Monday, December 22, 2008

Guatemala - Day Uno. Dos. Tres.

If you recall the reference to Guatemala in our Red Lion debacle post a few months ago, you may remember we marked our second anniversary with a trip to beautiful Central America. As it's been a good two months since we landed back on U.S. soil, it's probable I will not remember the details of said trip. But here's my valiant effort...

When we landed in Guatemala and tried to strike up friendly conversation with the customs gentleman, that's when it hit me: I've never been in a Spanish-speaking country before. Bizarre, non? I feel like I've assembled a pretty decent collection of passport stamps over the years, and Spanish-speaking seems a little more accessible than most. But no. This was going to be totally new to me and I was stoked.

UNO.
Mostly just traveled.

Kindly chauffeured to the airport by our favorite buddy, Quinn.

Enjoyed a lovely chicken tarragon sandwich from Au Bon Pain in airport.

Arrived in Guatemala, shuttled to Marriott - Guatemala City, worried we were getting giardia by trying to be polite and sipping the brownish water the kind bellboy handed us. Learned there were peaches and apples soaking in the water and contributing to the brownish hue. Still didn't ingest much/any unsealed water on the trip regardless.

Watched World Trade Center as we fell asleep. Learned helpful Spanish dialogue by reading subtitles.

DOS.
On Monday, Augustine - who would, by week's end, solidify his spot as most gracious, accommodating, giving friend in the whole Central AM - picked us up and took us to the church in Guatemala City where most Elders/Sisters were being directed to their next transfer and where we'd inherit our own "transfer" - Elder Riley.

It was a completely surreal experience for me to be around all these missionaries. What a remarkable time in their lives, when they literally dedicate all their time, devotion and energy to others. It was really uplifting to be around this whole group of 19-23 year-olds and realize they were giving such a huge part of themselves to something they believe and love. It was also fairly entertaining to be around so many people in missionary-mode. I've been around my share of individual returned missionaries in all their recently-reintroduced-to-society awkwardness, but the slightly awkward, completely adorable, always friendly sum of all those 100+ missionaries was impressive. :) Shook an awful lot of hands.

After reuniting with our favorite white shirt and black name tag in the bunch, we headed out for some lunch at a very authentic little establishment - I believe they call it the "centro comerical" :) - and a death-defying driving tour of Guatemala City. That is no reflection on the mad skills possessed by our driver, but man - how are there not more accidents here? Later, we headed to the mission president's home for dinner and Family Home Evening, where I secured a delicious win in a game of BURRO against Noah with an impressive granny shot from half-court.

TRES.
The next morning, we were able to go to the temple in Guatemala City. It was beautiful and such an amazing spirit exists there. It was interesting to feel the slightly slower pace of the culture even in an otherwise familiar setting. The people were so content to talk and share stories - and bless Christopher's heart for translating everything. The domino effect of stories and jokes was always fun to watch. Someone tells a story. Guatemalans and Christopher laugh. Gringos stare and smile. Christopher translates. Gringos laugh. Everyone laughs.

Afterward, we drove up the mountain for lunch and for a view of Guatemala City.That evening, we made the first of a few rounds of visits to church members and friends of Christopher's. I'll beg his forgiveness when I group all the visits together in one place, though they did take place over a few days. I was impressed that in all the cities, all the people and all the visits, one commonality was thoroughly evident - these people absolutely adore Elder Riley. It was so apparent how hard he worked, how tirelessly he served and how wholly he loved the people in Guatemala. And we were embraced and loved by association. I decided it's a lot of fun to pick up a missionary. It's especially fun to pick up a missionary who did such a phenomenal job.

In all the visits, we met so many beautiful, kind, incredible people. But one little buddy in particular really stole a piece of my heart.
Clearly, I have very little shame in releasing this terribly flattering photo of myself to the world wide web. Just wait, peeps. They're gonna get better.

3 comments:

Natalie said...

Love both pictures of you -- you're super cute!

sorensenpower said...

I love it! I can't wait to see more pictures!

Also, when you landed in Guatemala City did you notice the signs saying "the most advanced air port in all of central America!"?

In my mind, this was the best welcome anyone could receive to Guatemala City.

Whitney said...

you look really beautiful and great in these pictures! looks like you had a blast. i am so jealous of the great tans too!