Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Multiplying Talents

When I recently learned my youngest sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I wondered what in the world I could do to help her so far away in Guatemala. One of our WiDo authors, David Kalish, helped me out. I immediately thought of him because in his book The Opposite of Everything, a semi-autobiographical novel, the main character gets a cancer diagnosis. Since Dave has been through it, I asked him his thoughts.

He wrote back to me: "I'm so sorry to hear about your sister, and I understand how you must feel being in Guatemala while she's in Minnesota, that you want to be there for her in whatever way you can. Although email communication has limits, it's also a way for you to use your strength as a writer, to be honest and strong for her in the way that only writers can be. And, of course, ask her how she wants you to support her, let her know that your heart is wide open for anything she needs and wants from you."

This was exactly what I needed to hear. When my mom had her stroke, I didn't email her during the last months of her life, stupidly not even thinking about it. I didn't want to make the same mistake with my sister. So I've been emailing regularly and although she's been too ill right now to respond, I was told that yes, "she reads your emails and loves them."

I asked one of my sons to use his particular talents to make a video clip of my sister. His clip so perfectly captures her as a young girl, with the child-like spirit she has kept fresh throughout her life.

And I have learned that regardless of how insignificant one might think a talent is, when it's used to bless  others, a talent becomes very large indeed.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Rooster Welcomes Me to Guatemala

Yesterday Bruce and I arrived in Guatemala, currently in Panajachel, staying at the hotel Casa Colonial. It's not yet open to guests, but family members can use certain rooms until achieving permanent lodgings.

My husband is sitting out on the balcony (pictured on my blog header) reading. We are happy to be here but disappointed in our supposedly International phone service with Verizon. In other words, no service. Which bothers Bruce because the phone is how he does his major work with WiDo. And bothers me because I want to text my kids and say "We are here!"

But I have my laptop, the Internet, paper and pens. And there's a Mormon church down the street we plan to attend this morning. Although the services will of course be in Spanish, we'll feel right at home.

We woke up at dawn to a rooster crowing, followed by the symphony of many birds soon after--different bird sounds than what I'm used to in North America. I look forward to learning what they are.

The rooster's welcome call (exactly how it felt to me) I recognized with no trouble at all. It is the familiar signal, at least to this Nebraska farm girl's daughter, of home and family and land and productivity. Hearing it made me think, I'm home.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Planted in Different Gardens

My husband and I are currently visiting our oldest son and his family. Each day when our son and his wife and their two children leave early in a flurry for their long day at school (the parents are both teachers)-- my husband and I marvel at the well-orchestrated organization of this household.

The adults are extremely busy as are the children, yet they all manage so very well. It's a peaceful, happy, productive home. My husband and I know we could not have pulled it off. There's no way I could have had kids in school and still managed a career. My brain doesn't work like that. And neither does his. He's at a loss when it comes to managing anything involving the kitchen, except maybe emptying the dishwasher and fixing the occasional pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Yet people used to marvel at our large family and say: "How'd you do it?"
Answer: "Uh, don't really know. It's just our life and we do the best we can."

I think it's ridiculous when people think everyone should be like them. But I hear it everywhere: "Why don't they do it like this?" Or "I do this, and I don't understand why so and so doesn't do it the same." Or "It's wrong to think that!"

In other words: "Why doesn't everyone in the world think and act exactly like me?"

Just like the diversity in a beautiful garden, the variety of life and lifestyles and choices and daily routines is what makes this world so fascinating!

The apple tree doesn't say to the rose bush: "Why don't you grow apples instead of flowers? What a waste of time. You can't eat roses or do anything but look at them and smell them. Geesh! I don't understand you at all. Stupid thorny short rose bush."

Yet the more advanced we become, the more backward and lacking in understanding people seem to get. You see it everywhere: Expressions of anger when others have different ideas from them. So we're all supposed to be the exact same, and think alike, and believe the same thing? What a boring world that would make.

God didn't create a world of sameness but a thrilling place, an environment full of interesting twists and delightful surprises. A platypus and a tiger inhabit the same earth, after all, just not the same garden.