"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."
Charles Dickens must have written this knowing that I was going to move to Guatemala one day.
Reader: Sarah! "A Tale of Two Cities" is a classic. Please do not compare yourself to this fantastic work of art!
Honestly, I cannot help but believe this applies directly to us.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Being here in Guatemala has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and it has also been one of the hardest.
(I'm a total wimp. I know.)
"it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness"
We have grown so much in wisdom while being here and learning about how small our lives are, and we have also been foolish at times in our sinfulness and naivety.
(Although not often cause we are pretty awesome..)
"it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity"
At times we were able to embrace and be present in the fact we were finally here, living the dream of being with our kids, that I had always hoped for and thought about.
At other times, this reality passed us by in unbelief and in a desire to be back in Texas.
(Times like these is when we were foolish and didn't embrace the fact that we were here.)
"It was the season of light. It was the season of darkness." ...
This could not be more true for me.
I grew so close to the Lord during our time here.
I literally handed my life over to Him and trusted Him with my safety and my every breath.
In the United States it is so easy to believe that we control our own fate.
As believers, we obviously know that this is not true, but how often do you actually say to God when you get in the car, "Please keep me safe. My life is in your hands."?
I gave God control over my life that I have never done before.
I completely surrendered to Him, and I was fine with whatever the outcome of my life was.
At the same time, it was a season of darkness.
We missed community so much. We missed church. We felt dry. We felt drained, and without accountability from friends, at times, we felt very far away from God and in the darkness.
Because of those times, we had springs of hope and winters of despair.
At times, it felt like we could be here forever, and at other times, we were depressed and wanted to go home.
And now, to my final point: "We had everything before us, we had nothing before us."
- We had the most beautiful people in front of us waiting to be loved, but at the same time, our loved ones were living in another country.
- We had showers to stand in, but we couldn't get that water in our mouth or we would get parasites.
- We had running water, but it was cold and never hot.
- We had a roof over our head, but when it rained, it flooded the inside of our house.
- We had air conditioning, but it cost $400 a month to stay cool.
- We had minimal break downs in our car, but were not able to pull over if it broke down for the fear that someone would hold us at gunpoint and rob us.
- We had a safe neighborhood to live in, but had to carry a knife with us outside because the drug money launderer lived a few houses down from us, along with all of his security team and their many guns.
- We had food to eat, but if we didn't wash it in bleach, it would get us sick.
- We had ministry partners when we arrived, but who had to leave us just a few months later.
- We had beautiful mountains to looks at from afar, but never ones that we could hike in because that is where you get robbed and kidnapped.
- We had amazing friends and family come visit us, but friends and family who always had to leave.
- We had medicine to give Jackson when he was sick, but medicine that we could not fully understand because it was in "medical spanish."
- We had restaurants to go to, but those restaurants were Burger King, Pollo Compero and Pizza Burger Diner.
- We had money to take out of the ATM, but money that forced me to come up with getaway plans each time just in case John got held up.
- We had date nights, but always with Jackson because we didn't have anyone to leave him with, and those date nights were at Burger King...
- We had a movie theater to go to, but that movie theater was 45 minutes away and always in Spanish.
- We had hot weather, but ALL YEAR LONG.
- We had beautiful amazing friendships with these kids, but also relatively shallow ones because while our spanish was sufficient, it wasn't enough to get really intimate.
- We had fellow American missionaries who were our good friends, but who lived 3 hours away.
- We had a really great grocery store to shop at, but everything that was normal to us, was double the price because it was imported from America.
- We had toothbrushes and toothpaste, but had to get pure water to use them because otherwise...we would get parasites.
- We had a mini hot water heater for our pure water, but we had to heat it every night to give Jackson a bath because otherwise, we knew he would get the dirty water in his mouth and get sick.
- We had credit cards to use, so that we didn't have to risk the ATM, but had an extra "out of country" fee every time we swiped it.
- We had each other all the time, but we had each other ALL THE TIME.
- We had a car to drive in, but not one that I could drive in by myself because it was to dangerous for me to be alone in Guatemala where we lived.
- We got used to the gunfire that we heard, but we still heard gunfire often.
- We trusted God like never before, but we felt further away from God than ever before.
- We made beautiful friendships that will last forever, but we have to say goodbye to those dear friends with the possibility of never seeing them again.
Those are just a handful of our "We had everything before us. We had nothing before us."
However, If I learned anything by being here, it is that we are blessed.
In a sense, compared to the American lifestyle, we had "nothing before us."
But, when compared to the lives that most Guatemalans live, and in consideration to the beautiful friendships that we made, we had "everything before us".
This has been a time of growth, trial, and beauty.
I will forever be grateful to God for allowing us to be a part of these kid's lives.
These are some of the most beautiful people whom I have ever met, and I never want to forget their contagious smiles, their sarcastic personalities, their tears of sorrow, their strength, their endurance, their faithfulness, their work ethic, their forgiveness, their loud voices, their laughter, their ability to correct my Spanish (all the time), their soccer skills on the pavilion, their love for the Lord, and their friendships.
They are a part of my life.
Their country is a part of my life.
So, it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, but the best of times far outweighed the worst of times, and I'll take the worst times any day to live two of the best years of my life.
Thank you to everyone who made it possible for us to be here.
We will forever be grateful.