Sunday, April 29


Being a military wife for several years, I learned an art I wish I'd never had to learn:

How to say goodbye. 

When we (and yes, it is "we," because it involves the whole family!) were in the military, we knew that we would only be stationed somewhere for 2-3 years. When we met someone, one of the first questions we asked was, "How long have you been here?" If they were already a year and a half into their time at a base, we knew that there wasn't a lot of time left to get to know them. But, we learned to take the risk. To open our hearts and jump right in and make the most of whatever time we had with someone. 

I lost track of how many goodbye parties were had, of how many hugs and promises to keep in touch were given. And it never, ever got easier. 

Now, we face that dreaded word again. Living in Guatemala has reminded me of the feeling of being part of a military community. There is a fraternity of sorts among our missionary friends here.  Our missionary friends can laugh with us at the cultural differences and yes, frustrations, we face. They can cry with us through misunderstandings and miscommunications. They understand what it is to not know how much money will be in your bank account next month. They (and don't read this if you're squeamish) will sit in a public place and discuss the lab reports of your parasite tests with you. They get what it is to miss family, to miss the holidays, to make new traditions and do your best to make it just as wonderful when, really, a piece of your heart is always with your loved ones far away on those days. They GET how wonderful Starbucks is...and how being there just feels like a taste of home. No judgment at all.

It's an amazing group of people that I will hold close in my heart forever. I read a quote recently that encapsulated it perfectly: "The relationship is always worth the goodbye." ( These friends have made the hard days lighter and the good days richer.

And then there are our Guatemalan friends...the ones who have shown us how to get around Guatemala City...well, we still get lost. The ones who have been patient with our Spanish and only laughed politely with us when we completely messed up our words. The ones who have invited us into their homes on those holidays that were difficult for us. The ones who have spoken truth into our hearts and allowed us into theirs.

I, I know...that our four years here have taught us priceless lessons and made us grow up.

 My kids don't take the little things in life for granted.

I have become an expert driver. Ok, scratch that. A reckless driver.

We have experienced what real, fresh-from-the-farm bananas taste like.

We've learned to live without our favorite TV shows and, somehow, survive! And learned to play games and take walks together.

We've learned what a luxury it is in most of the world to own a car, to have running water, to have pretty consistent electricity and internet, to own books!

We can and need to celebrate the multitude of ways in which we have changed. We want to leave with gratitude, with knowing that, despite the small ways in which we have tried to make a difference in lives here, we have been the ones changed. Rocked. Flipped Upside Down. In such a way that I hope we never recover. 

Thank you, Guatemala. We will carry you with us forever. What you have given us is worth the goodbye.