Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rachel's Trip to Guatemala

Rachel came back from Guatemala late last night. Tammy picked her up at the airport just before midnight. I stayed home in favor of getting to bed early as I had to be up before the sun. When she got home she peeked her head inside my bedroom to tell me she was home and that it was an incredible trip. She was so excited and I was happy for her. I got out of bed and wandered downstairs to the biggest hug she's ever given me. Tammy and I sat and listened for an hour as she told us about her trip. She had so many stories to tell and from time to time her eyes would fill with tears as she recounted some very personal moments. The box of Kleenex on the counter behind her came in handy.

She told about the children she worked with and how they were so poor but they didn't know it. They were happy, giggling, laughing kids who lived in a very simple world. But their world is a difficult one where very few of them attend school beyond the 6th grade and where many of the young girls become mothers much too young with little or no prospect of breaking free from their world of poverty. Their time as happy-go-lucky children will be fleeting for many. The photo to the left is of a 16 year old mother with her child and a friend. I see a woman much older than 16 in that photo.

Rachel thought that she and the other kids on the mission trip were going to be helping with the construction of a home which is being built for a missionary couple, Jeny and Wayne Monson, who lead a church there...(their website). Instead, they found that they would be working with some young children of people associated with the church; which was fine with Rachel as she's good with kids.

They attended nightly church services which sometimes lasted up to 3 hours. Rachel said they were powerful with alter calls and lots of prayer for healing. The music was incredible.

She said the food was very flavorful and not what she expected with one exception; a bean soup which she avoided. Thoughts about how she would adapt to the food were a bit of a concern ahead of time but it turned out to not be an issue at all.

The only complaint she had about the entire trip was of a rooster outside their hotel window which would crow throughout the night. She said it would usually begin around 2:00 AM with a strong and loud crowing but by morning its voice would tire and trail off. It was annoying to say the least and the kids talked about how they might get rid of it but of course they let it be.

The outhouse left a bit to be desired.

Not that Rachel is ungrateful for the many blessings in her life but I have no doubt that she has a new appreciation for the life we have after seeing how others less fortunate live.

The morning they left for home she said she spent some time by herself reflecting on her time in Guatemala. She climbed up on the roof of the hotel they were staying at in Antigua (not the city they'd spent most of their time in) and had David Crowder playing in her iPod. She took the photo to the left. She said there were tears as she recalled all she had experienced.

She told about arriving back in the states and having a layover in Atlanta. She was in the bathroom when a lady in high heels came in all made up and complaining about something which to Rachel seemed trivial. It struck her how much we take for granted in our country. After having lived among the people of Guatemala and seeing the laughing kids living in impoverished conditions which most in this country will never know and then to see the woman in the bathroom who appeared to have so much but seemed unhappy. Maybe it's not a fair comparison.

We sat and talked later when I got home from work and she told me that she wants to be more radical (her word) in stepping out of her comfort zone at school this year. She wants to make friends with kids who are shunned by others. She wants to be able to sit and have lunch with them and not care what others may think or say. That's not an easy thing for a person her age to try and do especially in a high school setting.

She talked about how she's grown so much this year. I've never seen her as being a self-centered person but I see her moving even further toward being one of those who reaches out to others in need. This trip to Guatemala came at a perfect time for her.

As a parent it's my job to help prepare her for the world and teach her what I think is important. I didn't anticipate that she would be teaching me so much as well.


photogopher said...

It sounds like Rachel had a rich and memorable experience seeing a different way of life.
Kevin, you and I have been able to see many different parts of the world via the navy and I with my job. Simple but important things like water and plumbing we take for granted. That outhouse is far better than the binjo ditches I saw in Asia in a number of places.
As she found, kids are kids no matter where they are.
I'll be anxious to see more of her photos.

Kevin said...

Yeah, I'm hoping she'll add them to her Flickr account.

She had a great experience. There's one other photo I forgot to add to the blog. I'll do that now...a very nice rooftop panoramic photo taken in Antigua the morning they left.