Last night we had a wrap-up and sharing time on the outside terrace of the Iquitiu Hotel where we had been staying. Susan, our group leader helped us to process the week, our expectations and how we might feel on re-entry into our lives back at home. She asked each of us to share a "treasure" and a "stretch." Everyone spoke from the heart and we were amazed at the journey we made emotionally and physically this past week. We also knew that our work as a team was a beautiful gift which we will always carry with us. John read story about how a rich man wanted to teach his son about the poor. He took him to a farm where the boy stayed for a week. In the end, the man learned from his son that the farm held riches beyond what money could measure. Dave, with a guitar and harmonica and his daughter Maggie, with her lovely voice seranaded us with several great songs. The Coughlan family genes seem to bring out that musical ability. Several folks went down to watch the soccer game. And of course we were serenaded by barking dogs and crowing roosters through the night.
This morning we met for prayer before leaving San Lucas. Susan shared a prayer by Teresa of Avila about how Christ has no hands and feet but ours. She then read excerpts from the book, "God Has A Dream" in which Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks about how God must cry at how humans treat each other. But then like the sun peeking through the rain, a grin may come across His face when people reach out and do good works.
After a hot, two hour van ride to the city of Antigua, we will take in a few sites before heading to the airport in the morning.
I also want to mention that I was able to meet with our family's sponsored student from the San Lucas area. This is the third year I have met with him. He is pictured below and lives in the village of San Martin. We have sponsored Axcel for 6 years and he is now in his senior year of high school and is taking a specialization in bookkeeping. He lives in a cornstalk house with his parents and 6 brothers and sisters.
In October, Axcel will be the first person to graduate from high school in his extended family. School is required through 6th grade and after that is optional. Many families can't afford to send their children on to school. Much of the poverty in Guatemala is historical dating back to land ownership and lack of opportunity.
We know how important education is for the children of our world. Guatemala is making strides in improving educational opportunities. Many of you may already sponsor a child - but if you would like information on a good sponsorship program, check out SLT Scholars (in which we sponsor Axcel through for $200 per year) or CFCA (Christian Foundation for Children and Aging). It's also a wonderful organization. You can find them with a google search.
Thanks to the Bruce and Keli Milbrandt family for sending many pairs of shoes with me to Guatemala. I gave them to Axcel for his family!
Blessings and thanks to all of you for your support. We look forward to seeing our families which we have missed much.