Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

The last day of April is as good as any for getting our Easter week pictures posted...we had a really great time in Antigua! Semana Santa was a unique (and sort of bizarre) experience. I've read that Antigua's celebration of Holy Week is the biggest in the world. I have no idea if that's true or not, but there were TONS of tourists (both Guatemalan & from overseas) in town to watch the festivities.

Each day of the week there is at least one procession (and often two) which spends 8 - 12 hours winding it's way through the cobbled streets of Antigua. Some of the processions begin in the morning or mid-day, others begin at dusk and some in the middle of the night.  Each procession takes a slightly different route and each route is "carpeted" with pine and sawdust creations in the hours leading up to the processions arrival. The procession just marches right over these works of art and a trash/clean-up crew immediately follows the procession making it seem as if nothing ever happened.

To me the processions were bizarre and borderline creepy.  Men & women dressed in hoods and cloaks (although they were usually purple or black in color they had an eerie resemblance to the wardrobe of the KKK) somberly carrying enormous plastic floats with replicas of events of the last days before Jesus' crucifixion. We also saw entire processions on horseback, dressed in full Romanesque costumes. It was interesting to say the least.

To top it off, it also had the feeling of being at a State or County fair:  vendors everywhere selling plastic toys, cotton candy, peanuts, etc, people drinking freely and wearing revealing clothing (I saw a ton of see-thru clothes, is that "in" now??!!?)

All in all, very glad to have had the opportunity to see this amazing event. It is definitely one of the things Guatemala is known for and it was really cool to be a part of it this year.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Forty-Nine Days

This time seven weeks from now we will be back on US soil. Although I am really looking forward to being back, every time I think about leaving I just get so sad. I have been trying to process leaving here before we actually leave in the hope that if I think about it now, I'll be able to just enjoy the next phase without missing this place too much.

We don't have any clear direction for what is next which of course is nothing new for us. We've been applying for caretaking jobs on the West Coast, Jason is considering going back to school to pursue a degree in Forestry and he is also in the application process with the Foreign Service Office(embassy work).

With no clear leading at this point, we've been making summer plans to spend time with family and catch up with friends. We feel really fortunate that for the past seven years we have been able to spend every summer seeing family and friends. Some people wouldn't call being unemployed and homeless, 'fortunate' but for now we do. We know that we will not always have this type of schedule, so we try to enjoy to it's fullest.

I'll admit though, sometimes all the planning starts to consume me -- I like planning. It gives me things to look forward to and it is fun to figure out the best way to re-connect with the most people while enjoying the many things we've missed. During our worship gathering yesterday I had such a clear realization -- We lost a member of our small flock on Saturday morning. When your church group consists of 15 regulars, losing one is devastating. Although we know Estrella is rejoicing in heaven, I'm quite certain she had not planned to die this year. That thought hit home for me. My scheming about what is next is meaningless. I am ultimately not in control of what is next and for me to fill my mind constantly with thoughts of what our summer will look like just seems so worthless. So I am going to try to take a step back and re-focus on what is really important -- for now, that means being present in this moment and enjoying our friends & community here.

For what it's worth, Luke seems ready for whatever is next -- in his Seahawks jersey & Guatemalan slippers :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Semana Santa is here

Semana Santa or Holy Week is officially here! Jason is off work for the week and we head to Antigua tomorrow to take in the incredible, intricately designed sawdust carpets that are made each night, covering entire streets only to be trampled by processions the following morning. It should be a sight to see. Here in Pana, small "carpets" made of pine needles have been appearing already in preparation for Easter Sunday. I love that people here still see value in creating something beautiful that may only last for a few moments. There is something so moving about that.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Turning ONE in Guatemala

After his 3rd birthday party in one week, I think we have finally reached the end of parties for Luke, for now. We have been so so incredibly blessed by the outpouring of love from our friends as they have celebrated Luke (& us) completing our first year as a family.

Luke's first party was with Jason's 4th/5th grade class on his actual birthday. The students have been asking all year about having a party for Luke on his birthday. Turning one here is a big, big deal here.  When we arrived at school, some of Jason's students were waiting at the gate to unlock it for us and then ran to hide in the classroom so that they could yell "surprise" which of course scared Luke to tears. The students are so intrigued by him and shower him with love; especially (& perhaps surprisingly) the boys.  One student even brought a cake to help celebrate and the students made a piñata so that he could have a real Guatemalan birthday!

Later that same day, my Mom's group came by with their sweet kiddos and we had a second celebration. I had decided that having a Quetzal themed party would be fun since the Quetzal is Guatemala's national bird as well as the name of the currency. In real life, a Quetzal looks like this:

We had pin the tail on the Quetzal, a Quetzal egg hunt and build your own Quetzal. As always, Luke loved playing with his big-kid friends.

With my rendition of a Quetzal ... ha ha, not a great replica, but it was fun to try and worked well for pin-the-tail.

Monday afternoon was the grand finale! Two of Jason's sweet co-workers hosted a party for Luke at their house. Most of Jason's co-workers were there, plus some of our friends from our church group at Porch de Salomon. With all the stimulation, Luke wasn't at his best (he was even frightened of the piñata!), but it was a fun-filled afternoon with our Panajachel community.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oh Fireflies, how I love thee!

I don't exactly know why, but I LOVE Fireflies. Perhaps it is because I didn't grow up with them around -- are they anywhere on the west coast, do you know? I still get childishly excited to see them. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to walk home just as it was getting dark and I was treated to the most fantastic show of Fireflies that I have seen in a long time! There are onion fields along our road in the flat space before the steep mountain begins and these awesome beetles were darting all over the place above the field and in the forest up the mountain, flickering their wonderful lights on and off. It was such a good reminder of why I love being in a place where walking is my primary mode of transportation -- you get to experience so much more. I would have missed seeing that if I'd taken a tuk-tuk and I am so glad I didn't.

I would have dearly loved to capture them on film, but I don't think my camera could do it and it was so much better to just drink the beautiful sight in,giving praise to our Creator for giving us something so wonderful to enjoy!

I do have a picture of Luke getting into the lake this past weekend ... and getting very dirty in the process :)