Welcome to Guatemala

 Wednesday

3AM. The first miracle — I’m out the door on time to catch my flight in Milwaukee.  Out of darkness of Interstate 94 I was greeted by a billboard I had never seen before. It simply said “Children are a gift from God.” Talk about your signs, even I could get that one.

picresized_1356578927_children_are_a_gift_from_god_mousepad I had to run through the Atlanta airport to catch my flight where two of our directors were waiting. Thankfully Brenda had texted me the gate number. I was at Terminal B and needed to be at Terminal E. Brenda and her husband Phil had flown in from Minneapolis the night before and had a rough go of it. Radical turbulence and lot’s of throwing up. They got to the airport at 1:30 in the morning and spent the night there – figuring it didn’t make much sense to pay for a hotel room for maybe 3 hours sleep.

As the plane winds through the mountains on the approach to the airport in Guatemala City you can’t help but feel you’re about to enter a very special and beautiful place. Plus I’m seriously happy for the warmth, it was 12 degrees when I left Wisconsin.

We weren’t entirely sure our NPH contact would be at the airport. When things are settled in this part of the world, you don’t get that familiar American reassurance of “see you tomorrow.” We walked out the door after customs to a huge roped off crowd. Some had signs, but no NPH. We called the orphanage, couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. I started calculating which of the 20 people Then I finally saw the piece of paper in the crowd.

The drive to Parramos took about an hour. We were surprised to find that the orphanage had hot food waiting for us in the volunteer house (casa voluntario), and soon Jan Leiritz, the director appeared at the door. He’s a big man, but has a charming German accent and an air of humbleness about him. He introduced us to Cesario who speaks English and took us on a tour. Cesario came to the orphanage when he was 8 years old. He’s 22 now and says he came back to help his brothers. I’ve always been struck by how NPH homes stress they are one big family. Here at NPH, that family is 350 kids. More about the orphanage tomorrow.

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