Late May 1999

Dear all --

I always reread the letters I've written each year to all our participants (thanks to computers) before starting on the new one. What I see is that: 1/ I'm getting this written and out a month earlier each year -- which means I must be getting more organized -- which is good. 2/ The type gets smaller each year -- which means I'm trying to fit more on the page so I must have more to say -- I think this is good. 3/ The number of folks I am sending this to each year is REALLY growing -- that's good for sure!!

Our biggest new news (for those of you who were not 1999 participants) is that we have a new little boy in our family!! His name is Daniel (for my dad) Thomas (for his mamacita Tomasa). He is Joey's natural cousin -- which is great. I had some doubts about whether our family should grow or not, and so decided this time around to do a little groundwork and leave the rest up to help from above. To me, it couldn't be much clearer that Tommy belongs in our family than to have Joey's grandmother call and say: Tomasa (13 yrs old and Joey's birthmom's sister) is pregnant. Would you take her - so that no one here knows she's pregnant - and then adopt the baby??

So we did, and it was a wonderful experience all around. Tomasa arrived in Antigua the day before our first classes in January began, so those who joined us for winter '99 workshops had a chance to get to know her, and after February 17, our new baby Tommy. Tomasa stayed with us an additional month, and then decided to head back to Rio Dulce to rejoin her 'other' family. Joey got all the advantages natural siblings have. Mom - how does the baby get in Tomasa's tummy.?? Mom -how is the baby going to get out?? Mom - I'm going to eat lots of candy so I can get fat and have a baby, too !! (Ok, so maybe I didn't answer that first question all so well.)

Enough of personal life. Our biggest business change is that now some of our classes are available for academic credit. It's been part of the long range plan, and with Laurie O'Brien's writing class offered this July, it has become a reality. Last winter, for the first time, my assistants were local Guatemalans. Carmen will continue to work with us in Antigua. The continuity is great and a step in the right direction toward year-round classes. That will open our market to educators but still enable us to live in Minneapolis during the summer months (when I love living here). What a plan!

Our participants continue to fall in love Guatemala, have life changing experiences, and keep coming back for more! The organizational work is easier for me each year, so I'd love to work on branching out and somehow bring art to local kids. (Anybody want to write a few grants for us??) I'm trying NOT to add new classes, and instead concentrate on filling those we have. Small classes are great for all of you, but not so great in the money making department. So you can help us out by passing on this extra schedule to someone who might be interested in our program. If they decide to take a class, that's $50 off (plus $50 off for returnees) your next workshop. Isn't it enticing to come visit us again!!

Take care, I hope you have a wonderful summer and in all que le vaya bien.

Hugs from Liza, Jessenia and Tommy