Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (KJV)
9:00 in Florida, 8:00 Guatemala time. Most of the team is downstairs playing a game, but I came back to the room to take a shower, use my medication and chill for a few minutes. Though I wanted to stay, I remembered the promises I made to the folks back home not to overdo. So, I chose to rest. After all, the long travel day is draining for anyone much less me. In my room at Hotel de Soleil where I have stayed for eight of my nine trips to Guatemala, I sit thinking of my first trip here almost four years ago. Scared to death, a nervous wreck, sick to my stomach are phrases that describe that middle aged woman who left Florida almost kicking and screaming against God’s Will. I knew I needed to come. Knew it in a place so deep in my soul that it couldn’t be denied. But, what was I doing flying so far from all that I held dear? Leaving all that made me comfortable and content to minister to a group of malnourished children I had never met? To be honest, I didn’t even really like children! If my daughter-of-the-heart hadn’t been coming with me, I probably would have chickened out at the last minute. Especially if I had known how hard we would work, only five women in a sea of 75 children. Or how sick I would get before we left. So sick that it took me months to recover. No, that woman would not recognize the woman I am today. Never would I have dreamed that after nine trips, I would consider the country a second home and that travel here has become almost routine. Never could I have imagined that I would become blasé about getting onto a plane and travelling to a country where I don’t speak the language and can’t drink the water. But, I have. Not that I am not excited to be here. Not that I can’t wait to see the children or the nannies. Or the sweet, sweet young women who interpret for us. But, I felt an incredible peace upon touching down on the runway nestled between two volcanoes. The cobblestone streets of Antigua, once a novelty, feel comfortable. A reminder that this home is different from the one I left, but still familiar. I no longer jump at the fireworks that go off randomly night and day. My rudimentary Spanish comes back to me. Hola. Por Favor. Buenos Noches. Gracias. The historian in me recounts the stories I have learned about colonial Spain and the Catholic Church’s role in exploration of the Americas. I sound as though I have lived here all my life. Maybe I have. The only part of my life that really counts. It feels strange, this silent night where all is calm and all is bright on the other side of the Gulf, in a different continent. Yet, it feels just right.