Once again, I cannot possibly
read this while at work, please take me to the pics!
our family in the U.S. sees pictures of us on our website, they are thrilled
that we look so happy. Even though they all knew deep down that this was
the right place for us this year, I think everyone was worried that Guatemala
might just suck the life right out of us. For
this reason, they all wanted to send a huge thank you to our host family.
when Kerri, Owen and the kids hopped off the plane in Guatemala City on December
26th for the
start of their 7-day visit, they were carting with them two giant suitcases
stuffed with gifts from Scott's family, Gab's and friends too. After
experiencing Christmas Eve here in Cantel, the pile of loot seemed like gluttony
to us. Still, we knew the family would sincerely appreciate everything that
were hats, gloves, shirts, shoes, jewelry, toys, sweaters, pajamas, candy, and
much much more. We stuffed bags full for each member of the family.
We decided to spread the love around and before Ker, O, Abby and Josh left with
us for a mini-vacation, we gave each person in the family one gift. They
were really grateful and in return, they gave every one of the Brands a recuerdo
(gift to remember) of Guatemala. Then after our return in January (sin
Brands), we interrupted the normal chit-chat after dinner one night by bringing the bags
into the room.
was very surprised. We explained how our families were so worried about us
when we first came and how now, they see, via this site, how happy we are.
Our family and friends are so grateful to them
for opening their home to us for a year and taking care of us during our time
in Guatemala. We explained what a huge sacrifice - and for us, a gift - it is to give so much of
your time and effort to strangers. We told them these gifts were the
best way that our families knew to show their overwhelming thanks.
we said all of this, they acted as if their gift to us was nothing much - just
part of the normal routine. In fact, they said that we had been a blessing
to their family.
the unwrapping began.
two younger boys dove into their bags. They wore all of their hats at
once. They plunged into their sweatshirts. They attacked their toys
with wild abandon. They laughed and smiled and traded goodies with each
other. Marlon danced a Soul Train dance while Eduardo tried to pull up his
hat brim so he could watch. They both wore their gloves and rubbed the
rubber palms on their faces to see how "grippy" they were.
found a small case of jewelry at the top of her bag. This stopped her in
her tracks. She inspected every pair of earrings meticulously, placing
them each in a separate spot. She untangled necklaces, and giggled out
loud when she saw there were three of them. Everyone else in the
family asked if they could have one. She felt so spoiled. It was
twenty minutes before she would dig into the rest of her gifts - the sweaters
and the tennis shoes. It was like she was getting ready for the prom or
two older boys thought their gloves would be great for playing goalie during
their next soccer game. They put on their new t-shirts over the top of
their clothes. They wore their hats backwards, like all the cool kids
do. Finally, they learned the art of stuffing their Pez dispensers, which
provided a good laugh for the whole family.
thought her tiny angel figurine looked like her son, Josesito. She
laughed with her mouth open when she first caught sight of it. Her shoes
fit like a glove, and she modeled them like she was on her way out to a fancy
dinner date. She immediately took off her sweater
and draped the new blue one over her shoulders. She hugged herself because
it felt so warm.
Martin laughed at his HUGE sweater-shirt, and pulled the hood over his
head. He said it would help him keep warm in his sewing workshop. He
especially liked his new black Mazda jacket. The socks fit just right, and
he got a kick out of the tiny angel figurine too. The room was buzzing
with excitement. There were laughs and smiles and thank-yous and WOWs.
it all stopped.
asked the family to join hands in a circle. She wanted to pray for our
families. For the Dannemiller's and the Kubo's and the Brands and all of
the friends who had thought of her Guatemalan family this Christmas.
Martin started. He blessed all of our families. He thanked them for
their generosity. He prayed for their safety. He prayed for continued
blessings on all of them. He continued for quite some time, and then he
was finished. I thought we were finished too... then Graciela said her own blessing, echoing Martin's
words and adding more of her own. They were
heart-felt and sincere. The prayers and blessings continued around the
circle. Eight-year-old Eduardo added his sentiments. Marlon asked
God to protect everyone. Yadira gave thanks for our presence in their
house. The older boys did the same. They prayed for us all.
they were finished, they thanked us again. Scott had to turn away 'cuz he
had tears in his eyes.
you God for this family, and for the gifts they have given us. May we
always remember the true spirit of Christmas.