Monday, July 16, 2012

Odds and Ends

It's 5:30 am and I decided to blog.  We haven't had much time to do anything but work in the clinic for  past little while, but on the way home the other day, we went to Central Market.  It is in the middle of Guatemala City and is three floors underground.  It is like a huge swapmeet, but people have permanent businesses there.  The reason we went was because Rich and Leeann's son, David, was going back to "The States" and he wanted to buy some candles, so he went there on the way home from work.  I was amazed at the shops with products piled high.  The first level was food.  I loved the produce display and took a quick picture.
We didn't buy anything, but we will some other time.  We usually don't buy food except in the grocery stores except for fruit that has a peel.  All the fruits and vegetables that we buy even in the grocery stores has to be washed in disinfectant, rinsed in agua pura and then dried before we eat it.  I took these pictures just to capture the color and beauty of the place.  The shops are piled high with product.  In the candle section there were five or six shops with candles of every color and fragrance on shelves, hanging from the ceiling and in piles.  If we hesitated at the opening or glanced into a shop, a attendant would appear ready to help you find what you wanted and then barter.  We were told to counter with half of what they tell you it costs and then play the game.  They know you can find the same thing in a dozen other shops so as you are walking away they shout their bottom line.  That's when David bought the candles and Richard Johnson bought his Guatemalan flag.  It's a game for us, but for the workers there, it is a livelihood.

     Another place we just happened to visit was "The Pink Church."  It's real name is "Capilla de Nuestra Senora de las Angustias" or The chapel of our Lady of the Anguish."  On a rainy afternoon as we were passing the church, we noticed that the gate to the parking lot was open and attendants were directing traffic.  The Johnsons were excited, because in the year they have been in Guatemala they had never seen it open.  

We paid, parked on the sidewalk about half a block away, and then entered this beautiful church.  The people  of  Antigua were plagued with constant earthquakes.  The people promised God if he would stop the earthquakes, they would build this church.  Now it is only open for special occasions like weddings and for Saturday night and Sunday mass.  We went in the church and saw a few people sitting and the priest surrounded by candles and dressed in ceremonial robes.  That was when we realized there was going to be a wedding.  The priest gave us a glowering look that told us we were intruding so we tried to be respectful and left quickly and only took a few pictures as we left.  Outside we saw the bride arrive so we waited in the rain to take her picture.  She wasn't very cooperative,  but we were able to take a few through the fence.

     Our biggest adventure of our life in Guatemala to date was our 1st trip to Cemaco (Target).  We got out of the clinic at 4:00 and it was a dark, rainy day, but it was our turn in the car, so we decided to go.  We got instructions and headed out.  At one point we were told to turn right, but we could either go a shallow quick right or a gradual right, and we chose the wrong right.  We realized our mistake instantly, but too late.  It took us one hour to correct and get back to Cemaco.  WE WERE NEVER LOST, but just delayed.  To complicate things, we only had 1/8 tank of gas, and the rain was increasing and so was the rush hour traffic.  We finally made it and enjoyed a relaxed shopping trip.  Not only did we buy stuff, but we were on our own.  The Cemaco store is on one end of a large shopping mall, and so after our shopping, we decided to see what was there.  We discovered a food court and had our dinner.  All this time we were pushing our shopping cart, so when it was time to leave we needed to go down the elevator to the parking lot underground.  When we got off the elevator, we knew we were in the wrong place.  It didn't look the same and our car wasn't there.  We asked the security guard, and he sent us to a different level, (there were three levels).  Still it wasn't recognizable.  We asked again and were sent again to the wrong place.  Finally when we were frantically telling our tale, we mentioned the word Cemaco and were told we needed to go to the Cemaco parking lot at the other end of the mall.  Who knew there were separate parking lots?  Finally we found the car and drove directly home.  When we got off the elevator, we were met by the Calls, the Johnsons, The Spensers and many other people.  They were genuinely worried because we aren't supposed to be out after dark, (6:30), and it was 8:15.  We were sorry to have caused so much worry, but we needed that adventure, freedom and independence.  We definitely miss a quick trip to Hallmark or Ralphs or Target whenever we need to get something or just get away.

One more thing I have to tell you about.  The other day we had a new group of orphans come to the clinic.  They were of several different ages but mostly around 6 to 8.  We call them the A-5 orphans because we needed to use a name different than the Garbage Dump Kids.  You probably have heard of the inhabitants of dumps in other large cities like Rio, Tijuana, etc.  Well, we have an established population here in Guatemala City also.  They, the Association of Five (named for the nongovernmental groups that try to help them) came for the first time with their Director, a truly genteel man who shepherded the kids with genuine concern and kindness.  He watched us give the exams and begin with some elementary therapies; cleanings, fluorides, and occasional xrays.  We are just beginning.  The director took pictures and asked us questions, and encouraged the kids; we probably saw 15 or 17 that day.  He took us aside and thanked us saying that he could tell that we truly loved the children - that despite the help that they received from several different sources, that love was not shown to them that he saw in the clinic.

When they were ready to leave, he called the kids together and asked one, probably 7 or 8, to offer a prayer of thanks for the visit.  The child hesitated but then gave a sweet prayer that was likely memorized.  It was very much like one that my small children would have offered in our home.  I was touched, but then the director gave a 2nd prayer which was so gracious in asking for blessings on his little band and then thanking the Lord for us and asking blessings on the clinic and the doctors and nurses.  He asked that "the blood of Christ would cover us and save us"; I nearly burst into tears.  What a great contact for us to meet who appreciates spiritual values and work.  It's tough work but some days are great pay-days.  Love you all - Elder and Sister Wilcox


Jennifer said...

I love reading your blog!!! I am do glad you share your adventures with us. You story at the end made me cry too. Thank goodness for the work you and the other couples are doing. Love you tons!!!

Lori Gleason said...

I love your experiences. You are a testimony of the work you do and know you are truly blessed. Love you so much Lori G.

RuSty and LaLa said...

Amazing! Hopefully these kids will remember the people who have loved them in their lives. That man sounds so wonderful. What a big heart he has. Love you guys so much. Thank you for your great example to all of us.

Andrea said...

Love to read your blog. It has so many wonderful details and experiences. Those kids are so cute! The director sounds like an incredible person. I look forward to reading about many more adventures. The cathedral looks incredible! Thank you for your love and dedication for the people of Guatemala. You are a blessing to all of us.