December 29, 2013

  • 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.



    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.


    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:

    Click here for a link to Quiche being read:  this is the main Mayan Indian language spoken in Novillero.


    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…’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


    Our dear friend and brother Pedro Bocel


    Stirring the masa for tamales


    Filling the leaves with masa and yummy sauce.


    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… 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.

December 15, 2013

  • 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.

December 8, 2013

  • 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.


November 24, 2013

  • 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)


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


    The road


    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


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


    What a view!


    More view


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


    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.


    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.


    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)… 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.


    I wish I knew what they were called.

    I wish I knew what they were called.


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

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



    and Kendra Lily

    and Kendra Lily

    Ben loved the parrot:IMG_9341


    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.


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


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


    Served with slaw

    Each order was 3 pupusas served with chile or slaw.



    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


    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.


    Over, around and over again.

    Over, around and over again.



    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~~~~~~~~~












November 17, 2013

  • 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 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






















November 3, 2013

  • Trip to Guatemala Part 2

    Friday morning, Oct. 4th– We were supposed to go to the Dr. office at 11:30 to hear what the results of the lab work but since we had no wheels we had to depend on, it was either a city bus or a taxi.  Vernon had Priscila Alpires to call a taxi for us.  We stood around waiting for it to arrive but it was getting later and later and it still hadn’t come.  Finally Priscila called them back and the driver claimed that he had been there and didn’t see anyone so had left.  Oh great.  Well, after awhile one did show up.

    While we were outside the mission waiting on the taxi, a man came out of the mission.  He shook my hand so I asked him who he was.  “Ross Good, and yours?”   I told him my name and mentioned that I’d heard of him.  He then shook Vernon’s name and asked “And you?”  When Vernon told him, a light bulb went on and he exclaimed, “Oh, yes, I have seen your face many times…….in the faces of your children!”  :-)

    Maybe I should also introduce a young man who lives at MAM headquarters:  he answers to the name of Craig Martin.   It turns out that Vernon is related to him in a couple of ways.  First, his mother is Vernon’s first cousin Ellen (Shirk).  Ellen’s mother was Vernon’s dad’s sister….so Craig is related to Vernon through the Martin’s.  Next, Craig’s dad, Jerry Martin, is Vernon’s mother’s first cousin.  So, Jerry is a first cousin once removed……through the Layman’s.  Then to tangle the mess just slightly more-  Jerry’s father was a brother to Vernon’s Aunt Matie who was married to Vernon’s mom’s brother David.  :-) :-)    I told you that Vernon has relatives and family connections everywhere we go!  It never fails.  :-)

    Back to the story:  We got into the taxi and went to the Dr’s office.  His secretary said he wasn’t in yet and wouldn’t be until around 4.  So we decided to go around the street corner to our children’s pediatrician office to see if he was there.  When we got to his office, Dr. Wyld was standing beside his secretary’s desk reading something and didn’t look up until I greeted him.

    He seemed happy to see us, asking how we were, and invited us into his office to visit.  There were no patients at the time, which seemed extremely different from when we would go and have to share the waiting room with a lot of others.   On the way into his office, he stopped in his tracks and said, “Martin’s!”  He had known we were former patients, but couldn’t put a name to us when suddenly he recognized us….he said Vernon’s beard had thrown him off.  Before we sat down, he assured us that he still had our family picture in his first exam room and took us over to show it to us.  He also had a photo of Lloyd Mast’s family.  I think he is pretty proud of those pictures as both are framed.  Ours is 11 years old so he would’ve had plenty of time and opportunity to discard them.

    We had a nice long visit, he telling us of the difficulties Guatemala has been facing with crime, etc.  He no longer works Friday afternoon since it takes him 45 minutes to travel 7 blocks to his home in the rush hour traffic.  There a million cars on the streets in Guatemala City alone not to mentions the thousands of motorcycles so when you are in rush hour traffic, you are really in it.   To walk is too dangerous and he fears of being mugged.  He said he would trade rural Wisconsin any day with all the snow for the freedom from crime.    He just kept commenting how he loves it when we former missionaries come to see him on our visits back.  He said he doesn’t understand why we would want to visit him and that he had seriously thought he’d never see us again when we left 11 years ago.  I told him that we have never found another Dr. Wyld and I seriously doubt we will ever find one we like better.

    Our time with him started back in 1984 even before Benji was born when Susana, 2, just wasn’t getting over the Guatemalan revenge.  After a number of doctors and about 22 different medicines we decided we had had enough of guessing for her and went to a specialist.  We have never, ever regretted our decision.  So, he was our pediatrician until after Jonny was born.  Saw us through all sorts of vaccines and traumas.  Pneumonia for a couple of them, measles, births for 2 of our boys, broken skulls for 2 of our girls, dehydration, surgery, concussions, burns that required hospitalization, the list could go on and on.  Through it all he was a calm non-invasion doctor.  We trusted him when he’d say that he wouldn’t recommend something for his own child, then we wouldn’t either…  Only once did he recommend something that we didn’t go ahead with and that was a CT scan to see if Melisa had brain damage.  Vernon didn’t think a scan would help even if she did have damage, it wouldn’t change anything.  :-)   He was a very good doctor and all of our children that remember agree about that.  He always humored us when we did our own doctoring.  Once when he saw some sutures in KL’s forehead he asked me about it.  When I explained that Vernon had sewn her up after she had fallen.  He wasn’t upset at all, he just said, “I’m not surprised coming from you, but next time use a smaller suture.”  Then he told us where to buy the smaller sutures.  Another time I was telling him about a hernia that came from coughing, his remark was: “If it happens again, come into the city immediately.   THAT is something that Vernon wouldn’t be able to fix.”  :-)

    Our dear Dr. Wyld--the world's best pediatrician

    Our dear Dr. Wyld–the world’s best pediatrician

    We had lunch at another little street side cafe before going up to the Urologist.  Dr. Tecero was there but the lab results still had not come in yet.   He called and asked the lab where they were as they were supposedly been on the way since morning.  Finally the doctor told us that the kidney stone was gone and that we wouldn’t get the urine culture until Tues.  Since this was Friday, Vernon asked if it would be alright to go to the Peten to visit our family there.  The Dr told us to go and enjoy ourselves and he would see us the next week when all the tests were in.

    So, we hopped another bus and went back to the mission, stopping off at Walmart to get a few things to take to El Chal with us.  I was pretty happy to find a store that sold Bath & Body Works and that they had some of Holly’s favorite scent on sale.  Well, they were on sale as far as what most of the stuff cost but the price was comparable to what it would’ve cost normally here in the States.  We walked back to MAM and packed for our time up north.

    Priscila reserved tickets on the 10 PM ADN bus.  Now, this was supposed to be a first class bus since it was not a “chicken bus” (as the ones are called that hauls freight like baskets of fruit, avocados, veggies and live poultry and such) nor a city bus but when we got onto the bus I decided it didn’t deserve the rating of  first class.   Although this one had a restroom on board and they didn’t squeeze 3 or 4 persons to each seat, it was not like riding in style.

    My dear sweet DIL has assured me over the years that taking the night bus to El Chal is THE way to travel.   “All the stress of driving has been taken away….all you have to do is curl up and go to sleep and wake up at your destination the next morning”.  Best thing since sliced bread apparently.  :-0   Since my very first time to try this mode of travel, 7 years ago, was a huge eye-opener for me, I really wasn’t sure how it would go this time.  (That time was when we went up for Benj and Holly’s wedding—we had gotten the last 6 seats on the bus.  At the back of the bus we were scattered among the other passengers.  I had to  listen to a man loudly sawing logs all night, being blasted by the COLD air conditioner, a light shining down in my eyes for the first 4 hours, the smelly restroom just behind me and having a seat that rocked because a couple of the bolts were loose was bad enough, but when Lavina throw up all over herself just minutes after I had gone up and convinced the driver to turn off the lights, was the crowning touch!   It was the most miserable ride I had ever been on up to that point of my life.)  So this time, I faced the trip with slightly more hope….at least this time we were up front and it was just Vernon and I.  How bad could that be?  We were in seats 3 and 4.  No danger of getting carsick.  Unfortunately we had nowhere to stretch our legs so we ended up using the front rail for a foot stool.  My seat was nearly worn out and I could feel a pipe across my back.  We had a decent set of drivers and they didn’t scare me with their wild driving so it wasn’t all that terrible…..I just couldn’t fall asleep and let the miles go by.

    We arrived in El Chal early the next morning and the bus drivers knew exactly where to stop and let us off.  There awaiting us beside the road in their pj’s were 2 little grandchildren that we hadn’t seen for over a year and a half.  That made the trip worth all the discomfort.  Just to see their bright little faces and feel their warm hugs.  Also to see our 2 daughters was a joy.  Benj came strolling up just in time to lug our suitcase back to their house a block away.  We got there just before breakfast time.  It had been 6 years since I had been there and Vernon had never been in their home yet so this was very special to us.

    I do not remember every thing that happened that day besides reading to the youngsters, reading to the youngsters, and reading to the youngsters.  (It wasn’t quite that bad but I believe they wouldn’t have cared if we had read to them the entire day.)

    Reading stories

    Reading stories


    Grandaddy’s turn

    Vernon went up to the “hill” where our son is building a house.  After lunch, I went up to see it too.  The view was spectacular… is part of a Mayan Indian ruins.  I want to post pictures of the hill and house site on my next blog.  I didn’t get the pictures uploaded to do it now.

    I am sure I made myself useful that day but can’t remember much besides hanging up the laundry.  Holly made pizza for my and Sue’s birthday and we added some Pringles to the party.  I had seen some Mug or A&W rootbeer at the first Paiz we had shopped at but it didn’t occur to me in time to get a can just for tradition sake.  By the time I’d thought of it, Walmart didn’t have rootbeer so we had to skip that part.  :-(

    We went to the other side of town and slept at Judy Lehman’s and Sandra Benito’s house that night since B & H do NOT have any extra room in their house.  They have a 2 bedroom house… is for them and their youngest child.   The other bedroom is for Kendra Lily, Tiana and Priscila Munoz (the gal that KL is going to nurses’ training with.)  Oldest grandchild sleeps in a trundle bed drawer in the kitchen area and grandchild #2 sleeps on the couch in the living room.  They did add a lean-to bedroom to the house for Josue Ticas….. a 14 year old boy from the City who is going to the mission school in El Chal.  The school in the city doesn’t have upper grades and his parents didn’t want him going to a public school.  Any guests that come usually have to sleep in a tent out in the yard under the coconut trees.  But, fortunately for me, the tent was too worn out to use and they were waiting for her parents to bring a new one.  We could’ve camped out, I am sure but I wasn’t too disappointed that we got to sleep in a nice real bed.  :-)

    Judy Lehman and Sandra Benito

    Judy Lehman and Sandra Benito

    Sandra Benito is a close family friend.  Her daddy was our bishop most of the time we lived in El Novillero and she had lived with us a few months way back when she was learning to knit on the knitting machine.  Her father had wanted to buy her a machine to help support herself but she ended up going to El Chal and working at the mission clinic.  She’s been there 9 or 10 years working as the pharmacist and likes her job so the idea of making sweaters fell along the wayside.

    Well, I thought I would write all about our trip to El Chal in one post but I see that its already getting long enough so I think I will stop for now and resume on a different blog post.

    ~to be continued~


October 27, 2013

  • It’s me again–How God Answered My Prayer

    I look at my previous post which was in June 2013 and think I wasn’t very productive on my blog writings this year.   Prior to that I was trying to get at least one quilt top done each month.  Actually at the beginning of the year I did accomplish that and even managed to do about 3 in one of those months.   But–with the Conrath  School’s Centennial looming over my head my summer suddenly was overwhelmed with getting this place in shape for that celebration which took place on Labor Day.

    Some people thought we were biting off more than we could chew with having the party here and especially opening our home to the public.  My reasoning for the  Open House was for a variety of reasons.  #1 I know how I’d feel coming back to the school I had attended when I was little…..of course, I would want to ‘tour’ those old hallways and rooms.  I knew that others would want to revisit this school.  #2 There were people that had asked for a tour in the past and I wasn’t prepared for that or had been put on the spot to give tours of a cluttered and/or dirty house.  #3 There would be people taking a tour with or without my permission so decided that no one would be put on the spot if we just planned a tour to those interested in doing so.   Well, that decision was a good one but it was a LOT of work so I did get sidetracked from my monthly posts on Xanga…. but then Xanga had some issues of its own to take care of during this time.  And I do plan to backtrack and do a blog on the Centennial Celebration WHEN my life gets back to an even keel.  Right now, that looks to be after Thanksgiving unless something else comes up.  :-)

    And yeah, the quilting machine has been sitting idle…..

    Then my life got derailed soon after the Celebration when suddenly I was writhing with pain with a kidney stone caught in the tube just above my bladder.  I have gone through painful experiences in my lifetime: tonsillectomy,  3 jaw surgeries, D & C, 9 deliveries, 2 of which were face presentations and one of those with a hand beside the face also, and 1 C-section where the epidural didn’t work and I could feel the actually cutting and delivery, removal of a gallbladder, and a liprotripsy, a wreck where we rolled a couple of times that made me think it must be like being in a cement mixer to mention a few….all these experiences where I thought was painful.

    When this pain hit,  I was in AGONY with capital letters.  One attack lasted 7 and 1/2 hours solid backstabbing, excruciating pain.  I ended up in the ER in Chippewa Falls and had a CT scan which revealed the stone.  4.5 mm in a 1.5 mm tube.  The dr asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest pain.  I told him it was at least 20.    I was told it was almost through so they sent me home with a little strainer to urinate through so that I would know when it finally passed.  Also with a prescription  for a stronger pain med than the Dr. had prescribed a couple days earlier.  (The dr. had prescribed a blood pressure medicine to cause the tube to enlarge so it could pass easier.  Unfortunately, it also enlarged the veins in my head and caused tremendous headaches…..I quit taking that as I felt I could handle the back pain better without the headache.)   Well, thanks anyway… least they tried.  :-(

    I was supposed to take the pain med “as needed”, but unfortunately, it took an hour to take effect and only lasted 4 hours and I was only allowed to take it every 6 hours.  Eventually, I found that Ibuprofen worked better than anything so eventually ditched the other pain killers.

    About 2 weeks of this pain and all the home remedies meanwhile besides the gallons of water consumed and the unhandy-ness of  hauling that strainer wherever I happened to go,  that stubborn stone refused to pass. The doctor and hospital recommended surgery to remove it.  We started with Immugruen (or whatever its called) and contacted a hospital that gives a cheaper rate to Mennonites.  I was told that the hospital cost would be $6,000-12,000.   I didn’t even continue to find out what the doctor or anesthesia would cost.

    Instead we started thinking about going to Guatemala for help.  Our daughter-in-law there contacted a Urologist in the City and we called him.  He said he could remove it for Q5,000.00 (exchange rate: $1 – Q7.8)  which included the dr, anesthesia and hospital!

    So, that was a no-brainer.  So, Vernon and Jonny started looking for tickets.  The going rates were over $800 each from Minneapolis but suddenly there was one for $470 each from Chicago.  The glitch was that we needed to go on the 1st of Oct. instead of the 3rd!  This was 10 PM on Sept. 30th.  By the time we bought the tickets and packed our bags….we packed light (too light) and got to bed it was about 1 AM.  We could’ve used more time but it didn’t happen.

    We left at 8:15 for Chicago and beat it down there, stopping off at the hospital for a copy of the CT scan.  Later we had to make a stop in Mauston to look for a parts store to buy a new battery for the car.

    Once at O’hara airport we checked our baggage and Vernon went to park the car in the long term lot but couldn’t find it and I was eating nails (figuratively) while waiting for him and hoping he’d get back in time.  We barely made it to the gate in time, they were paging us and when we arrived we heard them announce to the plane that we had come and to put the ramp back up the plane!  A shave too close for comfort.  :-)

    We had a good flight stopping in El Salvador where another attack started but passed quickly once the Ibuprofen took effect.  Now I didn’t bother taking that little strainer along on the trip so what happened next will remain a mystery.  :-)

    In the meantime,  Kendra Lily, had called Mennonite Air Missions (MAM) headquarters to request a room for  her parents.  She thought it would be fun to surprise Tim and Rhoda Korver who are houseparents and also very close friends of ours.  She told Rhoda that there was a couple coming from the States for medical reasons and would need a room.  Since Benj contacted one of his friends to pick us up at the airport no one needed to pick us up there.   Rhoda called KL back and asked if this couple had names and if there were children along.

    KL skirted the question by saying no children and she thought the last name was Martin, so Rhoda was very anxious to learn who was coming.

    When we disembarked in Guatemala City and had gone through customs we had no idea who was meeting us.   We exited the building and scanned the crowd, seeing no one we knew but was glad to see a sign that read ” Don Vernon y Dona Kim Martin”.  We didn’t know the man but we knew our names so we went with him.   It turned out to be someone from El Novillero where we had lived for 13 years.  Don Nayo left us off at the mission with the promise that he would have a car ready for us the next day so that we could be free to do our own thing in the City.

    We rang the bell and Rhoda was right there to answer.  She opened the little window in the door and looked out, finally able to satisfy her curiosity.  Her mouth  dropped open as recognition dawned and she exclaimed “Vernon and Kim Martin!”  She went on and on about how KL had played a fast one on her.  Finally I asked her if she was going to let us in or was she going to be a “Rhoda”…as in the Bible.  :-) I could tell she could hardly stand it that it was nearly 11PM and she couldn’t tell anyone!  Tim was already in bed and asleep, but Larissa Good and Harold Kauffman was still up and so she did get to tell them.  :-)   After we got done hugging and catching up a little we went to bed.

    I didn’t sleep well that night because someone was using a sewing machine… sounded more like a serger…..most of the night.  Next morning I asked who was up all night sewing and soon discovered I was hearing the sewing machine in a mattress factory on the other side of the wall.

    After breakfast and devotions, we called the doctor to set up an appointment and then we walked down the street with Rhoda to a mall to buy a few items from Walmart.  Since we had left home in such a hurry, we needed some shampoo and we wanted to buy some packages of Hershey bars for hostess gifts.

    The car that was supposed to be for our use was not yet available as it was in the shop so Craig Martin took us over to Zone 10 where the doctor was located.  We were an hour early for the appointment so we walked few blocks to a mall and did some window shopping.  It took me a little to get used to seeing big numbers on the items.  I had to keep reminding myself to divide that number by 8 to get a ballpark figure of the real cost.  A coffee mug for example might display a price tag of Q75.00 or a picture frame for Q62.00  even so,  it took more than my mental calculations to get over seeing a lovely velour dress that I wanted to buy for my newest granddaughter for nearly Q600 or a knitted sweater for Q750!   Dear me, I could knit a dozen  sweaters or dresses for that price.  :-)   I decided right then and there that I’d do just that but now that I am home, I am going to have to get on the ball if I am going to follow through with that.

    IMG_9229 The pink sweater cost almost $100!

    When the time came, we met with the doctor Ricardo Tercera who looked at the CT scan which was all messed up.  He decided to order an Xray since it had been awhile since the scan was taken.  We went down a couple of levels and got that done.  When it was done, we took the Xray back up to the Urologist.  He couldn’t find the stone!

    He told us he thought the stone was gone but to be certain he wanted me to go to a Lab the next day for more tests.   He told us to go at 6:30 AM otherwise we’d be in the lab until noon.

    Nayo brought the car to the parking garage while we were at the drs so we picked it up and left for the mission.  This was my birthday and we thought it would’ve been nice to have gone to a restaurant but we had not been able to change any money in the city that day.  We had changed $100 at the mission before we left for the drs.  It took most of that for the doctor,  the Xray and the laxative the doctor had ordered so that my bowels would be clean for the next day.  Vernon did buy a dozen roses for me at a traffic light.  They were only Q20 for the dozen but oh so beautiful.  Anyway, the traffic was thick and so we headed back to the mission.  Vernon stopped to get Q50 of gas for it and then our troubles really began.

    Suddenly the car began to splutter and cut out and die.  Vernon would coax it back to life and we’d go a little further and it would die again.  Weird…..but after a LONG time, we finally made it back to the mission where Rhoda served us some supper and cake and ice cream.

    Then Tiana called and the family in El Chal sang Happy Birthday to me.  Then little Sue got on the phone: “Grandma, it was my birthday today, too.”   Oh no, I felt like an idiot.  My first granddaughter was born on my 50th birthday and I had gone all day and hadn’t thought of it once!”  Talk about feeling about 1/2″ tall…..not only that but it was also my mother-in-law’s birthday.   I’ll bet she had not forgotten little Sue’s birthday.   Oh well, I had had a lot on my mind that day.

    IMG_9230 IMG_9231

    (Cake made by Larissa and Rhoda)                                                            ( See my birthday roses.)

    I took the laxative which was powder that I mixed with lemon-aid.  It was saltier than Lot’s wife.  I really think it was Epsom’s salt but didn’t look to find out.  I already had diarrhea due to the high powered antibiotics that I had taken in the States for my UTI and I think I permanently damaged my intestinal system with this stuff.  Joke.

    Anyway I did manage to sleep a bit better that night inspite of my frequent trips around the corner to the bathroom.  :-)   At least the sewing machine was quiet.

    We got up early and left the mission for the Lab.  We weren’t down the road more than a mile or two when the car started having fits.  Each time Vernon got it going again…..I love having a mechanic husband.  :-)   Once it stopped in the middle of the highway with no pull-over spot available so me and a motorcycle cop pushed it out of the way.  The cop wanted to give Vernon a ticket and asked for his driver’s license.  Vernon gave him his Guatemalan one that had expired about 10 years ago.  The cop did realize it was out of date so he gave it back and didn’t give him a ticket either.  The idea of ticketing someone just because his car broke down….Like we did it on purpose.

    Finally, after the 4th or 5th time, we had had enough so we pushed it into a side street and parked it in front of a church, locked up and set off for the lab on foot.  We had to walk about 10 blocks and arrived there about 7:30 I think.  We had to take a number which was #46.   We sat down to wait for our number to be called.  After an hour or so it was and Vernon took the lab order up and paid for the services, which was about Q700. (less than $100)

    Later I was called and they took blood and left a port in my arm for the Xray tests.  Also a urine test.  The laxative was still doing it’s job making for a miserable time for me.   They started a series of Xrays.  The first one was plain, then they injected something in the vein and took 4 more every 5 minutes.  Then told me to tank up with water until I had to go really bad then come back for the next one.   So after 2 bottles of water I quit drinking to let it settle but the diarrhea was more urgent than the bladder when I told them I had to go really bad…..I figured what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them or me either…so they let me have my next Xray a little sooner.  They sent me to empty my bladder for the final Xray.   Pun:  I was gladder that my bladder was flatter.  :-)

    By this time it was creeping up on 2 PM and my stomach was rubbing my backbone!  Now we knew why the dr had recommended us to go at 6:30.  The lab didn’t open until 7 but the sooner you got a number the sooner you could leave.

    Since we had to leave early that morning, we didn’t have money for the lab, Tim K. kindly loaned us some  from the food kitty before we left.   We walked back to the car, stopping at one of our old “haunts”, a little cafe tucked in near where we used to ship our sweaters.


    The car was not too far from there but it still refused to run.  Vernon was sure it was a loose connection because of the way it was acting so he tried finding the problem to no avail.

    Finally we gave up and walked another  long way (about  20 city blocks) over to the place where we used to do our money changing.  We wrote a check and they gave us a check to cash at a bank in Zone 4.  This time we got onto a bus up there and back.


    When we got back to the car Vernon called the owner of the car and he called his mechanic.  Before the mechanic arrived the car started and we went over to Montufar Paiz (the grocery store we used to frequent when we lived in Guatemala.)  Bought a few items, including a birthday gift for Sue. :-)   Then waited for the mechanics.  When they got there the car acted normal.  They decided to take the car back up the the shop in Zone 1….where Vernon and 2 of them tried to locate the problem to no avail.

    Since the car had run perfectly fine up to the mechanic’s and they couldn’t find anything wrong we decided to risk driving back to the mission.  Did ok until we crossed the ravine on the Periferico.  We had just gotten off the bridge and started up the hill when the car died.  Fortunately there was a pull off there so we coasted back into that cul-de-sac.  It had begun to rain so Vernon was glad for the umbrella he had bought at the Paiz.  :-)   He tinkered with it some more but still could NOT find what was wrong.  So finally the owner called a roll back to come and pick it up.   So much for our own wheels in Guatemala City.  Anyway, we sat there in the dark and rain, glad for the dry vehicle in that respect until the roll-back came and winched it on.

    IMG_9243  IMG_9241

    On the Grua….or rollback

    Then the driver took us to the Roosevelt Intersection where we got out and hiked down to the bus stop there.  Got on a city bus with a very decent driver.  One thing I thought funny was the bus boy got out while we were still moving at a crawl, walked on the front bumper and began to move the wiper’s.  Then he tried to clean the windshield with a bucket of water.  All the time the bus was creeping along.  Only in Guatemala….or maybe not, but NOT in the US I’ll bet.  :)

    IMG_9244  IMG_9245

    See the bus boy on the opposite side of the windshield from the driver?  He managed to really smear it up so the lady behind the driver gave him a tip of what to use to get the windshield clean.   I forget just what she recommended but think it was vinegar and water or something of that sort.  :-)

    It was still raining when we were let off and we slogged the rest of the way to the mission, looking like something the cat’s drug in.  That night I was tired enough that I slept like a log!

    –to be continued

July 18, 2013

  • June’s Quilt…….Big Joke

    As you all can see, there is no June quilt.    And at the rate I am going, there will be no July quilt either.

    This year is the 100th year for our school so we are hosting a Centennial Celebration on Labor Day.  So I have been busy trying to get this place in better shape.

    I want to show some pictures of some of my artwork.


    Here is the linen closet: Here Kaity is helping me clean.Painting done waiting for the border.


    Next pictures will be the middle hallway.  Just need to finish hanging the pictures and stuff yet.

    Have a good day.

May 25, 2013

  • May’s Quilt and the Quilting machine

    Well, May is almost over and I am almost done with this month’s quilt.  Instead of stopping with just the top, I have bit the bullet and have it in the quilting frame and am machine quilting it.  I don’t know the name of this pattern.  More stars.  I just saw a quilt picture on the internet and like it so decided to make on like it.  I used all blues and the background is a Precious Moments toile that I’ve had from my fabric store. Mine turned out very differently than the picture I found because I used all blues and the picture I saw had a contrasting color going through it.   Here the photo blog of that.

    Here its in the frame:

    The pantograph:

    I have decided that a long arm is the way to go, although short arms can do some stuff.  It is getting a little tight  now that I am at the end of the quilt.  I think I can do it but I wouldn’t be able to do any that’s bigger.  Ok now for the big question:

    Yesterday I found a partially finished quilt at a second hand store.  I had to rescue it.    got it home and laid it out:

    After looking at the rest of the blocks I’ve decided it is a Disappearing Nine Patch.

    Here’s some blocks put together in a 9 patch fashion and cut into 4 pieces.

    To make a Disappearing 9 patch you turn 2 pieces around.

    Should I finish putting it together as is or take it apart and put it together like the last photo?  I’d love to hear what you think.

    I will post a picture of May’s Quilt when I have it out of the frame.




April 30, 2013

  • April’s Quilt~~Exploding Stars

    This month I was working on a Scrappy quilt using lights and darks into a pattern of exploding stars.  The original pattern calls for all half-squares or triangles but I decided to use squares instead of sewing 2 triangles together when both were to be the same value.  It was less work that way and still turned out nice. 

    Here she is:

    A friend of mine contacted me last week and offered her mid-arm quilting machine that she never uses….. Wow!  So, Vernon and I went over Friday to pick it up.  This thing measures about 12 and 1/2′ x 3′.

    It filled her tiny room.

    Needless to say, I have much more space for it.  At least I won’t be crawling under the machine to fill the bobbin.  I went over to Barb Lundgren’s this morning to get some pointers.  She has a long-arm quilting machine and is very experienced.  I put a small sample in the frame and have been practicing.  Some of my “artwork” looks pretty bad to put it mildly.  But all in all, I am very excited.  Now maybe my tops may actually get finished into real quilts.


    Vernon setting it up in my sewing room.

    Getting the practice piece ready.  Kind of “fun” setting it up without instructions. :-p

    A sample of my artwork.  Barb says Practice, practice, practice and patience, patience and patience.  How well I remember how long it took me to get proficient on a knitting machine.

    I have also started a new painting project.  The hallway.  I will try to post pictures of that later.

    Until then have a wonderful day.