the good things that happen

My younger daughter has taken to crying that she doesn’t want to leave.

“This is why I didn’t want to come in the first place,” she sobs. “Because I knew I’d have to leave all my friends here. Why did you have to do this to meeeee!”

I pat her back and tsk-tsk, but inside I smile at her edited memory (That’s not why you didn’t want to come, dearie) and because she is actually, oh joy, sad to leave! We had hoped the children, at least some of them, would connect enough that leaving would be hard, so, Yay success, and, Pass the tissues.

Last week, one of our teammates asked her which place she liked best, Virginia or Guatemala, and she said Guatemala.

All this, coming from the child who was the most resistant. Wonders never cease.


In the past two days:

*I spent both mornings visiting with the teachers in the teachers’ room. Topics covered: Syria, how pregnant/menstruating women (or simply anyone who is sweaty hot) has the ability to break the set on a pudding, census counting, the separation (or lack thereof) between Catholics and Evangelicals, polygamy, recipes, etc. We laughed a lot.
*The new neighbors came up to the house to invite us to their little boys’ birthday party on Sunday.
*Walking into town, another neighbor’s green Mercedes slowed instead of passing us, the window rolled down, and the woman, the mother of one of my older son’s classmates, offered us a ride. We accepted, of course.
*This morning, the school director greeted me with a warm, two-armed hug and a firm kiss on the check.
*Shop owners call out to me by name. Taxi drivers ask after “Mister John.” A teacher from my children’s school interrupts a cell phone conversation to toss a greeting my way.
*Walking back from town, three K’ekchi’ women asked me to walk with them. We talked about pregnancy, mostly. The young-looking mother had 10 children. (The youngest was 11. She was 40. Oof.)


In the beginning, no one knew us. We were just people from The Rich North. I felt that people only viewed us as Money Bags. It made my skin crawl.

But I don’t feel that way anymore (or at least not nearly as much). Little by little, we have woven ourselves into the fabric of this community. We are becoming known for who we are: neighbors, co-workers, friends, market customers, and the parents of four very different children who each have their own friends, classmates, and teachers.

Our web of connection has grown steadily thicker and stronger. Given more time, it would no doubt transform into a sturdy safety net.

But soon we will extricate ourselves from our baby web and fly back to Virginia, the sticky tendrils still clinging to our feet.


  • Kirsten

    As you're preparing to return to the States, I'm curious to hear if there are things you wish you had taken with you, or things you took but didn't need, or things you are REALLY glad you took.
    –from someone who sometimes fantasizes about taking a similar leap

    • Jennifer Jo

      I meant to edit/explain re the pudding and then forgot. I can't remember what it's called when mayonnaise or icing or something breaks apart and doesn't stay smoothly together…? Anyway, that. They were telling stories—one in which a person who had been running walked into the kitchen, simply touched the spoon of the simmering pudding, and then the pudding "broke." It's the energy, they said.

  • Tricia @ The Domestic Fringe

    Glad your little one adapted so well and loved her time there. These will be memories they will never forget. I've very much enjoyed reading about your time there, the culture, the trials and inroads you've made. I think you're all so very brave for going. I hope your transition back to Virginia will be smooth and happy, a true homecoming.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, but this is wonderful! You have made a connection, an impact, and you will be remembered. Reading this made me very happy! ~Sherry

  • Unknown

    What a wonderful picture to end your story with. It's just perfect. Such memories you're building for your children, and better understanding on the part of the people who are hosting you. Maybe that has been your main job all along? Well done, you.

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