By McKenna Click
After I got done writing the first time we boarded our plane and left for Miami. The plane we got on was late arriving to the Louisville airport so we thought about the time we would arrive in Miami we would have to board our next flight and leave for Guatemala. However when we arrived our flight was delayed for ten minutes. Since our flight was delayed so we got ten minutes for dinner. After we got our food we sat on the floor outside of our gate (because all of the seats were full) and listened as our flight got delayed multiple more times. Finally, our plane arrived and off to Guatemala we went. When we arrived it was hot, the kind of hot that sticks to your skin, most of the lights and central air had been turned off in the airport. We swiftly filled out our papers for customs, grabbed our bags, and went out to wait for our ride. Our ride was actually an old school bus from the United States. We placed our bags on the bus (we were told to deny anyone who offered to help because they might take off with our bag) and got on the bus for the hour long trip up the mountain. When we arrived at Casas por Cristo’s Guatemalan location it was about 1:30 in the morning.
We woke up bright and early at 6 a.m. to get ready for a fun day in Antigua. After getting ready and eating breakfast we all piled on the bus and made our way down the mountain. About six minutes into the trip our guide from Casas stood up and said “Let me tell you something about school buses. Mexico is the place where American school buses go to die, but Guatemala is the place where dead school buses go to be revived,” he then proceeded to give us instructions on what to do if our brakes were to go out on the bus. Luckily, we made it safely to Antigua without our brakes going out. Once in Antigua we split into 2 groups, one going zip lining, and the other touring a coffee farm. I took a chance and went zip lining. All I have to say is Oh. My. Goodness. it was gorgeous. At the highest point we were over five hundred feet off the ground and the longest zip line was over a fourth of a mile long. When we were done with zip lining we had to walk awhile, but it was definitely worth it to see all of the sights I did. After my adventure, I ended up eating at a local Guatemalan restaurant. Three of my friends and I ordered a large table palate that had different types of meats and toppings that we put on homemade tortillas. The food was delicious. After we finished up with lunch, we headed off for the market. It was really cool to interact with the locals and bargain, and I got some amazing deals. When we got back, we went to bed, ready to build houses the next morning.
DAYS 3, 4, & 5
Day 1 was a lot of preparation. I counted the boards we would need, learned to use a power saw, and measured boards for cutting. Later on we had lunch, which were some of the best burritos I have ever tasted, and back to work. After lunch we laid the concrete foundation where the house would be.
On building day 2 we started putting up the walls to the house, and it was cool to see it come together. I must say by the end of putting up siding I was a pro at swinging a hammer. The best part was when I got to get on the roof. It wasn’t that nerve wracking until my buddy Kevin, a junior at Lanesville, didn’t tell me he was pulling a nail out of the siding and accidently took the whole board with the nail, almost throwing me off the top of the house.
On building day 3 all the magic happened. There were people on the roof putting the actual roof on, there were people inside installing windows and the door, there were people inside running electric. It was a pretty hectic day, trying to get everything done. As I was walking over to get lunch I heard someone say the electricity worked. It made me smile knowing a bunch of inexperienced kids, could build an entire house.
When I wasn’t building, I sat and talked with the ladies and children of various local families. My Spanish is bad, but I was able to hold a basic conversation with most of the ladies, but we were soon interrupted by a group of kids wanting me to sing the cup song (from Pitch Perfect) which we had been teaching the local children throughout the week.
So I gave in and sang the cup song for the children. Well the ladies loved it too, so I ended up singing the cup song about twenty times that day. The coolest moment was when I sang a worship song in English and one of the ladies recognized it and started singing it in Spanish. When we finished up singing David asked us to come over so we could wrap up our day in prayer. After prayer I got to take a good look at the house and I was overjoyed when I realized we actually had built a house in three days.
After each day’s building we finished in prayer then headed back to the compound where we had about an hour before dinner. After dinner we played cards and hung out for about a half an hour before we came together for devotions, worship, and eventually breaking up into our building crews to discuss the day’s work. After our fellowship we had about an hour before it was lights out.
Since all of the building was done we got to sleep in until 8 that day! Once up, we got the items we wanted to donate together and ate breakfast, then headed off for dedication. Dedication was the most unique experience I have everhad. We started off at the first house. Once there, a student lead us in prayer, the homeowner spoke, then two different students got to speak and the homeowner presented us with a tapestry with our church’s name on it, and we finished up in prayer and nailing the Casas Por Cristo plaque on the wall. It was something I won’t easily forget. After the first building crew said their goodbyes it was time to walk to building site two, my site. About halfway there we were greeted by the children of our building site. It brought a smile to all of our faces as we got to walk with them to the building site. The dedication at our site went pretty much the same, except it was a little more emotional. Seeing a grown man brought to tears because he was so thankful he now had a safe shelter to raise his family in was payment enough. The best part of our dedication was when Juan Hose and another member of our group Brian Schembari, a senior at Jeff, dropped to their knees and started praying together and just talking to each other even though Juan Hose didn’t speak any English and Brian spoke very little Spanish. It was definitely something that made my heart stir. After lots of tears and hugs we left the building site and went back to the compound. At the compound we ate lunch then had the option of heading into San Raymundo. Once in San Raymundo we all noticed a lot of the shops were closed (it was Good Friday) but we did find an ice cream shop, La Nuveria, that was open. The ice cream shop was similar to a Baskin Robbins and it was delicious. After every member of our group got their ice cream we got back on the bus and headed back to the compound. At the compound we hung out until dinner. After dinner we conversed then headed back to the dorms to do some last minute packing and attempt to get a good night’s sleep before the early morning flight.
We got up at 4 am to leave for the Guatemala City airport. Of course I had no idea what the Guatemalan was saying and he had no idea what I was saying so that was a really interesting experience, but it all worked out when a flight attendant who spoke Spanish and English helped me out and told me what the worker was saying. After we got breakfast we went through security (my friend Kevin had his crayons confiscated)then found our gate. Once we found our gate it was about a twenty minute wait to get on the plane and leave Guatemala. As we were leaving Guatemala, one of the volcanoes started smoking and that was a really interesting sight to see. I slept most of the flight from Guatemala so I was wide awake when we landedWhen I woke up our gate had been moved so I got with the rest of the group and we made our way to our other gate. It took us about ten minutes before they started boarding and within fifteen minutes we were on the plane. I guess it was because I was sick, but I was so cold the whole way home that I wore two sweatshirts. My group got quite a few kicks out of that one. We landed in Louisville at about 9:45. Right before we exited to see the people who came to greet us I noticed my dad waiting for me. I took off running to give him a hug. My mom was there too. I said my goodbyes and collected my bags so I could go home. Of course when I got home my sister bombarded me with questions of how it was and I handed out the presents I got for my family, then I finally got to go to bed. Overall, this was the experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.