Friday, February 24, 2012

Seeing my World with the Eyes of Others (Day 492)

Yesterday I had an opportunity which was not really unique for me.  I had the opportunity to meet a small group of short-term missionaries.
"Where are you from?"
"Oh, I live right around the corner, but I'm from Michigan."
This sort of conversation starter is not unusual for me, but it made me pause a moment and wonder why I never ask them where they are from.  Is it that I think I'm so much more interesting?  No, not really.  I mean, I got my start in short-term missions too.  The team gave me a ride to Antigua afterwards and I thought about it all the way back.  It's not because I don't care or am so egotistical; it's that I'll likely meet hundreds of thousands of them during my time here.  I won't remember all their names, all their stories.  And, to be completely blunt, most of their stories follow these lines: "My church was offering a mission trip, and I thought it would be interesting."  Good for you?  I mean, I am grateful for those who do come down on short-term mission trips.  Many of them can do things for the people that I just can't do.  I'm no doctor or surgeon.  I'm not a dentist.  I can use a hammer, but the idea of actually building a house is somewhat daunting.  I'm not a fire fighter, police officer, emergency medical personnel.  There is so much that I can not do for these people that I really do value short-term mission volunteers.  But there are so few whom I actually talk to, get to know.  The ones I do get to know tend to come back.  I think I get to know them because they do come back, not the other way around.

But what if it was the other way around?  What if they were coming back because they actually knew someone down here who knew them too?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Give us Today our Daily Bread (Day 489)

First thing I want to mention is that the kitten did die.  It managed a week with me.  We buried it at the school.

Second thing I want to mention is that per a suggestion by the headmistress of the school where my mother teaches, I have opened a YouTube account.  Via this link, you should be able to view videos of some of the work I do here.  However, due to the speed of my internet connection, you may wish to wait a couple days for the first video.  (It has been uploading since about 2 pm today.  5 and a half hours later, we're at 75% uploaded.)

Third thing is that I had an opportunity to talk to the woman from whom I buy bread nearly every day.  I had just left the pharmacy which is right next to her house/store after buying some "pomada."  (I was after some cortizone, but this was the best they could offer me.)  I showed her my hand and what I had bought, and she used the expression "primero Dios" which I would mostly call a "catch phrase" around here used by just about everyone.  For the English equivalent (not translation), it would be "God willing."  However, the woman said something that really struck a chord in me.  She said that even though this wasn't what I had been looking for, if I asked God to let this medicine work, He could use it to cure my problem.  (My problem is what we hope is an allergic reaction on my hands, primarily on my left hand but also affects my right hand.)  So, we got to talking about religion.
My bread lady is Catholic, and I identified myself as Christian.  Due to my mixed denominational background, "Christian" is about the only thing I'll call myself these days.  I even explained the mix to her, and she said that her family is the same way.  She wondered if she should be upset that her daughter-in-law goes to her Evangelical church while the bread lady goes to her Catholic Church.  I expressed my opinion that, in the end, it's all about the same, that the denominations are mostly a method of expressing one's faith.  And, for me, the only ones who might have a problem in the end are those who have been nominal Christians/Catholics/etc.  In both the United States and Guatemala, there are lots of people who claim to be Christian (for me, this title encompasses all denominations and will use only it for the rest of this entry), but there are many who don't know the least bit about the religion that they claim to be a part of.  What's the holy book? The Bible.  Who is in it?  Jesus, Mary, Adam, Eve, Peter...maybe some other people.  REALLY?  And I don't mean to rag on the Catholics here or in any country, but the woman who I talked to tonight knew so much more.  She actually READS her Bible, studies it.  Bravo.  And bravo for talking to someone about your faith too. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jesus loves the little ones (Day 479)

I have returned safe and sound to San Antonio and to my regularly scheduled activities.  I also returned to a killer cold.  (I've actually considered the possibility of having a cold and the flu at the same time.)  It put me out on Wednesday night and has pretty much kept me out for the last 3 days.  A few other things happened on Wednesday as well.  I'll start with the shorter story:

As I was waiting for the bus in Santiago Zamora, I saw someone washing their laundry in the public sink.  (Not unusual.)  The female was barefoot.  (Also not too unusual.)  The girl of about 3 years old managed to climb up on the edge of the sink and used a bucket to help her little arms reach down into the water.  She would then proceed to scrub her little clothes using a tiny chunk of soap (which was okay because her clothes were tiny).  I watched for long enough to know that she was not being assisted by any adult and, in fact, probably did not have an adult responsible for her within 75-100 feet (about as far away as I was seated).  Children like this are not the reason I decided to come to Guatemala, but they are the reason I came; I just didn't know it yet.

Another little thing which happened on Wednesday was the potential addition of another member of my family here in Guatemala.  Up until this week, we were a family of 6--myself, 3 cats, 1 dog, and a chicken--and if the newest member lives through the weekend, I might call it a family of 7.  Sometime this week, a litter of kittens was born at the school in Santiago Zamora where I work.  My co-workers and students tell me that there were 5 kittens.  Apparently, on Wednesday morning, there were only 3 kittens still there (in this space between the ceiling of a classroom and the roof).  By afternoon, two of those three kittens had died.  It was decided by my students and co-workers that the kittens had been abandoned and that the remaining one would likely die when the cool of night set in.  At 3:45 pm, my co-workers informed me of all of this.  "Annalisa," they said, "you like cats, right?  Wouldn't you like one more?"
Okay, for the record, I LIKE cats.  I think they're wonderful creatures.  I wanted ONE.  I have THREE.  So, when you already have two more than you wanted, what's one more?
I pulled out the screaming and hungry baby using two brooms strapped together, proceeded to teach an hour of 9th grade, and then headed home, stopping to pick up a small package of powdered baby formula on the way.  I didn't figure this kitten would last the night, let alone long enough to use up much formula.

Thursday, I was supposed to be translating for a mission group who came through the church I attend here, but I woke up feeling like a semi-truck had somehow managed to park completely inside my head. (Remember that cold I was telling you about?)  I was also running a fever, and my throat--while I had managed to squeak out a few words in English the day before during classes--was not going to allow talking.  That being said, I canceled my translating plans at 6 am.  Around 10, I started feeling okay.  I mean, I still wasn't sure about the talking thing, but I figured I was strong enough to take the kitten (and Mia, one of my older cats) to the vet in Antigua.  I got to Antigua on the bus, walked 8 blocks to the vet's office, and after about 5 minutes of being there, nearly blacked out.  Anyway, long story short, cats all taken care of for now.  It is Saturday morning.  The baby is still alive, and my mucus isn't such a disturbing color.

And...that's the update for now.