“He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. “ Psalm 147:16
This will probably be our last post before we leave for Guatemala on Saturday, November 9th. After four months of orientation, visitation, preparation, and planning, we’re soon to be on our way. This is an unpredictable time of year for weather in the Pacific Northwest, and after a few flurries and dustings, today we are seeing our first measurable snowfall. On our farm we have over an inch and it’s still coming down. Even though we still have preparations to make, people to meet, and errands to run, the first measurable snow brings a sense of excitement and joy at the turning of the seasons. When we tell friends about our early November departure they often say “well, at least you’ll miss the snow”. In reality, we’re delighted that we were able to experience one fresh snowfall before we leave for language school.
Just to be clear, though we’re leaving the snow behind, we’re not heading for the steamy tropics. At least not yet. Our first stop will be Quetzaltenago (commonly known by its indigenous name, Xelaju or Xela for short). It’s the second largest city in Guatemala located high in the mountains at an elevation of almost 8,000 ft. Veterans of the language school tell us to prepare for near freezing temperatures at night, no heat in the homes, and a rich, exciting, and diverse culture. We’re bringing warm clothes to wear at night and comfortable clothes for the daytime. This will be a part of the country that is new to us. Most of our experience has been with the central and northern parts of Guatemala
So, this change in the weather of the Pacific Northwest also marks the next change in our journey as mission co-workers for the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Guatemala. Times of transition often call for moments of reflection as we look back at the journey so far, and moments of anticipation as we look to the journey ahead. We reflect with thanksgiving on:
The celebrations, gifts, and warm wishes given by our friends and co-workers at Triumph Composite Systems and Knox Presbyterian Church as we left our places of employment to pursue this new calling and vocation.
The practical and encouraging preparation we received during our time of mission worker orientation in Pittsburg, New Wilmington, and Louisville, and the close personal and professional relationships forged with other mission co-workers and church staff people.
We experienced new and deeper relationships with individuals, leaders, pastors, small groups, committees, teams, and congregations of the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, and we celebrated our mutual passion for the indigenous of Guatemala.
Our visit to the Chicago area where we visited family members, reconnected with friends from Richard’s high school class of 1973, and kindled new relationships with the leadership and membership of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Richard’s childhood church.
Dinners, lunches, potlucks, and picnics with friends and family members who want to reassure us we go with their prayers and best wishes.
We received awesome and humbling expressions of support and encouragement from the people of our home presbytery, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, and the congregations of Knox, Emmanuel, Colbert, St. Maries, Whitworth, and Manito Presbyterian Churches who welcomed us in their services of worship.
We look ahead with anticipation, and covet your prayers as we:
Make final preparations for our journey.
Make all our flights and connections, meet our friends for a night in Antigua and then head to Xela for language school.
We hope that a couple of "50 somethings" can learn a new language with the proficiency needed for this new job.
And we hope that we will have the financial support needed to carry out our ministry in Guatemala.
Now, where did I put that snow shovel last Spring?...
Blessings to all!
Richard and Debbie