Well our Guatemalan culture training has started right from the beginning. We arrived safely on Monday evening and got to New Life Children’s Home (NLCH) after driving around for about 2 hours trying to find our way. Lesson number 1 in Guatemala driving: left hand turns pretty much don’t exist in Guatemala so you spend a lot of time making multiple right hand turns if you need to go left. We spent a little time with the team down here and the kids that evening and then got to bed early that night because we were exhausted.
We woke up Tuesday morning ready to go! As most of you know we came down early this week so that we could do some “What to do and not to do while living in Guatemala” training, and take care of some important things such as visas, passport validation, cell phone transfers, and establishing our Guatemala bank account. We were told early in the morning that the person who was supposed to help us that day was going to be unavailable so we would need to wait until Wednesday. We were then able to take care of some meetings that we needed to have yesterday.
Today we woke up and found out that something came up again and that our stuff would have to wait until Thursday. At this point I was getting a little concerned as Thursday is our last day here at NLCH and we’re hoping to get done all we need. I found myself feeling anxious already about us not getting things done but kept reminding myself this is the Guatemalan way so it is a good chance to start adjusting. Please pray that things work out and we can get everything done tomorrow.
So being that our day was now open today we had the opportunity to assist our friend Jon move to his new apartment. Jon is our Guatemalan counterpart for the Serving At Risk Families (SARF) ministry so it was a blessing to be able to serve him and share the excitement of moving to his new home. This move was also a great experience in Guatemalan culture.
We were to start moving Jon at 8 a.m. however things were running behind, as they usually do in Guatemala. By the time we finally rounded everyone up who was helping with the move and got everything together is was around 10 a.m. and the move was just starting. There was some small concern with this as Trent was to be meeting with someone at noon and needed to leave around 10:30 a.m. to get to the meeting. Jon was going to be moving to an apartment that is about 30 minutes from NLCH where he was living. We had everything loaded in the trucks and as we were driving down the street Trent remembered that Jon had told him we needed to stop at Jon’s friend’s house for something. We pulled up and sat waiting as Jon hung out and leisurely talked with his friend. After a few minutes Trent got out to see what was going on. He came back a few minutes later and told us “change of plans, Jon is now moving in with his friend so we’ll unload here.”
I sat for a few seconds waiting for Trent to tell me he was joking because I just couldn’t believe that things changed that fast but it was no joke, things really had changed that fast. Apparently, sometime during the loading of the trucks Jon’s friend had called him and told him he now had 2 open rooms in his house and Jon was welcome to live there if he would like. The best part is that this friend’s house is literally right around the corner from NLCH so Jon will be close to his last home and will be closer to the families he ministers to in Villa Nueva rather than moving 30 minutes away. The whole time we were unpacking Jon I just kept thinking what a blessing it was for this to happen to Jon and how completely different it is from the way things are done in the United States. I mean we plan things out months in advance and the thought of just calling our friend up on the day they are moving to tell them they can stay with us would NEVER cross our minds. But this is how it is in Guatemala things are very unstructured and people are very willing to open their homes and hearts to others.
As we were moving Jon in I looked around his new apartment and thought “wow, I hope someone calls us and tells us they want to move in with them” when I shared this with Dylan he reminded me that someone already has. A few months ago a friend of ours who’s mother lives in Guatemala told our friend to tell us if we need a place to stay at any point while we are in Guatemala her home is open to us. This is a woman who met us once for about 5 brief minutes. I was amazed. As Trent tells us often: “It’s not just that you can’t out give God but you also can’t out give a Guatemalan.“
So, although there are delays and frustrations within the Guatemalan culture that wear on those of us from the U.S. There are also some wonderful parts that just warm my heart from the way Guatemalan people reach out and take care of others. I pray I can remember this on the days when the cultural changes get REALLY frustrating.