Blog Post for July 28-August 1 mission trip to Guatemala
Apparently, it is a good idea to be sure that your watches alarms actually coincide with the time zone of the country you are visiting. We began the day with Tracey Russell, one of our organizers, in the shower at 4am, rarin’ to go. True, that was a mistake, but very indicative of the excitement with which the group woke this morning to go and get our hands on some babies. After our home cooked breakfast in a country where it’s apparently normal to include some sort of breakfast cookie and poppin all kinds of Dramamine, Bonine, and donning various lovely motion sickness wristbands, we mounted the buses. Now I expected these buses to rattle down the road while parts fell off and rolled down the mountain, and thirty-one women pushed us the last few yards to the malnutrition center. Nope, these things were nice, clean and comfy…not one case of motion sickness! One of the two buses spent their forty five minute commute singing praise to Jesus…a fitting beginning to a day we had committed to loving Jesus by loving his little creations. We had been reminded in our morning devotion that when we perform the mundane, that we are in His presence…when we serve the forgotten, that we are actually serving Him. Boy, were we ready.
Ron made us tour the facility… I know, we needed to know where everything was. We needed to hear the story. We needed to understand rules. We needed to know the needs. Bottom line : Ron made us stall so he wouldn’t get trampled by screaming, praise song singing, maternal hearts beating Christian womanhood racing through linoleum hallways to grab unsuspecting small children out of their cribs so we could heal their hearts and bodies with one look. No, no… Actually, he gave us a fabulous tour regardless of his motives. Team members who had traveled in March of this year remembered walking into a large pantry… the size of a small bedroom in typical suburbia… and seeing one single jar of peanut butter. Nothing else. Today we walked into a pantry stocked from top to bottom and all around. Joy. Thanksgiving. Hallelujah. We saw painted hallways and floors being mopped We saw a kitchen about to be greatly improved We met a saint in the kitchen who has worked at the center 24 years. We also saw a laundry room that needs some serious help….I mean is there anyone out there who would like to launder clothes for around 40 children? You get Four big ole commercial machines, but OOPS! Only two work, and oh yes, one of those has to be physically held down so that the spinner doesn’t spin right on out of the top of building! That’s an exaggeration, but you do have to stand there and hold the machine in order to run it. The most efficient dryer is still the sunshine and plastic wiring strung between buildings. The staff works super hard to lauder all those little clothes, but I hope they can get some help soon…
Finally, our dreams were realized after the tour was complete. Little ones poured out of the toddler room…thirteen precious promises. The young girls and teens in the group joined a few moms and began heading to the swings and balls outside. Over the next several hours, this group held and loved and sang and giggled and played London Bridge, and blew bubbles and created designer pipe cleaner jewelry(very odd look hanging from little girls ears), and even managed Duck, Duck Goose. This was a feat because no one knew how to say Duck or Goose in Spanish so we resorted to Uno, Uno, Dos. It worked. The teen s were phenomenal and one little eleven year old learned patience and how to love a whining child. For some reason, this little guy latched onto team member Catherine and would have none of anyone else. Unfortunately, this did not mean he was happy. He whined almost all day, but would not let this child leave him. She stuck by him. “I’m exhausted….” Was Catherine’s lunchtime announcement, but she went back for more. When some local volunteers showed up late in the day, and took her little guy from her, she was so relieved. He seemed to know them and was happy. Catherine was delighted. For all of five minutes when she decided she wanted her little man back. I tell you that story to just say again how fabulous these mission opportunities are for families. God so wants to use all of us at whatever age and stage we happen to be. From the child to the grandmother, every team member, made a difference to at least one child on this one day. That matters in the stories God is writing in the lives of these kids and the lives of these workers. All of the stories are actually about Him, but how amazing to have a bit part in the only story that’s real.
Meanwhile, over in the baby room… things are wild and wonderful. Wild because there’s thirty three babies! Two came in today… a beautiful little girl with some fabulous hair and a little guy whose parents dropped him off as soon as the center opened. The boy’s parents stayed and watched awhile. They had other children with them. This tiny boy was thin, skin wrinkling on stick-like arms, tummy swollen. He was lovely. They placed him with a team member, and left abruptly while the little one called out “Mama, mama, mama…” The love it takes to give up your own needs for the good of your child. How terribly hard but necessary was this mommy and daddy’s decision. Both of these children ate today. They were loved and held and told they were precious. Another baby boy, Billy, is in very serious condition. A team member devoted herself to this child. She prayed boldly and exhaustively for God to intervene in his little body and allow him to receive hydration. Well, I’ll just bet you have never had a prayer answered by a wet diaper! The place was all atwitter when Billy little body took in enough to actually produce a wet diaper. Have you ever been proud of a wet diaper? This place is amazing! Babies who were blank faced were gazing sweetly at grandmas by day’s end. Little bodies were rubbed and smoothed and cleaned and tickled.
Our lunch break was completed by the great shoe adventure. Ron had hoped for a few new shoes for the center. Shoes were falling off of some feet, and he had hoped to do a better job of properly fitting the children. Well, the women of God pulled out all those shoes from suitcases and set up Payless right there in an unused hallway. I mean teeny suede loafers for preemies to toddler’s basketball shoes. Amazing! Some little girls found theirs “early” . They were so proud. Later in the afternoon most of the children were dressed in new outfits. Have you ever seen a boy CHEER for his new outfit? It’s all I can do to get my boy to try it on, much less act excited. All girls everywhere seem to find a need to look coy, smile shyly, and bat their eyes, and priss in their new outfits. They felt so pretty. It made me smile so big.
At the end of the day, the team gathered in the lobby and sang to God. My Chains are gone... Amazing grace…. Everlasting God. His word promises that God inhabits the praise of his people… he lives there. Well, he lives at the Malnutrition Center in San Juan, Guatemala. He is there loving his kids. We’ll join up with Him there again in the morning.