The word routine isn’t used very often in the Outtatown world. As a group we pride ourselves on being spontaneous, flexible, and always on the move. Yet somehow this week the Guattatown students found themselves settling into the daily routine of life in San Juan.
We started off our second week with our host families and spent Monday through Thursday morning at Spanish school. We were all shocked to look back on the last week and realize just how far we had already come with our Spanish. We are all trying to have conversations at home, practice our Spanish on the streets, and listen closely to any Spanish guide we have! Our first evaluation was on Thursday morning and we are all excited to get our results back once we return from our week away.
One of the new aspects of this week was Tuesday afternoon service projects. Our team was split into four groups so we could head off to various locations in the surrounding area. One group was sent to The Grandpa House, a retirement home in Antigua. The students got to play games and practice their Spanish by interacting and speaking with the residents.
The second group was thrilled to meet the students they will be helping to learn English. This group also got the opportunity to meet the mayor of Santa Catalina Barahona and have lunch with his associates. The restaurant they went to was not like your typical Canadian, or Guatemalan restaurant though. Each student got to pick a live fish from a pond and then have it fried to perfection.
The third group, who will be doing some construction and community service, is planned to start up during our next week in San Juan. In the meantime the students were able to join the other groups and help them out.
The final group got to go to a local hospital where the majority of the residents have Cerebral Palsy (CP). The hospital building itself was beautiful. It was built last December and we heard that it is a huge improvement from the previous small location in Antigua. All of us students who went there got a tour of each floor and got to chat with some of the residents. People of all ages are currently at the hospital; from young children to abuelas and abuelos (grandma and grandpas). After our initial tour we were set free to interact with the kids. At first all of us were slightly overwhelmed. Spread throughout two rooms, over thirty kids were lying in their individual cribs. Since most of these kids have little to no mobility and speech each child required one on one attention. The majority of our group had never worked with kids who have disabilities or in any kind of medical setting. It was easy to wonder where to begin. We so desperately wanted to love on all of them but at the same time, there were only six of us. Despite the overwhelming situation we all jumped right in and set out to love, serve, and play with these beautiful people. Whether it was going for a walk in the sunshine, giving out lots of hugs, helping feed someone their dinner, or just having a simple conversation and sharing a laugh, each child got some love from our outtatown community. By the end of our three hours at the hospital we had set the foundation for what looks to be some wonderful friendships.
In situations like this, it can be easy for us to question where God is. All of these beautiful babies are left in a hospital with a limited number of caregivers. They don’t receive what is considered a typical childhood. A lot of them have families that just don’t have the means to look after them. At first, it looks like a heartbreaking situation. But if you look closer you can see God at work. We saw Jesus through the kind volunteer coordinator, the hardworking nurses, and the other volunteers we met. We got to see the joy that our kind words and time can bring. We got to experience the diversity of God’s design for human life.
Overall we all feel that God is at work not only in the CP hospital but all throughout Guatemala. As we prepare to leave San Juan and head into our new week in Panajachel we are eager to see what God will do through us and for us!
– Steph on behalf of Guattatown