Reality is….

Sometimes everything here gets to me.  I find it so hard at times just to keep it together.  A very good friend said a few weeks ago that he wanted to know the hardships… basically the bad stuff… to feel a part of the “real” – ness of this whole thing.  A way for him to follow the story of life here and see how the conflict within us gets resolved etc.  I find that hard to do for many reasons but the most important reason is that its way too ‘real’ here at times.   So much of the time I feel so raw that I fear if I wrote about it I would never stop writing.  But the bottom line is that for every 10 things that are hard, or go wrong here there is 1 amazing experience that completely makes you forget the bad stuff and feel totally rejuvenated and sure that its all worth it.


At times…. It’s hard to be a ‘gringo’… it’s hard to live with people… it’s hard to sleep on cots in a kitchen and have zero privacy…. it’s hard to sacrifice money and comforts…. it’s hard to be exhausted almost all the time…. it’s hard to eat things you don’t like…. it’s hard to handle the stomach issues that go with the territory here…. it’s hard to be itchy 99% of the time from the bugs….it’s hard to be patient….  it’s hard to miss friends and family and be away from home… etc etc etc… the list is long …. trust me.


It’s also hard to watch people suffer… to see need but have to say “no, we are so sorry but we cannot help you this year because we simply don’t have the money and there is someone else with just a bit more need than you that we have to help instead so we will try for hopefully next year…”….  This is the most trying part of doing what we are doing.   This trumps all the inconveniences of living here.   Being the one in charge here is something neither Geoff or I was prepared for in a way.  The feeling of wanting to help everyone but being totally helpless in certain situations due to financial constraints is one of the worst feelings I have ever had to deal with.   Having to look at people and say no… then hope and pray that the money comes in next year… and that they are still alive to receive that help is the reality of what we face every day…. a reality that I dislike very much…. but it is a reality none the less.  It is so easy to feel hopeless at times and a quiet, near depression kicks in… having others around to share the burden is such a blessing.  A sincere hug from someone who completely understands you at that exact moment is priceless….

We are 12 here at “Club Doppenberg” as Tim (one of our guests) affectionately calls our little home… it is tight at times… and just right at others.  None the less we have done a lot of stuff in the past weeks since my last blog.  To catch you up on some of what’s going on here….  Dave and Justin arrived and we are so happy to have them here for a few months…. We visited Mynor, Vincenta, Claudia, Minito, Moso, Losevin, and Jose David last week and took them for Jose’s last doctor visit to see if he needed any more treatments.  When they walked out of the clinic we were all in shock to see his arm almost completely healed!!  It looks like there won’t even be a scar! What an celebration that was!  Later we took the gang Zip lining in Matequesquintlas (say that 5 times fast)…. a perfect relax day.   Afterward we picked up Mynor’s family for a weekend away.  After a good but crowded nights sleep at our home in El Progreso we were off with all 16 of us to visit Esquipulas. We toured the Basilica of the Black Christ and then an orphanage.  Mynor and the family had never really had a weekend away/mini vacation and it was so much fun to be able to share it with them.

Our newest arrivals, Tim and Matt came the next day and we knew immediately that they were a great fit with our team!  The past week has been so incredibly busy… We have begun construction of Marquito’s families home so that he can return there once the operations are done and  he is healthy.  Right now they live in 1 small room and have kitchen and no water.  We are adding 2 rooms for them, a bedroom and a kitchen.  We are also working with the village council to get water to the house.   We visited my “Disneyland”,  Yolanda’s village… a place where we 10 kids multiply into about 60 once the word gets out the ‘gringo’s have arrived.  We played games and had a blast.  We have also  been touring homes this week with Hermana Mercedes…. she has made a ‘top 10’  list of the most in need families in the area that she knows…This is the tough part… we can only afford to build a few homes… not all 10.   With the construction projects going on at the hospital there is only so much money to do other projects.  Some of these decisions are no brainers… others are just so darn hard.  We sit each night with our team… we talk and make decisions together… it helps, but it’s hard on all of us at times.

So many things I don’t understand… we toured a home today.  A complete and utter disaster made of cornstalks, mud, and basically scraps.  All I could think of is the 6 months of torrential rain Guatemala gets and how miserable it must be to live in this home that most certainly would leak and be cold…  The reality is a family lives there… dad, mom and 10 kids…. It’s one of the most serious needs I have seen as far as ‘shelter’ goes.   The strangest part, the mother asked if we wanted to tour the church next door… just a few steps away… she has the key so she can open it for people on Sundays.    We entered this church… made of solid concrete… a building that would be warm and dry during the rains…. Many of us talked later about how messed up our world is when a family of 12 lives in horrific conditions while a church a few steps away sits empty 6 days a week….  reality is that sometimes our world makes no sense whatsoever….

I have struggled much with this kind of thing in the past weeks…  I have had feelings and thoughts that are such a roller coaster of emotions.  It would be very easy to become a ‘hard’ person.  To become desensitized, unemotional and cold.  I think it would be a comfortable, self-preservation mechanism.  I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let that happen.  It’s so hard because there is so much need here and we can only help a few…. the desire to help everyone is so strong… but the reality is… we can only help one at a time…

Hermana Mercedes visited us unexpectedly this afternoon shortly after we dropped her off after our tour of the homes.  She had “buenas noticias” (Good News) she couldn’t wait to share so she hurried over.   Marquito’s surgery is booked!  This Monday at 4am an ambulance will pick him up and he will be off to Antigua for surgery Tuesday morning!  Hermana was so excited that she could share the news with us in person… especially since Rachel is leaving on Sunday.   The hope is that both surgeries will be done, his family home will be finished and he will be recovered when Rachel returns in March.  What incredible timing!   Hermana shared with us one more thing just as she was leaving… She smiled and reminded us all that because we had perseverance, patience and faith, its is actually happening… one boy’s life will be changed!!!   At the end of the day,  I sat and thought about everything that has happened… not just over these past weeks… but over the past years here….  I thought a lot tonight about what Hermana said about patience, perseverance and faith… I looked around at the people here in this house that have such amazing hearts…. it was one of those moments where I was reminded again that the reality truly is,  ‘help one at a time’…. and if that is they way it has to be, I am absolutely ok with that…..





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 January 14, 2012, in Guatemala Missionary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Incredible. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing with us. Rita, don’t forget God only gives you what you can handle. You are incredible, strong and generous. Be open to the experience and try not to over think and process. I can only imagine what it feels to be experiencing what you are; the pictures pull at my heart. You are exactly where you need to be and you are making a difference not only in the lives of the people there but also the people reading about your journey. Love and light my friend.

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