NPH Orphanage … what it’s all about!

NPH ( “Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos“; translates as: Our Little Brothers and Sisters) has 19 orphanages in 9 countries, located in both Latin and South America. The NPH orphanage in Guatemala was founded in 1996 and houses 345+ children ranging in age from 0 – 21 years of age. Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos was founded by Father William Wasson over 50 years ago on August 2, 1954, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.

My job position: Home Coordinator.
The responsibilities of the HC include, but are not limited to, an annual report, a quarterly newsletter, website updates, projects and photos.
Not only will I be suitably responsible for the Guatemalan web updates but I will also be able to pursue my greatest loves of photography and journalism.
The true challenges will lie in the translation of Spanish > English and English > Spanish (at the moment, “Hablo Espanola un poco” = I speak a little bit of Spanish).

Guatemalan History:
“Guatemala is home to the very rich and ancient culture of the Mayans. Guatemala is classified as a third world country, where poverty and child orphanage / abandonment are very real issues; the third world problems are obvious: high population growth, a 50% illiteracy rate, pollution of the environment, and a huge contrast between the capital Guatemala City (>2,000,000 inhabitants) and the villages in the peripherals of the country.
Life in democratic Guatemala is pretty much peaceful, although there is still tension between the indígenas, the Ladinos, and the whites. The current national population is about 12 million. The currency is the Quetzal, with 7.4 Q equal to about 1 US$. The cost of living is very inexpensive.
Guatemala is a tremendously beautiful country. Perhaps more than any other Central American country the native culture here is very much alive. You can still see indígenas wearing their colourful traditional huipiles and praying to their ancient gods.”

A map of the area where I am going ….

A road trip with my Father

I was so pleased to be able to transfer all my winter belongings from Ed’s place to the cubby hole at my Fathers where I store my entire life (that’s worth an entire entry unto itself!).
Not only does it feel good to compartmentalize my existence into tidy square bins (out-of-sight is most definitely out-of-mind in this case) but it also serves me {and ED} well to cleanup my trail of reign which once eclipsed his living room. Ed now has his futon and reading space back 🙂 — and if you know Ed, his reading space and home in general is sacred.

The morning started out in organization-mode, first picking slaDE up from a teeming Tim Horton’s in Wingham (he had hitchhiked to the farm) and then attempting to juggle with 3 hands but finding myself with only 2 :). So many things on the go — both personal and business related, with little time to stop and breath (yoga — sadly an idle afterthought at the moment). But then came the opportunity to spend an afternoon with my Father; a rare occurrence to say the least. I jumped at the chance to keep his company as he transported a load of non-GMO (not genetically modified) soybeans to Granton, Ontario (close to London). What an educational experience that was! I learned quite a bit about genetically-modified foods and the whole process of growth, testing and production. This load that we hauled was specifically meant to be shipped to Japan. I discovered that Japan and most parts of Europe will only accept non-GMO exports into their food supply. Sadly, there are no regulations in place for either Canada {Agriculture Canada} or the USA {FDA} stipulating the differentiation of GMO vs. non-GMO components on their labels.

What determines the difference between GMO and non-GMO foods? In the facility we delivered at, the soybeans are weighed and tested on site. The whole process was complete within a 15 minute window; a sampling of the soybeans were crushed in a blender, water was added and then tested for a specific protein, that if found, determines their genetic status. This protein, if found, shows that they are Roundup-resistant. Roundup is a chemical, made by Monsanto (one of the world’s largest chemical producers), that will kill ANYTHING it is sprayed on, unless it is bred Roundup-resistant. Kinda scary in my minds eye. Another good reason to eat organic foods (note: just because they are non-GMO doesn’t specifically indicate a food as organic) … Organic living is by far the most wholesome and beneficial way of improving our health and general lifestyle. I truly believe that Japan and Europe have the right idea and understanding of what makes for a healthy diet. Choice is always a powerful tool in our lives …. Knowing the composition of the foods we eat is incredibly vital I believe. Thanks for listening to my rant :).

Anyway, the ride in a big truck was reminiscent of my childhood days, spending time in a big rig with my Dad and enjoying together time with the busiest, most wonderful man I know! Being so high up in a vehicle with the rumble of the gears shifting beside me brings back lovely memories and makes me grateful for the blessed upbringing I had, growing up on a farm and learning the lessons of hard down-to-earth work.

Generosity of spirit abounds!

My heart is so filled with gratitude for Frank Hoffele and his wife Barb …. he is a remarkable man who owns a pre-loved thrift store in Harriston called ‘Friends Caring and Sharing’. The principle and mantra that they live and work by in life is caring for others in God’s name. In reality, this is by far more than just a business selling second-hand goods. Through his business Frank has spent the last 16 years serving the Lord; his generosity of spirit and call to service has been prevalent through charitable sponsorship and promotion of missionary work.

We spent a good portion of our afternoon speaking of his devotion to helping those in need, locally foremost, and worldwide in conjunction. Because he is a friend of my Father’s, Frank heard about my mission work at the orphanage in Guatemala, and immediately offered to help in whatever ways possible. I am overwhelmed by his desire to serve others and to help those in need, and in my case, specifically to help the children in so desperate need of aid at NPH Guatemala. Additionally he has offered to help me fundraise for my trip. As this is a volunteer position for a year (with no outside help to cover my transportation, living and educational expenses — learning Spanish 2 months prior to starting on July 10th), I am extremely grateful at the thought of any additional support (‘love donations’) that happens to come my way — although I’m happily and 100% willing and able to support myself throughout my entire mission …. My purpose behind going to Guatemala delves far deeper than the financial aspect could ever proffer.

On leaving the store, I had several bags in hand with souvenirs for the children at the orphange plus a bag filled with clothes for me to wear on my journey; Frank was very straight-forward in telling me that my money was not good in the store, and hence, whatever I wanted or needed would be complimentary. How generous is that??! Magnificent!

The wheels in motion

Today I bit the bullet … commitment in the name of a plane ticket, booked through cheapfares.com (gREAT prices … discovered through lowfares.com, another great flight search engine .. wicked!).
But with change and commitment comes at times, turmoil and sadness. This day lacked not the opportune moments for deep growth and metamorphosis. Growing pains, difficult and heartbreaking, to say the least.

Meditations of strength and a focus of the breath will hopefully move me forward to the next stage of this challenging quirky journey through space and time.
Peace ….

Going home

It’s Friday evening and slaDE, Ed and myself are driving the lengthy distance to my father’s, looking to spend some quality time with my family, before I leave. It’ll be quite lovely, seeing my younger sister Aaron and spending some time just breathing in the fresh country air (some not so fresh 🙂 ).

It’s been a hectic 10 days since returning, taking on more web work than I care to juggle with such a handful of other tasks on my mind …. The past week has been a week filled with a plethora of doctor’s visits; some positive and others not so inspiring. My left shoulder is my biggest concern at the moment. The list of health ailments seems to never end!! And promise, I’m NOT a hypochondriac … wish it were such a ‘simple’ diagnosis. Sigh ….

planes, trains and automobiles

Trying to figure it all out!
Booking a flight beyond a one year return date is pretty much impossible (even if one is willing to pay a premium price and/or make a sacrificial offering to the airlines)!!
How frustrating …. in all my years of travel (that would be 15 years to date with a few transitory years of hibernation in Canada), I have never come across such difficulty in booking the winged aspect of the journey. It looks as if I’ll have to purchase a return ticket now (entering a country with a one way ticket — speaking from experience when flying from Canada into the US — begs for difficulties on arrival/departure) and then when I’m ready to come back, buy another ticket home … makes for an expensive way to travel, especially when on such a tight budget!

easter Bunnies everywhere!

eager as a rabbit …. oh how this day brings back beautiful childhood memories of foresting through the mounds of plenty, searching for the elusive coloured eggs and Easter baskets scattered through the homes of our past. we were spoiled rotten with candy (i have the cavities to prove it!) and i thrived off the cre8tive, decadent talents of our mother who perpetually surprised us with new and novel places of hiding. she was (and still is, in many many ways) superb in her coy flirtatious banter which egged us on in my families hunt for the evasive treasures that exceeded beyond the physically sweet.

white chocolate … that was always my favourite. giant ears of a cellophane-wrapped solid non-organic full-fat bunny …. i swear, this one moment of discovery of the white yummy decadence excelled beyond almost ANYthing else in my childhood annals.

but not this Sunday … the sugary treats were reserved for my mother’s ‘grandchildren’ next door … three sweet little white-haired girls that have real live bunnies of their own hanging out in palatial cages. they were lovely though, sharing their Easter candy with both me and my stepbrother Patrick (PJ for short). today my tastes for chocolate are a bit more refined, reserved for organic dark cocoa treats of indulgence.

the afternoon was spent with family at a local Stratford hotel savouring a tasty brunch that had us rolling away from the table three hours after setting foot, several pounds lighter, at the tables filled with a vast array of brunch delicacies, Canadian style.

Forever smiling: my Mom Theresa, my stepdad Pat and my stepbrother PJ.