Don’t Worry Be Happy It’s Spring Break!!

“A day at a time is long enough to sustain one’s faith; the next day will have its own cares.” Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”

I love traveling to new places, seeing new countries, which is part of the reason why I am teaching here in Guatemala. A long trip can cause a little stress. Over Semana Santa (Easter) this year I made it all the way to Honduras. It took over 16 hours to make it there and I was a little nervous about how the week would shape up. I had doubts about going because I didn’t want to be the only one not scuba diving.

Due to a random canon ball dive accident, which ruptured both of my eardrums, I can’t scuba dive. The ear, nose, and throat Dr. was shocked when I told him how I’d jumped off of a four foot ledge, straight into a pool, and ruptured both of my eardrums. After a year long healing process, which involved transplants of cigarette paper and the fat from my ear lobes, I was able to dip my head under water, but the Dr. ordered that I never scuba dive. So, with all of my friends scuba diving, I was worried I would be bored with nothing to do.
Yet, when I arrived on the island of Utila, all of my worries melted away. It was so hot any desire to move around evaporated on sight. I knew that all I could do was relax. I’m positive that it’s impossible to feel stress on an island. Island life seems to be the the embodiment of life the way Bonhoeffer believes we should life. One day at a time and no reason to stress. And yet I had reason to stress.
First, the place we’d contacted for housing had double booked and the rooms were slightly better than an outhouse. The girls raced off to find another place to stay. For some reason I knew we would be ok. Jon, my roommate, said he would watch the luggage if I wanted to go help find a room.
During my search, I met an incredible woman named Minnie. She owned one of the hotels I checked out. From the onset I could tell her faith was strong. I asked her about her rooms and she said, “I don’t make any money here. I just give everything away.” She explained that she lived day to day, trusting God would take care of her. As I sat and talked with her for about fifteen minutes, I realized I needed to try and live my life day by day. Unfortunately, her hotel was full and my search came up empty, but I knew that everything would be alright.
As I walked back to where Jon had been watching my luggage, I didn’t expect him to be gone, but he was. Apparently, while I was gone the girls had returned. Having found a room they left with Jon and the luggage. Unfortunately, they left no note to tell me where they’d gone. Now I was lost on an island without any way to contact my friends. I knew I should feel at least a little stressed out, but I found that an impossible feeling on the island of Utila. So, I wandered down the main street, knowing everything would be alright. Ten minutes later I was with the rest of my group. Lorin, one of the girls, stepped out of a tienda with a Dr. Pepper in her hand, which she gave to me, and told me they’d found a great room for us to stay in for the week. The fact that everything worked out so well made me wonder why people worry so much. Stress shouldn’t just vacate on vacations. Minnie didn’t just live day to day trusting in God because she was on vacation, no her life was on that island.
The rest of the week was amazing. I went snorkeling, which I’ll talk about in another blog, and God showed me time and time again that I didn’t have any reason to worry. I took my vacation day by day and I hope that I can make that happen back here on the main land. I am glad I decided to travel all the way to Utila. I just wish I hadn’t worried so much about the trip, but hey, let worry, worry for itself.

Bank Error In Your Favor Collect $200!

What would you do if your bank gave you $200 by mistake? What an extraordinary gift to receive. I’ve been listening to a sermon series from on blessings. The pastor is talking about all that God has bestowed to us and how we need to offer something back in return.

I went to the bank one recent Monday to cash a check for 170 Q, which is about 20 dollars. I was thinking about the bank giving me my money. I mean Jesus said it’s better give than to receive. But I’ve always wondered about the person on the receiving end. I mean by receiving the gift he is in turn blessing the gift giver. This makes me think receiving is equally as good, or something like that.

Guatemalan banks give and receive money every day, but I doubt they are blessed because they’re rather corrupt. A little corruption took place earlier that same Monday when I walked into the bank to cash the check. There was a huge line at the door, similar to the lines that trailed outside of movie theaters when the original Star Wars movies were rereleased. This line was galactic and growing. I slid into line like a bum waiting for free food. I was hungry and wanted to be out quickly. The guard at the door must have known this because he came up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained to him (in Spanish) that I needed to cash a check. He told me to move over to a much shorter line. I had a feeling he was wrong, but what do I know. I’m only a gringo. Hesitantly I moved over to the other much shorter line. As soon as I reached the bank employee, she made it clear that I was in the wrong place and needed to hop back in the other line, which’d doubled in size. Ok, maybe that’s not really too corrupt, but I stormed out anyway.

I walked up to another bank, which is pleasantly never busy, and close to my gym. It was almost five p.m. when I arrived inside the bank and all of the cashiers were starting to close up. There were a few people in front of me, but no galactic line, so I waited patiently. Shortly a cashier called me over and I handed her my check and my passport and we shared a few moments of awkward silence. I never really know what to say when I’m cashing a check. Yep, that’s my signature. Oh, yeah my passport picture is horrible. Yes, I would like to take you out for coffee (only if they’re cute and a girl). But typically I let the silence consume the room like a heavy fog.

“1 mil y setenta cientos?” she asked.
Confused I nodded and said, “si.” She proceeded to count out the money. Why was she counting out so many 100’s? How much was my check really for? Well, she probably knows what she’s doing anyway. So I just said, “Gracisas,” and headed out for the gym.

But the money felt heavy in my pocket. Had I done something wrong? The cashier was the one that counted the money and she knew her job better than I do, but maybe she’d read the check wrong. I kept walking. Had she really said Q 17,000 (about $200 more than I’d expected)? In the game monopoly you get 200 dollars if you draw the card that says bank error in your favor, maybe I’d drawn that card in real life. I tried to walk as casually as possible, but I felt like there was a huge sign on me that read “Money!!! Take my Money!!” My pace quickened and I could have sworn a police truck was following me. Finally I dashed into the gym, rushed up to the locker room, and counted the money. Yep, she’d given me way too much. I knew there wasn’t anyway the check I’d cashed had been for that much.
So, what do you do when the bank gives you too much money? By the time I had counted the money in the locker room the bank had already closed. I could give some of the money away, pay off some small loans, buy my self some cool new toys.
But, what would that say about me? I’m reading a book that talks about how writers create true characters and he says that characters are defined by the choices they make and true character is revealed by the choices a character makes under pressure. I felt a lot of pressure to keep the money.
Or I could give the money back in the morning. I mean the bank would probably take the money out of the cashier’s paycheck and she probably only makes 1,700 Q in a month. I can’t take someone’s salary. I don’t want that to be a chapter in my story.
It’s funny all of the excuses you can come up with when you don’t want to do the right thing. Some of them even sound right. Like giving some of the money to a beggar on the street. Yet, in the end I knew I had to give it all back. God wants us to give him 10% of what he has given to us not out of what we have taken from others. The sermon I listened to challenged me to give what I have. I gave the money back the next day and it made the cashier very happy. I guess by returning that money, I was making her life a little better. I’m glad I did the right thing. I want that to be my story.