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      Guatemala 2016 Update – Numb

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      (Sunday, July 24, and Monday, July 25, 2016)

      Sunday (in Xenacoj)

      I woke up this morning bright and early.  Actually, I didn’t sleep all that well.  My stomach wasn’t feeling spectacular and I was also feeling the early signs of lower respiratory congestion.  It seemed like I was up every hour to go to the bathroom, so when I woke up at 6AM for my last time alone on the rooftop for my Rooftop Reflections, I was not full of energy.

      My Rooftop Reflections were pretty raw.  I actually cried as I said my closing thoughts from the roof.  These were tears of joy, tears of sadness, and tears of pure exhaustion.  I gave my all while we were in Xenacoj that past two weeks, and my body, mind, and soul were (and are) feeling the fatigue.

      After my time on the roof, I went for a walk while Hannah ran on ahead.  This was my opportunity to soak in the sights and sounds of Xenacoj one last time before we headed home.

      German and Suzy stopped by with their girls to deliver our last breakfast (pancakes!) and to say their final goodbyes.  They are part of our family.  I really feel like German is a brother, and I’m so thankful for his friendship.

      Before boarding the bus to the airport, we watched a few minutes of the parade that was winding its way through Xenacoj as part of the month-long festival.  Each school in the village was represented by a band, a banner, and a king and/or queen.  We threw our suitcases in the back of the bus, and we drove out of down.

      I looked out the window as we exited the village gate for the last time this trip and made our way down the steep hill and back up the other side.  A numbness began to creep over me.  And the numbness as continued to be part of me even as I prepare to crawl in bed on Monday night at our home in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania.

      We made it to the airport, and we navigated security and customs without any problems.  We grabbed lunch at Subway in the terminal of the airport (ahh yes, an American meal!).

      After lunch, the kids began to wander the terminal together, and Leanne and I spent some time talking.  We talked about our future trips to Guatemala.  We talked about the need to pursue ministry in Guatemala that better utilized Leanne’s gifts and passions.  And we talked about the possibility of selling our own house sooner than later.  Some people come home from short-term missions trips, and they quickly get back into their routines.  Their pace of life goes back to full throttle, and they soon forget the lessons they learned on their trip.  This is a trap that is far too easy to fall into.  We want the changes we experienced in our family to last.  We want them to have lasting impact.  We don’t want our trip to simply be a “nice thing to do” as a family.  We want our trip to make a difference for others and for us.  So these conversations and the actions that follow are very important.

      When we headed over to our gate, we soon learned that our plane at been delayed for over an hour.  (Oh no!  How would this impact our connection time in Miami?)  Before we boarded the plane in Guatemala City, we were upgraded to exit row seating which is a huge blessing for Isaac and me as we both stand at nearly 6’6″.

      Once in the air, the pilot made his best efforts to make up time as we traveled over the Gulf of Mexico.

      On the plane ride from Guatemala to Miami, I watched A Walk In The Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.  The movie told the humorous true story of two “friends” who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail together.  Besides many laughs throughout the move, I think the movie had many great messages about life.  I resonated with the desire to seek adventure and the desire to return home.  As we leave Guatemala, I’m sad to leave.  I know I will miss this place.  But I’m also happy.  I’m happy to be heading home, and I’m happy to start dreaming about the next trip to Guatemala and the other possible adventures that wait for me.

      When we landed in Miami, everything seemed okay until we heard the announcement that we had to wait on the tarmac until a gate opened.  Twenty-five minutes later, we parked at a gate, and we slowly exited the plane as we waited for others to move in front of us.

      As soon as we got off the plane, we rushed to the customs area, where we discovered several serpentine lines where we could wait as we journeyed through the re-entry process into the United States.  After what seemed like an eternity, we made it through U.S. Customs and through the connecting flight security line, and we bolted for the SkyBridge Train to the distance terminals where our connecting flight to Newark awaited us.  When we arrived at our gate, we were relieved to see a few people still standing in line waiting to board the plane.  We didn’t miss it (and hopefully our luggage made the long journey through the Miami airport to our final plane home).

      Monday (in the United States of America)

      I moved up a few rows into an open exit row seat, so I could stretch out my legs.  I watched The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  Then, I watched the recordings of my Rooftop Reflections.  When we landed in Newark, NJ at 12:30AM this morning, I was still awake and ready for a two-hour ride home.  Unfortunately, my suitcase didn’t make the trip from Miami to Newark, so I’ll have to wait until they deliver it to our house (hopefully later tonight).

      Jeff and Cullen Grover were kind enough to drive our car up to the Newark airport, so we didn’t have to pay extra for parking and so we knew the car was safe.  We said a quick hello to Jeff and Cullen before climbing in our car for the ride down the New Jersey Turnpike.  The first half of the car ride, I drove in silence as the family fell quickly fell asleep.  The thoughts running around in my head kept me awake as I drove down the dark highway.  Eventually, I turned on my iPhone and listened to a couple of podcasts which kept me awake until we arrived at home at 3:15AM.

      I climbed in bed, and turned off the light at 3:30AM.  I must have fallen asleep quickly, because the next thing I heard was my alarm going off at 6:30AM.  It was time for work.

      I walked to the bathroom like a zombie, and I quickly took a shower.  After dressing, I gathered my stuff and quietly left the house for work.

      People at work were happy to see me.  They asked about my trip.  On limited energy, I did my best to tell them a few details about my two-week adventure to Guatemala.

      Words don’t do the trip justice.  There is something powerful about smelling the smells, seeing the sights, touching the people, tasting the food, and feeling the texture of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.

      I made it through the day, and I left the office a few minutes early.

      I am straddling two worlds – one foot in Xenacoj and one foot in the United States.

      I’m numb, but I’m here.

      It’s time for bed (at only 8:30PM).  I must rest up for tomorrow is a new day!  I wonder what adventure waits for me.