last Sunday morning

*One child stays home in bed, thanks to a persistent stomach bug.

*Before we leave, my younger son escapes to the neighbors’ house to watch a movie, the stinker.

*The girls wear their K’ekchi’ outfits. My older daughter worries that by doing so she might offend the locals. I assure her it’s fine. And indeed, heads turn to stare and people grin broadly—it feels like the whole world is beaming on my girls.

*On the bus, I offer to hold a baby of a stuck-standing father. The toddler relaxes against me immediately. Then my lap feels warm and I start worrying that he has peed on me. (He didn’t.)

*At church, my younger daughter (a.k.a. Miss Independent) slips away to sit with some other girl.

*It is yet another healing service (we’re sensing a first-Sunday-of-every-month pattern).

*They clear chairs, the healers scrub their hands with disinfectant lotion, and the music starts. People surge forward to the alter.

*For 20 minutes the music plays. It is so loud that babies start crying. It’s so loud that the water in the water bottle vibrates. It’s so loud that I wonder if my eardrum just popped. (It hadn’t.)

*The sound system has a persistent feedback problem. The shrill shrieks keep coming. No one flinches.

*Then the jumping and wailing begins. My older daughter keeps a tally of the fallen. She yells in my ear things like, “Another one’s going!” and “Six!” and “Two at one time!”

*The young adults scurry back and forth, catching the slain, covering them with peach-colored, lacy shawls, and then helping them to their feet when they come to.

*At the end of the service, the noise dies down, but then we hear a man pray-yelling. “Oh dear, are they starting up again?” I ask my daughter. “There’s an old woman laying in the aisle,” she reports back. “She won’t get up.” Pause. “Maybe she’s dead.”

*On the way home water keeps dripping on my foot. At least I hope it’s water, but it’s totally dry outside and I can’t figure out the source. Maybe the woman in front just peed? (Which is utterly preposterous, but the best non-logical solution I can come up with.) And then I realize that my empty water bag wasn’t quite empty. Oh.

*Town is packed with Sunday revelers (later we find out there had been a race) and there are no taxis to be found, so, despite being exhausted and half deaf, we trudge all the way home.

(Irrelevant photo, courtesy of my older daughter)


  • Anonymous

    Your beautiful children are the best ambassadors ever. They don't have a lot of angst over how much good they are doing — they are just themselves, living in a new culture, learning and sharing, making people happy by their willingness to try new things. And the girls wearing the K'ekchi' outfits to church was inspired. I think we could learn much by following their example. ~Sherry

  • jenny_o

    Your daughter took a gorgeous picture. And your writing is hilarious.

    Hope your son feels better soon. Any chance the stomach bugs are something else?

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