Sharing the Dream journal

Diane Nesselhuf of Vermillion, accompanied by others from the local community and the midwest, have traveled to Guatemala to work on Sharing the Dream projects there. We received these photos and this journal entry today. We will share other information from the group as it arrives. This journal was written by Peggy and Barb, volunteers at the Sharing the Dream store in Vermillion.

Kwen learning how to make a spoon.

Kwen learning how to make a spoon.

Diego Santiago's family

Diego Santiago's family

Isabel's grandmother

Isabel's grandmother


Journal 1 June 21, 2009

Everyone arrived safely and we all gathered at the Center in Guatemala City; Jack our videographer from Mitchell, SD, Kwen, pastor at Dalesberg Lutheran Church outside of Vermillion, SD; Monica from the Spirit Garage in Minneapolis; Peggy and Barb who are volunteers from Sharing the Dream store in Vermillion, and of course our fearless leader, Diane.  Katie also joined us.  She met Peggy and Barb in Antigua and is representing a project in HarrisburgPA. Diana, the director of the Center and Isabel, a scholarship student who helps with designing will be with us and keep us all in line.  After dinner and an orientation all went to bed tired.

Monday morning we left by van with Vinicio and traveled to Isabel’s village.  There we had a very warm welcome from her family and a delicious lunch in their home.  Jack videotaped Isabel telling the story of her family’s circumstances and how she became a scholarship student.  The setting was in the beautiful, lush mountains near Solola, but the poverty is stunning.  Of course, we were all a curiosity to the villagers during the filming, as they watched one of their own become a movie star!

Then we traveled to Panjachel on a gorgeous, twisty mountain road with periodic views of Lake Atitlan.  Our home for the night was the bungalows at Maya Traditions, very luxurious living for one night.  Diane is spoiling us.  We then visited Mayan Traditions and heard the story of how this weaving group was started and what projects they are involved in.  They are doing lots of good work with education, health and providing markets so they women can help provide for their families.   

Before dinner and reflections we walked to the lake and had ice cream; very important! 

After a visit to the medicinal gardens Tuesday morning we took a pick-up, the local taxi service here, to the lake for our boat ride.  You stand in the back of the pickup, something I would never consider the least bit safe in the states, but it is actually quite fun.  It was a gorgeous day so were happy for no rain or rough water on the boat ride.  The pictures I have seen of this area do not do it justice.  It deserves its reputation as the most beautiful lake in the world. 

We visited the spoon makers, a great group of men and women who were very patient with our Spanish, and showed us the entire process of making a spoon.  The final step in spoon making is the rubbing on of beeswax and heating it over a fire to enhance the grain appearance. Of course, we all purchased some beautiful spoons and some of them were hot off the press!

A pickup taxi came to transport us to Santiago. Truth be told, it was pretty a wrecked piece of transport. We ended up blowing a tire and having to fix it on a curve on the mountain. We all looked at the replacement tire thinking it was pretty bald, but when we saw the one that he put on the truck, Yul Brenner came to mind!   It was a beautiful twisty, turny ride- up, down, with views of the lake and the lushest countryside Ive ever seen.

We arrived in Santiago at 1pm in time for a great lunch at the Elder Center after greeting our friend, Chonita.   

Post lunch, we hopped into tuk-tuks and went to visit scholarship students. Diego Santiago was the first.  For those who dont know Diego, he is a 15yr old who has been going to school for more than 4 years courtesy of his sponsors. He is the youngest of 8 children and the only one who has an education. His family lost its home in the mudslides, and after 4 years in a temporary plastic one room shelter with common baths and kitchens, they have moved to a new community developed by the government for displaced families. His father, Jose, is the night watchman at the Elder Center and very proud of Diegos accomplishments. Through his work, and Diegos schooling, Jose has learned Spanish. Jack videoed Diego and, as with Isabel, created a real stir in the community.

After Diegos, we went to see Juana, a Mayan Hands scholar. Her house did not allow for all of us to be inside so Jack videoed and Diana interviewed.

Following a request from Pastor Kwen, we went to see a shaman. The room was decorated with 10 or so statues of saints and there was lots of candle light and balloons-not like anything seen in the US. His presentation was interesting, though somewhat different from standard Christian thinking. I can honestly say that I have never had that type of encounter before.

With great fatigue (we walked a lot), we set off to the Elder Center, but not before stopping a Dianas familys home. Her parents and sisters were very jolly and welcoming. Diane especially liked that visit because Marcella (Dianas mother) said she has lost weight. We got back to the Elder Center late and had dinner and reflections. It was a long, varied and very interesting day.


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June 2009
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