Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Graduation Day!!

just hangin' around, showin' off some muscle before graduating
We started the morning bright and early with the 5:30am game. After postponed prayers and a US victory, I attempted working on one of my projects. I had lots of little helpers which ended up taking me twice as long, but they like to feel appreciated and I enjoyed the company.

The school of the hogar had their annual clausura, or closing ceremony, for the students. Everyone was dressed to the nines in their ties and dresses. Some of the children's parents were able to attend. It was very professional with the entrance of the flag and singing of the national anthem. Each grade put on a presentation. The emcee of the entire performace was one of the eight year old boys. There were dance numbers, guitar and piano playing and even singing pollitos! Below is a little clip from the clausura (I lied, for some reason I can't upload videos). After the show, every student received a diploma and their report card. There were even special awards for most persistant, cooperative, artistic, etc. It was a sweet ceremony, and a little emotional for everyone involved.

los pollitos!
After evening prayers, Madre gave a little sermon on family. She explained that not all families have a mom, dad, and two children. What makes a family is the love that is shared amongst one another. She talked about how the hogar is a very special family and how lucky they are that they each have 50+ brothers and sisters to love. Plus, since there are so many brothers and sisters, there are a lot of birthday cakes to eat!

I spent the evening with some of the older girls, talking about what teenage girls like to talk about--school, college, poverty, church...ok these are some extraordinary girls. Its great to hear that they want to go to college and study things like psychology, politics, international relations, etc. These girls are driven, bright young ladies that I see being successful in anything they pursue. I am so happy to see that this environment raises motivated christians that work hard and take advantage of opportunities. Of course, after the deep stuff, we talked about movies and books. I promised them I would take them to the movie (actually it would be Jorge taking us to the cine because there is no way I would drive in the city, its worse than Quito traffic). I was trying to convince them that Toy Story 3 is a must see and they would all really appreciate spanish Buzz. They tell me they are too old for cartoons and want to see Robin Hood or Prince of Persia. Meanwhile, the 21 year old wants to see the kid movie haha. So, thats something we are all looking forward to.

Father Jorge from Honduras left today. I didn't get to spend much time with him but the girls really like him. They told me a little about his life and his work with the hogar. Thats something that I find to be pretty neat. These kids don't really leave the grounds and yet they are so knowledgable and respectful. They listen. They absorb information from the people they meet and learn from their experiences. One of the girls told me her favorite part about new missionaries is hearing their stories and interacting with people from different backgrounds. The same thing goes for church. I don't know many 4 yr olds that not only pay attention but sing along during liturgy. But of course there's one who has a sort of turrets when it comes to singing and he blurts out louder than anyone at the most inappropiate times. Its hard not to laugh when we are singing a solemn hymn and he screams out the next line. At least we know he is paying attention. But on a more serious note, that's what I mean. They are present in the church and not just physically. It is really incredible. The orphanage is managed by 3 terrific nuns, and a fantastic staff who don't need to run around with rulers to keep order. They really know how to discipline, because at the end of the day, the children still love them. Its a perfect balance. I know the madres are too humble, but they should be really proud of this place and all it has accomplished.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arrival at the Hogar & Futbol 'til mid-july

We had a rough start as the night before departure, Jacqui noticed a call on my cell (and as you all probably know, I am really bad with keeping on top of messages and voice mails so thank goodness Jac saw it) that my flight is CANCELED! Less than 15 hour notice, my dad calmly helps me figure out an alternative plan. I now have to leave from La Guardia which is bad news because we now have to leave the house even earlier in case we hit traffic or accidents. Long story short, we made it in plenty of time and I even had time to have lunch with my parents.

Flights were uneventful. I am pretty sure we flew over the BP gas disaster, but it was dark by the time we left Miami. Maybe on the way back I'll be able to see it, or even better, it will be cleaned up by then...yeah right.

I arrived safely at the hotel last night around 9 Guate-time. Everything worked out fine. I took a shuttle the hotel provides, so there were no sketchy taxis involved. It was a standard US hotel, similar to a Hilton. I was so tired from traveling all day, I just crashed after a few minutes on the computer. As always when I'm not home, I woke up before my alarm went off, took my last warm shower for few months (unless I want to wake up before the sun which is highly improbable of happening), and headed to a delicious breakfast of some fruits I have missed from Ecuador, bean burritos, and pineapple juice. Jorge, who works in the Mission Office and does a lot of work for the Hogar, picked me up at 9. He updated me on the hogar news and we talked about futbol. He's rooting for Uruguay because he was originally from there.

When we got to the property, it was like I had never left (and I was only here for a week in December last year). Most of the older girls remembered me, and some of the younger ones recognized me. I unpacked, took a little nap, and watched the Greece vs Argentina game with the kids. Its great how into it they get. They all have their favorite teams and players. Most of us were rooting for Argentina, but of course there are a few who say they like Greece just to be different. When someone (and I mean anyone from either team) scores, they go wild! Air guitars and GOALASOOOOOOOOOs and dancing, its so cute! They are really into it. There are posters of their favorite players and they even have a bracket they are in charge of updating. Some asked me if I wanted to watch the 5:30am game with them tomorrow! Some of them haven't missed one game yet, and when 2 are on at the same time, they picture in picture it and switch back and forth. Even church schedules have been altered because of these big hinchas (fans)! Now that's dedication. After a lunch of veggie soup, pizza, and mangos (good transition food), I had a meeting with Madre and received my duties for the summer. There are not going to be as many teams this summer, but there is still a lot to be done. Most of my work is administrative (database filing, designing forms, transferring from floppy to disk, etc.), but I also have responsibility in the kindergarten classroom. I have my own little office area, granted it is in the dental clinic it is still temporarily my space. There is talk of me potentially having ESL classes for the older ones. So, I have my hands full, and I am really looking forward to a great summer here.

My living quarters for the next 2 months. I'm already all moved in!

After the little ones had dinner, we got ready for a little surprise birthday party for Jorge. He turned 50 this past Sunday. Some family and friends joined together for the celebration. The girls set the tables with candles and flowers as Erika (another big reason the hogar runs smoothly) and the kitchen staff prepared a fantastic meal of camarones and tilipia. There was also mango salad, GUACAMOLE, and beans. It was also Madre's nephew's 15th birthday so there were two delicious cakes-- carrot and oreo. Madre and the girls put together a slide show for Jorge of pictures of his life. It was a really nice evening, and a great way to spend my first night. But I better head to bed if I am going to attempt this crack of dawn futbol game. If the 10 year olds can do it, I really have no excuse.

Jorge and Michael blowing out their candles

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pre departure thoughts

Tomorrow I leave for my summer internship at Hogar Rafael Ayau in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I will be the Mission Coordinator Intern for the next 2 months. I return August 17--just in time to head back out to Huntingdon and get ready for my senior year at Juniata College. It has been quite hectic this past month. I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador for my spring semester this year, and returned home a little more than a month ago. I have been going non-stop with preparing for this trip, seeing people I haven't seen in a while, weddings (my roommate and her college sweetheart were married yesterday [I was a bridesmaid!] and are headed to the British Virgin Islands this morning for their honeymoon. Best wishes to my dear friends!), and squeezing in some last minute quality time with the little sister. So, because I have been so busy, I haven't had much time to absorb the fact that I will be living at an orphanage in Guatemala for the next 2 months. I am definitely excited, but I don't think it has really hit me yet that I have been in the country for less than a month within the past 6 months.

I decided to set up a blog for my summer adventures in Guatemala so that anyone who would like to see what I am doing on a daily basis (and ensure that I am safe) can follow along and for donors to see the great cause that they helped out by supporting me! This is my frist blog, so I am learning as I go. I will post pictures, video clips, and of course blog. I am going to attempt to write at least every other day, but we will see how busy it gets at the Hogar. I can't thank everyone enough for all the love, support, and prayers they have offered thus far when the journey hasn't even begun yet. So, if you are interested, stay tuned! I believe there is an option on the blog or maybe my profile page to "follow me" in which case you can comment on my posts. I do not believe it requires an account and I would love to hear your thoughts/feedback on my mission work. We are headed to Liturgy now and of course if you know me, you know nothing is done and we have a million mini errands to run. So, it will be a busy afternoon (not to mention its Fathers Day). So once again, thank you for any support and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Hasta Luego -Larissa