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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 7 – Saturday Morning Already!

     Our four sick mission workers were largely recovered after a good night’s sleep.  After a pancake and fresh fruit breakfast, we said our good-byes to Marina and set off with Otto to Lago de Atitlán.  Our group was down to 12 as John and Nicholas decided to stay behind at the B&B to rest.
     Otto drove us through the Guatemalan countryside – around and around and up the mountains and then up even further before we started our descent to Lake Atitlán.  As we drove through the villages and towns, we had to roll up the windows to avoid the black clouds of diesel fumes from the colourful chicken buses and the trucks over-flowing with fresh produce.  We enjoyed the two and a half hour drive taking in the beautiful scenery, local people and the mountains while continuing to share our thoughts and feelings about the week.
     From Panajachel, we took a boat across Lago de Atitlán.  The lake was beautiful with small villages and villas along the shores against the backdrop of volcanoes topped by clouds.  In Santiago Atitlán, we walked through an indigenous market area and visited the church Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apóstol which was built in 1571-1582. 
     The twelve of us were then taken in the back of a pick-up truck for a five minute ride through the very steep streets.  We visited Maximón who is revered throughout Guatemala and is thought to be a combination of Maya gods, a Spanish conquisitor and Judas.  He is kept in the home of a local Mayan Catholic and moves around regularly.  After a relaxing lunch on the patio at a nearby hotel, we continued our journey around the lake.
     Most of us slept during our return journey to Antigua as the emotional and physical week caught up with us.  We returned to the B&B to pick up our luggage (the 22 checked bags we arrived with had been reduced to 14 and we had significantly reduced our carry-ons; three of our suitcases were now full of coffee for another mission team’s fundraising).
     It was another hour through heavy traffic to get to our hotel in Guatemala City.  With plans to leave for the airport at 4:15 am, we had a quick dinner, a hot shower and fell into our comfortable beds for a few hours of sleep.
     Already we were missing being with the AOJ staff and the hugs and smiling faces of the children – but we were all excited about the prospect of the next mission trip.

     Our team was absolutely awesome.  We started out as a group of 14 individuals who were excited about the opportunity to go and share Jesus’ love with the people of Guatemala.  But we were uncertain and maybe a bit apprehensive about exactly what we would experience.  Throughout the week we shared experiences and memories that will last our lifetimes.  As a group, we got to know each other in a way that cannot happen in our normal day-to-day lives.  We return from Guatemala as a family of fourteen, forever changed by the experience.

Laura N.

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