Thursday, 6 June 2013

Hasta Luego -June 6

My 1st day back home and when I open my email this is the message that is there from Neal Donald Walsch whom I get inspirational messages from.

On this day of your life, Sharon, I believe God wants you to know...
...that words may help you understand something, but
experience allows you to know.

Yesterday as I made the drive back home from Calgary in silence, I didn't feel a need to turn the radio on as I needed time and quiet to process the 12 days I spent in Guatemala. These words written above are so true, it is difficult to explain all I experienced but there is a deep knowing. I don't know when or where my travels may take me but I do know that I will do another mission trip as this experience has allowed me to grow more than I could ever have imagined.  Gracias for following me on my 1st ever blog. A few more pics from the trip. Please forgive the errors in this blog as it was either written late at night or on a bumpy road and each time I try to fix them It all gets moved around. For more info about Chalice and their programs go to

1.  Our sponsor child Stephany and her Mom outside their home in Champerico
2.  Tricycle Taxi loading up in front of our hotel to take us to the Nutrition Center
3.  Taking care of the babies at the Nutrition Center
4.  Packaging the gifts for the children which we brought in our extra suitcases to be handed out on Sunday at the Community Picnic.
5.  Girls at Orphanage putting on a play for us.
6.  At the Orphanage the girls love to take pictures with your camera. I was instructed on how to pose.
7. To the left Stephany, and her sister on my knee
8.  Everyone thought Cathy n I were Sisters so we bought matching tops.
9.  Elder n I, what a difference from the young shy boy I first met, what a beautiful smile.

Friday May 31st Pictures

1. Annette handing out her homemade dolls
2.Nutrition Center
3.Feeding Anita, she has a hearty appetite.
4.Mass at Andreas Giron (build site).
5.Blessing and presentation of crucifix for new kitchen n dining hall.
6.Left Elders sister ,Elders Mom, Right Elder and his Amigo
7.Children dancing for us.

Heading Home - June 3

Monday we were up bright n early to board the bus to Panajahal at 5. Carlos, Flora Estella n Bilma who had cooked for us all week had toast n coffee ready for us. Lots of heartwarming hugs and words of gratitude all around. As we were boarding the bus the Sisters arrived to bid their farewell and we were off, so much richer for the experience.
We arrived at the Lake Atitlan about 10 only an hour late and immediately headed to the water where the boats were waiting to go to Satiago, one group went sightseeing while the other went kyaking. I was admist the kyakers who headed out onto the peaceful water surrounded by mountains and three astonishing volcanos , Toliman, Atitlan n San Pedro. It was a great way to renew the spirit after the busy week in Champerico.
Once we docked we headed out on a hike through town n a coffee plantation. We met many students returning home from school dressed in their traditional clothes. We continued on and entered a coffee grove where our guide explained how the coffee was grown and harvested. Guatemala is know for its exceptional quality of coffee. Many workers were walking along the road some with hoes, machetes, wheelbarrow or a bundle of firewood on their back. Then along came our ride an old truck with a bar in the back to hang on, we al climbed in and the skies opened up; we were soaked to the skin n cold by the time we got back to town. Continuing on we toured the Cathedral de Santiago which was was began in the mid 1500's. Many saints n depictions of Christ in statue form lined the walls. Many of the Statues had ties around their necks depicting someone had prayed to that Saint and their prayer was answered. On we went through the streets of Santiago coming to a narrow passageway which our guide lead us down. At the end we came to a humble abode where San Simon a Mayan Saint otherwise know as Maximon resided. The room was dimly lit and a strong smell of incense filled my nostrils. It cost 2Q to enter and there sat 3 men around a table with the Statue front and center. He was a short wooden man dressed like a local and adorned with colorful scarves around his neck, wirh a wide brim hat and a cigar in his mouth. I looked about the room which was heavily decorated; colored papers, ribbons, beads , stuffed critters were hanging from the ceiling , to the left a laying down Christ statue and to the right statues of 3 women Saints. Sitting at a large wooden table 3 men; part of the brotherhood, many liquor bottles n cigarette stubs littering the floor n table. 1 man is elected each year and Maximon takes up residence in his home. The family does not work for a year their only job to take care of Maximon n his worshipers. Maximon can answer your prayers in exchange for his fav things money, candles, alcohol n tobacco. A representation of the nowadays Guatemalan Maya religion: Cathollicism introduced by the Conquistadores with native elements that have nothing to do with Christianity.
It cost 10Q to take a picture which we regreted not doing afterwards as we thought; no one is going to believe this.
After this we headed back to the boat and the hotel. There I had my 1st hot shower since leaving home, ahh what can I say, it was heaven. A light lunch, nap, and sharing time for the group. Douglas, Dave, Cathy n I then headed out on the town for some vino and a late dinner. The town was alive with people, motorbikes n tricycle taxis. We finished up about 11 and the streets were empty, I was glad to have Dave n Douglas there as we made our way back.
On the bus by 8 and on our way to Antigua where we stayed in a lovely old colonial hotel. Cathy n I hopped in a taxi and headed off to the square to check out the sights. 1st stop a quaint coffee shop where we enjoyed a cup of tea and cake. Visited the Saint Joseph Cathedral and then off to the market to barter. What a difference from a few days ago. We all gathered for dinner where we said our farewells to our newfound friends.
Up at 1am to board the bus to the airport. I write this now as we are flying high above the clouds and contemplate the last 12 days. Words cannot describe this journey and it will take time to process all that took place in my body mind n spirit. I am so glad I was able to go on this Mission of Solidarity and give thanks for this experience. Blessings from Above +
1. Lake Atitlan
2. On the road again
3. St Josephs Cathedral, Antigua
4. The view as I write

Monday, 3 June 2013

Monday morning - June 2,3

We left Champ... This morning at 5 am and are on our way to Panahael where some of us are going kayaking n hiking. Yesterday was the Feast of Corpus Christi and we started With Mass at 8am. The church was decorated beautifully with fresh flowers. The mass was in Spanish and they had a choir that sang beautully. The church was overflowing with people in the streets. .
Aftee mass there was a procession through the streets to 7 different stations. The procession was led by their Priest along with Father Duncan frome Cape Bretton and a brass band. It was scorching hot and I have never sweat so much for so long.we finished up at the Community Hall at noon where we were greeted by more people. As we were the guests of honor we had front row seating. Sister Isabella introduced us and 3 sponsor children gave these words of gratitude. "We thank the Lord for our friends and family who have permited us to share, guard our lives and live with happiness n enthusiasm. There was then traditional dancing and a couple games for the children. We then handed out over 600 tamales wrapped in a banana leaf and a cold drink. After the lunch we then handed out the items we had brought in our 2nd suitcase. The preschool children got teddy bears which they were so happy to receiive. The older cildren school supplies, balls n toothbrushes. It was so busy and they were so excited. Lots of hugs n Gracias conveyed by Mom's Dad"s children n Grandparents. I have never had that many hugs in a day. It was a big event for them and Chalice, the Sister"s and Father Armando are so well respected in this community as the give hope and love through their work here.
We finished up about 3 and headed back to our hotel where we were hosting a BBQ for the Sisters and their staff from the Nutrition Center. We decorated with Canadas Red/white n Guatemalas blue/white. BBQ burgers n hot dogs were cooked up which some had never had. Pool time dancing and lots of laughs and stories with our new Amigos n Amigas. We wrapped up and more hugs n some tears as we said our good-by"s. another wonderful day.

1. Church decorated for Corpus Christie
2. 1st station made by Chalice prayer group. They started at 3am to have it ready.
3. Proccesion thru streets.
4. Cathy handing out Tamales.
5. Community Hall. This is the school our sponsor child goes to.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Too Tired - June 2

Had a long full day today and have to be up at 4:15 am. No stories today. Menyana