June and July is when a lot of short-term mission teams come down to Guatemala, and I often am hired to translate for them. Just a few weeks of translating greatly offsets my costs for the rest of the year; so I don't hesitate to pick up the jobs as long as they're with groups I know and trust. And, as always happens, the people in these groups start asking me what I'm doing down here; so I tell them about the educational program. The question is inevitably asked if they can come down and do a week of mission work with me. I often avoid this question by simply telling them that I'm not ready for groups to come down yet, but the reality is that I'll never be ready.
Imagine that I showed up at your house with 5-20 Japanese millionaires. They all have some sort of badge on their chest which looks slightly different on each of them, but you have no clue what it says. They walk around your house—with only one or two of them even asking permission to come in—and proceed to point at stuff and talk in Japanese. Some of them are even laughing. Then one of them—who seems like the leader and was at least one of the ones who asked for permission to enter your house—asks you for a hammer in passable English. After supplying the requested hammer, one of them starts to break open one of your walls. They install something they brought with them, show what it does, and go away smiling.
The question is if you would be smiling. Did you need whatever it was that they installed? Didn't you get along fine without it before? Did you know they were coming? Did you know what they were going to do to your house which, although humble, you loved how it was? Why were they laughing? What were they pointing at? They're all things which are understood differently in different cultures, and because of the language barrier, they are often things that can be misunderstood.
And maybe, besides the money, that's why I translate for these groups because, after nearly 4 years here, I can translate the joke about as fast as they can make it; so we can all laugh together. I can explain the process and explain how the finished product works. And maybe, just maybe, I can limit the damage done by well-intentioned people.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to all groups. Medical teams are very important. People who come to teach a skill are very important. I had a neighbor missionary lose one of his special needs girls a week or two ago. She stopped breathing, and he called an ambulance to come. The ambulance personnel didn't know how to do CPR; so he went and did CPR all the way to the hospital. There are needs which Americans can come down and help with on a short-term basis, but putting stoves and cement floors in homes aren't them. And I certainly don't see myself inviting groups down any time soon.
Just one more week of translating and I'm back to my normal work. That will be nice.
The Care and Keeping of a Missionary
So, according to the Affordable Care Act, people who are outside of the country more than 330 are exempt. That means as long as I don't have more than two 2-week visits during the year, I don't need health insurance. However, as my parents get older, I want to have the option; so while I was there in June I applied for Medicare and was accepted. Now they're saying that I have 60 days to have a physical done with my new primary care physician in the US. Please pray that they'll extend the deadline for me. This does mean that, regardless of other situations, I will be back in November for a visit, dates not yet decided.
I also have a friend applying for a visa to visit the US. Please keep him in your prayers as well.
As always, thank you for your support. Your prayers and your financial donations go a long way toward helping the people. I'm looking forward to my next trip out to Solola at the end of July. Remember you can reach me at any time via firstname.lastname@example.org and I try to keep my blog (an on-line journal) updated at http://GringaOnTheGround.blogspot.com.