How To Surprise Your Sister

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My little sister just graduated from Chatfield Senior High School in Littleton, Colorado and I was there to celebrate it with her!  Over the last three years, as I have lived in Guatemala, I have missed my fair share of family events, but not this one.

The other week I hopped on a bus to Guatemala City and caught a flight back to the States, all without my little sister knowing.  Here is what she wrote on my Facebook wall two days before the big surprise, “Brother.  It’s time for you to come home.  I miss you.”  To which my response was, “I miss you too.  We have a month until I return.  Think you can wait?” I hope God will forgive me for lying to my little sister.

If you ever want to surprise someone lying is a must.  In the weeks leading up to my flight home, I had to lie to Emmy countless times.  We’d be Skyping, me sitting in my room with my suitcase ready to be packed, and she’d complain about the fact “no one was coming to her graduation,” which wasn’t true.  My cousin Luke and his fiancé were flying out for the graduation and to take her to see U2.

Little did she know that all of this was my idea.  In order to surprise my sister I had to lie and threaten to kill people if they told.  That’s how much she means to me.  The plan was hatched in my mind late last year.  Plane tickets were high and I knew I couldn’t go home for both Christmas and Emmy’s graduation, so I decided I would …. fly home for Emmy’s graduation.

Purchasing my tickets was a debacle I will write about in another blog, but Emmy was worth it.  As I landed two hours late due to a major thunder storm in Denver, I was nervous Emmy would find out.  I didn’t call my dad for fear she would be with him.  Fortunately my parents were able to trick her into going over to a friend’s house and so we made it to Stueban’s, her favorite restaurant, and waited patiently for the surprise.

Surprises can make life difficult, and this one had me about as nervous as a litter of kittens in a pet store.  I wanted it all to work out.  All of the planning and all of the time would have been for not if one person would have slipped up.  And we all had our slip ups along the way.  While Skyping with Emmy the Sunday before I was to fly out, she was telling me the menu for her party and I said, “Oh we’ll be eating good.”  Fortunately she was oblivious of my slip up, because as she walked into the restaurant her face filled with confusion.  “Am I seeing things,” she thought.  A huge scream broke the confused silence, which was followed by an even bigger hug right in front of everyone one at the restaurant.  Kapla!  (Kligon for success)

Getting to see her graduate was icing on the cake after that hug.  Or was it the silver lining in the clouds.  It rained all during the graduation ceremony.  But a little rain couldn’t dampen my spirits.  I am so proud of her.  She has grown up so much over the past three years.  When I left she was just a little kid.  I’ve missed seeing her grow up, but if I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t have been able to surprise the socks off of her.  Literally they flew off when she screamed!  Ok, just figuratively.

Mother’s Day Twice a Year

Tuesday morning five a.m. and an explosion rips me from my sleep.  Who’s birthday is it? (It is common for birthdays to be celebrated here with a barrage of fireworks at the crack of dawn.) I think as I roll over and try to drift back to sleep.  It wasn’t someone’s birthday, it was Mother’s Day.  But wasn’t Mother’s Day on Sunday?

Here in Guatemala, Dia De Las Madres is always celebrated on the 10th of May, and what better way to celebrate your mom than to set off a battery of fire works.  At least I wasn’t woken by a live marimba band at 5 in the morning like I was two years ago on Mother’s Day; horrible.  All morning, as I taught PE outside on the basketball court, the sound of mothers being celebrated drowned out the screams of excitement from my elementary students.

If you are ever in need of fireworks, you don’t need to drive to the county line because Guatemala has an abundant supply of what you want; even after the firework factory exploded during lunch last week, I had been sitting in the library when I heard a distant rumble.  At first I thought it was thunder, but it was a blue sky day.  Maybe Xela was under attack!  Nope!  The fireworks factory had caught fire due to the heat and exploded.  Sadly, the explosion didn’t limit the amount of fireworks sold to the many sons and daughters in Xela.  My Tuesday morning was one explosion after another.  And fortunately, unlike on Sunday, none of those explosions happened inside of my body.

Guatemalans really know how to celebrate their moms.  But just because in the states people don’t set off fireworks doesn’t mean us, US Americans, don’t love our moms.  On Sunday, I spent most of my day Skyping with my family.  Holidays are hard days for me to be away from my family, I can’t physically walk up to my mom and give her a hug.  As I sat Skyping with  my mom, it almost felt like I was home.  But almost only works in horse shoes and fireworks.  Like I almost regained my hearing after the umpteenth million firework exploded on the Guatemalan’s May 10th Mother’s Day.

I’m glad that my family celebrates Mother’s Day in a more laid back fashion.  As nice as it was to Skype my mom I would rather have been able to be in Colorado and light off a few fireworks to celebrate her in Guatemalan fashion; at least I would have been there.

I love Guatemala, all of it’s quirks and explosions.  It is a unique little country and has really become a beloved second home, but it’s hard to be here during major holidays.  On Mother’s Day I felt the pull to be home so I could spend some quality time with my family for the first time in nearly ten months.  But on the flip side, with a little more than month left here in Guatemala I don’t want to leave.  I want to stay and soak up all of the little bits of Guatemala that I can.  It is hard living with these two desires.  I know I’m moving, but I’ve also decided to live in the present as much as possible, so I am trying my hardest not to think about my move.  I love how Guatemala celebrates their moms and yet I know moving back home will be a great thing; I’ll be able to celebrate my mom in person.  What’s better than that?