Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday, Guatemala trip post by Pat Strong

En route to our job site this morning we could clearly see one of the distant volcanoes throwing plumes of smoke into the air. Many times during the day while we were building the cook stoves we were serenaded by the thunderous sounds of the volcano. A member of our group has been encouraging the local kids to do art. They would often color volcano pictures with some so detailed they showed the valleys up the hills and the fish in the nearby lake. Every day after lunch, they run to meet him and enjoy their daily "art class". Other kids would play clapping games and read books. Many of the kids and other family members got involved in assisting us while we worked today. Even a 2 year old started stirring cement in her little purple baby bowl which then encouraged her big brother, age 4, to not want to be left out. It seemed that all of us were visited by curious kids and many chipped in to help mix and sift sand. It was hard to call it work as it was so much fun. We mixed mortar, chopped cement blocks, mortared the stove base and got our chimney stacks in or ready to be placed tomorrow. I can't believe it will be our last day with these beautiful people as we will finish our project by the end of the day.  After a refreshing ice cream stop we then headed back to our hotel and quickly got ready to go to a home where many men get together to make hand made wooden spoons, bowls and other items. These are true artisans with amazing skills. They displayed the process of how they create these pieces which are so smooth to the touch you just want to hold them. They use many local woods such as coffee trees, ebony they find from floods that may wash the wood near, and other hard woods. After the carving and smoothing the carvings are finished with beeswax. Some of the profits from the sales of these go to elderly people who are no longer able to get jobs or to do jobs. Go to to check out some of their works. Transformational Journeys certainly knows how to show us the true Guatemalan culture with such personal experiences being offered to us. I thought I was just coming to do a mission project that I believed in and have been treated to the unexpected experiences that have been arranged for us to make this so personal. The extra care to show how people can give back to society in so many ways has been amazing. We've learned about perma-culture farming, politics, Mayan cilture past and present, volunteerism, artisans, different local cultures and, of course, much about the scenic country of Guatemala and it's peoples. More tomorrow as we complete our projects and prepare to go to Antigua, Guatemala. 

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