Archive for September, 2011

7th September
written by Michelle

There are many things I appreciate about Guatemalan culture— a value of helping people in the moment, over finishing a task at hand, an emphasis on sharing no matter how much or how little you have and the ability to show up and be present.

Most Guatemalans are good at showing up. They get that sometimes the best thing you can do is: just. be. there.

literally. physically. just show up.

Many of you know that I am engaged to a handsome and adorable Guatemalan man (who may not be thrilled that I just called him adorable on the public blog-sphere : ) Because we live far away not many of you actually get to know and interact with him on a day-to-day basis like I do.

There are many reasons I like this man, but one of them is that he is great at showing up. In the moment, when there is a need, he’s the person you call. You need someone to help you tow your car? Gerber will be there. You have a question about paperwork for immigration? He’ll drive you there. You’re making dinner and don’t have avocados. He’ll go buy them for you. He is incredibly loyal, generous with his time and the kind of person you want by your side— always.

And I know he isn’t like this just for me, but for a lot of people. Last night he found out that his friends’ grandmother passed away. So he went to show up. To just sit with his friend. To just be there. I learned that it is customary with a relative dies in Guatemala to have what’s called a velorio (loosely translated- a wake) . Family and friends gather at the family’s house and stay up all night, drinking coffee, eating pan dulces, talking, sitting, and just being together. I imagine the first night after a loved one dies you don’t sleep much any ways- so it seems nice to know you will spend that night with people who care about you and can mourn with you. People who will show up.

I want to be the kind of person who will just show up. And I think in order to just “show up” it means being willing to change, quick to adapt and ready to help in the moment. Often my “style” of helping is to plan ahead—something like, ok, I’ll be there on Saturday morning…or… sure, I can help you write that letter next week. It’s what I called: Planned. Ahead. Help. I know there is nothing wrong with this kind help. But it’s not really the same as “showing up.”

Showing up is something you do now. in the moment. today, not next week.

Because when you think about it, the times we need someone to show up the most are often the times that are not planned.

4th September
written by Michelle

I realize I’ve been absent from the blog world for awhile. Sometimes I think being absent from the blog world may mean I’m actually being more present with the real world. However, I do want to share what’s been happening…especially because there are so many people I miss connecting with. I know pictures and post don’t suffice for long distance friendships, but it’s a start.

So here’s quick update from the past month…


#1 Teaching: We have 5 more weeks (not like I’m counting) until the end of our school year here. I realize SO many of you just started back to school- and it’s still weird for me to be ending school in October. But I will miss my lovely girls from Proximos Pasos (the all girls school in Santa Maria de Jesus) and my mostly, charming students from Vida y Esperanza (the co-ed school in Santa Lucia)


#2 House Hunting: We spent August signing papers, meeting with lawyers, banks, and all those other important people you meet with when you buy a house! Yes, here it is…still a work in progress. We did some painting and cleaning before I moved in a few weeks ago… and it’s slowly starting to feel more homey. Just 10 minutes from Antigua (15 if I am driving : )


#3 Water, Coffee and Graduations: Gerber continues working in Parramos building water filters and working with families and local leaders to plan for what’s next. I have been enjoying some time with new friends and making time for coffee dates here. It’s funny how cultural the idea of a “coffee date” is— definitely not a Guatemalan norm. And many of Gerber’s dad’s students just graduated from Harvest Bible University. For many of them it was their first graduation ever! And we got to join them for the celebration.

#4 Birthday parties, Soccer and Wedding Planning: I’ve always wanted to be a tia and now I have five (soon-to-be) nieces and nephews thanks to Gerber’s wonderful family. Now none of them will probably call me tia, but that’s ok. I’ll accept la gringa. We celebrated one of his nieces birthday’s with a piñata, churasco (bbq) and firecrackers! Wedding planning is underway and so are lots of emails, skype calls and details. But we still make time for some fun- Gerber’s fun is any form of soccer and since I can’t play very well, we settle for foosball. My form of fun usually involves walking to the park with coffee or chocolate in hand, especially when someone else buys it for me : ) We’re thinking of having all three at the wedding: coffee, chocolate, and maybe foosball. why not?!?

(totally kidding about the foosball….although I bet a certain mr. someone might actually like that idea)