We woke to a beautiful Saturday morning in Antigua. Many of us took advantage of the sunshine to  go up to the rooftop of the hotel. What an amazing panorama of volcanos surrounding the city, along with churches and other rooftops, many with quaint gardens.

 

We first went to the local Habitat affiliate office, which had souvenirs and clothing. Also on display were models of the latrines and smokeless stoves the Habitat crews build for people in need.  Then on to the Casa de Jade, a cultural museum, gallery, and workshop that explains the process of making jade into beautiful products that come from these rich gems.  Next, we went to the indoor artisan market where hundreds of booths sell local clothing, paintings, pottery, coffee, and any number of items with which to remember our visit.

 

One of the many old churches in Antigua              Lenten offerings

We had lunch at a wonderful open-air restaurant with pizza baked right in front of us – delicious!  Unfortunately we temporarily lost Tony, but he had an adventure all his own.

Some of us went back to the markets for “one last bargain” (thanks for warming him up for me, Chris!) while others returned to the hotel for a quick nap or some March Madness viewing.

Final thoughts from Chris and Barbara, amateur bloggers.  A very special thank you goes to John Tuttle for his off-site blogging assistance.  Without John’s help, we would not have been able to share our trip with you!

We were so lucky to go on this build. Bill was a calm, knowledgeable, organized leader so it was easy for our group to bond. We quickly became friends, not just a mixture of people building a house.

The Guatemalans we worked with were the hardest working people we’ve ever seen. They are not only hard working, but amazingly strong. Their faith in God and in the goodness of people, their belief in the need to help others, and their caring action to improve the living situation of the neediest Guatamalans is powerful. We left the build wanting to be better people.

Although we all tried super hard to be helpful, the mason and his crew respectfully accommodated our differences by filling what Jeff called “gringo buckets” when it was our turn to carry the heavy stuff!  Everyone enjoyed a good laugh over this, but the guys also appreciated our efforts to keep up or at least make their jobs easier.

When we formed a bucket brigade to move the buckets of cement quickly, they were impressed, especially when the group broke into the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. With a little shake of their heads and a grin, we know we provided the work crew some amusement.

It is hard to put a final point to the end of our trip….. the hot heavy work, the heart-warming hospitality of our Guatemalan friends, our tears upon knowing what the children must do without, along with our determination to ensure they won’t have to, and the happiness and anticipation in looking forward to rejoining our loved ones at home.

Not a one of us would trade this experience – we return transformed, wanting to change the world one starfish at a time, and to spread the excitement and importance of this work to all of you.

To paraphrase Bill’s words at our last dinner:  Don’t worry about how much money you make, how famous you are…… no one will remember that……. Live a life that matters – THAT will be remembered.

Adios amigos.

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