Paula Moore, KP News

For many years motorists coming out to the Key Peninsula have seen the signs, “BEA’S FLOWERS U-PICK.” At Bea’s home on Creviston Road, there grow row after row of gorgeous dahlias, of every color and size. The Morrison family just leave a jar for people picking the flowers to leave their contribution. This gives owner Bea Morrison extra pocket money to help the family, plus fulfills her love of flowers and for gardening.

But the impact of the money left behind by customers for the beautiful dahlias goes far beyond the Key Peninsula — it travels the globe on a special mission the Morrison family has adopted.

Several years ago Morrison and her daughter, Linda Brewer, were presented with World Vision’s adopt-a-child program at their church, Chapel Hill Presbyterian in Gig Harbor. They asked for a little girl in Guatemala. Bea said, “We didn’t even know where Guatemala was, maybe an island?” They received a packet asking them to give money to a girl named “Silvia.” The whole family enjoyed writing to her, sending her money and some day hoped they could meet her. Letter after letter, hope became an exciting goal. But they wondered how they could ever earn enough money to make such a trip.

In the meantime, the family heard about Argos, a nonprofit foundation founded by Skip Li, a diplomat’s son, who wanted to build the lives of Mayan Indian descendants instead of seeing them destroyed by the military war that raged during 1980-90. His vision was a five- to seven-year plan, where the natives, with other people’s help, would buy land and develop it into a self-sustaining village. Then this group would pay back the money borrowed, and it would be given to a new group to build another village. The Program is called “A Journey with a Village.”

Bea and Linda with her sister, Carla Cameron, and aunt, Linda Wilcox, were excited. They would’ve really wanted to help the village, La Esperanza, meaning in Spanish “The Hope.” Perhaps if they went to Guatemala to help this village they could also visit Silvia.

They began to brainstorm on how to finance such a trip, and came up with the idea to set up a flower and produce stand, selling their flowers and produce from the local area. This money would go toward sending the four of them to Guatemala. After three years of hard work and prayer, the group left in January 2004 with people from three area churches to see their dream come true.

In Guatemala, the women saw cities with old and beautiful buildings that were in complete contrast with the malnourished and always hungry people and animals. Each day the group had breakfast, got into trucks and rode out to the villages to do hands-on work with the natives. Their work consisted of helping the women pick corn, their main food source for the year, real backbreaking work. The women have to do it because most of the men are away working in the coffee fields to bring home for the winter a mere pittance of pay.

Other manual labor included helping repair roads so villagers could get back and forth to the market to sell their wares. Part of the group examined people and gave out glasses. All was not work, but time was taken to get to know the families, play with the children, put on skits and give out musical instruments to help the school.

Brewer said, “Wow, we had fun! We sang some songs and the kids played their instruments in a discordant, yet joyful din.”

Despite all their hardships, tragedies, and heartache of the war years, with many barely surviving, the people were always open, friendly and generously shared all they had with the group from America.

After the four women finished their project with Argos, they still had one more goal to fulfill. They would go to see Silvia and her family. This visit was a happy but sad time.

The World Vision leader informed them that Silvia’s family, which had been separated many times, was now together. But the job working for a farmer barely gave them enough money to survive and a shack to live in. Everyone was malnourished and their 2-year-old son was so ill that he might die if the family were forced to move again. This could happen at any time, depending on the whim of the owner of the farm. The meeting was climactic. Silvia and her siblings were dressed in their best clothes, food given by the village was cooked and shared, and a holiday atmosphere pervaded the small home. The family was so glad to meet the women who were helping them. The father, especially, was overwhelmed they had actually come and wanted to share in his family’s life. He had never known anything but poverty, sadness and fear, since he was left an orphan at 5 when the army killed his whole family.

He asked how they came to pick Silvia. Brewer answered, “We didn’t, and God did. And He provided a way for us to come and see her.” After giving the family a gift of a Bible, they had to leave. But each woman was wondering how they could help this family even more.

When the World Vision representative told them it would take $1,000 to buy land for a home and World Vision would provide the building material and labor, the women really got excited. Returning home, they were so fired up that they, with their church, had a plant sale that raised the money for Silvia and her family. Due to delays, Silvia’s family just received their new home in July of this year. Their second plant sale this year provided Argos with nearly $1,600 to buy medical equipment for their clinic.

However, the four women did not rest on their laurels, but continued throughout the summers to sell flowers and produce to earn enough money to go on their second trip of love to Guatemala. They will leave in January. Again they will be working with Argos in La Esperanza. Because of Hurricane Stan and the resulting mudslide that killed over 1,400 people, they thought they would not get to see Silvia and her new home. But they have been given the green light to go ahead with their plans.

“Our awareness of people in a Third World country and how much material things we have in this country that we can share with others has been heightened,” said Brewer.

Whenever or wherever these women see dahlias, they will be reminded of Guatemala and how they were able to help its people produce fruit in their own lives.

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