Sunday, 21 July 2019

Quiche

For a few years I've been meaning to visit some friends who work up in Canillá, Quiche. Finally last week I went, and spent a couple of days seeing their ministry. The journey took 5 hours, thanks to the final part having been pathed recently. Previously it would have taken 8 hours.
They run medical clinics in a few different towns and villages, and always have 50 -100 patiences in a day. They are part of a fantastic team of doctors and local nurses who support and often translate into Quiche, as many of the patients don´t speak good spanish.
 The journey to the clinics showed off some spectacular scenery, as well as giving us chance to hear more about their heart for this work. It´s not unusual for patients to ask the doctors to pray for them, and it was wonderful to see the trust that´s been built up over time.



 And after work, they took us up the hill to get amazing views across the whole valley.....
 .... including the Mayan ruins (the pyramid in the centre of this photo)


 It was fantastic to see these special people, as well as be in such a peaceful place!









Monday, 8 July 2019

From volcanoes to the beach

Last week, the step team finished their project and went on holiday before returning to the UK and Ireland. I spent a few days with them, and took the trip from their project in Alotenango and travelled down to the coast. This is a journey of only a couple of hours, but the landscape completely changes.

This was their view of the volcanoes around Alotenango. On the right is Volcan Acatenango, and on the left is Volcan Fuego, which erupted last June, with devastating effect on towns and villages further down the slopes.


We past a couple of ´towns´ on the edge of the road. The lava flow filled towns and left houses and other buildings in ruins. Many families have never found the bodies of their family members who had not evacuated and were buried in their own homes.
As we drove away and downhill, we saw much of the road and various bridges that were washed away and destroyed by the lava and pyroclastic flow. Bridges have mostly been replaced now, but there is still work going on, to improve roads and river banks. 



As we dropped over 1000metres the landscape changes, and the surrounding fields grow sugar cane, rather than coffee that we´d left behind.


 This rocky outcrop is famous for being the face of an indigenous woman.

 In less than 2 hours we got to the coast. Here there are 2 large ports with huge container parks.
But we turned left to find the beach! In Monterrico, as with all of Guatemala´s pacific coast, the sand is black from all the volcanic activity over thousands of years. (Guatemala has 36 volcanoes altogether).
 Because of the colour and the heat (33C and upwards), the sand itself gets very hot and after about 9am, it´s too hot to walk on in bare feet. Luckily there were some hammocks and shades and a swimming pool to keep us slightly cooler!












Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Marmalades for Mission!

Actually it´s more like jam, and cupcakes but you have to be a bit creative when translating catchy signs!
This month, I´m supporting Miriam in her fundraising activities. Miriam is Guatemala and is due to go to Cuba to serve with the Baptist Seminary there from September. So she´s in the process of visiting different churches in order to present her project and ask for support.
Most churches in Guatemala are not accostumed to sending missionaries or supporting them, as many of them have a history of being the ones to receive help. But the conversation is beginning to change as more and more churches recognise their responsibility (and the privilege) of being involved in God´s mission all around the world. Also Guatemalans are often reluctant to make commitments over the long term because they have a spontaneous culture rather than one focussed on planning, and because employment in Guatemala is quite uncertain. All of that means that raising sustainable support for missions can be a challenge. But it´s been great to see the response to Miriam as people capture the vision and want to be a part of it. 

Alongside Miriam´s presentations, I´ve also been helping by making and selling jams and cupcakes, so my kitchen seems to be in constant activity at the moment.

 This weekend, I´m also hosting a clothes swap party to raise some more funds as well. All good fun!







Friday, 14 June 2019

Election season

On Sunday, Guatemalans go to the polls to elect a new President, Diputados (like MP´s) as well as local mayors and representatives. To be honest I have lost patience with politics recently both here and from the UK. I tend to read headlines and not much more as it´s all so depressing. In Guatemala, there are around 20 different parties, and the news stories have gone back and forth about which candidates are allowed to stand. The law prohibits anyone who was involved (or whose close relation was involved) in a military coup in the past. No president is able to stand for re-election, nor is his/her immediate family.... often leading to divorce (I´m not kidding!). Those parties with lots of money and power behind them, and who gain from corruption, have actively worked to prevent others from standing who would take a strong line against corruption. One fled the country to be safe from their threats. Others have travelled with confidence and been arrested in the USA on trafficking charges. There are a couple of new parties in the mix - with very different approaches to politics, but the odds are against them. All in all, it´s very unclear what will happen on Sunday. Usually no one party wins the majority (as the vote is split between 20-odd parties), so it often goes to a second round of votes between the 2 most popular.
But in practical terms, this is what election season looks like......











Earth Lodge

I recently spent a couple of days at a fantastic spot outside of Antigua. An avocado farm with cabins and treehouses built into the hillside, gives fantastic views across the valley towards 3 volcanoes.


The view from my bed in the morning. Volcán Fuego on the left, and Volcán Acatenango

 Volcán Agua to the left of the photo, and Fuego (active) and Acatenango on the right.


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Core Team meet in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

I've just come back from Santa Cruz in Bolivia, where I had our annual meeting with the Latin Link Core team. It's always a great time together when we can pray for each of our country teams as well as discuss and discern together regarding future direction and plans. It was also great to see some of the Bolivia team based in Santa Cruz (although I forgot to take any photos of them!)

 And we were staying in a wonderful place, where I was able to start each day right with a swim -- which always does my soul good! and gives me energy enough for a day full of discussion and work.