Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Presentation Reminder

This Sunday at 6:30pm we will serve desserts, coffee and juice in the St. Wenceslaus PAC/gym. All are welcome to see our power point of pictures and a few video clips and hear stories about our trip!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Welcome Home!!

Welcome home to our group of 20 travelers! It has been so fun to see some pictures and videos of the trip and read your blog! In order to best allow families, friends, and those who have supported the trip a way to get access to a bigger view of this experience we are doing a Come and See Night!

April 22nd at 6:30pm
St Wenceslaus PAC/gym
All are invited to come a view a presentaion from the group: hear their stories, see phots and video clips and enjoy some coffee and desserts. Fair Trade coffee from the San Lucas Toliman Mission will be for sale as well.

Please contact Andrea at 758-0477 with any questions.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our trip has finished and we are now on our way back to Minneapolis. It was an amazing experience seeing the different culture and all the people along with being able to experience do many new things. My main highlights of the trip would have to be visiting San andres, where we visited a family and played with very appreciative children, helping out on the coffee plantation and talking with the workers that were there, and also climbing up the volcano and being able to experience a whole new view of nature. I am very glad I chose to go on this trip and will remember it for a very long time. It was an amazing experience and it would be great to be able to do it again in the future. -Josh
This trip has been, to say the least, amazing. Just the fact that I got the opportunity to go to Guatemala was incredible. We saw so many beautiful things, the volcano, the cities, the churches, the PEOPLE. Every place we went to, even if it wasn't on time or not intended to be seen, was so much fun. Being able to experience Guatemala spiritually too? That made all the difference. I learned so much about my faith. That, no matter what language we speak, we were all celebrating the same things. And that's all that mattered! Guatemala taught me how truly similiar we all are. Whether they're living thousands of miles away with a completely different way of life or are with us every day in little New Prague. All of God's people are made to love and be loved. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. -Emily
I don't know where to start! This trip has without a doubt been the most amazing experience I've ever had and I am so thankful that I got his opportunity. It's awesome how a trip like this can change your outlook on so many things, at least it did for me. The number one thing it opened my eyes to is the fact that I need to stop looking at the ways that people are different from me and look at the similarities and to stop judging people I don't even know. A smile costs nothing but shows so many things. Seeing them from all the children made me realize that the little things are the big things. :) -Ashley

 I have just had one of the best weeks of my life so far and I'm so sad to see it go. As a group we got closer and had so many memories together that we'll never forget. But also, I learned that two things hold different groups and cultures together; religion and relationships. Just walking through San Lucas, simply sharing a smile or a buenas dias could brighten someone's day and, although the masses were in Spanish, we could participate and still feel one with the people there. It was such a fun experience and I hope to be able to use all the great experiences to make me appreciate everything I have so much more. Thanks to all the people who donated and of course all of our parents who helped this trip happen! -Lexi

On this incredible journey, I got a little bit of sun, but a whole lot of life changing experiences. I have learned so many things here like how you can have true happiness when you have nothing, and how, no matter the language or cultural differences, we can all unite as one under God. The people I have met here, places I have seen, things I have heard and experienced, those are the memories I will hold onto forever. I guess the biggest thing I will take from this is the unexpected places you can see God, and how he truly shines through everyone you meet. I am so blessed and grateful to have been able to come on this mission trip to Guatemala! -Anna

Input on the trip

Words cannot describe how amazing this trip to Guatemala was. It has changed me for the better. Through these experiences I have found that I have so many unnecessary this in my life that I think make me happy. Most of the people in Guatemala have only just the necessities that are needed for life and sometimes even less than that. Also, there were so many people that helped shape me and I will never forget them or the things they have taught me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Today was our last full day in Antigua and we're all really sad, but excited to come home to see our families. I'm especially excited to bring back all the gifts I bought people!
This morning we had a wonderful Easter breakfast. We took a 10 minute bus ride to a very fancy restaurant. The bus was really cool; it didn't have any windows or doors and there were four benches for us to sit on, two of them facing backwards. The restaurant overlooked Antigua and the volcanoes so it was really beautiful. We all got delicious food too. It was a really good way to start off our Easter day, especially since it didn't really feel like Easter without our families and Easter traditions. Harrison was the only lucky one who was visited by the Easter bunny, so the rest of us are hoping he didn't forget us at our houses :)
After breakfast we came back to Antigua for mass. Not everyone could understand the readings, but just being there and knowing our families were doing the same thing at home really touched many of us. Listening to the same readings, singing the same songs and celebrating the same things made me realize how connected we really are as Catholics. I always used to think it was silly that Catholic churches were structured the exact same way everywhere in the world and I didn't understand why they all had to read the same readings every week. But being here, listening in mass and knowing my family was doing the same thing in a different country was SO cool! It made me feel so connected to these Catholics I've never even met before. We're all connected through this belief that none of us can prove and every week we hear the same things, no matter where we're from. So, in a nutshell, mass was amazing.
After mass we went to tour some crypts and ruins. They were pretty cool and it only cost 40Q which is like $5, so it was definitely worth it. We saw some skeletons and crypts as well as some cool paintings and Mayan artifacts.
Then were got to explore on our own until 5:00. Some people hung out at the hostel playing cards, some shopped and some just walked around the city. At 5:00 we met up at the hostel just in time to see the Easter procession walking by. The streets were packed! But not full of observers, because everyone was IN the parade. I seriously think all the Antigua citizens were in that procession, so just us tourists were watching. It was so cool. We've talked as a group a lot about how amazing it is that these people parade their faith through the streets; nobody would ever do that in the US!
Then we all went our own separate ways until tonight when we met up on the rooftop of the hostel for one last group discussion. We reflected on our favorite parts of the trip and prepared to go back home.
We're going to bed soon because we have to be on the bus to the airport by 7:45 tomorrow morning.
We're so excited to see everyone!!!
~Lauren Schoenbauer

Happy Easter! He is risen!!!

Andrea again~ I got a text a little after midnight that said "Best religious experience . Ever." I'm not sure exactly what that means but that is the best text I could ever hope to read! I am excited to hear stories and see photos/videos when they return.

Also, if you had not seen the Star Trib today there is a feature article in the Travel Section on Antigua called "Easter, over the top!" Check it out.

Enjoy the day~ the Gibbs Fam

ok update on the update! Just a text to ask me to update the blog one last time. Last night after attending a hour mass at San Fransisco Church last night they left following the sounds of beating drums down the street and they saw a procession dedicated to Mary that was beautiful and ended up following it for 2 hours throughout Antigua, arriving at the hostal after midnight. Today after the noon mass they will visit Santo Domingo (see last blog entry). There is also another procession they hope to catch in honor of Christ rising from the tomb.  With all of that being said~ they hope to get a chance to update the blog later today,have their farwell supper, do the closing retreat session and pack. Their driver will arrive at 7:30am tomorrow to start the full day of travel.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Update

good afternoon! This is Andrea writing from Iowa. the group just called and said they will be unable to update the blog tonight and asked if I could give you a little summary. After a few 3  and 5 am wake up days in a row most of the group was happy to get to sleep in past 8am. Jeremy, Harrison, Jon and Sam had breakfast with some friends from Guatemala City who came to visit them... hi Rita if you read this!! The girls spent most of the day doing a walking tour of the noteable buildings and churches in town while the guys hung out and rested up. The group followed the directions of some locals to find mass at 6pm which  of course ended up being wrong. So the plan now for the night is to have a spaghetti dinner and head out to San Fransico Church (where St. Hermano Pedro is buried) for vigil and adoration. Tomorrow morning the group will head up the mountain to have breakfast at the secondary resturaunt owned by Santo Domingo. After that they will head back to Antigua to visit the ruins, museum and burial crypts of Santo Domingo for some Catholic Church history/ Guatemala history/ earthquake history. They will make it to a noon mass at the the Cathedral. The afternoon will be open and I bet by that time someone will get a chance to update the blog from Guate. To see more about Santo Domingo check out .... i think thats right?! Anyways they are having a great trip and a differnt celebtraion of the Easter Week. Blessing to you all. Andrea, Nellie and Mitch!!1

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Hello everyone,
If nothing else from this trip, I will surely bring back some excellent driving tips! Driver's license? Don't need one. Speed limit? Forget that. Pedestrians? They'll move. Mom and Dad, I hope that pacified you guys! (: Needless to say, our drives have been pretty crazy adventures!

I know people have already blogged about the volcano, so all I'll say is that it was one of the hardest but best things I've ever done. Walking through the clouds on the top was a huge payoff for all the people that wiped out! (: And roasting marshmallows in a volcanic heat vent-pretty amazing.

When we got back, we had some free time, then went to a Holy Week procession. The streets were jam packed-it was like an explosion of Dozinky Days! The procession was the stations of the cross on platforms with statues dragged by many people. And here's the crazy thing-when the one with Jesus on the cross came by, it starting absolutely pouring! Although it was freezing, you can't help but think it wasn't a coincidence! I'll close with this: soaking Americans must look pretty funny running down streets, looking for their hotel in the pouring rain, because all the Guatemalans were laughing at us. Oh well, good memories!
We're off to eat now, love and miss everyone at home! -Anna
We've been extremely busy lately, so it's been hard to keep up with the writing. Yesterday we woke up at the hotel in San Lucas at 3:30am. We had to board a bus to Antigua; although it was only a 2 hour drive, we wanted to beat the traffic because lots of people will be visiting Antigua for the Easter celebrations. So we drove through the bumpy, curvy roads to Antigua, very early in the morning. It was really interesting because we saw so many people either already up working or waiting for a bus at 4:00am. We arrived at Hostal Antigua at 6:45am yesterday morning. We couldn't get into our rooms yet, so we dumped our stuff in the hallway and went to a local restaurant for breakfast and walked around the town. We left for our volcano climb at 2:00. We had two tour guides to direct or group of 20. We drove for an hour and a half to get to the base of Volcano Pacaya. We were all extremely impressed with our driver who could drive well above the speed limit and strategicaly maneuver around cars! At the base of the volcano was a very poor town. Before the vans had even parked, children were gathered around begging us to rent a hiking stick from them for 5Q. Most of us bought one :) We were disappointed to find out the hike was only an hour and a half long, but after the first ten minutes of hiking we were happy that it was short! We were jealous of Harrison who got to ride a horse the whole way up. But hiking with our two very attractive tour guides was just as good :) It took us 1 1/2 hours to get to our camping site. It was so beautiful! The peak of the volcano was so close and we were surrounded by clouds. After taking a ton of pictures, we hiked to our camp ground. We set up the tents and explored the area. Jon found the perfect climbing tree, but he was the only one who could climb it :( Then we set off on our tour of the volcano. We did not know what we were in for! The next two hours were filled with trying to keep or footing on the bumpy volcanic rock. For some of the tour we couldn't see more than 10 feet away from us because it was so foggy. We were literally IN a cloud! After about an hour some people turned around for various reasons. The rest of us continued on our adventure. We found a hot spot where we roasted marshmellows in between the rocks. We had to scale a really steep section of the volcano too; some of us had to crawl up because it was so steep! We were almost to the top, but we couldn't get too close otherwise the sulfur would turn to hydrochloride acid in our lungs. After a while we returned back to camp. The handsome tour guides made us stir fry over the fire. We talked for a while, but didn't stay up long since we woke up so early that morning. We woke up today at 5:30 to watch the sunrise, but it was too foggy to see anything. We ate PB&j bagels and hiked back down. It only took 40 minutes that time! Much more happened today, but I'll let someone else share. We're on our way to a place called Rainbow Cafe for dinner!! -Lauren Schoenbauer

Sophomore Input

Well, today has been an interesting day to say the least! Nothing here is like it is in San Lucas. We left the calm serenity of San Lucas for the loud hustle and bustle of Antigua during Santa Semana (Holy Week). We started our day by heading down The Volcano Pacaya and heading back to Antigua. When we arrived here most people showered and got ready for the day since it was actually pretty early. Some people went out  to see Antigua by themselves while others prefered resting after the 2 early days. Around 2 we left to tour the city of Antigua! We saw some old churches and waited for the Stations of the Cross Procession. While we were waiting some of us helped to make a carpet of flowers in the street- very cool! Then around 4:30 it began and right then it started pouring! It was great to watch but hard to focus because of the rain. After the procession we ran back to the hostel but when we got here we were completely soaked. In about 20 minutes we'll be heading to the Rainbow Cafe to eat dinner and learn salsa dancing. Hopefully it'll be a great experience like everything else in Guatemala!

-Emma Z, Emily, and Emma B

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday Volcano Climb

Good morning parents,friends, facebook world. We arived in Antigua this morning around 6:30am and had to wait for the people to leave the hostal. Some of us went up the street to get some breakfast and had the best orange juice!! Now we are getting ready to leaving for the valcono. At 1pm we go meet the guides, have orientation and split up who will pack the different gear and food. After that we travel to the base of the volcano to begin the hike.The guide told us it takes about 1 to 2 hours for most groups to climb, hopefully we can all make it there! Pictures to come later. We should arrive back in Antigua late Friday morning. Have a good day, Keep them in your paryers! Here is the link to the company we hired to be our guide for Pacaya. It is an active volcano but the last major eruption wsa in 2001, so no worries.

Love God

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hello again!
My first entry to the blog comes with sort of bitter/sweet emotions. We are all kind of sad to be leaving San Lucas, as we have kind of gotten used to our daily routines and will be leaving some new friends behind; one of which is Jorge the tienda owner on the corner. He was sad to hear that we were leaving tomorrow morning because he said he liked seeing us walk by a few times a day and talking to us when we came into his store. So he was giving out sad hugs today, I am not sure if he will miss us more or the looots of business we brought him. Whether it means anything or not, he would always give us his "special price."
Lauren blogged earlier about the fun she had cleaning... well Brady, Michael, Jake and I went and had our own fun. We asked Jorge if he knew anyone who had canoes, and he pointed us three blocks up the street to go behind some bar and asked for a guy named chilota, it was kind of sketchy, but we spoke enough spanish to get it figured out, everyone is so nice its easy. For about three american dollars we took out 2 of his home made canoes. It was a good intention, took a couple good pictures (to come later), but it was super windy and wavy, I thought I was going in a few times. we kept spinning in circles (the ores were different sizes) and it was a battle against the wind to get back to shore. It was fun though.
Chona came to talk to us shortly after this, she talked about how thankful the mission is to have volunteers from North American come down to help out, and how this place wouldn't be the same without the contributions people like us have made in the past. She also talked about the violence between the guerillas and the guatemalan military in the past, and how hard it was for her, her family, and many other guatemalans.
Now it's time to watch a movie and hit the hay, as we are getting up at 3:20ish a.m. to leave for Antigua. We leave with valuable knowledge about the problems that exist in countries other than our own. These problems transformed from something we heard in the news, or writing on a page into first hand experiences. It makes it that much more real, we have been trying hard not to "get used" to what we are seeing every day. Antigua will be a lot different, and we will probably see more tourists than actual natives due to the fact that it is a huge vacation destination during holy week; however, we will not forget what we have seen, heard, and learned here in San Lucas Toliman. At this time tomorrow we will be unpacking our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars on top of a volcanoe in Antigua, We are all excited. So far, great memories had, great memories to come. Peace.
-Jon Schoenecker
I think my hours are numbered... I accidentally brushed my teeth with faucet water this morning! So now I'm hoping and praying I don't get sick; especially since we're climbing the volcano tomorrow... that could get ugly.
This morning we stayed at the mission to work. A new group of high schoolers arrived and they haven't been to the coffee farm yet. Since we've been twice and today is the last day of work before holiday break we let them go, even though we were really sad not to go. We made friends there and wanted to see them! Yesterday whenever Juan came to bring me more dirt to shovel he would repeat my name in Spanish over and over again: "Laurena, Laurena..." and then smile at me :)
So instead of that today we cleaned the library. I have never seen more spiders (dead and alive) or spider eggs in one place at a time! The books and she\lves were so dusty I wonder if they've ever been cleaned before. But we cleaned them all and it looks really good now! some of the boys abandoned us, so they have to clean spider nests from teh cieling later! Haha!
I'm really excited for this afternoon because a woman named Chona is coming with things to sell from the widows of the village. We're planning on buying most of our gifts here because then we know the money is going straight to the producer.
Speaking of buying, I'm going to check the store down the street with Lauren because she wants to buy a machete (I have no idea how to spell that).
~Lauren Schoenbauer
Friends, Family, Facebook Stalkers:
Guatemala is so amazing but everyone is a little sad that today is our last day in San Lucas. Yesterday another group came to the mission so today instead of helping with the coffee project, we had to clean up the library/ cafeteria. While we were doing that these two little boys came in to help clean off the books! When they walked out I saw they had a ball that was falling apart and an old basketball. Still, they were having fun kicking the ball around the mission. Anna and I started playing basketball with them, but with no hoops so to score you had to throw it at the wall... I think. Then more kids started coming and playing and it was pretty funny. I tried to talk to them but it was pretty broken so they kind of laughed awkwardly at me and said things that I didn't understand! Seeing the kids here is one of my favorite parts of this trip, just asking what their names are, how old they are, and about their families. Also, they love to be photographed and see the pictures after! I can't wait to show everyone the pictures when I get home and tell about all of the memories I've made, and I know everyone feels the same as me! Hope everyone is well in the states and can't wait to see everybody!
-Emma Z

What a group!

I just had to send a shout out to all of the amazing people back home reading this blog/following these kids who have had a part in their upbringing. I can hardly believe how incredibly mature they are for high schoolers. When I asked Andrea before the trip if the kids were "good" and she told me: "oh don't worry, they're the best!" I interpreted that to mean, basically, "they won't be naughty and will follow the rules!" I had no idea that they would enter into this experience so fully and so humbly. Our conversations at night are so deep and so insightful I can hardly believe I'm not sitting in Grad school again! All of you back home, parents, teachers, youth ministers, have set them up for success in this regard...I hope you are proud! And I thank you for the privelege of accompanying them on this trip. God is using this group because of your hard work with them, to do his will. A new group arrived from Hill Murray last night who is not quite "there" yet. We talked to the kids about being evangelizers through their words, actions, and attitudes when they around these kids. The most effective way to transform hearts is in leading by example, and I just know that they're positivity is going to be a great influence and help the leaders of that group be able to get through to their kids.
The picture above, is a sign that has hung in our cafeteria in San Lucas, well, as long as I can remember. This definition of Love, is one that your kids from Saint Wence already embody. And though they may not realize it, the impact it has on others is transformative, I am so lucky to get to watch it all unfold and happen right before my eyes.
With much Gratitude,
Buenos Dias! These last few days in San Lucas have been awesome, but we have come to our last day here.  Today we will be working in the morning, after morning mass.  After that Chona, a Guatemalan woman who has helped the women of this community greatly, will be speaking to us about her story.  That will be very  informative and insightful.  Once she is done the mission will open their store where alll of the items are made and sold by the widows and orphans that Chona has helped throughout the years.  We get a strange feeling of sadness as we talk about leaving tomorrow for Antigua but at the same time we am very excited to visit a new place.  We have all developed a different outlook on things since arriving three days ago.  This first hand experience of how the rest of the world lives has opened our eyes and ears.
-Jake Lannon

To Karen Gibbs:
The meeting with Ameliana went great!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hola! This is Lauren Carr and Nikki reporting from the valleys of San Lucas! This morning we met with the CFCA to visit with a local Guatemalan that Lisa and Eric Schmidt from New Prague sponsor. The girl's name is Ana and she is 15 years old. With the Schmidt's help Ana is able to attend school on the weekends. While talking to Ana, we learned that her favorite subject in school is art. She brought along her sister and mother to go grocery shopping for the necessities and buy new sandals. As a treat, Kris Beatrez bought everyone ice cream and we brought some ice cream back for Ana's younger siblings that stayed behind at the church. After shopping and ice cream, we played soccer with her younger brother and sister. They were only 7 and 5 and they were owning us with their elaborate moves. We made the locals laufh at our lack of coordination. With the rest of the money donated by the Schmidt family Ana will use it for her schooling and transportation. Ana also brought gifts for everyone that she made herself such as bracelets and shawls along with pictures of her excelling in school. Her and her family expressed great gratitude towards the Schmidt family and those visiting her today. It was really cool to interact with the local people and see how much a small contribution can go a long way. It was a really eye-opening experience and because of it Kris Beatrez is strongly considering sponsoring a child in need from Guatemala herself. As for us cool high schoolers, we are realizing that we are not that cool with our brand name clothes and iPods! We have it so easy! This trip has been so humbling and we want to thank all the people who made this trip possible! Hasta maƱana!

Hola! Today was our favorite day so far, and packed full with many different activities! At 8:00 AM, before church, we were pleasantly surprised to get to see an early Holy Week procession. Many Guatemalan men dressed in purple robes carried a float decorated with statues for four hours around the town. Around eight thirty we went to mass. Although it was in a different language, it was a cool experience to see that religion is a universal language.

Next, we split into two groups: one went with Jeremy to San Andres to visit his mom's sponsor and family, and the other went with Kris to meet with the Schmidt family's sponsored girl and take her family shopping and out to ice cream. We went with to San Andres, so we'll share our experience with that.

It took about half an hour to walk to San Andres, (keep in mind that it was entirely up-mountain!) and it was really neat to be able to talk with our CFCA tourguides in Spanglish! (: When we finally got to the top, we realized how different rural villages are from San Lucas. Instead of vendors lining the streets, there were children, whose parents were off working or shopping in San Lucas. The tiny shacks clustered together showed the extreme level of poverty.

While Jeremy, Lauren S, and Emily S went to talk to the family, the rest of us walked through the streets, handing out bubbles and chalk to the kids. They were really shy at first, but started flocking when they realized we had toys and wanted to play. Although we couldn't understand everything they were saying, we connected through our laughter and games. Once the cameras came out, the little girls immediately took control over all photography. They probably took 100 pictures on each of our cameras! The guys got their pride handed to them in a game of soccer with the little boys, and us girls fell in love with the little girls' charm. When it was time to leave, they wouldn't let go of our hands and followed us across the village. It was so sad to leave, but we are incredibly grateful for the experience. We miss them already!

After lunch, we went back to the coffee farm to work once again with our new amigos Ronando and Leonardo! We hauled dirt and picked weeds, then came home and ate another delicious supper!

Thanks for reading about our experiences; we just heard the number of views are over 1400 and are amazed! We'll continue to keep you updated! Love, Anna, Lexi, Nicole, and Ashley

Short video clip from the procession through San Lucas today for Holy Week (holy week actually lasts a week here!)

More photos from Monday: Beautiful San Lucas Catholic Church, Harrison playing bubbles with children on the steps of the church, Women's Center, Clinic/Hospital, wonderful meals they are providing for us, helping with the dishes after every meal, and group time that the kids are participaing in each and every night. I am so very proud of this amazing group of young adults!! They are emercing themselves in this culture and taking full advantage of their experience. I am so blessed to be part of this incredible journey with these kids!!  To all the should be so very proud of your children!  God Bless, Kris

P.S. to my family, I miss you all!


Hello parents and friends!

We are going to be having another jam-packed day. Our agenda for the morning is to split into three groups: to sort and deliver the donations we brought, meet with Ameliana in San Andreas - the woman Jeremy's mother sponsors through the CFCA program, and another group will stay San Lucas waiting for Anna and her family - whom the Schmid's sponsor, to travel across the lake to meet with some of us. We will be taking them out for ice cream and grocery shopping. Later in the morning this group will also join in one of the many processions traveling through the beautiful streets of San Lucas. In the afternoon we will join back together to go work on the coffee farm again.

P.S. Everyone, whether or not prior coffee drinkers, are all addicts to this great Fair Trade coffee we have here! -Michael

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello parents this is God, your kids are having a great time we just got back from walking around town. Mikers and sam bought street food but nothing bad has happen so far. The guys are thinking about sleeping on the roof tonight and the girls are finelly thinking about showering. Thank me! They are starting to stink. Jake bought a cowboy hat that suits him well. Emma Z got ripped off at a store. Brady deleted all of his pictures on accdent and has to start from scratch. We can't stop drinking the coffee and the food is AMAZING!  We are about to go get some ice cream up the street so you guys have a good night and dont worry to much about us!
  Lots of Love

San Lucas Toliman: Day 1

Our first day was a success! We woke up at 7:00 this morning. I had an AMAZING sleep! Who would have thought my best night of sleep would be in a hostal in Guatemala?? At 7:30 we walked to the mission for mass. We waited patiently for a half an hour and then remembered we were on "Guatemalan time." Mass didn't start until a while later, but we did stay because breakfast was at 8:00. Breakfast was a new experience... I've never had black beans for breakfast! We've all quickly become addicted to coffee though, it doesn't get more fresh than this!
After breakfast we went on a tour of the projects. The places we will be working include a women's shelter, the hospital and a coffee farm. We stopped at the women's center first. Women can go there to live and learn how to cook, weave, clean and more. We saw two women weaving and a bunch washing clothes. There was even a little girl, only four years old, washing clothes. She was working SO hard and it made me think of my sisters at home. I think it's safe to say they would never want to do that!
Our next stop was the hospital. The hospital includes a maternity ward, pediatrics center, eye doctor, dentist and surgeon area. Surgeons from America comer for one week every six months to perform surgeries (they call that week "Surgery Week"). We saw a little boy leaving the hospital with a cast on his arm. And by cast, I mean a cardboard box fashioned to the shpe of his arm. It wasn't even securly held on.
Then we visited the coffee farm and learned how coffee is harvested. We got to taste a new invention of theirs too: coffee wine. It wasn't good.
Then we came back to the mission for lunch and watched a movie about coffee harbest and how it benefits their country. We're all convinced to buy coffe from here before we leave and learned NOT to buy Folgers coffee anymore!!!
After lunch we worked at the coffee farm. Some people put fertilizer on little coffee plants and some people hauled dirt. We almost got attacked by a crazy cow too! Needless to say, it was very eventful and we were satisfied with the work we did. Many of us were able to use our Spanish!
At 4:00 we jumped back into the back of the pickup truck (standing, sorry Mom!). Any time we've traveled throughout San Lucas we've been standing in the back of the pickup. When we got back we walked around the town and bought stuff from the vendors. There are little tents and tables set up EVERYWHERE of the people selling their own little trinkets, clothes, food, or jewelry.
It's time for dinner now (which is spaghetti... I don't think that's Guatemalan, but I don't really know), so more will be coming later!
~Lauren Schoenbauer

We have arrived! Our flight and travel went perfectly and we are excited and ready to work and more importantly, LEARN! The only bump in the road was that they were not prepared for SO MANY DONATIONS. Our luggage took up one whole van of the two that were arranged for us. So we had to get a taxi and Jon was a trooper and squished into the luggage van for the 2.5 hour trek from Guatemala City to San Lucas all by himself. (: But hey, if our first problem is that we brought TOO MANY donations, then that's a pretty good problem to have!

The kids have been fabulous. They are already embracing having a servant attitude and participate FULLY and PATIENTLY! So much of the experience here is having an attitude of surrender and rolling with the punches. We are on Guatemala time now...and it is sinking in. Reflection on the roof of our hotel last night was already great. I can tell these kids are going to come home changed forever...and it's only been a few hours!

Thank you all so much for your prayers. We are settled in, rested up, and excited for the activites of the week. We leave for our tour of the different  mission projects pretty soon....well, I think pretty soon...could be a few hours (; who knows! But we're here, and we're ready and willing to serve whenever called upon!

Peace friends,

P.S. Harrison wanted me to post this picture he just took of a pink flower (: He is enjoying noticing every little bug, plant, and other beautiful things that we so often over-look in our busy, rushed lives in America (: What a blessing he will be to all of us!

The other pic is our group getting orientated by the new volunteer coordinator (Lauren-from Paynesville, MN!'s a small world after all! :) on the roof of our hotel last night! Our hotel is BEAUTIFUL!