It’s been a rough week — hard, unexpected news; struggles with subjunctive; cancer attacking my family; tumultuous tug-of-war with my heart over a breakup.
You know you can always count on family to be there for you when life gets rocky. But what about the times when you are off in another country, far away from anything familiar, and hugs from loved ones? Thank God I have a family here in Antigua that, every day, is becoming more and more a family to me, and less of just a house in which I live.
Let me introduce you to two very special people: Lucky (Lucrecia) and Jose. They have graciously opened their home and hearts to fully welcome me into their lives, and arms, literally. This wonderful couple, happily in love and always laughing (that’s their secret to so many years of happy marriage through hardships) has become a blessing to me this past week or so by being an amazing support system.
Jose and Lucky both come from families FULL of children, each having 11 or 13 siblings. They have worked through so many hardships and trials to be where they are and to get what they have. Generous, full hearts reach out to people from all over the world as they house students here in Antigua (or ambassador’s wives, or rich European diplomats, or the regular returning community of Christmas in Antigua celebrators).
They have three children and have stressed the importance of education to all of them, somehow sacrificing everything for their daughters to go to college (something their own parents didn’t see the value in, and pushed back against). Now their daughters are dentists and doctors. They treat all their home-stay guests with such kindness and patience, but it’s when you really make that connection with them and spend the hours over meals talking with them about all subjects (ranging from earthquakes, to dance parties, to culture differences, to pop music and embarrassing stories) that they adopt you as a child of their own.
So when I break down over the simple question of “how was your day?” and cry, the first thing I encounter is two sets of open arms, the space to cry and talk, and hopeful words of advice and faith. I really couldn’t ask for more, and I am so pleasantly surprised that after just three weeks I feel like I have an extension of family in Guatemala. That’s the importance of family – and the importance of understanding that we can all be that to each other, to those we meet in our lives that need hugs, words of hope, or just simple, warm hospitality when far from home. I am always going to remember the kindness of Jose and Lucky, because no matter what hardships you have been through, you can always be kind and loving and family to those around you. I am also going to always remember them because never have I laughed so hard at every single meal — all things can be made better through sharing laughter, always remembering to smile through all parts of life. Even the hard weeks. Months. Years.
Thank you, Jose. Thank you, Lucky. I am blessed to have you in my life.