MKMMA Week 15-16 The Sandwich and the Latte

First, let me give many thank-yous to all of you who have been following the activities of the past week at our Design4Kids InFocus workshop in Guatemala. It was a tremendous success – as they always are, thanks to the outstanding Fotokids staff and the talent and motivation of the students themselves.

Due to the schedule and the technical limitations I’ve been working with I haven’t been able to post a week 15 blog until today, and was unable to tune in to the January 5th webinar or see the replay of the week 15 and 16 videos (bandwidth just wouldn’t support them). So I’m a little behind and out of the loop.

I was able to get in on the Sunday Jan 12 webinar from my hotel in Antigua, and as seems to always be  the case, the topic fits perfectly into my activities for the past week. Coincidence, of course. J

I’ve been completely faithful to my readings all week, albeit on a slightly altered schedule. I’m finding I eagerly look forward to them, and can’t finish the day comfortably until I’ve completed them.

And my sits every late afternoon after classes out by the lake, as the sun is dipping behind Vulcan (volcano) San Pedro have set a new standard for my quiet time. I may be returning to my living room in Maryland, but each day I’ll be seeing the sunset over the lake.

Likewise my morning readings of the MK and Blueprint Builder at the lake in the early morning light before breakfast.

Did I mention in the past that I’m already living some of my DMP? J

 

Giving and kindness are two qualities that are everywhere down here. It seems that 90 per cent of the “gringos”, both ex-pats and visitors, are here in some mission or NGO capacity. Working with orphan groups, building and maintaining schools and libraries, feeding the kids, extended outreach educational programs (like ours). Everyone here is under-fed and everything under-funded.

In addition to our Fotokids workshop this past week in Santiago Atitlan there were two more groups at the hotel (la Posada Santiago, sort of “gringo central” in Santiago). One was a bunch of college-age kids and adults, 20+, from the Lancaster, PA area, building a foundation for a new building at an orphanage. Another, who had come together from across the US, were working to help build a playground at the library and pre-school next door to the hotel.

The logo for Amanda’s school an library was Design4Kids’ first workshop project five years ago.

Seeing the sense of satisfaction, gratitude and fulfillment that everyone in those groups felt mirrored the feelings I experience every time I’m here. I’ve always said, and it continues to be more true with each experience, that while I may be giving my time and resources to teach and help these kids, it feels I’m receiving more in the rewarding from seeing their growth and success than I can possibly give.

 

Back in Antigua on Sunday prior to returning to the US on Monday, I was at a café on the central park for a coffee Sunday morning.

There are a number of indigenous Maya who sell all sorts of textiles and trinkets in the park. Over the four plus years I’ve been coming down I’ve gotten to know several, getting beyond the “You buy something mister?” and “Gracias, no” conversation that is the usual constant interaction. We’ve talked about each others’ families and lives – they’re actually really people, not just pestering peddlers.

This trip I met Mario, who shines shoes. There are a number of shoe-shine kids, and they’ll offer to shine your sneakers, sandals, and the shoes that the last kid just shined five minutes ago. It’s actually a valuable lesson in persistence. Sales shyness and hunger are mutually exclusive conditions. So Mario is now my go-to shoe shine guy.

Anyway, while in the café, which is open to the sidewalk, another little guy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, came up to me selling postcards. This is a little bolder as the shops usually chase them away to keep them from bothering their customers.

There’s always the line between wanting to help – this is how they eat, when they do – and just having so much stuff you can’t bring back any more.

I initially said, “Gracias, no”, but he stayed and began a conversation. He’s Antonio, from Santa Catalina, about two hours away. He comes to Antigua every weekend to sell postcards. No doubt his family in the park selling other wares.

Then he asks me “buy me a pan? (bread)”. Now I thought THIS I can do! Nothing more to try to bring back home. So I ask the waiter to get him what he likes and Antonio orders a ham sandwich. His sandwich comes, he smiles and says “Gracias, Stu” and scoots away.

The waiter and waitress smiled as he left. It cost me about the same as a second cup of coffee. It may be the only thing he eats that day. Or weekend.

I felt so much joy the rest of the day I thought I would burst. I didn’t tell anyone about the episode – I didn’t feel right, thinking I would sound like I was boasting. I’m glad that Mark has sort of given “permission” to share this sort of thing here. Not to tell you how great I am, but in the hope that I can in some way give you some of the joy I felt that day, still feel. There is far more than one person can hold.

Early Monday morning before going in to the city and the airport I went back to the same café for a coffee. Now a normal work day, and the square is much quieter than on the weekend at this hour.

The same waitress/”barista” who was working on Sunday when I met Antonio was there. She smiled at me and took my order. This time I ordered a latte for something a little extra.

I imagine you’re familiar with the “latte art” that creative baristas make in the foam on top of the coffee. She gave me my latte.

In the foam was a heart.

 

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2 Responses to “MKMMA Week 15-16 The Sandwich and the Latte”

  1. Karen Krill Says:

    Stu, You made my heart sing. What an amazing job you are doing and touching so many lives. You took advantages of opportunities that many people would have missed. You are a hero. Thanks for all your contributions to make this a better world. You renew my faith in mankind. Thanks to Mk for a platform for you to share with us all.

  2. Jerrie Hildebrand Says:

    Great work!

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