Monday, August 18, 2008

Give Me Your Words

On The Road we walk on, we fear not The Book Thief. For to him we gladly give every word we have ever learned. If time permit, we’d drink Three Cups of Tea with him. We’d converse about What is the What?, Mans Search for Meaning, And the poison drawn from The Poison Wood Bible. He would ask me about the White Mans Burden and I would ask him if he has yet to visit The Digital Fortress. In an Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close way, I would learn more from him then he from me, although he would probably say the same. After the stories he would tell of his brother The Lightning Thief—I know his face could never leave me. Because in some way our conversation would better connect us then the monotonous conversations of “ Where are you from”?, and “How many people are in your family”. We have shared something greater. Knowledge!

In the short amount of time we have spent in Guatemala, we have the opportunity to pass around a few of our favorite books. Each book has thought us a little more about ourselves. Rather the insights the volunteers have taken from these books and applied them to our late night pillow talks, have has thought us a little more about each other. Each quote shared adds another block of knowledge to the memory of our time here together. May you learn a little more about your self in doing the same.

This past week we said bye to Amy. We miss you! The childrenat Cero Alto y Santa Isabel are ready for the Guate Idol, if Simon Cowell allows them to sing down by the banks. Semuc was amazing this weekend. We did a little bridge diving, tree jumping, rope swinging, and bat cave exploring. When you work hard you have to play hard.

The Guate Book List

The Book Thief

Three Cups of Tea

What is aWhat?

Mans Search for Meaning

The Poison Wood Bible

The Digital Fortress

The Whites mans Burden.

The Poisonwood Bible

The Lighting Thief

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lots of Stoves and Lots of Good-byes

We are struggling to get all the stoves done. Our chimney maker, Fransisco Silo, is a little behind and we have over 100 chimneys to give away this week. NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR: Only pay 1/2 the bill to motivate people to get chimneys built for you. Genevieve´s parents came to visit us and they lasted 1 night in the pink and green house before they had to go find a clean hotel room with a nice shower, but we had a ton of fun working with them.

Last week some of the team found San Maximilio, the sinner/saint worshipped in these parts. A lady will cleans your aura by spitting alcohol all over you, but we thought that wasn´t necessary.
We also hit up the hot springs that are just outside of Chimal, finally. If you go before the park opens the park ranger doesn´t charge you, SCORE! They were more like warm-springs but we had a blast all getting up a 4:45 together.

The team is dwindling down to just 5. Amy leaves on Thursday and Creighton left this morning at 4:00 am. We had a really fun cook out last night for Creighton and built a 3 foot lincoln log fire to send him off properly. After Amy leaves there will be just 5 of us in the house: Sam, Geno, Jimmy, Rilee and Natalie. But that doesn´t phase us. Enjoy the pics.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It´s already August!!!

This week we have been working hard on the stove projects. We did stove demonstrations in 5 new communities and plan to give away about 300 chimneys in the next few weeks.

We had two chimney give away parties this week. The chimney give away parties celebrate the stoves the women have built. Many women are so grateful for parties because we play games and have a good time. We have had women day that it is the only fun they have had in years.

The hand washing stations are a great success. The women are excited about washing their hands and teaching kids proper hand washing. We’ve even had requests for more.

We are working hard and getting nervous about having enough time and people to get everything done that we want to.

All is well in the pink and green house.

Monday, July 28, 2008

3rd Wave Reprezent!

Now that the 2nd wavers are gone we have busted out the fun! We went to Xela this last weekend and had a blast. There´s a lake there in the crater of an inactive volcano called Chicabal. It was a long hike but it was so worth it.

We payed for the stoves that the LDS Welfare grant is buying for us and they are in production as we speak. There are a ton of communities who want to do the stove project and hopefully we can get to everyone before time runs out.

The pink and green house is doing great. Now that the sun is back out we can do our laundry and it drys the same day. Sooo nice.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Sickest Paint Job Ever...

You haven´t lived until you have ridden one of Guate´s chicken buses. These chaotic vehicles give you mere seconds to jump on and off but will take you any and everywhere. The money takers will actually climb on top of the bus while it is navigating canyon corners and come in through the back door to collect a few cents from you. Vote for the sickest paint job!
Bus 1
Bus 2

Bus 3

Bus 4
All is well in the pink and green house!

Monday, July 14, 2008

When the cats are away...

This last week Sam & Genevieve took off for Honduras Bay Islands for vacaction and the rest of us were left in the pink and green house running the show. Amy, as offical Assistant (to the) Country Director was in charge of the team and did a great job, i.e. there were no broken bones or robberies. We´ve been trying to get a lot of stoves done so that we can use the grant we received from LDS Welfare Services. Kat´s dad and brother came to help us out. We also have Janet and Chelsea here doing a site visit and we´re enjoying their company too! And we are excited to have the 3rd waivers here in just a few days. It´s going to be a full house!

We also got to go with Enterprise Mentors and a National Geographic photographer out to some villages where we work to take some pictures. It was pretty awesome. Another great project right now is the new library we are going to be putting into the KASTA JIBAL school here in Chimaltenango. Phillis, the HELP Librarian, hooked us up with some book money and we just happened to come across this school that needed help with their library.
Coming soon: Best Chicken Bus picture!

All is well in the pink and green house!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things are really rolling...

Greetings from another fantastic week in Chimal. The team received some excellent news this week - we have received funding from LDS Welfare Services for 400 Adobe stove chimneys! We are definitely going to be busy until the end of August.

Stoves are keeping the team very busy. We reviewed over 60 stoves last week and most of them were better than our demonstration stoves. The women really do a great job - all we have to do is explain the process and help them understand the value of removing smoke from their homes. In other project news, Nicole´s hand washing stations are starting to take off. She taught a very effective lesson that ended with ten women building their very own stations.

To celebrate the fourth of July five volunteers went to Honduras, spending time at the magnificent Copan Ruinas and the playa. The rest of the team headed to Antigua for a little souvenir shopping and some site seeing.

Some volunteers found mysterious bird droppings on their beds. The culprit was finally found and volunteers have learned their lesson - they are now keeping their bedroom doors shut.

Yes all remains well in the pink and green house! Until next time,

The HELP Guatemala Team

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monterrico and other adventures

Last Tuesday was a sad day as we said good-bye to all of our first wavers. There is no doubt that we will miss their personalities in the house!

One of the least-mentioned, but most-fun projects we have going on right now is business. Dane and Amy are using short stories and colorful images to train basic business principles to people who are receiving micro-credit loans. At least one day a week, a small group of volunteers are going out to the villages and helping teach business classes that focus on separating business and personal expenses, budgeting and planning, and being smart with expenses. Business rocks!

After six weeks here in Guatemala, we finally began to hand out chimneys in several of the villages. We had a celebration where there was a lot of speaking, laughing, and good food. At the end of the party we handed out the chimneys to the women who were more than grateful to finally be able to have a way to escape the smoke in their homes.

Mesoamericana may be on a two week vacation, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still going out to Patzicia to work. Don Pedro, the grounds crew man at the school, was just called to be a bishop in Patzicia but only had a one room house. So instead of going to the school this week, we trucked over to his house to add some additions so that he can meet with people in private in his home. This was a way fun project that included everything from knocking out a window and a door to digging foundation and laying bricks.

On Saturday, all the volunteers went to Monterrico beach in southern Guatemala for a brief get-a-away. The Pacific Ocean waves were so strong that our sun block didn’t stand a chance of staying on. But regardless, relaxing and laying on the beach was a slice of heaven that was much needed and we all had a great time!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A bit different sabor...

This week I thought you might enjoy seeing something that is commonplace for us volunteers - ratdogs. These poor creatures roam the streets everywhere (sorry animal lovers, we did all experience culture shock over this). Please vote in this week´s poll (to your right) so we can scientfically determine which dog is ugliest. Thanks for your help!

Dane´s Find
Creighton´s Find

Amy´s Find (this one you really had to see in person).

Hilary´s Find
Oh yeah...all is well in the pink and green house!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Welcome to Guatemala, we´ve got fun and games...

This week we went to Quiche and worked in the villages around there. Unfortunately we ran into a few problems while we were there like theft and misunderstandings, but the group came together and made the best of it. It was a great learning experience that will be valuable as we continue making stoves in other aldeas (villages). And despite these hickups, we were able to make a nice difference for about 83 families. One of these villages was nearly a two hour hike in the mountains where not much, if any, had been given before. It was beautiful up there and there was a sweet waterfall we got to wash off in just to top it all off.
Also this week, we got some new projects started. First, we're going to help build extra rooms to a man's house who was just called to be the bishop in his ward. He is 27, married, has 5 children, and they all live in a one room house with no water or power. He's lived like this for years but never complained and mentioned it. Finally the principle of a school we work with found out and is organizing the project. The other project is for a small village where the people are too poor to go to school. We are going to teach some classes, have activities, and give some supplies to help them get to where the need to be.
We had three new volunteers join us this week: Nicole B., Rachel J, and Rachel W. Quiche was a great way to break them into the Guatemala experience. Although they were just thrown into the whirlwind of Guatemala they have all had a great attitude despite the crazy chicken bus rides, fireworks waking them up at 2 in the morning, and mild cases of the Boo… We are excited to have them here and know that they will be a great asset to out team. However, we are all sad to the first wavers leave this week. I am sure that none of us will forget the incredible experiences we have had together these past six weeks, and I am almost certain that there will be many more to come once we return to school this upcoming fall. But as always, all is well in the pink and green house and we are all looking forward to the fun experiences and adventures we are going to have this week!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Due to a little thing we’ve come to know and love called El Niño, we had to cut last week’s trip to Tikal short due to back to back tropical storms. So we had to scramble to make arrangements with our partner organizations, but we still found plenty to do. We’ve continued making contacts in almost every project area. We met with the mayor of San Martin (thanks to Adalila, who happens to know everyone in Guatemala) and have started making arrangements for several projects in the surrounding villages. This is an incredibly poor area and he was very excited about the classes we had to offer and discussed with us what the greatest needs are and how we can maximize our service in that area.

We left Friday morning for Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The car ride was a roller coaster, but we made it there safe and sound and a little nauseous. We spent most of Friday browsing the huge expanse of handicrafts and small shops. Saturday we went on a boat ride in the morning and crossed our fingers the dark clouds would magically lift. And around noon, we got our first couple hours of sunshine in weeks, which offered a stunning view of the lake and surrounding countryside. We enjoyed a swim in the lake and a bonfire later that night. It was a great weekend trip—highly recommend it.
Otherwise, projects are going very well and we’re preparing for a 4 day trip to Quiche, where we’ll be working with the people of the villages to build over 100 stoves. Yes, all is well in the pink and green house.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One more week here in Guatemala....

Things are getting hot in Chimaltenango, and believe us, we´re not talking about the weather. The work has been blazing! We´re getting to know the women of the villages more and more and it´s really rewarding to see them get excited about the stoves and health classes that we´ve been doing. After finally figuring out the crazy aluminum french jigsaw puzzle, we were able to finish Don Juan´s house. Others have been busy with our jack pot of a contact, Heladio, building square foot gardens. Amy and Dane´s hard work is paying off because their business class went absolutely amazing last week. The women were totally enthralled with learning how to better their mushroom business. The Chimal hospital is still as crazy as ever and always a new and exciting experience. This week, we also helped brighten the orphanage with a new coat of paint! Friday, we had a way rewarding day clearing a field for a public school. We even were able to see how our hard work paid off when the children came out onto the newly cleared field and played a game of futbol, or in the states, soccer, with us.

After our hard week of working, we left Friday afternoon for Rio Dulce and Tikal. It was great, but due some inclement weather, we came back a little early and are now hard at work again.

All is well at the pink and green house! Until next time...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This week in Chimaltenango......

During the week we were busy at work with our projects. All of them are up and running now and are going well. It has been especially fun to visit the villages and make the adobe stoves with the women of the villages. One odd job this week that I really enjoyed was clearing off a corn field with a machete so that we can put the portable house of a senile old man there. After we layed down that corn we burned it to the ground and smoothed out the turf for a solid foundation. Then we had to assemble his house which was a pile of scrap metal with no instructions. But through some good detective work we did it. We´re going to finalize it this afternoon.

Well, all is well in our little green and pink house. Every night the street urchins come out and play some soccer with us in the street, and we've taught them how to pound the potato fist hand grenade style after a goal is scored. We are all happy and most everyone is healthy with the exception of Nicole who has had a recent bout with jungle fever.

We got the chance to go to the house of the Lord up in Guatemala city on saturday. That was nice, we also ran into the El Salvador team on the front lawn. There were many young men trying to catch the eye of our ladies and they kept asking me to try to hook them up with them.

Some of us went to a wild dance club in Antigua on saturday night. We were shaking our moneymakers like crazy and even earned some free clorets gum from the official Clorets dance team.

The mayor also invited us into his office to cut a little policy with him. Here is a picture of democrasy in action.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Projects and Pacaya

This week we have been getting the projects up and running. We have projects in the following areas so far:
· Adobe stoves: These are simple wood stoves that we make with clay. The stoves keep the heat enclosed so they use half the wood needed for an open stove. After teaching communities to build these stoves we come back and give a chimney to everyone who has built a stove. Many of the communities go from house to house helping each other build a stove. The chimney allows the smoke to escape, preventing smoke inhalation This is a pic of us and our first adobe stove that we built so everyone would know how to do it.

· Square foot gardens: The idea behind square foot gardens is to improve family nutrition by growing a variety of vegetables. Square foot gardens take up less water and land than traditional row gardening.
· ESL: We are helping teach in 2 schools right now and we will soon be starting evening English classes at church. Here is one of the schools we work at.

· Health: We have public health/nutrition/first aid classes that we teach in the communities. We also have a couple of pre-med/nursing students who volunteer at a hospital in the recovery center.
· Orphanages: We are currently only working in one orphanage right now. This orphanage’s mission is to prepare the families to take back their kids. (Most “orphans” have at least one parent alive and many have both parents) This orphanages works with the courts and parents so the kids can go home.
· Manual Labor: We have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity working on homes. We’ve learned to bind rebar together and mix cement – hard work. Soon we will be painting 8 classrooms at a school. Right now the walls are bare cement blocks.
· Business classes: We also teach business classes. This is an exciting area because many women’s groups get micro-credit loans and have a little business that they run out of their home. So we teach them basic business skills so they can improve their business.

The highlight of the week was probably hiking Volcano Pacaya. We got up at 3:30AM and drove to the sight so we could see the sun rise. The volcano was covered in mist and clouds as we started to climb. Walking over the lava fields you could feel the heat coming out of crevasses.

At the very top of the cone we could look in and mostly see sulfuric mist but we did get a glimpse of some glowing lava. It was a little scary because the volcano would rumble and burp.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Antigua, Garage Cafe y Mas

Everyone got in, including Creighton who spent a week in Mexico relaxing before coming to Guate, and we are all settling into this new environment. Today was the first day of real rain and Dan swears he saw a lightning bolt hit the cell phone tower.

We have all been eating out a lot because we haven’t found a good deal on a fridge yet. Our favorite place (or maybe just the closest to our house) is the “Garage Café” which is actually in someone’s garage. Great food. And at 15 quetzales per lunch you can’t beat it.

Genevieve and I cooked spaghetti for Luis and his family on the second to last night we stayed with him. Here’s a picture of me cutting onions with my snorkel mask (which was a graduation present from my mother-in-law) on to keep me from crying.

Our house is SA-WEET. We have a roof where we hold team meetings and everybody uses to get some fresh air in the mornings to help them wake up.

The view is pretty cool too.

We also got to head down to Antigua, which is just a half hour away. Here’s everyone waiting for our ride.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lessons learned

So the first lessons I learned in Guatemala are:

1. Don`t pay the bus driver when you first get on, you´ll look stupid. Just have a seat and someone will come by to get your money.

2. Why you say "buenos dias" on the phone, wait for the other person to answer. In the states we don´t do this, we just say: "hey how´s it going I have a question for you" but here they are going to say good morning back it you´ll be talking over them

3. The smell of mold is the same no matter what country you are in

4. Having your shoes get dirty is much better than your feet, lots of dog poo. I am really glad that I brought shoes. I thought I would be wearing my chacos day and night, but shoes are good.

5. The people we meet dress nice. The first day I was in a t shirt and felt under dressed. The collared shirts are great now for meetings

6. Hot bucket showers are better than cold regular showers



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Intro to Sam

Hi everyone. My name is Charles Samuel Brown, but I go by Sam. I think my parents purposely named me after Charlie Brown. I have a brother James Brown and a sister Molly Brown. So we like famous names.

Here's a pic of me in my favorite aviators (which I have since lost). I love golf, reading, and pogs. Just kidding. I haven't played pogs since 8th grade. But I would love to get back into it. I love watching movies too. My favorite genre is WWII movies. My all time favorite book series is Dragon Lance. My favorite movie is Stalag 17. My favorite actor is Paul Walker.

Well, that's me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dane H

Hey HELP volunteers. My name is Dane, and I want to tell a joke.
-What do you call a deer with no eyes? (-------------No idear----)
-What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs? (-----------------------------Still no idear----)
-A Skeleton walks into a bar and asks... can I get a drink and a mop?

If you don't get the last one, that's okay. I'm excited to serve the Guatemalan people with you. I'm working a lot in Boston, and the idea of two months off traveling around Guatemala? What could be better?

Briefly, I finished BYU (accounting major) in 2006 and moved to Boston, where I work now at an accounting firm. Still little clue on what I want to do with my life for a career. Maybe an MBA, maybe staying where I currently am. In any case, I'd love to hear your stories.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Hey, my name is Kat Tumblin and I'm not sure the next 2 months can go by fast enough for me! I am so excited for Guatemala! I am currently a student at BYU studying psychology, planning on applying to clinical child psychology programs next year. I hear grad school's not exactly conducive to world travel, so I am so glad I get go this summer! As far as my bio goes--besides being with my favorite people, I love being outside, country music, studying psychology, the color lime green, and socks! I also enjoy playing guitar and being spontaneous....

Introductions: Genevieve

I guess since the "introductions" idea was my idea, I'll go first.

I am so excited for this summer! Here is a little about me. Sam and I have been married for 4 years - just in case you were wondering. I received her bachelor's degree in International Development at BYU in 2005. After graduation I spent a year with Centro Hispano, a local nonprofit, working to mobilize education efforts in the Hispanic community. In April, I will be graduating with a Master of Public Administration (yeah!) I have a passion for finding sustainable development strategies and I love to travel, read, play basketball and I can’t wait to get to know the Guatemala team better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New Country Directors

HELP International Guatemala would like to welcome the new country directors for 2008. Sam and Genivieve Brown are excited to be the newest parts of the HELP International Guatemala team. Welcome you two!

HELP International Guatemala 2007

If you are interested in checking out the blog for HELP International Guatemala 2007, you can do so at