Yesterday was Shelby's first day in Guatemala. First days are always tough, because you are exposed to many things in a short time and Shelby's first day was no exception. After our welcome back party, some of the kids in the village informed us that the father of a sponsored child died early that morning. He was 49 and died of an unknown fever. In Guatemala and especially the villages , it is common when this happens that someone does a collection to help pay for the coffin and other expenses that a single family could not pay for alone. With in minutes someone was at the door for the collection. Then we also knew we had to go and visit. It is customary for the body to be displayed in the the house and for many people to come visit and pray all night with the family. Our cultural experts and guides, Marta and Maria, told us that bringing coffee and sugar, rice and beans and paper cups would be appropriate to keep the people up and praying for the night.
We bought our supplies. Abby, Shelby, Marta and Maria and I went to the equivalent of a wake. It was very solemn as we entered the house and observed the body under a sheet with candles and a beautiful display. We gave our gifts and condolences and sat for about 30 minutes in this little wooden house.
Then we left and immediately went to Plaza American, a short ride down the street. Here we had lunch at Taco Bell and shopped at the grocery store that is for middle class and above. The contrast is a lot for a first day.It is a lot for me and I have been here many times.
Shelby expressed that when she traveled to another developing country, she might have been sheltered from some of the reality of the poverty. But she is up for the experience. I am so proud of our staff . They are all truly committed to serving the poorest of the poor. Shelby made it through the first day still smiling and I think that she will be a great addition to PID Guatemala.