Posts Tagged With: trip

A City Trip

Every few months, we have the opportunity to take a trip to Guatemala City for one reason or another. This past week required a trip to finalize the residential visas for two of the six of us. (Luciana has dual-citizenship and so needs no visas!)

sunset

Desert sunset — Photo by Abby

We started the five-hour trip early Wednesday afternoon. We usually prefer to leave in the morning, but with the boys in school now 7:30am-12:30pm, we wanted to minimize the time they would miss. Between construction, an accident, and a dinner stop, we made it to the Anabaptist guest house, Semilla, in the city around 8pm that evening. We enjoy having this little “oasis” in the midst of the city. Thursday morning we had some time to relax before heading out for our appointments at 11:30am. During the previous month, we had scrambled a bit after being told I would need a certified copy of our marriage certificate or I would appear single on all my Guatemalan documents. We got the certified copy (four different steps in the US) with a week to spare, which allowed us just enough time to have it translated and get an authorized copy here. The long-awaited appointment took about 15 minutes for both Jacob and I and then we were done. In five days, the person helping us will pick up the final documents and we will be official! No more having to get visas coming or going. The other four are still in process. There is a small chance they could be finalized before our home leave in May. If not, they will have to apply for simple visas to be able to leave the country without having to restart┬áthe whole process when we return.

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Early morning “exercises” at Semilla

Thursday afternoon we did a little shopping to pick up some North American foods we enjoy that are hard to find in Coban. Later, we had the first chance since last July to visit the family who so generously shared their home with us when we stayed in the city awaiting Luci’s birth. It was wonderful to be able to chat with them again, and the boys really enjoyed renewing friendships with others in the same community. To top it all off, this week was the spring musical at CAG (Christian Academy of Guatemala–a private Christian school in Guatemala City that is in English), so we were able to go to a showing of Cinderella Enchanted. The kids loved and it were very excited by not only the show, but all the instruments in the orchestra as well. It was a late night, but very much worth it. Esther especially was thrilled to meet “the princess with the cape” (fairy godmother) and “the girl who lost her shoe” (Cinderella) afterward. ­čÖé

Back to Semilla for the night and we had a sleepy drive home Friday morning. On the way home, we had to stop a while for construction. Since this has been ongoing for a year, there are people that bring their goods and walk up and down the stopped lines of vehicles trying to sell things. You can buy some nuts for a snack, a cold drink, some ice cream, a cell phone charging cord, some cut-up fruit, and the list goes on. A couple of the ladies that came by were enchanted by Luci and enjoyed talking to her.

nuts lady

Luci talking to las vendedoras

It was another successful trip to the city, bringing us one step closer to permanency. As usual, we enjoyed the trip and community it offered, but it can be exhausting as well and requires some recovery time.

One more week at home and then we will head out again for our regional EMM retreat where we are looking forward to four wonderful days of fellowship with the other EMM families around Central America.

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Foreign to Familiar

ftf

This is one of three books we are to read before training. It is a very quick and fun read about the differences between cultures. The author divides the world into two basic “climates” and describes characteristics of both.
Here in the northern U.S., we are what she calls a “cold climate” culture, though being as rural as we are, I think we tend a little toward the warmer side of the scale than more populated areas. Much of the undeveloped world she calls “hot climate” cultures. The main distinction being that cold cultures are more task-oriented and hot cultures are more relationship oriented. Although for many locations an actual colder climate weather-wise does correspond with a “cold climate” culture, that is not always the case; it can also be more urban vs. rural/tribal. Many of the differences she discusses are ones that I have heard or read about before–time, relationship-priority, group vs. individual identity, and privacy. I know Ted ran head-on into many of these in college with his Zambian roommate.
The one that gave me the most pause, and that I still have trouble understanding is direct vs. indirect communication. Remembering this will be very challenging if we go to a culture that communicates indirectly. Even the author frequently had to ask her friends in Chile if they were using direct or indirect language. In societies that use indirect communication, the relationship is valued over accuracy. One example that she gives is of a flight attendant that offers a passenger coffee or tea. When the passenger requests coffee, she responds that they only have tea. To me, it makes absolutely no sense to offer coffee if there is none available, but it is done in order to establish a friendly atmosphere–the literal meaning of the words is not as important as the contact established by their use. Another example that really saddens me is of colleagues from Europe and Nepal. When the Europeans go to visit their Nepali colleagues, they often ask for a guided trek into the Himalayas. Because of their culture, the Nepali are required to answer yes. The Europeans took them at their word, and the Nepali men then had to sacrifice money and their families to go on the trip. She gave many more examples of this–most of which I had just as much trouble wrapping my head around. The thought of trying to remember not to always take people at their word and to not say things I think myself straight out is rather mind-boggling. She does give a couple ideas for finding the “truth,” but they are (surprise) quite indirect. It’s all about the friendliness, not the information.
The author had many stories in this book to illustrate each of the differences. They were very eye-opening and gave me a lot to think about in regards to relating with people in a different culture.
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Getting Started

(Continued from)

Once we were approved to work with EMM, things began to move rather quickly–at least much more quickly than I had anticipated. The same day we got our approval, we also received descriptions of three different opportunities.

1. Teaching in Cusco, Peru, a very modern city, We had this location in mind already–mostly because we knew something about it as a team from our church had gone there seven years ago to help with building the school.

2. Assisting with a chicken feed business in Central Asia — in a former Soviet republic northwest of China that is working to recover economically from years of Soviet rule. Though there is a small church there, the numbers have actually been falling because so many people are leaving the country looking for a better life elsewhere. Much of the work here would be relationship building, and learning the language is critical. We have been told this description will soon be updated to include some type of coffee shop business. We are looking forward to seeing the new description.

3. Working to support the K’ekchi’ In Guatemala as they worked to build a fair trade coffee business exporting coffee to the United States. The K’ekchi were Mayan Indians, and historically, they have not been treated well by the government. This position would involve working with the government and farmers to make the businesses successful. I imagine a very good command of the Spanish language would be necessary.

We are currently praying about all of these opportunities to see where God wants to use us. We are drawn by different aspects of all three of them.

At the same time, EMM has encouraged us to attend a month-long training event next month. This is a bit sooner and longer than I had been expecting. So we are scrambling a bit to figure a bunch of things out before then, as well as how to put our lives on hold for a month, but still come back to them, as it will likely be several months after that before we leave on our trip–we will have to raise quite a bit of money first.

Even so, we are looking forward to the training. We have already received two of the three books we are to read beforehand. They are good reading and have given us quite a bit to think and talk about.

The wonderful thing is that they also work with the children to talk about missions and things they can do. The have one person entirely devoted to helping the children. Daisy understands and is excited about the trip, albeit a little apprehensive. Cub knows we’re talking about taking a trip somewhere else, but I don’t think he really understands all the implications of what we’ll be doing or how long we’ll be gone. Chimp and Rosebud are both pretty much clueless, though Chimp does participate sometimes when we practice in other languages.

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