Sunday, June 9, 2013

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)


  1. 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?

  2. 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

    1. Not sure why, but this made me cry. Thank you.