… one of the greenest places on God’s green Earth. I went there in 2002 with my pastor and a group of other wonderful people. Ours was a medical mission. I have few first aid skills, so I was put to work fetching, carrying and entertaining the children while their families waited to see the doc, or pharmacist. I also manned the supply room from time to time. Each child was given school supplies, toothbrush, toothpaste and a toy of some kind. Each adult was given a hygiene packet (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb, towel, wash cloth).
Our little outreach group also did our fair share to stimulate the economy. We all came home with wonderful treasures. My favorite is this coat.
I purchased the coat for $20.00 American dollars, which at the time was worth about 160 quetzals (Guatemalan dollars). It is made with a combination of denim and local hand woven cotton.
The craftmanship is superb and the detail is exquisite. The coat was made by war widows. Sewing and weaving is how they support their families. The idea was put forward by their local United Methodist Church and space for a store was provided. The woman formed a co-op. They make and sell handcrafted clothing, jewelry, household items (potholders, placemets, table clothes, etc) and art. They have built their own community where they live and work together, using the money from the store to purchase supplies, feed and care for their own families — and do missionary work among those less fortunate than they.
Years of civil war has left Guatemala with a decimated population. Men and boys were taken by their homes at gun point and forced to join either the national army, or the guerrilla force (depending upon who captured them). Refusing to fight was an automatic death sentence. One was either enemy or ally. There was no neutral ground.
The coat is padded and heavy. The likelihood of my ever wearing it in Hawaii is slim. In fact, I believe the last time I wore it was just about a year ago, one chilly night in Friday Harbor, Washington when I walked with OC to the point, where every evening he played his trumpet while the sun set and the moon rose.
I keep the coat because of it’s beauty. Because of the memories it holds. And to remind me how blessed I am to live in the United States where I take things like plentiful food, clean water, electricity, death from natural causes, and my freedom to choose my own course in life for granted.
This post was prompted in part by David McMahon, of Authorblog, who asked: Do you have an article of clothing you haven’t worn for more than a year? And by Mary, The Teach, at Work of the Poet, who hosts, Ruby Tuesday.