|The finished playground|
One project is adding a kitchen to the local maternity clinic. Work is proceeding on this task. I saw a lovely video of a "Bucket Brigade" effort in which about 10 workers were cooperating to dig and move dirt. The kitchen project is still ongoing.
The other project was the culmination of a dream by a young man, Ike Sunanday, 6 years ago when he was on a mission trip to this area with the church. He envisioned the building of a playground for the children at the school in the village.
Since then, Ike has passed away on to his eternal home. His parents and sister have been working there this week with the team, taking Ike's dream and making it a reality.
It's an emotional story, for yesterday, the playground was finally finished, dedicated, and opened to the children. His family and others with them installed a plaque in memory of Ike there, and a celebration ensued. Yesterday would have been Ike's birthday.
The children swarmed the playground areas, and Ike's dream had come to fruition. Many persons were part of the process that made this playground come together.
First, the vision was cast to the church by a man who was willing to spearhead the effort. A playground set that was scheduled for demolition was found and refurbished.
Then there were the church fundraising efforts to purchase, transport, and store the playground equipment prior to assembly. As you can imagine, transporting a large set of pieces from central Pennsylvania to a remote village in Guatemala was no small challenge.
There were difficulties along the way, as to be expected.
Upon arrival the truck belonging to the man overseeing the arrival of the equipment was stolen. As of now it has not been recovered.
A few days later the same man was held up at gunpoint by three young hooligans in the area. He was shaken up by the incident but unharmed.
Several pieces of the playground had not been shipped with the rest. Some last minute arrangements with the playground company worked it all out and the pieces were sent.
A number of the mission team arrived in Guatemala suffering the effects of a stomach bug. It passed and they are all well.
Now, however, it has all come together and the playground will be there as a reminder of God's extravagant love for those little ones and their families. At first I had wondered at the wisdom of all that expenditure of money for the playground equipment and the folks to fly there and stay for a week to construct it.
Now I have seen, again, that God's ways are not like human ways. His ways don't always match the way we do things. His love for us makes no sense - it's so ridiculously extravagant compared to what we deserve, but that is how He loves us.
This lovely playground will always be there for those children. It's extravagant, yes. So is God's love for those little ones.
In the evening after the project was completed, there was some free time to explore the local area. Son Caleb, along with team members Kyle and Mike and a local guy, took a motorcycle tour of the area.
Caleb's excited report: "I rode a motorcycle. Around a volcano. In Guatemala!"
I think it's been an awesome adventure for Caleb and for the team, and I'm anxious to hear more details when they return home.