A New Home, and a Hard Farewell.

Potter's House Guatemala

The Socorec family home was completed Saturday. There was a very moving ceremony to hand over the keys to Vicenta and the community joined in the celebration. The living structure itself is nothing that we would consider luxurious by our standards, but to them it is more than they could hope for– clean running water, (a spigot in the front room and a full sink in the back, as well as a toilet and shower!)  full electric with a light and outlet in each room, and metal locking doors for piece of mind.  It was a very joyful and emotional occasion.  A neighbor or two were jealous and displayed their contempt by tossing rocks on the tin roof in an attempt to take away from the moment. To no avail, I might add. For Vicenta and her family it’s a new life, and I can say the same for me– being involved in this incredible experience has changed my heart and given me a new outlook on life.  

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The Sadness

Guatemala City dump

I have resisted taking pictures of people caught in the despair of life here in the Guatemala City dump.  It feels voyeuristic and exploitive in some ways, but when I saw this guy passed out at 8:30 am, it was like a punch between the eyes.  For 1 quetzales (about 8 is equal to one American dollar) you can sniff yourself into oblivion with a soaked rag or small bottle of glue, solvent– whatever.  It’s cheaper than alcohol, so it’s widespread and very easy to get hooked.  Sure, you can judge them for doing it, but if this was your life you might be tempted to take any escape you could get– even a temporary high.  It’s a very tragic sight– he passed out with the rag he was sniffing stuck up his nose.  

This trip has taught me a ton about having compassion and empathy for others.  I was pretty bankrupt in that department before coming here.  I will never be the same after this experience– and I agree completely with Victoria’s commentary.  Our economy in America has impacted the people here too.  One of the masons we are working with was recently laid-off at a Lee Jeans factory.  According to him 13,000 workers were laid-off there.  I don’t remember seeing that in WWD.

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Guatemala Street Scenes Pt. II

Guatemala City cross

This is the door to a school/church that they have been painting the past few mornings.  The cross is outlined in simple masking tape– I am wondering as I make my way down there today if it will be more elaborate, or stay as is.  We walk by this everyday and it’s become a touchstone for me.

 

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Guatemala City Street Scenes

Guatemala City dump

You do see people taking pride here in Guatemala.  Yeah, for a lot of them it’s all they can do to survive, but you do see glimpses where people make real efforts to beautify their little piece of the world– like this home/shop made of corrugated tin panels that was painted shades of blue, and kept very clean in comparison to what else is around.  Can you imagine this being home sweet home?  I have to tell you, this is pretty good for dump standards.  There is much, much worse here.

 

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Guatemala City Dump– Zone 3

My good friend Eric shared his thoughts on today and I think they are great– very succinct and honest.  If it were me describing our first day working with the people who eek out a living in the stench and filth of the dump– it would read like War and Peace.  Long.

Guatemala volcano

We thought this was going to be the only beautiful thing in Guatemala and for the first 8 hours we were right.

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Black & White

Guatemala is a place of absolutes and negotiables.  Like– men absolutely don’t wear shorts– it’s a latin cultural thing.  And for the negotiables– anything and everything is negotiable when it comes to goods and services.  Funny– in America it can be the other way around.  The price is the price (except for maybe in our current economic free fall) but our values are negotiable depending on which way the wind blows.

Guatemala soldiers

We stopped at a market and car show near the airport and snapped a few pics– seems that camo pants are fashionable here too.

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The Road to Guatemala

The Road to Guatemala

I’m a little anxious today as I pack for a week of serving in Guatemala– which means separation from family and being delivered into the hands of hard labor and living conditions that most of us Americans would consider totally unacceptable.  As I studied the details of what to expect there, I quickly became thankful for everything I take for granted here— basic stuff like clean water, modern plumbing, and decent health care.  It put things in perspective. Quick.  

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