Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trip to Atitlan

Last week I spent a few days visiting various projects that AMG has toward the west of the city.  I made the trip with Brian Dennett the director of AMG, Alex the director of all the education projects, and Estuardo who is the supervisor of all the rural education projects.  Our first stop was at a project called Camp Canaan.    This camp is situated just outside the city of Chimaltenango about an hours drive from Guatemala City.  This is a camp for children from each of the projects that AMG runs. Every sponsor child from grade 5 and up are allowed to attend this camp for one week a year. At this camp they are ministered to by a wonderful Guatemala couple (Jose Luis and Orfa) and their staff.  This camp has a tremendous impact in the lives of many children and their teachers.  This was evident when we visited some of the schools.  One of the comments we heard over and over again was regarding the camp and its ministry.  Please pray for this couple as they minister to the children and youth of the AMG projects.  Also pray for Orfa who had surgery for a brain aneurysm. 

After visiting the camp we drove an hour or so to the town of Patzicia.  The school  here is called Colegio Betel.  This school has more than 465 students.  Some students study in the morning while others study in the afternoon.  After visiting Patzicia we drove to Lake Atitlan to visit several projects on the shore of the lake.  However, in order to get there we first had to drive through rivers and flooded streets.  As mentioned in a previous blog we have had an extremely wet rainy season caused by several tropical storms and many bridges and roads have been washed away or damaged.

Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places to see in Guatemala.  It is  considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and was once one of the seven wonders of the natural world.  It is the biggest lake in Guatemala and the deepest lake in Central America (340 m).  It is a caldera which means that it sits in the crater of an old volcano.  The rim of the volcano to the bottom of the lake is over 800 meters.  Another interesting thing about the lake is that it does not drain anywhere.  There are a number of streams that feed the lake, but none that flow out.   As a result during this extremely rainy season the water level in the lake has risen several feet.
In the towns along the shore of the lake AMG has two schools.  One school in Santiago called Alpha & Omega which has over 375 students.  The other school was on the other side of the lake in the town of San Pedro.  This school is called Getsemani and it has over 200 students.  The students at these schools are indigenous and speak Tz´utujil.   In most of the rural projects AMG runs the schools together with a local church.  Usually you will find the school attached to the local church.  Most the churches are either Presbyterian or Central American Mission (CAM).

After spending two days visiting these projects we returned to Guatemala City.  We were in good spirits heading home, encouraged by what we had seen and experienced.   However, our mood changed quickly. About 2 hours out of Guatemala city we stopped for lunch at a well known restaurant.  It supposedly was a secure place to stop.  We went in and enjoyed a nice lunch.  Afterward we went back to the car after and we noticed that it had been broken into.  All our belongings were gone.  I personally lost over $2500 worth of stuff as my laptop, I-Pod, and  professional camera were stolen.   This really was upsetting to all of us and it brought us back to  the reality of living in Guatemala.  Please pray for Guatemala.  It is considered one of the most dangerous places to live in the world.