Yesterday marked two years in Guatemala.
|At the airport in Portland, April 20, 2013, ready for a grand adventure.|
|Our flight to Guatemala.|
It's so cliche, but the truth is it has flown by. I look at pictures of my girls when we arrived two years ago, and I'm almost floored. Where have two years of their lives gone? Or the last year?
A sampling of our first few months:
Hazel was sick a lot in those first few months.
We talk about going "home" to the Pacific Northwest after our 5-year term is finished, but I can't wrap my head around the fact that in three years we will have a 7 1/2 year-old, a 5 1/2 year-old, and a 3 year-old.
Some days I grit my teeth and get to the tedious tasks that fill up the majority of our days of work and administrative tasks in the office. I see myself pushing through, forging past this task or that, looking to the next team meeting or travel planned, those things that give me more life and energy. But I realize I have to be careful. If I push through too blindly, I'll push past these formative years of my girls.
5 years is nothing to sneeze at. If and when we head back to the States after this experience, the girls' sense of "home" will be Guatemala. They will be uprooted from their friends and their school and their lives here.
In two years we've learned a lot. There's a steep learning curve in this role in the first year or two, so to be finally feeling like we have a handle on some of the expectations feels good. The job is extremely cyclical, with reports and plans and meetings on a yearly calendar. It's easy to live month to month or between activities.
There have been surprises along the way. We're living in our 4th (and hopefully last) home since arriving in Guatemala. I'd say my Spanish has improved immensely (from very basic), but I think I would have expected it to be even better by now. I hope I'm not saying that in three years.
I didn't know how hard it would be to balance working part-time, being at home with my girls, the stress of a new language and not really having any close friends.
Our lives have changed. We've changed. We came as a family of 4, now we're 5. We came with one language, our house is now filled with "Spanglish." Our girls are getting older every day.
We came as vegetarians. We no longer abstain from meat, mostly when we're outside of the home.
One of the best parts of living here: fresh squeezed juice. I will never want juice from concentrate again.
There's a lot more I could say about our first two years here, or the fact that three still remain in our contract. I will continue to write and reflect and record our experience here. We have a lot of life to live in the next 3 years.