by Christina Roulund
written on our last night in Guatemala Saturday 07/15/17
Seven nights ago around this time I was getting ready for bed so that I could get a good nights rest for our trip to beautiful Guatemala. I had no idea of what to really expect, but from what I heard from my husband, it was rough, beautiful, rewarding and heart breaking - all at the same time.
And yes, It was a lot to process. Especially this being the first time I’ve ever been to another country and near conditions like what we were in for five days.
The way the people live, the food, culture, sense of community, landscape, smells, sounds - it was ALL very different from what I’m used to.
A couple things stood out to me almost immediately. The obvious smell of exhaust in the air and the tame dogs hanging out in the streets, the people were friendly. Smiling. Saying “hello” and “good morning” as we passed by. It’s not like that at all in the States. People are always in a rush and to themselves, never really taking the time to get to know their neighbor.
Here in Guatemala moms carry their babies in a big piece of cloth-like material, bundled around their upper body, their baby on their back all tucked away. You’d also see women, some as old as 60, walking the cobblestone streets with big piles of wood or fruit on their head like it was no big deal.
There aren’t any traffic lights so everyone just goes when they can. You’ll see bikes passing cars and people patiently waiting their turn. Its crazy how close the cars get to one another.
The first couple of nights we were here we had the most amazing volcano light show, a full moon just above it, the temperature perfect. We were about nine miles East of the volcano and could see the magma exploding out, lava flowing down the side of it. I’ll never forget that. One thing on my bucket list checked off!
Assembling the stoves was a lot easier than I expected, although John and Shawn did all of the heavy lifting work. Luckily it didn’t rain at all during the week while we were putting them together and it really wasn’t too hot either. Well that kind of depended on what the home was like that we were visiting. The last two homes we visited on Friday were in very tight spaces with low roofs, which made it hotter and tough for us to work in.
The hotel we stayed at was so beautiful and the people working here were so nice. The food was great every night! I typically ended my night with a fresh made pb&j (I get hungry a lot :0) The way they designed this hotel is amazing, especially with the sound of the fountain in the center.
A few mornings we walked up to the Cross - that was a view!
Putting in the stoves was rewarding, but seeing the smiling faces of the kids every afternoon at VBS was what I looked forward to the most each day. It was so cute, on day four (Thursday) they were screaming the songs, performing all the dance moves. Peter was a trip with them.
Some of the crafts we made with the kids were birds with feathers, paper alligators with triangle glitter teeth, paper plate bears with brown yarn and raccoons made out of cups - it was so much fun. I got two pictures from two different boys - one bird and one raccoon.
Just about every house we went to had anywhere from two - five kids ages two to fourteen. The last house we went to the mom had cancer so the oldest boy went out and got a job to provide food for the family. I’d say they lived in the worst conditions out of all the houses we visited, if there’s such a thing as one house being worse off than another.
We ended up sponsoring a little girl! She always walked in with a big smile, giving everyone from the center hugs with the cutest laugh and contagous smile. Her and her family gave me a beautiful letter and hand drawn photo of a sun on Friday right before we left. I’ll cherish that forever.
I have so many memories, I can’t wait to come back next year… hopefully with my 7 year old son, Connor :)