Plans for Hope and a Future ~ Jeremiah 29:11

WARNING: This will be a long one and it’s not really about running…

I have been dying to write this blog but for some reason my computer wouldn’t load the blogger page for a few days.  I almost threw the bleeping computer out the window a few times.  Then, I had to remind myself that this is just a mere annoyance, not something to get so upset about.  It feels good to get a cool head about things.  Which is something my trip to Guatemala seemed to improve.

I’m not sure I can put into words how I felt down there but I will try.  I knew from the beginning that this would be a trip of very little sleep considering the drive to and from the Atlanta airport but to me it seemed worth it to get to have this experience and come to help out these kiddos and this wonderful orphanage.  I still cannot get over the amount of love and selflessness that is poured out at Fundaniños every day. 

We arrived in Guatemala on Thursday afternoon.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was frankly quite nervous about being there.  Not nervous for my safety but nervous that I couldn’t live up to the expectations of what and/or whom I was supposed to be.  I’m a planner.  I like plans.  They just make sense.  When I don’t have a plan I am lost and feel useless.  There was no plan for Guatemala, which is the way Anna wanted it (who found out she wouldn’t get to come on the day we left because of the kids having chicken pox..she is pregnant, so not a good idea).  We are opposites in this way.  She is more of a free spirit, which is why I love her, whereas I like my plans.  I ended up going with two other great souls who did wonderfully at finding places for themselves. 

I was feeling a little run down that first day but just figured the flight and previous night’s only 4 hours of sleep were taking their toll on me.  We just met some of the kids and walked around checking everything out, taking a tour, if you will.  The kids were interested in us and interesting themselves.  Here I was immersed in this culture other than my own where everyone speaks another language and lives a completely different life.  Two years of Spanish in high school surely did not prepare me for this.  I think I learned more in these 3 days than I did in all of those 2 years.  The language barrier was not horrible to get around but I did feel a little bit like an alien being checked out to see if I was fit to play with or not.  I suppose I passed the test because sooner than later some kids started poking me in the side and running away.  This was a little game they liked to play the whole time they were there.  In my mind, I believe it was their way of adapting to find something in common.  (This is my teacher mind in overdrive, of course.)  Some of the older ones knew a lot of English and could hold a fair conversation with us.  This was a life-saver to me.  I hated not being able to communicate with my words.  I am so used to calming and talking to students that this is what I wanted to do there.  I just had to find other ways.

The school

The second day, Friday, I woke up extremely stopped up with a massive headache.  I thought it was just my allergies and all of the traveling.  I can’t tell you how bad I wanted an Airborne at this moment.  Of course, it was one of the only medications we didn’t bring and I was reminded again of the life of convenience we live in America.  We spent the morning with the babies and then Carol (our “guide” during the stay who spoke perfect English and helped us out when we were acting like gringos 🙂  asked me to help out in the school.  I jumped at the chance.  Of course, I would!  Just one problem,  No hablo o escribo Español.  Turns out the work was already laid out and I just had to copy plans for the teachers in the students’ books.  It was different to write in Spanish and I did mess up and make the cursive z wrong when copying.  It was funny because I was thinking about how in America we are doing away with cursive writing and here they are learning it in primary school.  After finishing the plans, I went back up the hill to the baby house.  They were napping and all the other kids were still in school.  I decided to lay down and nap as well.  When I laid down I was burning up and could barely put covers on me.  Later, I woke up freezing.  Amy, who had also taken a nap, told me that it was burning up in that room and I had to be sick.  That’s when I knew it wasn’t just the flight and traveling and that I was really sick.  Great.  Why did this have to happen now when I am trying to help?  I feel like more of a burden than help at this point.  Once again, I am feeling guilty.  Here I am in Guatemala to help out, yet I don’t know if what I have is going to make them sick.  I had a feeling since I was running the fever it would. 

A lot of the kids were already sick.  A bunch of the boys were quarantined in their house with chicken pox and a couple of the toddlers had scabies.  And almost all of the ones under 5 had snotty noses constantly with no one to wipe it away.  This made me sad.  Really sad.  Yes, they had caretakers but one woman can’t stay on 7 noses constantly.  I wanted them to have mommas for this.  This is what moms do.  They wipe snotty noses.  They comfort when their babies are sad.  They hold them for hours on end.  So this is what I tried to do.  I wanted to get to know all of the kids but it seemed the little ones needed affection the most.  So I held and played with them.  I fed them when it was time to comer(eat).  I wiped their hands and faces afterwards.  One little boy in particular held my attention.  He seemed the odd one out which makes him remind me of myself.  Everything I said to him in English he repeated in English.  It could have been just my imagination but I think he understood me.  He said sti-cker! and choo choo! 

Such a zeal for life these kids have but they know no life outside of those walls.  They go to school and live at the orphanage.  They leave to go to church and karate but other than that their world exists solely at Fundaniños.  I know that the life they have there is so much better than what they were saved from and for that I am thankful.  I heard horrible stories that break my heart over and over again when I think about them.  They have a loving staff, loving friends, and most of all a love for God that is undeniable.   

Friday night, the director and her family took us out to the taco stand.  In this picture, you can see where the meat for the tacos comes from.  We had a great time but I couldn’t help but feeling sad for the kids, although this was karate night so they were there having a good ol’ time. 

The kids go to sleep very early because they all get up very early to get a turn at the shower before school.  So by the time we arrived back at the cabin the kids were asleep or in their rooms. 

Friday and Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night so nauseous.  The stairs down to the bathroom were quite small so I tried to stay down there as long as I could before going back up to bed.  The dizziness made me think that I would probably fall if I had to get down in a hurry.  I never did get sick but Saturday night I actually feel asleep in the bathroom waiting. 

Saturday, we were making a trip to Wal-Mart.  Yes, apparently, they are everywhere.  Only they usually don’t have armed guards and parking security guards in the States.  I bought some amoxocillin.  I knew I was sick and Jamie (the pharm student) told me this would be the best thing to take.  It was pretty nice to be able to just buy that for $11 and not have to spend a fortune to see a doctor.  The purpose of going to Wal-Mart was to buy baby food.  Amy, the saint she is, wanted to buy baby food for the 7 month old who didn’t really have anything to eat that would be good for her stomach.  Jamie started asking about school supplies and what do they need.  We ended up getting a bunch of glue and erasers for the school.  We wanted to do something special with the girls so we bought some bright nail polish to paint their nails that night.  

Saturday was our last night there and we would be leaving in the morning when the van left for church.  We had such little time there.  This is something I felt terrible about since arriving.  I felt like it was unfair to the kids for us to leave so soon.  They seemed sad as soon as they heard how short our trip would be. We decided to have a movie night with the girls and paint their nails.  We decided on watching Soul Surfer.  Such an inspirational movie to leave the girls with, I thought.  While Jamie and I were boo-hooing on the couch, the girls were laughing at us.  They thought it was hilarious that we were crying.  Obviously, they are a lot tougher than us and have been through a lot more.  They know that a movie is nothing to cry about.       

It was really hard to leave the kids and I really look forward to going back.  Hopefully for a longer time.  I told the kids I would be back so it would be really crappy of me to disappoint them.  🙂 

As we were leaving Fundaniños, I had to get a picture of the sign that hung from the outside of the walls…what better verse for these children of God!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

On the flight back home, I couldn’t wait to get back to my big comfy bed in my huge 2 bedroom townhouse that is way to big for one person to ever need. I want and need to make some changes in my life. There is no reason to live such a life of excess when so many are hurting around the world.  One thing I want to do is to start running for charity.  I did it for my first half and haven’t done it since then.  I am thinking about another full in October.  I want to dedicate it to a cause.  I haven’t decided which one so maybe God will put something in my path and make it clear to me.   


2 thoughts on “Plans for Hope and a Future ~ Jeremiah 29:11

  1. Niki! Hi! I found your blog from Touch Chik's blog. My wife and moved from Greeneville a year an a half ago. That's where I grew up, so when I saw that you're from Johnson City, I had to follow your blog! It sounds like you've got some awesome plans for this year as far as running and your first triathlon. That's awesome! I'll be following your journey so we can keep each other motivated.This was a great post about your trip to Guatemala. Jenn, my wife, and I went there twice with our church in Greeneville to build churches. It's a pretty cool country. Thanks for being an inspiration and a reminder that God has a plan for my life! Have a great day, and keep up the good work!Matt

  2. Thanks for following my blog and your kind words! Is your wife one of the tough chiks? We have a few in JC and it would be great to meet up! Good luck in your training as well!! 🙂

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