By: David Rule
Almost every short-term missionary that comes to Hope of Life, who realizes I’m an American, asks me similar questions. They are:
1) Are you a long term missionary at Hope of Life? Yes I am!
2) Did you ever come to Guatemala before coming here? No, my parents did though.
3) What called your parents to come live here? God, of course!
4) What were your first thoughts about coming to Guatemala? Well, at first I thought my parents were kidding, but when I realized they were dead serious, I thought they were crazy!
Those are just the short answers though. People are pretty amazed when they see a missionary’s kid. They might talk to my parents for a while, but usually they always talk to me or my sisters. They think it’s pretty cool I guess, a kid doing what God wants them to do right alongside their mom and dad. I always think, “Well, I was 12 when we moved to Guatemala, so it’s not like I had much of a choice! I was just sort of dragged along with them!” Just kidding. My parents have always given me the option to stay with my Grandma; but I would miss them too much! I was always homeschooled and have always had a good relationship with my mom and dad. I have never stopped calling them Mommy and Daddy.
What people have to understand is no move is easy. I see movies or hear stories of kids who’ve had a hard time moving to a different state; but I had to move to another country! I really feel bad for kids who have to move from the USA to another foreign country. There are a lot of cultural shocks that come with it. Granted, I was still extremely blessed because I was already exposed to a lot of the Spanish culture. On my mom’s side of the family, my grandmother is Cuban and my grandpa is Puerto Rican. I grew up listening to Spanish. Today, I am pretty much fluent in understanding Spanish, but speaking Spanish is another story.
When I first arrived in Guatemala, the first week felt like a vacation. It was like an adventure to me. Later after the first week, I already wanted to return to the USA. Unfortunately, I would count the days until we would go back and visit family. We had to go back every six months because we were not residents of Guatemala. In case you’re wondering, 4 years later, I do not count the days anymore. Guatemala is kind of like my home now, but I still feel like I am an American. America will always be my real home.
The first year we moved to Guatemala was very challenging. We lived in the Village of Transformation with complete strangers and no one to talk to. However, I was EXTREMELY BLESSED that my best friends Caleb and Caden Monk moved down to Guatemala a month before us. I mean, they were basically the bulk of my friends in the states, so moving away from friends was never the problem. I also did not live near my Grandparents in the states, so seeing them once every 6 months was actually a blessing! My biggest problem was actually getting used to having a brother.
When we first received kids in our house at the Village of Transformation, we had a 14 year-old boy in our home. For privacy reasons I will call him Fred. Fred, at first, was a nice kid, and we got along very well. But he never had a good father figure in his life so he always would compete with me on pleasing Dad. I was never part of this competition because I knew my dad loved me; but Fred would do small things to agitate me. For example, if my dad told me to take the garbage out, he would try to make it to the garbage can first so he could do it. Nonetheless, that did not bother me, but Fred realized that quick, so he resorted to bullying. I did not tolerate his behavior for very long, and told my dad and mom about it. Truth be told, I almost got into a fight with him because of his constant bullying. Heck, the reason we did not fight is because he decided to walk away. Soon after, we got back on the right foot. To this day, I really respect Fred for walking away from what could’ve been a nasty fight. Occasionally, he would be a pain, but not nearly as often.
People sometimes ask me “What is the greatest challenge you have faced so far living in Guatemala?” Other than the fact that I moved to a different country, it would be the other kids disobeying my mom and dad. Now, I am not perfect by any means trust me on that, but I was brought up to respect and obey authority. Most of the time, the kids would not do either of these things, and it would bother me a lot. Even to this day, it still bothers me. I had to understand that these kids came from difficult backgrounds, and had to come to Hope of Life because their families were not able to take care of them properly. Eventually I had more compassion, but I still struggle when they roll their eyes after they are told to do something.
I had a difficult time when I first moved here, but I am very happy now. We still have our challenges, it is a 3rd world country after all. But as the Bible says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Life isn’t easy, but it is a lot easier now than it was when we first moved here.
So there you go, that is part of my testimony. Honestly, I could go on forever about the challenges we have been through. But it’s the things that are hard, that are worth doing. I cannot believe we have been living here in Guatemala for 4 years now. When we first came here I was 12 years old, and now I am almost 17. It’s pretty scary!