Gabby's Journal Entry #2
"In The Beginning.. there
was much nose hair"
So I bet you're thinking I'm going to
tell some bizarre story about a Guatemalan with lots of hair - but
you would be wrong for two reasons. One, because Guatemalans
don't have much hair and second, because my beginning is about
adjustments not gross body hair, although, that may come later, who
There are many things one has to
adjust to when moving to and living in another country. First,
of course, is the fact that I have a 1st grader's level of espanol.
No surprises for anyone there but except for me, but more on that
later. So we arrived in Xela (the indigenas' name for
Quezaltenango) on Thursday after spending the night in Guatemala
City. The trip here was uneventful. Customs did not include
any harassment or nervous spanish like some of us had dreamed it
might. Instead, the only thing that happened of interest was
Scott dropping one of his official documents and smiling and
chuckling and scaring the little Guatemalan woman that was waiting patiently
for the paper he dropped.
So, here we are, in our new
home. It's not what I expected but it's also much more than I
thought it would be. Our welcome was beyond
description. The PRESGOV Committee, the group we are
working for/with PC USA, all came to greet us. They traveled
as far as 4 hours from their homes to be there. Now, I ask
you, who in the US would do that for a job that you do for
free? So their presence was humbling enough and then they
start speaking. Spanish yes, but slow enough for me to
understand most of it and Joe translated also. They spoke of
love for us, their country and God. I have to admit, I was
moved to tears.
I know, I know, I haven't clued you
into the whole nose hair thing. I'll skip to that so as not to lose
some of you. So, you know how you have things that you take
for granted? Like carpet in the house, flushing toilet paper,
or even a house with a ceiling? Yeah, well, me? Nada mas
As Scott and I were walking a mile to school this morning
uphill (I'm not making this up), I was really glad to have nose
hair. Yep. Those tiny little guys in there are working
overtime. This morning and every morning, they will be there,
en mi nariz (in my nose) to keep the diesel fuel, dirt, smoke and
such out of my lungs. Think back to when we were all younger
and we went to clubs past 11pm. Remember that? And when
you got home, you'd blow your nose and black stuff would come
out. Same thing. Only it's during the day. The
number one reason for death of children here is respiratory
problems. So, there you go, hence, the title.
Walking To School
Don't get me wrong, I think Xela is
a beautiful place. It just requires different things from me
and my body. Scott and I have likened it to the U.S. in the
50s and the 60s combined. When women stayed home and didn't
feel (maybe) like they had options other than to stand by their man
because they'd never worked outside the home and an environment
where equal rights and a non-discriminatory world, just didn't exist
completely. The difference though, with these women and the
people in general is the grace and humility with which they live
their lives everyday. While I'm rambling on to you, many of
the people we know here are up working a second job to put their
kids through school - and it's 9pm here.
The average work week in Guatemala
amongst the people we know is about, oh, 60 hours minimum. As
any example, our host-dad, Martin, will work all day driving for
PRESGOV or taking us around the city and then goes home to MAKE
denim jackets and book bags and purses to sell. And every day,
he makes us laugh with his wit and patience with our broken
Another thing I didn't expect was
the water situation. I was never clear before we left, how it
was going to be possible for us to always have access to clean
drinking water. Well, now I know. Most people pay for
water to be delivered each week. Sheesh, we didn't bottled
water when we don't even have to. Crazy. That's what the
Guatemalans would probably say about us if they weren't so kind.
Oh yeah, so back to our current
home. We are living with our language school host family for
five weeks. The house, from the street has a
brightish-lightish blue wooden door and is made of cement.
Inside we are greeted by Peque (like pequeno = small) and Foster -
perros. The first thing is that this is a
middle-class if not better-off family. But what strikes me
isn't the dogs, or the canaries or the pila in the center but the
fact that when I looked up, there was no ceiling in the middle of
the house! The entire house is a cluster of rooms surrounding
a courtyard with the pila (cement sink for washing dishes and
clothes) in the middle and clothes lines all around. It's a
colorful scene but also potentially dangerous for someone like Scott
who is much taller than the average Guatemalan.
The Door To Our Room
Scott On The Bed
Our room is 8' x 7' or so with room
for a double bed (cama matrimonial), a bookshelf and a small side
table. It's constructed of cement on two sides, as though it
was built onto the outside of the existing home with wanes coating
(wood paneling) on the other two sides. It has a wooden door
and latch lock and a padlock on the outside for when we're not
here. No AC, NO central heat. Just a cement floor to
welcome us in. But it's cozy and we're together which is more
than the other 58 people in this program have.
The Pila In The
Well, I'd better run, something
just ran across our roof and Scott and I have to race to the
bathroom again to see who gets to go first. Ah, the simple
things in life. It's a big dose of reality at one time, but
we're happy. We have much to learn and all the time in the
world to do it - at least for the next five weeks.
Adios and Dios le bediga!
5: 1-4 - Hope for a better world
Therefore, since we have been justified in faith, we have peace with
God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained
access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because
we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance,
character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out
his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.