Monday, August 15, 2011

One Year

I hear a smitten giggle erupt through waves of "Banda" music, smattering rain, and soft chatter. I look over to see this small, portly, effervescent 4 year old girl clinging to her Dad's shoulders on a packed bus. It's Sunday after sun-down, and the tone on the bus is subdued; calm, or as calm as bus rides in Guatemala can be. I instantly become entranced by her and Dad. She's decorating him with kisses. She is in love with her father.

This month, I will celebrate my one-year anniversary of service in Guatemala. Naturally, I reflect on what I've accomplished in a year, how I've changed as a person; I try to identify new hopes and dreams for the year to come...

This past year in the Peace Corps has been the equivalent to my teenage years; a troublesome, fear-induced episode characterized by a mix of self-loathing and insecurities. Now, I'm an adult whose mostly prepared to take whatever comes her way with compassion and heart. Some major things have happened: I have established a Food Security program in my local Health Center, developed a wonderful working relationship with my counterpart, Sonia, am a new member of the HIV/AIDS committee, and I have started the process of building a school.

Yet, while these accomplishments have made my service worthwhile, they at times balk in comparison to the more important lesson I've had this year - the lesson in unconditional love.

One of my biggest teachers in this lesson was my beautiful and courageous former sitemate, Amanda. As we sat at her "despedida" (goodbye party) a few weeks back, both crying and holding on to each other, I realized my surroundings. We were listening to wailing Evangelical Christian music, eating our zillionth plate of Pepian (a traditional Guatemalan stew, delicious, but, really, how much of it can you eat before you explode?), being stared at by a flock of Guatemalan children and adult men, and, let us not forget, being photographed by total strangers. Sarita, Amanda's host mother, had invited nearly 100 people.

A year ago, this would have been enough to make me loose my mind. But sitting there in the afternoon sun, I couldn't have been happier. It wasn't that the music was Evangelical, or that the staring and photographing strangers were intrusive and rude, or even that I wanted to scream "are you SERIOUSLY giving me a 3rd plate of food!?!?"No. I was happy because all of this effort had been done as an act of love and friendship. It didn't matter that our ideologies collided - Amanda and I, not Christian. Amanda and I, trying to loose weight. But Amanda and I know love when we see it, in its multitude of forms.

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Reed- I am a future PCV. My staging date is 6/18/13 and I will be coming to, you guessed it- GUATEMALA! Your blog is a wealth of knowledge and your experiences offer insight into some of the trials and tribulations I too will undertake and overcome.

    Your tales are inspirational and your writing excellent!

    I'm not sure if you're still in-country, your "about" says you concluded in 10/2012 but this recent post from 1/2013 says you're only half-way through your service. Either way, I look forward to hearing more about your wondrous
    takes and adventures. Perhaps we will meet when I am training!