Monday, June 20, 2016



NOTE:  Eventually I'll translate into Spanish Events 2-12, and also produce a few YouTube videos from video I have of some of the celebrations, but for the rest of the summer I have to dedicate a lions share of my time to my High Uintas Wilderness Project which has pretty well been on hold since December.  
EVENT #12:  Photo/essay
Humberto Xicay, Forencia & Gonzalo, Carmela Choc, Parents of Mario & Elena, and Yolanda & Silvia


Our visits in Patzicia began heading for the home of our old friend, HUMBERTO XICAY.   We had worked together for 32 years sponsoring the operation of the private school in Patzicia that originally was The John Paul II School, but due to our help to keep it alive, the name was changed to The Andersen School.  

We had struggled for years with Humberto and his alcoholism problem--and only kept things going very successfully with the help of Mario de la Cruz, who as a volunteer kept everything going very successfully during difficult times. But, a reduction in funding, and the persisen problem forced us to end that effort a couple of years ago, and I wanted to visit Humberto and assure him we are friends & brothers--always! 

As you can see from the pictures we had a pleasant and friendly reunion, including with his 92 year old father--who still insists on going to work with his hoe early each morning.  

We happily hugged each other goodbye, and promised to keep in touch. 

Out of curiosity we passed by the old school--which rumors has it Humberto has sold. As you can see the name is fading, the marble plaque is still there......

.......but interestingly a new one has been added above it,  the old traditionalists insisting on it being remembered by the original name.  We were also told an interesting story:  When it was announced that the school had to be closed--lack of funds explained as the reason, all of a sudden a BLACK RIBBON appeared on the door,  rumor being that I had died.  It was understood that a little "black magic"  had been resorted to casting a curse on me--and having me dead! 

We then headed for the old Pablo Choc home, and viewed on the street out front one of what were called "rooms"  built by the Mormon Church after the GREAT EARTHQUAKE in 1976. 

We expected to find Serapio, Pablo Choc's oldest son, and knocked on the door--then meeting Serapio's daughter, and her husband. We learned that Serapio, who had spent some time as a student at Valparaiso, along with his wife, Victoria, lived and worked in Guatemala City. 


We then headed for the home of Gonzalo & Florencia.....

....we knocked and  Gonzalo came out happily to greet us.  

Soon Florencia joined us and we had a pleasant visit.........apparently word was sent to their two daughters to get there quick.   
Florencia for 16 years at Valparaiso had been one of the keys on our team....

...........first taking charge of the elementary level educational program..........

............and soon became also the Supervisor of the Central House.  In the above photo we see Florencia on the right, when Supervisor, and among other things was in charge of these needy mothers and their children, which at that time included Chepina, in her mother's arms next to Florencia, and Chepina's sister Teodora.
They are standing in front of the new white VW delivery vehicle mentioned in the Historical Review....

...Florencia is also in this picture between Maria del Carmen, and Julia, Carl Jacob's wife.  Florencia & Gonzalo  finished their important service at Valparaiso around 30 years ago.  

I failed at finding a picture of Gonzalo from the past, except one when working with Daniel Choc degraining corn as seen below. 

 Soon Tanya and Shirley  arrived, along with Shirley's daughter you see in this group picture.  Shirley, raised by them as their daughter, actually was the daughter of Gonzalo's sister.  I failed at finding a picture of her at Valparaiso, but found Tanya in many pictures two of which you see below.  

First in my arms at the dining room table, along with part of what one gringo called, "The Mob!"   

Tanya is also in this happy picture, holding my right hand.  It was good to see all of these wonderful people who played very important rolls at Valparaiso. By the way you also see in this choice picture, Josefina, in the white quipil on the left--she was the one who made a presentation to me in the Community Hall, and was one of "the girls" we helped get through the Guerrilla War between 1981-84.  Mauricio who helped direct the community meeting, presented me with a nice shirt as a gift, and was one of the two disguised with soap suds--is on the right in the yellow T-shirt. Magdalena, seen at the Valparaiso School happily taking a photograph, is the one holding my left hand.

 Seeing DANDELIONS growing in their home, I couldn't help myself and told them about dandelions being "the spinach of the weed world," and a free source of vitamins/minerals of greater value than almost any of the vegetables--which I eat some of every day when in season. 


We knocked on the door and immediately Carmela Choc de Ordonez came towards us.  It was good to see her again.  

She came to Valparaiso as a student, along with her older brother Daniel we see above, and immediately they injected into our work a humble enthusiasm and joy that was palpable.  Daniel's story and powerful influence has been told and retold in our Historical Review from the years 1971-73, and then mentioned again when in 1975-76 he became the first full-time Cachiquel missionary for the LDS Church, and then lost his life in the aftermath of the GREAT EARTHQUAKE.  

Carmela brought a happy enthusiasm to Valparaiso, as we see working with a big turkey with the plucker.............

........and when she was serving others, like in the dining room.  She also served as one of the "mothers" to a group of children in the Central House and did a wonderful job.

On her return to Patzicia she married Joel Ordonez we see with her in this photograph, and they have gone on to now have 9 children.......

.....and I forgot to ask how many grandchildren.  

......but one daughter, Carmen Victoria, happened by returning from her job and so we were fortunate to get their photograph together.  

Carmen works at a restaurant the name of which you see here. 

Carmen is with her daughter.....whose name I don't recollect.  Please forgive me. 

Out on the street Carmela and Joel have a small store, to augment income from Joel's job working in agriculture.  

One of their sons, next door has a repair  shop for bicycles.  

We reminisced about many cherished events at Valparaiso, such as when I recalled her being the one who saved my daughter "Nita" from drowning in a pila, but she didn't remember, so perhaps my recollection is the back of my mind I think maybe it was Carmelina.  I'll have to check my writings.
She asked me to send her some of the historical writings as she felt it would help in her LDS Church calling in Primary.  

Then a brief time-out for a hamburger and fries at a local restaurant--as there is no McDonalds in Patzicia. 

This is where I visited Mario years ago prior to getting married, and where he and Elena lived until recently............

..........we are approaching Mario's mother who is working at her weaving...........

.....but sort of got ambushed by their guard dog.........but he decided not to eat us!

So, we survived the family pet and greeted Mario's mother who we got a few pictures of working at her present task which was weaving a short waist band.........

............but she brought out a quipil  she was working on. 

Then we met Mario's sister and daughter.  

They get their water from a well that is 27 meters deep........

....and here we see their wood burning stove in the kitchen......

......but which also has a propane stove.........

.........Then Mario showed me where he had for a year or so had his room and the Foundation's office, with filing cabinet, and it looks like he also salvaged one of our microscopes from the school. 

Last of all we met Mario's brother, who just returned from school where I recall he is studying to soon become a CPA.  Mario's father works in agriculture and puts in long days, so we weren't able to meet him. 

We parked out on the highway, not too far from where Mario's family lives, and walked up a narrow street,  tempted to have an ice cream.....

.......but we were sort of in a hurry and soon found ourselves with Elena's parents and got there just as her father was leaving for Zaragoza to provide some music for some celebration, and twisted his arm to play a little for us. 

 So, now you know a little better this fine young man, Mario, who is our representative, and his wife, Elena, and their children. He is just in his second year being officially our representative...........

..........but it has been nearly 17 years since he started helping us as a young teenage volunteer, and made possible keeping the school going all those years--and receiving from the Foundation help to get all the way to his  teaching certificate, and soon his Law Degree.  

The next day, May 29th, we packed up and they took us back to Guatemala City.......

.......where in the evening we had a wonderful visit with two old friends I hadn't seen in 22 years--Yolanda and Silvia Tobar, and Silvia's son, Alan.......who we have already mentioned in Event #2.

So, with this photo/essay I conclude the reports of the Supervisory Trip, and the next morning took a taxi to the airport and by 6:00 PM I was in Salt lake City, having completed a 12 day trip that ended up being much more than ever anticipated.  
I know that we are all supposed to unselfishly do good without any thought of being recognized or even thanked, but I'll have to admit that when deep appreciation, gratitude and love is expressed, it feels pretty good, and makes all the work, risk and sacrifice more than worth it.......and in this case what was demonstrated and expressed to me  representing the Foundation and each and every one of you donors--WERE ALL EXPRESSIONS OF APPRECIATION, GRATITUDE & LOVE FOR EACH OF YOU WHO HAVE MADE ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE.  
To conclude this last report I thought the best picture to symbolize our 50 years of effort, is this picture of two young gringo children--my boys, Richard & David, arm in arm with their barefoot Mayan Indian companion--AS PURE BROTHERS!  That is what this work has been about from the beginning to the end.