Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guatemala Day 4: Siding, Rafters & 1x4s

Joy and Myself taking a break 
Breakfast: egg burritos, pineapple, roll with jam. Finished siding, put up rafters and 1x4s for the roof. I helped with the siding and 1x4s. Used the table saw! So sweet.
Lunch: Lo Mein, tortillas, vanilla oreo cookies. Bonded with the kids today. Sang songs to each other and tossed coffee beans back and forth. They have a lot of coffee bean plants. The little Guatemalan girls had me write down my name. They also tried to get my phone number! I drew pictures of things and they would tell me the Spanish (bananas and monkey are some pictures I drew).

Putting on the siding & rafters
They also went to get their English/Spanish Dictionary to help us figure out what our majors were in Spanish. They asked me if I could draw our nation's flag. At one time when I was drawing, there were like 15 kids surrounding me. It was wonderful. They are beautiful and happy children. They are content. Said "adios amigos" to my Guatemalan friends when we had to go back to the compound.

Interior of the house
Hiked the tools up the mountain and then up the hill. Bus ride home is always eventful (passing people, other large vehicles on roads wide enough for one vehicle, bumpy roads). Showered and ate dinner: lasagna, garlic bread and steamed zucchini (the cook is great at making American meals because she cooks for an American).

Putting up rafters
Had in-depth conversations with the team about Guatemalan vs. American lifestyle.  It was really cool to hear everyone's thoughts. Had group show & tell. Played a game of euchre and lost :(

The main road through the village
Daily thoughts: 
1. Is Guatemala really in poverty? Or does it just seem like that compared to the States? 
2. The people seem happy/content... are they? 
3. They don't work/go to school... if they need something they just trade with their neighbor... why can't we live like this? 
4. I envy the Guatemalan lifestyle - I just want to enjoy God's creation and His people...

Matt 5:11

Taken right near the work site
Taken from the rooftop of the compound

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guatemala Day 3: Walls & Siding

Some of the girls from the village
Eggs & potatoes for breakfast! Along with rolls. Had to take off sides of the cement slab we poured yesterday. I scraped wood with crow bars & hammers. Then hauled wood from the top of the mountain down to the worksite by way of a congo line. Built sides of walls and interior walls and put them up on the concrete.

Floor plan of the house (16x17')
Ate lunch: spaghetti, tortillas & Chiky strawberry cookies. After lunch took measurements with Joy & Garrett for the siding. Also bonded with Guatemalan children and got a picture with them! (Some of them are scared to get their picture taken -- afraid it will take their spirit) Some of the girls I met names were: Maria, Laura & Sonya. They were so cute and happy! Also talked with the little boys that came to the worksite with us (Byron, Eder & Hosea). They were making "crowns" from pine needles. So cool! And they taught us how to make them. I made a bracelet.

Putting up the walls
Did more siding on the house. The little boys kept yelling my name Rachhhel in a creepy voice. It was funny. Left the worksite at 4pm. Came back and changed. Went to the "store" (more of a concession stand) to buy snacks. Watched the guys play bball at the compound. Ate dinner: rice, beans, steak, veggies and tortillas. Learned a little more about Casas por Cristo. Did show & tell (members of the team talk a little bit about themselves and show a random object relating to their story). Played psychiatrist and signs (group games). So fun!

Thoughts: Why do Guatemalans stare at us and not whisper about it? Why is it ok for tiny kids to run around and even go to other villages on the other side of a mountain? Kids riding on the back of our bus for a free ride. People dressed up at 5pm (tons of people) going to the cemetary? Mayan beliefs? What are they? How are they so content living off of so little? How can they do "nothing" all day? 70% of them are illiterate. Most can't even spell their own name.

Loading up the truck (had to unload/load it each day)
Had to walk up this mountain everyday to get back to the bus! 
A house near the village

Happiness: Phil 4:4-9 - Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guatemala Day 2: Pouring the Concrete

The view near our worksite
The 2nd day was our first day of building. I woke up around 6:30AM and ate breakfast at 7AM - we had pancakes! We left for our worksite around 8AM. We drove about 25 minutes to the building site. The bus ride alone was so cool. Passed tons of villages. The houses are made of tin, bamboo and concrete bricks. The families were all out watching our bus go by. They all stared at us. Some of them wave hi. Their clothes are strung outside to dry. Dirt floor houses. Women carry baskets on their heads. There is trash everywhere. People ride dirtbikes to get around. There are lots of dogs. Children carrying babies on their backs. All the girls and women are in skirts and blouses. I don't think children go to school or women work. Some men work. Their only need is food, which they find in different ways.

Preparing reinforcement for concrete
After the concrete was poured
We took dirt roads to the site. Walked off the bus and was in shock of God's creation. So beautiful. Lush green mountains with villages stuck to the side. Clouds below us! Hiked down a dirt road/mountain. Very steep. All 20 of us. Passed several houses. Everyone watches us walk by. We got to a house then took a dirt path (very VERY narrow) down around a few houses then down a dirt staircase down the side of a mountain! So steep! 

Hauling our equipment and tools down the mountain
Got to our building site (literally a dug-out spot on the side of the mountain) and took instructions from Jason and Scott (Casas guys). We did a devotion about the paralitic man. We were introduced to the parents of the house. We unloaded materials and equipment to start building the house. We all lined up down the dirt stairs to make it easier to transfer lumber down the mountain. 

Some of the kids from our team
This is kind of the process of what we did on the first day:
1. Surveyed land
2. Marked perimeter of the house with wood
3. Dug a trench around the wood
4. Cut rubar to reinforce concrete
5. Leveled dirt
*Ate lunch (homemade burritos with green sauce which turned out to be fire hot and also cookies) 
6. Leveled dirt more
7. Mixed concrete (my favorite part!)
8. Leveled off concrete with trowels
9. Cleaned up
10. Hiked tools back up the mountain!

Finished concrete slab!
Mixing the concrete was crazy fun! The entire village showed up to watch on the side of the mountain. I think they heard the generator start going when we started to mix the concrete. They watched from the edge of the treeline and up the mountain. Our concrete recipe was 1 bucket water, 1 bucket cement, 4 buckets rocks & 4 buckets sand. We figured out a rotating system somehow that worked well. After we finished we had to hike up the mountain back to our bus! So hard to breathe with less oxygen up in the mountains. Just when I thought I couldn't breathe anymore, I realized we were not even halfway up the hill! 

The compound we stayed in for the week
Had a nuts bus ride back to the compound. One was dirt roads made for 2-way traffic - with houses on both sides. Two buses heading for eachother. One of them was ours. Literally took 20 minutes to figure it out. Had to back up and go forward. Finally got past the other bus. Everyone was exhausted. Kids were climbing on our bus and on the top of the bus while it was moving. Crazy! 

Made it back to the compound. Ate chicken, green beans and baked potatoes for dinner. Oh, and of course tortillas (always with every meal). They had kool-aid which I steered clear of (not sure what kind of water they used to make it!). We ate dinner and had brownies for dessert. Best brownies ever. 

Trusty transportation around Guatemala! 
Thoughts: Looking around I am just so glad God called me to San Raymundo. Beautiful mountains. Happy Guatemalans. A simple way of living. Love is everywhere. Laughter. Spending time outside. Kids running around barefoot. Kids hiding in trees. Girls (little girls) carrying babies. Dogs laying around - some right on the building site. Little boys helped us shovel rocks. Enjoying life, God's people and his creation.

Psalm 33 - Happiness is what I see in the Guatemalans. The earth is full of His unfailing love (v5). I always picture earth as a pale blue dot; I want to make a difference while I am here (v13-15). Fear the LORD (v18). May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you (v22).

Isaiah 12 - The Lord is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation (v2). Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things (v5).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guatemala Day 1: Travel Day

Our team (I am 2nd in from the left side)

I always love to keep a journal when I travel so that I can look back on it. Also so that when people ask how the trip went I don't leave out any major details! So I kept a detailed journal while I was in Guatemala with what I did and thoughts that were going through my head. So here is what occured and crossed my mind on the first day.

I woke up and got ready then headed to Campus House. For those of you that don't know what Campus House is, it is my church at Purdue. Our team of 20 people (17 students and 3 leaders) left Campus House around 8:30AM in two 15-passenger vans. I was in the "party van" with Mitch as our driver. It was a lot of fun. Garrett, Michael, Alex C., Jessica, Sara, Kyle, JD, Adam and I were in the van. The leaders of the trip were Alex, Mitch and Garrett. We arrived to Chicago around 10:30AM. We had 3 hours to kill before our next flight to Dallas.

We ended up playing banana grams. I had never played this game before and it was pretty fun! I bought a $7 bagel for lunch at the airport. So pricy! We left Chicago at 1:45PM (sorry I am so exact with my times- but that is why I have my journal!). We got to Dallas at 4:30PM. Our flight for Guatemala was leaving at 5PM. We all literally ran through the airport to catch our next flight! It was awesome. I felt like I was on the amazing race. There was another Guatemala team too and they were running to catch the tram to the terminal and we beat them! #AmazingRace

We made the flight to Guatemala. I sat next to Sara Hoppe and we played games and riddles the entire flight. She is quite entertaining! We got to Guatemala and exchanged money. We went through customs no problem! We took a school bus to San Raymundo (the village we stayed at). It was about an hour and a half bus ride. A little boy helped us put our luggage on the bus without really asking anyone, so we had to tip him.

Guatemala City was much bigger and spread out than I had pictured. There are lots of shops made from tin and concrete blocks. There is lots of trash lining the streets. Stray dogs are walking around. We drove up and down hills, over speed bumps and arrived at the compound with the 2 guys from Casas por Cristo (they met us at the airport). Side note on Casas: Casas por Cristo is the organization that we worked for while in San Raymundo. They build houses for families in Mexico and Guatemala. For more on Casas click here.

We arrived to the compound (a compound is a school with boarding) and unloaded our luggage. Guys and girls each had their own rooms. The rooms are full of bunk beds and each have a bathroom. We ate dinner prepared by the school family. For dinner we had ham, cheese and egg sandwiches and Chiky cookies (so good!). We drank purified water (don't worry I didn't drink the water). We also could not flush our toilet paper down the toilet because of their plumbing system.

At this point my thoughts were as follows: I am loving the trip so far. Can't wait to see the village in day light! We are waking up at 6:30AM tomorrow! I am falling asleep to the sounds of Spanish music (maybe TV?).