To say it in one word our trip has been AMAZING, but let’s go back to the beginning…
All of us Michiganders made it to Detroit safely and with plenty of time to spare; our plane was at the gate on time and we were all set to leave ON TIME. We boarded the plane, and we waited…for fuel…for catering…for some sort of paperwork that needed to be signed, and then we were finally in the air about and hour and a half later. We only had a 44 minute layover in Atlanta, and we were late; Chad K. was ready to make a mad dash to our plane and tell them to wait for us! Long story short, we missed our plane to Guatemala, and got to spend a day in Atlanta…one extra night of warm showers and comfy beds!
Tuesday, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare; we all had seats for the plane and made it on board. We had an uneventful flight and finally arrived in Guatemala, only 24 hours later than anticipated. Our luggage all made it and we all breezed through customs without any issues. Justin from Paradise Bound picked us up at the airport, and we loaded into a 15 passenger van for a 3 hour ride to San Ramon. After, seriously, the bumpiest and most crazy road I think any of us has ever been on we arrived to the village. The Iowa team was just finishing up the first day of building: with only 12 people they worked hard, and accomplished everything that we were supposed to accomplish as an entire team. We got settled in, had a dinner of sloppy joes (or taverns as some of the Iowans call them) and some veggies. At 8 p.m. we had devotions around the fire and sang some songs. Some of the kids from the village came to listen to us sing praise songs. We all went to bed…lulled to sleep by chickens and dogs…and prepared for an early wake-up and a day of work.
Wednesday morning…breakfast started at 6: chocolate chip pancakes and pineapple; then we had personal devotion time before starting on our houses. Our group split into 5 groups of 3 and joined with the already-established Iowa teams. We sanded and added another coat of drywall in our houses. Then as an entire groups we headed up to the highest house on the hill and we began to add stucco to the outside of the house. For those of you that have never applied stucco before it is quite a process, and very messy! We had wheelbarrows full of stucco, people ready to go with trowels at each wall, and runners bringing stucco all around the house. We all ended up pretty dirty, and if you were anywhere in the vicinity of Dan, you ended up with globs of stucco all over you! We had the most amazing lunch…tostadas with a chicken salad type thing and fresh guacamole, and rice of course. Then, each team went back to their house and sanded one last time, swept down the walls and floor, and painted the walls a nice turqoise color. We had 1 gallon of paint to cover all the walls, which was more of a challenged for some groups than others 🙂 After the painting, we got to let our creative juices flow, and decorated all the walls with Bible verses in Spanish and murals of all sorts. Work crews came and put the roofs on, and a bed was set up, then our houses were complete! We had a little downtime then; some people played soccer, and others took a hike down to the river. We had tacos for dinner with homemade tortillas, and devotions by fireside again at night. We were all tired after finally working 🙂
Thursday…breakfast was eggs, beans and tostada chips, and watermelon; then personal devotion time. We met as a group to talk about how the dedication process of our houses would go, and then we started up the hill to begin the process. At each house the team that built the house would go inside with the family that would live there; they presented a bag full of gifts to all the family members. Then each team member said a couple words to the family, which were translated into Spanish so they could understand. After that, one of the Guatemalan Paradise Bound team members presented the gospel to that family, and gave them the opportunity to accept Christ as their personal saviour. We were able to lay hand on the family members, pray with them, and give them lots of hugs! During this whole process, the other people were outside surrounding the house praying, singing praises, and reading their Bibles. It was a very powerful and amazing experience that I’m sure all members of our team will have plenty more to say about when they get home. After we dedicated all 5 houses we headed back for a lunch of rice and beans, tortillas, and veggies. Then we cleaned up our dorms and the bathrooms, loaded up our luggage, and climbed in the vans for our 3 hour drive, back down the crazy bumpy road, to the Paradise Bound base. We made it to the base safely, but it was cold compared to the hot days we had in the village. We unloaded all the stuff from the vans and got settled quickly in our dorms. Then, we had Dominoes pizza waiting for us, with fresh pineapple, and pop! The pizza tastes almost exactly like at home 🙂 We also had some warm showers, which felt amazing!
Even though I wrote a small novel, there are not enough words to describe our entire experience that we have had so far. It has been so great to experience God’s love in such a special way and cross language barriers the ways that we have over the past couple days. Now we look forward to medical clinics the next 2 days in some villages nearby.
We miss you all, but we are all doing well and having a great time 🙂