Alexis Ripperger

Greetings from Lexi Ripperger in Guatemala,

It is safe to say, when I woke up, I could have never guessed the outcome that came from today’s adventures. We started off by meeting the lovely Poor Clare Sisters after Mass, who live cloistered with 30 other nuns, their whole life! We came to learn they pray intensely throughout the entire span of the day, even during chores. There are two sisters who are only 15 years old, inspiration is an understatement to describe their intense devotion to prayer and to God. It was very interesting being isolated from the Sisters by bars, not being able to see them during Mass, at all. The Sisters possessed such a great sense of humor and I will be keeping their smiles very close to my heart.

Lourdes group wearing paper mache animal masks they found

This is where the day begun to take a very interesting twist. Our group was assigned a maintenance job to move very heavy televisions, stoves, and various miscellaneous items to a storage container. We found four, fun, paper mache, animal masks, of different species we could not quite identify, but you can bet we had fun putting them on our heads. It was definitely a team effort loading all of the items into the truck, as much as it was a team effort to keep one another from falling out of the truck. My parents think my driving is bad, they obviously haven’t seen Guatemalan driving! Right when I thought the tedious part of our day was coming to a close, God laughed at me and said, “You thought.” I had reached my hand under the last washing machine Cameron and I had to move, just to feel an instant pain. Being my stubborn self, of course I ignored it.

My hand began to bruise and swell, while my arm lost feeling. I was very anxious thinking that it quite possibly could be a bad spider bite. Sister Barb and I decided we would rather be safe than sorry and from the great help from the people in the orphanage we made our trek to the doctor. As we were going up the steep Guatemalan hills, we hit a nasty pot-hole. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is, when you think that your day can’t get any more challenging, God laughs again and says, “Here try this challenge, too.” With good laughs and smiles Sister Barb got down on her hands and knees in the Guatemalan streets to change a tire. Eventually, the four of us got the tire situation figured out and we were on our way once again. The doctor looked at the bite and informed me that it was actually an Alacron sting, which translates to scorpion in Spanish. It was non-venomous, tiny, and commonly hides under dark, dusty surfaces. He prescribed me an antibiotic and I am completely fine!

Receiving help with changing a tire

I am definitely grateful for this adventure with these amazing people. I got a day of experience under my belt, and also a gelato ice cream cone prescribed by Jandira. I am so thankful for Amanda, Jandira, and Sister Barb for taking such great care of me and being so patient and understanding. I am so blessed to be on this trip with such wonderful people and compassionate children.

Peace, love, and blessings,

– Lexi Ripperger

Nick posing with some of the children

Nickolas Dietrich

Day two of our mission consisted of Mass with the Poor Clares, moving TVs and appliances to storage bins, playing with the children, a short talk by the Valle psychologist, and packing meals to be distributed tomorrow in a nearby district.

Mass started at 7:00 am, one of the earlier starts of our days this week. It was a peaceful way to start the morning before heading back to get our hands dirty. We were able to talk to the Sisters before we left, just to learn about their daily life and what they do. We were surprised to learn that the youngest Sisters in the cloister were 15. They blessed us, prayed over us, and sent us on our way with cookies they had made.

This year, the Valle psychologist, who is responsible for assessing the children due to many of the possible issues that are present here at Valle, spoke to us about what he does and what we as missionaries can do to help the kids’ mental health. He stressed that we should focus on the attachment, because many of them have had issues with neglect, abandonment, or abuse in the past that may reflect how they attach to different people who come to Valle. The goal is to prevent any further issues that might come about due to possible attachment issues.

A photo of some of the moving and cleaning the group did

Then began our “hard labor,” which consisted of moving TVs, appliances, and a few other things, like toys. The men in our group had fun holding on to everything in the back of a pickup truck when we were transporting them to a storage crate just up the hill. With lots of maneuvering and problem-solving, we were able to fit most of the stuff we moved into the crates. We took a break for lunch – beans, hotdogs, broccoli, and tortillas – before spending the afternoon with the kids.

Soccer, Frisbee, kickball – we were running up and down the basketball court where they play for most of the afternoon. It is the easier way for us to communicate with the kids, since only a few of us know enough Spanish to hold a conversation. They play soccer well and were not as interested with the Frisbee. We mostly passed the Frisbee around to each other for a while, until some of the boys came down to play soccer with us.

Finally, we finished our work for the day by packing meals that we will deliver tomorrow in a district nearby. We filled bags with corn flour, sugar, cookies, pasta, granola bars and fruit bars. It was the easier job that we did today, but tomorrow we will be able to see the impact it has on the families that receive the food. After packing the meals, we played with the children for a little while longer, ate dinner, and conducted our reflection for the day. It was an overall productive and exhausting day, but we have all experienced so much in such a short amount of time. I cannot wait to see what else this week has in store for us!

Paz y bien!

– Nickolas Dietrich

One response to “Guatemala Day Two – Monday, May 29, 2017

  1. Thanks for being the faithful alum on this Mission Trip. I’m sure you’re seeing and experiencing things through a different lens. I’m glad that being with the children is still the backdrop for all the other work, sharing and listening. Does it feel different to have a team made up of 4 women and 4 men? Sounds like everyone just comes together to get the work done. Blessings on all of you. I’d never make it through the soccer fun. What do you think Sister Martha would be sharing with you now?

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