Everyone and myself (Mary) thought yesterday, Sunday, was a blast. We started around the usual time, had breakfast, then ventured off into the market. Sunday being Mother's Day for the Guatemalans, the market was bustling with people and different kinds of goods from clothes to produce to jewelry to chocolate covered bananas. Though it was busy and many of the people were pushy, we persisted to buy things and wave as we went by. After making a few more stops along the way, we headed back to the mission to rest and spent some more time together.
Around 2 in the afternoon, the pastoral youth began to trickle in, dressed up and with decorations in their hands. They started to decorate the salon with a banner that read "Feliz dia de Madres" ("Happy day of the Mothers"). Two hours later, the mothers began to walk in, dressed up and grinning, receiving a box of matches with raffle numbers attached and a colored daisy by some of our group and other youth. As the night progressed on, they put on skits, a couple clowns did an activity or two, they danced, played games with the mothers, and invited some of us up for a song, thanking their mothers for their love. It was extremely touching to see how much fun the mothers had. I was reflecting to myself how a celebration like this would be in the U.S. and if the mothers would participate with such joy and energy. Sheila told us that this was probably the only big event any of the mothers would attend, especially one that shows appreciation for them like this one does. The children were also incredibly heart warming...some were crying and singing right to their mothers, then making their mothers cry as well. At the end, one son went up to his mother and she fell into his arms and they quietly sobbed together. It made me tear up and miss my mom, and later on in reflection, our group agreed that seeing the intense emotion and love displayed by them was a blessing to witness and something we should never take for granted - a mother's relationship with her child.
Once the mothers had gone, around 7:30, the youth stayed behind to spend time with us. We ended up dancing for hours. They did the salsa with us, Breanna, Quincy and myself did "the worm", we taught them how to line dance to country music (which was a riot), we swing danced, and they taught us a traditional dance as well. It was both hilarious and a lot of fun. We were sweating bullets and had permanent smiles on our faces when they shouted out "ultima!" which means, last song. We hugged them, and took more pictures than we've ever taken in our lives - we felt famous really, every one of them wanted photos with us. We chatted with Fransisco, Anderson, Marvin, Billy, and some others as they started to leave. After that, we were ready for bed. All of the girls decided to have a sleep over in one of the houses, while James and Kyle rested on their own.
This morning (Monday), some of us were slow to wake up, and spent the morning mostly resting and checking out more of the clinic. Quincy and some others watched some doctors in the lab do a pregnancy test - came back negative if any of you were wondering. We also bought some bags of medicinal tea. Whitney, Elly and myself played with the 5 month old, Juan Carlo, who's mother is very generous and trusting with him, and the rest of us were in and out of our rooms. Lunch was light since most of our appetites are somewhat fading (can you blame us?), rice and chicken...some of us just ate PB and J sandwiches. Around two, those of us who felt up to it climbed into the trucks to head up the road about 5 km to the coffee cooperative. They explained to us how the coffee is roasted and harvested. We all bought coffee, some of us bought mugs and burlap sacks used for the beans. The ride back was beautiful, almost looked like a vineyard you'd see in the hills of Oregon. The crops there mostly consisted of coffee, corn, and plantains or bananas. The mountains were clear, and it was cool today, although, humid as ever, because of the lack of rain for the past 3 days. I also heard that while we were gone, there was an earthquake which is pretty exciting! Getting back from that short adventure, we hung out in the kitchen/movie room, as it finally started to pour rain. We watched a couple movies together and then had a dinner of lasagna. It wasn't as good as my mom's, but it was delicious despite the lack of appetites. Once dinner finished, we all gathered outside to witness the amazing lightning storm where the sky didn't go more than 5 seconds without flashing in enormous light. The power went out, and our generator turned on as we came back inside for a brief reflection of the day.
A lot of us are still feeling ill, unfortunately, but we all are in good spirits and believe we're on the uphill road to healthiness and in time for our trip to Lake Atitlan. Breanna is feeling more of her energetic goofy self, after her full day of illness on Sunday before the Mother's Day celebration, where she spent most of her day in bed trying to keep hydrated. Shannon seems pretty much back to normal after her day and a half spent in our house, and a rough previous night. Kyle is up and laughing - though still not perfectly back to normal, everyone is getting medicine or antibiotics if they need it and all attended dinner, despite our sensitivities. None of us really feel 100%, but its proving to be a blessing almost. As my mom said, "It's not a pilgrimage until someone gets sick", which is proving to be very true. Luckily, we are all sick together and helping each other with whatever we need. In the end, we're able to chuckle at our unfortunate situations together. Sheila has also been very generous and selfless, what with getting us medicine and running around making sure everyone has a gatorade or medicinal tea (made by workers here at the mission) by their bedside.
We ask for your continued prayers that those of us who feel okay stay healthy and those of us not feeling well to be healed of our illnesses as we venture off to our new destination tomorrow (Tuesday) - a 3 hour drive to Santiago Atitlan. We will be heading off after breakfast around 9 and will be there up until Thursday I believe. We pray that we will continue to grow together, immerse ourselves in the culture, and progress back to health.