Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Regalitos (small gifts)

We received this sweet gift from our church. It's an indigenous mother with a baby on her back. I look forward to displaying it in our home in Oregon and thinking of our friends here.
We are giving this gift to our housekeeper, as a Thank You and a special memory for her of Ruby. She has spent the most time with Ruby, and they have a sweet bond. Just yesterday when Rosa was leaving for the day, Ruby started yelling, "no," ran up to her, and wouldn't let her put her down. Rosa gets tears in her eyes every day now, knowing we are leaving in a few days.

"The house is so empty," she keeps telling me. We are almost all packed.
We took our last trip to Antigua this weekend. I took several pictures on my Mom's camera but only have a couple here that I took. It was fun to get a few last minute souvenirs, and I look forward to hanging some of our purchases in our new home. Little pieces of Guatemala on our walls.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Some hairs cut

The girls have been wanting to get their hair cut for months. I think the last time they got it cut was when they had lice...almost a year ago.

Hazel has been, surprisingly, the most excited about it.

I finally took them today. It's very cheap to get their hair cut here, and I wanted to take advantage of that before we move back North where everything is double or triple the price.
When Hazel's cut was almost done, she started crying.

"It's too long, still," she said in between sobs. (The woman cutting her hair was worried she had cut it too short).

Then, "I miss Daddy!" More sobs.

And then she was fine. I'm not sure what happened. I think she thought she was going to cut it even shorter. She got maybe 4 inches cut off.  I told her we could go back if she decides later it's still too long.

Their new dos.
(Ellie has decided Hazel looks just like her cousin Adelynn now.)
The girls have decided they are tired of Daddy going on so many trips by himself (he's currently on a trip to visit a project here in Guatemala that will be part of his new job). After Ellie was crying in her bed last night, missing Daddy, and Hazel today asking repeatedly when Daddy will get home, I have assured them that a part of why we are moving to Oregon is so that Daddy will travel less. They are very happy about that.

Another affirmation that we are making a good choice to move.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Some Down Time

Last Sunday we said Goodbye to our Church Family.
This is the girls' main Sunday School teacher. She's been a good friend and a special person for the girls.

My Mom and Stepdad came to visit us this week. We had planned their trip months ago, before we knew we were moving.

We took a much needed rest together as a family. We spent a few days swimming and playing in the sand. Michael and I had a long to-do list that we needed to get done before we left, and we did it! It felt wonderful to actually be able to let go of work things for a few days. Especially because we fly home July 3rd, have one day, and Michael starts work on the 5th. It will be a whirlwind.

So we played.
And relaxed.
And swam in the pool.

And swam in the ocean.
And practiced some moves.
It was a much needed break away from cell phones and work email and technology.

And now we are 5 days away from the next phase of our lives. Our last bag is almost packed. (Literally, it's at 38 pounds).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Last day of school, pictures, and packing

We're mostly packed. We've got a whole bunch of duffel bags and suitcases full of toys and books and clothes. We've organized the house and the office. We're typing up everything we can think of that would be helpful for future Reps, from logistics in the office, partner and project updates, and where the best local market is. We're almost there.

Of course, I can't be on top of everything. I thought today was the girls' last day of school, and that tomorrow was to be a Father's Day activity at the school. Whoops...the girls came home yesterday with all of their belongings, and today ended up being the Father's Day activity.

So, the girls are done with school. They wanted to make cards for their teachers this morning to say goodbye.
Ruby helped.
 I was pretty proud of the writing that both girls wanted to put on their cards.
"Kati: I'm going to miss you. Love, Ellie"
"Eva, Hazel. I will miss you."
The theme for Father's Day at school was Super Heroes, so they (sort of) dressed up and went to school with Michael.
Ruby turned 17 months this week. Mostly I write that so I have an excuse to put a couple of pictures of her helping me in the kitchen. She's learned to do a cheesy smile when I bust out the camera. She still loves to sit in her spot on the counter, says aca in Spanish (here), and "helps" me. It's her favorite spot in the whole house.
And finally, I wanted to take a better picture of Ruby with Rosa, our housekeeper. I plan to make some prints and give them to her as a gift. She's been a special little buddy to Ruby, and they will miss each other, I'm sure.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Catching Water

I won't cease wondering what kind of impact this experience of living and working in Guatemala will have on our girls. I think about the visits to communities in which we work. I carry images of my girls playing alongside indigenous children, their brightly colored guipiles (traditional Mayan clothing) in stark contrast to my girls' outfits bought at a large department store in the US. 

From a trip a couple years ago:
Duck, Duck Goose (Pato, Pato, Ganso)
Makes friends fast, a life-long skill.
My girls have experienced a lot. With time their memories will fade and become more ideas than specific recollections.  

On the way to Honduras a couple weeks ago we stopped to visit a project that MCC supports near the Guatemalan border. Guatemala has the 4th highest malnutrition rate in the world, and within Guatemala this area is among the poorest. 
It’s starkly impoverished. Children with extended bellies wearing clothes intended for kids half their size. The poverty is real and unbelievable and yet there it is, begging us to notice. 
We were welcomed in the community by a group of women, the leaders of the community working to improve their access to water and food. They fed us bread soaked in a sweet corn-based liquid. 
Photo credit: Ellie
Ruby really enjoyed it, and the women enjoyed her. 
The rest of us offered ours to the kids sitting near us. “We just ate lunch. We’re a bit full." 
 We went on a walk to visit their local water source, the most dinky watering holes imaginable.
Peering at one of the "wells."
(Don Peters, MCC Canada Executive Director, joined us on this trip)
These women wake up at 4:30 every morning to walk here and gather water. It can take two hours to fill a small container. These plastic bowls “hold” their place in line, as the water trickles in over the course of hours. 

 I couldn't help but feel the irony in carrying around our plastic water bottles to quench our thirst as we stared into the small puddles of water. 
This is their reality, their daily ritual, whereas my morning ritual, in contrast, is to take a hot shower, drink hot coffee, and check my Facebook. 

This area has been hard hit by the drought that has passed over Central America over the last couple years. MCC’s work here has been to support a local NGO to construct water catchment systems that save and store water for individual families. This water can then be used for things like watering gardens. 
Retrieving water from the Catchment System
The girls were with us, and we trudged up and down the dusty paths, visiting sparse but proudly demonstrated gardens, water systems, and these watering holes. As happens often while living here, I was unsure how much of the desperate situation to explain to my 3 and 5 year-olds. 
It was hot and sweaty and dusty. I carried Ruby on my back up the steep hills. There were several complaints from our girls. “It’s hot. I’m tired. My legs hurt. Are we done yet?” 

I don’t want to instill a sense of guilt in our girls. That’s not the point. But I do want them to know that there are others who have very little. That basics like running water are not a given for all people. (Ironically, as I wrote this, our electricity and water were out for more than five hours due to a thunderstorm). So I explained in simple terms that these women are people Mommy and Daddy work with, that our job with MCC is to help them figure out ways to catch rain water and feed their families. 
“These women have to walk along here to get water. You know how we have water in our house, in the faucet? These women have to carry their water all the way from these water holes to their house. Every day. Lots of times every day. It's a lot of work.”
The next day, as we continued our travels towards Honduras, it began to rain. 

“Mommy! It’s raining!” This, from Ellie. "That means our friends from yesterday can have some plants.”

I just looked at her. Somehow, some little piece of the day before had stayed with her. She made the connection that these “friends” will be thankful it’s raining, that the rain will be helpful. That with this rain, their plants will grow, and their children may get some food.

I hope and pray that these moments will be nestled deep in their hearts, that the feelings of compassion and joy for others will be nurtured. That our life here and the stories we will choose to tell them as their memories of Guatemala fade, will shape our girls and our family in unfathomable ways. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tela, Honduras and the First Goodbyes

We got to spend a few days at the beach in Honduras after Rep meetings with some dear friends. We had planned this trip long before we knew we are moving out of Guatemala, so we were especially glad to have this time with friends, other Reps, one last time before we leave.

It was bittersweet, a reminder of something we are choosing to leave. I am not a fan of saying Goodbye, I cry at the hint of a Goodbye.

We are thankful to have walked three years with these other Reps. We all met at MCC Orientation in Pennsylvania almost exactly three years ago, and have journeyed together in the highs and lows of our roles.

We will miss you, dear friends.

Some memories from our trip: