James reached a big milestone in early October when we spent 6 days in Guatemala. It was a milestone because it was the first time he was totally out of his element for an extended time period. His dad and I have a dear friend who is a Catholic priest serving in a parish of about 30,000 people just outside Guatemala City. He has been asking us to visit for several years and now that James is communicating with RPM and expressing his desire to be more independent and to have more opportunities we decided to take him. We also took his homeschool teacher Shannon with us so he could always have someone to assist him with the letterboard. I get very distracted by other people and am often not the best communication assistant!
For the first part of the trip we stayed in very simple, basic living quarters. The area we stayed in was poor. It was really different from our life in Arlington. Despite dealing with a whole new sensory experience, very different food, a new time zone and everyone speaking Spanish James did extraordinarily well. He told us the first night that he was “very proud of himself”. I am so glad he had the chance to meet the challenge successfully. The next few days we visited various families in the parish, went to the market and visited the “infirmary” or clinic that has no doctor but is supposed to provide health care to 30,000 people. We wrapped up the trip in Antigua which was the old capital of the colonial government. There we toured a coffee farm and visited lots of old churches and monasteries.
This week we have been getting back to the work of regular school and all of us are really tired. I did ask James to write about his experience for the blog and he managed to do it this afternoon despite being pretty wiped out! So here are James’ thoughts on his visit to Guatemala.
GUATEMALA CITY REMAINS FRESH IN MY MIND. THE POVERTY, POLLUTION AND CORRUPTION HANG HEAVY IN MY HEART. I WAS OVERWHELMED BY SADNESS FOR THE PEOPLE. I GAINED A NEW PERSPECTIVE ABOUT HOW LIFE COULD REALLY BE. I TAKE MANY THINGS FOR GRANTED. HOWEVER, THE HAPPINESS THAT PEOPLE SHOWED US HUMBLED ME. MONEY DOES NOT EQUATE TO HAPPINESS, COMPANY AND PERSONALITY DO. PEOPLE WELCOMED US AND I FELT LOVED BY STRANGERS. I WANT TO RETURN TO GUATEMALA CITY AND I HOPE TO BRING THEM HAPPINESS LIKE THEY GAVE ME.