July was incredible! For me, it started in Colorado. But on the 4th, I was flying back to Mexico with a temporary crown on my tooth! Brennah and I got back home at 11 pm Sunday night, and at 8 am Monday we ran around, packed a fresh suitcase, and headed to Guatemala. Everyone's visas (and all the paperwork for our cars) were about to expire, and Guatemala is by far the closest border to cross and renew our papers at. Naturally, no road trip would be complete without a few surprises here and there. This trip's (first) surprise was a Zapatista road block, just a little ways out of town. That added several hours to our trip, because we had to take an alternate route around the protest. But we did eventually make it to the border! Mexico's border says we have to be in Guatemala for 72 hrs before re-entering the country. We originally decided to take advantage of those 3 days and see Lake Atitlan. However, through a series of unfortunate events, we ended up just hanging out at the border hotel and seeing the "local sights." By the time we made it back to San Cristobal, we had about 48 hrs to prepare for the incoming Global Encounter's team. The GE team arrived late on Saturday, July 10th.
There were 11 of them altogether, from California, New York, and several states in-between! Right off the bat, they jumped into the activity. A few guys fixed one of my cabinets that had busted hinge thingys (that is the proper technical term, I'm pretty sure), several helped with getting material ready for taking out to Zoque, others prepped filter systems and packed up food and supplies. Sunday was a busy day! Monday morning, they headed out. For the next 5 days they did children's programs, installed filters, and visited with families... in 4 new Zoque villages! It was a great trip for many reasons, among them the opportunity to scout out new villages and contacts. Once back here in San Cristobal, they all expressed deep gratitude for non-swinging beds and hot showers! I say that very jokingly... compared to many people who have come here, this team had basically no complaints at all. They were serious troopers!!
I should also note here that while the GE team was in Zoque, I was still blessed to have Stephenie here with me and the girls. It's hard to communicate the many ways that it helps to have another adult around. She was great!
After some shopping and sight-seeing, the team wanted to help work on things around the compound. That was awesome, and not a problem... there are enough projects around here to keep a small crew busy for many weeks! They worked on electrical wiring and standing walls upstairs, removing and replacing the rotten window sealant downstairs, and painting our living room! Also during their second week in Chiapas, the GE team spent a day at the orphanage in Teopisca. They played and did some projects to help out, and loved every minute of it! Carlos and Yara now have 17 orphans and their own 3 biological children in their care. They are home-schooling all of them, and do a really great job... but they're overwhelmed! I know they would appreciate your prayers.
The team took another jungle trip for their last week here... this time out to Ch'ol. They did very much the same thing there as they did in Zoque, exce pt this time they took Cloe and Stephenie with them! That was a long week on the home front. But they had a great time being eaten by bugs and getting to know a lot of really sweet people in the villages. Whenever Global Encounters does a trip, they assign one of the team members to write a blog entry each day of the trip. I decided to just share the link with you, in case you're interested in more details of their trip here. I believe it's still missing a few days, because Elizabeth (GE's fearless leader) is in South Africa and not able to post the last few days just yet. It does have most of the days though! They posted a bunch of pictures on there, too.
The team and Miss Stephenie all flew out on August 1st. Only Amy Cook stayed behind! So we went from 17-20 people at dinner every night, down to 6. This past week has been a strange kind of culture shock! It's hard to believe that July is over already. Now it's just a matter of weeks before we leave for the US! We are planning about 2 weeks in Denver, 2 weeks in Pueblo, then several days in various parts of TX on either end of the trip. Nathan will also be making a quick run to AZ for one weekend in there. If you haven't already contacted us and are interested in having us visit you, your church, your small group, etc... please let me know ASAP! Several dates are already set in stone... or at least in thick mud. But we would love to see as many people as possible during our time at home!
We made some major changes to the "needs" section of our website. It's now called "get involved!" Hopefully it will be easier to navigate now. Let us know if you have any thoughts or if it doesn't work for you! :)
We hope that July was a wonderful month for you, and we pray that August will be full of unexpected blessings!
With love and gratefulness for all you do for us,
Julie (for Nathan, Cloe, Gabi and Brennah too)