So today was our last day at the malnutrition clinic and it was a sad day to leave the kids. We got there around 9am and immediately started playing with the kids and changing and feeding the babies. A few hours after we got there I came across a boy named Benjamin. Benjamin has Hepatitis A and is quarantined to his crib, but today they let him out of his room. When I came upon him he was gobbling down a sucker. He was a brilliant boy, when I realized he had a pocket full of candy he started taking it all our of his pocket and hiding it under his mattress. I held him for a while and with every smile my heart grew closer to his. I stayed with him for a few hours and when it was meal time I left to hold some of the other babies. I picked up a girl named Odelia and started to feed her. After her belly was full, I just sat with her and rocked her until it was time for us to leave. I went to put her down and as soon as my hands left her little body she started to cry. I knew that we had a few more minutes before we had to leave so I just rubbed her belly and hummed "jesus loves the little children" to her. Every time I would try to leave her she would cry and break my heart a little more each time. I finally had to leave her crying in her crib which was very hard. As I walked out of the babies room and into the hallway, I looked through a small window into the room where the bigger kids eat. As I looked in the window, I saw the back of a little girl named Ofelia. She was sitting at the end of the table, all alone with a full plate of food, looking straight at the wall in front of her. She hasnt eaten in 3 days and wont talk to anyone or let anyone touch her. That sight broke my heart and I broke into tears. This little girl was just so pitiful but I hope that someday someone can break through to her. The entire experience has been very rewarding but heartbreaking at the same time. We came back to the hotel and let everyone do a little shopping, had dinner and now are getting ready for bed. We will be leaving the hotel at 6am for the airport and are now going to bed to get as much sleep as we can.
LOVES HIS SUCKER
HE LIKED TO BE TOSSED IN THE AIR
BENJAMIN GETTING READY FOR LUNCH
A LITTLE GIRL WHO WANTED HER PICTURE TAKEN
THE CHILDREN EATING
ERIKA FEEDING ONE OF THE BABIES
THIS WAS THE MOST HEARTBREAKING SIGHT OF THE ENTIRE TRIP. THIS BEAUTIFUL CHILD HAD SUCH A COLD HEART AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE. BUT SHE IS STILL PRECIOUS.
This morning we all went to the malnutrition clinic with the rest of the group that had already been there for the last two days. After breakfast we loaded up in the vans and started off on the 1.5hr journey to the small village of San Juan. When we got to the clinic, it was an old rundown lions club building that had been donated for a clinic. When we got out of the vans there was an armed guard standing at the door, mainly to protect the children from people try to take them and sell them. When we walked in, it smelled like old poop and ammonia. The walls were yellow but you could tell the paint was old and all of the windows were locked up. Erika gave me a quick tour of the building and then we went into the canary room where they keep the babies. All of the girls were already in there holding their babies which they have previously chosen as the cutest, or chubbiest. We went to the crib of Oscar who was unfortunately not "picked" by one of the girls for who knows what reason. Erika picked him up and handed him to me, but he was very skeptical of me at first. There really arent that many people with beards there and when he touched mine he retracted quickly in disbelief that something could feel that way. Eventually he warmed up to me and had his hands in my beard as long as I had him in my arms. He found my Lens cap and since they do not have any teething rings, started chewing on it. At first I was kind of freaked out because I did not want him to get any disease or anything like that on it, but the face he made when I took it away made me give it right back. Meanwhile Erika went and got a girl named Ingrid, who no body would touch because she cried alot when we came in. So naturally Erika was drawn to her because she was rejected by the rest of the group. It took about 20min of her crying her head off before she stopped and started smiling. After I put Oscar down I went down the hall to where the older kids were playing. There was a young boy standing in the hall way with a cup in his hands but would not look at me, or even respond to my questions. I decided that I would just sit down next to him and just be with him. After a few minutes he let me play peakaboo with him and eventually grabbed my thumb with as much might as he could muster up, and tried to pull me to my feet. Once I got up he led me around the center for about 40min until I tried to pick him up. He would have none of that, he started crying and screaming so I quickly put him down in hopes that no one though I was hurting him. After another few minutes of peakaboo I tried to pick him up again and he still cried, but this time I just held him and hummed a little to him and he eventually stopped crying and when I tried to put him down he grabbed onto my neck and wouldnt let go. So being attached to this boy who's name was Minor, I walked until I was tired and then sat down on a bench. He eventually fell asleep on my chest and napped for about 30min. I would check on Erika periodically and she would be sitting and rocking, or feeding, or taking a nap, but always had little Ingrid in her arms. I went back into the canary room and someone handed off a girl named Mariela, she was actually 3 years old but only looked 12months. She had an underdeveloped skull and was pitiful and adorable all at the same time. I sat and fed her until her little belly was full and then put her down for a nap. After lunch I saw a girl named Ofelia, she had been standing in one of the doorways all morning and would not look or talk to anyone. I tried to talk to her, and nothing. I tried to touch her arm and she batted my hand away. So I just sat down with her and talked, even though she didnt know what I was saying. I started thinking about what kind of home life would make a 5yr old girl afraid to look someone in the eye. I started crying and just sat with her until she eventually was called into another room for snack time. The day was filled with smelly diapers and crying children but I know that God is working in that place and loves those dirty, smelly, diseased children just as much as He loves me. It is hard to believe that most of these kids wont make it to be adults but I do know that God has a special place in heaven for those who have endured what they have. We are now back in our warm hotel rooms getting ready for another warm dinner, it really seems unfair but I know that we are here for a reason and who am I to question God.
Today was our day to do something fun, so after we completed our usual morning routine, which consisted of wake up call at 5am, shower, breakfast and worship, we headed out to climb Volcan Pacaya. We all loaded up in the big tourist buses that make us stick out like a sore thumb and drove about an hour to the base of our volcano. The trip was pretty uneventful and went by pretty quick. As soon as we stepped out of the bus, there were a ton of locals who were trying to sell us horse back rides to the top and walking sticks. We all just put our heads down and pushed our way to the entrance of the park where we were immune from the pressure to buy. After we got everyone rounded up and introduced ourselves to our guide, Pedro, we started the 2.2 mile walk to the top of Pacaya. The locals did not seem to get the hint when we said that we didnt want a horse because as soon as we started hiking, about 4 of them filed in behind us and any time we stopped to rest, they were hounding us to take the horse, but we were all strong and stuck to walking. The first hour of the hike took us through beautiful rain forests and it was very foggy so it added a sense of mystery and wonder to the trip. After an hour of walking through wet and slippery mud, we reached the point where we actually got onto the volcano. We walked about 20yds down a trail and then came out onto a very steep hill that consisted of pea sized lava rock. When you stepped out onto it you sunk in about 4inches and immediately filled your shoes with very annoying rocks. After we had walked about 200ft across the hill, the guide told us that now, instead of going sideways on the hill, we were going to go straight down. As soon as I started the 150ft decent my feet dug in to about mid calf and I leaned back on my heals and it felt like I was snow skiing. Lurching from left foot to right foot, dropping about 4ft with each stride, it was a really cool thing to do and I would love to try it again. At the bottom of the hill, we all dumped all the rocks out of our shoes and started the steep ascent to the top of the Volcano. The terrain was desolate of life and changed only in the size of the volcanic rock that we were climbing on. Sometimes it was pea sized sand, sometimes the size of a baseball and the further we went up the larger the rock got until we were climbing up solid pieces of volcano rock. As we approached the top, we started seeing lava flowing through the cracks that we were walking on, there was actually lava flowing right beneath our feet. The guide went up ahead to make sure that the terrain was solid for us to walk on because many areas are not stable enough to walk on and you could fall through. After he found the route he wanted us to take we followed in eager anticipation. Walking through the middle of a live volcano was very surreal and we eventually came to where the lava oozed out of the mouth of the volcano. It was about 10ft wide and looked like a giant pasta press, flowing down the side of the mountain. Our guide was waiting on the rest of the group when erika and I reached the lava flow, and the long hike filled my bladder to the brim. So what was there left to do but urinate on the lava, I mean come on, when else would you have a chance to do that. The closer I got the hotter the air was and when I was about 5ft from the flow, it was too hot for me to continue. So I stopped there and pee'd on the hot lava rock which steamed and smelled quite rank. When the rest of the group got there they were all commenting on how the volcano smelled like amonia, haha, so I had to tell them what had happened. We were so close to the lava that we could put our walking sticks right into the golden orange flow and burn the tips. It was raining at this point, and very cold but the heat from the lava kept us warm. We also had the chance to eat some lava roasted marshmallows that someone had brought with them, there really is nothing like a lava roasted marshmallow;) After spending about 20min on top of the volcano we started our decent which was just as treacherous as the ascent but we were pretty tired from the hike up so it was very interesting. We got to the bottom about 1.5hrs later and loaded up in the bus to head back to the hotel. We are not just sitting in our room waiting for dinner. After dinner I will be going straight to bed because I am wiped out. It was amazing being up that close to the lava, I literally could have jumped into it. It is definitely something that you could never do in the states. It was also crazy thinking that even a little fart from the top of that mountain would have wiped us all out faster than we could have thought about what was going on. The lava we saw was amazing but there was still so much more directly under our feet. It was a great experience and I can honestly say that lava is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and it is not man made. God is so big, today he showed me that.
love to all cody and erika
WALKING THROUGH THE RAIN FOREST
DAVE BANKS AND PAUL PICKEL PULLING UP THE REAR
THIS IS THE HILL THAT WE WALKED OUT ONTO AND THEN WENT STRAIGHT DOWN, TO THE RIGHT
ERIKA AND I JUST BEFORE WE WENT LAVA SKIING
THE FOG WAS SO THICK THAT MY BEARD WAS SOAKED, ALONG WITH EVERYTHING ELSE
ALMOST TO THE TOP
OUR FIRST SIGHTING OF LAVA
STANDING AT THE RIM OF THE VOLCANO
FINALLY WE REACHED IT, AND I HAD TO PEE;)
THE BEAUTIFUL LAVA BEING PRESSED OUT OF THE EARTHS CORE
Today started out the same way yesterday did; wake up, shower, eat, drive to construction site and start working. Although Erika did wake up pretty sick today with a cold, she is pretty upset because she wants to be able to help but I know everything will be fine. Once we were at the construction site we started working on the house again. Today was mostly putting up metal on the sides and roof of the building. It took us most of the day to complete that task but when we were done it was very rewarding. After we finished we all sat inside the house with the woman, Maria, who was staying there and she told us through tear filled eyes how much what we did meant for her. She had been praying for a miracle for over a year and she said that we were that miracle for her. WHAT?? Miracle? no way, we just came in and build what most people in america would consider a tool shed. It was tough to accept that but after she was finished she did something even more amazing. She left for a few minutes and came back with an 18pack of warm coke and stale cookies for us all. We figured it out and all of the food and coke cost her more than a weeks pay, and she gave it to us. It was very touching and I realized that she was there for us just as much as we were there for her. It was hard to leave but we had to get back to the hotel. The night was filled with more food than we could eat and then a short worship. After worship everyone wanted to go to McDonalds to eat. Erika and I did not go because we are in a third world country and here for mission work, why on earth would we go to McDonalds. We have so much here on this mission trip, it is a blessing but makes you realize how much we really have. Going to bed now for some much needed sleep. Tomorrow we are climbing a Volcano called Pacaya so that should be fun. Pray for safety.
We woke up early this morning and took showers, then headed to meet the group for breakfast. After we ate we split up into two groups, most of the men went to a site to rebuild a house for a woman who was in need and the rest of the group went to the malnutrition clinic. It took about 1.5hrs to get to the work site and when we got there we saw a tin shack that we were going to tear down and rebuild. We started taking the tin off the house and in about 45 minutes we had the entire house torn down. We started by reinforcing the block work around the 20ft by 10ft concrete slab. We also moved her door to another wall because when it rains water flows right into her house. After a few hours the site got pretty crowded so me and one of the guys went out into the street and started playing with a group of local kids who had congregated to see what we were doing. After giving them all piggy back rides, they wanted to get on our shoulders. Then they wanted to race, then pictures and the list went on. It was a great experience but after a few hours of playing with them it was time to get back to work on the house. At the end of the day we had all of the walls up with only the tin to put on the outside and roof. We headed back to Antigua for another hot dinner, which seemed a little unfair considering 99% of the rest of the country probably didnt even have enough rice and beans to fill their bellies. We ate and had worship and then went to bed. Erika was starting to come down with a cold and we're trying to make sure it doesnt get worse.
THE HOUSE BEFORE WE TOOK IT DOWN
ALL THE TINS OFF THE HOUSE AND THE FRAME IS COMING DOWN
WORKING ON THE FOUNDATION
PUTTING UP THE FIRST WALL
PICTURES WITH THE KIDS
CUTIE (AND THE LITTLE GIRL IS ALRIGHT TOO)
THEY ALWAYS WANTED TO RACE. I ALWAYS WON
DAVID REALLY DIDNT TO MUCH THE WHOLE DAY, BUT STILL WANTED TO CLAIM THE GLORY FOR THE BUILD