Saturday, August 24, 2013

Trip to Guatemala - pt. 1, Trying to get there

Our trip to Guatemala was amazing. We've been home almost 2 weeks and I still think about our time there a lot. Sanaa and Layla continue to talk about Guatemala and the friends they made. I'll do several posts on our time there but I won't be putting up every single picture I took. I plan to make a special Guatemala book for Sanaa and Layla where I'll share all the pictures and all the stories I can remember.

Getting to Guatemala was a challenge and we had many obstacles put in our way. The obstacles began months before we even started packing. When you run into obstacles it is really hard to determine whether it is Satan trying to discourage you or God warning you. It seems that it's only through hind-sight that you know for sure why those obstacles were there. In our case, I strongly believe that it was Satan doing his best to discourage, frustrate, and stress me out.

Earlier this year I wasn't even sure the trip would happen. The team that my dad had hoped to assemble fell completely apart. My dad, Sanaa, Layla, and I were the only ones left. Everyone else had dropped out for one reason or another. I had conversations with my dad about whether or not we should cancel the trip. But we didn't cancel and continued to move ahead with plans that the four of us would go.

Three weeks before we left all three of my kids got sick. Yep. All three of them were sick at the same exact time. Things like that just don't happen. It was the longest week of my life. I had so much I needed to do but was dealing with sick, grumpy kids and making doctors visits. 

At the same time Nate's car broke. We took it to the mechanic but there were so many things wrong with it that we did not feel that putting money towards it anymore was the best use of our money. It didn't help that his old car was a Saturn and parts for it were becoming more difficult to find. So the same week the kids got sick we also became a one car family.

The week before I left, Layla accidentally spilled water near my computer and the computer died. So I was also computer-less. Thankfully I had backed everything up a few days before so I didn't lose much.

And then it was time to finally fly to Guatemala. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and had no trouble getting through security. Everything was going pretty smoothly. But then the announcement was made at our gate that our plane was having some mechanical issues and we would be delayed. At first we were told the delay would be 6-7 hours. All the passengers got in line to try and make other arrangements. My dad got in line while I called the 800 number. I talked with the lady for a little while and pulled my dad out of line since it looked like there was no way we could make our connection. My dad talked with the lady on the phone and decided that since there were no other flight options that would get us to Dallas in time to make our connection we would just wait until our plane was fixed.

Three hours later our plane was ready. The mechanics had the part they needed in Portland so they did not have to wait for the part to come from Dallas like we were originally told. Thanks goodness! We were finally on our way. We boarded and headed to Dallas. 

My dad sitting with our carry-on luggage.

Our plane arrived at the gate! Sanaa and Layla were so excited to see the plane.

Unfortunately, we still missed our connection in Dallas by about an hour. We didn't really expect to make the connecting flight but still hoped that some how we might make it.

The airline gave us vouchers for hotel rooms and food. Nate's parents met us at the airport and drove us to the hotel. We dropped our bags off and then headed out to dinner. Sanaa and Layla were very excited to see Papa Gene and Gramma Carol, but Sanaa was a little confused. When she saw them at the airport she excitedly said, "You're in Guatemala too!?!" Haha! She thought that Papa Gene and Gramma Carol had flown to Guatemala and met us there.

At the hotel I realized that the girls were once again confused when Sanaa started looking for the kids bedroom. She saw the "big people" beds and then wondered where she was going to sleep. Layla commented on what a nice house Gene and Carol had and it was at that point I realized they thought the hotel was Papa Gene and Gramma Carol's house. Oops. We got it all straightened out.

The highlight of our hotel stay for the girls was getting to use a hair dryer for the first time after they took their bath.


The next morning we ate breakfast and then check out of the hotel. Our flight from Dallas to Guatemala wasn't schedule to leave until 4:50pm so we spent the morning with Gene and Carol. They took us to their house so the girls could see it again and then we went to a new aquarium at Grapevine Mills Mall. That mall has changed a lot since we lived there. It was pretty cool seeing the aquarium and the girls really enjoyed that.

Sanaa and Layla were spoiled by Papa Gene and Gramma Carol and also got to enjoy their first carousel ride.

Our flight to Guatemala was on time and we boarded on time. The plane pulled away from the terminal and taxied to the end of the runway. And then we sat..... and sat..... and sat.... and sat. Half an hour later we finally took off. The pilot informed us that he had to wait on a balance check (number of passengers and luggage weight). This was something that he should have had before we even left the gate but apparently a computer malfunctioned.

We were half an hour late getting to Guatemala. We met Tom and Rickie outside the airport. They would be with us all week and we had a great time getting to know them. They took us to a fast food chicken place for a quick dinner and then to the seminary where we spent the night.

Our first night was spent in Guatemala City. The girls and I began to get settled in for the night. They were quite tired but still in pretty good moods despite all the flight delays. I opened our big suitcase that we had checked and suddenly the girls screamed. There were ants all over our clothing. Sanaa and Layla ran to the next room to get my dad to show him. There wasn't anything I could do since it was nearly 10pm so I closed the suitcase and shoved it in the farthest corner.

Then Layla began crying and screaming that ants were biting her. I pulled her clothing off fast and found some ants on her. She had sat next to the suitcase as I opened it and since we didn't realize ants were inside I thought nothing of her sitting next to the suitcase.

I got the ants off Layla and pulled out the last pair of cleaning clothing I had for her from our carry-on luggage. She sobbed and cried that she didn't want to be there. I dressed her, tucked her in bed, and she immediately fell asleep.

Sanaa and I had no more clean clothing. While in Dallas we left our checked luggage at the airport and just had our carry-on luggage with us in the hotel. I had pack pjs and one extra outfit for each of us in the carry-on. (I actually packed 2 extra outfits for Layla since she has a way of getting quite dirty). So Sanaa and I had to wear the same clothing the next day. Sanaa was a trooper when it came to the ants and didn't mind at all that she had to wear the same clothes.

The next morning we got up so we could meet Tom and Rickie for breakfast. We had half an hour before we had to meet them so my dad and I drug my large suitcase outside to inspect the ant infestation. We started going through the outside pockets and didn't see any ants. As we moved deeper into the suitcase we found a few more. But the majority of ants were concentrated in the large, bottom compartment where all of our clothes were. There was no food or anything there besides clothes and to this day I have no idea how the ants got in there or why they were in that section of the suitcase.

We closed the suitcase and walked over to Tom and Rickie's apartment only to discover that we were an hour early!! Guatemala is on central time, but they don't observe daylight savings, so they were actually on mountain time.

We helped Rickie load the computers and other items into the van and then we headed off for breakfast. They took us to a restaurant called San Martin which was inside a mall. It was good food. I had fried plantains for the first time and loved them.

My first breakfast in Guatemala: scrambled eggs on top of tortillas with cheese inside, black beans, and fried plantains. Yum!

Since we were at a mall, there happened to be a kid area right next to the restaurant and the girls had fun climbing on the different riding toys. Sanaa sat in what looked like a UFO.

Layla pretended to drive a car around and would buckle her imaginary baby next to her. Sanaa tried to climb in next to Layla but Layla wouldn't let her since her baby was sitting there.

After breakfast we drove back to the seminary to get our luggage and meet the Cyr (pronounced Sear) family. The Cyr's would be joining us and Tom and Rickie for the week. The 10 of us piled into one large van and we headed to Coban which was a 4-5 hour drive. The drive was beautiful but for the first time ever Layla got car sick and threw up 3 times while we drove. Once we arrived in Coban at the Bible Institute where we would be staying Layla was fine. The fresh air did wonders for her. I think the curvy roads we had to travel on is what upset Layla's stomach.

So, getting to Guatemala and our first couple days there we over came a lot of obstacles. However, I was also able to see ways in which God had worked.

1. My checked suitcase was almost 4 pounds over weight when I weighed it at home. So I moved the girls shoes into the carry-on luggage and two sets of clothing for Layla. I also had all of the things the girls would need for bed in our carry-on luggage as well. This meant the girls shoes, night time blankets, and a few clothing was ant free.

2. God put together his own Work & Witness team. We flew down thinking it would only be the four us plus Tom and Rickie. But God brought Monte, Bethany, Bryan, and Nkele to join us. It was a great group of people to work with.

Over the next few weeks I'll share more pictures and more stories from Guatemala.

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