Wearing a mask this morning made me feel equal parts bandit and out-of-season trick-or-treater.
Mostly, though, it felt great to be back out working, and I owe a couple of our newer friends a big thank you for that. We got the opportunity to help one of our missionary friends, Tim and Patty Ruth, distribute food to some impoverished people living in an isolated area.
Isolated might be a misnomer since at one point you could see some of Guatamala's most famous natural landmarks: several volcanoes and Lake Atitlan. Chuatzunuj sits in the middle of 12 villages and has some of the best vistas I've ever seen. Tim told me many missionary teams, who are amazed and take multiple photos, come to help the people there, who are unimpressed by the views that have surrounded them their whole lives.
As we made our way down the road from the top of the mountain, we stopped at various spots to hand out food. Here we were, wearing masks and gloves among smiling people, grateful to be receiving food. I know they were smiling because no one was wearing a mask except us. I guess in a town without many visitors, it was more likely we were going to infect them than vice versa.
Our last stop was at a clinic that Tim and Patty built in Chuatzunuj. Here the bulk of the MannaPacks were handed out (along with a photo with this weird gringo) and our friend Charlene got to do her work. She is the one we joined with to form J33 missions, the medical branch of God Said Go. At the first stops we made, no one stepped forward to be treated by the American nurse. All it took was one lady at the penultimate stop to put Charlene to work for about half an hour.
Tim said there might be an opportunity for us to do a small medical clinic. Charlene told us there's no such thing a small medical clinic, and she was right. I turned around and saw a line waiting to get into the clinic. Then I went into the clinic and saw the line was to get into the waiting room, which was full.
Charlene and the clinic's nurse, Pedro, worked until noon, when we had to stop. Guatemala has a curfew from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. No one is allowed out on the streets except police and military personnel, food delivery drivers, and truck drivers, who I believe love the lack of traffic.
We plan on returning in the near future with more medical help and maybe help finish the clinic, which needs paint and flooring along with some other small touches. It's a two-story building with plans to make the top floor housing for mission teams. How awesome it would be to wake up and look out any of the windows for a beautiful mountain scene.
I was more than happy to take off my mask when were done. No more feeling like a bandit. But we were doing the opposite of bandits: giving away what we had. What made it feel even better was the food we were handing out was given to us. An act of generosity certainly goes far in this country but even farther in these times. If you have given us a donation, thank you. If you haven't, please consider it.