This weekend’s trip to the Cobán area was, for me, a chance to discover beauty in simplicity. On Friday night we ate supper with missionaries Galen and Phyllis Groff. They had simply ordered pizza, but it was delicious and we had a wonderful time learning from them about the culture of the indigenous Kekchi people. That night we went to the Bezaleel Kekchi Mennonite School. We stayed in simple beds in simple rooms above the simple auditorium, the place for the guests. We absolutely loved it. In the female’s room, fifteen of us shared our clothes, our combs, our stories, and our laughs and became even closer to one another within our group.
The meals at Bezaleel are a very simple affair. They were simply beans and tortillas, sometimes an egg, but for us they provided the opportunity to sit with the boys of the school and get a glimpse into their lives. We saw the vocational arts program for the middle school students. There were only the simplest of supplies, but these classes provide the opportunity to greatly enrich the lives of the students.
A Saturday afternoon soccer game against the boys of the school was played on a simple dirt field with four large mud puddles. For us, it was a chance to run around, get filthy, laugh a lot, be with the students, and lose the game (even with the help of one of their sympathetic students on our team!). The talent show in the evening was nothing elaborate – few decorations, few props. The talent, however, was amazing. We heard beautiful songs, listened to a moving reflection on life, laughed at some hilarious skits, and shared our own talents, which paled in comparison.
After a Kekchi Mennonite church service on Sunday, we ate with local families. The meal was simple soup. However, this caldo – the region’s dish for special occasions – was delicious and contained the best-tasting meat I’ve ever eaten in my life. We felt so blessed when we heard that the family had taken three days to prepare this meal for us.
The cloud forest of the Alta Verapaz region was beautiful, and the towns quite nice, but the truly beautiful things we found were the simple experiences with the students of the school. Depending on the way we choose to look at things, we can see beans and tortillas (not again!), mud puddles that ruin a soccer game, and a lack of technology at the school…or we can see relationships, laughter that means the same thing in English, Spanish, or Kekchi, and the hand of God in our time there during which we were allowed to learn about beauty from simplicity.
– Katie Jantzen