This past summer the Duus family–Erlan, Nancy, and 14-year-old twins Evan and Ethan–invested their lives alongside Pastor Araceli in Guatemala City and discovered that their work on behalf of the orphaned children and the “Grannies” yielded a harvest of love.
On their second day in the country, the orphanage (Jesucristo es mi Casa) received a baby less than three weeks old who had been abandoned in a bar by his drunken mother. His story is not uncommon and this precious child was quickly smothered with love. The next day, they took all the children to a park with a playground and ice cream kiosk. As the days flew by, Evan and Ethan played non-stop with the children surrounded by the background noise of barking dogs and screaming parakeets. The boys also worked to make the concrete and exposed metal bar environment safer and learned how to weld in the process.
One day, one of the little girls gashed the back of her head. The staff had Doctor “D” look at it and when he said she needed stitches, they invited him along for the ride. To his surprise, the van stopped in front of a dentist’s office and everyone piled out. Pastor Araceli shared that in the past they go to the dentist who uses the drugs he has and dental stitches to help the children. To his further surprise, the dentist asked Doctor Duus to do the stitching … and so he did! On a related note, it was difficult to see all of the children severely infested with lice and Erlan spent time working with the staff on other medical protocols and tips to care for both the children and the elderly ladies.
One of Nancy’s main investments was with the women of Jesucristo es mi Refugio. They spent a month and a half working together on beautiful craft items like the sachets of potpourri found in boutique stores in the United States. They bought a sewing machine and took great pride in their increasing skill.
As they adjusted to the culture, there were many surprises including seeing five people on a single motorcycle, three people hanging onto the outside of a car, a woman in the market with three-foot basket on her head, and armed guards on almost every corner. Every day, they made a run to the supermarket to pick up huge sacks of discarded fruits and vegetables and salvaged bags of strawberries for the freezer and future smoothies. As if these adventures weren’t enough, they experienced a 7.1 earthquake. As Nancy wrote in an update, “Never a dull moment!”
Nancy was surprised at how close she was to those she met and how they became a family in such a short period of time. She was continually amazed at how little the Guatemalans have and yet their ability to make something–even incredible soup–from nothing. But most importantly, they were encouraged by how often everyone prayed for them. On a larger level, they discovered how the Guatemalan people constantly hug and love and accept others exactly as they are. So, the Duus family left Guatemala full of love from their shared times in prayer, devotions, at church, but mostly working, eating, and playing together as part of a larger family in God.
What now? The Duus family is adjusting back to life in the United States with a fresh perspective about material blessings while simple things like seeing strawberries or cilantro at the store trigger a wealth of precious memories.