2012 Special: Growing Wings


It would be a tragedy if I didn’t follow suit of so many other digital authors and not disclose my inner, darkest secrets by way of a reflection of the 2012 year of my life.

While there is some sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek reference in the noted piece above, realistically I think it would be wise to share an overview, an overall thought, if you will, of the 2012 year in my life.

Walking up my snow covered steps into my apartment tonight I mulled over the different aspects and ideas of terming this piece, “Would it be ‘Mobile Minutes’? Should it be ‘O’? Do I start over with a new letter? No. That’s stupid.” However, I think the standard “2012 Special” does suffice to bring attention and a simple thought to capture the overall idea of what this year was all about should also be included.

Growing Wings

Thankfully I am not a bird, and by no means do i recognize myself even being remote to angelic hosts. However, in the first time in twenty five years, I felt the drive for adventure and I went for it. The later part of 2011 I found myself recovering, searching, and trying to put pieces together in order to find the next part of my journey. It turns out traumatic events, like a divorce, will do that to you.

Below you’ll find the links; yes the master link files, to some of the bigger moments of the 2012 year for FilingThePapers and myself.

These are just a few of the many reasons to be thankful for the last year. New friends, same family, growing each and every day. by now it is January 1st, 2013 and I’m feeling alive and well. To all of those who have read, written, contributed, prayed, screamed, and laughed; thank you! Let’s be sure that 2012 is merely a memory by the time we get done with 2013!

Let’s soar like eagles…

-D-

P.S. New Year’s started on a great note! Check this out by the Kansas City Star! The Kansas City Shock got named dropped with the big guys in the soccer world!

Mobile Minutes: Modern Barbers


I need a haircut. It is that time once again. I tried to form a new “usual” up north, but last night their “walk-in’s welcome” failed miserably when no one was there.
I have court today, and with my shirt and tie, I’d like to look the role. So, I left early today with Modern Barbers on my mind.
This is the barber shop in the town I went to college in. They are the classic, small town, small talk barber shop. They were the first place I had my hair cut when I wasn’t home. That was in 2005, seven years later Jared still remembers how I like my cut.
It is no secret that when I moved back home, I would travel to get my hair chopped. I thought I would grow out of it, but I kept finding myself in the chair.
Today was special. Jared told me that his father, the founder of the place, died in June. His father cut my hair in 2005 and introduced me to the town. I later found out that he grew up ten miles from my hometown. Small world. I told Jared my story, the divorce, Subway, and of course the Kansas City Shock.
That’s the moment he told me about his organization, Abundance Ministries, that ships crates of goods to country’s in Central America.
Our final discussion before we parted ways?
If I knew anyone interested in donating soccer balls to Central America…
It’s always amazing to see God remind you to stay on the path you’re on.
…not to mention my hair looks much better for only $10…

-D-

O: A Working Hobby


*Pauses*

*Stares out window for dramatic snapshot like many yuppies of my kind…*

Yesterday, as you can find through here, I discovered a comment made on this site about the concept of myself [the author] needing to stop whining about being stressed out, get my priorities straightened out, stay away from the soccer concept of life, and frankly…grow up.

From yesterday’s comments:

wahhh.

Perhaps this is why a few people told you not to take on a soccer team right now. Concentrate on paying off debt, stretching those wings and moving out on your own, etc.

And the same individual from an earlier post:

Work where you don’t get paid is called a hobby. Get over it. Pay your debts, then play with the soccer dream. It’s called being responsible. Grow up and stop whining. Yes, you’re whining.

I think it is worth stating that both of these comments have settled unwell within me for the past day. At first it was rage, and after learning more about the comments it was anger, sorrow, and truthfully; sadness. I appreciate anyone that could come out and spill their own thoughts, and after all; I am the one that approves the comments on this site anyways. If I didn’t want the world to see them, I’d ignore them and delete them. However, a day later since waking up to this most previous comment, I’ve had some time to sit down, think, cool down, and give some serious thought to idea of growing up, priorities, and really; as weird as it may be: taking a closer look at my involvement with this hobby known as soccer.

First, I think it is wise to address the ideas of bills, work, and payments. It is vital to explain that I am paid on a store-by-store basis. I have 45 Subway’s that I keep track of each month, and depending on my quality of work; I can get paid between $60-$70 per store [I'll let you figure out the rest]. That’s it. That’s the secret of my job. It is very stressful, and extremely rewarding. I absolutely love development on all levels [and I blame some of that towards Simcity], but if I run the maximum allowance of stores each month, per day [3], that means that of the 30-31 day month [minus February], I’m inside stores for 15 days. Truthfully, that gives me a bit of free time. Now, the other question could be this, “Well, why aren’t you in there more? I firmly believe that I do spend the proper amount of time in each store [we are required to stay a minimum of two hours per store], and I think that currently [though by contract I can't show you] my current sales percentages within these stores…well…they should easily speak for themselves.

Secondly, as for that lovely ‘moving out’ idea that goes through the mind of so many [including this wandering soul]; I’m more then thrilled with the notion of living on my own [again], and moving on with this phase in life. That’s why I have housing applications for different apartment complexes within the area. I think some would call that…proactive? Sadly, there is one slight issue that has to be resolved prior to having an apartment; I’ve learned. This issue is known by a simple phrase: credit score. It isn’t that I have a credit score, it’s the fact that mine is still buried in the low, low, low 600′s. Due to this, many housing companies look and shudder. The bad news is that even high interest credit cards won’t accept me [I tried out of entertainment], but the good news is that I’ll finally roll over in December. What that translates to is that I am trying, and the terrible credit score is on me, but one way or another I’ll be heading out [and if I don't get out now and'll have to later, I'll be paying my parents rent on a monthly basis].

Finally, this hobby as some individuals enjoy referring to it [or at my parents house; Subway is work and the Kansas City Shock is business]. This is not something that was granted over night, and I’ve endured enough ‘old school’ thought on what “work” is for the past six months that I should be able to write a thesis over the matter. I know the age old debate, and truthfully; I don’t really care anymore. The simple idea that I’m able to do what I do at Subway, purchase a business license, legally own a LLC in the state of Missouri, host a tournament, have a website, do pressers with the media, and even sell merchandise. I know that still comes off to some as a hobby, and I suppose to any extent I could even call it a hobby, but I’ll also tell you this. When you stir up a spirit in a city of 1.5 million people that a professional women’s soccer team is getting installed in their home town, and when local companies call you; curious about sponsorship packages, and when NCAA coaches send e-mails, inquiring on coaching positions…eh…it begins to become a little more difficult to call it a hobby. On the exact opposite side, it would also be easy to say that the Peeps [U-8] soccer is a hobby, and to an extent again, it could be that, but when those parents, those kids are in church that Sunday because they watched the coaching staff and they knew their stories…it’s not a hobby. When the 18 year old girl in Santa Cruz del Quiche is crying because though she loves soccer, she remembers being homeless an relates to your story about God’s grace; that’s not a hobby.

That’s a lifelong commitment.

In conclusion from this sub-partial, couple days too long, rant; I’d like for anyone reading this to take this much away. Our society easily dictates what’s a job and what is a hobby, but I speak to truth to you in saying this: if your hobby or job doesn’t reflect what God has done in your life; you fail either way.

How can growing a beautiful game because Christ grows in me daily, be considered a waste of time?

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Just 1 Ministries


I encourage you to take a look at the video below:

This organization, founded by two of the members of MoVal, and good friends of mine [not to mention one of their daughter's plays soccer for me with the Peeps], is looking for some votes. These are the same folks who assisted in ensuring that the soccer clinic in Guatemala was a success, and have been a massive encouragement to me through the past year. If you don’t mind, simply click here, and scroll to the bottom where it says “The Stickleys (Just 1 Ministries)”, and just click “The video has my vote!”, and that’s it.

Just 1 is a organization that is assisting Casa de Mi Padre in financial support from the United States to Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala. It also assists in organizing groups to travel to Guatemala from the US to work and play with the orphans of Casa de Mi Padre. One simple click, is one massive step forward in assisting a great cause. You can find out more about Just 1 at their website.

-D-

Guatemala: Day 5


How can 67 degrees be so cold?

For a person who loves the summer and winters of home, you’d think that 67 degrees would be…pleasant. As it turns out, when you’re around 67 degrees from the moment you wake up, through the rain, and into the night; you feel awful.

This was the case on Day 6. We woke to clouds, rain, and some crazy cool temperatures. Because of its location in the mountains; the weather patterns in Santa Cruz are in two seasons: wet and dry. We were in the wet season this week, and it showed at school when we were running our program and it began to rain. I shivered almost all day long, wearing my jacket most if not all of the day. I tried running around, playing soccer, I just couldn’t get warm. I was terrified of coming down with a cold, in June, 1600 miles away from home!

During lunch, I just sat in the room with my jacket on and ate sandwich after sandwich. Hoping that I’d start feeling better. Thankfully, when I started getting active back in the park setting up for day two of the crusades, my body started to feel better, but I nearly swear to you that I was running a fever. I could just feel the heat radiating off of me, and my head was congested.

At the crusade though, youth night, I tried to put it all away and just poured myself into that night. Running around, grabbing youth, making sure our translators were moving people from the door to their seats, and just about everything in between.

We had over 300 people that night, all of our seats were filled, and the volume was loud. Eight people made decisions to become Christians, soccer balls were given out as door prizes, and the crowd was introduced to a new song, “Trading My Sorrows”. Now, when I learned this song, years ago; I learned with a man who turned the chorus into a series  of “up-downs”, whispering and then yelling and jumping around. I figured, “Why not?” It was so comforting to see the ladies up front jumping around by the end of the night, I think we’re starting a trend in Guatemala.

After the evening was set, we packed up the entire auditorium, said our goodbyes to the local pastors and their kids, and headed back to our hotel to pack. Truthfully, I was just in high spirits. I knew Day 6 was going to be a day of relaxation, I felt that we had achieved a high great things throughout the week, and I believed that everyone was on a high note. We were leaving Guatemala in peace.

-D-

Guatemala: Day 4


After allowing my knee to heal up a bit, Day 4 turned into a ‘full fledge’ day of ministry. We started in the morning by eating an early breakfast and heading out to one of the local schools. At each school, besides children asking me if I was indeed an ironman, we conducted a short hourly program for them. Starting with water guns spraying the children, and candy be thrown, and ending with a local pastor speaking to the children. In between these actions, a world renowned musician, Chiz Rider; a trumpet player, would perform his many talents including playing a song through a garden hose…literally.

After the schools were finished in the morning, including some free time with the kids [playing soccer], we packed back up and headed to the hotel for another day of lunch meat sandwiches. Following about two hours of down time [to which a few of our crew nearly went insane], we headed out into the part of Santa Cruz, del Quiche and promoted the crusade that was taking place that night. Over four thousand flyers were passed out, hundreds of balloon animals were created, and several “Gracious” comments were made. This was leading up to our big event that night in the local civic center next to the park.

During all of this, we also had a specific mission at Casa De Mi Padra: a birthday party. Several of the orphans, we don’t have actual birthdays for, so we and ImpactJust1 decided to throw together a large birthday party for everyone. We expected a massive water fight, but the clouds wouldn’t let up [it turns out when the clouds come in, it gets cold]. Instead the kids opened their gifts from the States; including Lego’s, remote control cars, and a very special group present: a trampoline.

Lego's were easily the #1 gift for each kid!

Get your jump on!

We played with the kids and their presents for a few hours, and indulged on cake and Domino’s Pizza [yes, the same one from the States], and eventually started our trek back to the hotel to clean up for the festival that was taking place that evening. In the morning we had passed out fliers to everyone throughout the streets around the market, and Chiz was back to his trumpeting ways.

By the time the festival came around at 7:00 PM, the orphans and a handful of people, not even twenty, were within this MASSIVE auditorium. There was NO way this place was going to fill up with the local people.

I stood back and the owner of the orphanage told me to start counting around 8:15 for a idea of numbers.

50.

100.

200.

300.

Amazingly, even though the space didn’t necessarily represent the numbers, the staff and the people were fascinated with the amount of individuals. Chiz played the trumpet, the orphanage did a skit [very good by the way], and a local pastor followed up with a message.

By the time the night had ended; around 9:00 PM, the crew had one thing on mind: sleep. Day 4 started to show the wear and tear of the previous days on the crew, including myself. We were just tired. After a small worship service, including the high and low points of our trip so far [for each staff member], I got into a rather…heated…moment with the owner of the orphanage, based off a comment made about people [staff] acting up in the back of the auditorium during the invitation. Already feeling a bit of stress, I snapped back at the individual, explaining for myself the soccer team that had come in only for a few moments. I at least wanted to explain from my perspective what was going on in the back. A few exchanges took place, and we went our separate ways.

Truthfully, my hands were shaking with frustrating and anger.

While heading up stairs, I plugged in my phone and the two elders on our trip; pulled me inside a room and started speaking to me about the conversation that had taken place. I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t want to get sent home, I didn’t want to get kicked out of MoVal, I had every possible irrational thought going through my head. Even explaining my fears to them, I found myself choking up strictly from the fear of not having the sensation of a loving church body. Now, one of the elders daughter’s plays on the Peeps U-8 soccer with me, so I had known him and his wife the longest [his wife had earlier told me she couldn’t look at me, and went into another room, crying].

That irrational fear prompted one event: love.

The elders explained to me that I had done the right thing, and that they were proud of me, and happy I was part of team. They were grateful that Majo and I went to the team that had walked in, and that I shouldn’t be fearful of being kicked out of the church. One of the men left quietly after that conversation, and I was left with the other and his wife. His wife came up to me and, trying not to cry again, said, “I felt like my child was being attacked”, and quickly followed with, “We love you, and we’re here for you.” I felt so, so, so safe. I felt unconditionally loved, and I felt as if all those times I got called out for ‘looking for an argument’ [not saying they were all not done on purpose] were null and void this time around due to knowing that I did the right thing. I left that room, contacted Darco through Skype and explained what had taken place.

I witnessed unconditional love dictated towards me, and it felt so, so good. Some may shrug their shoulders at that, but with a past like mine, there are some fears that are so hard to shake. This was a huge fear.

It’s always pleasing to say that the owner of the orphanage and myself came eye-to-eye and are on excellent terms. Humbly I say that, and in the end; I look forward to working with him in the future.

Never a dull moment.

-D-

Guatemala: Day 6


Greetings,

While I’m supposed to get Day’s 4 and 5, I’m well behind, and I’m sitting at Day 6, aiming towards Day 7; our last day.

Today was a day that I woke up, and realized that while battling a growing cold [yikes], today was a day of rest. In the events of this week, this mission team always made an effort to take the last day in country and just enjoy the culture, people, and surprises. Today was that day.

We started early, saying goodbye to the orphans from Casa De Mi Padre, who were kind enough to visit Hostel Santa Maria to wish us goodbye. I spent some time with Benito, the little boy MC and Jim are sponsoring from Casa De Mi Padre, we discussed futbal, television, Real Madrid, and Barca. It was a small moment where I got to just hang with an orphan for a few moments.

Eventually, in the blistering [shivering] air, we started our leave from Santa Cruz, and began our three hour journey to Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua, as the name implies, does related to antique, or old. Old Spanish missions, and three old/active volcanoes that randomly spit out smoke and a bit of lava on a daily basis.

After one hour on the Guatemalan roads, we only had one person car sick, within two hours  I had already downed a bag of banana chips with cinnamon sugar [wonderful!]. By hour three we were all crabby and anxious to get out of the bus, and onto enjoying our day.

We pulled into Antigua, and took a look on top of a large hill at the view of the city within the valley of the area volcanoes. I would admit here that some great feeling or sensation came over me at this time, but I was thinking about shopping.

After the scenic view, we heads to La Fork, a very fancy restaurant along one of the mountainsides in the area of Antigua.  I enjoyed a shrimp pizza with some wonderful coffee, and picked on Majo [translator] for most of the meal. Afterwards we went down into our hotel, along the main street of Antigua, and unpacked. The hotel used to be the presidential suite while Antigua was the national capital. We were actually given skeleton keys for our rooms. Original locks from hundreds of years ago, very cool for the history nerd in me.

Following the unpacking moments, Majo and myself headed out into the market. Why? Simple. Haggling. I had a small shopping list:

  • Pepsi
  • Coffee
  • Jersey’s
  • Bags
  • Bracelets

In the beginning, Majo and myself learned that we’ve got to keep myself away from the negotiations, especially the jersey’s. Why? Because once I was viewed, instantly the price went up on the large and extra large shirts. Thankfully, thanks to a skills translator, we were able to get eight jersey’s for Q355 [around $55, or in other words; $5.59 per jersey].  Following of which it poured rain…again. We walked through the rain getting to an indoor market, knocking out great deals on the bracelets. By then it was 6:30 and dinner was to be served. I was blessed with the opportunity to go into “& Cafe”, closest thing to Starbucks, and order a espresso double at dinner. It was fantastic, a wonderful meal, plenty of laughs, and a great opportunity to unwind.

Espresso Double…WONDERFUL!

However, I still had to find the coffee and Pepsi. Like most small towns [which Antigua is not], most shops close down early at night. Because of this Majo, myself, and some of the team found ourselves in a ‘tourist trap’ of a store getting coffee [ouch!]. I decided afterwards that the night was still young, and we needed to go find the Pepsi. Majo and I, in the dark started traveling the streets to find this ever present creature; Pepsi in a glass bottle.

We searched for an hour; nothing. During the time though, the local police made their fingers into a gun and fired in our proximity; creepy, and we saw a man getting mugged. This gringo was scared and ready to head back. Upon our return, I decided to check the hotel restaurant for any hopes of the glass Pepsi. Of courses we found it:

Q66.

Nearly $3.00 a bottle, it was the orange drink of Sunday all over again.

I swallowed my pride, shelled it out, and went on my way; slightly ticked, with Majo laughing in the background.

In the end though, today was pleasant, peaceful

Antigua, Guatemala

Tomorrow we begin the decent, heading to Guatemala City, Guatemala; boarding our flight, and heading home. I should be back home by 8:00 PM CST. Here’s to safe travels, and a wonderful country [I'll get Day 4 and 5 up tomorrow].

-D-

Guatemala: Day 3


Greetings,

Tom, one of the other men on the team, was sick on day two; leading up and during his sermon at church. He was dehydrated and whatever else the case was; really, he wasn’t feeling well. Because of this, it really makes no surprise to me that I woke up at 5:00 AM Monday morning with my stomach making noises that I dare not repeat. After the prior evening’s milk/cookie and Skype event with Darco; I awoke the next morning to realize that the milk was a HORRIBLE idea, and it resulted in some massive dehydration and all around fact of this: I was sick. No breakfast, couldn’t keep it down. Living off of peppermints and prayers [prior to, the toilet was also...hmmm...questionable in forms of operation; thank you gravity fed water]. I got into the breakfast group, and already anxious about the soccer clinic later in the day, and nerves were the least of my issues. Thankfully, those who had traveled several times had some great medicine designed just to kill the bacteria that had entered my system. Plenty of water and a few pop tarts later; I was almost human.

After a rough morning, I found myself out and about with the crew at one of the local churches; we were painting the church. However, we quickly learned that the paint we’re using was oil based, meaning if it got on your skin; it was going to take a while. So, our crew left after painting the building in a record time, covered in paint and smiles. Furthermore, Marco was kind enough to get me a Pepsi, at no cost; trying to balance out the 8 Q’s beverage of the night before.

I also do this in the States, but for a specific price. We can negotiate….

At lunch I still wasn’t feeling the best, but I was getting rather envious of the fact that some of the people in our group were riding on the top [literal] of the bus that we were in. I’m an adult, I wanted to ride on top [which sounded so much like an adult]. However, the other adults [the real ones] informed me that I couldn’t because I had to run the clinic first.

The clinic.

Thankfully, to edge out the nerves; the crew found a coffee pot and I had my first cup of coffee since getting down here. Instantly my stomach felt better, I felt better, and the coffee was absolutely amazing!

We started with the rain, trying to figure out how to get into the building for the clinic [indoor field]. Indoor field was under construction, no use. The outside field was…dirt and puddles from the previous nights rain. I headed out with the crew, and helped set up the sound system. Found Marco, my security blanket, and we took off setting up three drills and watched 90 kids show up.

That’s when the ‘PLAN’ unraveled into chaos.

One of the local pastors contacted me and said through Marco that he had a club team that was wanting to come in and learn from a “Master Coach from the United States”…amazingly; that was in reference to myself. So, while the kids were running their drills, I was ‘teaching’ this entire club on proper call control and the advantages of size and skill of the mental aspect of soccer.

The futbal club looking for answers…

I’m not sure if any of that stuck; I was winging it at that moment. Finally, I asked them a simple question:

Do you want to play the American’s?

That started everything. Of course they did! So, we cleared the field of the nino’s and nina’s, and brought in the best eleven of this team, and the “best” eleven of the American’s down here. Two halves, fifteen minutes a piece.

It was a muddy, wet mess. The Guatemalans were better ball handlers [duh], but we understood the usefulness of getting the ball to stop in the water puddles. At halftime the score was 0-1 in favor of Guatemala. Now that the entire schedule had been shot to pieces, we decided that I would preach at halftime, give them a second half of game, that way they would stay for the second match and hear me speak.

With Marco and myself, both covered in mud and sweat; we just started to talk to the group. The cops had shut down the road behind the field, so traffic wouldn’t interfere, the masses of people were outside their Chicken Buses listening to the PA system, and I simply told them the story of this: this site. The divorce. Homeless. Broke. Nothing. I gave a testimony to them, showing them that I was in many of their boats, I cried the same way they did, prayed the same way they did; I was a “great American” who was as humble as they were. While the children enjoyed it [I think], it was this club team that I nailed; they were in the age range of 16-18 both male and females. Along the front, these girls were just broken, devastated, crying their eyes out because they could relate. It was at that point one of the local pastors came up and gave an invitation to the masses to follow these footsteps, to find this man named Jesus Christ, and dare to be different.

We had 90 there; 25 raised their hands to follow through in this process. The majority of those hands were from that random club team that showed up. Even more fascinating for me, as a person who works primarily with women’s soccer, is looking at the female players up front, and seeing the tears, broken hearts, the realization that I am no different then several of them. These kids came to play futbal, and left with a new life. I was hoping that even through this past years process, that I would be able to use that this week. When I mentioned the word, “homeless”, suddenly there was no laughter or games going on, on the side. Everything focused up front.

They could relate.

Afterwards our crew found ourselves at Pollo Compero again for dinner; I chilled with my security blanket(s), and dined on fried chicken and ice cream. Afterwards, we spend a little while at Casa De Mi Padre, and because soccer was over…I was granted my wish. I was able to ride on top of the bus, and I can tell you this; there is nothing more amazing then riding on top of that thing. You can see everything from an elevated angle, no exhaust fumes. Needless to say that it has quickly become my home. The youth do not even ask if I’m getting on top, one of them just asks for my for my bag prior to myself hopping on top.

As the day wound down, with a BUNCH of worn out gringos, I was able to take a moment and just process the insanity that had taken place throughout the day.

I think the best thing I could write is simply this:

Years and years ago I found myself heading to college, to study to become an international missionary. We all know that it didn’t work out that way, and truthfully I caught some flack from family members because I didn’t “follow God’s will”. I can say this; years later. I’m standing on a futbol field with a bunch of players from Guatemala, wanting to learn more about the game, curious about this man known as Christ, and just want to play.

It is safe to say that God does what God wants to do, regardless if we’re ready and willing.

No caption needed.

-D-

Guatemala: Day 2


Greetings,

I’m grateful that my body clock allows me to respond to dogs barking and horns honking as a cue to get up. I awoke in a strange world, farm land outside my window, best house in the morning. I stared off to the mountains in the distance and I thought to myself:

Welcome to Guatemala.

I stumbled down the stairs, after a lovely hot shower in our bathroom on the fourth floor [con: no internet that high; pro: best seat in the house view-wise]. After trying not to freak out about getting the bathwater in my mouth [for fear of sickness]. Breakfast was…Americano [aka cereal and pop-tarts], being safe for the stomachs. For the first time in literal years, I gave my first devotion to the group. Simply asking them what their drive was for being here. Where their passion was. What their reason was for being over 1,000 miles away from home. Vacation? Tourism? Something more? I spoke about my passion, the draw, from the beginning of this site last July, to Darco, to life as a whole. I think they responded well, just always hitting the idea and concept of constantly keeping yourself in check for the reason you’re located where you’re located and why you’ve chosen to be there.

Afterwards we headed into the market place in El Quiche. Out there, the orphans from Casa De Mi Padre and our lovely translators gathered with us and we hit the streets; talking of God, soccer, and our activities for the week. I saw live chickens, dead chickens, live dogs, and past our drunks. Sunday morning was all about the market for this town located in the mountains. The youth in our team went up to the fountain [ironically that of an old Mayan idol], and started making balloon animals for all the children that flocked to the scene.

Roaming through the streets of Santa Cruz, Del Quiche.

I must admit that it was heartbreaking to see all these children roaming about the  market selling anything from shampoo to gum, just trying to earn money for their family [and in hopes of being able to eat]. You want to just give them all your money, but at the same time; you knew better.

While in the market place I was the ‘watch tower’ for the group. Truthfully, due to insane height advantage I have over the common person; I could easily find our entire crew in a moments notice; including the orphans when needed. We walked through the market, I enjoyed catching up the on Euro Cup, including gloating about Spain tying Italy [which I quickly learned is NOT something to do in Central America; still a bit sore about the whole invasion thing]. I was able to see the youth working with so many locals, just explaining to them of the reasons of why we’re here, and what we have to share with him. Encouragement doesn’t even begin to describe.

Afterwards, we had lunch back at the hotel, and headed out to two back-to-back church services. The first was in a small place, that used to be a garage. A new roof [tin and aluminum sheet] has been installed, and the A/C wasn’t working. Packed house of course, especially when the ‘gringos’ take up half the building, and I was  “wise” enough to sit directly over the one hole to which the sun shined directly on my neck.

I thought I was going to die.

Maria, one of our translators nearly fainted next to me, and the elevating heat nearly did us in. We were able to find out how the translation process would take place on stage [important for Day 3]. Small sentences, easy words; frequently pauses. After about ninety minutes, we said are farewells and headed across Del Quiche [I have since been corrected on the name of town of 40,000 people] to another church.

What wasn’t planned was the dinner that we arrived to at the second church. The ladies within the church prepared us a dinner of corn, rice, potatoes, carrots and our choice of beef or pork stuffed with…other things. Truthfully, the meal was absolutely fantastic, though at this point through way of heat; I had already created a rather nasty headache and was praying for rest…and sleep…and high power medication. Also, because of my curiosity and Majo’s [translator] poor guidance and peer pressure, I found myself inside a store getting ready to purchase a glass bottle of Pepsi.

I was charged 8 Q’s [currency]. I paid for it with 10 Q’s, got my change and left. It was later at night that I learned everyone else who wasn’t a red head in a dress shirt and slacks, paid between 1-3 Q’s for the same beverage.

Yep, I had been had by a kid half my size [and probably age]. It was at this point I decided that the translators were my security blanket and I would not leave a group without them by my side; either Marco, Majo, or Becky. After dinner worship service dos started up; this concrete block of a building was nice and cool, but the common audience must be the average age of 101 because the music was insanely loud. I mean, we’re talking a rock concert but with hymns from books of the 1880′s [bit tongue and cheek there]. So, after my ears had been destroyed, we packed up and headed back to Hostel Santa Maria. By this time I had received some much needed medication for my head. We had a short worship service downstairs of the hostel, and then went our different ways to our rooms. I stopped and talked to Marco, Majo, and Becky; outlining the events for the next day; as day three was focused on this random soccer clinic, and I hit the sack. I was nervous about the next day, not sure how many people would show up, and if the rain would hold off. So many questions, so many prayers, and like that; day two was in the books.

-D-

Guatemala: Day 1


Greetings,

White hat? Me. Where? Middle of bus on “jump seat”; half the size of a standard seat. Four hours from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Santa Cruz, El Quiche.

I’m writing this in the hotel in Santa Cruz, El Quiche located in the heart of Guatemala. I felt that it would be wise, if given the time [which I have] to give you, the reader, the supporter, and the friend the adventures that are taking place in this beautiful country.

Because of the insanity that has taken place in the first few days, I have to catch up, so like all other posts, I’ll be breaking them down on a daily basis; that way, you, like myself can stay slightly organized.

Let’s begin in the beginning:

After a very late night of packing, running around, and possibly…maybe…a date Friday night; Saturday morning started with Darco taking me down to the local international airport. After nearly dying three times, we arrived in tact at the airport, and I said my goodbyes and found the group. With the group together, we searched the small airport and gathered our breakfast essentials [Starbucks] and boarded the plane. Naturally, myself at 6’5 isn’t very complimentary of the planes that we fly in. We took off, and I had a lovely discussion of the trip to Guatemala with one of the wonderful women on our trip [and a lifetime ticket holder for the Shock I might add]. When we landed in Houston, it was a  a bit hectic crossing one of the largest airports in the United States, but per usual with this trip; we made it with ease. I texted Darco throughout the trip, just so someone had an idea of my whereabouts.

Last taste of home…

When boarding in Houston, I learned of the vital importance of turning the data feature off on my EVO prior to hitting international waters [some random story of a $6,000 data bill in Paris emerged from this].

Three, very long, cramped hours later I arrived in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The airstrip…unseen until you actually land. If you come in too steep…SMACK!…cliff side. It’s one of those airports. When going through customers [which I'm pleased to say we had no issues with at all], I was able to just look around the airport, a touch of the country [no Starbucks by the way]. It was hot and deadly in the sun, but once you stepped into the shade…dropped twenty degrees. That was my introduction to the Guatemala weather. Low humidity, evil sun, freezing cold nights. In other words: perfect.

The rest of the crew, who had been here for a week, greeted us once we got out of the airport. We boarded our future home for four hours [an old, non-A/C, diesel bus]. However, first, we needed to stop for lunch in Guatemala City. Our solution: Burger King.

After a questionable Whopper [at best], and learning that Guatemala runs off Pepsi [win]; we boarded the wagon and took off to El Quiche. While the miles aren’t really that long [maybe 100], because of the grade of the roads and questionable conditions of them; it took us four hours. You wouldn’t find these grades legally in the United States. Furthermore, I was quickly introduced to the concept called, “The Chicken Bus”. These little speed demon mock-school buses actually increase speed when going up the hill, because of this, they tend to pass our little bus along hairpin corners going up volcanoes in the rain [I'm not exaggerating this time].

Halfway up we reached our first ‘break’ point; a little tourist trap with random bracelets and sausage hanging from the same dead tree.

Welcome to Guatemala.

I denied the random fried potato chips and questionable pineapple drink, and boarded the bus [after getting a five minute sunburn in the rays].

Around dark [no idea what time that is because of the time shift because no mas daylight savings time] we finally pulled into to Pollo Compero [ummm...fried chicken and pizza place?], and knocked down a random dinner [didn't die], and headed off to our hotel.

We are blessed with Hostel Santa Maria; it is an amazing place. Wireless internet, enclosed privacy gate, and nice, hot [nearly scalding] water. Absolutely amazing. Afterwards, we headed off towards Casa De Mi Padre and surprising the orphans who were waiting for us and singing, “My Father’s House” by Audio Adrenaline. Tons of little nina’s and nino’s came flying out of the building and grabbed onto all of their favorites from the past and there was much of crying and laughing and everything in between.

Finally, after a very long day of traveling; we returned to our lovely hotel and hit the sacks.

After the Foursquare check in, I nailed 16 points at this location, and was one day away from being the mayor.

Day 1 was a success, though I questioned the ability of coffee.

-D-