Vulnerability and suprises

Zach Coverdale explores the lava-encrusted mountain The culture shock described in our readings this week was presented in a very real way, but I can’t identify with it. I feel comfortable with the customs and ways of the people and seem to be able to relate and find common ground with them. What is the hardest for me is the shallowness and childishness I feel. My knowledge and language are at a place where I cannot be quite as extravagant in my Spanish conversations as in my English. Spanish is a beautiful tongue and has the potential for weaving beautiful webs of words, strings of images and wisdom. I’m not there. Someday, yes, but I am still stuck, an adolescent in a man’s body, while I am among lots of sophisticated native speakers. It is through this language vulnerability that I have an opportunity to grow and receive from others.

– Zach Coverdale


Sunday January 20, 2013

After an exhausting first week did I really want to get up at 5 a.m. on my Saturday morning to hike a volcano? No. But a wise man once said, you more often regret that which you did not do than that which you did. A convoluted way of saying YOLO.

So I decided to go. Plus everyone else was going. It’s a volcano in Guatemala, of course I’m going.

How beautiful. After some curvy roads we arrived at a base point, greeted immediately by young children waving walking sticks. “Stick!? Stick?” they would ask us, offering us a walking companion. I didn’t buy a 5Q (less then $1) walking stick. I wish I would have now…darn wise sayings.

The hike was great exercise and oh so rewarding. It took about an hour and a half to get to the top. The views were breathtaking and impossible to capture with pen or camera. The steaming volcano was a great reminder of Nature’s power. I don’t care what human structure you build on the side of that sleeping giant. If that thing erupts, my money is on the volcano.

I hope I have the energy for the coming week. Lord, give me the strength to keep actively listening, persistently questioning, and always applying.

-Everett Brubaker


Chris Bates, Landon Heavener, and David Yoder in a tree along the hike Monday, Jan. 21st a mi casa, 9:47 p.m.

Wow!  At first, I thought I knew little to no Spanish at all.  While this is mostly true still, I need to acknowledge that I just survived a 3 hour conversation one on one.  My sister, Alejandra, or Ale, is out for the night at her university; so naturally, me and my mom made dinner together and began to converse about her job.  As I aspire to be a social worker, it is beyond perfect that she has been working in social work for just over 27 years!  Somehow, I understood 90% or more of the conversation and pieced together the rest.  She showed me how she evaluates custody and pension between separated parents and children by drawing out budgets, estimated costs, and evaluating living situations.  Ironically, Myra and her ex spouse went through the same process she now does for other people, and I am humbled that she used her exact, historically accurate situation as an example, while also letting me learn from what she and Ale went through as a result of the father’s irresponsibility.

Obviously I was extremely in the social work process here and as the conversation went on, I found my brain slowly switching into Spanish mode.  I had my first functional, lengthy conversation!  And the best thing is, the social problems/social work process here is not so different from those that exist in the U.S. and those that I began to explore last semester.  I have never had a sister before, or a mom that needed a male in the house (as my Mom in the States deals with me, my two brothers, and my dad all by herself).  So it’s wonderful for me to experience these strong, hard working Guatemalteco women – and I am growing quite fond of them rather quickly.  They have already taught me a lot, and from my conversation with Myra earlier, I can see I have a lot to learn about myself as well as the social work process as a whole.  I’m blessed with the wonderful presence of these fine women.

– Chris Bates