Getting used to a few differences

This is AMA, the school Jason taught at when we lived here eight years ago.

We have been in Guatemala nearly a month now and overall we are all doing well with the many changes from life in the U.S.

I’ll admit that I love that we have been without power on a somewhat regular basis. We’ve also been without water or had dark brown liquid coming out of the tap. We are glad for our kids to experience in a very, very small way what so many people in the world encounter on a daily basis.

The most difficult change for us to get used to is that we are required to wear masks outside at all times except within our own home compound. This is a big change for us. It is compounded by the fact that we walk on very noisy streets for a minimum of an hour a day. Between the street noise and the masks it is really hard to hear each other and is especially frustrating for Mabel. That being said, we know we are pretty lucky that this is the biggest “challenge” we are encountering.

A few other changes —

Navigating “sidewalks” with the kids has been a bit different.

We notice that nearly every home is surrounded by fencing or a wall with razor or barbed wire and a sturdy gate.

Teaching the kids how to wash clothes by hand at the pila (Guatemalan outdoor sink/wash station).

All toilets come with a small trash can next to them as NO paper can go into the toilet. This definitely takes some retraining.

Trying out lots of new produce (& a watermelon popcicle!)

Lychee, passion fruit and jocotes – YUM!

Finding anything from vinegar to olives to strawberry jam in a bag! And getting used to eating fresh, handmade tortillas daily along with trying all kinds of street food (churros in this case!).

There has been no end to the beautiful lake and volcano views, nor to Luke’s swimming and we are definitely getting used to the fabulous weather!

Two weeks in —

Friday marked two weeks since we arrived in Panajachel. We’ve definitely been busier than we expected to be, but not in a bad way. Opportunities to get involved in our community have been abundant and we’d also forgotten how time intensive some relatively simple tasks (like basic shopping) can be here.

So, what have we been doing with our time?

Spanish school is our biggest priority right now — we go five days a week and little-by-little (poco a poco) are seeing small improvements.

Jason quickly got involved with Will at Dirty Feet Missions and is helping teach English twice a week in a small pueblo a few miles out of town. Luke goes as well and has a great time helping out.

Mabel and I got to spend a little time helping sort and organize donations at Porch de Salomon.

The kids and Jason quickly got involved in extra curriculars which has been great! Mabel does a dance and an art class weekly while Luke is in basketball twice a week. Jason has been playing basketball with some men from our Spanish-speaking church, plus soccer with an acquaintance from our last time here and running a couple days a week with a friend.

I don’t know yet where I will “fit” into our new town, but I’ve hosted friends in our home several times already so perhaps there will be something to that.

A prayer request for us is that we can be comfortable with shifting our purpose here as circumstances around us change and/or as God directs us. We want to be flexible with this beautiful opportunity that we have been given and ultimately, we want to be useful to God’s kingdom here on earth.

If we walk across the street from our house, we get this fantastic view. Catches my breath everytime.

And the house hunt winner is …


We were fortunate to live in Number 1 for our first week here and it really was WAY too noisy (we had to stop conversation when vehicles were going past, which was all the time). And, that outdoor bathroom! Just not a go for us with kids using it in the night, especially with us already needing to be very vigilant about safety.

Number 3 would have been awesome, but … without kids who already rise with the first hint of dawn’s light. Being in a loft space just wouldn’t work. Even though I really wanted it to.

Number 2 definitely makes us feel spoiled and a little embarrassed by just how nice the grounds are. There is even a full-time guardian who looks after the property. There are 5 other units on the property and we’ve already met several of our new neighbors who have been really friendly.

Photo from here

An added bonus is that we have hot water in ALL the taps!!

Many homes here come fitted with a “widow-maker” or electric shower head which heats the water just enough to make for a semi-bearable shower, but that’s about it.

Lastly, this was by far our easiest (and cheapest) move. Jason made three trips in a tuk-tuk with our luggage, paying less than $10 total, and we were in! The kids have been swimming twice already and are loving it! We are feeling so happy to be in a space that we should get to stay in for the next six months. Now … to try to make it feel homey.

International House Hunting – Panajachel

Photo from here

We’ve been working to find long term housing for our six month stay here. We don’t think we are too picky, but it is not an easy task!

Our priorities are to find a: 2+ bedroom house or apartment for less than $500 a month, on a safe compound with an outdoor space for the kids (and us too!)

Here are our options at this point:

This first one is our current short term rental that the owner has offered to let us rent for our entire stay.

Option #4 — Some friends have offered their absolutely magnificent home for two months or so while they are away. It is such a tempting offer as the place is stunning! But, the thought of moving again in a couple months puts a damper on that idea, especially as we try to create some stability for our kids. I know it would be a hard transition for me to move from their lovely space to one that would likely be so much less lovely. It has been a wonderful kindness though to have a safety net as we look for long-term housing.

Going to Spanish school

We started Spanish classes yesterday! We are attending Jabel Tinamet five days a week, for an hour each day. An hour doesn’t seem very long, but I was definitely tired out afterwards! The kids have their own teacher, and Jason and I have our own which seemed to work well. The school has lovely garden and terraza spaces where the classes are held and overall it feels very pleasant. Day two is today!

Another homecoming — Lake Atitlán!

This summer was packed full of homecoming visits — we feel so blessed to have spent time in many of the places we’ve previously lived, and also in both our hometowns.

This week marked yet another homecoming. We arrived into Guatemala City, Guatemala on Thursday and after spending the night there, arrived back in Panajachel (Pana-ha-shell or Pana for short) on Friday. It was a beautiful day and packed full of sights, sounds, smells and people that we love.

This was the first time the kids had flown in over four years and they were thrilled by everything about flying which was a joy to experience with them. And a huge, huge praise that everything went just about as smoothly as it could for our travels. Now that we are on the ground here, it feels like pretty much everything is new for the kids and for us, it feels very new to have children in tow as we try to navigate the exciting and busy streets together on foot.

We are thrilled to be here and we feel so fortunate to get this opportunity to do this with our kids. It definitely feels surreal that we have finally arrived after so many months of preparing and and then being in transition.

We continue to ask for your prayers as we settle into our life here, that our eyes would be open to who or what God places in our path. We also do not yet have long-term housing and we especially pray for our kiddos as they transition to life here – we are all going to experience some big adjustments in the weeks ahead.

Purchasing Tickets

Things are feeling very real now! We have our tickets and depart for Guatemala very, very early on November 4th.

It’s hard to believe that in about two weeks we’ll be having views like these again —

We’d appreciate prayer as we continue to look for long-term housing. Right now, we have a space for about 10 days reserved and plan to continue looking during that time. Also, prayer is needed for the many, many details that need to be worked out in order for us to move smoothly — that we will accomplish what really needs to be done and feel at peace letting go of the unimportant.

Heading for the barn

We completed our 35-day, 3,000 mile road trip on Friday. Whew!

We had SO SO much fun (more posts about that to follow), but we are also pretty happy to be staying put for a bit. We ended our trip at my parents house and get to spend most of this month tucked into their cozy and delightful barn apartment.

We drove about 3,000 miles to get here —

And stayed in seven types of lodging —

We are incredibly grateful to the wonderful friends and family who hosted us and made this beautiful journey possible for our family. Thank you dear hearts!

Starting school on the road

We started school for Luke and Mabel on September 13. Starting on the road meant that Luke and Mabel got to have school with their grandparents! So fun!

Luke started third grade and Mabel first. We did our first day of school tradition of a little tablework, a few photos and then a hike with fall bouquet collecting. It was a beautiful day in Spokane and we decided to explore Riverside State Park (where Jason proposed to me over 15 years ago!).

This is the first time that Jason was able to be present for a first day of school which was really great!

Moscow, Idaho: returning home

When we moved to Moscow (pronounced mahs-coh), Idaho in 2014, I was really unhappy to be there. We’d spent the year before living in the stunning Panajachel, Guatemala and the beautiful Green Mountain State of Vermont for the two years before that, Moscow felt like a bit of a dud. Too big to really be a small town and waaay too small to be an urban area, it was a space that I once labelled “too family friendly.” I remember telling a Vermont friend that I could never imagine that I would ever miss Moscow. Of course, after about two years it had really, really grown on me. By that time we had less than a year to go before Jason would graduate and we would need to move again. All that to say, it was felt like a bit of a homecoming to return to our sweet friends and the lovely town of Moscow for our first few days after leaving our Rapid City home.

Our time there seemed to fly by and we look forward to when we can return. There are a few highlights from our visit below and a kind of “best of” list for Moscow in case you ever get to visit 🙂

Fall was already in starting to show it’s colors. We collected these beauties during a quick stroll through the Arboretum.

One of our favorite haunts, Phillips Farm — we lived walking distance from this farm park during our first year in Idaho. We quickly came to love the easy hiking paths, wild orchards and wooded areas and, not to be left out — the “scat” board with models of more than 15 types of animal scat 🙂

A delicious lunch at Mikey’s Gyros — oh so good!

The most valuable thing for us was betting to spend time with our friends — it was awesome to watch the kids reconnect

And no trip to Moscow should be complete without a visit to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market — unfortunately it was cold and rainy for our trip, but still delightful to get to go.

A few other fun stops — being chased by giant chickens at the delightful Moscow Food Co-Op and testing out a raft in the amazing showroom at Northwest River Supply.