Thursday, October 07, 2010

"Not much time..."

Some of you are aware that my widowed aunt had moved to Decatur and was living in our house with my mom. It seems that love is always around, no matter what age you are. Yesterday, Aunt Tommie, 81 years old, married Edward Shaw, 82 years old, and moved to Texas!

As she told me, "When you're 81, you don't waste time because there might not be much left!" The happy couple wed in front of 8 witnesses, all of whom got to sign the marriage license.
Congratulations Tommie and Edward Shaw!

P.S. I represented our side of the family in true Guatemalan! My only pair of black shoes broke three steps inside the church!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Changes in plans

Just a short update to let you folks know just what is going on with us. I will blog on these things in the next few days, but for now, let me say that Johnny is NOT going to drive through Mexico...a big answer to prayer. I flew to Tampa today to spend a couple of days with our youngest daughter and her husband, Jennifer and Andy, before heading to Decatur on Saturday. Johnny will follow me as soon as our fully loaded, very packed and stuffed pickup truck gets put on a boat. He will have to drive some, but it will be in the United States!

Watch for blog updates in the next day or two (I promise!) of our summer, our daughter and son-in-law's visit and our despedida!

Sunday, September 05, 2010


You may be hearing in the news about mudslides in Guatemala. The western side (mountains=us) is completely shut down and can't move. We got up to rain and came through several "young" slides on Friday morning, heading to the capital. Shortly after we came through one of the slides, the mountain let loose and hit a bus, killing 12 people. We made it to the capital without incident, sold the black pickup and trailer and picked up Lindsay and Micah from the airport. And that's as far as we have gotten. The highway west (back to the Camp) is shut indefinitely, until the roads are cleared and the slides stop. Just west of us, a slide buried a whole bus. Traffic was stopped behind them and people ran to help uncover those buried. Then more of the mountain let loose and the rescuers themselves were buried. They don't know just how many were killed, but they are saying at least 40, plus those that were in the bus.

We are OK, as are all the CAM missionaries that we are aware of. Thankfully, a wonderful CAM missionary family that are in the States right now, have let us use their house in the capital. Lindsay and Micah have their suitcases, so they have clothes. Johnny and I were only expecting to be here one night, so we are extremely limited on clothing, but we are all together and safe. We may not get to play tourist like we had expected, but, as I said, we are all together and safe.
We will post more later, as the news comes in.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

We are happy to announce...

Boyd and Julie Robinson, of New Mexico, have been approved to be the next directors of Centennial Camp! They still have to raise support and spend some time in language school before arriving at Centennial Camp, but it is so nice to know that the work will continue! Please pray for their time of support raising and packing up to move to Guatemala. When I get a picture of them, I will post so you can get to know them!

Friday, September 03, 2010

What's happening...

Was asked to update my blog, so I will push the blogs about the teams from this summer back a week or so and give an update.

After we sent the last team home, we started packing...and giving things away! Our Guatemalan brothers and sisters have descended on our house, looking in all of our drawers and closets for things of ours they want! I finally set up a "yard sale" in the living room that I add to as I go through things and decide whether to keep or sell. Jordan, a young man from California that is working with us, has been at the house for the last couple of nights. We had to keep his bedroom door closed to keep people out of it! They think nothing of opening all of your cabinet doors to see what you have...and what they might want. But things are going. We met a nice couple that work in the Peten who is buying the black pickup and trailer. It seems perfect for their needs and an answer to prayer on their side for a dependable vehicle and on our side for a sale!

It has rained everyday, usually starting about lunch time. Since the dryer burned up (thankfully after all of the teams!) I have to hang my clothes on the line to dry. So my day starts with...#1 making a pot of coffee, #2 putting in a load of clothes, #3 drinking a cup of coffee while I check the internet, #4 hanging the clothes on the line, #5 more coffee while I start packing. We gave away all of our extra food this week, some to Guatemalans and some to other missionaries, so we are down to pulling something out of the freezer for supper (we find out what it is after it thaws sometimes), eating cereal left over from the teams, and trying to finish up the cheese, sandwich meat, bread and peanut butter and jelly from the teams. Mealtimes are kind of...interesting.

I guess my hardest part is trying to coordinate everything. Can't deliver the fridge to the new owners until almost the last, but can't wait too late because the truck will be loaded. Can't get rid of the bed until the day we leave. And the hardest...making the young Guatemalan lady hold off on receiving the coffeepot she has already paid for until the very end! She couldn't understand why I said I needed to keep it until the last days!

Tomorrow we pick up our oldest daughter and her husband from the airport for a week of rest and relaxation. We are looking forward to a week of playing tourist! That will leave us a week to finish all of the packing, see how much of the stuff fits in the truck, then repack to get the most important things home. All of this with people stopping by to spend a last few minutes with us. Pray we will be gracious and not look at our guests as "interruptions". Pray we get everything packed and that it fits. Pray as we say goodbye to our friends from the last 5 years. And pray as we travel, Johnny by truck through Mexico and Maria by airplane to Tampa (a couple of days with our youngest daughter and her husband), before arriving in Alabama around October 1st.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Latest derrumbe

Sorry for the delay since the last posting...hope to get caught up on postings on the teams next week, after the last team leaves. As you know, we had to take a few (very few) days in Alabama to renew Johnny's driver's license. While we were there, we were notified of a landslide between Solola and Panajachel. It wasn't until we brought the first Visalia team down to Pana that we saw the damage.

Coming up the mountain from Pana to Solola, you can see where the landslide took out a nice-sized portion of trees and foliage next to the waterfall.

A good view of what the road looked like when we first saw it. Big boulders had come down and took out the outside lane of the two lane road. Dirt and boulders also covered the road and isolated Panajachel for a couple of days.

This view is from the Solola side and was taken two days ago. You can see that they are already working on the area that was undercut (the land that was gone from under the road). The small yellow sign in the distance is the sign for the waterfall, to give you perspective. This area is now down to one lane, which is full of potholes from the boulders hitting the road. Rumor is that there were some injuries to people in a car that was passing thru this area and another small slide pushed them off the mountain several days after the road opened back up. Last week, we just had to pass this way going into Pana and returning to the capital because we worked across the lake and took boats each day. This week, however, we are working at the Camp and pass this way daily, up and down. Pray for safety as we (and others) cross this area routinely.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Southern Baked Beans

Southern Baked Beans
Can't take credit for this one, found it in a cookbook!
1 pound bacon, fried crispy and crumbled
2 1/2 onions, diced, sauted in bacon drippings until brown
6 cans pork and beans (or if using other types of canned beans, drain them)
8 Tbsp yellow mustard
12 Tbsp pancake syrup
10 Tbsp ketchup or BBQ sauce (Bob Gibson's from Decatur, AL, is quite tasty!)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix bacon, onion and drippings with remaining ingredients. Pour into 2 9X13 pans and bake covered for 45 to 60 minutes. Serves 16 - 20.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tamale Pie

As we make a quick trip to Alabama to renew Johnny's driver's license, here is a recipe that has been popular this summer!
Tamale Pie
4-5 chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 large can stewed tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
1 cup strong chicken broth (I use a boullion cube in warm water)
1/2 - 1 tsp chili powder (How picante do you want it?)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can whole kernel corn (with peppers, if you can get it), drained
Cornmeal topping:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal, plain without flour
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp baking powder, omit if using self-rising flour
Grease bottom and sides of a 9X13 pan. In large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until everyone comes to the kitchen to see what's for supper...or until the onion is softened. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chicken, chili powder, oregano, corn and mix well. About this time, taste it to see if you need salt or more picante (chili powder)! Taste it again, just to be sure! Put into 9X13 pan.
In another bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, eggs, sugar, butter and baking powder. Stir together well. If you live in the South, Jiffy Corn Muffin mix is a good substitute...if not, well, get to mixing! You will need to "dot" the top of the chicken mixture with the cornmeal mixture, so if it needs a little more liquid, add water a little at a time until it is a little thicker than pourable. "Dot" the top of the casserole and put in a preheated 350 oven. Because I make this in quantity, you may have a full casserole. If so, place the casserole on a cookie sheet before putting in the oven. When done, the cornbread topping should be browned and the chicken mixture hot.
Since this recipe was given to me as: "Oh, about a cup of this and a pinch of that...", play with it. Since I'm usually making 3 to 4 pans at a time, I just add until it looks right. I usually have too much chicken mixture, so I have found it freezes well and can be thawed at a later date and cooked with just the addition of the topping! Try it and let me know if I am really off on my measurements!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jordan Dudley

Meet Jordan Dudley from Visalia, California.

Although Jordan is here to work with the water filtration systems his church (First Presbyterian of Visalia, California) has installed with us over the last 3 years, 6 in total, he has been also joining us as we work with workteams this summer.

Thankfully, Jordan can do a little of everything...and has these past 4 weeks. In the first three days he was here, he earned his keep by fixing our water system at the Camp and fixing some problems Nahuala was having with their system! He joins the teams in construction when they are here and works on water systems when we are traveling with the teams.

He works well with all the different teams, especially the ones with young ladies!

His mother raised a right nice young man! When he joins us and the teams for meals (he never misses one), he won't eat until I have served myself, and even washed dishes one morning to keep me from having to do them! (Yes, mom, he knows how to do dishes!) He also jealously watches the teams members as they serve themselves firsts and seconds because he knows he will receive the leftovers! After about 7 trips here over the years to work with us, he knows most of my menus, has his favorites and shows up early for those meals!

As our third team in a row left this morning, he will be helping us prepare for his home church to arrive in three weeks and put in a water system across the lake. In the meantime, he will also be helping another missionary with a team putting in a system in Patzun! Busy, busy, busy!

We are enjoying working with Jordan and Johnny loves having a man around to be "manly" with. They talk water systems and such...I am enjoying having a "son" around!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer 2010

Early June saw the arrival of Spring Creek Church from Pewaukee, Wisconsin. It was a large group of high school students and leaders that worked hard and played hard!

Not many of the days were this sunny. But they spent lots of time bending wire and making "cages" to go in the fence.
Then, fence was raised across the front of the property to help secure the area. Income for the Camp is made when people use it, so now they have to enter through the gate. This a project that will continue throughout the summer, with pictures from other teams, as we complete the circuit around all of Centennial Camp!
I am sorry there are not many pictures of such a great group, but I was only able to obtain a limited number of photos. Any additions would be greatly appreciated!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shepard's Pie

I was asked by the Wisconsin team to post some of my, until I have time to load pictures of the Wisconsin team and the Orr team, here is one of the current recipes! Hope you like it!

Shepard's Pie

2 pounds of ground beef, browned
1 can whole kernel corn or Veg-All
2 packages (1 box) of mashed potatoes or equivalent "homemade"
1 package Brown Gravy mix

This is the amount that fits in a 9 X 13 inch pan...adjust for the size crew you are cooking for!

The ground beef, mixed with the prepared Brown Gravy, goes in the bottom of a well greased pan, followed by the corn or veggies and topped with the prepared mashed potatoes. Put all of this in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly. This is the way I remember it being made at Judson Collage in Marion, Alabama. Adjust as you wish, adding onion, cheese, or anything that strikes your fancy!

More pictures soon of the teams!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Random Pictures of the Soccer Team from Alabama and Beyond

Just a few more pictures before moving on to the next team...
Strange things happen on mission trips

OK, when you use pictures taken by the team members, you get strange pictures of cows,

and pigs. It's intriguing, I guess.

The fourth work day, the team dug a line to get us water again. Some Christian brothers from Nahuala were there to help. These are two of the men in their traditional dress.

The last day, after a day of shopping, we had one last group picture.

It's always interesting to see what pictures there are!

Lots of looks as several of the team members walked the streets of Pana carrying a pinata.
Next blog...Wisconsin!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cables Xtremos!

Today seemed like a good day to die...
so here we are fixing to zip line!

You can see the closed eyes and the scream that echoed through the forest as I jumped off of the first platform.

There were a total of 8 lines to ride and, as you can see, we were very high above the trees!

Toward the last few lines, we finally got the hang of it...

and graduated!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soccer Clinic, Part 2

Random pictures of the soccer clinic held at the Camp in June.
Soccer balls were donated and each child received one with a soccer shirt and a cloth backpack, which included a Spanish Gideon New Testament.

There were young ones and early teenagers in the various groups.

The kids learned the importance of exercising and warming up before games.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Wannabes!

As we begin working with the second team of the summer, I will be posting on the soccer clinic team that was here in June. There are some problems loading pictures, so there will be a little each day!
OK, they were only World Cup wannabes, but they learned and practiced skills for soccer for two days.

The girls were asked to come in their "P E" outfits, but there were those that played in traditional traje!

Each day had two sessions for two different groups. We reached about 150 kids each day. A devotional ended each session, led by group leaders.

An extra was the haircuts available by two young women of Birmingham, Alabama! Took a little coaxing, but once the others saw a couple get their hair cut...the line was out the door!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

England visits America in Guatemala!

Last night we had visiting friends from England for supper. We met some of the group a couple of weeks ago when they came to the Camp to help with some cleanup. They are working at one of our churches two miles away and offered to help us out. The group has been here since the middle of March, sleeping on the floors of churches and eating Guatemalan food and what they cooked themselves. When we offered hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans and brownies, they were all over it! We had a great visit last night and learned about the lives of ten 19 and 20 year olds, despite the differences in accents! They really enjoyed speaking English to someone other than each other and none spoke more than basic Spanish. And they all wanted to know more about Janel (far right) and growing up in the U.S.!

Friday, June 18, 2010

2 Days later...

Poor Janel! She spent two days with us shopping for the three teams...traveling out to the Camp...then cooking all of the meat! By the time we were through, we had cooked 52 pounds of ground beef, 32 pounds of chicken...
and made 66 hamburgers! She doesn't want to see hamburger for awhile!
Tonight, we will have 10 students from England over for...HAMBURGERS, what else! We have made baked beans and brownies also for the evening. I will post tomorrow on the cookout!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Janel Ealy

Meet Janel Ealy from Aston, Pennsylvania! We picked her up yesterday and she helped us shop for three teams at once. After we get back to the Camp this afternoon, we get to cook for three teams at once! She will also be working with the Guatemalan pastors tomorrow as they practice on their English. She has a Pennsylvania accent, but after living in Memphis, Tennessee, for two years, she has a tendency to develop a "Southern" accent when she is around folks from the South. So, Mom, she will be a "Southern belle" when she returns home!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Mail Call

We received mail here at the Camp yesterday! Usually our mail comes through Dallas or Las Buenas Nuevas in Panajachel. Except for the power bill, which we can literally find anywhere at the Camp (usually not in the mailbox), we never receive mail here! But yesterday, a mailman rode up on a bicycle with one piece of mail, made me sign for it (it was not registered) and give my passport number to be able to receive it. It was Brad and Lindsey Bridges prayer letter - Brad and Lindsey are some of CAM's newest missionaries in Uruguay. Glad it wasn't junk mail! And it only took 3 years for us to start getting mail that we are leaving...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Two days of sun!

We're excited...we had two days in a row of sun without rain! That has given us a chance to do some clean-up without being knee deep in mud.
Yesterday morning, one of our area churches showed up with 7 guys to help us clean up. They started with the backyard landslide that took out our fence. Until we get that fixed, Snow has to be on a chain all of the time...which she is not fond of. She is our escape artist who loves to get free and roll in get the idea.

The well diggers became well cleaners! There was mud 1 meter deep (about 3 feet, for those metrically challenged) in the well that came in through the ground water. They went down into the well, sent up buckets and buckets of mud, cleaned down the well walls and cleaned out our cistern tank. We now have water and can take a shower in water that is cleaner than we are!

On a side note that tells a little of the culture in our area, the family of well diggers are just that...well diggers. None of the kids go to school (not even that little one) because they will grow up to be well diggers and they don't need school for that, so says the father. Unfortunately we see that all too often, whether they are well diggers, farmers or whatever. Even though all children are required by law to go to school through the 3rd grade (???), the law is not enforced. So grows another generation without education.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Santa Rita

On Sunday, I mentioned that Johnny and Esteban went to a nearby village to help with relief efforts. They took the 4WD truck, but still had to walk part of the way in.
You can see the line of cars at the top of the picture. They were stopped by the line of boulders and trees that came down the mountain and crossed the road. When they first got out of the truck and Johnny took a couple of pictures, the guys working all stopped and started saying he was a reporter. Then he began helping with moving the boulders and someone recognized him as "the Camp missionary".

They drove over one area of debris, but got stopped at another and had to walk into the village. You can see where the wall of mud, water, boulders and trees came through the town. Esteban had an uncle who was a pastor at the evangelical church in the village. His house had 4 feet of mud inside, which they helped clean. The clothes were left with him to use and disperse.

They also helped move mud, boulders and trees from across the main road in town.

The torrent of debris and mud took out road and houses on it's way to the lower side of the village. Thankfully, no one was killed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 3 of Agatha

We have electricity, we have internet...we are doing OK. What we don't have, nor does anyone else around us, is clean water! Our water comes from a well in our back yard. With the fast rise of the water table underground, the well is filling with not only water but also mud. What filters we have can't take care of it. We have some drinkable water, enough if we are careful, but all of the water in the house - the shower, the toilet, the faucets and the washing machine - looks like the water above. Kind of hard to wash clothes in water that is dirtier than the clothes you are washing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 2 of Agatha

It is 12:30PM, local time, and the rain has stopped for the time being...we even had a little weak sun this morning! So I got out and took photos of the damage from last night:
These first two photos were taken minutes apart. It had been raining all day when we heard what sounded like a truck on the little road between our house and the "hill" next to us. It wasn't a truck, it was the hill coming down.
Minutes later, I snapped this picture
of the hill sliding down even more, taking out a small tree and bending the fence over. Snow is now on a chain because she could get out so easily.

This was the side of the hill overlooking the small soccer field on the lower level. Besides the hill crumbling, this was covered in water last evening and, even now, has inches deep mud that you sink into when you walk on it.

Unfortunately, all of the work that the Wisconsin youth team put in two summers ago got washed down the river. When they return in a few weeks, they may very well get to do it all over again!

A view in the other direction...all of that mud you see is several inches deep and you sink into it when you walk on it.

From atop the hillside next to us, you can see how the land slid. This was a small road that people used to get to a village on the mountain on the other side of the river.

Looking across the river to the municipal soccer field, you see bare places on the mountainside. These were where landslides occurred last night. Most occurred as dusk arrived, along with a heavy rain, and we could only hear them, not see them. It was scary hearing all of that but not being able to tell where it was coming from.
Yes, we had damage...but we are OK. Our house is dry (except for the leaks) and we have food and electricity. The road to Solola and Panajachel is out. And the surrounding villages are calling for help. Many are cut off, mudslides taking out roads, houses and people. Johnny and Esteban (our guard) have gone to help in a village above us where several lost houses. Don't know if there were any deaths or not. Johnny took clothes that were left from teams (see, they came in handy!) to hand out to those who need them. As we find out needs, we will try to help. And, unfortunately, it's not over. The tropical storm continues to pour rain over lower Mexico and Guatemala. The temperature is dropping and the rain will begin again within the next couple of hours. Yes, pray for us, but also pray with us that the Guatemalan churches will look beyond themselves to see the needs around them and be a light in this scary time.
Stay tuned for more news later, as we get it. I hope to have pictures from Johnny from the relief efforts he and Esteban are doing. To see some of the pictures taken and put into the national newspapers, go to the following websites. They are in Spanish, but you can see some of the devestation this seemingly small tropical storm has caused.