Guatemala Diary, Day #2
I got to bed at 22:30 local time (half past midnight home time) last night, and were I still in the habit of praying my childhood prayer of “Now I lay me down to sleep,” etc., I would have gotten as far as “Now I lay m….” At 4 AM it seemed like the whole neighborhood, maybe the whole city, erupted in fireworks. I woke up for an instant, processed the noise as a celebration of “el día de la madre” (Mother’s Day is today, whereas in los estados unidos, it doesn’t occur until Sunday), then I passed out for another two hours or so.
Gladys fixed un desayuno (a breakfast) of homemade granola, huevos con queso (eggs with cheese), refried beans, and sliced plantains boiled with cinnamon sticks. Then we were off to our morning appointment at Hamburguesa Del Rey (Hamburger of the King — Burger King) about ten miles away. The meeting was with Pastor Jorge Perez, a beloved brother I know from previous trips, and Jorge Cerritos, the pastor who will be teaching alongside me next week. (To make matters more interesting, both Jorges have the same segunda nombre – second or middle name – Jorge Orlando). Hermano Cerritos told us of some exciting, but heart-breaking intervention with a woman who has been prostituted by her “husband” for twelve years. His advocacy ministry among the abused and abandoned is now moving deeper into enemy territory. It turns out that it’s at his church I’ll be preaching Sunday afternoon. Pastor Cerritos, whose English is very good, tells me that one of his adult sons will translate for me.
During our meeting at “el castillo” (the “king” has to have a “castle,” right?), we discussed and changed el horario (the schedule or agenda) for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday next week, making my teaching slots longer to allow for the time taken by translation. But they need the handout for printed materials ASAP, so I asked that we postpone our afternoon trip to Antigua so that I could reorganize what I brought. (Due to a breakdown in communication, I thought I was teaching all day, each day, not knowing that I’d be sharing teaching duties. So now it’s a matter of settling before the Lord what gets taught this year, and what waits until my next visit. Essentially, it’s a matter of knowing how to end what has become a two-part subject. How can the first part stand on its own. The Lord will help me sort that out.)
Traveling around in el pickup gives me time to wrestle with saying things in Spanish, get corrected, ask about verb forms, meanings and origins of words, and discipline myself to push and coax and mold my brain to “do Spanish.” I look forward to these times, and keep a notepad ready to jot down new words and concepts.
Gladys has been fighting off the flu, and the battle waxes and wanes. Even though this group of churches doesn’t celebrate any holidays, I decided it was a good idea to use Mother's Day as an excuse to bring takeout food to the rescue. Since I had to go out and exchange some money anyhow, we went to nearby strip mall (which are always gated here) and brought home Chinese food – camarones (shrimp) to go with some rice, vegetables, and other comida Gladys had fixed up.
The rest of the afternoon and evening went by quickly waiting on the Lord, fellowshipping, working on my presentation, setting up a spreadsheet to track money exchanges and outlays, and going over my Sunday message with my translator, Gladys. The family’s evening ended around what I call la mesa de la tarea — the homework table (otherwise know as the dinner table in the dining room), where we also had a bite to eat. Tirsa (alias “Hermana Tarea” to me, since that’s all I’ve seen her do since I arrived), an 11th grader (the senior year in Guatemala), is sitting to my left, plowing through her química (chemistry homework). Gladys is sitting next to Atilio, who is doing his homework (responding to Facebook posts, and slowly reading through a book written en ingles). Miriam, the college senior (studying farmacia), just bid us “buenos noches” as she went to her bedroom, kidnapping Pancho Villa (the family's miniature poodle) as she left. And German (“Herman” — the “h” in español is silent, and the “g” is one letter that sometimes has our hard “h” sound), the college freshman studying medicina (taking after his mom), is sitting to my right over at the breakfast bar, working with Miriam's new computer (which I bought and brought for Atilio). German is the family geek and technical support guy.
22:02 – Now it’s just Hermana Tarea y yo. Tirsa just filled me in a bit on the educational system. Here one graduates from high school in ninth grade. By then, a career path is chosen, and the next two years (or, possibly three, depending on one’s major) are devoted to pre-collegiate studies in one’s chosen field. Tirsa is majoring in the las sciencias, hence today’s multi-hour tarea de química. As for me, I’m working on my presentation, and it’s unclear which of us will outlast the other. But I’ll never get my presentation translated if I don’t end this diary report, so – ¡hasta mañana!