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Guat's Up?…an update from Guatemala

October 12, 2023



Well, our time in Guatemala for language school has been interesting, I'll say that! We've had not one, but two visits to the Guatemalan Urgent Care, Pat's mom had a stroke and emergency surgery precipitating him flying back to the US for a week, and now peaceful political protests in Guatemala have closed roads country-wide which has temporarily delayed our travel to the mission in Honduras.


Bernadette was the first to get sick, with 5 days of prolonged fever, which landed us in the Urgent Care for some blood work and IV fluids (no explanation and she ended up recovering fine.)


Bernadette in the Urgent Care - adorable as usual, and always with a sloth companion


Then 2 weeks later, Helen was sick but recovered without a trip to VitalMed. Then while Pat was gone back to the States visiting his mom in the hospital, Vivian ended up with a 103-104 degree fever for 6 straight days which landed us back at the Urgent Care. Fortunately she started feeling much better and both Guatemalan doctors gave me their personal cell phone numbers, if I needed anything or had any follow-up questions. And Vivi's sweet Spanish teacher actually offered to come to our apartment to tutor her so she wouldn't miss any more classes while she was recovering!


As of the writing of this blog (10/12/23), Guatemala is currently in the second week of political protests with the peaceful protesters blocking roads all over the country. When they started, we were disappointed that our volcano hike was canceled. But we had no idea of the potential long-term ramifications. Now, not knowing when the blockades might be lifted, it's uncertain when we will be heading to Honduras. Fortunately we're still going to Spanish school every day, walking to the market, going to church, etc. so life here in Antigua feels relatively insulated, with the exception of travel to and from the capital of Guatemala City being affected. We're going about living life, making the best of our time here, and waiting for the all-clear to leave for Honduras.


In general, we have been very pleased with (and thankful for) our accommodations here in Guatemala. However, cooking has been, well... interesting. There's no oven (only a somewhat-functioning toaster oven, microwave, and old stove.) We have one pot, one frying pan, and one saucepan for boiling water for coffee. And DON'T drink the water! Bottled water only - for drinking and for washing fruits and vegetables.


Pat and Helen prepping dinner in our quaint kitchen. Lychees for dessert!


However!!! Like a lot of other things we've experienced during our time here in Guatemala for language school, it is preparation for what is to come. Once we get to Honduras and we're cooking on our fogón (outdoor wood burning fire), this kitchen in Guatemala is going to seem so luxurious! We've learned to get creative with meals (also because of being less familiar with the products and ingredients that are available at the market and in the grocery store.) But again, it has helped to prepare us for living more simply. We have all come to appreciate the simple meals consisting of beans, eggs, tortillas, or soups we've made with chicken and vegetables and rice.


Illnesses, inconveniences, or hardships aside, this has been an important time of preparation for our family, in that we have been able to focus on learning Spanish (4 hours of 1-on-1 tutoring every morning followed by homework in the afternoon) but also to enjoy time together before embarking on the challenging work ahead.


Tess and Helen at language school


Bernadette and her tutor at school


We've had multiple opportunities to go to the 24-hour adoration chapel that is a short 10-minute walk from our apartment. We've been fortunate to have attended 4 different beautiful old churches in this city, all within walking distance, as well as many amazing 400+ year old ruins throughout the city.


The girls in front of Antiguo Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús


Convento de la Recolección


There's an expression in Spanish, "Vale la pena", which means "It's worth it." (literally, "Value the pain" or "The pain has value.") In the midst of the minor challenges we've faced so far on our missionary journey, I've come to have an even greater understanding of the value of pain and suffering. When faced with illness, whether minor ailments or more serious ones like Pat's mom, we appreciate our healthy days so much more. Whereas the kids may have complained at first about the mile walk to school and back, or a 20 minute walk to the grocery store or church, after being sick they're thankful they have the energy to make that walk and the legs to do so! And they're thrilled at the chance to be back at school rather than lying in bed. They also appreciate that the Guatemalan people (most of whom do not own cars), walk a LOT further than we do just to get to work or school. We have a lot of luxuries in the US that we take for granted on a daily basis - cars, potable drinking water straight out of the tap, accessible and advanced medical care, and fully equipped kitchens!


It has been an experience that our kids will not soon forget, and it has been a spiritual and emotional strengthening for all of us that has fortified us for the challenges that lie ahead. For that, we are immensely thankful to our benefactors who've made this leg of our year of mission work possible.


Inside of La Iglesia de la Merced


Cerra de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross) with a bird's eye view of Antigua


First day of language school! El Arco de Santa Catalina with Volcan Agua in the background


Vivian and Bernadette on the way to the market


Is our Spanish perfect? Um, no. 😁 Are we better prepared than 6 weeks ago? Definitely! And we are very excited to begin our mission work at Finca del Niño! But with every new beginning also comes an end, and we will be sad to leave Guatemala behind. Six weeks ago we knew virtually nothing about this country, or the city of Antigua, but now it is one of my favorite places of all the countries and cities I've ever traveled. This beautiful ancient walkable city with the most amazing ruins, surrounded by volcanoes, with perfect weather, and the incredibly hospitable Guatemalan people has left a lasting impression. We will miss these people and this place dearly. Fortunately where we are headed next is also a beautiful place and has the wonderful Honduran people that we can't wait to get to know and serve. ❤️


Vivian and Tess in traditional Mayan dress for a dance performance at school for Guatemalan Independence Day on September 15th


Cultural activity at school, recreating the traditional Holy Week "alfombras" (rugs) out of colored sawdust and stencils, that line the streets of Antigua before Easter.


Please let us know how we can pray for you in the weeks and months ahead! And if you are wondering how you can specifically pray for us...

- strength and protection for good health for all of us

- prayers for Pat's mom's continued recovery

- resolution to the current peaceful protests in Guatemala

- safe travel to Honduras

- the orphans, staff, and volunteers at Finca del Niño that we will hopefully be meeting very soon


And if you're wondering how else to help, we are continuing to raise funds to reach our goal for the year, especially in light of our delay in Guatemala and those associated expenses. Donations can always be made on our website at www.cumbrefamilymissions.org or directly to Farm of the Child at www.farmofthechild.org/looby



Tess, our budding photographer











¡Hasta la próxima!

xoxo,

Shannon

10/12/23


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Hi! We're Pat & Shannon.

We have a passion for education and a heart for service. Our goal is to make a global impact beyond our local community.

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