Our last 10 days

4 12 2011

The last few days have been quite eventful; the following gives you a snapshot of  what life here is like from the viewpoint of Charmari. Sorry it’s a bit long, I am known for detail!


Friday 25th Nov

Benj sets off for work, and in the morning the children play in the garden and we take a 5 minute walk to the shops for the children to ride on some coin-operated cars.

Setting off to the shops

We put 2 quetzales in to make the helicopter spin; Daniel and Jonah love it. A simple diversion, but it is a chance for them to get out and do something out of the house. After lunch, Jonah has his nap and I spend some time doing some fun ‘activities’ with Daniel (aka practicing writing his name, doing some sums and reading his book on planes). Later, our Guatemalan friends Karina and her three children come over to play. Unexpectedly, her father and mother-in-law, with a sister-in-law and two other nieces join us. Coffee and biscuits all round, and after an hour, the the extended family leave while the children play together. Karina’s family stay over for dinner; Christian, Karina’s husband can’t join us as he has some taxi-ing work that evening.  Karina’s father-in-law turns up during the meal to pick the four of them up, and brings another one of his daughters and a grand-daughter with him. They all join us for the meal and Benjamin’s brownie pudding is enjoyed by all.  We love the spontaneity of different family members turning up; it is such an insight into the richness of this culture.


Saturday 26th Nov

Benjamin heads off to help out at a one-day workshop for Bible teachers run by Centro Esdras. An American friend who lives in our colonia rings in the morning to invite me and the boys over to a picnic lunch. We enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers and Daniel and Jonah share their bikes and scooters with two little girls aged 5 and 3. There are a few squabbles over who gets to ride what but all settled fairly easily. I’ve only just met this mum a few days ago when I bought some second-hand maternity clothes from her, so it is a good chance for us to chat and get to know each other. We get back after lunch, Jonah skips his sleep and instead we watch some Bethel worship on the laptop and jump and dance around. The boys have an early afternoon bath, just for fun. They are missing their Daddy on a Saturday, so we try not to dwell on his absence. Benjamin gets back later with Suzanne, our Latin Link co-ordinator who has been great with the children. She is babysitting tonight as Benj and I are heading out for the first time for a posh pre-Christmas church dinner for couples. Once the children are in bed, we turn up at the hotel, a bit late, but just in time for the meal. We have a lovely evening out, chatting to new people, hearing an a cappella choir sing some carols, and we even have our number drawn and win a poinsettia!


A night out with our church

Sunday 27th Nov

We set off to the 9am church service, always held at a hotel in Antigua; our church rents this space out every Sunday. I sit in for the service whilst Daniel joins his Sunday school class (he adores his teachers there) and Benjamin heads off with Jonah to the toddlers group; Jonah still refuses to be left alone. It is the dedication service for the new baby of our friends Megan and Stephen.

Megan, Stephen and their family with ours

We get home, Benjamin makes burgers for lunch (yum) and later that afternoon, we are phoned by a friend’s sister to ask if she, another sister and her dad can come over to pray for healing for me after my illness. We are in awe at the amazing generosity of people, and again struck at how the extended family is willing to welcome us in. It is not even our friend coming, it’s two sisters and we can only remember the name of one, and we definitely don’t know the name of the dad. They arrive with biscuits, we pray, I am anointed with oil for healing, we chat and then they head off. Wonderful. Later that evening, as we often do on a Sunday night, Benjamin and I watch a Bethel church sermon which we download onto the laptop during the week. As always, very nourishing and inspiring.


Monday 28th Nov

We have a slow start to the morning together and Benjamin sets off to work after lunch. He has 2012 planning meetings and a work Christmas dinner so won’t be home till late.  Daniel, Jonah and I catch a bici-taxi to the doctors so I can pick up my pregnancy records. I have had a bad experience with my first gynecologist and I am planning to visit a new one tomorrow so I want all the results of the expensive tests I had to have. The boys love the bici-taxi. We sit at the front under a small open carriage with a roof which is attached to a bicycle being ridden behind us by a man who charges 5 quetzales for the journey, less than 50p. The records are handed over without any questions and we enjoy an ice-cream together before walking back home. Daniel complains. He wants the bici-taxi man, but it only takes 15 minutes to get back. We cook dinner together, Jonah being particularly helpful (!), and they get to bed. I do an evening of admin, sorting out paperwork. Our internet connection is down so no chance to get to all my overdue email replies. Benj gets home late.


Tuesday 29th Nov

We both take turns to do a couple of hours work each this morning while the boys play.

Shall we race?

In the afternoon, we set off to Antigua to find our new gynecologist. Megan has recommended him highly. Thankfully, he knows all about my condition hypothyroidism and allays any concerns I have about how to manage it during my pregnancy. We have a 12 week scan; it is so, so exciting to see the baby moving! The boys watch, intrigued. I am reassured with this medic, and feel we can trust him for the delivery. We make the next appointment. We set off to visit our other friends, Anita and Esteban who have just had their second baby. Gorgeous little girl, only 5 days old. Anita’s mum is staying over to help out and has cooked enough tamalitos and frijoles so we can stay for dinner. We eat together and set off home; a slightly later night for the boys than normal.


Wednesday 30th Nov

I have a meeting at the Centro Esdras office this morning at 10am. I am coordinating the team who are trying to raise 50% of the the Centre’s funds; a huge shortfall. A daunting task, but at least we know it is the Lord’s work! For the first time, I decide to take a bus into the city so Benj can stay home with boys and take them out in the car for the morning. Suzanne comes in with me to show me how it all works. The music is loud, a man tries to sell us chewing gum, letting us all hold a packet during his sales shpeel of how healthy it is. He collects up the packets again as most of us decide not to go ahead with the purchase.

The inter-city bus, fondly known as the 'chicken bus'

I feel generally safe and think I might do this again, although with lots of prayer as bus shootings are not uncommon. But the type of bus I am on is not one of the high risk ones. There are lots of action points coming out of our meeting, and I set off home alone this time on the bus. When I get back, Benj does some work from home. That evening, we have our second homegroup meeting at our house.  There are three couples so far in the group, all who live locally. Rommel and Claudia are the leaders, and Brenda and Carlos bring huge chicken-filled tamales for our snack. We eat at the table and discuss our topic for the next few weeks which is on marriage and relationships. We hope the group will grow to about 10 or 12 – that’s about all the space we have in our sitting room, but we are thrilled to be part of a group, growing together and sharing our lives with others in our church.


Thursday 1st Dec

It’s the first day of December. Daniel and Jonah are excited about their Advent calendars that have come from the UK. Benjamin works from home in the morning and later we head out to buy our plastic Christmas tree and a few decorations. Daniel is ecstatic.

Daniel and Daddy decorate the tree

Once we get home, the boys assemble the tree and put up the decorations while I head across the road to Que Cafe to meet Suzanne for our monthly mentoring session. Benjamin heads over after I’m done, the boys and I cook and Suzanne joins us for dinner. After the boys are in bed, we continue to chat with Suzanne and prayer together before Benjamin drives her home.


Friday 2nd Dec

Once every 2 or 3 weeks, Benjamin goes to an early morning meeting with the Barnabas Group. This is an English-speaking, mostly American group which meets together to discuss leadership and how to best enable Guatemalans in their own communities and ministries. He leaves at 5:30am. The children and I meet our friend Kambria, and with her two daughters we head over to a mission they have set up for Guatemalan children. It is a feeding and teaching program. We have lunch with all the children, and they play together outside. Kambria prepares Christmas boxes while I stay in the yard with the children. Daniel and Jonah seem to have lots of fun despite not knowing loads of Spanish.

Daniel and Jonah with their new friends

The bigger girl is the aunt of the little one

The girls having a laugh


It is great to see some of the work that others are doing. It’s been a busy week for us, a long day for Benjamin. So after the children are in bed, we decide to have an early night too.


Saturday 3rd Dec

Saturday is pancake day every week. Benjamin makes them and we have a hearty breakfast.

Enjoying our pancakes on a Saturday

Both of us take some time to do some work in the morning and take turns playing with Daniel and Jonah. They go for a ride on bike and scooter around the colonia. After lunch, we have a Latin Link meeting at a local shopping mall. Benj attends and I take the children to a small soft-play-type place that doesn’t actually have any soft play. There are lots of tubes and walk-ways, and the children enjoy it for an hour. That evening, Benjamin and I watch a movie called White Material. We don’t have a TV so once a week we try and download a movie so we get a chance to watch something. We’re waiting for the TVs to go on sale before we buy one! We have done without one for so long so it doesn’t seem a great need.


Sunday 4th Dec

We set off for church. It’s my turn in with Jonah. He is getting more confident with the helpers. We hope that soon he might stay in without one of us being there. Afterwards, the Barnabas Group are having their Christmas lunch. It is the first time I meet many of the team, and it is a great chance for the families to get to know each other. Benj’s Banoffee Pie goes down a hit with all the Americans. When we get home, we sit in the garden and catch the last of the suns rays before lighting the first candle on our Advent ring and having our evening meal. This month, the boys have the Christmas story read to them every night, and they have a special book that takes them through the nativity story each  evening. They are enjoying the spirit of Christmas, and it is a way of continuing some of our home/family traditions. In the evening, we watch our weekly Bethel download and discuss and pray afterwards. There is always something new for us to take in, reflect on and learn. It is life-changing stuff and a huge blessing to us. Big fans of Bill Johnson! Afterwards, a few emails, blog update and then late to bed.




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