Sunday, September 28, 2008

And we're back

Thanks to my wonderful husband, and our great friend "The Bean", I am back up and running.
Now I no longer have to type on a computer with crumbs stuck in the keys, no battery, and missing the letter A.

So here are some recent pictures, One question "When did this little girl grow up?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Still here, still disconnected, but with an urgent message

Now that Guatemala has halted adoptions there is nowhere for the orphans to go. Babies are being left in grocery stores, children roam the streets looking for food. People who had orphanages and cared for these children have sent the kids away or simply put them on the streets and closed their doors because they are not making money any more.

My friends Julia and Kerry have started a missionary called Global Orphan Team and right now they are focused on the orphans of Guatemala. GOT has already made two trips to Guatemala and distributed countless items and food to the orphans.

She said that the orphanages she went to didn't even ask for clothes or toys or toiletries. They need food just to keep these children alive.Global Orphan Team is giving me the chance to help these children. All of the money you donate will go towards helping these children survive. They are a non-profit organization and can give you a receipt for any donation that you make.Please go to JuJu's Blog and read her post and seriously consider donating. I don't like asking people to donate money but this is something that I truley support and will support forever. These ladies are doing something amazing.

I often think of what Liv's life would be like if she had not been adopted. Would she be living on the street, begging for money. Or would she be with her older brother and sister scavanging through the garbage dump trying to find food. Luckly we'll never know, but for thousands of children this is their reality.
So please empty your jar of change, and donate it. Or use your weekly coffee money, every little bit helps!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Out of Order

My computer has offically passed on, pause for a moment of silence!!!!
That virus really got it and even with all my tlc I could not save it.
So I am left to try and check emails from Vinay's computer, or at my Mom's. Hopefully I will be able to get my new comptuer sometime this week, or next. Sorry to all my faithfull readers, and fellow blog friends. I miss you guys and hope to return soon!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Day 4, The Widow

You are probably sick of reading about how great Casa Angelina is, but it really is that wonderful, and anyone who knows me, knows that I am a skeptical about everything. Another example of the wonderful things that happen around Casa Angelina, is the way it helps the surrounding village. Tuluche is your typical Mayan village. Dirt roads, tin shanty's, and farmland.
The staff had heard about a Widow living in the village who was 82 years old, and living in the worst of conditions. Her house was made out of cornstalks for the walls and a tin roof. She had an open fire pit within the house, that she used for cooking. There was no chimney. So she was essentially living in a closed fireplace.
Casa Angelina raised the funds to built this poor woman a safer home, made of cement, with a real cooking stove, and a functional bathroom, which she did not have. They also dug her a well so that she could have clean water.
On day 4 after working, painting, and sewing. We walked down the dirt road to visit with the widow. Unfortunately I can't remember her name and neither can my aunt.

The road up to the village. On the road we passed a church, a tiny school, and even a little store. The road is torturous, the Widow is no longer able to make it to church, because of the road.
What is this, a walking cornstalk? No it is a man carrying all of that on his back. Walking down this dangerous road with this strapped to his back. He will then board a bus and bring this to market to try to sell it. Most likely for less than 2 dollars, for all that work.
Corn growing in front of the Widows house.
This is the Widows daughters house, on the right, that is the only sink, for washing clothes, dishes, and bodies.

Here she comes on the left, out of her house, the sweetest lady I ever met. That is her new house with the open door, to the left is her little bathroom.
She was so proud of her little house, with it's hand painted bed, a small wood burning stove, a few pots and pans, and one chair.
Here is a broom I saw outside. I will never complain about vacuuming again.
Here she stands on the left, with her granddaughter in the middle and her daughter on the right. Three generations. I can not fathom the hardships these woman have endured. If you look closely at the Widow's hands, you can see how large they are, from years of hard work.
She was so happy we visited her she sang a song for us. We all gave her a little money and some food before we left. I wish we could have spent more time there.
It was so inspiring to me to meet this woman, she was so filled with happiness and love and yet she had so little. But what little she had was the world to her.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The one with the end before the middle!!

OK I know I shouldn't do this, but I have been working on this montage for Vinay's work, and I finally finished it, so I had to share!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day 3, So many stories with a happy ending

Casa Angelina is an 18 acre sanctuary. On day three Jeremy picked us up and then we went to pick up the rest of the team who were staying at a hotel a few blocks away. The ride to the Orphanage is north up the main highway. You pass coffee plantations, small Mayan villages, various farms and you go thru the town of Chimaltenango. It took about 40 minutes to get there.
Upon first entering the gates, I was just astonished at how utterly beautiful the view is from up there. I'm not sure of the altitude but it is pretty high up. Some of the team members were feeling the altitude, short of breath, headache, but luckily I didn't feel it. The air is so clear and sweet up there, and the weather was perfect. Warm in the sun but the air was cool.
Casa Angelina is made up of different houses in which the children live. There are about 10-15 children in one house with 2 house parents. This makes for more of a home environment, and the kids can get more individualized attention. They have an on site nurse at the clinic, and a full time psychologist who sees each child at least 2 times a week.

Casa Angelina has never done adoptions. Most of their children have no living relative to sign paperwork, or do DNA testing for adoption. And most are older children and sibling groups, that are hard to place. Instead they are saving these children and raising them like one big family.

After that first day I had renewed hope for the lost children of Guatemala. There is a wonderful place for them to go and it is being built from the ground. If only every orphan could be loved and cared for the way these children are.

Each child had their own nice quilt on their bed, and stuffed animals, and toys in the home. There was true laughter, love and a sense of family. It was so nice to see that some horrible stories have a happy ending.

One of the incredible views!!!
The kids playground and more of the view.
When we first arrived, the toddlers were so happy to see us.
In the middle is Wendy. This little girl stole my heart, she would not smile for the camera at first.
But after awhile she couldn't stop smiling. Wendy Maritza, on the left, came to the orphanage with her little sister, and older brother. Their father use to strangle them when he was mad. So many heartbreaking stories. Johanna on the right is 7 years old but she is the size of a 4 year old. She was so malnourished, she had to be fed only liquids when she arrived. Now both girls are happy and safe.

My Aunt holding baby Laila. Laila and her 3 older siblings were abandoned in the Guatemala City garbage dump. The oldest Sister, 10year old Mercedes, was taking care of them all and feeding little Laila coffee and soda. This poor little girl was 10 months old when she got here but was the size of a 4 month old. Now she is plump and growing rapidly along with her older siblings. Thank God they were rescued and sent to Casa Angelina!!!
My Aunt sewing some uniform skirts for the girls.
Home made tortillas, and Azucena, who is 14, and just the sweetest girl ever. She was always laughing.
Part of the wall I painted

One of the team members brave enough to get on a ladder.
The front of the building, the soon to be dining hall, that we painted. Some team members painted bunk beds, which you can through the doorway.

A baby cow and it's momma living right next to the main house.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Day 1 and 2

San Francisco El Grand Church

One of the candle stalls in front of the church.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend. For us it was so nice just to do nothing and spend time together as a family.

Arriving in Guatemala that first day was very surreal. I forgot that everyone had said that the airport had changed. I was amazed how much it had changed in 2 years since we picked up Liv. None of the little shops were in the airport. they had been replaced by 3 or 4 big shops that sold mostly liquor and were way overpriced. I was also shocked by the outside. I had remembered waiting for the Westin shuttle right across from the airport and all the street kids asking for money. This time I was prepared for them. I had brought a big box of the individual cheese/peanut butter crackers and a bunch of singles for them. But they were gone too. I suddenly felt very sad. Where had the children gone? Where were the little old ladies who ran the shops? I'm sure it was not their choice to leave. What were they doing now for money? It was on my mind the whole time I was there.

After my meltdown on day one, see previous posts, I was much better on day two but still filled with all these questions. We spent the day shopping after having a great breakfast at Cafe Condesa, I love that place. Day two was special because I got to return to the church where we had Olivia baptized on our pick up trip. The Church is San Francisco El Grand it is where the remains of Santo Hermano Pedro are.

He is known as the “St. Francis of the Americas,” Pedro de Betancourt worked and died in Guatemala. Pedro was born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 1626. He worked as a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, Cuba he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established… As quoted from Wikipedia (click to continue reading).

The church is just beautiful and outside of it is a courtyard with little stalls that sell all types of Guatemalan goods, but especially candles to be brought into the church and lit as an offering.

While we were in there I noticed a woman in traditional Mayan dress and her little daughter. Both of them were filthy. The little girl was about 4 years old and she was so good just kneeling next to her mother as she prayed. I continued to watch them as they got up and put a few coins in the collection box. I then noticed that the little girl had no shoes on. My heart broke. This could be my Liv. I wanted to get out of my seat and give them money, but should I do it in church. Would the mother be offended. I didn't know in Spanish how to say can I buy her some shoes.

They walked over to the left side of the church where the remains of Santo Hermano Pedro are in a ornate mausoleum type box. I tried to decide what to do. I watched as the mother prayed to the Saint. She was so passionate as she quietly mouthed her prayers. I could see her hands were very worn and rough, as she made the sign of the cross. I noticed my Aunt get up from the pew behind me and she was making her way to the left side of the church, I got up to follow her. As I crossed in front of the alter, I remembered to genuflect, just as i had been taught all those years ago in Catholic school. When I reached the Saints remains, I looked for the mother and daughter. I didn't see them. After a few minutes of kneeling and saying a few prayers to Saint Herman. We got up and went outside. Again I looked for the little girl with no shoes, and her mother. I didn't see them. I was so mad at myself. Why didn't i just get up and go over to them. Now this poor little girl will go on with no shoes for how long. But how many other children in this country are walking without shoes. Olivia has probably 20 plus pairs of shoes, most that she doesn't even wear because she doesn't like them.

I was frustrated and overwhelmed. We made our way back to our posh hotel and I felt like a hypocrite. I came here to do something, to somehow give back to the country that had given me my daughter, and I was finding it hard to not feel paralyzed by the enormous need.

The hotel. It is in a cute little neighborhood, about 5 blocks from the central park.
The entrance way of the hotel.
A little reading nook right outside our room.

My aunt would sit here each morning and call my Uncle as she drank her coffee. I would still be sleeping.
View of the volcano from the gardens.
Me picking some type of banannas, from a tree on the grounds. I tried to eat one but it tasted chalky.
Students in a procession in front of a church right next to the hotel.
Me and Auntie at dinner on day 2.