Sunday, August 11, 2013

Filling up February

     In February we started the month with screenings.  Three of the orphanages are municipalidad or city day care schools.  These schools are the mayor's wife's special project and her goal is to educate these kids and keep them healthy and safe while their parents work.  The three schools are Los Patitos for children 2-7, Los Cedros for boys ages 7-14 and Las Rosas for girls ages 7-15.  If parents are fortunate to get their children in these schools, they can be educated for free from start to finish, but unfortunately there is a large turnover in the population, so most of the kids drop out somewhere along the way.  We don't have these children on a 6 month recall, because of the turn over in the population interrupts and so when we put them on automatic recall, they don't come because they might not still be in the school.  When that happens we waste time in the clinic waiting for kids who aren't coming.  Long story, but this means that we screen these kids usually twice a year; when we have treated all the kids, then we start all over again.  Remember that last month we screened the Los Patitos leaving with Los Cedros and Las Rosas.  It is interesting to see the kids at their schools.

 They come to us by class and are so happy to see us.  After their turn with the dentists the school gives them a prize, this time it was a sheet of stickers, Spiderman or Superman and for the girls, Dora or Hello Kitty, and as an added bonus, they go to recess until all the kids are finished.  The boys played basketball on not even a half court, with cement floors not using a real basketball.  It is a rough game, with all the boys playing without refs, but no one complains.  The girls like the free time, but just stand around and talk with their friends.  After we screened the Los Cedros boys we went to Tio Juan, the orphanage for boys, and it is a true orphanage with kids some of whom are truly orphans.  It is a large building which used to be a hospital. There are about 300 boys who live there ranging in age from 4 to 23.  They can stay there as long as they are in school.  The grounds are beautiful with lawns, gardens and sculptures.   Inside we stayed in the lobby mostly, but from there we could see a chapel, a patio with playground equipment, a peacock, benches and cafe tables and chairs, and a balcony which had marimbas which we couldn't see, but could hear.  Most of the kids play the marimbas and Tio Juan has even had boys tour in Europe with a marimba band.  The home was quiet and clean - a wonderful place for boys to be if they can't be in their own homes. Each week we contact the lady in charge of scheduling and she arranges to get those kids to the clinic. They come by bus or sometimes vans, and we always keep our fingers crossed that their bus doesn't break down or there isn't some strike or demontration that keeps the kids from getting there.
     On Friday, Wayne and Rich Call and Lee Ann traveled to Barrio San Lucas to teach the youth about dental hygiene and treatment.  They took a movie, toothbrushes, the monkey that squirts the audience while they watch.  They left at 5:30 or so for a meetong that was supposed to start at 7:00, and the kids actually showed up around 7:45. This ward is located near Guatemala City almost like a suburb of the city.  The people there are strong members of the church and they have a huge youth group.  Everyone seemed interested and entertained as well.
      We took a trip to El Salvador with the Richard and Anna Lee Johnson, Ralph and Jo Bowers, Kent and Teri James and Lee Ann Call.  It's a short and interesting trip of about three hours, but we got caught in road construction for about an hour.  Guatemala and El Salvador are separated by a river that carves a winding path through the mountains forming a beautiful valley of green.  On both sides are customs offices that we stopped at coming and going.  People swarmed our car to help us take our passports up to the counter for us.  They made it seem like it would help us get things done quicker, but it was just a matter of them standing in line or us and it took the same exact time.  We were leary to give our passports to strangers, so we stood in line for ourselves.  Others came to the car to beg, exchange money, or sell gum, food, or souvenirs.  We were glad to get out on the open road again.

The country was beautiful with fields of produce, villages with beautiful people and of course, volcanos on every horizon.  El Salvador, the capital was a busy city with slow traffic.  The city is old with crumbling buildings lining all the highways into the inner city.  Once in the middle the buildings are modern and beautiful with parks and gardens, shopping malls, food courts, restaurants and entertainment.  Elder James had a friend, Luis Arbiza, who met us and took us to dinner at Tony Romas. After dinner we all went to the temple, the highlight of the trip. We could see the temple out our hotel window outstanding as it contrasted with the landscape. With the bright white exterior walls it reflected the daylight and glowed in the daytime sun; then at night it shone with the light from within and the lights shining on it.  No one could miss the beauty and wonder what that building was.  We almost didn't get to go inside because Wayne couldn"t find his temple recommend.  It turned out that I had it in my temple bag and we finally discovered it a month later when we went to the temple in Guatemala City.  We asked the temple worker in San Salvador, who was working at the desk if he would call our mission president, Pres. Brough.  He told us that the temple president was the one to make that call, but he was in an interview.  So we waited impatiently watching the clock and hoping we would get in.When the temple president called, Pres. Brough gave us the okay and we quickly joined the session and sat in the last two chairs in the room. As I looked around the beautiful room with our friends and the rest of the lovely people.  I was filled with peace and gratitude for the privilege of being in the sacred temple that night.
In this picture we were trying to take a picture that would show the painting inside the doors in the reception area.  We asked if we could take a picture of it when we were inside, and we were not surprised when we were told no.  It's the beautiful painting from the October Liahona of Christ with two Lamanite boys standing  beside him.
     The next morning Luis was our tour guide and took us to see ruins only about 20 miles from the city of San Salvador.  These area called San Andres were first occupied in 900 BC and was called the valley of Zapotitas.  In 250 BC the caldera of Lago IIopango erupted and buried everything/  Gradually life resumed in the area and eventually became an area where cattle was raised and indigo was produced.  The area was buried again in 1658 when the Playon Volcano erupted and buried the area again.  As archeological study and excavations have worked in the area they have found pottery and evidence of the indigo dye production still intact because of the instant coverage.  Next we went to another Mayan ruin and saw the excavations. 

They look like large holes with buildings poking through the reddish soil.  The have found temples, homes, ball courts, stellas and statues and they are amazing, but they really start looking the same after a while.  Once I considered becoming an archealogist, but seeing these ruins makes me realize I would never have liked the slow, tedious, and dirty work.  Even though I am sure I would never have enjoyed the digging in the dirt, I sure would like to find one of the beautiful pots or bowls we have seen.  Some of the missionaries say they have been in homes were the people have relics in their homes and don't really pay any attention to their value.  In one home the family was using this beautiful statue as a doorstop and had no idea it was a treasure.  We

went through the small museum

then through an area where people had spread a blanket on the grass and displayed their authentic?Mayan treasures. They had pottery, jewelry, figurines, beads and musical instruments and told stories about their ancestors, the Mayans. I bought a couple of dishes and the Mayan story teller gave me a small obsidian rock.

Next we went with Luis's daughter and her friend to a place called Boca de Diablo,  It was a long drivea and we really didn't know where they were taking us, but it turned out to be a beautiful view of the city of San Salvador.  They took us to a roadside restaurant famous for its "papusas." They are like a taco, except they are thick flour folded over chicken or beef with cheese.  They were served with, mildly spicey tomato sauce, and pickled, hot spicey tomato sauce. We climbed up to a vista point and took pictures of the city below, but it was smoggy and hazey, so the pictures aren't very clear.  There alot of industry in the city, but it is hazey because of volcanic ash. We have the same thing here in Guatemala City, but you have to add all the exhaust fumes from the million buses. 

We had another visiting dentist and his wife volunteer, Dr. Francis Alder and his wife Darlene from Vancouver, Washington.  They both spoke Spanish having served for three years as mission president in Chili.  They were so warm and friendly, we felt they were the perfect fit to come to the clinic as fulltime missionaries, but Dr. Alder's mother was aged and not well, so they didn't think they could do it.  Since they returned home, his mother died and they were called as a temple president.

Two other volunteers also came during February:  Dr. Brian Torian from Utah and his friend Jim Smith.  Jim Smith served a mission in Guatemala not long ago over security.  He is a colorful guy with a reputation for talking to everyone and striking amazing bargains with anyone.  We had Jim and Brian over for dinner one evening and were entertained by the stories he told in his Utah twang.  Jim isn't a dental assistant, but he worked with Brian and they made a good team, even though Jim is a bit hard of hearing.  He learned quickly and kept us laughing.

Of course, we treated the CCM missionaries, as usual.  Wayne and I were screening one elder when Wayne noticed his nametag wasn't like all the other elders'.  Looking closer, Wayne realizedhis tag was the old style that hadn't been used for many years. When he asked the elder about it, Elder Gonzales explained that it was his father's nametag from his father's mission 27 years ago.  It turned out that Elder Gonzalez needed to come into the clinic for treatment, so Wayne asked him to bring both nametags so we could take a picture.

  February brought baseball to the Little League stadium next door to our clinic.  As we were leaving for the day we saw kids coming in their uniforms with their bat resting on their shoulders ready for practice.  I love to go to the fence and watch them running laps or playing catch.  Seeing them brings back memories of the thousands of baseball and softball games we attended over the years with all our kids.  One day I took  pictures of some of the little kids playing catch??? with the coach.  It's amazing to watch the kids and coaches doing the same drills and practice routines I watched my kids doing year after year. And little kids playing ball in Guatemala just like they do in thew U.S. Just like home, but in Spanish!