Archive for June, 2011

Here and There in Xela
June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala

Here are a few scenes about town from the past week.

The Carpentry Shop in Xela
June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Quetzaltenango (or Xela), Guatemala

Our daughter Melanie and her husband Julio serve in this city with InnerCHANGE, a Christian order among the poor. They work with homeless street boys to help them to a responsible way of life, and help them become established in Christian faith. The “boys” are ages 14 to 21.

Hot Springs
June 27, 2011

As my regular readers know, my blogs do not always follow chronological order. So now I go back to Saturday, June 25.

We drove a 40-minute drive to a hot springs near the town of Zunil. We had stunning scenic views.

The Last Novena
June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Quetzaltenango (or Xela), Guatemala

For various reasons, the family decided to hold seven, not nine, novenas following Mayela’s death, so tonight was the last one. Like the others, it was held in Melanie and Julio’s apartment. About 30 people crowded in.

A Sacred Procession
June 24, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011
Quetzaltenango (or Xela), Guatemala

Yesterday, as we were eating lunch at McDonald’s (which faces Central Park), we heard band music outside and saw a procession in progress. I grabbed my camera and hurried out to investigate.

Last Day of School
June 24, 2011

June 23, 2011
Xela, Guatemala

Both of Julio and Melanie’s daughters attend a bilingual pre-school here in Xela (pronounced Shay-lah).

The official name of the city of Xela is Quetzaltenango (Ket-sahl-ten-ahn-go).

The name of the pre-school is Happy Kids School. You can check it out by that name on the internet. It has about 50 students enrolled. Some of them are quite young. Samaya is four; Genesis is two.

Mayela’s name
June 24, 2011

Some of our friends have asked about the significance or meaning of Mayela’s name (which is pronounced May-yeh-lah). We asked our daughter Melanie about this, and the answer was a bit surprising.

It is not Spanish and has no specific meaning that Melanie knows of.

She was watching a Dora the Explorer video with her daughters, and as the credits rolled at the end, she saw this name Mayela. She immediately liked it, and assuming that it was a “female name,” she and Julio chose it for their baby girl.

If any of my blog readers have more information about or insight into this name, please post a comment and let us all know.

God is writing a story
June 23, 2011

Thursday, June 23

En route from PA to Guatemala I read Walking His Trail by Steve Saint and his wife Ginny.

In this book they trace some of the unusual directions their life together has taken as they have sought to follow God. They show that even when the path has been rough and painful, signs of God’s grace and compassion have always appeared as markings along the trail.

Steve observes:
“God does not promise that all of life’s chapters will be easy. He does promise, however, that in the last chapter He will finally make sense of all the others.”
Page 160

As our family lives with the painful loss of baby Mayela, this statement helps us to have perspective and hope.

Imaginative advertising
June 22, 2011

I keep alert to unusual advertising, and especially to images. So this ad on the wall of the Atlanta airport caught my eye. Enjoy!

Return to Guatemala – June 2011
June 22, 2011

We are in Guatemala. This is Wednesday, June 22. We will be here for a week.

Here you see the entrance to Quetzaltenango (also called Xela), the second largest city in Guatemala, and also, as many of my blog readers know, the home of our daughter Melanie and her husband Julio and their two young daughters.

We are here to spend time with, grieve with and pray with Melanie and her family.

Last Saturday night her full-term daughter Mayela was stillborn. The cause of the death was that the placenta separated from the uterus wall prematurely, cutting of the vital oxygen supply. No one was prepared for this outcome, for the pregnancy had been normal in every discernible way.

According to Guatemalan custom, the funeral and burial were held the next day, Sunday. Melanie found the strength to attend both the funeral and burial. It was hard for her, but the presence of family and church members (their home church is Presbyterian) was a real support.

Mel and Julio say that Mayela looked just like her two-year-old sister Genesis.

Neither Genesis nor Samaya, age four, attended the funeral or burial.

Following a death, Julio’s family observes a novena of mourning. Novena comes from the Latin word for nine and involves prayers for nine consecutive days. It is Roman Catholic in origin, but Julio and Mel asked that it be done with Protestant assumptions and prayers.

So the extended family (Julio’s parents and six of his siblings live in this city) comes to Julio and Mel’s apartment each evening for this time of devotion to God. This took place this evening at 6:00 PM and consisted of a half hour of Scriptures, comments, prayers and songs, led by several family members.

I have never participated in anything like it. The novena assumes that a funeral service alone is probably not enough to facilitate all the healing that needs to happen in the life of a grieving family. It faces death realistically and allows for mourning and crying, which we all did, but all this is with a Christian view of the reality of heaven and the life to come, so healing grace comes to us from God.

Tonight was the third novena. With six more to come, I can only imagine the cumulative healing that these God-centered times of devotion will provide.

After the novena we ate together. The extended family brought in the food so that Melanie was not troubled with the work of entertaining.

It is a holy privilege to be with Melanie and her family during this time.