Friday 10/18/13 – Day Three We started the day off in fine fashion with a good Guatemalan breakfast. For me it was eggs over easy topped with salsa, white cheese, sweet fried plantains and a great cup of Guatemalan coffee (3- 4 actually). The staff here at the hotel knows that I get up early and I get to open up the front door.
The desk clerk then makes the coffee and they are gracious enough to allow me to get my own coffee. This hotel has a really great friendly staff. Most of them are bilingual so it makes it easier on me to communicate with them.
After breakfast, the representatives from the stove manufacture, the Vice President of the Lutheran Church Council, Elma, Miles, Cris and I piled into the stove manufacture’s pickup truck Guatemalan style (several of us in the backend of the pickup truck with all of the stove parts) and headed to the Los Limones public school. As I mentioned yesterday the school has about 19 teachers with approximately 400 – 450 students that they feed lunch to once a day.
Once we arrived at the school’s kitchen area, we had help unloading all of the stove parts from the ladies in the kitchen. We had delivered the cement blocks the day before with Pastor Louis. The basic program was for the ladies are to actually build the stove themselves with instructions from the stove manufacture and then teach others in the community how to install a stove. This guy was great. He explained the purpose of the stove, the health benefits, the cost savings, etc. He was bilingual and explained to us in English what was going on.
You could tell that the ladies were excited about their new stove through the smiles and the questions they asked. They couldn’t wait to start testing the stove out with the test tortillas. Even before the stove was completed, several of them were already preparing the tortillas. That is when Elma and I were invited to try our hand at making tortillas. As mentioned yesterday, Elma and I were going to have the Great Tortilla Cook Off. Even though I can’t speak Spanish and the ladies couldn’t speak English, we were able to communicate and had a great time. There were lots of laughs from everyone in the kitchen area with two Gringos trying to make tortillas. It is really hard to make tortillas that are round and consistently thin in thickness.
Finally the stove was completed with a flue going through the roof. The fire was going strong and the cooking stove plate was ready to test out cooking the tortillas. It is amazing how fast the Guatemalan ladies can make and cook tortillas. Elma’s and my tortillas had something to be desired. They use their fingers to flip the tortillas on the hot stove plate (no spatulas here). They must have asbestos fingers, because it burnt the end of my fingertips trying to flip my tortilla. After our tortillas were cooked, Elma and I finally got to eat our tortillas (tasted pretty good). We all had a great time with lots of laughs.
After everyone finished cooking, Miles and the stove representative explained how the families of this community could get a stove in their home. The interest was unbelievable. There are tremendous health benefits to having this stove in their homes verses and open fire with all of the heat and smoke. There is a great savings in wood usage. An open fire will use approximately 14 cords of wood per year. With this stove, the family will use only about four cords of wood per year. Each stove costs about Q900 plus transportation ($115) from Guatemala City. If a family wants a stove, the cost to the family is Q200 (approximately 3 - 4 weeks’ worth of wages). The remaining cost is picked up through donations and mission gifts (approximately $100/stove). Each family who wants a stove has a financial investment along with labor to install the stove therefore generating a “pride of ownership”. Miles and the stove representative had 8 orders from the ladies before we left. Miles committed to the community for 25 stoves. What a Blessing from the Lord on how this program works to support these people in Guatemala.
The weather here has been great (if you like hot and humid). This area is just coming out of the rainy season and headed into summer. Here in Gualan, the temperature during the day will reach around 95-97 degrees. At night, it cools down to 75-80 degrees. The sun is very intense being so close to the equator. Sometimes during the early morning or evening we will get a light shower. Miles tells me that the temperature in Antigua will be a lot cooler (for me I can’t wait while Cris on the other hand, he likes living in a sauna). We went to the market in downtown Gualan yesterday afternoon and I brought my first pair of sandals ever. I normally don’t like wearing shoes and usually go barefoot. The sandals were a great relief over the shoes that I was wearing (thanks Miles). Looking forward to tomorrow where we will be helping Pastor Luis have Bible classes with some children from Los Limones.