Friday, April 11, 2014

One Year


One year ago yesterday, we moved to Guatemala.

Today, one year ago, I was sobbing like a baby. Jackson was screaming. John was depressed. The dogs were playing dead.

Talk about culture shock.

I was looking for any excuse whatsoever to leave. Seriously.

Sadly, I could not come up with one.

I learned in that first week just how selfish I was. I learned how pathetic I was and how the only good things that come from me, are actually from God.

I learned what it was like to depend on God for my joy.

I say all of this to explain how good God is. I was desperately depressed.

Now, I have so much joy in being here. I love these kids. We are doing what God wanted us to do.

He has brought us through the dark time and shined his light on us. He is a good good God and we are so blessed to live part of our lives with these wonderful people.

Here is a list that John made. It is really so good, and I want to add 100 things to it.

Reader: Whoa. Whoa. Sarah. This is a blog about oils. I want to read about oils.

Well, cut me a little slack reader. I have lived in a third world country for a year now, and would like to talk about it a bit. OK?

Reader: Fine. I guess. 

(I'm starting to wonder if I have multiple personalities. I am doing this writer/reader combo way to quickly in my head. It's almost like there is really someone else talking.....)

As we hit the one year mark of living in Guatemala, I decided that I want to capture every feeling that I don’t want to lose upon returning to the United States in 2015. A little reminder to never forget…
  1. The smell of sulfur that permeates the water in your house, so bad that you can’t leave bathroom doors closed too long without it reeking of odor.
  2. Showers with little to no water pressure, and no hot water except for the middle of the day when it’s hot outside.
  3. The sheer joy upon entering PriceSmart (Guatemala’s version of CostCo) located in Guatemala City.
  4. The three hour drive through the mountains that should take no more than an hour based on mileage.
  5. The anxiety of trying to survive, much less thrive, in another culture.
  6. The hilarity of tackling basic civic responsibilities like parking stickers and national identification numbers.
  7. The way the lights in the house flicker when the dryer is on because power is so poorly distributed, yet insanely expensive at $400 a month. Yes, that’s dollars, not quetzales, and yes, we’re very frugal with our electricity.
  8. Having a car with a kill switch that you have to engage every time you park your car so that it’s still there when you get back.
  9. Having a car with deep limo tint on every window, including front and back windshields for security reasons.
  10. Trying to see out of the front windshield at night when it looks like your headlights aren’t even on unless you turn on your brights.
  11. Having to flush one of your toilets by filling up a pitcher of water because the water pressure is so weak.
  12. Having to use plastic zip ties to hold your muffler up off the ground, and realizing that your stopgap idea (thanks Blake Godkin) is actually better than what the mechanics in Guatemala can do because of the lack of available parts in country.
  13. The inability to have technology out in public without feel of it being stolen or becoming a target.
  14. Laughing at the idea of “becoming a target” when just being a white guy already makes you a huge target.
  15. Being told by Guatemalan friends that when people see you and your family they see dollar signs, simply because they know you’re an American.
  16. Feeling like an alien when you walk into a Burger King with your wife and 2-year-old son. Everyone inside literally stops what they’re doing to stare at you. This happens every time we enter any public space.
  17. The distance people give you when you’re walking your 80 pound German Shepherd.
  18. The feeling of relief when someone speaks English to you in public after you’re struggling to talk to them in Spanish. 
  19. The laughter that ensues when you ask them why they let you struggle for so long.
  20. The isolation of having nowhere to go to get out of the house during the day, and the security issue of being out at night. Literally no ability to grab coffee at Starbucks, go play at a park, people watch at a mall, see family, or grab lunch with a friend.
  21. When it gets dark you are basically under house arrest unless you’re working at the mission. Even then, the feeling of having to drive home at night (see #10).
  22. Having no central air in your house and installing a/c in every room of the house. Turning each unit off whenever you’re not in the room to save money (see #7).
  23. Having no drinkable water from the faucet and having the equivalent of Ozarka jugs delivered twice a week.
  24. Not being able to fill up your dogs’ water bowl from the sink because they’ll get sick. 
  25. Giving Jackson “showers” by filling up a pitcher of pure hot water and pouring it over his head because you don’t want him to swallow any of the tap water.
  26. Not having a bathtub in the house, so Jackson generally dreads his showers because he hates the anticipation of the pure water either being too cold or too hot.
  27. Not wearing your shoes in the house because you work at a farm and don’t want to track in the legion of germs that reside on the bottom of your soles.
  28. Trying to drill holes to hang curtain rods and shelves when your house is made completely out of cinder block.
  29. Having the privilege of being with your wife and 2-year-old son 24/7. I say this with sincerity as we’ll never have this much devoted family time once I return to a job in the States.
  30. Watching the garbage men tear open your trash to reclaim anything valuable you might have thrown away like cans, plastics, and broken toys.
  31. The joy of having someone call you from the States (*cough* 214-628-1095 *cough*).
  32. Similar joy of receiving an email or even Facebook note from someone you miss.
  33. Lacking community where you live. We enjoy going into Guatemala City because we have American friends there, but it’s 3 hours away.
  34. Laughing at yourself when you reach a dead end when talking to someone in Spanish.
  35. Laughing at yourself when someone is trying to get you to do something for them and you can’t figure out what they want.
  36. Learning dependence on God when it’s a challenge just to buy groceries.
  37. Realizing how much you love people that help you during the transition. 
  38. Realizing how invaluable you could be for refugees going through similar culture shock in Dallas.
  39. The feeling of walking through airports with 8 suitcases, three dogs (one who is barking), 3 cages, a carseat, and a hysterical toddler who’s been traveling all day.
  40. Going to a bank you are met with an armed guard with a sawed off shotgun. He lets you in, then you wait for the second door to open. Once in the bank you cannot use your phone for security purposes. 
  41. Due to the number of robberies the maximum you can take out of the ATM in a 24 hour period is Q2,000, which is about $250. Nice to know that someone can’t empty out your account in one fell swoop, but terrible if you need cash to pay bills.
  42. Having to go to the ATM three days in a row just to get enough cash for your monthly rent.
  43. Having to go to the ATM to get cash for every bill you have.
  44. Having to drive around town to pay all of your bills in person, since online banking and bill pay is rarely an option.
  45. Having all of your bills in someone else’s name because you haven’t lived in the country long enough for any company to trust you enough to pay your bills.
  46. Being confused when you see kids after lunch who should be in school, only to realize that kids only go to school for four hours a day here.
  47. Feeling frustrated when you realize that crime and corruption permeates every inch of this culture.
  48. Knowing the only solution to all of the woes is divine intervention.
  49. Seeing babies having babies, and there being no end in sight.
  50. Wanting to change the world, but realizing your role in a small forgotten village.
Thank you for playing such a vital role in this mission. To God be the glory!

John, Sarah, and Jackson

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