Friday, May 31, 2013

Thank you, Salvation Army: Day 954

For those of you who are unaware, I am in the States for a few weeks, or at least I was.  I return to Guatemala fairly soon.  Anyway, as necessitated by my constantly shrinking waistline, I need to keep buying new clothes.  Every time I circle back to the United States, I visit Salvation Army and buy myself a new wardrobe.  I realize that sounds incredibly shallow, but in the last 954 days, I have gone from wearing L/XL shirts to S/XS.  I have gone from a size 16 pants to a size 4. (Although, the pants may be as a result of stretching. Since I wash clothes by hand in Guatemala, they don't tend to shrink back down in the dryer.  Size 6, upon buying them, tend to fit quite well; three months later, they're a bit loose.)  Anyway, this isn't a post about how Guatemala is the best diet-and-exercise program ever; it is a post about my visit to Salvation Army today.

Today I visited the Salvation Army on Sashabaw Road in Clarkston.  Fridays and Saturdays at all Salvation Army stores are 5 for $5 on one certain clothing tag color.  However, today was a very special sale.  It was not only 5 for $5, it was also 6 for $6, 7 for $7, 8 for $8, 9 for $9, AND...wait for it...10 for $5.  No, that's not a typo.  Buy 5 items at sale price, get 5 items free.  I called my mother, "Is it usually '10 for $5'?" I asked her.  "So that's why the guy looked at me funny today when I only had 5 items."  Bingo.  I had already put 10 items in the cart for me (as I try not to spend more than $10 on my wardrobe each time), but armed with this new information, I started filling my cart (and hanging clothes off the sides) for my kids.  You all are familiar with the story of Juana and her 7 boys if you aren't just tuning in for the first time; however, you aren't aware of some new changes which will be coming up.  (I will probably post about those tomorrow; so stay tuned.)

At any rate, I wanted to take this opportunity to THANK Salvation Army for the sale they had today.  I know they didn't do it for me, but through their generosity, I was able to buy 30 sweaters and sweatshirts for only $15.  7 of those already have a home they'll be going to; the other 23 soon will. Thanks for making sure my kids stay warm.  I appreciate what you do.  (And thanks to those who donate clothes to Salvation Army as well.  I appreciate you as well!)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Surviving: Day 924

Someone commented to me the other day that she didn't know how we--her friends and acquaintances here in Guatemala--live day to day with the extreme conditions around us.  No one had ever said this to me.  No one had ever made me think about this.  And until that moment, I hadn't thought about it.

Growing up in my family, we basically did without things unless they were a necessity.  Now, "necessity" had a very liberal definition.  We had a television, but we did not have cable.  I don't know of anyone who needs a television, but it sure helped us not get completely shunned by our classmates for being odd.  And we took family vacations every (or almost every) year, but they were road trips to interesting and educational places around the United States.  I didn't fly on a plane until I was around 15, and besides Canada (which, when you live 1 hour from the border crossing, doesn't count), I didn't leave the US until the day before my 18th birthday.  My brother bought our first video game system (an N64. You do the math.).  Our first family computer was an Apple IIe; our second family computer was a Gateway 2000.  (We may have had a Tandy in the middle, but that might have been my brother's computer.)  Basically, trips, electronics, clothes, whatever, never really happened.  One of my last Stateside memories of not spending money on something that wasn't necessary was going to a Lansing Lugnuts game with my then-boyfriend and his mother.  We got there a little bit early; so we went window shopping in the store.  I was told that if I wanted anything, that I could just ask and they'd get me a present with it being my first game and all.  I really don't know what it is to "want," and I'm still pretty clueless.  So, I politely said I didn't need anything and was just looking, and then we went to take our seats.  (There had been a hat I had been looking at and liked, but since I couldn't justify its purchase, I didn't ask for it.)  Well, from the moment we sat down, I knew I was going to have a problem.  The sun was in our eyes, I couldn't see the game, and, most important of all, it's dangerous to go to a baseball game and not be able to see...never know when a foul ball will take you out.  So, we went back and got the hat...not because I wanted it but because I needed it.

So when I came to Guatemala, I never thought about what I had or didn't have.  There is very little in the life that one actually needs.  And when we're talking about the people who live below the poverty line, those were the people who my friend was referring to when she said "extreme conditions."  People in extreme poverty live on less than $2/day. I personally live on $6.25/day. ($1 of mine goes to bus fare each day.)  I don't know what people in regular poverty live on, but I know I earn less than the minimum wage; so I think I might be in regular poverty.

So, what am I trying to say with all of this and how did I reply to my friend?  The secret to living in the midst of these "extreme conditions" is not living in the midst of them; it's becoming a part of them.  I deal with the same things my neighbors deal with.  We're all just here trying to survive one day at a time.  I feel I am a better advocate for them because I not only have the passion I came with, but I also know what it is like--as much as possible, anyway--to be one of them.  I don't only fight for a better life for each one of them, but for us as a community, as a whole.  When you truly understand who or what you're fighting for, you're better equipped to fight for it.

Mission Moment: May Newsletter

Sadly, the past month has little to report about my work here in Guatemala. If I were to pick one word to sum up the past month, it would be “sick.” I was blessed to meet a doctor here in Antigua about 2 to 3 months ago. She’s a nice person and gives me my consultations for free. So, when I started having debilitating abdominal pain about a month ago, I knew who to talk to. Long story short, I’ve been treated for parasites (which it turned out I didn’t have) and for a bacterial infection of my large intestine (which I actually did have). Between the exhaustion of the infection and the side-effects from the medicines, I’ve been sleeping 12-14 hours per night. In short, I have nothing to report except that I am slowly recuperating.

I can also report that I do have a date for my next trip to the States: May 21-June 6. I look forward to seeing you.

The care and keeping of a missionary

I just ask that you keep my health in your prayers. This infection and the treatment have set my immune system back a bit, and while I have faith that God will heal me, the waiting and lingering pain are annoying and discouraging. As always, I invite you to read my blog at and to e-mail me at (Admittedly, not much has been posted on the blog since I got sick.) I look forward to hearing from you!