Thursday, December 27, 2007

On December 21st, the Voz Que Clama Mission held their Cabecar Indigenous Christmas Party in the Chirripo mountain town of Quetzal, Costa Rica. I had never made the difficult drive to the Chirripo Mountains before. The almost 3 hour drive from Tuis on the rugged volcanic tortured terrain was steep and remote, it appeared barely populated except for large patches of deforestation.

We were blessed to have 12 house guests who were able to attend with us. The boys helped Phil pack our big flatbed truck with donations of clothing and Christmas gifts for the children and they left our house at 6am to go to the Mission in Tuis de Turrialba and continue to load our truck with all of the donated items. It was a beautiful sunny, hot day for the event.

Two students from EARTH University joined us and they brought a van load of donations from the students. How wonderful that so many participated.

My guests helped peel onions and chop veggies while I prepared the rice and beans for our contribution to the feast, the largest pot of vegetarian Spanish Rice I had ever made. It was a joint effort starting at 5:30am to make a warm and nutritious meal hoping it would still be warm by the time it was served. In the end not a spec of food was left over, and the very hungry Indigenous did not notice that their food was no longer hot and the soda was warm. When it was time to eat the Chief blew his whistle and the children lined up first in one very long, quiet, straight line with no pushing. Amazing!

The vehicles leaving the Mission were burdened with gifts, people and food. A local cattle truck was packed with volunteers from the Mission’s town of Tuis. Others drove their vehicles packed with people and food, a Hyundai Gallopher pulled a trailer loaded with sacks of surprises as we traveled in caravan style to Quetzal. The volume of people, vehicles, their overloaded capacity, and the high energy was a sight to behold. Piled atop our big truck I noticed the wheelchairs that belonged to the handicapped residents of the Mission, no one was left behind. It was a glorious event for all to enjoy. The journey was difficult, steep, vertical, and the suspension bridges were swaying over their very long span. One vehicle at a time, each vehicle allowed the previous to reach the other side before the next vehicle progressed very slowly onto the rickety well worn boards. We crossed water with no bridge and picked our way around and over water covered boulders and very deep spots.

The little children from the reservation were so beautiful. They came dressed in their finest clothing, so dirty from the long journey that my friend Rande commented as we looked at an adorable little girl, that she wanted to take her home and…..….wash her. It was easy to tell which Indigenous came from the surrounding area and who came from high up on the reservation by how clean they were. Their muddy rubber boots told the story.

Santa also attended to the delight of the children and he brought special gifts with him, toys, dolls, trucks, and gifts of warmth. There were two large Santa piƱatas filled with candy and the children took turns hitting them until they released their sweet treats.

We learned that our taste in clothing and theirs is very different in some instances. We had lots of good laughter as we watch an Indigenous man so proud in his woman’s tunic top. It was flashy and he loved it. There was something for everyone.

We had far more people than we planned on. I think that no one could have done a better job of handling, so many than Daniel, Hector and staff as they worked with the Chief of the Tribe. They saw to it that everyone got something and had a good time. Building relationships within the Indigenous tribes is most important. It takes so many years, you don’t want anyone to feel hurt or left out. I think that having the items of used clothing made a big difference. They need clothing and items of warmth, but they were not greedy. In fact it was as if they were afraid to pick out or touch the clothing, and yet we know they have little or none. We had to encourage them to take items. Not that they understood a word that we were saying. Remember, most do not speak Spanish, they speak Cabecar.

I have started to plan for next year’s event already. You can participate from wherever you are. We always need gifts of clothing, and all of the other items that are on the Wish List. When you come to visit, please bring us a suitcase filled with donations. Your friends and co-workers will gladly clean out their closets and give you the donations. Your local school will help with school supplies. Children love to help other needy children and you would have a hard time to find children more needy, with no resources, no other possibilities other than you. If you would like to send a tax-deductible check, you can mail it to our US address and we will provide for their needs as necessary.

Voz Que Clama Mission
990 Sunset Drive
California 95448

It is very different in the US. Somebody always cares, there are agencies, churches, food pantries, food stamps, assistance, clothing banks…, here, there is nothing and for the most part, no one cares. Do you think I am wrong? Read this report, we should be informed as to the reality of our Indigenous. The Cabecar are one of the many tribes of the Americas. They routinely traversed from South America to Canada and back many years ago before there were borders.

All people deserve an opportunity to live in dignity, it has not served this world well, to ignore any particular group of people. We are all humans struggling to survive. Some are struggling far more than others just to see another sunrise. There, but for the grace of God, go I. We thank you for your kindness and generosity and look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cabecar Indigenous children playing a game at the party for them.
Helen Thompson an English reporter from AM Costa Rica joined us for several days and wrote about our Indigenous Christmas Party for the Children. You can see her story and photos here
Sally O'Boyle and her sons, Americans now living in Escazu, Costa Rica also joined us and wrote a wonderful touching story with many photos.
I was asked who the mission served, the following is an overview as I see their service:

Mostly they serve the Cabecar Indigenous, but they serve so many more.

The Mission's service to the Cabecar Indigenous gives employment to locals, the caretakers of the patients, teachers for the language school that helps support the Mission's projects.

The women who cook the meals, care for the patients, clean and wash now have employment.

A vehicle driver now has employment driving the handicapped residents to school, shopping and medical appointments..

The Mission brings the Spanish Language students that need paid homestays and meals.

The visiting students bring donations for the Indigenous, and spend money in Tuis providing the trickle down theory of employment.

The students return to their native countries sharing their experiences and all that they learned by participating in our very rural Costa Rican lives.

Perhaps the town of Tuis has been blessed the most through their changed perceptions of the Indigenous. At first reserved, and unsure if a Mission was what they wanted in their town, they have come to be supportive and protective of the Mission and their work Many locals volunteer to help the patients, carry supplies to the reservation, and they come to Sunday afternoon service.

The original concept was to be a church. Because Costa Rica is primarily Catholic, people would not come to the non-denominational church because they said "we have a church and you can only have one church." Daniel and Hector made the mental adjustment to become a Mission; the people said, "a Mission is good, a mission helps people, we don't have a Mission, we can come." And so a Mission it was. In the early days people came to the simple small house owned by the Mission and at 4pm on Sundays, service was held. Why 4pm? Our rural neighbors are agricultural based, they have cows to feed and milk, farm chores that must take place every morning, farming is a 7 day a week job. The house that is now the Language School and administration center of the Mission, was the first place of worship. Soon they could no longer fit in the little house and the need for a larger facility was needed. At this time service is held outdoors, under cover, surrounded by cows and horses who seem to enjoy the inspirational music that flows from Hectors keyboard and vocals, and the driving beat of Daniels drums. Both of the Mission's directors are also extremely talented professional musicians.

Working with little money they put on the most professional service. I reflect to my diverse religious background of having been raised Catholic and in later years attending various churches who served my needs. We had the songs sung projected onto a screen that dropped down from the costly ceiling. The Mission has a sheet hung from a chainlink fence, a young man of perhaps 10 years of age is in charge of the projector on a folding table and pushing the buttons on a laptop that operates the PowerPoint presentation taking us to the next page or the next tune. He is silent, wise beyond his years, serious and professional with his demeanor and operational skills. His small body stands 10 foot tall with the responsibility that is in his hands. The on looking cows are equally impressed as they move closer and closer, I think they are grooving on the tunes. The Indigenous as well as Costa Rican neighbors pour in. Some walk the long and winding road from La Suiza that follows the Rio Tuis to attend what becomes the highlight of their week. It is dark when they make the return trip on the dangerous dark winding road. As we drive home on the obstacle course of people and free ranging cows who have escaped and an occasional horse with and or without a rider, it always comes to me that it is a wonder there are not more roads deaths. No one has a flashlight or reflector, ever. It never seems to occur to them to move out of the way.

The women of Tuis will make their locally unique food for the Indigenous Christmas party. It will be made with love from their hearts because they have come to appreciate the Indigenous, their plight, and the richness that the Mission, Daniel, Hector and all of the volunteers have brought to their lives. They will never be the same again.

Ginnee y Felipe HancockFinca Quijote de Esperanza, SACosta Rica

Monday, December 03, 2007

I was sitting in my favorite chair at 2:05pm today when an earthquake rolled through the house. A smaller quake rolled through last week, or perhaps I was in the right place today to feel the maximum swell. Phil was in the kitchen preparing our coffee and heard the roof creak, but did not feel the roll. It is like a wave softly rolling through the house. It came up the hill through the front yard, from North to South, and into the living room. I shouted out to Phil that we just had an earthquake. The parrots did not quit screeching, not even for a moment. What’s a little more sway if you’re a bird?