"Loose a tree in the forest. Hide a tear in the rain."
I wonder if it was flying all night with fewer than 3 hours of sleep. Maybe it was the pain of leaving family and friends behind, or perhaps it was cultural shock of being plopped in completely new surroundings. It could have been the 3-hour ride in the rain-soaked bed of the pickup. Probably the physical strain of helping load and unload 4000lbs of food had something to do with it. Could it be the paradoxical feeling of normalcy and belonging that I feel when I see armed militia drive by and shotgun toting guards protecting orange juice trucks and flower shops? Perhaps it was even a little bit of wonder and sheer awe that even over so many thousand miles from the life I left behind to here in Guatemala City, there are still so many connections and similarities, to my life in Haiti, to my life in Idaho, to my time in Kansas City... There's such a mess of reasons that might have filled my eyes with warm tears while the rest of my body was shivering from the cold rain soaking us in the back of the truck, that it's nigh impossible to pick out any single one.
The first miracle happened upon arrival at Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. Miraculously, all three pieces of luggage had made it safely through 3 different airports and arrived on the conveyor belt in Guatemala. The second blessing was that Guatemalan customs didn't slash open everything and rummage through my luggage, which is a courtesy I have received from TSA every time I fly into the U.S.
It may come as a surprise that the first thing I did after getting situated in the guest house I'm staying at was take a hot shower and then visit a local wholesale store much like Costco. In fact, it was identical to Costco, requiring a membership to enter the huge warehouse of wholesale items stacked ceiling high on palettes.
I met up with the team I'll be joining to go do missions work this next week. We're staying at the Calvary International base guest house, and right now the core team is composed of a few Calvary International missionaries, some people from northern Idaho as a part of a "Do something worth doing" trip, Gladys (who I met several years ago on a Youth in Mission trip), a few Guatemalans, and myself. We will be joined by a team coming down from the U.S. for a brief weekend missions excursion and then a week of well-digging after that. The weekend trip was set up as a part of an outreach NGO Gladys and her colleagues have set up called "CREA." The well-digging project is done through Calvary International.
The entire afternoon was spent transporting 150 boxes of protein-vegetable mix from USAID from a small storehouse in the middle of "a dangerous place" to Gladys' house. I'd say the safe transport of the 4000 lbs of food on the back of a small Kia pickup without any spills or accidents was a miracle in and of itself. Just during the trip a car in front of us got smashed off the road by someone who wasn't paying attention. The pickup cab only held 3 people, so myself and Andy from Idaho got the royal tour of Guatemala from the truck bed. The seating became much smaller after loading all 150 boxes in the back. The food is apparently part of the Church of the Nazarene's NCM program for pastors in Izabalito. Much of CREA's work has been in Izabalito - in fact I missed their "Christmas trip" out there by a few days when I was in Guatemala last December.
So that was day one in Guatemala. I kind of hope once we get out of the city, things will slow down a little. After about two weeks here I will continue on to Costa Rica, where another surprise awaits me! I have no idea where I'll be staying! The family that was previously planning on hosting me somehow fell through, so other options are being explored.
Even though well-digging, heavy-lifting, and sorting medicines aren't exactly skillsets I put on my application to work with MAF, I think that for this first year especially, while I am tasked primarily with learning Spanish and the culture, any opportunity I'm given to be a part of things like this is a huge blessing.