Today began with anticipation and dread. Excited to see the children yet knowing it would be goodbye in the afternoon. I love knowing that I will see them again!
We headed to Chuluc and since this was our 4th day of driving so many sites were familiar. Occasionally, there is something that’ll catch your eye, like a pickup truck filled with caskets! Durb got a great shot! The drive is mountainous and if there is a semi in front of you, you’re generally stuck driving much slower than you’d like. Today wasn’t one of those days and we made great time.
When we pulled up to the school the children were all waiting out front, hanging on the gates and jumping up and down. They were so happy! By this point, we had established relationships with the Principal and teachers. The first day we worried that we were interrupting their schedule but by week’s end, they were all joining in with us. It was a great day of community!
We were able to give more Mothers, Grandmother, Fathers, and Grandfathers vitamins for themselves and the children today. Again, they were so grateful!
The children did another great craft for their VBS time. Tara had taken pictures of each child and they made personalized frames. That helped to round out a terrific week of great crafts…..Sock Puppets, Cross Sun Catchers and Frames! Fun things for the children! After the craft, there was a big Easter Egg Hunt in the school yard. Each child was allowed to find 8 eggs each. It was so much fun watching them and awesome to see the older children helping their younger siblings. They truly look out for one another! Rob shared the Easter story with Jorge interpreting. The children received coloring books, crayons and a book about the Easter Story. They listened to music. They played with Bubble Wrap! They had more pretty ribbons tied in their hair! What a fun time for all!
There was also an extra special treat for the children today! Domino’s Pizza!! Oh. My. Goodness. They were SO excited!! I love some pizza (my family will attest to this) but these kids made me view pizza in a whole new light. I will never eat another slice without thinking of their precious faces!
A little while after the festivities, Dayana came to get me and said the Senor Alberto wanted me to come to his home so that he could give me some roses. Senor Alberto was one of the Abuelos that I had given vitamins to. He took us onto his property, which was more like a compound if you will.
He walked us around to the different rose bushes, cut a few flowers and then showed us the peach trees and lime trees (Dayana said they were limons, I insisted that they were limes. Love you Dayana! :-)) He loaded me up with fruit and then offered some homemade tortillas. He had some of my new favorite squash, Guisquil growing! Doesn’t look like the type of squash we are used to but it is oh so good!!
He told me that when I returned he wanted me to come to his home for a meal. I told him that I hoped to return in December but that “mi espouso” is planning to come back in July. So Drew has a standing invitation now, too! After I had returned to school, his daughter Norma came up and presented me with a gourd that you can hang up as a gift from Senor Alberto and his wife. I am so touched by their acceptance and generosity! Alberto is the Father-in-Law of Irma, whom Jan formed a sweet bond with!
Our time ended quickly in Chuluc. Words spoken by Jorge, Rob and the Principal. Many, many hugs and many tears.
Hugging Nancy goodbye was so difficult. What a smart, beautiful and sensitive young lady. My hope and prayer for her, for Alejandro, for Mario, for Yesica and more is that we find a way to help these older children to continue in school so that they have options in their lives. My heartstrings are tugged by the older children. They only have a couple of years before their schooling years are considered over and they make their way to the fields. They are so smart and have such promise! Please Lord, make a way!
We left Chuluc with the children standing outside of the school gates, waving and saying “Adios”! I was able to steal a glimpse of Nancy who was already heading home. I waved through the window and she waved back. I’ve been telling myself that she saw me. (it’s my story after all). Tears pooled immediately. I will miss Nancy and all of the children…..Wilson, Ahibal, Juan Jorge, Jenifer, Gabriela, Yesica, Mario, Alejandro and so many more….so, so much!!
We returned to the hotel and most headed out for dinner. It was an enjoyable night but also somewhat subdued. We were spent….physically and emotionally.
A worship service was planned for 9pm. Jake and Perry played guitar and I led our worship songs. Read from Psalm 103….
Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His Word. Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will. Praise the Lord, all His world everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.
And then together we sang 10,000 Reasons followed by Come Thou Fount. Sweet time of worship sitting in the courtyard of the hotel. Mike gave everyone an opportunity to share, asking “Where did you see God this week?” The answers were wonderful. Heartfelt. Personal.
Then Jake Tum arrived and spoke to us with Jorge translating. His words were kind, humble and generous. Jake is a hard working man with a heart of gold. The heart of a servant!
Rob then prepared us for the Lord’s Supper. He had the room remain silent, no music in the background and had us break the silence only with prayer. We were, if we felt led, to come up, take the bread and pray specifically for someone, someone’s or something related to our trip. It was truly inspiring. It was humbling. It was painful to hear each other’s pain. There were so many emotions throughout the courtyard. People spoke from their experience and it was an honor to capture glimpses into one another’s hearts. Such a tender way to end the week. We closed the service with an acapella version of Amazing Grace. Cuan Grande es Dios!!