Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You
Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You
– Anchor by Hillsong
As I was writing part two of Mur on a Mission, I actually discovered I had so much to tell that I could even write a part 3! I hope you don’t mind, I just háve to get my stories ‘on paper’.
On Tuesday it was time to say goodbye to the hospital staff, the kitchen ladies and to Cubulco. We had such a great time! In the last hour of our time in the Señorita Elena Hospital Julio showed me around in the apartments on the other side of the road where I helped reconstructing the roofs in August last year. What a change! It is amazing to see that the people in Cubulco continued to work on the apartments. All the houses have been turned into homes! After the tour around the construction site, Julio wanted to show us around in the new emergency area of the hospital. Sure! It looked absolutely amazing, light and clean. They did such an awesome job on this one. An hour later than we planned, we got into the van and drove all the way back to Guatemala City, which is actually a pretty dirty and horrible place compared to the fresh and green surroundings of Cubulco.
I actually looked forward to going back to the city, not because our trip would end soon, but because I got to stay two nights in AMG’s guesthouse. And that, my friends, is one hell of a pretty house. But before I could settle myself down on a comfortable bunk bed it was time to visit the general cementary. Not the most happy place to go to, but from there we had an amazing view on el basurero, the giant and famous city dump. The cementary is a very dangerous place in the city, because people often perform dark rituals and sometimes there are even gang members who come to the cementary to take revenge on family members of gang members from other gangs (I hope that’s an understandable sentence). In Guatemala City there is no space for the dead. Graves of people who can no longer pay for it are marked with red paint, so the grave cleaners know which graves they have to clean. Graves are built vertically and stacked upon each other to make more room for the bodies. The cementary is not a good place to be, so we were only allowed to be there for five minutes. Sam told us about the city dump and the reason why AMG is located in Zona 7. There are more than 4,000 people who live, work and eat on the dump and a lot of them are children. The dump is extremely dangerous, because the trash can easily slide and because of all the gas, fires can spread quickly. A lot of people dissappear under the trash and are never found again. AMG tries to bring hope to the communities that live from the city dump, by providing education, health care and a lot of other things, so the new generations don’t have to grow up recycling trash for a living. I had never seen the city dump from so close and I am ‘happy’ that I got the opportunity to see it this time. No child should ever grow up in El Basurero. Ever.
After the impressive visit to the cementary it was time to show the team around at Verbena, the place where I work. It is always fun when new people come to visit Verbena, because the kids all get excited to welcome the padrinos, sponsors. Although there is not a big chance that the visitors are actually their sponsors, the kids like to think they are. Even after two months they still ask if I am their sponsor, no matter how often I tell them that I WORK HERE.
Cuteness overload here at Verbena!
Around 4pm we finally drove to San Cristóbal, on the other side of the city, where I currently live and where the guesthouse is located too. We settled down in two of the giant bedrooms when we were surprised with a visit of Phil, Jen, Cabot, Claire and a friend, Anna and little Mimi, the lovely people that saved me after I got robbed. It’s always so much fun when they are around! With a group of fourteen people we drove to Taco Bell to get some dinner. When you are surrounded by ten Americans and three Guatemalans you can expect some weird looks when you tell them that you’ve actually only had Taco Bell once and that you have no idea what to order. I was happy to discover they sell quesadillas too, I love them! I ate way too much again, but hey, I just hiked for a whole week… I need some carbs back.
When we got back to the house we almost had our last devotional. We had one every day and the whole week we discussed the theme worship. Worship through prayer, through music, worship is love, worship is compassion… every morning or night we sat down with the group to talk, read the Bible and to pray together. I always love devotionals! After that it was finally time for game night! Ohh, how I love game nights! If my whole life could be a game night, you would never hear me complain again. The group was super excited to play Jungle Speed and Ezelen (‘to Donkey’), which both ended up in a bloody fight with bleeding elbows and handpalms, but at least we had fun. We also played Sardines again, which is honestly super scary in a dark, big house with a million stairs and a bat in the basement. I also learned a new game called ‘Body Body’, and this is how it goes: in the group there are two killers and the rest is just a citizen. When the lights go out, everyone hides in the house. The killers have to kill everyone (duh) and when someone finds a body they have to yell “BODY BODY” and then everyone goes to the livingroom. Once the group is complete, they have to point out the one that they think is the killer. When it actually is the killer, the group did a great job. When it is nót a killer, the group killed an innocent citizen. The game ends when the killers killed all the citizens or when the group killed both of the killers. Game night ended way too soon again!
Wednesday was the last full day with the group and it was one to remember! We had to get up pretty early, because we all had to be in Antigua at 10am. We went ziplining! After breakfast all fourteen of us squished ourselves in the van to go to Antigua. ‘Silverdale’ and I were pretty nervous, because we had heard that the end of the zipline was a little extreme. But we wanted to go anyway! Our friends from Antigua Canopy Tours got us some very impressive (and HEAVY) equipment and they made sure we were well-secured. Nevertheless, we were still shaking when we got onto the first platform. Am I really doing this? Yes. Uno, dos, tres… vamos! Before I knew it I was flying above the roads, the trees, the water, the farmers and the cars and it was totally awesome! After two more platforms, all the fear was gone. Until we had to climb a stair that even made a stairway to heaven look like a step stool. Good heavens, what a terrifying thing! What we didn’t know was that the actual terrifying, hair-raising, traumatic part of our adventure was waiting for us, just around the corner. The Superman was calling. We’d heard about it, we’d seen the videos, we knew that we would probably die. When we got up the stairs I literally almost pissed my pants. WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING HERE? We were fastened into our Superman-gear with our legs up in the air, while we had to lean on our arms, about 200 meters above the ground. While I looked into the abyss, I knew there was no way back. The only thing that was keeping me from flying high above the trees on a steel cable was the guide. “Are you ready?” “No.” “Okay, here we go.” And there I went. I literally flew at 200 meters above the trees, with my arms like wings, screaming my lungs out. For a moment, I felt more peace than Mahatma Gandhi had ever felt in his entire life. Until I reached the platform and my kidneys almost said hello to my toes. My lord, they should have warned me for that. As soon as I left the platform I wanted to go again. It was so awesome! It was actually so amazing that I am going to write another little blog about it, just as a recommendation for anyone who is coming to Antigua.
Yep, we totally did this.
After the ziplining thing, the whole group headed to the center of my all time favorite little town to get some McDonalds (yes, again). And of course, we could not skip the tourist market, where Silverdale completely lost it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group coming back with so many souvenirs, but I can’t blame them. Being a ‘tourist’ in Antigua is awesome.
When we got back to the house we had a little ‘devo’ with Phil and Jen, but we were too excited for the last game night that it was hard to pay attention (at least, for me it was). Time for some last rounds of Jungle Speed, Body Body and Sardines! It was so, so much fun that I didn’t want to go to bed. I know I am almost 22, but you can not make me happier than with a night full of fun games. I felt like I was a kid again, staying the night at my aunt’s house, playing games with freshly showered hair and a bowl of paprika flavoured crinkle chips. I hope a lot more game nights will follow soon.
The next morning the group was a lot more quiet than usual. Goodbyes are always so hard and leaving Guatemala is even harder. I knew exactly how they felt and I could feel the sadness from miles away. After breakfast we had our very last devotional, led by Sam, about what the group was going to do when they got back home. Be sad because they had to leave? Bragging about all the cool things they did? Or would they share the joy they felt here with the people at home? Share the love of Christ with them? I don’t know their answer, but I hope the trip to Guatemala changed them as much as it changed me.
Around 9am it was time to head to the airport. I have never had such a quiet ride. Silverdale was my first group as a member of the AMG staff and I hope I can spend time with a lot more groups like them. As soon as we dropped them off at the airport I missed them. And I know you guys are reading this, Silverdale, so Puerto Rico, Señorita, Skaylee, DeeDee (or Deas, whatever you want) and Fudge Monkey (Courtney, why didn’t I think of this before?): thank you and I miss you. It was a trip to remember.
Ronny, Nikki, Daniel, Kaylee, Daniel, Courtney, me and Eulalia on our last hike in the mountains. Such a charming picture after an hour of hiking in the burning sun!