Today started with a visit to the small aldea of Nueva Esperanza high up in the mountains near the Guatemala border. We took about an hour-and-a-half ride up the scenic, bumpy, windy, narrow, dirt road and finally arrived at the elementary school. Here, the school children were finishing up their end-of-year exams in preparation for their three-month break, scheduled to start the next day.
While waiting for pastors and various community leaders to arrive for a meeting with the team, we walked around to examine the school roofing job that had been completed by the May HAF mission team along with help from community members. We noticed a couple of new chimney stacks exiting from the roof over the kitchen (the building on the right) and upon further examination noted that members from the community had constructed tile chimneys to vent the smoke from the kitchen stoves. It was good to see that the community has continued to be involved here.
During recess, each of our team members had opportunity to display his style playing soccer (using a hollow plastic ball) with a few of the boys. I can only imagine that these boys and the other children watching don’t get this much humorous entertainment very often!
After recess, community members began arriving for a group meeting. Representatives from three small churches, members of the Patronato (village government leaders), Sonia (the school teacher), and other community members joined us for a lengthy discussion about the community needs and opportunities for continued partnership with HAF. All of the church leaders expressed interest in receiving additional Bibles for their congregations and materials to teach Sunday School to the children. Other major issues raised by the community included concern over potential destruction of their water supply and a desire for additional bridges over the streams to allow children and adults to cross safely.
Following the meeting the team walked up the road to visit one of the streams where the community had requested assistance constructing a bridge. On our way back, the teacher took us to the site of a cardamom processing facility, where we observed the large tank containing cardamom berries that were being dried and prepared for packaging. Cardamom is one of the largest cash crops for that community.
Having completed our community visit, the team loaded back into the team vehicle for the next leg of our journey—a lengthy trip climbing mountains and fording streams in search of the community of Brisas del Mar.
We had recently received a request for assistance in constructing a school for this community, so we wanted to visit to see what was needed. After about an hour and a half of searching and asking directions from people walking along the road, we were finally told that we would never make it to the community without a 4-wheel drive vehicle. So, we decided to abort this mission and return back to Quimistan. Needless to say, we were all ready for a quiet, relaxing evening back at home base.