Wednesday, 1 October 2008
On the plane to Guatemala, we watched “The Bucket List.” And I wondered what would be on my list were I to make one. Certainly there would be a visit to Virginia, where my mom was born, just to stand and close my eyes and inhale the scent of the woods outside her family farm. Telling people I loved them with reckless abandon would be somewhere on the list. And there would definitely be a trip to Antigua where I could stay long enough to take in all the beauty.
Sorry, that was just a bit of dialogue for those who haven’t seen the movie. It’s got a great message.
We followed the same road we had taken the day before, but this time it didn’t seem quite so long. Courtney and I had purchased CDs at the mall in Xela, and several folks burned playlists for us to listen to in the van. It was a great plan. But once again, our efforts were foiled – this time because someone had stolen the faceplace off the CD player. So if we weren’t accelerating and if you listened VERY carefully, you could hear the awesome music that we had planned to share. Sigh.
We arrived in Antigua around noon, and were promptly dropped off at the Mercado for some shopping. The place is a couple of blocks long, and is an explosion of color. We laughed at the line of the day – “For you I make good deal. No business.” Thankfully, Manuel was our official negotiator, and made sure we found the best deals. Courtney even got a wooden giraffe. Yes, a giraffe.
Shopping was followed by lunch and a meeting about our afternoon plans. McDonald’s was the destination of choice, but there is something special about a fast food joint housed in a centuries-old building. And this McDonald’s featured a McInternet area and a McCafe bar (complete with coffee, chai, and pastries). Despite the beauty, it was still McDonald’s. Another sigh.
We traveled down the narrow cobblestone streets to Manchen, a girls home across the street from a women’s prison. I had been to Manchen in February, but wasn’t ready for what we found when we arrived. There were more than 140 girls at the home, a record number. The number of young mothers had also increased – with more and more stories of incest and rape. As in most of the facilities, those with special needs were blended with the others. And the needs here were different – there were a lot of psychological challenges, a lot of developmental delays.
I fell in love with one girl in particular. Her name is Josabeth, and I believe she’s in her mid-teens. She’s observant and bright, and made it a point to help us pick up all the supplies after the girls decorated frames for their photos. She sang so tenderly during music time, and shared with me how much she loved God. She had a maturity missing in many of the girls. Josabeth has so much potential. Unfortunately, she’s not a candidate for the Buckner transition home. She has been classified by Guatemalan specialists as developmentally delayed – and at present, those kids aren’t eligible for the transition services Buckner provides. If I could, I would bring her home. Yet another sigh.
I also can’t forget about Stefani. This 14-year old was 7 month pregnant. She felt unattractive, and the shoes she was provided for her swelling feet didn’t help. But Courtney and I had just wast the doctor ordered. We had packed an extra pair of pink Converse shoes, complete with floral pattern and fuschia stars on the sides. Court and I have dubbed ourselves the “big feet gals.” And we knew there would be a girl in Guatemala who could join the club. We’re proud to announce Stefani as the newest (and prettiest) member!