Well, now that I’ve been home for nearly a month, I suppose the full Guatemala story is long overdue. As could be expected, it will need to be told in parts, as it is too much to pour into one post.
Like every story, this one starts at the beginning.
When we arrived at the airport on our departure date, I was already exhausted. I had not slept two nights before due to excitement, and we had to leave the hotel for the airport at 3am, meaning I did not sleep the night before either. So as we began to make our way into the first lineup for customs and to weigh our baggage, I was quite tired.
Interestingly enough, there were two other mission teams heading to Central America in line with us, and the lines took forever.
We left with two bags of luggage weighing 50 lbs each, filled mostly with donations, for a total of 22 bags at 1100 lbs. Lugging that around the airport was kind of a nuisance.
Thankfully, everything went smoothly, there were no problems going through US Customs, and our plane took off to Miami on time. When we arrived in Miami, our bags were transported for us, and we had enough time in between flights to grab a bite to eat.
At this point, it still wasn’t fully hitting me yet. I wasn’t feel excited, or nervous, or anything. Really, I felt just as I would on a trip to the city with some friends — it wasn’t really hitting me that this was something entirely new. It wasn’t until we were up in the air again that it started to sink in. So I did what I do best — stared out the window and just let my mind go wild.
Which of course, turned out to be a great plan of action, because there is nothing as stunning and breathtaking (at least to me) as seeing the world from up so high.
Of course, there is only so long you can stare at open water for before you start to drift off, and I fell asleep while looking out the window.
It wasn’t until we began our decent over Guatemala that the reality began to hit me. My eyes were glued to the landscape as we slowly came down, and all I could do was marvel at it. Mountains upon mountains, covered in green, tall trees. Plantations, valleys, lakes — it was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen before.
All I could think as we flew down into Guatemala City was how I couldn’t imagine wanting to leave come the end of it. And then, as the plane landed, and it started to get hot and stuffy, unfortunately, the only thought occupying my mind was “Can I go to bed yet?”
Getting off the plane, the biggest fear was Guatemalan Customs. We could not claim donations or gifts, because to bring as much into the country as we were means having to pay lots of money. Although we went together as a team, we were not wearing our team shirts, and, much to our surprise, we were through customs quite quickly, and on to waiting for Hector (the missionary) to pick us up.
There was not a whole lot of experience there to comment on, except being unable to speak the language. It’s not the first time I’ve been to a country that spoke a language I do not understand, but it was the first time in 8 years, and it was noticeable. It was a feeling of awe tainted with confusion and sadness. We were only there a few moments, but I already knew that language barrier was going to bother me.
We loaded our luggage into Hector’s van and the back of the pick-up truck driven by his wife Ruth, and we were off, on our first adventure through Guatemala.