To see pictures from this village, go to:
The day started off great! We had a delicious breakfast of pancakes and syrup (!) at the base, and then split up again to go to the orphanage and shopping. Leo and I had a lot of last-minute things to get, and Hector (our dentist) needed boots. So, we walked down to the port to buy the various things we needed and couldn’t believe what we saw. There was about a foot of water covering the main road, and the people had built raised sidewalks with wood planks that we had to carefully walk on, especially if there was 2-way traffic! We watched as cars carefully drove through the water to get to the boats, hoping that our truck bringing all the luggage and supplies would also make it.
We got back to the base, and saw everyone. I guess Lucy at the orphanage was only expecting us yesterday, not today as well, and she already had other people visiting with different activities. So, everyone just walked back and rested while they were waiting for us.
The theme of a lot of group trips is “Hurry up… and wait”. This was no exception! As soon as the truck arrived, we were strategic in how we had to pack it so that it would be easier to unload at the dock. Then, it was time to put our boots on, lather ourselves with insect repellent, and walk the 5 blocks to the dock.
We got there a little before Monica did, so we thought we should wait for her… but the truck driver didn’t want to wait. So we found a dry spot to put the luggage and we waited. When Monica go there, we hurried to load the boat up with all the heavy stuff… and then the police came and gave us some problems so we had to wait again.
I’m always wary about the police… you can never really trust them here. Sometimes they make you wait for hours, expecting you to pay them a bribe. Luckily, we only waited about 1 hour for them to tell us that we could leave. Supposedly, they were worried about our boat being too heavy and over-packed. So, when we got on, we squished together, smiled and waved as we pulled out.
Besides some random stops along the way, we finally got out on the river… just in time for a HUGE rainstorm. Last year, the storm went completely around us and we didn’t get wet. This year, however, we weren’t that lucky. We went right through it, only able to see about 15 feet in front of the boat! Most of us forgot to pack our ponchos in an accessible place, so we just got wet… at least the people that were sitting on the side where the rain was coming in.
About halfway through the 3-hour trip, we got pulled over by the river police. As the boat had to turn around, the people on the other side got wet. Good times! J As it turns out, the police just wanted to let us know that they were there for us if we needed anything. They gave us their number and some pamphlets about dengue fever, and we were off!
As we pulled up to Zaragoza, those of us who had been there in years past were in shock. The village had become a lake! Everything was mud, and whereas in years past we’d stayed at the school on higher ground, we decided that it would be better to stay in the village this time to allow the villagers easier access to us and the medicine. Between the village and the school was an impassable lake. I’m so glad we made that decision!
We un-packed the boat and set up camp in a newly built building. It was right next to a Christian family’s house where some of the doctors were able to stay. We could use their rain water reserve to bathe, and they had a latrine as well. It was a really nice set-up!
The kids were waiting for us, excited that we were with them! A few of us went to the sidewalk in front of our “house” to sing with them and tell them Bible stories. They were little sponges, and they’d remembered everything we’d taught them from the other trips… even the songs that we’d written! That was so cool!
After a little while, it was time to set up the movie and start inviting people; so Zach, Andrew and I took the group of kids (each fighting over who could hold our hands… or just grasp a finger), and we invited everyone to the church for the movie. Two boys, Daivy Andres and Esteban were stuck to me like glue! They listened to everything I said, took me to the different houses, and helped me invite people. The sidewalks and paths we were walking on were crazy slippery and muddy, especially walking up and down the hills, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to safely go to the farthest part of the village (through some more hills) to invite people… so I sent the boys. They LOVED doing it! They ran up and down the hills with their little bare feet and stopped in every single house to invite people. It was great to watch them!
We got back to the church and played some games while people arrived and the movie got set up.
The church quickly filled up with kids! It was so good to see familiar faces! While we were worshiping together and getting the movie started, the students were in the kitchen struggling to light a fire to cook the popcorn. Everything was wet, and they had to use a machete to cut off the outer parts of the wood, hoping that the inner parts were dry enough to light. It was pretty much impossible! But, about halfway through the movie, the popcorn got delivered, and the kids loved it!
I made the mistake of under-estimating how much popcorn we would need in that particular village. I’d bought 10 bags, but only got 3 out of the bin. The students didn’t know that there was more popcorn, and one student in particular started to stress out a little. I was in the church and had no idea of the crisis the students thought we were in… but Leo was helping them. Daniel, and 11th grader, was not happy about the situation and Leo told him to pray to see what the Lord would tell him. Daniel came back after about 5 minutes and said that he needed to get the candy he’d brought to give out. He didn’t want the people to watch the movie without eating something. Leo was really proud of him!
During the movie, I was able to sit on the floor in front of the girl’s section. In these churches, most of the boys/men sit on the right hand side, while the girls/women sit on the left. I sat right in front of 6 beautiful girls who were obsessed with the movie… and my hair! They played with my hair, braided it, twisted it, etc. during the entire movie. It was so much fun!
The movie we showed was “Courageous”, and it was absolutely captivating! You know the villagers are into a movie when they talk the entire time… and they were talking! The girls were asking me question after question… and talking amongst themselves.
Some of the boys figured out that sitting right next to my computer gave them a better view, so they crowded around it.
It was so fun to watch the villagers watch the movie. As babies would fall asleep, the mothers would lay them on the floor, fanning them with whatever piece of cloth they had. Kids were asleep on the benches, some even left because it was late. We ended the movie a little early because we could tell that people were tired. Usually, they go to bed around 6pm, and it was already 8:30pm!
When the service ended, we went back to our eating hut and had a delicious dinner. Most of the students stayed in the kitchen for a majority of the evening… helping with the wood or fire, or just enjoying each other’s company. I think being in the village was a shock for some of them and they just needed some time to adjust.
We all headed back to the main house to use the bathroom (peeing outside is one of my favorite things to do!), clean up (can you say baby wipes?), and rest. I was looking forward to getting some sleep, since I didn’t get much the night before. But, those plans were put on hold as soon as we started hearing people outside our house.
At first, I didn’t understand what was going on. I heard 2 men and a woman talking to each other. I woke Leo up, and we were just listening. They were obviously drunk. One man said something like “we’re here helping them, and they treat us like dogs. They won’t let us into their house. It’s not like we’re going to rob them or anything!”. I didn’t know who these people were, or if they wanted to get into OUR house… I was a little freaked out to say the least. I wanted Leo to get up and tell them to go away, but he had no desire to talk to a few drunk people, so we just waited and prayed.
Some of us were tempted to get out of our tents to actually see what was going on, but Leo kept whispering to us to not make any noise or draw attention to ourselves. The people eventually left… and then came back. 3 different times I woke up to hear drunk people swearing and talking about horrible things.
It didn’t help that off in the distance we could hear the drums of the witch doctor. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep that night!