by Whit Lammons
It’s hard to believe that we have only one more day in the town of Santa Maria de Jesus. As a group, we have been installing stoves, concrete floors, hosting VBS and managing donations. I’m on the Stove 2 team with three other people. The eastern side of the US is well represented in our group. My beautiful wife and group leader is from Tennessee, one member is from Pennsylvania, one member is from New York, and I’m from South Carolina. Needless to say we have had some fun times with the variety of ancients. Although my wife and I did not know the other two members before this trip, I think we make a dang good team.
Today was fairly similar to Tuesday and Wednesday. We ate breakfast at 6:00 am, and I drank at least one Nalgene’s (that’s one liter) worth of coffee. We left the hotel at +/- 6:30 am and arrived at Santa Maria de Jesus (where the project sites are located) at +/- 7:00 am. We arrived at Fundacion Hunapu (i.e., project control center), where we were greeted by the gracious women from Santa Maria de Jesus who volunteer at Fundacion Hunapu. We were immediately greeted by our gregarious guide, Luz (which means light in English). From the Foundation building, we walked with our guide through Santa Maria de Jesus, which is situated at the foot of the luminous Volcan de Agua, toward our first home where we installed a stove. We typically install 2-3 stoves before lunch. But today we were on a roll this morning due to the fast pace set by “la jefa” (the boss); Guatemalan women who has been helping the mission for several years. Today we finished our 4th stove and still arrived at the foundation center at 11:30 for lunch. After an hour lunch break, Luz lead us back through the steep streets of Santa Mara de Jesus to the last two homes of the day. We finished working around 2:30 pm and returned to the project center by 3:00 pm.
Stove Installation: We arrive at the home and greet the family. Usually the family consists of the wife and children. The father has already left to work on the family’s farm, which is located outside of the town. The children are shy at first, looking at you around corners and from behind their mother’s apron. Fortunately I can speak Spanish, so I can typically “break the ice” early in our visit. I usually do this by making some goofy faces at the children and asking them what their names are, or making fun of my “gringo” self in some fashion. We go to the room where the stove is to be installed. The stove materials consist of pre-fabricated concrete blocks, some cast iron pieces (including the stove top), a two to three-piece aluminum chimney, and some other concrete pieces essential in the stove installation process. During the installation, we talk to the families, play with the children, laugh at ourselves, dance, sing, and LIVE in the moment with our brothers and sisters, as beloved children of Abba. Not always, but a lot of the time it feels as if we have known our hosts for a long time and, by the end of our stay, it truly feels like we are family. We hug, kiss, cry, and say goodbye. There truly is an opportunity to make a TANGIBLE difference in people’s lives while sharing Abba’s love.
It is a blessing to be here. Thanks be to the Most High.