Monday, June 4

I Remember....

This has been a week full of lasts.

Last trip to the Bodegona (local grocery store).

Last coffee time with a treasured friend.

Last time to sing and play with a worship team I love.

Last time to drive through the cobblestoned streets of Antigua.

And in those lasts, it has been a time of remembering the firsts.

I remember the first weeks I spent here and how I thought I'd never, ever conquer these streets with their confusing one ways, their lack of street signs (navigating by landmarks is a must), and their oh-so-strategically placed speed bumps and cement blocks and ridiculously tight parallel parking "opportunities." I thought I'd never learn to get somewhere without being lost. And don't get me started on the offers to "watch my car" for me, the guards with shotguns. But...I did it. I conquered...or at least survived...Antigua's streets and even ventured into the No Man's Land of driving in Guatemala City.

I remember the first time I whizzed through the Bodegona in less than 10 minutes. Of course, that doesn't count the waiting in16 people deep line time. I learned to actually NOT be surprised that the rice and brown sugar were sold next to the milk, or that said milk was already past its sell-by date. I learned to celebrate when the oregano I needed was actually in stock!

I remember the first time I sang in Spanish with April (our worship leader). It was hard enough to play and sing in English...but Spanish? Gulp. How would that ever work? And now, when I hear worship songs during my visits to the States, I sing along to them in Spanish rather than English.

I remember the first time I went to the market with my friends Dayle and Tonja. I followed them through the labyrinth of booths and thought I would never, ever be able to navigate the market, much less bargain and carry my 30 plus pound bag of produce out. And now, I go every Saturday and buy amazing produce for my family and...well, ok...I don't carry it. I bring Steve to do that part, and every Saturday the ladies in the market laugh when I call him my "muchacho." But I do it.

So I'll go back to the States feeling stronger, more confident, more sure that I can do hard things. And isn't that what life is? There are so many hard many good and wonderful things...but pain and hurt and just plain life all mixed in with that. And often we think we can't possibly EVER do THAT thing...but we do. We are carried from strength to strength by our faith, by our friends, by our family, by love, by grace...and we find that we can do things we never thought we could.

Thank you, Guatemala, for teaching me that I can be more than I thought I could ever be. Thank you for helping me grow up, helping me see outside of myself, helping me learn that I don't need to be afraid of the next challenge ahead.

And that I can now parallel park with the best of them.