Friday, March 9, 2012

Visit of the Postma's and the Westeringh's

Rick and Diane Postma along with Dick and Mary Anne Westeringh and their two sons Nick and Nigel and Kaitlyn (Nick's girlfriend) came down to Guatemala for the inauguration of a new school in Monjas, Jalapa and to tour some of the other projects and to see other parts of the country.  Word and Deed Canada through the generous donations of a number of people in Canada provided the funds for the building of this school.  The community of Monjas also helped by donating land and by waiving the taxes that one would normally have to pay.  The local church was also very involved and came up with a substantial amount of money to help off set some of the building cost as did the parents of the children who attend the school.  This was a joint effort and it was truly a model as to a better way in which to do development work.  
Visiting an old Monastery turned into a Hotel

Lake Atitlan- Panajachel
In the coffee shop in Panajachel
The Westeringh's and the Postma's saw a lot of Guatemala during the next week.  Rick and Dianne arrived on Friday night.  Lia and I together with Brian and Mary Dennett (AMG missionaries) and the Postma's spent most of the day in Antigua on Saturday.  In the evening the Westeringh's arrived. On Sunday we went to the Central Presbyterian church were we worship as a family.  This is the oldest evangelical church in Guatemala.  On Monday we left early and drove 3 hours to Monjas for the inauguration of the school (sorry I have no pictures of the school at the moment).  After the ceremony we spent the rest of the day visiting a few homes of some of the sponsor kids and the bridge that Word and Deed helped fund.  In the later afternoon we drove to Cubulco a drive which normally takes around 4 hours.  It ended up taking much longer due to the heavy fog that we encountered along a high mountain stretch of the road.  We could only crawl along since we could barely see a thing.  We spent the night in Cubulco and the following Tuesday spent the day touring town and the projects of AMG and the Free Reformed Mission.  We also went and saw what was left of the bridge.  Dick of course had an interest in seeing the bridge since he helped build it.  On Tuesday afternoon we drove the back road to the city which was a very steep and winding dirt road for part of the way, but definitely with a breathtaking view.  This road climbs from 3000 feet to over 7200 feet in a matter of 30-40 minutes.
Downtown Xela

On Wednesday we had the privilege of being invited to go along to see Tikal which lies in the jungle in the north of Guatemala.  (I will write more about Tikal in another entry)  Lia and I along with Rick and Dianne Postma just went up for the day while the Westeringh's spent two days there.  It definitely was one of the highlights.  After coming back on Wednesday evening I dropped the Postma's off in Antigua so that they could spend the night there and the following day touring this old historic town.  I picked them up later on in the afternoon after which I also went to the airport to pick up the Westeringh's as they returned from their trip to Tikal.
In Xela with Ken and Nigel Herfst
On Friday I dropped the Postma's off early at the airport for their flight back to Canada.  I picked the Westeringh's up after that and we drove 3.5 hours to Quetzaltenango (or Xela) where Ken Herfst lives.  On the way to Xela we stopped in Panajachel to see the lake and to visit a local coffee shop run by a missionary family who use it as a way to reach out to the many tourists that visit the lake. After Panajachel we drove the rest of the way Xela.  This road to Xela goes through a pass call "Alaska" which is the highest road in Central America at over 3,000 meters or around 10,000 feet.  We spent a night in Xela visiting with Ken Herfst.  The following day we drove back to the city but instead of taking the highland road we drove the coastal highway which takes you through huge sugar cane plantations.  On our way down we stopped at a place that does zip lining which was a lot of fun.  There were a total of 11-12 lines some short of some 75 meter while others we around 250 meter long.  This was the first time I had ever zip lined and it definitely was worth the $20.  After a 3 hour drive through the heat of the coast and burning sugar cane field we arrived back in the city in the early evening.
Truck carrying sugar cane.
The following Monday the Westeringh's flew back early to Canada and life for me returned to normal.  It was a busy trip with a lot of driving, but it was great.  I could not have asked for nicer people to be with and people who are so interested in the country and supporting the work here.  The Westeringh's of course have a close tie with Guatemala not only because of the projects they support but because one of their adopted children Nigel is Guatemalan.

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