Today began even earlier than usual. We brought our bags to the bus before devotions which were at 5:00 a.m. Betsy led devotions today and read us part of a speech that Robert Kennedy gave the night Martin Luther King was killed. He urged us, as a country, to live with love, wisdom, and compassion. After devotions Bob reviewed plans for the day: our eight hour trip back to Antigua with lunch on the road, and our final team celebration dinner in the evening. With traffic luck we might have some free time before the dinner.
We had a “light breakfast” (not so light in my estimation!) and boarded the bus. Each of us settled into our chosen activity: reading, listening to music or podcasts, entering into lively conversations with our nearby seatmates, or observing the landscape as we passed by. At the beginning, close to Poptun, the landscape undulated with unusually round hills, sparking speculation about whether or not some ancient temple may have been covered over by centuries of vegetation and drifting soil. Gradually, the vegetation changed from verdant green to drier grasses, bushes and trees. As we travelled on, we passed grassy pastures with grazing brahma, cement block homes with small vegetable gardens, and then larger agricultural fields as we got further from Poptun and closer to Gautemala City. We also noticed some plantations with trees being tapped for rubber. There was a large hydrological project near one of the rivers including a dam and drainage areas along the road, surrounded by steep, eroding mountainsides.
We stopped three times, the first two for a leg stretch, snack purchasing and restroom use, and the third for passing out huge, grilled chicken sandwiches which we ate on the bus in our quest to beat rush hour on our way through Guatemala City. We arrived back in Antigua around 4:00 p.m. and were most happy to get out and relax, either by resting in our rooms at Las Faroles Hotel or by getting out for a walk and a last shopping expedition.
Our final celebration dinner was at the Casa Blanca restaurant and was a delicious time of enjoying tasty food and warm friendship as we closed out our week of service together. After walking back to our hotel, Pam passed out the coffee, chocolate, and cultural handicraft items we had purchased from Casa de Fe to support Faith In Practice, and then we retired to our rooms to finish packing and get what sleep we could before the 3:30 a.m. departure of Portland-bound team members for the airport in Guatemala City. We leave with many stories of sharing love, wisdom, and compassion with each other and the people of Guatemala. May we allow these to transform us as we return to our own communities in the United States!