as we reached the bridge in front of our house, Craig came driving up.

    We asked him if he’d wait a bit for us to go see if Juanita was home.   He consented and Vernon and I went to Jorge Ovalle’s compound.  No one there except for Kevin, Juanita’s nephew.  We left a little gift there for Juanita and the family.  (She told me later he hadn’t given it to her….I guess Hershey chocolate bars were too tempting to keep. )  We left a message for her and she called me the next day at the mission.  Juanita had worked for us the 13 years we lived there.  At first she was our maid, then when Amalia came I taught her to knit sweaters…..She was by far my best knitter and could spot a mistake in a pattern and fix it without having to tell me.   Many times I would give her a pattern to try for a sample and fixed an error I had made.  No one else ever was that good at making sweaters.  In the sweater business she was my right arm.  She was totally trustworthy too.   She is a calm natured person which we really appreciated.

    We left and headed back into the mission.   Oh, in case you wondered….Craig made the trip from Los Encuentros to Tecpan in the same amount of time the bus had done it so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.  At least in the Mitsubishi van I didn’t feel like we were going to fly off one of the cliffs into the barranco!

    We tried to get a picture of a bus coming around a curve but weren't sucessful

    We tried to get a picture of a bus coming around a curve but weren’t sucessful

    Four lane highway between Novillero and TTecpan

    Four lane highway between Novillero and Tecpan

    We saw a rainbow as we were  coming into Chimaltenango so KL had fun taking more pictures.

    rainbow over El Tejar, Chimaltenango

    rainbow over El Tejar, Chimaltenango

    rainbow in El Tejar

    rainbow in El Tejar

    She also had taken  a bunch of photos of the different colors of soil where you can see the levels of dirt between Nahuala and Novillero where the road construction cut into the mountains.

    Layers of dirt between Nahuala and Novillero

    Layers of dirt between Nahuala and Novillero

    IMG_9479

    I wonder what made the white strip?

    We made it back to the mission too late and too tired to attend church in the City that night.  Sorry we missed seeing a bunch of our other friends by doing that.

    Well,  I think one more blog will finish up this story.   Until next time……

    Detailed Google Hybrid Map of NahualaHere is the Pan Am Highway.  We lived north of Santa Lucia, Utatlan,  at the edge of the highway.  You can see where the highway comes southeast with very few curves and then a sharp curve going northeast for a very little bit before going east.  We lived in the pocket of land at the curve.  I think 25 or so vehicle ran off the highway during that 13 years as it was a very dangerous curve and drop off, almost into Jorge Ovalle’s patio.  It got so I could recognize the sound of a vehicle running off the road and tumbling down the side of the hill.  :-(

    Chirijox is somewhere between Nahuala and Ixtahuacan…..about where the curves start to straighten out.  But you can see how the road is like a snake having contortions.  Not built for carsick prone people.  This terrain is about 9,000 ft above sea level.

     

     

  • Tacana bus to Solola

    We went back out to the Pan Am highway for further travels to our old stomping grounds.  As we waited there at Los Cipresales,  so called that because of the cypress trees there a few buses stopped but were not going where we wanted to go, so it was a little while before any of the right buses stopped.  One was a Tacana that tried to get us to go with them.  I noticed that Vernon didn’t seem too anxious to ride that one, but  I just figured it was because it was too full.  Shortly afterwards, another Tacana stopped.  Since it was going to Los Encuentros and on to Xela  and was nearly empty I said to Vernon,  “let’s go on this one.” He still hesitated and said something to the effect, “do we want to ride a Tacana?”  I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to go especially since this one wasn’t overcrowded.  Of course, the bus boy could see we were debating and encouraged us to get on.  So Vernon said alright and we got on.  Vernon and I sat right behind the driver and the girls each found a seat behind us.

    Off we roared, up the mountain toward Chichivac  at the top, and around the many curves.  This highway is now a 4 lane highway and is lovely.  I am not sure how many curves if any, were removed when they put in the 4 lane but if my memory serves me correctly there is at least 15 or 16 curves up that side of the mountain.  (I honestly believe there are more than that but I don’t want to stretch the truth. :-) ) I once knew how many curves were between Tecpan and El Novillero where we lived for 13 years but I’ve forgotten but think it was around 130.  Mile wise…hmm.  Tecpan is about km 90 and Novillero is km 144.5.   Anyway, back in our time it took us an hour to get from Novillero to Tecpan.

    We weren’t on the bus very long until I realized why Vernon was so reluctant to ride a Tacana.  It has the reputation of being on of the fastest bus lines between Guatemala City and San Marcos.  He wasn’t sure that we were up to that kind of speed.  We never figured out why we were traveling almost empty when another of the same bus line was overcrowded just ahead.   We never did catch up to the other bus which was only about 5 minutes ahead of us when we left Tecpan but it seemed that the bus driver was trying his level best to do so.

    I was hanging on for dear life!  Kendra Lily and Tiana were enjoying their ride but I think I would’ve had my fingernails gnawed to the quick if I hadn’t been hanging on so tightly.  I noticed the shape of the handrail in front of us.  “Look,” I told my family, “I think Aunt Pam must’ve been riding in this bus before us!”  I looked for a hole in the floor where she had been trying to put on the brake but couldn’t find any.

    IMG_9417

    IMG_9418

    Notice how he’s hanging on going around the curve.

    We made it up the mountain, back down the other side and through Los Trampas  (the part of the trip called the Traps because of how foggy it becomes during the night.—–how well I remember traveling that stretch and only knowing where we were by following the right line on the edge of the highway for a guide—-it can be very dangerous to navigate.)  This time it wasn’t night nor foggy but the bus driver took those curves like the devil was chasing us.  He would go around the curves to the left and hang onto the window frame then take the next curve to the right and hang onto the door opener to keep from sliding off his seat!  We made it to Los Encuentros  (The Encounters, where the road to Quiche meets the Pan Am Highway) in 30 minutes flat.  It had been one of the few really hair-raising bus rides I’ve had.  Another was one out of Quiche…..those buses are notorious for reckless driving on hairpin curves.  I did it once in an emergency and the emergency would have to be a whole lot greater for me to take that risk again!  Of course, the story that was floating around this time of a bus going off the road and down into the barranco killing over 50 people didn’t help my nervousness any at all!  Kendra Lily pointed out the saying on the front of the bus and asked me if I wasn’t glad that it was true.   Believe me, I was.

    IMG_9420

    God is accompanying us.

     

    At Los Encuentros, we got off the Tacana, with alacrity on my part and immediately boarded another bus bound for Solola.  This bus filled up rapidly and soon we were headed down to  that town.  Solola was the capital town of the department or state of Solola where we lived.  This was our market town where we did our marketing when we lived in Novillero.

    This town is also where Wycliff Bible Translators have an audio and video productions for their work.  It was through this that we met our friends Paul and Cheryl Bendele in 1993.  They were living Guatemala City part of the time and knew Anita Ovalle who was teaching in Wycliffe’s school.  They needed a midwife and asked Anita if she knew of any.  She referred them to us and I became Cheryl’s midwife for their son Elisha who was born in Feb. 6,1994.  Paul’s co-worker Pedro Bocel and his wife Cristina were also expecting a baby at the same time and wanted a home delivery so they asked me if I’d deliver her baby too.  I ended up having 1 day between the 2 births.   Joel came on Feb. 8th.

    Through this contact our families have been good friends ever since.  (Paul’s left Guatemala in May of 1994 and have served in Australia and  Argentina and now are in Orlando, FL with Missionary Ventures.)

    We came to love Pedro and his family over the years and have appreciated their commitment to the Lord.  Pedro used to go to different places to record the scripture being read in the different dialects.  He even got Vernon to help with the Quiche New Testament that they dramatized.  I think he was an angel in the Gospels and they had him read the book of James.  Pedro was often gone for weeks at a time so he finally had to choose between his work which was an important one to the furtherance of the gospel and his family.  Since he couldn’t take his family with him many times, he chose his family.   Now he is involved in going to public schools and doing talks and videos to try to reach young people for God.  Choosing this path was hard because he had a well paying job with Vina and now he is self-supported and at times has difficulty making ends meet but we feel that he made the right decision.

    Click here for a link to Vina’s website: http://www.vinyastudios.org/en/home/history.php

    Click here for a link to Quiche being read:  this is the main Mayan Indian language spoken in Novillero.  http://globalrecordings.net/en/language/48

    IMG_9424

    Pedro and Vernon

    Anyway, at the end of our bus ride we disembarked, looked around and saw our dear friend Pedro waiting for us with his trusty Isuzu Trooper.  (He has had it for probably 15 years.  :-) )  He took us home with him where we had a nice reunion with Cristina, Joel and Pablo (their youngest son who I was supposed to deliver but he did not wait and was born about 2 days before we returned from furlough.)

    My boys.....:-)

    My boys…..:-)

    They have 2 daughters who are older than the boys and are married…..we didn’t get to see either of them much to my dismay.     (I did do a story on these people a long time ago…..here’s their picture when the children were small.)

    Here is a favorite picture of mine. Pedro and Cristina Bocel's cute family from Solola, Guatemala. Believe me, they are as nice as they are cute. Joel, the older boy is one of "my" babies. Pablo was supposed to be but we didn't make it back from furlough in time to attend the birth. Now the girls, Becky and Sarita Bosques both are mothers....they had little girls 48 hours apart. I just love this family! — with Sarita Bosques, Pedro Joel Bosques and Becky Bosques.

    Here is a favorite picture of mine. Pedro and Cristina Bocel’s cute family from Solola, Guatemala. Believe me, they are as nice as they are cute. Joel, the older boy is one of “my” babies. Pablo was supposed to be but we didn’t make it back from furlough in time to attend the birth. Now the girls, Becky and Sarita Bosques both are mothers….they had little girls 48 hours apart. I just love this family! — with Sarita Bosques, Pedro Joel Bosques and Becky Bosques.

    Cristina and Tiana

    Cristina and Tiana

    IMG_9432

    Our dear friend and brother Pedro Bocel

    IMG_9431

    Stirring the masa for tamales

    IMG_9436

    Filling the leaves with masa and yummy sauce.

    IMG_9425

    Getting ready to make tamales

    Kendra Lily and Pedro visiting at the table

    Kendra Lily and Pedro visiting at the table

    Here, Lavina, we dedicate this guacamole in your honor.  :)

    Here, Lavina, we dedicate this guacamole in your honor. :-)

     The girls and their old playmates.  Pablo, KL, Tiana and Joel


    The girls and their old playmates. Pablo, KL, Tiana and Joel (Bocel, tonel, papel….. the girls tacked all kinds of rhyming words to his name….he took it in stride. )

    It was pouring down rain most of the evening but we were cozy in their snug little house.  The girls and I helped Cristina make tamales for the next day for a celebration they were having….their oldest daughter’s baby was being dedicated at church.   I had a hard time staying with my job making tamales as I wanted to hear what Pedro and Vernon were talking about….some of their struggles and their decision to stand up for what was right.  We again had to appreciate this brother’s understanding of the Bible and Jesus’ principles in spite of what it cost them.

    After a delicious supper—again a big bowl of guacamole!  Since Cristina was so busy with making the tamales, Vernon and Pedro went and bought fried chicken…..it certainly didn’t meet her standard of cooking..she is one of the best cooks in C. A. in our opinion,  but it did hit the spot.

    We spent the night there and in the morning Pedro took us up to the Square or Park to catch a microbus out to Novillero.  This is a glorified minivan….Mitsubishi van with a rack on top for luggage.  We crowded into the back of that and on the way found out just how many you can crowd into one of those vehicles.  No, we didn’t have anyone sitting on our laps but its amazing how many people can get into one.  Of course, they can’t get the door shut after a while and its hanging out  the side after awhile.  :-) .   We were glad to see our old hometown come into view.

    The driver did as he had promised Pedro to leave us off at the bridge in Novillero.  Right beside the abandoned church that we had worshipped in for 13 years.  After greeting Pablo and Rosa Vasquez (Rosa is Victor Ovalle’s younger sister) we headed down the street to Lencho and Rosa Ovalle’s.

    Lencho is Victor’s first cousin and one of our oldest son’s close friends.  One day back in 2000, our boys told me that a neighbor wanted to talk to me.  Lencho and Rosa came and immediately we bonded.   I delivered Betsabe (Betsy) on Feb. 5, 2001,  and delivered Honoria,  her sister on Dec. 28, of the same year.  (I started and ended up with the same couple that year.)  Lencho is Catholic and his wife was evangelical when they married.  That created a divided household even though they loved each other dearly.  For the sake of peace and allowing Lencho to be the leader of their home, Rosa has joined the Catholic church.    Anyway, in spite of our differences in beliefs we are very close to this family and admire them in so many ways.  In a lot of ways, they have a higher standard than their evangelical neighbors.  We continue to pray that they will be open to God’s leading in their lives.  We believe that are sincerely trying to serve Him as best as they know.  ]

    Lencho and Rosa Ovalle, Honoria, Betsy and Juanito

    Lencho and Rosa Ovalle, Honoria, Betsy and Juanito

    Well, I was hoping to wrap this all up today but didn’t get it done.  I am going to post a few pictures and try to finish next time.

    Here’s a picture of a Guatemalan map;  Department of Solola is the little yellow one west of Guatemala City.   Unfortunately it doesn’t show how curvy the highways are.  Our children that are living in Guatemala live in the Peten region: the big orange department in the north.  They live in El Chal which is between Poptun and Flores.  Novillero is in the mountains and Peten is jungle.  We lived about 15- 20 miles from Lake Atitlan as the crow flies.

    Guatemala political map

    Until next time,  hasta luego.

  • Fabric Shopping with Glendon and going to Tecpan

    Friday morning, Oct. 11th–After breakfast,  some of us went fabric shopping.  Since Kendra Lily needed to go to the University to pay her tuition, Vernon took her south of the Periferico while Tiana and I went north on the Periferico with the group going to Zone 1 where all the fabric stores are, planning to meet up later on.  Was I geared up for this!    Any one who has been fabric shopping in Guatemala City knows that Zone 1 is fabric heaven and since I’ve done a fair amount of shopping there in the past I knew where I was going and what  I was looking for.

    Or so I thought.   Hmmm.  The huge store near the tourist market where I usually found my best bargains was still there but I was very disappointed in the selection.  Oh yes, the store was still loaded with fabric but nothing looked new or fresh.  Why some of the fabric was the same stuff they had 6 years ago when I was there last!  I went into the section where the plaids were, hoping against hope that I could find a piece of the beautiful blue plaid that I had gotten for Susana and Adam but didn’t find any.  I really didn’t see any that really caught my eye.  The bolts of fabric down toward the floor had a thick layer of dust on it.  ICK.  So I went to the area of the store that was poly/cotton.  I love the Iusaela prints. (aka tropical Breeze)  They do not fade  quickly as they are stamped so well that its hard to tell which is the outside versus  the inside.  Well, there was a huge selection but one BIG problem…..hmmm, I had that print in my store, that one, and that one and that one,  so it went on and on.   Oh granted, there were some that I hadn’t had in my store  but those I wouldn’t have wanted on my shelves anyway.  They were ugly and/or gaudy!  To say I was disappointed was an understatement.    Oh well, there were a lot more fabric stores around so who cares if you strike out on the first one, better luck next time.

    Glendon Martin from PA was down on a business trip and his wife had asked him to bring a bunch of fabric home to sell to the home ladies.  Now, most men wouldn’t be caught dead in a fabric store let alone picking out the fabric for someone else so it was interesting for us to have him along.   This experience of being with Glendon that day made the day worthwhile regardless if I didn’t find any thing to suit me. :-)   Time has dulled my memory enough that I cannot remember who all was with us on this excursion but I believe Tim and Rhoda Korver and maybe Larissa Good and a hired girl from the mission.  I know it was more than just Tiana and I but by the end of the day it was just my girls and I with Glendon.

    So, we walked across the street to a nice clean store that I hadn’t remember before….oh, that’s right, this is where the Pollo Campero ( Chicken) restaurant had been!  Apparently, the fabric store that had been there had remodeled and used up the 2 sites and made a nice new big store.  Actually, there was more there to my taste but the dress fabric that I like still had old prints.  I ended up buying 2 pieces of fabric that my girls had dresses out of when they were 3 and 5 years old back in 1998!

    Melisa and Tiana had dresses like this back in "98

    Melisa and Tiana had dresses like this back in “98

    These girls are now nearly 19 and 21 so you can imagine how old the fabric is.  But since I had really liked those dresses I bought some for Kaity anyway.  It has small daisies all over it.  Melisa and Tiana’s dresses were in green and I had one in blue.  I would’ve bought another blue one for me as it had been one of my favorite dresses but green and lavender were the only colors they still had.  I did find a nice blue plaid for myself but there certainly wasn’t much there either.

    I was about ready to give up when I found some tie-dye look in blues and lavender that caught my eye.

     

    This one  caught my eye.

    This one caught my eye.

    Tiana, who’s favorite color seems to be orange found a piece for herself.

    Tiana's choice

    Tiana’s choice

    Resigning myself to the fact that I didn’t find anything much there I paid for my purchases and was waiting on Glendon to finish his buying when I saw some fabric that I had been looking for.

    I like this eyelet look

    I like this eyelet look

    It was only Q10 a yard.  So, I took that roll into the store (it was on a display outside the store) to have some measured off.  I don’t know why I didn’t just buy 20 yards of the stuff but didn’t want to shoot all my wad there in case I found something else I liked.

    Fabric, fabric everywhere but I didn't find any that I liked.

    Fabric, fabric everywhere but I didn’t find any that I liked.

    Stacked clear to the ceiling

    Stacked clear to the ceiling

     

    Next stop was at the tourist market up the street about 1/2 block.  That in itself was an experience as you pass by little shop after little shop chuck full of souvenirs.  The moment you pause to give something a second glance you have the owners asking if they can help you and they will do all they can to make a sale.  I wanted to buy Melisa a piece of typical fabric to make a skirt.  I found something I was sure she would like but they only had 2 yards.  I have been bothered ever since that I should’ve gotten more.

    I got this for Melisa a skirt

    I got this for Melisa a skirt

    I also found a little typical jumper for Lily, our newest grandchild and a little typical romper for Melisa’s expected baby.  Since I didn’t find the dress fabric for the church ladies, I decided to buy them typical purses.  Also I found some quetzal bird keychains  made of beautiful beads for the librarian ladies.  Tiana wanted to buy a couple of items for her Miller friends here at church.  Glendon was ready to head out to do some more fabric shopping so we went out to the parking lot where we met up with Vernon and Kendra Lily.  Vernon took Tim Korver’s back to the mission and we stayed with Glendon.

    I thought we should try 7th Avenue and hit the Pacifico and Continental stores but after making the loop a couple of times and not finding those stores I suddenly realized it was 5th Ave. not 7th.  Even so, we didn’t find either of those stores.  Either they went out of business or we didn’t go down far enough to find them.  We visited a couple of stores that we did find but didn’t see anything we liked.  I did have the girls pick out a piece for Abbey Lattin who was staying with our children at home.

    Meanwhile, Glendon, who loves to talk just kept us entertained.  Story after story.  I am not sure who had the best time that day, us: listening to him or He: having an appreciative audience.  But finally we  were too tired to keep shopping so called it quits and went back to the mission.

    We were invited to Byron and Karen de la Rosa’s place for supper that night.  I regret not getting any pictures that night but the meal was delicious and it was the first we had been offered any guacamole.  Avocados were not “in season” at the time but since Byron had 20 or 25  trees( I believe my memory is serving me correctly) which bore approx. 1,000 avocados each season they had enough to serve us the coveted guacamole.   Not just a little dab of it either.  There was a serving bowl….I’d say at least a quart or more of the stuff and plenty of tortillas to eat with it!  Karen is a sister to Stephan Gingerich’s wife Brenda, a Canadian, so this was a bi-lingual home which was interesting.  they have 2 young children that are comfortable in either Spanish or English.

    We had quite a time finding Byron’s house and ended up turning around several times in San Lucas but it was fun as Glendon was still as entertaining as he was earlier.

    Next morning we left before breakfast and hiked out to the Pan Am highway to catch a bus for Tecpan.  Tecpan used to be the capital of Guatemala many years ago when it was a Mayan empire.  This is also where the people from Palama relocated after we lived in Palama….but these people are still our people.

    We boarded a chicken bus, so called because they haul chickens, produce, etc on top of these buses.  They also cram you in like sardines in a can.  The further you go, the tighter they pack you in.  We were seated toward the back…actually, Vernon and I were next to the last row.  These buses are reconditioned school buses.  Mostly Ford Bluebirds.  The seats comfortably seats 2 persons per seat.   The 4 across the row turned into 5, then 6.  I think there were some rows that may have had 7.  I was wondering how the bus boy would manage to collect all the fares as they don’t get the money when the person gets on.  After awhile I saw him squeezing by and he managed to do what he set out to do, although he did end up hurting a little boy standing in the aisle.  The little guy begged the man to get off his foot but the bus boy acted as if he hadn’t heard him.  That caused my ire to rise a little….ok, a whole lot but what could I do?

    A full bus

    A full bus

    Oh what fun it is to ride....

    Oh what fun it is to ride….

     

    We finally got off at the Tecpan entrance and hired a microbus to take us over to Doce Cuerdas (Colonia Mennonita).  There was a group of people standing beside the school waiting on Carl Rohrer to take them to Antigua for a church service.  The people stood there wondering who we were when suddenly Alejandro Colo and his wife Emiliana recognized us and made a beeline for us.  This couple was our closest friends when we lived in Palama.  Actually, Vernon and Alejandro were good buddies when Vernon lived there 2 years prior to our marriage.  I love Alejandro’s big grin.   I think if they could’ve changed their plans for the day, they wouldn’t have thought twice of doing so but they went with the group soon after we got there.

    We headed over to Timoteo and Romelia Cristal’s who happen to live the closest to the entrance and the first thing he said was “Is this Vernon and Kim or is it their angels?”  Had a lovely visit with them too and they served us some tea and something to go with it.  Good thing, as I was getting rather empty.  :-)

    Timoteo Cristal's family

    Timoteo Cristal’s family missing oldest son Edgar and youngest son William

     

    Timoteo’s were also among our closest friends.  When we were young, we, Alejandro’s and Timoteo’s often did things together like birthday parties. etc.  We have many fond memories being together with those 2 families.  Our children were the same ages, etc.  (Emiliana is Timoteo’s youngest sister and was with John Troyer’s when he was killed in Sept. ’81)

    Timoteo and Romelia Cristal and Vernon and Kim Martin (Check out her dress fabric)

    Timoteo and Romelia Cristal and Vernon and Kim Martin (Check out her dress fabric)

    our girls with Timoteo's girls:  Mary, Susi and ??? (can't remember her first name.  Her middle name is Eunice)

    our girls with Timoteo’s girls: Mary, Susi and Lily

     

    I delivered Romelia’s 2nd child, Edwin Jonathan in March of 1986, my first Guatemala baby.  Here he is today.  I should try and find a picture of him when he was born.  :-)

    My first Guatemala baby Edwin Cristal

    My first Guatemala baby
    Edwin Cristal

     

    Next stop was with Angela Colo who is Alejandro’s mother.  Her mother Fidelia Colo was old when we lived there in 1985-87.    Now she is ancient!

    Vernon visiting with Fidelia Colo

    Vernon visiting with Fidelia Colo

    Angela thinks she is 110 but no one knows for sure.  Fidelia is a very independent soul and still lives alone although she cannot hear nor see very well.  She was the local midwife for years and years and was wife of  Bro. Jose Colo whom we loved dearly.  By the way, not only is she Alejandro’s grandmother but she is a sister to Emiliana’s mom….so how does that do for Alejandro and Emiliana? :-)

    Angela always thought Susana was cute and would always say, “Tan chula”  (meaning: how cute)  when referring or talking to Susana.  One day, Susana, age 2, said, “Mommy, there is Tan Chula!” ;-)   Actually, Susana was right….Angela was and still is cute.  She is a very emotional person and of course in the course of the visit she had to shed tears when she talked of days long gone by.  She was sure she would never see us again and she remembers all the good things we did when we lived in Palama.  Especially she remembers when Vernon and another VS boy had to take her to the hospital to deliver Erica after being in labor for a couple of days.  She was so embarrassed  to be in labor in front of these two young men but she says she owes her life and her child’s to them for taking her for a C-sec.  Oh how we dearly love that little lady!

    Next stop was with Amalia.  She is Alenjandro’s younger sister and one of Anglela’s daughters.  Ah, now she is the cream of the crop!  This little girl came to work for me when Benji was a baby.  She was only 13 or 14 at the time, so little that she had to stand on a chair or stool to reach the clothesline.  Actually I hired her to entertain Benji so that I could get some sewing done.  She would play with him for a little then ask me, “Do you have any thing for me to do?”  I would remind her that she was working, taking care of the baby.  “Oh no, that’s play, do you have anything for me to do? “  Eventually she stayed on the workforce full time and I wouldn’t have traded her for any one else.  We actually started a home bakery so that she and her sister-in-law would have some work to do.  She and Victoria did my cleaning and laundry but Amalia was (still is) one of a kind and there is not one lazy bone in her body.

    Amalia and her youngest 4, Helber, Brenda, Lucinda and Marvin

    Amalia and her youngest 4,
    Helber, Brenda, Lucia and Marvin

    After we left Palama in Oct. ’87, she didn’t have the same relationship with the people who came to replace us although I cannot understand why.  So she left home and began working for some other people who didn’t believe the Bible as we did.  I am not saying they were unbelievers but they disregarded any scripture that didn’t suit them so in the next 2 years dear Amalia got so mixed up that she really didn’t know what she believed.  That in turn caused us grief…

    So, (forgive my history lesson here) when we returned to Guatemala in 1989, I told Vernon that I wanted to hire Amalia to be my helper in El Novillero if I could.  I wrote her a letter and told her that we were coming back and invited her to come live with us.  We arrived in November but hadn’t heard from her so we had hired Juanita Ovalle to help with the housework.  One day when we returned home from the City Juanita told us that Amalia had stopped to see us but we weren’t at home.  She was up in Xela helping her older sister who had just had a new baby.  We didn’t understand all that Juanita said or maybe Juanita hadn’t understood Amalia as she hadn’t known Amalia at all.   Anyway, we didn’t let any grass grow under our feet, we hightailed it to Xela and had a nice reunion there.  She hadn’t gotten my letter until that week and after talking it over with her family they all advised her to take us up on the offer.   We made out for her to come a few weeks later.  She came and stayed for 2 years.  Which in all of our opinion was a very positive decision.   In case you wondered what we did about Juanita.  We offered to teach her to knit sweaters for a steady job.  I taught her to knit and she turned out to be the best knitter I ever could have wanted.  :-)   She and Amalia turned out to be very close friends.

    She got her life straightened out and now is a deacon’s wife.  During the time she lived with us, she had me so spoiled.  :)    The first evening she was there, we had been to the City for overnight so we had a suitcase to unpack.  Vernon often teased me about me not getting around to unpack very quickly.  I remember that time clearly as she had the clothes put away before I knew it, then asked me what we were going to have for supper.  I suggested spaghetti and before I knew it she was calling for supper!  I had told her that I wanted her to take charge of the lunches since I was trying to homeschool Susana.  We awoke to the smell of pancakes frying the next morning and she was my cook ever since.  And a GOOD one too.  Her specialty was Chow Mein.  She loved to bake and alway seemed to be making something.  I made a little card with Spanish-English translations such as flour/harina, sugar/azucar, etc…..  it didn’t take long until she could take any of my cookbooks and make whatever struck her fancy with very little help from me.  Not only did she cook and bake she did the laundry and kept our house clean.  Often she had baby Kendra Lily tied on her back Indian style.   She got along well with the 3 oldest children too, but they already had known her.  She was also a sister to Lily, Vernon’s sister who came down a year later to teach our children.  By far the best worker we ever had…..never did find another Amalia.  :-)

    Ok back to the present.  We went to visit Amalia.  Her husband Juan Cristal and oldest son had gone with group to Antigua but we still had a nice visit.   She teased KL about carrying her around when she was a baby.  Kendra Lily told her she thinks that she could carry Amalia around now.  :-)

    Kendra Lily and Tiana with KL's first babysitter

    Kendra Lily and Tiana with KL’s first babysitter

    She extracted our promise to come back for lunch….not that we had to be persuaded much.  No breakfast so I was starving anyway but I was ready for some of Amalia’s good cooking again.   Anyway, I was pretty sure it would be her chow mien.

    After visiting with a few others and passing by Sinforosa’s gate…..Amalia’s mother-in-law, who was also a dear sister but has lost her memory and now stands by the gate and watches the passers-by and doesn’t know anyone…..that was sad to see, we returned to Amalia’s.

    Ah, we were right!  Scrumptious chow mien.

    After lunch we returned for our luggage which we had left at Timoteo’s.  He offered us a ride out to the highway to catch a bus to Solola.  Of course, they had to give me a sweater as a gift and Romelia gave me a piece of corte fabric.  I had been admiring her dress so she gave me a piece of the remanants.  I plan to sew a purse for myself with it.

    Timo’s have a sweater factory:

    Industrial machine

    Industrial machine

    Making a sweater on the Brother

    Making a sweater on the Brother

    Knitting sweaters

    Knitting sweaters

     

    This post is getting long enough so I will leave off here.

    Next time will tell about our bus ride to Solola and our time at Pedro Bocel’s.  ~to be continued.

  • Just a few missed pictures

    I was going to do the next installment on our Guatemalan trip but it took most of the afternoon to upload the rest of the pictures.  Now it is time for supper and I think Vernon wants to retire early for the night.  He never has been one to let me stay up after he has gone to bed.  :-)   So I doubt that I’ll be able to do anything tonight.

    I will post some pictures that I missed on our El Chal trip.

    Early morning wait for Grandaddy's to come on the bus.

    Early morning wait for Grandaddy’s to come on the bus.

     

    Waiting for the early morning bus that was bringing Grandaddy and Grandma

    Waiting for the early morning bus that was bringing Grandaddy and Grandma

    Here they are!

    Here they are!

    A big hug from the oldest grandchild.  I have waited a long time for that hug!

    A big hug from the oldest grandchild. I have waited a long time for that hug!

    An electrician's nightmare

    An electrician’s nightmare

    Ok, I guess I will call it quits with this post.   More to follow when I have time to do it.  Until then, tootle do.

     

  • Guatemala Trip Part 4 El Chal

    A farmer friend of Benji’s wanted to buy a tractor so he traded this piece of property for Benj’s John Deere.

    As their house in town is rather small  they felt the need for a larger house.  So as they have funds they are gradually building the new house on the hill.  This house will have a full basement and a garage.  At present they have their 3 small children and 4 others boarding with them.  Sounds like another girl may move in when school opens in Jan. (Victor and Lorena’s girl)

    With only 2 small bedrooms in their present house plus a lean-to on the back of their house for Josue, the 14 year old that also lived with them last school term, this new house will be a huge blessing.  (see part 2 of this story)

    IMG_9256

    The road down at the bottom of the hill that curves around his property.

    IMG_9249

    The road

    IMG_9248

    This used to be a large Mayan civilization….as far as the eye can see. His hill must’ve been some type of edifice…..all sorts of artifacts are found…Pottery, etc.

     

    The well

    The well

    IMG_9255

    You can see the spots where Mayan ruins are covered with a different color green.

    IMG_9254

    What a view!

    IMG_9253

    More view

    IMG_9252

    The house taken from the back of it. He took a sea container and used it for walls.

    IMG_9251

    Cement mixer. Vernon helped pour a floor on one of the porches.

    I had forgotten which day we had gone to the hill but looking at the pictures, I see that we did that on Saturday.  I missed getting more house pictures.  Sorry about that.

    While Vernon and I were out at the hill with our children, Victor,  one of Benj’s farmer friends, stopped in at the house and when he found out that we were visiting invited us all to come for supper on Monday.

    Little Laundry Helpers Gathering and sorting the dirty clothes.

    Little Laundry Helpers
    Gathering and sorting the dirty clothes.

    Monday, Oct. 7th.   I decided to take advantage of opportunity to fix Holly’s serger.  I had found a couple of Pfaff sergers on Ebay a couple of years ago and had given one to Holly.  Unfortunately when it started giving her fits, she couldn’t just drop it off for me to look at.  So, I got it out and began to fix it.   First, I needed to clean and oil it.  It was fun to have little grandson help me.  Here is one thing we found inside.

    IMG_9312

    two lizard eggshells

    There was also some of the accessories inside it.  The accessory box is inside and apparently when they took the serger down from the States some of the little things got lost in the interior.  Holly said she wondered where the other presser foot was.

    IMG_9307

    See the eggshell?

    I took all the plastic cover off and cleaned and oiled it.

    I took all the plastic cover off and cleaned and oiled it.

    I had to call Japheth Stauffer in Bemidjii, MN for advice.  The foam in the thread tension part was dry rotten so I replaced it with some other stuff.

    I had to call Japheth Stauffer in Bemidjii, MN for advice. The foam in the thread tension part was dry rotten so I replaced it with some other stuff.

    We left sometime Monday afternoon to go to Victor and Elena’s.  I think we left about 3 PM.  Vernon and I rode inside the crew cab pickup with Benj and Holly and Lanet while Josue, KL and Tiana jumped into the back with Ben and Sue. The littlest girlie was wary of Grandaddy but got over it somewhat when he had the tube of potato chips.  IMG_9315

    The road was extremely rough….1 and 1/2 hours of bumping.

    The scenery to Victor and Elena's

    IMG_9319 The scenery to Victor and Elena’s

    The scenery was lovely and some of the town names interesting: Once (Eleven), Doce (Twelve), Trece (Thirteen)…..in order,  11 km, 12 km, and 13 km from the highway, thus getting those names.  I was glad to finally arrive.  I had fun getting some pictures.  Elena apparently loves flowers and someone has an eye for beauty.  Check out the wagon wheels on their porch.

    Wagon Wheels grace the finca's ranch house

    Wagon Wheels grace the finca’s ranch house
    Victor deals with cream separators.

    Victor deals with cream separators.

    Victor has Benj to buy used cream separators on Ebay…..many are shipped to our place for further shipment to Guatemala.   ( We just sent about a dozen of them down this week.)  For the Guatemalan farmers, the cream separators are a huge step up and so they are in demand.  Victor fixes them up and resells them at a good profit.  I am assuming that this one was one that was too far gone to be fixed.  :-)   Makes a great flower planter.

    Elena's flowers.  I wish I knew the name of them.  these were waxy like a begonia

    Elena’s flowers. I wish I knew the name of them. these were waxy like a begonia

     

    Is this an orchid?

    Is this an orchid?

    I just love Elena's flowers.

    I just love Elena’s flowers.

    IMG_9349IMG_9348

    I wish I knew what they were called.

    I wish I knew what they were called.

    IMG_9325

    Victor's dairy.  He has a collection of cream separators there too

    Victor’s dairy. He has a collection of cream separators there too

    Tiana

    Tiana

    and Kendra Lily

    and Kendra Lily

    Ben loved the parrot:IMG_9341

    IMG_9338IMG_9334

    the men visiting

    the men visiting

    Food and fellowship was great.

    Food and fellowship was great.

    We had fish and tacos

    We had fish and tacos

    After supper we said good-bye and and bumped another 1 and 1/2 hours back out to El Chal and the wonderful bed at Judy’s.  Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well.

    The next morning I woke up late and was sure I had the flu.  I ached all over.  Benj had been over to pick us up for breakfast and I hadn’t even known he was there.  Vernon told him I wasn’t feeling well and that we’d come later.   I figured I may as well have the flu at Benji’s so Judy called a Tuk tuk to go over there.  DSC08399DSC08398DSC08400

    Vernon went up to the hill to help pour the porch floor and I spent most of the day sleeping.  I did get up and tried out the serger and made Tiana and Sue look alike dresses.

    I finally figured out that my ‘flu” was just my body rebelling over being rattled for 3 hours on that bumpy road the day before… :-)

    That evening they had a special guest speaker at church instead of prayer meeting.  Jimmy Dinsmore gave a talk on Reaching the Catholics.  Very interesting and thought provoking.  Of course, this was in Spanish but I was amazed how much of my Spanish came back to me while I was there.

    Wednesday was our last day with our family and I was reluctant to have it end but as all things do we made the best of it. KL had gone to her University job that day instead of waiting until Friday as she normally did.  She and Pris usually went to a Day Care Center on Fridays but KL wanted to travel to the City and parts west with us so traded days.

    Vernon and I set out after breakfast to visit the mission clinic (Buen Samaritana).  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a charged battery for my camera so missed getting photos of that.  After the tuk tuk ride to the clinic,  Priscila showed us around there,  the different exam rooms, neb center, lab, etc.

    We were surprised to see Ruben Benito in the pharmacy with his sister Sandra. Ruben had lived with Benj’s family for a year about a year and a half ago….but had moved back to San Bartolome to help his father, Jose.  Jose Benito was our bishop when we lived in Guatemala so Vernon and Jose had worked together in the ministry and are great friends.  I guess Benj had invited Ruben to accompany him to Belize the next day.

    From the clinic we walked a couple of blocks up to the mission school, Arbol de Vida (Tree of Life).  It was teaming with activity.  I have no idea how many children attend there but there are 12 or 13 teachers and staff workers.

    The school is in the mission farm’s backyard.  When I first visited El Chal in 1993, Mark and Norma Gingerich lived in a 2 story house with a small clinic and tiny church and small school on the premises.  Now they’ve added a third story to the house, built a large new church down the street and the school has been enlarged a couple of times.  The clinic was enlarged and outgrown and now they are renting a house along the highway.  Eventually they hope to build a bigger clinic on the edge of town.   I was really bummed that my camera was out of commission.

    From there we walked a couple of blocks to Stephan and Brenda Gingerich’s.  It happened to be Brenda’s birthday and little Jeffrey could barely stand it that all her gifts weren’t being opened.  We added some mini Hershey chocolate bars to her pile.  They were babysitting Santos and Clara’s children for awhile as Clara was in the hospital with their youngest baby who had been sickly ever since it was born.  Santos was in the City working.  So, Stephan’s had a houseful too, although most of them were in school at the time we were there.

    That evening our family went to a Pupusaria for supper.

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    There were several choices:among them were Cheese, chicaron (cracklings), and beans.

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    They are made by making a tortilla, filling it with the filling, then reshaping the tortilla and frying it.  They are very delicious.

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    Served with slaw

    Each order was 3 pupusas served with chile or slaw.

    Pupusas

    Pupusas

    I love pupusas but my gut was complaining from all the typical food I had been eating so I could only eat 2 of mine and I actually didn’t even enjoy those.  :-(   I did enjoy my strawberry licuado though.

    Banana and strawberry

    Banana and strawberry

    This little tot made her rounds and sampled everyone's licuado

    This little tot made her rounds and sampled everyone’s licuado

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    What a cute little thief.

     

    This is great.

    This is great.

     

    Benj took some out for his workers who were still doing concrete on the porch and who would be staying out all night to work on it so it wouldn’t crack…..while he was gone the kiddos had a lot of fun playing with Grandaddy.

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    Over, around and over again.

    Over, around and over again.

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    KL purchased bus tickets for us to take a night bus into the City.  We went out to wait on the bus about 9:45.  I think it was 11:15 when it finally arrived.

    That poor bus.  We had the same nice, decent drivers that had brought us up but it certainly was not the same bus!   One of the first things I noticed was the restroom was Fuera de servicio!  (Out of order).  Oh dear, what was this person who had the Guatemalan Revenge in her lower half going to do???!!!!!!

    The bus had some problems in it’s lower half too.  I sometimes wondered if it would get to the City all in on piece.  Oh, such interesting clunking and clanking going on all night.  These seats were not so very comfy either and finally about midnight KL got up and invited me to join her in the back of the bus where there were several empty seat rows to stretch out on.  The night wore on and I did get some shut eye.

    Sometime along the way, several hours later the bus pulled over so the drivers could get out and get some fresh air.  I popped up like a Jack-in-the-box as fast as I could and was out after them.  I told them that I needed to “use it”.  “Oh”, they said, “the restroom is out of order.”   Do tell?  Don’t think I already had that figured out?  Hmmm….as if that solved MY problem simply.  Huh….that’s what they must’ve thought but I informed them in no uncertain terms that I was in desperate straits.   Hey, if any of you are laughing, desperation will cause me to become bolder, in case you have any doubt.  ;-)   So those kind gentlemen told me of a restroom to the hotel beside which we were parked and I headed for it as fast as I could.  I noticed there were 3 or 4 other ladies right on my heels.  I beat them to it and what a relief it was!  We’ll close that curtain right now.  :-)   Salvation in the middle of the night.

    Back into the bus for the rest of the night and into the morning.  We got there sometime after 9 AM I believe.  The bus did make it but the timing was way late and we were in rush hour traffic too for awhile.  Fortunately, we didn’t have a schedule so we waited in the depot for Don Nayo to bring us the car.

    This time it was fixed right.  The mechanics had found a loose wire, although I don’t know just where it was but it was nice to not have to worry about the thing dying at every city block.  We ate breakfast at a McDonald’s close to the tourist market.

    Kendra Lily needed to pay her tuition at the University San Carlos in person but she needed to pay it in cash.  So here was the routine for doing that.  First we went to the Uni, and she found out how much she needed to pay.  She had gotten a grant for 1/2 of the usual.  So, that was $1,400, I believe.  Then to the money changers…..Oh, first we called Holly to tell her to go online to our bank and transfer that amount from KL’s account into ours.  Done.  Then I wrote a check for that amount to the money changer.  He then wrote Vernon a check for that amount in Quetzales.  Exchange rate was Q7.78 to $1.00.  By the time we got all that done there wasn’t time yet that day to go back to the USC to pay it so she decided to go the next day.  We ended up eating out again because this was quite a lengthy process.  She’s glad to have that out of her system until next fall.

    Then back to the Doctor’s office to discuss what the lab results were…..the stone was gone for sure but I still had a UTI so he ordered another antibiotic for that.  They also found an inflammation in my pubic bone, apparently from when I had delivered Kaitlyn 5 and 1/2 years ago.  He suggested we have that checked out when we got home to Wisconsin.

    We arrived back at the mission in time for Vernon to meet his fellow ministers from by-gone days.  It was a glad reunion to say the least.  Bro. Rigoberto, Vernon’s co-pastor was so happy to see him.  Jose Benito, too; he actually hailed me later on that evening before we retired for the night to tell me good-bye as he would be leaving early the next morning before we got up.  I didn’t get to visit with all of them but the majority of them made a point to say hi.  That was a real highlight for us.

    I think I will call it quits on this story and resume it another day.

    ~~~~~~~to be continued~~~~~~~~~

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Guatemala Trip Part 3……El Chal Archaeological Ruins

    Sunday morning, Oct. 6, 2013—

    We woke to a beautiful day, a bit warmer than we were used to in Wisconsin, of course, but not bad.  After breakfast, we headed to church with Sandra and Judith.  We walked several blocks to church.  I am not sure how far it was but we enjoyed visiting as we walked.  Judith had just gotten over hepatitis so was taking things in a slower mode.

    Judy Lehman and Sandra Benito

    Judy Lehman and Sandra Benito

    We enjoyed hearing our oldest son preach that morning besides meeting with other friends we have known for a number of years.  I wish I could remember what Benj’s sermon was but its been long enough that it escapes me.  I do remember thinking that he does have a gift of public speaking and he did make it very interesting and thought provoking even if it were in Spanish.  I should’ve taken notes.

    We loaded into Benj’s pickup for a ride back to their house for the rest of the day.  After lunch and a short nap for some of us, (Vernon and I tried out the 2 hammocks in the back yard) Benj, Kendra Lily, Tiana, Josue, the 2 oldest grands, Vernon and I piled into the pickup to the El Chal Archaeological Ruins.

    These ruins are up behind the town of El Chal and has a walking trail.  This area was once a huge Mayan city.  There are lots of artifacts.  I will just upload some photos of that nature walk.

    Sign to the Ruins

    Sign to the Ruins

    The walking trail

    The walking trail

    Many square rocks lying around.  A testimony to the Mayan buildings, etc

    Many square rocks lying around. A testimony to the Mayan buildings, etc

    Grandaddy Vernon and his granddaughter

    Grandaddy Vernon and his granddaughter

    This god needs protection.  Not sure if its a god.....

    This god needs protection. Not sure if its a god…..

    Close up of this stone

    Close up of this stone

    Back side of stone

    Back side of stone

    Another stone

    Another stone

    Climbing a hill or mound

    Climbing a hill or mound

    Local flora

    Local flora

    The mound was steep

    The mound was steep

    Up a tree

    Up a tree

    Josue Ticas at the bottom of the mound

    Josue Ticas at the bottom of the mound

    More square rocks

    More square rocks

    tired Tiana  :)

    tired Tiana :)

    Vernon at the bottom of mound

    Vernon at the bottom of mound

    trail

    trail and interesting stones

    Cutter ants

    Cutter ants carrying leaves

    Close up of cutter ants

    Close up of cutter ants–the leaf is quite a bit larger than the ant

    The King of the cutter ant is red

    The King of the cutter ant is red

    Its amazing to think about how much of this area was covered with a Mayan Empire.  We had hoped to see and hear some Howler Monkeys but I think we were too noisy.  :-)

    —-to be continued