Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mi Familia de Guatemala

Before I left the U.S., one of my prayer requests was for the family I was going to live with in Antigua.  As most of you may know, I’ve been living alone since my husband moved out in the middle of 2001.  And, as you probably know, I really liked having my own space!  I was nervous about coming and living with others, especially others who were not going to understand a lot of English. 

When I arrived at 10:30 p.m. on that Saturday night at the end of June, I had no idea how dear my little yellow home and those living in it would become to me – in a relatively short time!

I’ve written about my housemates, especially Haley and Myles, who have become like my (much!) younger brother and sister.  Today I said goodbye to them, although they’ll be back for a couple of days at the end of next week.  I came home from church today and no one was home.  Instead of reveling in all the ‘me-time’ and space I had, I felt quite lonely.  Kind of surprised me, actually!

I’ve also written some about Dona Cristi and how sick she was.  At this point, several weeks later, she is on the road to recovery.  Her daughter, Cristina, changed her doctor, and the new one ran tests and determined that the root cause was a thyroid medication issue. 

Thankfully, an adjustment seems to be improving her health, poco-a-poco.  She is still not able to eat gluten, sugar, most vegetables or milk.  She still has bad days, but her sense of humor and wit are coming back.  It’s wonderful to see!

Tomorrow is Dona Cristi’s 85th birthday.  Yesterday Cristina told me that Dona Cristi wants me to come with them to Ana Lucia’s house to be a part of the celebration with all of the family here.  I felt so honored!  Dona Cristi is sad because she won’t be able to eat birthday cake.  I hope that in another few weeks she’ll be able to celebrate with a small bit of pastel!
Another member of our little family is the helper, Juanita.  In this culture, many people have a ‘domestica’ who does the cooking and cleaning.  Juanita is a part of the household, and loves Dona Cristi like another mother.  She cares for us – and cooks us delicious meals! – but she is not invited to eat with us. 
Even though I knew coming in that this was a possibility, I have to admit it took a little getting used to.  Thankfully, I am able to help clear the table and wash dishes without insulting either her or Dona Cristi.  (Don’t worry, I checked before I started filling the sink!!)
Juanita is super patient with my attempts to speak Spanish with her.  She lost her mother suddenly nine months ago, and since my mom died several years ago, we share that bond. 

Yesterday Juanita told me she wants me to come to her daughter’s Quinceanera celebration (15th birthday – a very big deal for a girl here, kind of like ‘sweet sixteen’ in the U.S.) in August in her village.  Again, I felt so incredibly honored!

Juanita has been joined now by Maria, who will spend nights with Dona Cristi after Juanita goes to her home (where she has three kids, one grandson, and another grandbaby on the way).  Maria seems sweet, too, although is much more shy than Juanita.  I’m sure she’s nervous with it being a new position!
Cristina leaves on Tuesday to go back home to the U.S., and the other daughter, Ana Lucia, is across town here. (The three brothers all live on Long Island, too.)  Last week Cristina told me that the two daughters were talking, and both of them feel very thankful that I am going to be there with their mother for the next two months.  And yet again I feel so honored! 
I know many of you who read my blog are prayer warriors, and I thank you!  The prayers of so many are being answered here in such a tangible way.  I’m not just putting in time living among other people, I am becoming a part of their lives, and they are a part of mine. 
I know that is only through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is softening my heart and expanding it, allowing me to communicate my affection and concern, even when I don’t have the Spanish for it.  All praise to You, for moving in me, Jesus!  Thank you for giving me more than a house here.  Thank you for giving me a home.

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