DeeDee and I have begun Dental Health education in the schools around the valley. This has included us teaching the kids the proper way to brush their teeth (with the aid of our friend Marvin Mono) along with giving each kid their own toothbrush.
Although I feel that teaching proper dental health has much value, the most positive thing we've seen from this is a relationship forming between the communities and us. They like for us to come to their schools and we like being there too. It gives us a good feeling to walk into a village and here our names being called out by the kids ("DeeDee!!" and "Gingy!!!" Or in Kevin's case, "Kewin!!"). It's also lots of fun to hear them singing our toothbrushing song. When we hear it, we realize that we have made at least a tiny connection with them.
In mid-March we were happy to welcome the Lipscomb Medical Mission Team to the valley. A group of 30 doctors, dentists, and students spent the week with us pulling teeth, confirming pregnancies, treating wounds, and generally building a good rapport with several of the villages in the valley. The dentists were able to donate 1,000 flouride treatments for the children in the valley, and I was able to confirm that I have not missed my calling to be a hygenist in life. It was great though, to have the children hopping into our lawn/dental chairs and having a good first experience with something dental-related. You could tell by the beams on their faces that they were proud to be a part of what was going on in their communities, and the fact that they will have fewer cavities because of this is an added bonus. I wish I had some pictures to add here, but as I said earlier, we've had computer problems and those haven't made it to the new computer yet.
Shortly after the medical team left, we got to enjoy some much-appreciated R&R in Antigua with the Links for Semana Santa (or Holy Week). Holy Week here is much like our Christmas in the States. They celebrate, and they celebrate big. Throughout the week in Antigua, there were processions of the stations of the cross as well as many alfombras, or carpets, that people made to go before the processions as a sacrifice. The pictures really don't do justice for how beautiful these carpets really were, but they can give you an idea of the work that went into each one. At 3:00 on Good Friday, the sentencing of Jesus was called out from the church in Antigua, and afterwards, a procession started that lasted all day long through the city. We were glad to be able to experience this celebration, and we loved having the Links down to enjoy it with us!
This is picture was taken fairly early on Friday morning, hence the long faces :)
Over this past weekend, Kris, DeeDee, Cata and our family traveled a few short hours to Semuc Champey National Park where we enjoyed God's handiwork in the form of beautiful pools of crystal blue water. We enjoyed swimming, sliding and exploring caves while we were there, and we wondered why it had taken such a long time for us to get to this paradise right next door to the valley.
As I'm writing this, we have welcomed a small construction team from Knox Pro Corps to build a water system in Sesalche I. We will leave for this village tomorrow and will spend most of our nights this week on a dirt floor in an annex of the school in this village. The village is eager to host us, and we are praying for a successful completion of this project by the end of the week.
As a family, we have the end of our time here in our sights. We will welcome only one more team as a family before the boys and I head home at the end of May with Kevin coming home the middle of June. Our final week in the valley will be spent with the Lipscomb engineering students who will be working on extending water systems, installing solar panels, and building bridges both literally and spiritually. I can't think of a better way to end our time here than to spend it with a group of students like these who are on fire to make this world a better place one hammer and nail at a time. We can't wait to be home and see the people we have missed, but we will leave with a Guatemalan-shaped hole in our hearts. So this, in a nutshell, is what's been going on in the valley. As I said, we've been busy, but we've been busy with some awfully good things.