sharing grief, love and memories at the beach in Cancun, Mexico- Tuesday Travels

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet. That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too.

My husband and I had travelled to Mexico on mission trips but never for a vacation . Our friends, who I will call George and Emma, own a time share in Cancun and graciously invited us to share it with them on their annual visit. They purchased it many years ago, and celebrated their wedding anniversary there annually. We appreciated their generosity and began planning the trip.

A few weeks later Raymond received an email from George with detailed instructions on how to book a flight to Cancun, how to get a reliable taxi to the condo and some other information. Since the trip was still 9 months away we were surprised, but knowing George is a planner and organizer, thought nothing else about it.

Not more than a couple of weeks later, we received  chilling and scary news. George was ill; we didn’t immediately learn details, but apparently it was something bad. And indeed it was. We soon learned that he was diagnosed with an advanced cancer, that chemo could slow, but not cure. We were heartbroken for our friends.

We did not consider options for the trip; obviously neither they nor we would go.  However, George the planner had other ideas. We went to visit them and after we all sat down and were comfortable George looked at Raymond and said, “I won’t be able to go to Cancun, but I want Emma to go, and I want you and Aletha to go with her.” They showed us a photo of the condo, located in a beautiful beachfront resort. It looked lush and luxurious, a stark contrast to the situation they were facing.

We didn’t know what to say; what do you say to a request like that? We didn’t want to upset him, so we just said yes, both of us silently wondering if it was the right thing to do.

George was right, he was not able to go to Cancun; he died a few weeks after our visit. We attended a memorial service for him; it was not a traditional funeral but a celebration of his life. And soon after, Emma contacted us and confirmed her intention to go on the trip and wanting us to go with her.

So we did and had a wonderful time. Emma was a gracious hostess, making sure we were comfortable, taking us to nice restaurants, ordering food in on a rainy evening. Having been there many times, she did not want to sightsee with us, but sent us out to visit the interesting local sites that she knew we would enjoy.

the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza
the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza

Over meals she charmed us with stories of her life with George, their children and grandchildren, pastoring a church, and fostering more than 30 children. And she listened with understanding and unconditional acceptance as we shared some of the dark griefs that we have walked through, some of which we have shared with no one outside our family.

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close up of the Chichen Itza pyramid

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet.  That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too. In some ways, it felt like George was there with us after all.

Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
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Taking a tour of a local “resort”, we almost were convinced we should buy a time share there. The sales people were persistent but we prevailed, and left with our money intact.
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in a cenote, an underground lake
in a cenote, an underground lake
Mayan crafts
Mayan crafts
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watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
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We all enjoyed this our last evening there. Perfect finish to an enjoyable trip .

While in Mexico, I used Frommer’s travel guide for information about the Cancun area and found it helpful and easy to use (this is an affiliate link that can help support this blog when used to purchase; thank you)

sharing the HEART of friendship

Dr Aletha

How we give new meaning to “happy campers”

Child abuse is underrecognized and underreported but estimates are that as few as 4% to as many as 30% of children worldwide experience some sort of maltreatment- physical injury, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual assault or exploitation.

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For one week I was the doctor at an exclusive summer camp for children age 7 through 11 years. Only a few children are accepted to this camp from those who qualify. There are strict requirements for admission, but once a child qualifies, they can return every year until they reach 11. Both boys and girls are recruited to attend.

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So exclusive is this camp that the ratio of staff to children is almost one to one. Some activities are done in large groups; others are done in groups of four campers with at least 2 adults.  There were adult staff in charge of leading music, teaching crafts, hiking, fishing, swimming and drama presentations. Additional staff came each evening for special programs and a birthday party for everyone. Since we were there the week of Independence Day, there was a fireworks show one evening.

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Three hot meals, served all-you-can-eat style, and snacks were provided daily. Assisted by a registered nurse, I oversaw treatment of any injuries, assessed illness and dispensed medications. The campers slept in air-conditioned cabins with full bath facilities, supervised by adult staff.

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The total cost of running this 5 day camp is in the tens of thousands of dollars; the cost to each child’s family-nothing. Sound wonderful to you? The kind of camp you would like to send your child or grandchild to? No, it isn’t.

This camp is exclusive but you can’t buy your way into this camp. It is not for the children of the rich and famous, celebrities, entertainers, politicians, or doctors. This camp is reserved for children who are in the foster care system- children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their parents.

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A special camp for special kids

 

Royal Family Kids has been confronting abuse and changing lives since 1990 by  sponsoring these camps .  The camps are staffed by local people for children in their community. All are volunteers. Funds to pay for the camp are raised by individual and corporate donations, grants, and old fashioned fund raisers like pie auctions .

Child abuse is a preventable, treatable medical condition- and a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls it  “a public health problem with lifelong health consequences for survivors.”

The World Health Organization calls it a “global priority” due to its potential impact on social and economic development.

All organizations that deal with child abuse agree that prevention is much more effective than treating the effects of abuse.

simple children's paintings on a wall

Many of these children land  in the foster care system which can be another form of abuse. Foster children may be shuffled from one home to another without warning, separated from siblings, leaving behind  personal possessions like  clothes, toys, books and photos. They have few opportunities to do normal kid activities like summer camps, family vacations, play sports and music lessons.

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Why Royal Family Kids

That is why our camp is so important. For their week at camp, each child gets  caring attention from safe adults, many of whom return year after year. The goal of the camp is to create positive memories for kids who have few. Each craft is carefully packed to go with the child, as is a small photo album filled with pictures of their activities at camp.

For the sake of their privacy and protection, I cannot show pictures of the children to you, but these photos  from the camp give you an idea of the fun things they did that week. Most important, they are taught that their life has value and that they can overcome the challenging situation that has brought them here. 

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If you suspect a child is being abused, here is how you can help.

Contact the National Child Abuse Hotline

or your local child protective agency – find the number at this link.

Together we can help every child feel safe and create positive memories. Thank you.

(This is not an affiliate link. Donations to Royal Family Kids are not shared with this blog.)

drawing of a laptop with GIVE on the screen
Royal Family Kids

 

 

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