It’s Guatemala Night

All week long, I envisioned this week’s post being about the “2009 Resolutions” that have been in my wallet most of the year.  Scott Ginsberg, of (check him out!) recommended, in our conversation this summer, that I write my primary goals down and put them in my  purse so “they’re always really close, in a physical way, so when you are, for instance, talking with someone at a party, you know your goals are right there within reach.”  Here they are, complete with the crease from being in my wallet for months:

If I tried to discuss these three goals (plus the two I did not write down) in one post, it would be a lengthy post, even if I kept it to an explanation of what each goal is.  I have decided to break it up and dedicate a post to each one, so eventually I’ll write about the other two.  Tonight is Silvia’s night (which means it’s “Guatemala night”).
I have been learning Spanish since our family was stationed at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, when I started elementary school.  If you lived in Puerto Rico, Spanish was automatically part of your curriculum.  Although we moved back to Florida in the middle of my second grade year, I continued to be interested in Spanish, took Spanish in high school, and minored in it in college.  Back when our bench was not quite so deep at Healthy Kids, I somehow stumbled through explaining our program to Spanish speaking callers in a pinch.  It’s a good thing someone caught me when I was trying to publicly explain the program once in Dade County (it was just Dade County then and not Miami-Dade), and said the program cost $500 dollars instead of $15 a month! 
I have always wanted to do a Spanish immersion program or find some way to interact enough in the language that I become more adept at communicating in the language.  But wanting is not doing, I’m 45 years old, and it’s time to “do.”
The “doing” of this goal has morphed a little bit. 
Our extended family has been sponsoring Silvia for about eight years now.  My in-laws send money each month to the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, and this money serves to help Silvia and her family with food, clothing, and education costs.  We receive at least one picture a year, and several letters.  Eight years ago, Silvia was a little girl, 1100 miles away but so relatively close (developmentally) to my daughter:
A few years ago, I learned that it is possible to visit Guatemala and CFCA’s operations there, with a strong possibility of meeting Silvia.  I fantasized about meeting her, and about my children getting to see Silvia in her environment.  As the crush of teenage peer pressure and “gotta have its” has been bearing down on our family and specifically on my daily interactions with my children, I have desperately wanted Tenley and Wayne to see life in a developing country.   Will they “get” the fact that it’s not a crisis to be without a touch screen interface when some children are longing just to touch the pages of a book of their own?  I don’t know, but I feel compelled to try. 
So, it didn’t happen in 2009 but I am going to push harder to get myself (and maybe Tenley) to Guatemala in 2010.  When I picked up the pictures of Silvia from my in laws tonight, my father in law stated his opinion that going to see her “costs too much,” at $450 per person for the lodging, etc., and the cost of flying to Guatemala.  
I saw a quote yesterday for a sports equipment company that said, “We believe the size of the mountain is measured in heart not feet.”  Getting to Guatemala, improving my Spanish, and giving my kids a broader perspective of the importance (or lack thereof) of material goods is my mountain right now, and it seems mighty tall. 
I am planning to apply enough heart that it will no longer be on my list in 2011.    See you this year, Silvia!  (Here’s a recent picture of 15-year old Silvia.)
I’ll “run” into you next week!

6 thoughts on “It’s Guatemala Night

  1. We sponsor a child through CFCA also. Carla lives in Bolivia and she's a year older than Madeline. She's a talented artist who sends us gorgeous drawings, especially at Christmastime. I've always thought visiting her would be too expensive, but you make a very strong argument, especially about showing our “gotta have it” children how good they actually have it! That alone would be worth the investment.

  2. You know how you eat a big elephant? One bite at a time…..No doubt that you have to conceptualize to actualize but, thinking about it is only the first step. People have a natural tendency to focus on the end results as opposed to the milestones in between that actually lead to the event. As a result never get passed thinking about it. ..Since, you have thought about it for a very long time…Take the next step and actually decide that you are gong to do it…Not try but, do it. Then plan when…. and take it from there. Just keep making the steps to the final event the goals. If you plan far enough in advance you can pull it off with less financial stress too.

    Happy New Year!

  3. paula, your pilgrimage to silvia with a child or 2 in tow, would be a life changing experience for you all. it will not be what you expect, but it will stay with you forever, most definitely worth the money. what a great trip. one of my most memorable trips, was not the caribbean cruise, or the week in a puerto vallarta resort, it was the 10 days spent in haiti, on a mission trip, living and working amongst the real people who eke out their existence there. a real eye opener…ed

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