Home… bittersweet home…..

Its Sunday…. we arrived home late Thursday night/early Friday morning…. Been struggling ever since we arrived back in the Great White North.  The only way to describe how I feel is simply … wrong.   It all feels wrong…  The changes that I feel inside are not subtle… there is no mistaking that my heart, my mind, my very soul has changed profoundly.  There is no way one can have an experience like this and not be changed.  My fear is falling into complacency but I truly do not see that ever happening.  I feel like I’ve had cuts made into my heart… deep ones… and those kind of cuts leave scars.  Deep, deep scars that will last forever.   Each and every person I met… each and every place I visited… each and every student… virtually everything cut a notch in my heart… they have not begun to heal yet… they are still gaping open wounds but I know they will scab, and then leave behind the scars I will carry for the rest of my life.

I attended a conference at my Church on Saturday called GO10.  It is geared at being the ‘hands and feet of Christ’… Issues like poverty, marginalization etc.  I attended last year and I will say that it is an amazing experience.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  This year Geoff and I literally lasted 15 minutes in the first seminar and had to leave.  There were so many reasons why we left… but the greatest of which is simply that the cuts into my heart are still too fresh.  So much so that I can barely make it through an hour now without tears welling up in my eyes.  When people ask me how my trip was I find myself replying “read my blog” because I simply cannot re-live it… not yet.   Geoff and I were home less than 36hrs when we attempted to attend the GO conference… that was not enough time…. so we got in our car, got tea and drove around talking for a few hours.  Really talking…. I can’t help but notice the changes in my relationship with Geoff… beautiful changes.  Even though we have been together for over 20yrs I have always found myself a bit embarrased to cry in front of him.  There is something about being vulnerable even with the one person in your life that you trust the most that goes against our human ‘survival’ instinct.  Its not like that anymore.  He and I cry freely and openly with each other now… shedding tears for Guatemala…. its people… “our” mountain…  and every other place on the planet that shares in the grief of being a ‘developing’ nation.

When we woke up, safe, warm and comfortable in our own bed on Friday morning there was something missing from our lives.  The sense of ‘wrongness’ had begun.  Our kids were kind of whiny and scattered about the house doing their own thing.  He and I got busy unpacking and doing our own thing.  The vibe of our family had changed drastically and it had been only 9hrs since we got off that plane.   Waking up at Campo Esperanza we were all together… students, the Van Der Zalm’s, us, Dave, Alley, Nicole, my family… Everyone greeted each other warmly… everyone was up early and full of life to begin the day.  Here we were alone and separated by the very sense of familliarity that makes us a family.  I don’t like it one bit.  As I write this, Geoff is sitting beside me on his computer, Zack is in his room with a friend playing a game, Luke is watching tv and Gabe is colouring.  We are inhabiting the same 1200sqft space and we have certainly carved out our ‘alone’ place in it.  Now, everyone needs time alone… I get that… but this is different… this isn’t being alone… this is being separate.  Why must it be that way?   Why is it that in Guatemala, we laughed, we cried, we played, we worked, we hung out 24/7 as a unified family… never separate… and here separateness is total.

I think waking up that Friday morning here in Beamsville was as eye opening as seeing Guatemala and its strife.  You could feel the tangible wrongness in all of us.  We missed it… missed the camp, missed the students, missed Ted, Miriam and the kids… missed Guatemala…missed the mountain, its people,  its poverty, its beauty, its hope.   Zack has not communicated much of his feelings to me since that day a few weeks ago walking with him in the jungle… but I know he feels it too.  As much as his 15yr old heart and mind can handle … or will allow him to handle.   All he says now is that he wants very badly to go back.  Luke and Gabe have made it their mission in life to raise $2000.00 before we return (which they are hoping is within a few weeks) to build a classroom for Laguna school where we handed out the toys…   The end goal for them is to raise $10,000.00 over the next 1-2yrs. They want to build a home for someone and to help fix up the Nutrition Centre where we met Eduardo.   These 2 are so young and yet such an inspiration.  For them its so simple…. “Mommy, these kids need us so we are going to get money for them so they don’t have to hurt and die anymore”… Oh if it were just that simple….   I’m going to do my best to make their dreams come true… and I will do everything in my power to help these boys raise the money and reach their goal!!!

For me, everything has changed…. how do you go to a mall… how do you order a steak at the Keg… I know I will… but its not going to be easy… not at first.  Everything I spend, everything I do from now on, I will be a bit more mindful of the cost.. not just to my wallet but to the world as a whole.  I know life will continue…. I know that I will shop… I know I will overspend at Christmas… I know these ineveitable truths… but I know that my idea of ‘inconvenience’… my idea of ‘give till it hurts, then give some more’ will always be different than it was a few weeks ago…  Shelley, Eduardo, Pavlo, Cantidad, Baby Daryl and the others will be the scars I carry… good ones… ones that not only make me sad but remind me of times where I listened to the laughter… danced in the rain, hung out and talked with some of the most wonderful young people I have ever had the privilege of knowing, worked until I hurt so bad I wanted to faint and had….. hope…  True, real, tangible HOPE!    I want to return to them all… sooner rather than later… I want to continue to Be the Change….and I know I will….

Without every communicating a word of my feelings to Geoff…. Friday morning,  less than 12hrs after getting off that plane, he just knew.  He opened his laptop and began searching flights back.  So there it is… we are returning… dates have yet to be set… flights have yet to be booked… but I can say that we are going back… and I am talking about within a few weeks.   School will have to deal… work will have to deal… our friends and family will have to deal… The Doppenberg’s need this… we need to return to a place that feels ‘right’ for our family… to a place that feels more like home than here… to a place where hope is alive and well……

…. stay tuned….. the adventure has just begun…..

God Bless you all…

About ritadoppenberg

I am a wife, mom, missionary.... generally a human being who along with God, my family, friends and Commission to Every Nation (CTEN) Canada, seek to "Be The Change"...

Posted on March 7, 2010, in Guatemala Missionary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Loisann Hauer

    Hello Rita….I fully understand. It actually took me about 6 months to really get back engaged with my dissertation and work. Sitting in meetings I had a really hard time to reconcile what was being said by others. The experience has impacted Norm (my husband) and my relationship as well…today we are working together for a longer-term goal in regards to our future phases in life.

    I fortunately had my life group (we went down together) to debrief with and continue our work with the Dig A Little Deeper campaign. My personal goal now is to finish my research for now I understand why I need to finish it.

    Norm and I are looking at going down within the next few months for a trip to accomplish a few things for the campaign….perhaps we can look at doing so around the same time. We talked about renting a vehicle to get to the camp as well…

    Take care and perhaps we can get together and share…

    LA

  2. Trish Ciancio

    Rita, My heart goes out to all of you. You have spelled it all out so eloquently..Your words rip at my heart….God bless all of you.

    Trish

  3. Galatians 6:17: Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

    Sounds like you’ve got a bit of a Pauline attitude. I love it. Those scars that you talk about have been in my mind for months now… they bear the name of Christ. I hope nobody causes you trouble continuing to represent Christ wholeheartedly Rita – you and your family!

    🙂

    P.S. Chili sauce.

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