I traveled to Guatemala on a Saturday with our national senior account executive from Salem Radio, five of my colleagues from Food For The Poor (FFP) and the 13 coolest Christian radio hosts (some also pastors) that one could ever imagine, coming from as close by as the west coast of Florida and as far away as Hawaii.
The fellowship that I enjoyed with the group would have made the trip worthwhile by itself, covering topics from the ridiculous, to the poetic, to the sublime; sharing tears and laughter without inhibition or shame; witnessing each other’s sensitivities, vulnerabilities and levels of sympathy and empathy. In short, we bared our souls to each other and gently comforted and loved one another as the circumstance may have required it. All that being said, there was so much more…
PART I: Moments of Sheer Joy
We wasted no time. As soon as we landed we were on our way to visit the Sor Lucia Roge Nutritional Center, where Sister Ana Cristina and her staff have been working miracles for some time. The children brought to her there are an inch away from death – so completely emaciated that some don’t even look human anymore. Some have had multiple death sentences pronounced on them, but Sr. Ana Cristina does not believe in death sentences.
With much efficiency, she provides these starving children with watered down milk, nutritional drinks, broth, pureed foods and lots of love. Eventually, they return to health – all in a day’s work – another life saved!
|Aloma in rural Guatemala.|
The older children here were fully recovered; filled with energy, ready to attack all visiting adults with hugs and kisses; wanting to play, to be told stories, to be held… It was great seeing Lester again, a child pulled away from the very jaws of death by the devoted sister and her staff, now an adorable young man.
We met the mother of a little girl there who was so malnourished herself that Sr. Ana Cristina felt it necessary to take her over to the hospital next door, where she received three pints of blood. Now she is staying at the nutritional center until she recovers her strength. She still looked awfully debilitated and her eyes betrayed a fatigue so deep that it was a little frightening.
We left to a loud chorus of shouts of “Adios” from the children.
We got up early on Sunday and took the bus for the 5+-hour journey from the capital to Quetzaltenango. Our charming and knowledgeable driver, Hector, tied our luggage on top of the bus and we quickly occupied the interior.
Despite my herniated disks and out-of-joint S.I. joints, I have to admit that our times on the bus were golden. We shared so much, so deeply, so quickly… prayers, laughter, devotionals, laughter, movie/music/TV reviews, laughter, personal stories, laughter.
To be continued…