We will be returning to the US for a visit on Tuesday, July 26. We will spend a day in Rochester and then will go to spend some long awaited time with our families in Michigan and Indiana for about a week. We plan to return to Rochester on August 4 and will be there until August 18th. We are eager to see as many of you as possible during our visit. We will be in church on the 7th and the 14th. If you’d like to make some plans to see us, let us know.
We owe all of you an apology for our lack of written communication during this most recent stretch in Guatemala. The last seven months have easily been the busiest that we have had since arriving in Guatemala. We have clearly been doing God’s work, working closely with those around us to meet some important milestones while also facing some situations that have weighed very heavily on our hearts. Much of what we could have said would have escalated tensions within relationships that are critical to the Salud y Paz ministry that we support here. So we chose not to share.
The high points include the CUMC team trip in January where 500 hundred patients were seen during a week of work dedicated to serving God and the Guatemalan people. Semana Santa (Holy Week) was a favorite for us again this year. Jan and I worked on the pharmacy system (more about this later) during most of the days during Holy Week and still got to see many of the native traditions at night and on Good Friday.
The week following Semana Santa, we took a visa renewal trip to Chiapas, Mexico. We stayed in the the towns of San Cristobal del Casas and Palenque. Palenque is home to an extensive Mayan site that is 5% uncovered. Although it was in the high 90’s in the jungle,
we really enjoyed our trip there with our young friends Hannah and Max. You haven’t
lived until you’ve spent better than 13 hours each way in a public Guatemalan microbus with these two. We laughed lots, occasionally slept and Pakal-ed incessantly. Pakal was the most famous of the rulers in Palenque and we used his name to loudly call to each other and as the basis for a huge number of puns. We took a modern boat trip one morning down a famous canyon where where we saw crocodiles, spider monkeys and coatimundi. That afternoon we visited a well-known series of waterfalls and pools naturally tinted bright blue. The scenery was breathtaking.
John Edmund is doing well, one of his highlights was his first chicken bus ride, shown here. Another is the new computer he built when we were home last December. He is eager to experience all those ‘F’ things he loves most in the US…friends, family, food and let’s be honest, most importantly…
Our work life has been busy and exciting too. Jan has worked hard with other members of the administrative staff to improve the financial accounts and banking processes. She was able to celebrate the closing of the books at the end of one month when for the first time since we have been here, the person who reconciles the bank accounts had no additional questions for her. As for me, the pharmacy system I had been working on for almost a year went live in May. It has been a real success, providing some important benefits to the organization almost from its very first moments. If you ask me about it when you see me, I’ll try not to get too carried away with the stories.
When it comes to the hard moments that I can talk about, a fairly large number of our closest friends here have left Guatemala or moved to other parts of Guatemala. These include Hannah, Laura, and Max from the United States and our Guatemalan doctor friend Susy De Paz, her husband David Cruz, and their kids, Isabela, Susan, and Jose. We played cards and video games together, made music together, worked and worshiped together as well as loved, laughed and learned together. We miss them all so much.
Luckily we will see most of them soon. Laura and Hannah are coming to my parents house in Greencastle, Indiana to see us a week from Tuesday and we are planning to visit Dr. Susy and David in Xela, Guatemala’s second largest city when we return here.
Through the good and the bad, we have been buoyed up by your prayers, your support and best wishes. God has been with us through it all, continuing, , as always, to be our Rock and our Foundation.
May you feel and recognize God moving in your life, today and always!
Jan, John Edmund and John Lage, Jr.