Since they’ve come back, we’ve been asking a lot of questions about their trip, what they did, what it was like in Guatemala, and what they thought of the experience, plus looking at all the pictures taken by the group they went with. I’ve heard plenty of stories about what they did while they were away, but before that, a little background.
In case you were wondering (because I feel I haven’t been very clear) Mom and Jo did not go all on their lonesome to Guatemala, and they certainly didn’t co-ordinate the trip details and well-drilling themselves. They’re actually just two members of a large team of volunteers that went through World Help, a global humanitarian organization that sends teams like Jo’s to different parts of the world to provide aid and relief in struggling areas. The specific trip Jo went on was also partially managed by Hope of Life, a Guatemala-based humanitarian organization focused on meeting the needs of Guatemalans.
The team Jo went with consisted of about twenty-five people. I found it interesting that twenty of these people were from a church in Pennsylvania, and then there were these five random Minnesotans tagging along. Go figure.
The Pennsylvania group had been to Guatemala before, and last year they raised money to build a church and a home for the church’s pastor in the village of Altimira. This year they came back with plans to repaint that church and build another home. On top of that there was Jo’s well-drilling project, but she was able to raise all the money for that ($15,000) by herself, something I talked about HERE.
Jo and Mom approached this trip with only a hazy idea of what they’d be doing during their weeklong stay, but they figured they’d be helping with the building projects by hauling cement blocks and doing physical labor. (Here in Minnesota we call that “grunt work.” Or maybe it’s just the Clan who says that.) Turns out they were mostly right, since they repainted the church, stacked rocks for landscaping at the home they built, and hauled wet concrete to lay the floor of the new house. There were a few hospital visits and village tours mixed in, but they still did a lot of grunting during that week.
|Dedicating the new house|
For instance, Jo is now the Clan’s resident expert on how to scrape stucco off a wall without getting stung by the scorpions that get flicked out of their hidey-holes by the scraper. She’s also our resident expert on scorpion smashing—definitely a handy skill to have.
|Scraping old stucco off the church|
Jo also learned to drink lots of water while in Guatemala. Staying hydrated there is a full-time occupation: between the heat and the humidity, you can get heatstroke pretty fast. Something else the Guatemalan climate does is grow gigantic grasshoppers. Think 4 inches long and you’ll be on the right track. Mom being who she is, she dared someone to eat one of them and almost had to cough up $20 before he thought better of it.
In case you were interested, it would take more than $20 to convince me to eat a grasshopper, even with chocolate.
Other things Jo learned was how to drink water out of a bag, how to hand out boxes of ice cream, and how to ride a bus for six straight hours. Again, all very valuable skills.
But surprisingly enough, out of all the things Jo learned on this trip, a better grasp of Spanish was NOT one of them. She tells me her Spanish is probably worse than it was when she left because “they talk so fast down there! I got confused.” She did get one chance to show off her language skills, though, because at the dedication of the well she had to give a speech.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Jo is not overly fond of the spotlight, and she isn’t too keen on public speaking either. Her speech caused her a lot of anxiety, but in typical Jo fashion, she figured out a way to deliver a speech and still avoid being the center of attention for more than thirty seconds. The speech she gave at the dedication was delivered in Spanish—and was exactly four words long.
Hallelujah! Gloria a Dios! (Hallelujah! Glory to God!)
It was short, sweet, and to the point—just her kind of speech. It's probably worth mentioning that this was about all the Spanish she could string together at one time.
|Jo got the cut the ribbon at the well dedication|
|Cutting with aplomb!|
Cuz that’s what sisters are for, right?