May 13, 2012

Final Thoughts: Our Year in Review

Flight date: June 3.  

It’s so close. But before we come home and put teaching and Guatemala on the backburner for two months, we wanted to share a review of our first year here. So here’s a little of what we saw, thought, felt, experienced, learned… 

1.      Music here is very random. It is AWESOME.
2.      Time is relative. “Oh, your birthday party starts at 9? I will be there at 11 then.”
3.      Seeing a lot of people out on the street at night makes us feel safer than having no people on the streets.
4.      You can live with very little “necessities.”
5.      I wish we could drink water out of the tap.
6.      Does that food have poop on it? Nope, it’s just refried beans.
7.      Time flies no matter where you are.
8.      Please throw away your trash. No, not on the streets.
9.      Español es muy difícil.
10.  People here actually like to work at McDonald’s.
11.  Is it really necessary for every storefront to have a guard and shotgun?
12.  Having long legs sucks in microbuses.
13.  Rice is a food group.
14.  You can actually walk anywhere.
15.  Living outside of the U.S. makes us actually have to think about stuff…views on life, the effect the United States has on the rest of the world… 

1.      A mix of nerves and excitement about moving here.
2.      Wow, those mountains are huge…wait, that’s a volcano?!
3.      We are freakishly tall. Ouch, my knees don’t fit in this vehicle.
4.      Guatemala does not support my OCD behaviors of organization and timeliness.
5.      None of our friends have a last name with “Van or Vander” in it.
6.      Our new necessities include finding groceries, a hot shower, and knowing how to take a rundown minivan across town.
7.      Being a first-year teacher = stress. Being a first-year wife = fun.
8.      Loud noises. Everywhere. At ungodly hours. Firecrackers, dogs, birds, music, church bells.
9.      Eating only rice for the first two months…because I didn’t know how to cook…and because I didn’t know how to use a gas stove. Embarrassing.
10.  Teenagers on the street corner, seriously, stop making out!
11.  Spending the night in the hospital with Collin as he recouped.
12.  People in third world countries desire the same things people in first world countries do: love and friendship. Helping isn’t just writing a check.
13.  What, on this new oven in our new apartment, you can choose how many degrees you want to set it to?!
14.  Eating Guatemalan food…and sometimes secretly wishing it was Mexican food.
15.  Wondering why we are here, and why we aren’t anywhere else in the world.
16.  Feeling so content that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
17.  Guatemalan hospitality has to be ranked pretty high world-wide.
18.  I love Spanish. I hate Spanish.
19.  We are minorities. We are gringos.
20.  Am I really proud to be an American? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
21.  The first class of first graders I ever taught. Spending 8 hours a day, for 180 days with the same kids.
22.  Laughing a lot with my students…and sometimes at my students.
23.  Meeting some very special people that we will miss a lot next year.

Praise God for his grace and peace and love and presence in it all.

It’s strange to think that our lists above have become our new “normal.” It’s nice to think that the next two years will bring a little consistency and comfort in being in the same city, apartment, school, and jobs.

Yet we never want to be too comfortable, simply accepting our surroundings with mindless living. We never want to be too comfortable with the ugly of life that we don’t try to change it, or too comfortable with the beauty of life that we take it for granted. Rather, we pray that we are willing to take a break from comfort and schedules and our own selfish desire to see the surroundings and people in our lives through His eyes. We pray to be a vessel of His love to others around us. 

Lead us. Guide us. Teach us. Stretch us. Use us. 

Grace and Peace,
Collin and Kendra

 ps. See you soon. J

May 2, 2012

Our New Apartment!

We moved into a new apartment! I think a few records may have been set in this move, as we were able to fit all of our possessions into 6 suitcases. Also, loading the pick-up with our stuff, driving to our new apartment, and unloading our stuff into the new apartment took us about 30 minutes total.

 All of our earthly possessions:

Check out the pictures comparing our first and second apartment... 

Apartment #1: one-room apartment consisting of combined bedroom and dining room, small bathroom, and small kitchen. 

Now, cross the threshold of our new apartment...Apartment #2

And check out our new living and dining room space...the camera could not fit all of it into one shot...which is saying something...

Our new kitchen space...with more than enough cupboard space than we could ever fill...and is that an electric stove I see?!

Our ricidulously long, and somewhat spooky-in-the-dark hallway...

Bathroom #1 (which means there is a Bathroom #2)

Our currently unfurnished bedroom...which means somebody needs to come visit us so that we will be motivated to furnish it. Any takers?

You may also come and swim in our new KING SIZE bed. When you're alarm goes off and you have to roll over a few times to turn it off, you know it's a big bed.

Entertainment center...and big box TV...kickin' it old school. But check out the lovely closets on either side.

And more closet/dresser space. So much space.

And finally, Bathroom #2. The pink fixtures make it quite a beauty, I think.

The apartment is a lot older than our first apartment, in decor and overall sructure. It also does not have internet like our last apartment. However, it is so much space, more than we could ever need on our own, a true blessing from God! So our prayer is that God will help us use the space to be a blessing to others...whether it's social gatherings, visitors, or helping whoever might need a place to crash.

And here is May already. In one short month and one day, we will be flying to Michigan, with one year of teaching in Guatemala under our belts, and two more years left on contract. We are looking forward to spending extended time with family, attending weddings, and taking a break from teaching. (In other words, playing a lot of golf and reading by the pool...) We are returning to Guatemala on August 1.

So...if you have a moment to spare...please consider praying for the following...

1. A smooth ending to the school year...that everything will get done and that we will not cry too hard when we say goodbye to our good friends here. Many of our teacher friends are not returning next year.
2. That the last teaching positions will be filled for next year. Interested? Let us know!
3. That our traveling home will go smoothly.
4. That God will continue to stretch us and help us grow, and that we will never get too comfortable...even though it hurts sometimes...

Grace and Peace,