August 31, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It is officially Rainy Season. Every afternoon, between 2pm and 4pm, it begins to rain. Sometimes the rain will stop after a little while. Sometimes it rains for hours and hours and hours. Many days, water literally flows through the streets. There are times we play hopscotch all the way home to stay out of the puddles. And you know those hilarious scenes in movies, where people have a rough day at work, and then they have to walk home in the rain, and then a car comes by and hits a puddle that splashes up and drenches them? Yes, that is us on some days too. Not so funny anymore.

We have been in Guatemala one whole month now. And as Collin said in the last post, our daily lives here are becoming the new “normal” for us. In some ways it’s nice, because we feel used to being here. In other ways it’s a little sad. There are days where I forget to look up and notice the mountains that surround the city, or the really pretty flowers on our neighbor’s house, or other details that used to be really new and exciting. And there are some ways where our new “normal” makes us miss our old “normal” too.

Some things are harder than we realized they would be. There are the shallow things we miss, some of the conveniences of American life: being able to drive ourselves places, microwaves, dishwashers, windows and doors without bars, being able to flush our toilet paper, and of course, free refills at restaurants. But other things are a little more difficult. The language barrier is truly a barrier. We can’t just talk to whoever we want, or always express what we are trying to say. We can’t just strike up a random conversation with people we ride the bus with or stand in line with at the grocery store. Things just take time. Relationships and language acquisition take time. And it makes us miss our family and friends at home a lot too.  

Thankfully, God is faithful. Thankfully, we have each other. Thankfully, we have new friends at school. Thankfully, we just attended our first Spanish lesson together last night. We are now able to say important phrases like “Good morning” and “What did you eat for breakfast?” and “Have a good day!”

I also think I may have jinxed us about getting sick. Both of us are struggling with an icky cold/cough thing. Honestly, I am just thankful that it is not a toilet thing. That kind of sickness makes you feel like you are down for the count. We just feel stuffed up. And thankfully, first graders are especially sympathetic when you tell them you are sick. As one child prayed: “Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for our food. And please help Mrs. Ba-rook-ouse to feel better. Amen.”

Speaking of my students, they still say the darndest things. Sometimes it is the English grammar that makes me chuckle. And sometimes they are just being funny kids:

1. “Class, think about how you have changed as you have grown up! Do you look different than you did six years ago?” One student raised her hand and said: “Mrs. Broekhuis, six years ago I was in the tummy of my mother.”

2. A student’s prayer: “Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you that we come to school. Thank you for this food. And please help my bird that is dead come back. Amen.”

3. I told my class to write one sentence about what they like to do. One student wrote: “I love Mrs. Broekhuis.” Not quite following instructions, but I may or may not have given them full credit anyways.

4. In class we read the book, The Dress I Will Wear to the Party, so I asked my class, “Do you ever dress up to go anywhere?” One boy raised his hand and with great enthusiasm exclaimed, “Yes! When I went to my friend’s birthday party, I wore my Super-Mario Brothers shirt, my black pants, and my Jordan shoes!”

5. Sometimes when the students work I will play soft music in the background. Their music of choice is a cassette of all different Bible stories and songs. After one of the songs was done playing, one of my students looked at me and said, “Mrs. Broekhuis, every time I hear that song, it makes me cry a little bit.”

So, that is our update. It will continue to rain every afternoon for the next three months. But thankfully, many early afternoons are warm and sunny. Thankfully, our students will still bring a little sunshine and laughter. And thankfully, God is faithful. Always.

Grace and Peace,

And here are a few more pictures of life as we know it…

Meet Rufio and Rufus. Our neighborhood stray dogs that I truly do hate. They are nasty.

The pretty flowers on our neighbor's roof.

Transportation option #1: Taxi, about $5 to ride all the way across town.

Transportation Option #2: Microbus, about 20 cents to ride anywhere. It is suprisingly empty, which is probably the only reason I dared take a picture of it. Just try to picture 25 people crammed into it.

Transportation option #3: Chicken Bus. I am not sure how much it costs to ride. We have not attempted this party on wheels yet. It is lovingly named "Chicken Bus," because you will probably ride it crammed full of people, their luggage, and some chickens.

The clouds rolling in for our afternoon storm.

Out of curiousity, we visited the local cemetery, which is more like a small city of graves. People here have a lot of respect for their loved ones who have passed on. Death and spirits of the dead are tied into different religious beliefs.

One of the tombs at the cemetery. May or may not be a little over the top where we come from.

The cemetery is also lined with walls of graves like these.

And then the back of the cemetery is where the poor bury their dead. Hence the mounds of dirt. But all of the colorful squares in the background are tombs in this cemetery.