At 7 a.m., our friend and missionary brother Joe delivered us to a bus stop along the road in Comayagua and sent us on our way to our language school in Antigua, Guatemala. Yesterday’s adventure included a 14-hour long bus ride through the Honduran and Guatemalan countryside on a surprisingly comfortable bus. Passing away a full day on a bus is not easy, but somehow we managed. In true Jing fashion, I spent the majority of my time during the ride sleeping. In true José fashion, he spent a good portion of the time on the road trying to prevent me from sleeping.
The trip passed with relatively few issues, but we did have a few adventures in an otherwise monotonous day. Noteworthy was our success in maneuvering through bus transfers, including a rather nerve-racking moment when our bus handlers took our passports and walked away. Turns out they were just walking them to our new driver, but it’s a little disconcerting when traveling through a new city and a man just takes your passport and goes off into a crowded station with it. Crossing the border from Honduras to Guatemala also gave us a bit of a “I’m not sure what to do now” moment when we left the Honduras immigration station to discover our bus was missing. Turns out you have to stroll down the road a bit to the Guatemala immigration station where the bus is waiting for you, but how would we know that? I suppose all those directions in Español that the bus attendant gave previously might have addressed that small detail. Lucky for us it was only a second before we spotted someone from our bus and managed to very covertly chase her down and follow her along to the other station.
We arrived in the beautiful city of Antigua at 9 p.m., where a gracious local who happened to catch a shuttle with us offered us a ride to our lodging and delivered us there intact. Our lovely host, a kind Guatemalan woman who speaks no English, showed us to a comfortable room and we were able to rest. Today’s adventures included mass at a local church, an walking exploration of the city, home cooked meals from our host with a sampling of cafe’s and random snacks in between, leaving me presently so full that I can barely walk. The weather is beautiful here, the city is muy interesante, and our school adventure begins tomorrow. All this goes to show how loving a God we have. Despite being sojourners in a foreign land, He has blessed our steps along the way.
Our first glimpse of Honduras! Let the adventure begin!
Every time I move I run through the sad gamut of saying goodbye to people I love spending time with on a regular basis. This week I finished my time at a job I loved, and said a rather heartbreaking goodbye to the people I work with. As I went to my last karate class, I thought about the many nights I spent at the dojo and how kind and patient my teacher and classmates were with me. Even now, hubby, roomie and I are preparing our last dinner in our house together.
These days are never easy for me; I hate goodbyes, and often try to pretend that I’ll be back again next week. As I prepare myself to leave a place, all I can think about is how much I’ll miss the people that I’ll be separated from. But I’m reminded that these “lasts” are an offering, part of the sacrifice required when you’re searching for God’s will in your life.
I remind myself that my goodbyes are symbolic of hellos, of the yes that I’m saying to a life laid out for me by a God who loves me. And I try to remember that saying goodbye eventually gives way to happy reunions, which I look forward to every time I think of my friends.
After a long period of radio silence, I feel inspired to record the adventures planned for the year. This shiny, brand new year holds a host of changes for us, including:
An extended mission. We’re going to Honduras! We’ll be spending a few months there, going on missions, building websites and starting a coffee distribution business for the Missioners of Christ.
Travel, travel and more travel. Guatemala, Honduras, Virginia Beach and Chicago are all on the list this year.
A career change. Jose and I will be going back to school to study web development and computer programming.
A major move. After we graduate from school, we’ll find a job and relocate to a new home!
A few solid weeks in our hometown. We’re excited to spend a few uninterrupted weeks with our family! After 10 years in the Navy, it’s great to be home for a while.
While all these changes are making my head spin, I’m excited for the things to come. I feel more ninja-like when I’m on the move, and so with one week to go before we move out of our Florida home, I’m feeling more ninja everyday. Here we go!
On my fourth day in Honduras, I awoke next to my beloved husband in a strange bed. The first three days had been a blur of prayer time, getting to know our missionary team, planning out presentations and packing for our trip to the small rural villages tucked in the banana and coffee-filled mountains of Honduras. A bumpy truck ride later, we were in the middle of a Central American mountain range and welcomed into the home of a sweet little old Honduran grandma and her two precious grandchildren.
The early mornings began with the sharp beeping of a loaned watch alarm, jarring after a night of rather fitful sleep interrupted well before dawn by what seemed like thousands of roosters and dogs. My sleep was perforated by several horrific nighttime experiences with a hole in the ground, otherwise known as an outhouse. Moreover, the early hour required an awkward preparing of oneself in the dark, as we resisted turning on the light (singular) for fear of waking our hosts. As soon as we finished, we popped outside to walk next door to the church, where we met our team members for some prayer time, our spiritual food for a busy day.
After heavenly prayer came earthly breakfast, a favorite time of day for perpetually hungry Jing. Beans, eggs, plantains, tortillas and creama, a delicious homemade sour cream, were typically in order. As a missionary, it’s imperative to finish all your food, but our hosts jam-packed our plates so as to make it a challenge. I occasionally had to slyly pass food to my Honduran brother, who amazingly managed to clean his plate to a shiny finish at every meal.
After breakfast came home visits. We split into teams, and Diego, Carlos, Claudia and I started off down our path. My fellow missionaries could not speak English, thus leaving me in the dark as to where we were going or what exactly we’d be doing. We climbed up and down dirt roads, following mountainous paths where they led and greeting all we passed with a hearty “Buenas!”
Perched on the hillsides were homes, small cement structures with raised foundations and shaded porches. Often pigs, chickens, and rather skinny-looking dogs lounged about, and children frolicked every which way while adults went about their daily tasks. We walked up to houses, introduced ourselves, and Diego asked if we could take some time to pray with them. At each house families welcomed us, scrambled to put out chairs and invited us to sit.
Now my Spanish was dicey at best, and if one spoke really slowly perhaps I could understand. However, in the beautiful villages of the mountains there were no allowances for my lack of understanding. People were generous with their time while talking to us, generous with their well-wishes and thanks for our visits, generous with their resources in the form of snacks and soda. And while my team members shared the Gospel and the love of Christ with each family we met, I sat silently and offered my prayers to God for blessings on the people I was with. I didn’t understand the details of the discussion, but I asked for joy and hope and safety and courage in the face of any troubles that might befall them. Our lives are different, but the same. Different in that we in the United States have all the resources of the world at our fingertips, and those in Honduras do not. The same in that the troubles of the world try to bring us down, and ultimately we all need the joy, hope and deep love that only a relationship with Jesus can bring.
Our week on mission was filled with singing, dancing, prayer, joy, hope and love – all the things that in the abstract that make life worthwhile. However, the tangible form of those things is not what you might expect. We briefly lived the life of those who are poor, but in reality we are called to be poor all the time, to live simply and for Christ; to give constantly, not of our stuff or of our money but of ourselves. I’ve always said this to myself, but in going on mission I realize how I’ve fallen short in this respect. I am, and we are all, called to do more.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, in the United States, in Honduras and all around the world, Jesus is life, and the only worthy thing we can do for one another is to model the love He showed and help one another on our journey home.