Greetings from Guatemala! I hope you all had a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year! For me it has been a busy two months. (Yes, apologies for my unannounced hiatus.) In December I did a lot of administrative stuff such as getting a new visa stamp in my passport. This has to be done every 6 months, and I've often handled it by flying for a visit in the US. However, this time, for various reasons including the price of plane tickets, I made the choice to take the bus to Belize instead.
I also made a trip out to Solola to see if the delegated work had been completed. Unfortunately, the letter which I wrote to Manuel (my other community contact) only made its way to him in the last couple of weeks...now that schools are shut down for vacations. However, he said that most of the information wouldn't be hard to get once January gets here; so we'd decided on getting the families together on January 8th. We are starting with 22 families in 7 different villages. Due to travel distances, we'll be splitting the group in two based on where they live. (I actually just noticed that it works out perfectly even: 11 and 11.) One group will have a meeting in the morning, and the other group will have a meeting in the afternoon.
While I was out in Solola, Manuel took advantage of the opportunity to take me to go see David's family again (the little boy with the basket-making sisters who I wrote about in August). I am pleased to announce that Wendy, the older sister, will be going back to school this year. Her father changed jobs to have a more steady income, and the family hopes to build their own house this year so as to stop renting. It was a pleasure to see the family again. Although I didn't meet the father and David was with him, I did get to meet their older brother who I hadn't met on my first visit. They gave me a bag and a magnet as Christmas gifts. I find it so humbling when people who have so little still find it in their hearts to give.
Also, three of the families in the program have children with special needs. Two of those families will be receiving help via anothergroup. Their daughters will be checked to see what their situation is—I think it's Down's Syndrome—and their son will receive a prosthetic hand (if he wants it) for his hand that never grew. Both of these families are in Manuel's group of 11; so he made the decision to wait until January for all of that.
There is more exciting news for Solola. In January, the group of doctors for whom I usually translate (Children of the Americas) will be serving in Solola. The group has wanted to go to Solola for a long time, but because of the general distrust of outsiders, they have been unable to bridge the gap and gain clear communication with the hospital administration and government. Now that they have finally been able to get in, I expect that there will be a few more trips to the area as the needs are great.
The Care and Keeping of a Missionary
Thank you all for your continued support; the prayers really do help! For the month of January, I'd like to ask that you pray for these 22 families. Between these 22 women, they have approximately 89 children. (There are 89 “children” in the program, but some of them are caring for younger siblings who aren't officially their children, but are in their care.) Some of these children have never been to school; some of these children might not want to go to school. I have a 15- and 16-year old pair of siblings who never went to school; they don't know how to write their own names. I have a 10- and 11-year old pair of siblings who I also wrote to you about in August; I'm really not sure if they ever attended school, but I feel like this change will be difficult for them and their mother. (What I'm really concerned about is that she'll reject the program completely out of the unknown, but they are probably the neediest family I have.) So, please be praying for all of these families. They need your support.