Crazy…. through my eyes….

Many people have used different words when talking about me and my family.  The one that comes up most often is “crazy”.  We have heard this word used in all manner of speaking about us, who we are and what we do…. Websters dictionary defines “crazy” in the terms below:

a :  mad, insane

b :  impractical, erratic

c :  being out of the ordinary

d : distracted with desire or excitement

e : absurdly fond, infatuated

f : passionately preoccupied

Now call me “crazy” but I think that they are using the term referring mostly to definition a & b with maybe a slight  touch of c,d, e and f.

I think its time for me to take you on a walk…. so take my hand and come with me… and see the things that I see through my eyes….. and things I feel through my personal thoughts….

When I walk out my front door every day I am bombarded by this incredible place called Guatemala…. The sun is shining and the sky is blue.  It is warm but not humid and you can quite often feel a cool breeze blowing.  In a short drive I will see cows blocking the road and I will have to wait… I will see a random man out with his goat for a morning walk…. I may have to stop for a funeral procession that is walking along the winding roads on their way to lay a loved one to rest.  I will see children playing futbol (soccer) in the streets or climbing trees, or playing with whatever random rock or stick they find…. I will see dogs of every size and colour roaming the streets…. I will see a few cats running from those dogs. I will see men riding horses…. men tilling fields by hand… women sitting on street corners selling their wares.  If I get caught by road construction I will wait… and I will wait for up to an hour.  And funny enough I won’t mind… I will buy a bottle of cold water from one of the 50 people who will come to my car trying to sell me anything from cold drinks to fruit to meat like tongue to fresh peanuts to hammocks, to cd’s etc etc… and I will politely answer “No Gracias” (no thank you) to almost all of them… and I will sit and wait and enjoy the down time.   I have learned to slow down….

While I drive I will yell “Oi” to many people.  If I am walking I will smile and say “Buenos dias” (good day) to every person I see and they will give me a heartfelt reply.  I will see such beauty all around me in the landscape.  I will see dry desert like conditions with parched soils still producing trees and lush green plants.  I will see mountains and volcanoes in every direction.  I will see views that the word breathtaking does not begin to do justice.  Beauty that mentally brings me to my knees every day in awe of our Creator.  No matter where I walk there will be a tree bearing fruit that I can pick… oranges, papayas, limes and more mangoes than I could eat in a lifetime.  This fruit has not been genetically modified… nor treated with pesticides…. The meat I buy might be tougher to chew than in other places but it is safe to eat.  Hormone, chemical and antibiotic free meat… it doesn’t get more free range, organic than this.

A drive frequently brings you to an area where only a 4×4 can go…. roads that were never meant to be driven on… we call those “practically a highway” in the immortal words of Zack… My heart frequently pumps with a mix of fear and excitement as I look to my right down a cliff with no guardrails… On grades that human hands made roads where no roads were ever meant to be….  My fear and excitement quickly changes to awe, inspired by the spectacular views of mountains and volcanoes in the distance….

When I arrive at the hospital I will be greeted by the gentle smiles and hugs of the Hermanas (sisters) and tail wagging from the many dogs that protect them.  The Hermanas always have fresh watermelon, Jugo de Jamaica (a delicious juice made with flower petals) or cookies and coffee,  and I can hear joyful quiet singing coming from another part of the building as other Hermanas clean and prepare meals. This singing always fills me with a sense of peace…   I will sit for an hour or more just laughing and talking with them… then I will wander over to the Hospital side where the children are.  It does not matter if I am there every day or every 5 days….. when I walk in I am greeted by screams of excitement and children running to me and jumping in my arms with hugs and kisses.  There is no feeling like the pure joy these ill children exude.  And their joy to see me is genuine.  They are so innocent… I cannot help but endure my eyes filling with tears every time I enter.  Tears for the injustice that they are starving…. but joy that they are in a place that will recuperate them and love them over the year or more they are there….

As I continue to look around my surroundings in my town I see colours.  Vibrant colours of homes, of peoples dress, of even cemetaries.  Even in respect for their dead they paint the crypts bright, joyful colours…. Yes people here mourn, but they also rejoice because they know their Saviour.

I think about things I do…. how each and every day here is different.  How I never know from one moment to the next what will happen… or what we will be doing.  I think about how a few months ago I went to the Hospital to enjoy some worship time with the Hermanas and some of our volunteers and within 5 minutes of our arrival I was instead in a nearby home helping Hermana Mercedes dress and prepare the body of a dear friend of hers who had just passed away moments before.  I think about how I sat with not Hermana Mercedes, but my friend Mercedes for hours that night as she gently cried… she mourned her friend and I hurt for her.  I love all those ladies and I would do anything for them as my dear friends.   I think about how we make plans for each day… and rarely do they work according to our plan… but they do indeed work out better.   I think about the things I do day to day… the work we do…. tending a house, homeschooling, ministry work, work in the villages, work with the people, work with the hospital…. such a rewarding experience and I learn so much here every day.  Life is never dull….

If I drive a couple of hours I will see the landscape change from dry to humid… The mountains will be left behind and it their place will be flat fertile lands… Lands that grow sugar cane… I will see the Pacific ocean in all its strength and fury.  I will watch my children frolick (there is really no other word) in the waves.  They will fall… they will get pounded, but over the sound of the crashing waves I will hear them laugh.  As a matter of fact I hear them laugh a lot here…. Funny thing is, I laugh more here in 6 months than I probably have in 6 years…. Despite the poverty we see and deal with every day… despite the injustice we see that clouds our minds and fills our eyes with tears so very often… we still laugh. The people that make us the most sad… the ones who are incredibly poor are the ones that teach us.  In every random village filled with the deepest poverty and injustice that the world has to offer we hear the sound of laughter.   When the children of these villages hear our truck approaching, the children and their parents come running to greet us…. they want nothing… they simply want to welcome us and laugh with us.  While sitting on the beach listening to the crashing waves that sound like thunder I will reflect…. I cherish these times of reflection… the times where I can just sit and think about things.  Things like my life and where I have come in the past 5 years…. things like the families I meet and cannot help… I am humbled by the fact that even those I cannot help tell me they will pray for me and my family… and they mean it.  I will think about my family and friends back in Canada who I miss terribly at times when I am here…. and how no matter how far away I am I love them…. and I hope they know that… but this is where I need to be right now.

Am I crazy?  Yes…. I suppose I am…  But I think I am crazy in the more latter definitions…. This place gets in your heart and makes you absurdly fond, infatuated… passionately preoccupied… not insane.  This place and its people are “out of the ordinary”…  The best part is, I get to be crazy and do this walk daily with my family beside me.  A family I love more than they will ever understand…. with a husband who was made  for me… and who I love more and more every day….. with 3 sons I could not love more nor be more proud of… Zachary, Lucas and Gabriel.  If it makes me crazy to be walking alongside them in my life here then so be it.  I love you all with every fibre of my being…  I also get to do this having visitors… people who come down and have real ownership in what we do here… involved in decision making day to day…. People who are new and I get to experience things here through new eyes each and every time…. People who come as friends and sometimes strangers and always leave as family…

There is something Geoff always quotes to people who call us crazy or insane.  A quote from a movie….. “What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to get lost; …. Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?”…..

To each his or her own.  This is the life that I have chosen…. A path was laid out for me many years ago and I have finally chosen to follow it.  And I could not be happier nor more at peace.  I encourage you to come walk with us someday… in person… or to go wherever your path leads you…. to stop seeing the world through the eyes of others and begin to live for yourself…. you won’t regret it.  Many may call you ‘crazy’… but trust me when I say then that crazy works and its so worth it.

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 May 2, 2013, in Guatemala Missionary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. i am SO glad to have read your post!!!! love it that you are crazy in love with life, your fellow companions on the journey, AND your JOB! how good is THAT!!! love love love your blog! hugs and prayers….from afar! 🙂

  2. Thank you for post! Absolutely awe inspiring!May God continue to encourage and strengthen you and your family as he guides you in his will! Miss you guys!Maybe one day I will be able to come down again myself.Love and Peace to everyone there!!!!

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