Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mayan MIracle Trip

Mayan Miracle Foundation...

Our mission is to provide physical aid and establish lasting relationships in an attempt to ease the burdens of those living in remote villages in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, the miracle is separate from our mission. While serving “the needy” we discover how desperately needy we actually are. We take simple provisions, which we have an abundance of, arriving with clothing, food, household supplies, and a sincere desire to make a difference. Then the miracle occurs; the exchange happens. We give them clothing; they clothe us in perspective. We give them food; they feed our souls with humility. We give them household supplies; they give us joy in simplicity. We offer our desire to help and they offer us true friendship. Our mission is not to change the lives of the Mayan people in some drastic way, but rather to experience the inevitable change that occurs in our own lives as we become “anxiously engaged in a good cause”. We sincerely believe that by doing so, our families and communities are strengthened by the miracle made possible by the Mayan people. 

Laila, Kevin and Tami Flannery

We had An amazing Mayan miracle experience.
Our hosts, Kevin and Tami Flannery are really amazing people.  I was so impressed with their goodness, mercy and attention to the needs of the people on the Yucatan peninsula…and the fact that they don’t even speak Spanish really surprised me.  They have been feeding villages and taking groups down to do service projects for 17 years.  That is a huge commitment.  Kevin owns Shamrock Plumbing and has a lot of money..but has felt compelled to help the Mayan People.  They accidentally made a wrong turn while on vacation 17 years ago and came up on a village that was “starving” and 3 little abuelas told Kevin that they “had prayed him here…and needed his help.”  He fed this village and continues to give and give.  He has fed many villages with food deliveries going in multiple times a year, plus soccer balls and candy for the children.  They do Service projects the Jorge- the once Branch president of Valladolid sets up for him… Jorge is one of Kevin’s guys who takes care of his home in Akumal, and finds the villages that need help, and the service projects for members of the branch etc… 

So we – the Welches and the Wangsgaards ( Tim, Linda and 17 year old son, Raydon)  arrived on Tuesday afternoon to beautiful AKumal, Mexico…. Close to Tulum.   We got to stay at Kevin and Timi’s home… Casa de Savasanna for 3 nights.  The house is like a Swiss Family Robinson tree house.  Windows all around that look on to the treetops.  It’s so colorful and tropical looking.   It sleeps 6 on the main floor then go upstairs to the main living area and kitchen, then there’s another loft bedroom on top.  There is also a casita on the property that Wayne and I stayed in and another apartment for the caretaker- Jorge.   Jorge is Kevin’s right hand man.    While there we drove golf carts, rode bikes, played on the beach, ate at Lucy’s ice cream- delicious mint chip and Coconut homemade ice cream- Laila, (Wayne, Kevin) and Raydon got to go scuba diving for the first time. Ate a lot of delicious Mexican food including giant coconut shrimp.  Wayne, Tim and Kevin went deep sea fishing and Wayne caught a barracuda that we took to a nearby restaurant to cook for us all for dinner.  It was really delicious.  It tasted more like steak than fish.   We went snorkeling in a bay filled with a lot of fish and animal life…the bay was just steps away from the Savasanna door.   We swam in Cenotes—mineral pools and caves with stalactites.  It was all really beautiful, REALLY hot and humid and fun….  

Favorite highlights include: 
Day 1:
Wayne: able to speak Spanish with Jorge. Get his story.
Laila: air conditioning
Melinda: meeting and getting to know Kevin and Tami Flannery. Coconut shrimp and coconut ice cream.
Linda: walking home in the dark eating ice cream from Lucy's
Tim: air conditioning.  Seeing Daniel and Jorge again

Day 2
Linda: seeing Ray have such a great time scuba diving
Tim: just sitting and relaxing with beautiful scenery and friends.
Ray: Scuba diving and riding the bikes
Wayne: scuba diving with Laila for her First time
Laila: scuba diving and pushing, running and laughing at the slow golf cart
Melinda:  sitting in the sun all day chatting with friends. Seeing Laila’s scuba diving excitement and eating dinner on the beach 15 feet away from the waves.
Tami:  just hanging on the beach with old and new friends.

Highlights or low lights - Day 3
Wayne:  catching a baracuda deep sea fishing and then eating it for dinner.
Laila : getting to know Tami and Kevin better at the Cenotes
Me:  Yikes-- montazuma's  revenge. Talking and laughing on bed with Laila

 We traveled on to Valladolid where the service began… We stayed at a hotel where once again Kevin and our Drive/translator Daniel know everyone.   I guess that’s what happens  when you’ve been on atleast 150 weeklong trips in the last 17  years to the same areas…all these people are the Flannery’s friends.    We ate dinner and got caught in a huge rainstorm while checking out the church.   We ran to the van and were completely drenched.

Highlights or lowlights Day 4: 1/2 day Akumal 1/2 day Valladolid
Wayne: hard day--leaky snorkel mask adventure then cleaning up wet floor and crappy bed.
Me:snorkeling and THE Crappiest night of my life.
Laila : running back from the church into the van in the pouring rain laughing

We helped put a cement floor in an outdoor kitchen for Maricruz…a newly baptized member.  The group before us helped put up the tin roof to cover the area.  The cement was hard, hot and sweaty.   We had to clear and level the area about a 15 by 20 and then had to mix and haul cement by hand…and by bucket.  When Wayne and Tim Wangsgaard got done, they could easily have wrung out their t- shirts .    Kevin and Tami went to the store and got Maricruz a propane stove and a sink, and shelving so she would have it nicer.   While we were working, Maricruz fixed us all lunch…she cooked a pot of beans on an open fire in her front yard, balanced on 3 rocks.  She does all her cooking this way.  She taught Laila how to make a tortilla and we talked to her while she was making the salsa.  She only speaks spanish, but between mine and Laila’s broken Spanish we understood that she learned to cook from her grandma and she really liked it.  She talked about catching a turkey and pulling the feathers off.  Laila understood so much she was finally grateful for the Spanish she had this past year.  It was humbling to sit in Maricruz’s home and eat this simple meal of beans, tortilla dumplings and salsa.  It was delicious. Laila licked her plate it was so good.

We went back to the hotel to shower off all the sweat and change clothes, then we headed to EK Balam a recently discovered  ruin… pyramid…that features a side of a pyramid with 110 steps and beautifully preserved hyro-glyphics of a white god with a beard teaching the brown people… and stone work that testify to me  strongly of the book of Mormon…there was even a baptismal font…

Around dinner time we headed to feed our first village—Actuncoh… this was the first time Kevin and Tami’s organization had serviced this village.   We were met there by the Mayan Miracle van and a group of people ( Daniel the drivers’ children) .  We unloaded rice, beans, crackers, oats, sugar, oil, salt, corn meal, soap, toilet paper, clothes for the assembly line of people that would be coming through….. candy and soccer balls for the kids.  Laila went around with a bag of dog food and fed the village dogs.  Wayne had a great time handing out fidget spinners to the kids and showing them how they work.  It was interesting and touching.  All of these little villages are in the middle of a jungle clearing…there are  about 135 families and a town square with a large cement pad with a tin roof… and a catholic church.  Kids and women of all ages come out to receive…men stay back on the porches.  Too much machismo to admit they need any help.  As the people go through and receive the goods, they say,” gracias” and we reply “all thanks goes to God.”   This village was really too far out for any kind of LDS missionary work, there would be no way or the members to get to church.   
We left this first village and drove to two homes to deliver medicine, say hi to two handicapped kids and give them fidget spinners. … and pick up a handmade dress for a little girl, then met up again with the van at X-uch ( pronounce skooch)  a village with a 110 families  that the Flannery’s have been helping out for years.  This village knew the routine and also had a proposition for Kevin to get his help in building a small pre school.    We passed out food and neccesities again, candy, dog food, soccer balls  to the kids… and more fidget spinners.  It was completely dark when we left.
It was an exhausting…humbling day.

Highlights or lowlights Day 5:
Wayne:  working so hard clearing rock , leveling ground, hand mixing cement, hauling buckets and pouring an outside kitchen. Talking  to the village children of Actuncoh showing them fidget spinners.
Laila:  helping at Maricruz home and having a conversation with her while she made us lunch on an open Fire. Taught me to make a tortilla.
Melinda:  Feeding the villages. Watching Kevin and Tami move through the people and smile and hold the babies even though don't speak Spanish. They speak the language of love.

We attended church in Valladolid.  It’s a branch  and looks a lot like the other latin America church buildings we have attended.  A beautiful spirit was there …and when there is no piano playing, all of the songs just get lower and slower.  Funny.   At the end of the meeting Kevin had all the men …and some other American visitor families…take off their white shirts and ties and leave them for the missionaries to hand out. 

We had lunch then went to change  and pack and head to Ik Kil.  Ik Kil is right by Chichen Itza- one of the 7 wonders of the world-  Ik Kil also has a giant cenote at the village to swim/jump in.   It was pouring rain and we waited for it to clear then headed to Chichen Itza

…it was the close of the day…and we had the place to our selves because Kevin knows all of the security guards and the archeologists and the tour guides.   It was great to hear about all of the buildings…the Warrior Hall  that features 2000 warriors…sounds like the stripling warriors to me… . We basically had the place to ourselves, but once dark hit, we found out we could do so much more.  So while we waited for the dark we went to Able the tour guides home for a huge Asado BBQ..with his family and all of us.  Laila met another 15 year old boy Isaiah who immediately liked Lala and gave her two bracelets as we were leaving and a kiss on the cheek.  

Laila climbing down into Chichen see the inside 2nd pyramid
At ten o clock we got back into Chichen Itza..this time to climb all over it.. Thank goodness for an almost  full moon and phone lights.   We climbed to the top of the pyramid…walked all around  it…then opened a locked grate and climbed a ladder down into the pyramid to see the smaller pyramid inside of it…. It was hot… tiny walkways… we could see the outer wall.   IT felt  Indiana Jones  like. We climbed back down and went to the Warrior Hall..and climbed up that to the sacrificing table and Ock-Mal statue.  More pics and fun… Laila did Hand stands and back bends on everything .   Then we went over to the ball field and hoisted Rayden and Laila up to the hieroglyphics that show the bearded god …Jesus…  They were right there touching it and telling us about it.  We had an unforgettable experience  running all over Chichen Itza til Midnight.
High lights or lowlights Day 6. Church and Ik kil. Chichen Itza.
Wayne: climbing all over Chichen itza at midnight.
Laila: receiving bracelets from Isaiah while eating at Able's home.
Melinda:  end of church meetings all the men take off their shirts and ties and leave them with ward for missionaries.     Private tour of Chichen Itza by Able.   

Midnight moon over Chichen Itza

Highlights- lowlights Day 7. Heading home
Me: Wearing new yellow Mexican dress all the way home. Looking like an Abuelita
Laila: making a movie of week
Wayne:  loving speaking Spanish this week.

We really had no idea what was in store for us…and what did happen surpassed what we were told.  Once we arrived at the airport… EVERYTHING was taken care of and it continued that way til we were back to the airport in CanCun…including plane tickets, All food, room, transportation, tickets to events, scuba, snorkel equipment, deep sea fishing…restaurants, ice cream… even some souvenirs.  It was amazing.  
So Grateful we got to do this with Our Laila and our dear friends Tim and Linda. 

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