Friendships

Xela seems to be a smelting fire for life and friendships. During the year I’ve been in Xela, God has been forging me into the man he first designed, minus my imperfections, by helping me make new friendships and strengthening old ones. Yet, I know God isn’t done casting me into the mold he has designed for me. I’ve been learning with friendships, even the deep ones, where you care about the person immensely, it is still hard and risky. I believe that a true friendship can and will outlast the hard times.

I’ve got a cool example. Over the last year God healed a friendship that had fallen off the deep end while I was in college. Redeeming the friendship took work on both our parts. Metal can’t be forged into the artist’s desired shape without the artist spending time heating the metal, pouring the metal, and letting the metal cool. Friendships also require a process of time, effort, and patience. Through that process the friendship was reformed and in turn I was changed. Now I feel like God is forging me anew by the use of friendships and the work they take.

Work. A word that needs underlining when it comes to friendship. Every morning at work I focus on my job just like the artist or metalworker focuses on the metal. Now I can put in a ton of effort to make sure my students enjoy PE or creative writing, but if they don’t match my effort the class struggles. Like when I tried to teach Volleyball to the elementary kids. They didn’t want to play because the ball hurt their hands. They didn’t cooperate at all, which made their thirty minutes of PE a bore. Friendships are the same. If both people in the friendship don’t put forth the same effort, the friendship will be strained. Friendships require a give and take. If you don’t give a little to your friend and don’t receive in return, it’s not a friendship.

I’m not the only one that thinks this. I asked a few of my students what they thought it meant to be a friend and here is what a few of them said:

“To me it means a relationship with a person that doesn’t involve love (eros). You trust them deeply, talk about anything, and you have many things in common that you practically talk about anything.”
“Friendship means to me loyalty and being nice friends. Hanging out. Having to go to places. But the most important part is caring for each other. Friends should be there for each other in good situations and bad situations.”
“Friends care for you and they help you. We have fun together, sometimes we bother each other. Friends are one of the best things you have in the world.”
“Friendship means to be there when a friend needs help or comfort.”
“Friends like you for who you are.”
“Always be there fore each other.”
“Friendship means to always be there for each other to talk about stupid things.”
“They are something very special to me because without friends we would be lonely. Friends are like your treasure box because you’ll find things that you have in common or difference, you could also tell them secrets and they’ll never say anything. Friends are cool, and they are always there for you whenever you need them or whenever you don’t.”
My students seem to know that friendships take being there for each other. I believe that when you care about someone and they care about you, you will meet each other half way. The only problem is this hardly happens with human friendships. As a friend, I can be selfish and when times get hard, even I can back out on the people I call friends. We humans don’t try to meet each other half way. If friends are truly our treasures, then often we are fools gold. We guard our selves so we don’t get hurt.
That is why the only true friend is Christ. He knew we couldn’t meet him half way and so he went the entire way. He loved us despite our shortcomings. That’s a true friendship. But, I believe what God is forging in me is the desire to be Christ-like with my friends. Even if a friend doesn’t meet me half way, I feel like he is calling me to take that extra step. This is difficult, but if Christ could go to the cross after all the junk we humans did to him, then maybe I can make this one small step. Love with a Christ-like love.

Quinceañera

“I’ve gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” No I’m not a fan of the Black Eyed Peas, but tonight’s gonna be a good, good night. At least I hope. Tonight I’m going to a Quince, short for Quinceañera, which is Spanish for a girls coming of age party at 15. Oh to be a 15 year old girl again, um just kidding. I don’t think I had a party when I turned 15, which might be because I’m a guy. For my 15th I went fly fishing with my dad in Oklahoma. The best part of the trip was tying minuscule flies with my dad, complaining about my icicle fingers, and still loving it. My best friend Philip came along and we used the tent stake bag for a hat. Philip and I spent more time throwing rocks than line, which might be why we didn’t have fish to eat that night. That was a special birthday for me and yet it doesn’t compare to the Quincaeñera. While I’ve been to plenty regular birthday parties, and become rather famous for my dance moves, I do a wicked sprinkler that I morph into an up and down jabbing fist pump, It’s wild; I’ve never been to a Quince. But the kids told me to expect a good meal and then to bust a move or two on the dance floor. I can’t leave these parties without a little dancing. The kids request my moves, it’s sad but true. The party will be held at Bonifaz, which I have been in once and is a beautiful hotel located near downtown Xela, and will probably last all night or until 4 in the morning to be exact. I think the Latin culture may know how to celebrate life.

For the party Bonifaz, a beautiful white hotel in central park across from my apartment, was
decorated immaculately. Purple balloons hung from the ceiling like big grapes and each table was decorated with candy and flowers. A great mass of people filled the hall, 300 of which were invited and the rest were colados, Guatemalan slang for party crashers. The party started at 7:00, but according to local custom you don’t show up until an hour later. So like any good ethnographer I didn’t roll into the party until 8:00, which was hard because I’m punctual. But as it turned out 8:00 was right on time. As I took my seat in the crowded banquet hall, Ale, the 15-year-old host of the party, hand in hand with her dad, danced out onto the dance floor. The dance was beautiful and I’m sure she will remember it for the rest of her life.

I could have celebrated my 15th birthday MTV style, but that’s typically for girls and no real people celebrate like that. The show Sweet Sixteen is just ridiculous and I’m glad I went fishing. No real people celebrate a birthday that way. Or do they? The Quince comes close. But I think the only true comparison to a Quince in the states is a wedding reception. Now at 15 I wasn’t getting married, so there wasn’t anyway I was going to have a huge dance party. Heck, at that age I could barely move my feet to the beat; not much has changed. Now, when I turned 18 I flew to Tulsa to hang out with friends. This was a great way to celebrate becoming an adult, but still not as big as the Quince. Maybe guys just don’t place much importance on their birthdays. Maybe it’s a gender thing because girls, even in the states, do love to be treated like princesses for a day. But as I look back at my sisters’ celebrations, and their friend’s celebrations, they didn’t celebrate the Latin way. Turning 15 might not mean that much in the states. Really only turning 16 because you can drive, 18 because you can vote, and 21 because you can drink mean anything in the states. Yet, these don’t compare to turning 15 down here where it means womanhood. I remember watching a movie in my Spanish class about a Hispanic girl turning 15 and working so hard so she could have a party. It meant everything to her. While, my students aren’t in the same economic condition as the heroin in the movie the party still means a lot to them. They practice for days for their dance. They skip school to go dress shopping. And then they invite hundreds of people to come party in their honor. Even weddings are different than this. Weddings are the celebration of two people becoming one, but I think Quinces are just celebrations of life. So, I hope you all are invited to a Quince someday and can celebrate life the way it should be celebrated.

Indepencia y Rio Dulce

Independence in Guatemala is a couple week long celebration. Last year I blogged about my trip to the fair and the grito that was celebrated Independence eve. This year I made it back to the fair twice, but instead of staying in Xela for Independence weekend I treked all the way to Rio Dulce, which is located close to the Caribbean. Both the fair and Rio Dulce were amazing and I figured I would share a few of my pictures with you all. I hope you enjoy. The first video I’m posting is of a ride that I tried to describe in last year’s blog. It’s nothing but insanity. I didn’t ride it this year. After a week of stalling on the blog so I could make the video work,sadly it will not post. I will continue to work on the videos so you all will need to keep checking this blog. Trust me this ride is sick. So you know what you are missing from the video just picture a spinning wheel of death, no seat belts, and violent tremors. Okay, now for the pictures. The above is a shot of the Ferris Wheel of death that Guatemalan’s love to ride while they’re at the fair. It’s powered by an old tractor and a foot pedal. Okay, you get the picture, now here are some my photo’s from Rio Dulce and the Fair. It was a great time and I hope you enjoy the photos.