In several areas, Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided funds to purchase school desks where they are needed most. Recently, school kits and 500 desks were given to four schools in Guatemalan mountain villages. The effort required a two-day journey. "The first leg of our journey was a three-and-a-half-hour road trip to Rio Dulce near the eastern Caribbean coast of Guatemala," said Sister Pat Hall. The following morning, she and her husband arose and readied themselves for a two-hour ride over a washboard road for the desk appreciation celebration early that morning. Since the Halls serve seven Latin American countries, they try to make their road trips as productive as possible. On this trip, they visited three schools to distribute school kits--prized possessions in Guatemala since students are not allowed to attend school if they don't have basic materials. For many rural Guatemalans, the cost of these simple items is beyond their reach. "We had a grand time visiting with the children and teachers in Chulac," said Sister Hall. "The children and I rehearsed the ABC's, first in Spanish and then in English. They were eager to learn English words. They are so delightful, loving, kind, and receptive." Following the visit, the Halls met Heriberto Choc at the head of a road "that no one would consider drivable" to take them to the villages of Corralpec and Rubelpec. There, desks had been delivered to two schools. At the first school, the room was filled with children and their mothers, three teachers, and school board committee members. "They were very grateful for the desks," said Sister Hall. "After speeches from the president of the school board, teachers, Elder Hall, and me, we presented a crepe paper-draped desk to the school board president. They presented us with a framed diploma of thanks and a lovely black and white woven bag containing the traditional corn tortillas and boiled chicken as a token of their appreciation. We were pleased to be able to represent the humanitarian efforts of so many donors from all over the world." The second school is accessible only by a foot trail. Despite this, there were hundreds of people at the celebration. A boom box was blaring music, powered by an electrical generator. Again, there were speeches and thanks and this time a ribbon-cutting of the crepe paper-tied desks. As with all humanitarian projects, the missionaries researched the best prices available and purchased the desks in Guatemala City. Elder and Sister Hall visited the recommended suppliers and chose the friendliest and most cooperative of the two. Three rented trucks from the villages made three round-trips of 14 to 16 hours each to pick up and deliver the desks.
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