Editor’s note: missioner Misty Menis-Kyler shares several recent events from her mission experience in Guatemala.
The end of the school year has come and the students are relieved to be done with their exams. It was a bitter sweet time for me personally. I did not want to say goodbye to my students whom I had come to love so much. We cried, we hugged and we made promises to keep in contact. We had graduation for fourteen girls, and it was wonderful. A few girls from the graduating class will come back to be part of the Au Pair program.
Though most of the student are gone, we have two new volunteers: Tobi and Lucas, who are from Germany. They are taking a gap year before starting college, and they decided to make Valle de los Angeles a stop to help around campus, as well as to help out with Angels Camp, which began on October 21 and lasted one month.
This annual camp allows the kids to stay at Valley during part of their vacation, away from the struggles and violence in their family situations. Camp Angels was created and is run by the Delta Airlines. We get a number of volunteers every week during camp to help teach the kids basic life skills as well as an abundance of arts and crafts, games, and other camp activates. The kids start out very homesick, but after the first week, you can visibly see the joy on their faces. This year we opened the camp to children from outside of Valley as well. It has been wonderful getting to know some of the kids from the outside community. They are so full of love and give hugs every time they see you. These kids are such a joy to be around.
During one of our field trips, we visited a hospital for children and adults who need special care. It was such a wonderful and humbling experience. The children took to the patients with smiles and gifts. It was a beautiful sight to see the kids bring smiles to those who were confined to wheel chairs, beds, or cribs. One of our students, Julio, saw a group of elderly women sitting in a small group. He went over and began speaking to them. After the conversation was over, he went to each of the woman and gave them a hug and kiss. Again, such an amazing sight to see!
During the weeks of camp, there were many trips to the airport to pick up and drop off the Delta Airlines volunteers, and one of our 4:30 in the morning trips took a sudden turn when we were sitting at a stop light waiting for it to turn green. Once it changed, we proceeded to pull out. Then, all of the sudden, a car came out of nowhere, running its red light and causing us to plow right into the rear end of the car. When we hit, something flew off the other car but the driver never slowed down or stopped. Once we made sure everyone in our car was OK and saw that the damage to our car’s front end was small, we continued on to the airport. Needless to say, this did not surprise us as the driving in Guatemala is wild and there are no rules. We are just glad it did not end up being worse.
To close out this blog update, I wanted to share about a wonderful idea and opportunity that Father Michael recently shared with me. A local man wants to start a sort of boarding kennel for stray dogs in the area. The dogs would get all their shots and would stay here at Valle until forever homes could be found for them. The students would be involved with taking care of them as well. So far, I have already been in contact with the man and hope to set up a meeting with him and Father Michael soon. I even have our potential first dog.
Her name is Alejandra, and she was a skinny, sad dog when I first found her wondering campus. She was pregnant at the time, but once she had her puppies you could really see just how malnourished she was. After feeding her and giving her love, I found out just how friendly and loyal she really is. She follows me everywhere, (sometimes even into the school) and sleeps outside the apartment I share with my community members. I have fallen in love with her, but I also worry about what will happen to her once I leave.
This prospective project to house dogs at Valle gives me an answer, and I think this answer is just what I have needed. I love teaching the kids, but I have been wanting to do more, and I have not really found much I could start or help lead. However, helping with the kennel is something that goes along with my passion for all of God’s Creation. I am so glad God heard my whisper.
Reflection question: When has God heard you whisper?