Saturday, February 19, 2011

Como Guatemala me ha Camibado...

We often talk about how some things have just become “normal” around here.  Zipping around a bus that is dropping people off is pretty much expected, and it’s what we do!!  Guys peeing along the side of the street are just a “normal” (but not necessarily welcome…) sight, and swerving out of the way to miss a dog is a common thing to do.  So many of the “normals” around here are things that would have gotten me completely up in arms in the states, but my views on what are reasonable and acceptable have changed a lot, and, I think in general, Guatemala has changed me in many different ways!!

First, I am much more relaxed about times, etc.  In the states I ALWAYS wore a watch; the thought of even being a few minutes late would get me really worried and frantic that we wouldn’t be there on time!!  Around here, there really is no such thing as “on time,” a few minutes late is the norm and being early is an extreme rarity!  Now, I do still try to be semi on time, but being exact isn’t as big of a “fear” for me!

Also, I think I have come to appreciate all the things that I have much more than before Guatemala.  In the states, I still wasn’t one that would want to buy clothing to just wear once and never pull it out of my closet again, but I am even more conscious of those things around here.  And really, it’s hard not to be a little more conscious… when we drive out of our community and see people walking around barefoot, dirty and in torn clothing, why do we feel like we need so much?

I have learned to treasure friendships even more so than before.  When you live away from most people that are around the same age as you and speak the same language as you, eventually you need some friends to hang out with!!  Whether that means work teams, volunteers, church friends, whatever!!  Also (as much as I hate to admit it), I have lost touch with many friends in the states, so those that stay in touch are even more valuable than I would have though before! 

I have learned to work, and to enjoy working!  If someone would have told me in the states that I would be shoveling sand and helping with concrete, I probably would’ve told them they’re nuts.  But what do you know? 

My sisters have become friends, even more than “simply” sisters.  I guess when there aren’t other friend’s houses to go to and too many others to hang out with; you learn to love those around you even more!! 

I have learned to rely on God much, MUCH more!  Life in Guate isn’t always thrilling, or even safe for that matter, so I have learned to trust God and depend on Him in everything!  I have seen him provide things and perform miracles (no matter how small they are) in ways I never would have thought before!! 

I have learned that goodbyes never get easier, never.  Saying goodbye to a little one that you may never see again, and really don’t know what their situation will be like at home, is a REALLY hard thing to do.  Every time.  Never easier.  NEVER!!

Guatemala (and God, for that fact) has taught me that no two children are the same.  Each child is different in their own special way, and each needs to be loved in a different way.  A hug and snuggling works perfectly for one child, but rough housing works better for another!  Some children won’t even look at you, but others come running as soon as the car engine cuts off, looking for loving.  I guess the variety is kind of nice though!! 

Here are a few more random ways that Guatemala has changed me.  I think my stomach has become much stronger.  If I look at some of the things I eat, some straight off the street, I probably shouldn’t be eating it.  But the stuff is oh so good!!!!   Also, I have learned to drive like a Guatemalan.  Look out; the USA roads will never be safe again!!  =)  Ok, I’ll take it easy…  Oh, and I’ve learned Spanish, small thing. 

Carnitas, I wouldn't suggest eating them unless you've "prepared" your stomach, but they're amazing!!

I think that, in general, when someone moves to another country, it is impossible not to change and not to learn new things.  I know for a fact that I have changed and learned new things since moving to Guatemala, and I’d say, overall, it has been a good thing!!  I just pray that I can use my new knowledge and changes in life to honor and glorify God! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm still HIS

The other day I was listening to the song “I’m still Yours” by Kutless and it got me to thinking, the chorus especially.  The chorus says…

“If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away?
If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart will sing to You”

I started thinking, would my hands really stay lifted?  I have had such an “easy” life so far, to have everything taken away from me would REALLY stretch me to the limits!  I have always had food on the table that I could eat (even if it wasn’t my favorite!), and parents that love me and will watch over me.  I have always had at least two sisters around to be with, friends close by to talk to and hang out with, and an amazing church family to interact with.  If that was all taken away from me, how would I really react?  Would I still look to the One who gave me my life for the guidance and wisdom that I always have (and always will) need?  Would my hands stay raised?

A little later, this was all still on my mind, but instead of thinking about this in my own life, I was thinking about the children that we work with.  So many of the children have already lost it all, and they’re not even teenagers yet!  These kids don’t know what it is like to have a table full of food, and more in the cupboards!!  They think of their parents as those that are supposed to be caring of them, but they go out, get drunk, and come home and beat these kids later.  They really don’t know who to trust in life, whether they will stay around and love them or turn their backs and reject them.  I find it amazing that many of these kids trust in a God that they can’t even see, and through it all, their hands do stay lifted!!

This morning, my dad and I were working at a medical clinic and a lady came in to see us.  She was in a wheelchair with kidney failure and five children to care for.  She couldn’t afford to pay for her blood tests, much less her dialysis, and in all reality, this lady was dying.  As I spent some time talking to her, I found out that only four of the children were her own, the other was an orphan that she took in because nobody else wanted her.  This lady’s house had burnt down a little while ago, and her husband was gone.  How would you really want to keep living?  But, in our conversations, she used the phrase “It’s only by the grace of God” several times.  Wow.  She has nearly nothing, and yet her hands are still raised?!  Wow. 

One of the later verses in the song has these lyrics…

“Even if You take it all away
You’ll never let me go
Take it all away
But I still know
That I'm Yours
I'm still Yours”

Woah.  Even if we seem to have nothing left on this earth, we still belong to our Heavenly Father, the one who gives and takes away.  The one who gave us life to live, a life to be used to glorify Him in everything.  No matter what the situation ends up being, we still belong to Him and He will NEVER let us go.  Never in a million years.  Never in an eternity.  Never ever ever. 

So, after chewing this over for a while and really thinking about it a lot, I have come to the conclusion that yes, in everything, my hands WILL stay lifted.  Whether the situation is bad, really bad, good, or amazing, my hands will stay lifted to the One who gives and takes away.  They will stay lifted to the God that I belong to, to the One that I always have belonged to and always will.  Will yours?