I met a new friend named Carol who works for Servants 4 Him in and around Antigua, Guatemala. After supper last night I was trying to get Grace to fall asleep and was wishing that I had brought my Moby wrap. Carol said that the women in the villages that she ministers in have asked her “Why don’t American women like their babies?” She asked why they thought that and the women replied “Because they leave them at home when they go to the market or to work. They also kick the children out of their homes as soon as they turn 18. Our children stay in our homes until they get married and even then our sons usually bring their wife home to live with us.” Carol explained that American women do in fact like their children, they just prefer to be hassle free in the market. Also she told them that in America we like our children to become independent of us and have homes of their own. We like to spend time with them, just not all in one house all of the time. In the villages here the women pretty much toss their baby on their back and wrap a blanket around themselves to hold the baby on. They carry them around all day no matter what they’re doing. This goes on until the child is at least two years old. Children in villages here don’t really ever crawl. They just go straight to walking. I asked Carol if she knew why they did this and she said the women think the ground is too dirty for the kids to walk on.
It’s easy to look at the ways that people here do things and think they are silly or weird, but it makes sense to them. In a village where clean bathing water is hard to come by it does make sense to not let their children crawl around on the ground. I personally LOVE having my own home and get a little overwhelmed when I spend long periods of time with any friends or family other than my husband and children (and even then I need to get away ). But you could argue that the Guatemalans have it right. They are more concerned with quality time with family then getting their children to the right college or the right job. They are almost never too busy to have a conversation with you. I’m excited to see what God will teach me through Guatemalan culture. I’m planning on taking a trip with Carol into some of the villages that she goes to as part of my language learning!
Almost exactly three years after our survey trip to Guatemala we have returned to live! A lot has happened in that three years including the addition of our two sweet babies. Our flight here went as smoothly as it possibly could have. The ice melted enough for us to drive to Atlanta and take off almost on time. We had to edit down all of our belongings that we were taking to eight suitcases and six carry-ons. Most of our team was at the Guatemala City airport to welcome us and make us feel more at home.
Since we arrived we have been basically living out of our carry-ons. We are staying with Glenn and Judy Stewart for a few weeks in Guatemala City until Hannah’s language school begins. We have already gotten bank accounts, cell phones, and found an apartment to rent. Our next step will be finding a vehicle.
The kids have adapted well. The first day we arrived we ate lunch at a fast food restaurant called “Pollo Comparo”. As soon as Solomon saw the playground he jumped right in with the local children. He also went to the kid’s Sunday school class at a local church and loved it! He will be teaching us the correct way to speak Guatemalan Spanish soon. Grace gets a lot of positive attention here just because she’s a cute baby that obviously isn’t from here!
We will have many obstacles ahead while we continue to adjust and learn the new culture. We can’t drink any of the tap water here even when brushing our teeth. Fruits and vegetables have to be soaked in a special solution before we eat them. We line dry our clothing here because of the high cost of electricity. Many nights we have been awakened to fireworks that sound a lot like gunfire (not what you want to hear when there are armed guards at every neighborhood).
There is a lot to be afraid of in Guatemala, but there are so many more reasons to fall in love with the country! We get to see one or more volcanoes at almost any time. There are tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and beautiful foliage everywhere. It’s been sunny and 75 degrees every day that we’ve been here so far. Many people here don’t make much money, but will go out of their way to be friendly to you. We met a woman named Irene who travels on the dangerous public transportation buses two hours each way just to work as a maid in a middle class neighborhood where she makes less than $15 a day. Instead of wasting time on the bus ride she preaches the gospel to anyone on the bus who will listen to her!
We are excited to get through language school and start working at the Christian Academy of Guatemala. There is much need there and they are anxious for us to start. We are equally excited about the people that we will meet and opportunities to minister to others during Hannah’s time in language school. Please continue to keep us in your prayers! Paul tells us in Ephesians that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We have to remember that while we have many physical struggles, we will also have spiritual struggles in which “the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much”. One part of our journey has ended and now an even more difficult part has begun. The financial support of our partners is a necessary avenue to keep us here, but prayer support is even more important. Please feel free at any time to drop us a note through email, Facebook, Skype or our blog to encourage us or let us know that you are praying for us.
May God Bless You!
Jordan, Hannah, Solomon & Grace
Life is good!!!
Poor Soly got bitten up by mosquitos. No more sleeping with the windows open at night!
The view from Glenn & Judy’s apartment.