Well, our time is up. It feels like we just arrived in Guatemala and like we’ve been here forever. Time does funny things during the types of experiences we’ve had this past week.
Every support team like ours has the chance to go on a special outing with a group of students from Safe Passage. For many of the students, these outings are the few and far between times they travel away from their neighborhood to play, have fun, and laugh with each other. Just be kids with no expectations or requirements.
We went to a water park about an hour outside of Guatemala City. It isn’t big, but boy, is it fun. We had done some activities with this group of students on Thursday and were excited to see them again. We think some of them were excited to see us again as well. It took time to engage with them, partly because of the language barrier, and partly because they are 6th graders and not many 6th graders are very interested in becoming instant best friends with a group of strangers. But after a little while, the groups started to come together and play. There weren’t many words exchanged, but there were lots of splashes, some chicken fights, and just sitting together in the pool. We ended our time with the students over lunch at the water park before returning to Antigua.
Our last few hours in Antigua were spent getting our last minute souvenirs and presents for people back home. The merchants at the markets are very good at engaging with tourists because Antigua is a very touristy city. They have their English lines well rehearsed. “No charge for looking.” “Do you need a present for your mother/girlfriend/brother?” “A very good price for you today.” “How much you want to pay? Business is business. Make me an offer.” Bartering was a game for many of our team members. They kept “score” when they compared the prices they paid.
Our last meal at our favorite restaurant: Sobremesa. The food here is incredible – for many of us it ranks as one of our most memorable meals. But the food alone is not what makes it so. Sobremesa is an untranslatable Spanish word. Literally, it means “over the table.” But the true meaning describes what happens over and around a table after a meal: the connection, fellowship, and community that emerges when we take time to sit around a table. Not rushing to our next thing, but taking time to reflect, converse, laugh, and cry together. All of those things happened tonight. What makes this meal so memorable is the people we share it with and the journey it represents. The dessert is also fantastic! If you know someone on our mission team, ask them what flavor of ice cream they tried. Perhaps they tried wasabi fig or strawberry paprika. The owner is ingenious at mixing flavors that blow your mind.
As we write this, we are packing our things for our return home tomorrow. It will be a long day of travel and your prayers for a safe and uneventful day would be much appreciated. We are excited to share our experience with you more fully once we return and discerning how St. Thomas can become even greater partners in the work God is doing in Guatemala City through Safe Passage.