Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shopping Spree

I decided I wanted to go buy some children’s clothes for our clothing give-away in La Llanes… we have quite a chunk of adult clothing to bring out there from our own personal ‘wardrobe purging’ but very few things for children.

I had a feeling that I could buy quite a bit with $20. And I was right. Check this out:

6 pairs of shorts at 50 cents each
24 shirts (tank tops mostly) at 50 cents each
5 pairs of shoes at $1 a pair

I might just have to go do that again before we go! I can’t think of a better way to spend my money. Lord knows I really don’t need much!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Blessings

I have two very cool things to share:

The first blessing: As a result of a blog about the community of La Llanes and the need for water collection there, I received an email from a very small church in Centerville, Iowa (Centerville Presbyterian Church). The pastor there wanted to let me know that their mission committee wanted to purchase a water tank! She is also going to check with the men’s and women’s groups of the church to see if they would like to purchase another one.

What a blessing! So for sure we have one tank bought … only 19 to go!

Any others out there that would like to purchase a 750 liter water tank for a family?? Only $125 each … going once … going … well … 19 more times we hope!!

I love you all. Thank you!

A second blessing: Blanca and Cecilia (two of our Pastoral Team members) were telling me that they were going through their clothing to see what they could find to give to the families in La Llanes. So I was humbled and motivated to do the same. How sad is this: I found ten shirts (tank tops), a skirt and 4 pairs of sandals to donate to the cause. And I STILL have way too much clothing.

I have often felt that the poor have the most generous hearts. I learned a lesson today from my sisters at the Pastoral House!

I think tomorrow I will take $20 and go to the market to find some children’s clothing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Who are you??

So I'm looking at the "stats" of my blog and Alisha shared with me how to see who my 'audience' is.  HOW FUN!

I have had people visiting the blog from all over! 

This MONTH: U.S., E.S., Germany, Iran, China, Russia, Phillipines, Denmark, France, India and Canada.
This WEEK: U.S., E.S., Germany, Iran, China, Russia, France, India and Canada.
TODAY: U.S., E.S., Germany, Russia and India.

I'm really curious as to who is reading this blog and why?  I think it is very cool actually.

The U.S. and E.S. are easy to figure out.  But China?  India? Iran? Russia?

Very cool.

Water ...

You might have seen Alisha’s recent blog about the things we take for granted … things that so many people do not have the luxury of enjoying: water and electricity being pretty basic (and we can’t forget food and shelter).

Well – this is something I often struggle with. I truly do live in a palace compared to the people we serve. I have walls, a roof, a floor, a private bathroom and I never worry about my next meal. And I have water. If not running – at the very least it is in my pila for the 90% of the time (literally) that the water does not fun through the pipes.

So this morning – I had a treat. Something I have not had in my bathroom since I’ve been here (as interim in 2007/8 and as permanent co-worker since January of 2009). I had a hot shower.

My shower has been ‘repaired’ several times – but the repairs never took. It took someone who knew what the real problem was and then who knew how to fix it. Thank you Andres! He had to hook the shower head up to a separate circuit breaker – and one more powerful that the one that was there. Prior to this addition, everything was hooked up to one relatively weak circuit breaker – so my lights would dim when I turned on the shower and at best I would get tepid water; just enough ‘warmth’ to take the freezing edge off. So like Alisha – I usually didn’t bother with the actual shower, but preferred the control of the bucket shower. Brrrr.  I also have a 'flash water heater' meant for heating water for tea - bet the original inventor of this lovely device didn't know it would be appreciated for other uses!

So now I not only have water running every other day. But now I have HOT water.

And along with it the guilt.

I’ve been told I shouldn’t feel guilty because I have these luxuries. But I can’t help it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Internment in Rio de los Bueyes

We went back down to Rio de los Bueyes – leaving the house about 11:30 to get there for the 12:30 commencement of the trip to the cemetery.

We got there a little late – but they had not left yet. They were waiting on the big truck that would carry the bulk of the people.

After about 15 minutes, they decided to leave without it. The loaded Jesús’ casket into the back of a pick up truck. Five people got into the bed of the truck with the casket and Eulalia and a grandchild got into the cab with the driver. Our pick up truck followed them - after a bunch of people hopped on of course.

It was me, Idalia, Blanca and Aminta in the cab of our truck, Alisha, Cecilia and Miguel in the back and a lot of others. Alisha later told me there were 22 people in our truck. Add the four of us in the cab.

I knew the road from Rio los Bueyes to La Barca was relatively flat and not too bad so I wasn’t too worried about the suspension of the truck. I also figured we’d be going slowly. And I was right. What normally would take about 15-20 minutes to drive between the two communities, took over an hour.

We followed the casket’s pick up the entire way. Fortunately for the people walking, about a block from the house, the big truck met us and about 50 or so folks hopped into that. There were also at least 4 pick up trucks full of people behind us – each loaded with people. Partway there we met another large flatbed full of people going to the internment and a little further on we picked up another dozen people who were waiting for the caravan to go by.

Word of mouth is incredible here. Jesús just died less than 24 hours prior. And here were all these people going to her internment. There were several people from Berlin as well as people from El Tablón, Corozal, Casa de Zinc, (probably more places) and it seemed like all the people from Rio los Bueyes were there! I would bet there were between 250 and 300 people at the cemetery.

When we finally arrived (and it was a very long and extremely hot and dusty ride and had I not been driving, I could have slept – as it was I was trying not to nod off in the heat with my hands on the wheel!  But then I thought - man - the people standing in the backs of the trucks have it way worse than I do!) When we finally got to the cemetery, I drove up the hill to the entrance so people could get out and then turned around and parked in the shade a little down the road.

By the time I got to the area, the coffin was already under the shaded ‘gazebo’ area – there is a pedestal of cement for folks to put their casket and the large lamina roof serves as a shady place for someone to say a few words, or to have the last viewing of their loved one.

We were there about 15 minutes – chatting with people. There was enough shade and a bit of a breeze so it wasn’t unbearable. One of the family members came up to us and they asked Blanca and Idalia to lead the singing at the gravesite. They were hesitant because they worried they would start crying. But ultimately, they sang.

6 men carried the coffin down the very steep and slippery path to the gravesite where the hole was already dug. The singing started as people were still carefully making their way down. The men started putting the rope around the casket to lower it into the grave.

And here there was a small glitch. The hole wasn’t big enough. So out came the shovels and they dug some more. No one seemed overly surprised or bothered by this. The singing continued on. And soon the sounds of dirt being shoveled on the casket could be heard along with the singing and then the prayer.

That is a unique combination of sounds.

There was no service per se – just a few songs and a long prayer. Then everyone headed up to the vehicles. We were not going back to the family’s house since we were now closer to the PanAmerican Highway. We headed back to Berlin in that direction instead of going all the way through the canton roads. It only took us about 50 minutes to get home. Going the other way would have been and hour and 15 at least. And a lot bumpier.

We were able to bring several people back to Berlin with us. Including two men who were selling popsicles and ice cream at the internment.

This is an acceptable thing at an internment – the selling of food and drink, ice cream, candy, banana chips … It isn’t considered tacky here.

It was a physically draining day. The oppressive heat and dust coupled with the very slow driving (after driving 50 bumpy minutes just to get to the family’s house in the first place – and then driving back to Berlin afterwards) wore me out. When we made it back, I went up to my room and stretched out on top of my bed – mostly to stretch my achy back – but I actually nodded off for about 10 minutes. By that time I was ready for a cup of coffee and to sit with the ladies of the Pastoral Team.

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13th 2011 - Jesus

Rest in peace in the loving arms of God your father. 

We just received a phone call that Jesus died.  Not 15 minutes after I posted the story of our visit with her.

We're sad. 

We'll be driving out there again tomorrow morning.  God must have known we needed to be there because a meeting we had scheduled in the morning got cancelled.

Please send up prayers for the family.


Jesus (in the back-ground) and Blanca two weeks ago.

Today we received a phone call from a family in Rio los Bueyes. We always visit this family when we go down there for their annual Celebration of the Martyrs. In fact, we were there just a couple of weeks ago. (See Alisha’s blog – link to the right!).

We knew that Jesus, the mother/grandmother has cancer. She has had good days and bad. When we visited a couple of weeks ago, I could see she was weak and she only stayed out on the patio with us about 20 minutes. She then had retired to her room to lie down.

So the phone call today was from her daughter Eulalia. Mom is doing very badly she said. She is not sleeping, she is not able to eat or drink and she is vomiting blood. (Sorry for the graphic image). And she was asking for ‘those from the Pastoral House’ –

We decided we needed to go see her. It is what the Pastoral Team does. They visit the sick and try to give comfort.

Normally it is over an hour’s drive to Rio los Bueyes but we learned of a shortcut and now it only takes about 55 minutes.

When we got there, she was in bed so we went in to sit with her. She recognized and acknowledged us and spoke briefly. Blanca asked about her pain. She said ‘not too much, but I am nauseous and I can hardly sleep.’

She is so thin. Her stomach is quite bloated though. She is weak and even as we were there, she was groaning the soft groans of nausea. And several times she had to spit into a rag, or TP. And indeed, she was spitting blood.

She was very hot. It is very hot in the valleys and her room is cinderblock with one window. For some reason, the door was shut – but Cecilia propped it open for air flow. Of which there was very little.

Eulalia was using a large folded towel to fan her mother. Resting her arms every so often.

We talked for a while. I myself was praying for peace and comfort for all of them and freedom from pain and nausea for Jesús. At this point, the only freedom will come from death.

We only stayed about a half hour. Before we left, Eulalia had one of the children climb a tree and fetch some oranges for us to take back to Berlin. Even in grief and suffering, people are compelled to share!

All the way back to Berlin I could not stop thinking of her. And about how Jesús is being loved by her family – especially her daughter. I was thinking about how hard it must be for the family (they live in a multi family compound so there are lots of children that also need tending).

Death is a fact of life here – I know that – I have grieved with many families in my short time here. Suffering is a fact of life here.
Pain is a fact of life here.

People suffer but they take it in stride. I’m not saying people are ‘content’ with their lot in life – but death, suffering and pain do not necessarily incapacitate people.

There are NO resources to help this family. No hospice care. No hospital that they could afford to take her to help her manage the pain and nausea.

They have each other. And they love each other. And they do what they can to soothe the suffering.

God bless these folks. And all people suffering illness and those who care for them – resources or no.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This morning there was a bit of joy for us here in Berlin. I received a call from our friend Jorge T. in San Miguel. A while back we had asked him where we might be able to buy a wheelchair for a child here in Berlin – we were hoping he knew of a place in San Miguel so we wouldn’t have to go all the way to San Salvador. He said that his Rotary Club could probably get a chair. And they did! Rotary Club Siramá based out of San Miguel collaborated with Rotary Club Choluteca in Honduras to obtain a chair for us! (

So Jorge called to set up a time that they could come to Berlin to deliver it. They wanted to go to the community and visit the little girl personally. So we found a time we could all go. It happened to be yesterday – Mother’s Day here in El Salvador.

Ursulo and Jorge from Rotary Club Siramá arrived about 10:15 in a smallish car. We all knew it probably could not make it on the roads in a canton so we loaded the wheelchair in the Pastoral House pick up truck and I drove us down to El Recreo.

I wasn’t entirely sure where Wendy lived in El Recreo – but I was told that we would be met on the main road by the cut off to their house. And sure enough, grandpa Alcides was there waiting for us!

He hopped in the back of the truck and pointed the way. I had never been on this road before – it was a bit rutted with some tight curves, a bit narrow in spots and well off the beaten path. We finally made it. I parked on the street but was soon told to move the truck into the yard because something needed to get by. I thought another truck, but it was an ox cart full of wood.

I went in to greet Grandma Marta and Wendy who were in the house. Wendy was finishing her meal of beans. The men unloaded the chair. We spoke for a while with Alcides and soon Marta carried Wendy out and set her in the chair. We all commented and expressed appreciation of the chair. And Jorge and Ursulo asked questions about Wendy’s condition.

It was all incomprehensible to me so I later asked Jorge to explain in English (he is bilingual). He said “the congenital defect of the girl in her back is named myelomeningocele. She went to surgery when she was one day old. Later she went back to the Operating Room and the neurosurgeon set a valve in her head to regulate the cerebrospinal fluid.”

Marta lifted up Wendy’s shirt so we could see where she had surgery. They must have grafted the area with the skin from her thigh. You can see in one of the photos a large patch.

I googled the condition to learn more. Skip the next 3 paragraphs if you are a little squeamish. It isn’t horribly graphic – mostly sad.

From the MedlinePlus website (A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine NIH National Institutes of Health): Myelomeningocele is the most common type of spina bifida. It is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) to stick out of the child's back. Other congenital disorders or birth defects may also be present in a child with myelomeningocele. Hydrocephalus may affect as many as 90% of children with myelomeningocele. Other disorders of the spinal cord or musculoskeletal system may be seen, including syringomyelia and hip dislocation.

The cause of myelomeningocele is unknown. However, low levels of folic acid in a woman's body before and during early pregnancy is thought to play a part in this type of birth defect. The vitamin folic acid (or folate) is important for brain and spinal cord development.

Children who also have hydrocephalus may need a ventricular peritoneal shunt placed. This will help drain the extra fluid. This procedure is done in the operating room under general anesthesia. It takes about 1 1/2 hours. The child's hair behind the ear is shaved off. A surgical cut in the shape of a horseshoe (U-shape) is made behind the ear. Another small surgical cut is made in the child's belly. A small hole is drilled in the skull. A small thin tube called a catheter is passed into a ventricle of the brain. Another catheter is placed under the skin behind the ear and moved down the neck and chest, and usually into the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity. Sometimes, it goes to the chest area. The doctor may make a small cut in the neck to help position the catheter. A valve (fluid pump) is placed underneath the skin behind the ear. The valve is attached to both catheters. When extra pressure builds up around the brain, the valve opens, and excess fluid drains out of it into the belly or chest area. This helps decrease intracranial pressure.

Wendy does have Hydrocephalus. I could see the tube along the side of her neck and it’s origin on her scalp.

God bless that child!

As we were sitting and talking with Wendy and her grandfather, small talk mostly, Martha came out with bowls of beans for each of us. And then came out with heaping plates of tortillas. And then she came out with huge glasses of lemonade (which gave me no ill effects thank you very much!!)

This is another example of the generosity and hospitality of the folks who have so very little. I learned that this family does not own the home they live in … they are the caretakers of the property. Which means they at least don’t have to pay rent. But the only work the grandfather has is farming. And that does not provide much ‘income’ – especially when there is a bad harvest like the last two years.

I was very happy that Rotary Club helped this family! What a blessing!

And we will keep an eye on them. And I know their partner church in Iowa will also. They already have and I know they will continue!

Wendy in her new chair

Jorge, Alcides, Ursulo, Marta and Wendy

Jorge, Wendy and Grandma Marta

Ursulo, Alcides, Jorge, Wendy

An old wheel chair - they lead a rough life

Jorge and Wendy

Monday, May 9, 2011


First you need to know: I detest Barney … yes … the big purple dinosaur. Always have, and probably always will. It started when he first appeared on the scene. I had two little sons and worked in a kindergarten classroom at the time – he made me very nervous and I just didn’t trust him.

So I have a long running joke with Cecilia – every time we drive or walk by someone who is selling something with Barney on it – be it a blanket, a mug, a stuffed animal … she sing-songs “I want Barney” … and I always give her a look and tell her “no” … I have no idea how that started but she quickly realized my aversion to the critter and she does like to tease me.

This has been going on for over two years I think.

On a trip back to the states last year, I found a Barney stuffed animal at a store – and worse yet – it sings when you push its tummy … and (what was I thinking??) I bought it. Sigh. It haunts me to this day. My sister Sandy, who was in on our little game, told me to give it to her in HER name and then pretend I didn’t know what was in the bag!  A conspiracy between my real sister and my Salvadoran sister!

Cecilia loved it. And she still pulls the darned thing out to terrorize me on occasion. She can be feisty!!

So – while in San Salvador last year with a delegation – was that with you Ankeny?? – We were driving from here to there and we passed a piñata store. And there was Barney hanging on the side of the highway … I yelled “stop!” to our driver Alfredo – who thankfully did NOT slam on the brakes in that heavy traffic – but rather listened to what I wanted to do and then found a safe place to turn around so I could buy a BIG Barney piñata for Cecilia’s birthday. I think this was back in November … Ceci’s birthday was today! We snuck it into the house; black bagged it and snuck it into my bedroom where it has been sitting collecting dust on top of my wardrobe. Finally today we got to beat the daylights out of it!


Cecilia had gone home earlier today to help her mom get ready for her Rosary. That made it easier to take Barney with us to Alejandria later in the afternoon. We did, however, wait till after the Rosary – when it was again just family and close friends – to string him up from a nice high tree!! Thank you Mauricio for your bravery!

Cecilia’s sons Elmer and Marvin stuffed him with the candy I had brought - doing this in a back bedroom (Side note: this was the first time I’d been back in that part of the house (man – there isn’t a whole bunch of privacy for those four “bedrooms” – only a sheet draped between the 4 full sized beds – all with mosquito netting thankfully! And MINIMAL walking space anywhere. Dirt floor, holey walls, old lamina roof … gee – the members of the Pastoral Team are JUST as bad off as the poor in the communities that they serve!! Sigh).
Anyway. Elmer and Marvin enjoyed stuffing him … Mauricio climbed the big tree to string him up and little Freddie (nephew) got to begin the whacking!! Then Marvin … then Blanca insisted that Ceci have a turn. Then Alicia, then finally, Balmore had a few swings.

What a mess of candy! And poor Barney. I ALMOST felt sorry for him. Almost.

It was a good day over all; my moment of peace earlier (see the prior blog) and moments of craziness.

Alisha, Marvin and Elmer stuffing Barney with candy!

Freddy (Cecilia's nephew) and his best friend Barney

Cecilia, Freddy and friend.

Mauricio in the tree catching to rope Elmer is throwing to STRING HIM UP!

Freddy gets the first whack!

Blanca trying to convince Cecilia to give him a whack!  (She ultimately declined!)

Marvin has some power!!

Alicia gets a try!  I wouldn't mess with her!!!

Balmore's turn!  It was great to see him having fun!

Everybody dives for candy!

Freddy got a shirt full!

Blanca got a skirt full - but ultimately gave it all away.

Marvin and his booty

Cecilia a little sad for her friend ...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Total Harmony

There are moments in life that just bring you peace. I hope you’ve had that experience. It can happen anywhere or any time: either when you are alone or with a group of people – whether you are sitting in silence or in a cacophony.

I had a beautiful and wondrous moment of peace this afternoon.

We went to Alejandria for another Rosary. This time at Cecilia’s house because it was her birthday. (That is another story).

We got there a little early to help cut fruit for the “ensalada” drink. It is made of water, a large assortment of small pieces of diced up fruit (apple, grape, strawberry, mango, mamay, watermelon and cantaloupe in this case but it can have whatever in it), and some sugar to taste. We made several gallons which were later put into baggies for later distribution. We also helped make chicken sandwiches. These are made with large French rolls – the majority of the filling is cooked shredded cabbage and shredded carrots. It has minimal chicken. And they do have the occasional bone so you have to be careful with your bites. We finished just in time as the people began to arrive. We started the Rosary pretty much on time at 3:30. Balmore and the youth led the prayers and reflections. And Blanca led the singing with almost everyone joining.

There were about 35 or so people in attendance. The youngest was about 18 months (he fell asleep) and the oldest was about 83. There were lots of in between aged folks.

This was the 7th Rosary of the month … and for you Catholics out there, it was the Glorious Mysteries we prayed. (Thank you Sandy for the pamphlet that explained the Rosary to me! - it is still hard to recite the things other than the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer – I do it in Spanish with everyone here …I’m hoping someday I can do it all not only in Spanish, but also in English!!)

So when was my beautiful and wondrous moment of peace?

Towards the end – and the Rosary here takes about an hour and a half … Blanca began a song that is common for the Rosaries. She has a strong voice. It is not refined or trained and it is very typical of the Latin American Style. You must know – that it isn’t necessarily important that you can carry a tune here – loud is the important thing. But thankfully, Blanca can carry a tune.

She began – and the others joined in almost immediately. Not everyone there could carry a tune. But somehow for this song – their ‘harmony’ worked. And it was absolutely lovely; loudish, heartfelt and sincere.

It made me want to weep – but at the same time my spirit was lifted. I wish I could describe it better. Or better yet, I wish for someday - that you (dear reader) may have this same experience.

Alabemos al Santísimo                    We praise the most Holy
Sacramento del altar                        Sacrament of the altar
En los cielos y en la tierra                In the skies and in the land
Aquí y en todo lugar.                        Here and in every place

Sing slowly and with emotion.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

La Llanes

There is a small community called La Llanes – which is technically a part of San Francisco, but they are so remote that they have basically been forgotten.

I’m not sure what motivated them, but they decided to form a committee to organize themselves. They came to the Pastoral House to see if we could form some sort of relationship. They sent 2 representatives to the Pastoral House for our bi-monthly meeting last February with the hopes of the Pastoral Team willing to work with them. They have not asked for anything specific.

So we decided we needed to go visit them in their own community to learn more about them.

They are not TOO far away: you head up to San Francisco, take the cut off to the left heading towards San Felipe, go through San Felipe Arriba, head down the road towards San Felipe Abajo … at the REALLY tight and scary steep curve, take the fork to the left. I’ve never noticed this little cut off road before. Anytime I’ve been near that tight curve, I am so full of anxiety that I don’t see anything but the scary drop off at the hairpin of that curve!!

So this little dirt road they said I had to take … it was quite narrow and I was doubtful. Knowing the curvey roads in these parts and how narrow the dirt road looked … (picture a double tire track farm road – single vehicle wide) I was a bit apprehensive!

But – I knew we needed to get there so all for one and one for all and pray for the best.

The entire way was narrow, up and down but not too steep. Picture a dirt road about halfway up a steep mountain and skirting it like a belt. A narrow belt. With amountain wall on one side of you and a drop off on the other. Sigh.

But it wasn’t so bad actually. I went slowly. We had to stop briefly for cows – one baby didn’t want or didn’t know how to moooooove to the side of the road and stop for a vehicle to pass.

We got there only 5 minutes late. And EVERYONE was there waiting for us. That was the first of many good things about this community.

We were warmly greeted with smiles and hellos. When we all settled down, we briefly introduced ourselves one by one: Blanca, Cecilia then me. Then we asked questions about them and their community.

And several people gave answers. Not just one or two people! They were a vocal group and very friendly. They laughed when Blanca said something funny. I had asked the committee if they had a census and they told me they had already brought it to the house. They chuckled when I gave the ladies a ‘look’ because they forgot to show it to me … mostly because the 3 of us made it a light moment.

A little bit of data:
- They are ALL related. Not just related … but directly related.
- There is the MOM of all – she is 89 years old. Her name is Agustina Alvarenga
- She has 7 children – 5 of whom live in La Llanes. The other two live in Berlin.
- I will have to count from our census how many grand-children
- Ditto for great grand-children!
- There are 20 families.
- There are 12 houses. Yup … 12 houses for 20 families
- The most families in one house: four.
- The most people in one house: 16 Geesh.

After our big meeting I said I would like to take a photo of the mom and her 5 children. Blanca suggested I take a picture of each household. Not just each family – but each household!

Blanca was asked to step aside a moment to talk about something – I tried to eavesdrop but gave up because I was distracted by other conversations and things happening nearby. It also didn’t look like things I needed to be involved in yet … It was only 3 or 4 minutes that I had stepped away from the main group. I went back to think about beginning the ‘photo-shoot’ and they said they were ready.

The first family stepped front and center all together to get their picture taken!

Really – that fast?? This easy? Cool. So I took their picture and showed it to them

No sooner was I done showing them their picture than the next family stepped up front and center. Then the next and so on. This was the easiest process for taking pictures that I’ve ever experienced.
I’m thinking that this is a community that can organize!!! Woo hoo!

I walked around a little bit afterwards. I said hello to a couple of horses and took a few random photos of the area.

This is an incredibly poor community. They really have been the forgotten ones. The Pastoral Team had already decided that they were going to give each family a sack of fertilizer to help them with their planting. They plan to use funds from the Don Justo Coffee with Dignity project – the Pastoral Team receives all the proceeds of those sales for projects and community support at their discretion. I am totally in agreement with their decision here.

This community has no city water. They are not near a river either so it is a real struggle to get a little bit of water. City Hall comes out every 8 days and each family gets about 2 barrels of water (about 100 gallons).  That is supposed to last them for a week??? The Pastoral Team was talking on the way back and thinking of getting each family (the 20 families… not just the actual households) a big 2500 liter Rotoplas tank for collecting water. So at least in the 6 months of the rainy season, they will have water sufficient water for consumption, bathing, cleaning and laundering.

Here is a shameless plea on my part: Is there any church out there (topside I call you guys in the States) or organization like PW, or Rotary or Lion’s Club or ???? who would like to make a one time donation for a great cause for a beautiful people? It costs about $125 for a tank that holds 2500-liters (which is 660 gallons). The total cost for 20 tanks would be $2,500. (ish)

I am hoping someone or some group will step forward or a whole bunch of you are going to need to drink a WHOLE lot more Don Justo Coffee! Do that anyway! You can order coffee from Betty and Maurice Dyer at

And no – I do not feel guilty about putting in this shameless plea. But it’s part of my job.

Out in the middle of nowhere!  The roads to La Llanes

A bit of a scary turn - you don't know what follows!

Looking across the chasm to where we were headed.  This was a gentle one!

Actually - it was a beautiful drive

The Committee of 10 committed to being leaders of La Llanes -
men and women, some young and some a bit more mature!

Listening to Blanca (far left)

The woman in the green skirt - the matriarch of them all

Mom.  Agustina - she is 89

These women are hearty women!

Listening intently

A sweet sight - a dad with his baby

These folks live in ONE house.  2 members are missing from the picture

There is a spouse ... she was in town ...

Another group of 4 families ... in ONE house

He is deaf - but funny and sweet!

Agustina lives with grand-daughter and great grand-daughter

This is ALL the water able to be obtained from either the city or rain collection

We brought water bottles for each family.  A VERY small token

A happy camper with his water jug!

A small token - but seemed to be greatly appreciated.  This is a very humble group!

We were invited into this house for a snack

This family received a water filter.  And use it!  Therefore . . .

I could SAFELY drink my fresh pineapple drink!

Hanging out with us.  Wanting to  be with us.

Our gracious hostess in the blue skirt!  She sent some juice home with us!

Inside someone's house - a worship place. This is where they hold their Rosary for the Festival of the Flowers.
A young man was very proud of the fact they have a chorus group!   And instruments!!

Cecilia bought a rooster for her sister

The "bakery" - such as it is ... but how COOL they have one!

The road heading back out of town.  I hated to leave them.