Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pat Strong, final blog Guatemala Trip July 2014

Reflections: This is my final blog from the mission trip to Guatemala.

After a day in Antigua, Guatemala and seeing the sites we all had a wonderful chance after dinner to reflect a bit on this amazing trip. We completely were in agreement that Transformational Journeys and our leader, Candace run the best cultural mission trips that we have ever come across. We unanimously were appreciative of the patience and teaching skills as well as the friendliness we received from our masons/teachers.

We unanimously spoke of the love of the people and willingness for them to share and open their lives to us.  In the U.S., a child can't just go up to a stranger and get a hug, take an impromptu art lesson, have strangers read a book to them while edging closer and closer to the stranger and then even sitting on that stranger's lap. We are taught that strangers may hurt you, a/k/a "Stranger Danger".  In the little town of San Jose, Guatemala, kids openness with us was a daily occurrence.  Neighbor kids would peek their heads through windows watching us work and then be offered to join in and help. Their excitement was wonderful. We mixed mortar with the kids, let them take a few shots with our cameras and smile as they saw themselves, we taught them how to "measure twice, cut once" when cutting a cement block. In our reflections we spoke of the wonderful food we were given and how hard it is to get something to the dinner table be it the process of making the corn into masa for tortillas or raising the chicken we would eat. I will never go into a local grocery store again without appreciating how much is involved to get that food to the market and then to us. We were impressed by the "real people" of Guatemala and their desire to still make the world a better place. We met leaders such as Jessica who, though she is one of the younger adults, has gained the respect of the elders as she teaches them about health. She leads them to understand the benefits of the new cook stoves not only for their health but also for saving fuel which is better for the environment as well as reducing the cost to buy the wood. I think back about Mario, one of eleven children, who has huge open holes in his jeans and not to be in fashion. 

I also note he has no shoes and then I come back to my community where people complain they aren't getting their way while they forget what they already have.  In my community the issue is not no shoes or even one pair, but 15 pair or more.  People honk at me to get going even though the light is still red.  I throw my clothes in a washing machine, yes, that's right!

I don't have to stand in the river at 6:30AM after already making my tortillas for the day. As I hear my bell ring that the dryer is done and I can just pull the clothes out, I am appreciative. Yes, we all take for granted what we have. All of us.  I would like to be more mindful with every decision I make and how it may affect another and that will be my task moving forwards. I can't change every sad situation I see. I can try to make a difference one step at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time, one situation at a time, one person at a time.  As I get back from trips I start to go into my "what do I need to get done" mode. I will try to not take my own life so seriously as so much of the little day to day aggravations are really nothing compared to what so many people in the world go through. Yes, the daily aggravations to me are still valid.  I hope to look at them with different eyes so that I can pay attention to what really matters.  It's food, shelter, clothing and love.

Have  a great & green day!

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