Friday, December 30, 2011

Furlough in Numbers...

0 full days wearing contacts (Stupid infection…)

0 dogs to replace Oso (2 tried!)
Lambert...  my Oso "sub" for a night!  :)

And Ed, my other "sub"  :)

1 Tinkerbell TV show that Abby, Risa and I watched one evening…

2- Number of 500 piece puzzles I finished

2 birthday celebrations (Jesus and me!)

2 school tests (Math placement test and Spanish CLEP test), which I passed!!

3 churches visited on Sunday mornings (CTK, Boyertown Mennonite, Community Mennonite)

3 inches (plus flurries) of snow!!

So pretty!!

4 flights (2 going, 2 coming back)

5 presentations (CTK, Landisville, Boyertown Mennonite, Log Chapel [NY], Morris)

5 guinea hens (and chickens) to scare Risa

6:15- Average time that I woke up, don't worry, I TRIED to sleep in!!

7 states (NY, PA, NJ, FL, TX, VT, MD)

8 different beds/places stayed during the trip

8:00- Latest the ENTIRE family slept in till

10 hours in the airport (4 hours going, 6 hours coming)

10:00 (or later)- Average time to go to bed.  I know that doesn't seem too late, but when you're running all day, it's late enough!!  :)

18 cousins to catch up with (14 on one side, 4 on the other)

Burkhart cousins

Freed cousins!

19 years- Age I became the day before we left J

28 days of use out of my coat (First and last days it was gone!)

30 day trip

100s of hellos

100s of goodbyes

Multiple trips to the mall (No explanation needed…)

1000s of miles traveled (On the ground, NOT in the air!!)

Number of memories made?  More than I can count!! 

We really was a great trip, I think we got done all that we wanted to do, plus some!!  Now we're diving back into Guate life, headfirst!!  But don't worry, it's a good kind of diving.  :)  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Quite "Normal"...

We’ve been in the US now for almost three weeks and there are a few things that still aren’t quite “normal” for us.  Allow me to explain…

-Speed Limits-  Don’t get me wrong, we have speed limits in Guate, but they are more of speed suggestions than limits.  I have found that when I’m driving here, I need to be REALLY careful about how fast I’m going.  On these straight, flat roads, it’s so easy to get going quite quickly!!
-School Buses-  You actually have to wait for them around here.  Back in Guate, it’s pretty much expected that you fly around any bus that is stopped, whether it’s a school bus, a public transport bus, or whatever!!  Nope, can’t do that here…
-Noses-  No, not face noses, but car noses.  Both of our vehicles in Guate don’t have any noses and we are sitting right on the wheels, making the turning quite a bit different.  Around here we are constantly over or under estimating how much space we actually have yet when parking.  Yeah well, no major damage has been caused yet!!
-HUGE Parking Spaces-  Seriously, you could probably fit two cars in some of the parking spaces around here!! 
-Bathrooms-  I know it still catches me off guard when there isn’t a trash can for the toilet paper in a bathroom… actually, that may be better, because if there is a trash can, it may be used!  =S
-Stop Signs-  Stupid things, you actually have to stop!  In Guate, stop signs are (once again) suggestions, not so around here!!  Part of the problem may be that I’m not comfortable with rolling stops either, so if you are ever behind someone that comes to a COMPLETE stop at every stop sign, that’s probably me.  ;)
-Communication-  It still catches me (and the rest of us!) off guard when we can actually talk to people in the stores and ask questions when needed.  I can speak Spanish, but it is quite nice to be able to effortlessly get a point across!! 
-The Cold-  Ok, so some people in my family are fine with it, but I can’t seem to get warm at times!!!!! 

On the other hand, there are a few things that we have come to enjoy and adjust to quite quickly!

-Hot Water-  You turn on the hot water and boom, it’s there!!  In Guate we usually have to wait a few minutes for the water to turn hot, so it’s been a nice change!  J
-English-  While it is a little “odd” at times, it has been very nice! 
-Heating-  When we walk into a house, it’s warm!!  Without heat in Guate, it gets to be a little chilly sometimes…
-Grocery Stores-  We make so many more runs to grocery stores around here than we would in Guate.  Granted, we went to Pricesmart every day to pick up the pastries and occasionally we would get other stuff too, but not quite like we do now!! 

It is amazing how often life around here will feel "normal" and like we hadn't even left, but at the same time there is this huge, Guate-sized hole in our lives that we (obviously) need to fill.  Don't worry, we're not staying here in the US permanently, at least not yet, and we (at least most of us) are looking forward to getting back to Guate and the "normals" that come with it!  But, at the same time, we are enjoying the little luxuries that come with the US and all the fun of being with friends and family again!!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

USA Happenings

We have been in the states for just about two weeks now, and quite a bit has been happening!!!  I think we have all overcome our initial culture shock, but there are still a few things that will hit us and kind of throw us off guard, but it’s not too bad anymore!  J  So, here are a few of the things that we have been doing… 

Presentations-  We have done three presentations so far, with two more planned in the next week.  On the 3rd we did our first big/general presentation, which seemed to go over pretty well!  It was fun to see the variety of people that came out and that we got to see again…  family, work team people, old people my parents worked with, old baby-sitters, etc.  Lots of variety!!  It’s humbling to see how many people support our family and the work that we do.  The next presentation was at a church in Morris, PA.  We mostly talked to family (dad’s cousins, etc.) but it was good to see all of them again and update them about the life we have come to love!  Our last presentation was yesterday at a church in Boyertown, PA.  It was at my grandparent’s church, where we had spoken before.  Once again, it was amazing to see the people that supported us, even though they didn’t really know us!

Snow!!!-  While we were in Morris, our family got our first taste of snow in two years.  Granted, it was only about 3 inches, but it was awesome!!!  Abby and Risa went out and played in it that evening while it was still coming down, and I went out the next morning and shoveled all that I could!  We probably all looked ridiculous out there jumping around and playing, but hey, we loved it!!!  J 
Shoveling...  =)

Guatemala “Family”-  On Friday evening we had the opportunity to get together with our Guatemalan family, those that had lived in Guatemala with ORI at the same time.  It was fun to catch up with all of them again and just be together.  It’s amazing how quickly everyone reconnected and was able to jump back into it! 
Catching up

Soccer, of course


Anniversary Celebration-  Yesterday was the 50th anniversary celebration for my grandparents (dad’s parents) at their church.  We went to the church on Saturday to set up and got to hang out with the Freeds (Dad’s family) for a while.  It was good to catch up with everyone and be together.  Then on Sunday was the actual celebration.  My grandma had pulled together a whole bunch of pictures from their past 50 years together, which included quite a few pictures of my dad and uncles as kids… did we get a kick out of those or what!!!!!  Anyways, lots of people showed up and it was fun to be able to honor my grandparents, 50 years is quite a milestone!!! 
Risa decorating her cake

Cake thief!!

That would be my father...  :)

Post-setup supper

Four brothers...  quite a while ago!!


Freed Family

Finished cake

I think those are the “biggest” things that have happened so far while we’re back.  In addition there have been quite a few dinners, breakfasts, meetings, and just catching ups that have happened.  Tomorrow we are going up to New York to the area that my dad grew up in, which we’re all looking forward to.  We have all enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family that we haven’t seen in a while, but we’re missing (some of us more than others) our home life in Guate and the “normal” routines that go with that.  But hey, we’ll enjoy our time here while we can and all the fun interactions that it will bring!  
One of our trusty cars

My Oso substitute for a little bit

First Friday fun

Friday, December 2, 2011

Culture Shock

There have been a few things that we have noticed since we’ve been back which have put our entire family in a type of “reverse culture shock.”  It’s just odd to have culture shock in what used to be our “home country,” but at the same time, I guess that’s a good thing!  It just goes to show that Guatemala is where we’re supposed to be and where our home now is!

So, here are a few of the things we have noticed…

                -There are no tinted windows on the cars.  EVERY car in Guate has the windows tinted!!
                -There are quite a few overweight people.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some in Guate too, but I think we notice it a lot more around here.
                -The coffee stinks!!!!!!  Granted, that’s not all coffee, but in general…
                -There are a ton of smokers.  It seems like, every corner we turn there’s someone smoking.
                -The workers in many stores aren’t friendly.  Again, that’s not always the case, but you don’t walk into many stores to a greeting of, “Good morning, how are you?  Is there anything I can help you with?”
                -There are squirrels!!!!!!
                -Everything is in English.  I mean, it is the USA…
                -The ground is so flat!!  You look out the window and see barn cylos, not volcanos!!
                -There are no guards around.  No body guards, no security guards, nada!
                -We try to pronounce words we don’t know with Spanish accents.  Guess that’s just habit.
                -It’s generally safe.  We can leave computers sitting out, cameras in cars, and walk along the streets.
                -There are a lot of small cars around.  In Guate you feel so vulnerable in a small car, here it’s normal!
                -Don’t label me as being racist, but there are a lot of black people around. 
                -The driving is boring!!!  No horns, everyone waits their turn, you have to go the speed limit.
                -Everything seems to be supersized.  Food packets come huge, with the calorie counts blaring how fattening it is, and yet people buy it!!
                -Houses are built out of stone, not cement.  Not to mention they don’t have walls and gates…
                -There are a lot of trees around!!
                -You shake hands instead of kissing.  I had a meeting yesterday and I was tempted to kiss the lady goodbye, hmmm, guess not!
                -The roads are straight.  No hairpin turns, no flying around the corners, etc.
                -YOU CAN ACTUALLY FLUSH YOUR TOILET PAPER!!!!  At our house back home we could, but if we went into public, you always throw the TP into the trash.  Never would have thought that throwing the TP into the toilet would be a hard habit to get into… 
                -One last thing…  it’s freaking cold!!!!!!!!  We’re pretty much freezing.  J

So there are a few things that we have noticed so far.  It’s true, Abby, Risa and I are MKs, and we show it.  The other day we spent 30 min walking around Turkey Hill (a convenience store/gas station), and an hour walking around CVS and a dents-and-bents store.  Crazy the things that fascinate us!!