March 3, 2014
I just barely got done with posting about our Oct. trip to Guatemala, I found myself packing my bags to return to the Land of Eternal Spring. Here’s how that came about. As many of you know, our daughter Tiana accepted the Lord as her Saviour last February in El Chal, Guatemala. She had been living with Benj and his family since the previous Nov. This gave us great joy as we were beginning to wonder if she’d ever surrender to Christ. It is like her Grandaddy said, “It certainly wasn’t a premature birth.” She joined the Instruction class with several others and the baptism was planned for Feb. 16th.
Of course I really wanted to be there for that event but since God had answered my prayer to go to Guatemala in October, I was sure that it would not be possible to go so soon again. I even felt guilty in asking God to provide a way to go again even for her baptism. But some of my friends didn’t feel that it was wrong to ask God for this only that I should be willing to take No for an answer. Well, that wasn’t so hard to do since I figured I couldn’t go anyway. Oh me of little faith. Benj felt very strongly that one of her parents at least should be there. He asked me if we would come if it were a wedding….that her commitment to Christ is much more important than a wedding. When he put it that way, it made perfect sense. Unfortunately, Vernon didn’t feel he could do it—with the cold weather, furnace, and his backed up work, but he did say I could go to represent our family.
So, I had a week to prepare. We bought the ticket on Feb. 5th after we got home from prayer meeting. I did some last minute shopping like buying Mt. Dew, Mug rootbeer, pepperoni and Pringles to help celebrate Benj’s 29th birthday on Feb. 19th. I decided I hadn’t celebrated with my oldest son for a number of birthdays and it was time to do it again since I had a chance. Our family has a tradition of the 3 P’s: Pizza, Pringles and Pop(namely Mt. Dew and Rootbeer). When that started we were living in Guatemala and those 2 kinds of pop were not available there so I’d try to make sure we brought some back with us to serve on birthdays. I also bought a big jar of Peanut Butter for his present. I spent considerable time packing and repacking my luggage. Also, this time I made sure my pair of knee-highs matched. The last time I ended up with one Sheer Energy and one Hanes and it bugged me the entire trip.
For one thing, I was going on Spirit Airlines and they charge for luggage: $35 for a carry on, $30 for the first suitcase up to 40 #. The suitcase I first tried was too big and the stuff sort of rattled around in it so I tried another…whoops, too little. Let’s see about this one, “still too small”. Etc and etc. I was allowed a “personal” bag such as a purse or a small backpack measuring up to 12″ x 14″ x 16″ that I didn’t have to pay for. I wanted to take advantage of the free luggage so I found a backpack that was within the size guidelines and also a suitcase close to the proper dimensions and studied the guidelines what I could take and what I could not. After juggling for awhile, I finally decided to pay an extra $25 at the check-in counter for an extra 10# in my suitcase.
I had quilted Lanet’s quilt on the machine and wanted to finish taking care of the extra threads while traveling. I read that you can now take small scissors if the blades are less than 4″ so I took a folding pair, a seam ripper and knitpicker (a teeny latch hook thing I had left over from our Qiana knit days). These were in my little emergency travel kit along with some buttons and a needle and thread and other odds and ends such as tweezers, band-aids, and Tylenol. I put my purse inside the backpack. Then, I put my camera, cellphone and passport in a fannypack around my waist. I know, they went out of style a number of years ago but I need the extra space. I used the quilt to keep warm on the flight.
We started out at 8:15 PM from home to get to Minneapolis/St. Paul to be there a couple hours before the flight went out. I thought the flight went out at 12:15AM but I saw later it was 1:15. That was ok because the weather wasn’t all that great and it began to snow on our way over. I am not sure what time we got there but I was delayed in security when they found something forbidden in my backpack. No, it wasn’t the scissors or the fingernail clippers but the peanut butter! I was sure that was ok but he said “nothing creamy”. Fortunately, Vernon was still there on the other side of the glass watching as I was frisked and the pb removed from my pack. Oh rats. There went Benj’s birthday present. They did take the pb back and gave it to Vernon after they tested the outside of the jar to prove it wasn’t anything explosive, so at least it wasn’t wasted money on my part. Oh well, I’ll know better next time.
Once on the plane we had to wait for awhile until the plane was de-iced. That reminded me of a scene in a Sci-Fi movie. This huge unidentifiable creature blowing hot air on the wings. Finally, we were off. Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever flown Spirit but they are a bare-bones airline that only charges 1/2 the price and give you 1/2 the luxury of their competitors. My ticket with the $30 for luggage came to $442.00 plus the extra $25 was still way below the next cheapest ticket I could find which was over $800. I figured I could put up with a bit of uncomfort at that savings. Well, I am glad I wasn’t any larger than I am, as my knees came close to rubbing the seat back in front of me when it was reclined. Yes, it reclined. Some of the seats on the other planes did not. I noticed that there are bigger seats toward the front of the plane and they got smaller and closer together as you went back. I think the biggest seats were $50 extra and the middle ones $20 or $30. And if I ever fly Spirit again, yes, I would very definitely consider paying for a bigger seat. As it was, these in the back were the freebies and I had a lot of trouble trying to sleep.
They have a menu card that gives the options of what you can buy. Most of it was pop, pringles, candy or some kind of stronger drink. All sweets and carbs. Not so great for a diabetic to say the least. I was glad for the little bag of jerky in my pack. I did ask for water and was brought 2 bottles of room temp. water. I thought it was interesting that those who bought pop or juice got a cup of ice to go with it. I suppose I should’ve asked. The least they could’ve done was said “no”. I am not sure but I think the second bottle was a slip-up on their part but who was I to complain? I had to use my credit card to get that at the tune of $3. I ended up buying a Cup of noodles on the second leg of my trip.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL just as the sun was coming up. I was glad to get off the plane and stretch my legs. I was to have a 4 hour lay-over there so I settled down and began to work on Lanet’s quilt. It was coming right along. They had several places to buy food there so I got a sandwich and ate my lunch there. We were to take off at 10:48 EST AM and get to Guatemala City a little after noon (CST), 3 hours later. It was a little hard to keep up with leaving a Central time zone going to Eastern time then back to Central again so I had to keep adjusting the time in my head.
The plane was delayed due to inspection, they said. One of the unfortunate things about Spirit Airlines is they forget to communicate with their passengers. I forgot how late the flight was delayed before they ever made the announcement that we were going to be delayed. The sign board, of course, just said: ON TIME. Hummpf Finally at 2PMEST (1:00 CST) we boarded the plane and took off for Guatemala. I did think that it was better to be late and have the plane inspected on the ground than to be in the air and wished they had.
We arrived there about 4 PM CST 4 hours late. After going through customs and claiming my suitcase and more customs, I was out and was met by Tim and Rhoda Korver. Now my arrival was kept under hats so that I could surprise Tiana, so Tim hadn’t even told Rhoda who they were picking up. Rhoda, thinking of her birthday the next day, thought perhaps it was one of her family coming to surprise her. Tim told her not to get her hopes up so when she saw me she asked, “Is that who I think it is?” Of course, she wasn’t a shocked as the last time we went to visit but we were happy to see each other anyway. She has been a dear friend of mine for 12 years now.
We arrived at Mennonite Headquarters in time for me to lie down and rest a bit before supper. Since the plane was late, my scheduled bus ride that afternoon was no longer valid so we rescheduled one on the night bus at 10PM. Harold Kauffman loaned me his extra cell phone (the same one we’d used in Oct.) so that I would be able to communicate with Benj on my way up to the Peten.
A group of 4 young people from Chambersburg, and Bellville, PA had come that day too. Tristan Funk had been a VSer a couple of years ago so he brought some cousins down to visit. Tristan and Tim took me to the bus terminal to get the night bus.
I hadn’t thought I needed to change my dollars into Quetzales so was taken aback when they wouldn’t take my dollars. I asked what the fare was. Q180. Gulp. I was sure that 4 of us took that same bus line for Q600 which came out to Q150 each. I asked Tim if he had any Q’s. He had Q156…Tristan hadn’t changed any money yet either. Tim showed the lady what he had and she adamantly said it was Q180. Well, the fare must’ve gone up since Oct. Now what? Tim went outside the station to talk to Tristan. Next thing I knew Tristan came in and asked the lady how much my ticket was and she said, without batting an eye: “Q150″! I teased him that they thought he was nicer looking than Tim. LOL what I didn’t see and what the ladies apparently had that was Tim went out and asked Tristan if he had any Q’s and saw that Tristan didn’t have any and saw Tim give Tristan the money and must’ve figured they’d give me a ticket for Q150. They also remembered Tristan.
Anyway, I was relieved….I gave Tim my $20 bill and we were all squared. The bus left shortly after that. This bus had 2 seats on one side of the isle and 1 on the opposite side. I was seated by the window beside a nice enough fellow. The seats were reclining but alas, mine was missing its foot and leg rest so that it left my legs dangling and cut off the circulation to my feet. I am sure that poor guy thought he had the wiggliest seatmate ever. So, not much sleep and rest for me that trip either. At least the seat wasn’t worn out. This was the ADN bus, one of the few bus lines that will stop in El Chal. I was kind of bothered by the air conditioner over my head. It looked like it could be sort of dangerous if it jarred loose. I prayed that it would stay up where it was supposed to.
I arrived about 5:30 or 6 in the morning. The bus driver asked me, “Primero tumulo?” Which means first speed bump. Sure enough there was Benj waiting for me. I could’ve walked in to their house which was only 1 block from the highway but that suitcase was heavy with exactly 50# in it so I was relieved that he had come.
I walked into their house as most of them were eating breakfast.
Sue was still sleeping on the couch but the other two grandchildren were surprised to see Grandma walk in. I went to the girls’ bedroom and pulled on Tiana’s toes to wake her up. She just groaned and mumbled something but when the sound of my voice penetrated her brain, she was up in a flash giving me a bear hug. “MOMMY!” It made all the discomfort worth it. Sue too didn’t want to wake up but once she saw me she was up like a jack-in-the-box, happy to see her Grandma. Sleep was forgotten.
There were 3 young men at the table that I’d never met before. These 3 had contacted the mission and had wanted to come and do some work project, they referred them to Benj. Benj is building a house and so this was a very welcome work team. Matt King is Amish and Leroy Brubaker and Darrel Horst are “Joe Wenger” Mennonites, I believe. They added to the good times we had the week I was there. I really enjoyed getting to know them.
I did take a long nap that day. I can’t remember if it was before or after lunch. What I did mostly that week was wash dishes it seemed so I am not sure if I can recount each day as they were a lot alike.
One of the first things Sue asked me was if we could have a Slumber Party. I looked kind of doubtful but she assured me that her Mommy let her have Slumber Parties.
So I agreed and was pleasantly relieved that their slumber parties was when the adult slept on the couch and the kiddos on the floor! Now, I can handle that kind, thank you very much.
Lanet, 2, hardly gave Vernon and I the time of day when we were there in Oct. but this time, she knew me and I found I had my built in “puppy” following me about. She’d take my hand and say, “Grandma, come. Come Grandma, sit down. Read. Or Chicle? Sometimes she’d take me into the bedroom and point to my purse and ask sweetly, “Chicle?” (gum).
Tiana and I took the little girls up town a little ways and bought fruit,veggies and meat.
On Valentine’s day Benj took the fellows to Ixpanpajul and on up to Santa Elena. He came back with a bunch of flowers for his Valentines.
I did get Lanet’s quilt done:
Another day, Tiana and I went alone as I wanted to buy a little broom for Kaity that I’d seen in one of the stores. We also went to a Paca. This is a used clothing store with clothes brought down from the USA.
On Sat. Tiana and I took a Tuk tuk up to Judy Lehman’s house to make 4 flat sheet cakes for the refreshments after the baptismal service. That evening Ruben and Sandra Benito planned to make supper for us. Those two are Jose Benito’s children….he was our bishop when we lived in El Novillero. Jose lives in San Bartolome, Ruben came up for this occasion. Sandra lives in El Chal and is the pharmacist at the mission clinic. Ruben had lived with Benj’s for a year a couple of years ago. He was baptized 2 years ago on Benj’s birthday and wanted to do this meal to thank Benj for all his support, etc and to celebrated Benj’s birthday and his baptism. So, they lit a fire in the yard and Sandra made her famous Carne Asado. Unfortunately, Benj didn’t get home until kind of late so by the time we actually ate, the meat was cool and tough…I should’ve put mine in the microwave to heat it up…but the flavor was still scrumptious. Stephan’s came over that night too to help us eat it.
Sunday, the church was packed with all the visitors.
The church from El Naranjo/Santa Rosita came down to be there for this special event besides a work team from Ontario, Canada who was there working on the school Isaias Munoz and his family were up from the south….Oratorio as he has bishop oversight for the churches in El Chal and Sta Rosita since Mark Gingerich’s have been in Peru. Isaias’ daughter, Priscila, lives with Benj’s family too and goes to school with Kendra Lily. I teased Isaias that Jose Benito baptized our oldest 3 children, Harold Kauffman baptized the next 3 and if he, Isaias, baptized Tiana, he would need to do the last 2. He said he’d be glad if we’d move back to Guatemala so that he could.
We had a carry-in lunch at church and then had a little time to relax before evening services. Holly is supposed to be on bedrest so she missed out on church in the morning. ‘She did make it to church that evening where we had a beautiful service. We video-taped the service for the most part. I was bummed out that we ran out of room on the camera chip for that last song: “I want us to be together in Heaven”. It was beautiful. Everyone held hands and sang with gusto. Tears flowing down cheeks unashamed. I thought that was a little foretaste of Heaven! I would like to post the videos on You-tube if I can. I haven’t had any success posting videos on Xanga since they redid their site. I hope you don’t mind but I think I will make a separate post for this occasion. Here are a couple of pictures though to whet your interest.
We came back to Benj’s to find that someone had come in and helped themselves to Benj’s Ipad (which, by the way, he had offered to let me use for a Bible…..I could’ve kicked myself for not doing that.) and their laptop besides some money. I was relieved that I had my Q’s on me and that they hadn’t touched my dollars nor my passport. The thief didn’t take any of Benj’s $$ either. I guess its easier to track a thief when they try to change $$ into Q’s. Also Kendra Lily and Priscila’s laptops were not stolen either so they feel the thief was in a hurry. I felt bad as Holly had just downloaded all her pictures from her camera onto the laptop so we could use her camera chip for the baptism. She said that she had just backed up everything on the computer about 6 weeks earlier so at least they didn’t lose everything. That kind of put a damper on everyone’s spirits at any rate.
Monday, I think, I went with Kendra Lily to the clinic for the afternoon. The staff on duty that day was Julia King, Sandra Benito, KL and Priscila Munoz.
I also went over to the school to take a peek of what the work team from Canada was accomplishing. Had a good visit with Waneta Erb the school secretary. Unfortunately, my battery failed on the camera so no pictures.
On Tuesday I was sewing a dress for Holly when Leroy asked me how much fabric it would take for Sue and Lanet. I told him I thought I could do it with 2 and 1/2 yards. He brought over a big bag of fabric that he had bought in the City and asked me to chose a piece for the girls. Holly picked out a couple from the pile and then had Sue choose of those. She chose a lite green piece that measure 1 and 3/4 yard. Yikes. Could I get 2 little dresses out of that piece without it being too skimpy? What made it worse was big gold letters stamped along the bottom edge saying the name of the fabric and where it was made. Holly and I found they could be scraped off and we managed to get it off! When I got done cutting them both out, I think I had a left over piece about the size of my hand besides a couple of odds and end scraps. Now that’s what I call doing it right. Nothing left over that can’t be used. A great feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sew them up but hopefully Holly will be able to soon.
I am not sure when I got to go up to the Hill to see the progress on Benj’s house. I was glad to get to see what has been accomplished since we were there in Oct. Benj has barbed wire all around the porch and side of the house for protection of falling off I suppose. Guess who got it in the face, not just once but twice? Fortunately, it didn’t hurt too bad and didn’t leave a mark. Darrel’s scratch was a lot more obvious.
I told the girls that I wanted to go to Ixpanpajul for the Tarzan Tour. I don’t think they they took me seriously at first. Here’s Mom, the person that is SOOO afraid of heights wanting to do the cable rides????? No way! They made plans to take me on Wed. afternoon. So, about 2PM the 3 of us left the house for the 1/2 ride up to Ixpanpajul. We had just gotten off the microbus and was walking in when the heavens opened up and gave us an impromptu shower! Oh help…just what we needed. I wasn’t sure if we could do this Tarzan tour in pouring rain. When we got to the pavilion where we were to pay, went to the restroom and dried off as much as we could with paper towels. By that time the rain had passed so we paid and got into the back of a truck to take us to the first part of the tour.
All the while Tiana kept telling me, “You’ll freak out. You’ll scream. You won’t be able to do it.” And all the while I kept assuring her that I could, that I wouldn’t freak out, I won’t scream and that they were underestimating their Mama. The road up the hill and down into the jungle was as steep as I have ever seen. I honestly believe that it must’ve been at least a 75 degree angle up that hill and back down. I didn’t freak out but it was hard not to, especially, wondering what kept us from flipping over onto our top as we scaled that hill. No, it didn’t take us up on switch backs. And then going down the other side. Whoa! I tried to take pictures of it but you have to have it in 3D to get the real thing.
The pictures all look flat. Finally we stopped at the base of a TALL tree with a ladder going up. We geared up and started up the ladder.
The rungs were slippery and treacherous but I finally made it to the top.
The guides clipped us onto the rails to keep us from falling off, then the first guide went off into space. Then KL. After her was me , then Tiana and the last guide. The order was so that KL could video me coming and Tiana videoing me from behind. They had to document this well. Tiana was still sure I would freak out. They have made some changes on this cable tour since Jonny went almost 2 years ago. It used to be that the person on the cable would brake himself by hanging onto the cable itself. Jonny’s glove got caught in the pulley and he was stranded over the jungle until a guide came and untangled his glove. Now the first guide goes it that way but when he reached the landing he hooked up the braking system which is something on the cable that stops the person from slamming into the tree. So, when it was my turn to go, I had some trepidation and forced myself into space. I went flying over the jungle too fast to really enjoy the scenery but talk about exhilarating. Wow wee!!
What a ride. Yahoo! and all that stuff but no freaking out or screaming. But suddenly the tree loomed ahead of me and I was going 90 mile an hour it seemed. I was sure I was going to hit that tree and be knocked into Mexico or worse! Still I didn’t scream. I probably would have if I hadn’t told the girls that I wouldn’t. But that’s our secret, ok? I had to put my trust into the guide’s ability to stop me on time. There were 6 of those cable rides on the tour and by the time we finished I was no longer afraid I’d slam into the tree. I did get afraid that the first guide wouldn’t get me off the cable in time before Tiana came sailing into the back of me.
All in all I loved it and would do it again in a heart beat. By the way, the girls had to hand it to me, they didn’t think I could do it without losing my cool. I think I rather impressed them.
That evening was Benj’s birthday party. I had told Judy Lehman about the party so she and her household….Vicky Hershberger, Sandra Benito, and another girl who is staying there temporarily joined us.
Of course, Matt, Leroy and Daryl was there too, besides Lucio Lopez, a boy that Benj is mentoring who was also baptized with Tiana. After the pizza, pop and Pringles, and the 2 ? meter firecrackers to celebrate,
Then we opened some. They scraped out the meat of one for me to bring home. Then the party was ove, but what a party! At 9:45 I said good-bye to my 3 dear little grandchildren and the world’s sweetest daughter-in-law, gathered my bags and got into Benj’s pickup to go await the Maya de Oro bus. I admit, I had mixed feelings. I wanted so badly to stay and yet my family in WI was pulling me home. Oh well, all good things must come to an end. to be continued. I think this post is long enough….I’ll save the bus ride and the rest of the trip for the next post. Or so.