Today's designated blogger: Rae Pooley
This morning I was the last one to roll out of bed and begin the day. In Berlin, where we are staying, beauty sleep is not something that is believed in. At 11:30 PM, the dogs begin barking. Around 2, the roosters have decided that it is morning and the day should begin. Approximately 4 AM is when cars and busses will blare their horns to ensure that the those who missed the Rooster Alarm are now awake (besides Leslie-she sleeps through it all by some miracle). Back home, I groan and protest at the idea of waking up, so naturally the habit carried over. Only now it was worsened by the many added interruptions.
After *finally* awakening I soon found myself in the back of our Kia and on the way down the dusty road once again. Once more I spent most of the journey with my camera in hand trying to catch the perfect shot of the beautiful valleys and mountains around us.
We began by giving our fertilizer gifts to the families at Casa de Zinc. Once again we were welcomed with smiles. The families, especially the women, seemed more at ease and open with us first-timers as we were no longer strangers. We played with the children while men of all ages lifted the over 200 lb bags of fertilizer (el bono) over their shoulders. A member of each family receiving el bono signed by their name saying they received their gift. Some signed with a fingerprint as they were unable to sign their name.
We then got back on the road and made it to Casa de Zacate's community center. Interestingly, the community seemed more reserved than usual. They had almost flip-flopped personalities with the neighboring Zinc community. We all agreed that we are curious about what the social dynamic of tomorrow's fiesta will be like.
We had a meeting with Zacate's board of leaders, or directiva, and delivered their fertilizer as well. We ate lunch and then found ourselves back on the road to do our door-to-door greetings for the outlying Zacate members.
Our first stop was a bombed-out schoolhouse that is occupied by 5 adults and 10 children. None of the children were wearing shoes and a few did not have shirts. One boy's shorts had a gap in the front and nothing was covered. A kitten lay dying in the midst of the many people around. The family's livestock appeared malnourished and there was a general aire of chaos around the place. After getting permission from a member of the directiva, it was agreed upon that this house would receive double the amount of food and soap and medicine that everyone else got. The need was extremely present.
We were only able to visit 6 families in Zacate today, but it was still a productive day and we returned home with racing minds and heavy hearts. The level of poverty we saw caught us off guard. The people we visited seemed to be in a slightly worse situation than those from Zinc, and we thought we had already seen the worst we could see.
This does not mean we should be disheartened. These families are benefitting greatly from our help and their involvement with the Pastoral Team has changed their lives for the better. They have become organized and now have a voice. We are truly making a difference here, even if it is only a gradual one.
I am proud of the people I am with this week. We work hard. We feel God present in our work. We are letting this experience take hold and change the way we view life.
We will return as different people.