This past Saturday I picked our six Summer interns up at the airport. They have been doing great so far and are adjusting quickly to Guatemala. The craziest thing to me is that when this group leaves in a month I will be flying home with them. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet but so far I’m okay with leaving. I don’t mean that I’m “get me out of here” ready to go, but that I’m content with what I have accomplished during my year and grateful for so many amazing experiences with awesome new friends. I also get to share my boundless wisdom with the six new volunteers, which is very rewarding for me and probably quite burdensome for them.
However, maybe I am a little more nervous than I thought about my imminent departure because I have been doing a lot of cleaning. Not to sound too stepford-wifey but I find cleaning to be very de-stressing and I really like the idea of leaving this wonderful Manna house better than I found it. To that end I have wanted to hire a housekeeper to come and clean all of the windows in the house. (I tried one day and after making a huge mess decided that this job required a professional.) Two weeks ago, we finally found a housekeeper, our landlady’s niece, to come and clean the windows. I was excited to have clean windows until our landlady and several small children all came to help clean. My excitement quickly morphed into guilt and embarrassment as I hid in my room trying to pretend that I didn’t know about the child labor going on 20 feet from me. After that experience I decided that we were capable of doing all house cleaning, regardless of the job.
My latest project has been the art/junk area in the living room. I was really on a roll getting the drawers organized and discarding junk so that the useful stuff can actually be located when Dana came into the room. Dana and I have a slightly differing view on where to draw the “throw away” line. Suddenly, almost anything I tried to put in the trash was met with a, “What?! NO! I want that!” Needless to say, my progress slowed considerably, but I do have to admit that she was right most of the time. For example, much to my chagrin, she wet a dried-out stamp pad and got it working again.
There’s something about cleaning that makes me feel more prepared for change. It acts as a nice conclusion to one chapter while letting you move forward, unburdened by the junk, to a new one. I’m happy to leave Guatemala knowing that important papers, curricula and other teaching materials are organized for the next group of volunteers to come in and use. During my phone interview with Dana last year I expressed some concern about the long time commitment. She told me that, to her, the first six months felt like six months but that before you knew it the second half of the year would have come and gone. Reflecting on my year now I would have to say the whole thing flew by. But what a year it was.
Happy (semi-neurotic) cleaning!