I’m sitting in Guatemala City packed and waiting for tomorrow. The end of this journey is unavoidable. The last week has been painfully good. We spent everyday with the team from Heart to Heart working, then I would return to Patanatic in the afternoon to try and wrap things up there.
Each day I found myself saying goodbye to another person or family. Through the tragedy of Agatha, incredible relationships and bonds were formed. On Thursday, I had a short opportunity to say farewell to Rosa and Guillermo. On Friday, Cesar invited the team of volunteers over to his house for coffee. It was incredible to have my friends sit in the house of Cesar and experience the things that I have for the last four weeks. They served us café and pan, the usual, and Cesar had the opportunity to meet the two volunteers who will be living in the house for the next seven weeks. You can follow their journey at theviewfrompatanatic.tumblr.com.
When it came time to leave, Cesar’s mother was especially moved. It was hard to let go of this family as I feel they have accepted me as their own. They all expressed hope for my safe return and for the health of my family in the US. It is hard to understand or comprehend the sense of gratitude I have found here; from people who have very little, and face great adversity. The day after Agatha ripped through the community cutting off all access to the outside world, stripping the town of electricity, water, and flooding homes with mud, the people pick up and start over again. It is very easy for me to get frustrated for the people here. Its like they can never get a foot up, they are always recovering from something. And yet, you would never get that from their demeanor.
Friday, as I was walking down to catch the bus to head back to Pana, Louis (brother of Guillermo) came running down the hill. He had talked to Dan, who had told him I was leaving. I could see the emotions built up behind is eyes. He expressed his great thanks for our help, and for our friendship. He told me he wished for my quick return and that he will see me again soon. The words were very few and simple, because he knew I still don’t know much Spanish, but the nonverbal communication worked wonders.
I returned to Patanatic again late Friday night to help the girls get settled into their new house. It was fun to see their excitement and to imagine all the experiences they will have in the next seven weeks. Jose came over to bid his farewell, and I introduced him to the new team. The last week has given me time to accept the fact that my time here is concluding. And now as I sit here in Guatemala City, I can do nothing but accept it. The last five weeks have changed me, without a doubt. Through much trauma and adventure, joy and agony, frustration and excitement, despair and hope, and I have somehow survived. I can’t begin to identify the things I have learned from my experience, and I am sure it will unfold in the coming weeks and years. I want to thank all of you for being a part of this journey with me. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and your prayers. Not only did I find a loving community here in Guatemala, I have been encouraged and inspired by the community from which I have come.
Thank you all for your support. I could not have survived without you.
Day thirty-one, and I’m still breathing.