If I look at a calendar, that’s the space of time between August and February. That’s how long I’ve lived in Guatemala. 180 days or 26 weeks or 4296 hours or however you prefer to count time.
I know that’s a bit ridiculous, but I think I’m resorting to over-the-top arithmetic because there’s so much I can’t count about the past six months. I can’t count the number of amazing, wonderful, Spirit-filled people I’ve met. I don’t know exactly how many days I’ve spent traveling or how many hugs I’ve given or how many mistakes I’ve made in Spanish (it’s a lot).
How do you quantify six months living abroad? How do you describe it? That’s the brick wall I keep running into when I try to describe my life here to my friends and family back home, when they ask me how I am, how my life is.
It’s a normal week here, I guess. But no matter how hard they try and no matter how much I explain it, they don’t know what a normal week here is. Even I don’t know what a “normal” week here is.
A normal week is one where I go into the World Renew office and work on translating reports from Spanish to English and inventory medical supplies and research short-term missions, and then go have coffee in my second language with acquaintances who are becoming friends and friends who are becoming family. We laugh over dinner and cry over difficult medical diagnoses and pray and I no longer feel like my life is worlds away from theirs.
A normal week is one where we travel to rural communities, where we talk to community leaders and visit farms and see the crops that are being grown. A week when I live out of a suitcase and chase around hotel cats and am overwhelmed at just how huge God is and how little I understand of Him.
A normal week is one where I get to travel with a short-term mission team and yell the parable of the Good Shepherd in Spanish into a megaphone as the team acts the story out with hand puppets. Where I give a million hugs and try to translate conversations and hear heartbreaking stories about how kids lack access to education and opportunity.
I’ve visited the largest trash dump in Central America, a place where thousands of people actually live in nearly unimaginable circumstances. I’ve talked with kids who have had parents pass away, who can’t go to high school because it’s two hours away. I’ve listened to farmers who are struggling because of droughts, have watched friends here experience devastating loss, have been to the cemetery more times than I’d have wished.
I’ve heard stories of incredible faith, people who have given up everything to follow God’s call on their lives, who have continued living in hard places or given up better opportunities to serve their neighbors. I’ve seen God work in the remotest of places and in the wilderness of my own heart and not everything has been beautiful and some of it has been incredibly hard, but He is still good.
I cannot measure these six months, because in them I have seen depths of brokenness and fields of beauty and mountains upon mountains of grace.