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Wee journal entries

The Daily Scroll is our family's place to post journal entries and photos of the day. As we seek to break from social media, we also understand the value of having a place to upload pictures and share what is happening with our community! Count on this page to be raw, relatively unedited, and less fancy-shmancy. What we hope to deliver is a closer insight into the happenings and daily life of living in Rural Guatemala as a family of 7.

Monday, March 21th.

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I watch Edwin share stories about the lake with Simon and am proud to hear Simon respond in fluent Spanish, slang included.

This hike was especially hard this time. It had been a late night the night before, interrupted by a 1:43am tremor that took some time to get back to sleep from, and then of course the dreaded 3:30am wakeup to be able to make it to the top for the 6am sunrise. It is a two hour hike with an approximate elevation change of 600metres. 

Simon was there for me. We got up and walked out to the road to be picked up by Edwin with his trusty old beater Toyota mini-truck. One of my current projects is helping Edwin establish a tour company where he can take the guests from our project guest house up to the top of one of the highest mountains that overlooks the lake. People work so very hard here for so little. The average wage of a construction worker is less than 12 bucks a day. Tourists that come to the area deserve someone local and experienced to guide them and my idea is to bridge that gap for Edwin and connect him with foreigners to a carefully designed service that caters to the unique needs of the travelers. The hike starts in the pitch black at 3:45am is done in time to enjoy the sunrise from the lake. We have been doing test runs with groups of 4-6 people every few weeks and I'm proud to say that as of Sunday's hike it is a profitable and worthwhile venture for Edwin!

 

The tour package includes:
Being picked up and shuttled to the base of the mountain at 3:30am.

Stories and Myths told by Edwin on the way up.

A halfway stop for provided fruit snack.

Edwin, Simon and I carrying up all the materials necessary to cook a campfire coffee (Maria's coffee of course), beans and egg breakfast with our homemade peanut butter and fired toast.

 

After such a hike, in my opinion, no better meal exists. All to be consumed while enjoying this view: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CbVvpvbF-Ww/ <--- Video link for the sunrise time-lapse we made.

 

Thursday, March 17th.

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I want everybody reading this to meet Domingo and Domingo Junior. These two men make our day, day after day. We have been working with both of them on our house and the renovation of the project community center and they are truly the funniest father-son duo ever. They are becoming regulars at our Friday and Wednesday dinners and the exchanges are rich and contain a lot of full on belly laughter. Good guys with great hearts.

Wednesday, March 16th.

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I never imagined that I would have 3 girls. Especially after having the first 2 of my children turn out to be boys. These girls' experience here in Guatemala will surely be remembered so differently than the boys'. While the boys will have concrete memories of their childhoods in Canada, for the girls, this is it. We see them playing together, growing together and even hear them beginning to speak in Spanish together when we are in the next room. It's a beautiful thing that I can't fully put into words, I hope this picture helps.

Tuesday, March 15th.

Nothing but good old fashioned fun. 

Recycling trash at it's finest. So our kids aren't skiing anymore?! That doesn't mean they can't go "weeeeee" down a hill! Here's Royal with the neighborhood kids shredding some concrete for the books.

Monday, March 14th.

Thanks to all of those checking in regularly! We have had a busy week of preparing the new guesthouse for arrivals and getting acquainted with new volunteers. I want to mention a special shoutout to Linda from Italy who has jumped right into helping with the project and has been promoting what we are doing on social media. I'll leave you all with a video she put together after Saturday's club. More about her serendipitous arrival to follow!

Please help us make a difference.

Tuesday, March 8th.

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Well, I just featured Royal last week but it is his birthday today and I need to take a moment to talk about just how important this little dude has been in our life. Royal remains the quietest of the litter. He is pensive, he is sensitive, and he loves a good adrenaline rush. He is cooler than cool and has a confidence that even rubs off on me when I watch him. People in town shout out his name as we walk by left right and center, (I'm always like "who are all these people?) and he acknowledges them with a kind nod. Now, at 9 years old, he has stayed unashamed to be the one to reach up for my hand while we talk and walk the streets. I love this boy and I am proud of who he is becoming. 

Monday, March 7th.

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Sometimes when we go out as a family, especially outside of our hometown, the kids are treated like absolute celebrities. It's a hard topic to talk about and explore, but I want to. Readers, please be gracious as I sort through my confused feelings about it. "They are just like Barbies!", people say, and then ask me if they can photograph their child with my girls. I have always disliked Barbies and, quite frankly, every other Western cultural icon for the way they have essentially programmed everyone's definition of beauty. And now, here we are in Guatemala and brown parents are asking me if they can set their child beside my white and blond children for a picture while they go crazy over how much like "dolls" they are. So far, the most adequate response we have found is to allow it whilst responding with a mirrored reaction to the Guatemalan child, affirming their beauty as equal.  

Friday, March 4th.

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Christina took these pictures and I stared at them thinking about how lighting makes all the difference in photography. I thought about how something so ugly (like our current construction project on the left, or top picture if reading on mobile) can look so beautiful and unique when the light is let in.

I thought about how I can position myself differently now and in the future, to continue to open up to letting the light shine into any unattended dark corners of my soul.

Thursday, March 3rd.

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We often need to remind ourselves (and each other) to breathe. We get interrupted often and are working on providing our kids with the guidance and trailing they need to become obedient, decent human beings.

"Training." The whole concept of having children, let alone 5 of them, is mind-numbing for an ever increasing number of people we meet. That's ok! For us, the idea of likening them to a litter of kittens or puppies has given us a lot more patience with them. They love to wrestle, play, scratch each other, bite, whine, yelp and love unconditionally. It is the training that is hard but we are getting there. We are so thankful for the people we have close to us that taking part in speaking into their lives and personalities.

PS: We did not buy or adopt a kitten.

Wednesday, March 2nd.

Twice a week we do an open house at our new Community Centre in San Pedro. It is a small house that we have signed a lease for that we will be using as a guest house for volunteers and a café for gatherings and selling Maria's coffee. 

Wednesdays and Fridays we have been hosting these "open house" events. They are starting to pack out nicely and we are getting to know the people from the neighborhood and town. It's a relaxed setting and Christina and I get to do what we do best: host, cook and feed. We have built a deck with a small firepit in the central courtyard/living-room with a window that leads to the kitchen. It's a fun space as we can visit and entertain while get to learn about people's lives and tell them about what we are doing here.

Tuesday, March 1st.

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A couple Saturdays ago, I asked Owen to interview one of the girls from club and ask her what she thought of all of the garbage on the beach.
Expecting some sort of adult answer like, “it’s a tragedy, it should not be there”, she replied with a big smile, “I like all of the garbage on the beach, because we get to have club, and go pick it up together!” 

Monday, Feb 28th.

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Christina's talent never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of her! Just a few short weeks ago she started making "eye of God" mandalas out of string and sticks. Now, after approaching a hotel and restaurant in our area, her art hangs on their walls on exhibit and for sale. They look so professional. I love watching this woman love what she is doing. No, not every moment is easy. In fact, months at a time have been downright hard. We are living a real life and it is packed with uncertainty. YET, there is a beautiful constant common denominator that unifies us and that is the vision of sharing Love. We know what we are here to do and that keeps us on track and focused. This deep "knowing" that we are and will always be there for one another has sunken in more than ever since we arrived here together in an unknown land to develop our passions together. We see the same for our kids. It's great! Spending large amounts of time doing what she loves most and using the proceeds to help others. This feels pretty good right now and we're just going to enjoy that.

Friday, Feb 25nd.

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I've decided to upload a bunch of recent pictures, unrelated to one another for today's daily scroll. I wanted to do this with a simple statement:

 

 "This is our life"

This is our life and pretty much everything out there is out of our control, out of our circle of influence. Some friends have asked me why I don't write more about everything that is happening in the world and offer an opinion on it. War, Covid, the mandates, the Convoy, Russia, the Government, etc. I am going to address that and only this once. The answer is simple. We are in Guatemala and I am writing about our life. This is a blog about what our family has become and what it is able to be. It's a blog about available, yet usually unconsidered choices, and our right as parents to do what we have deemed best for our kids. Perhaps unconventional, but we are proud to see the progress our kids have made in areas few we know have made a priority: cultural and global awareness, second (and third) languages, and ecology. We realize there has been sacrifice. However, the very definition of sacrifice is trading something of prized value for something even more valued. Those trades hurt at times but we trust that something of more value than we had before will come of it all. As for talking about anything other than what we are experiencing here and learning as a family? No thanks, there's enough of that out there done by other people that know more about all those other things than I do. This is my blog, about my family life, the only thing I truly know anything about!  : )

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Thursday, Feb 24nd.

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10 months into our new life in Guatemala we are seeing that learning to live in a place that has continual water shutoffs, power outages and notoriously unstable internet takes at least 11 months. haha! Actually it really isn't that bad. We kind of like it actually. 

We like it because it challenges us and our priorities. Today, we had no power, all day. I'm writing this on my phone knowing that I'll have to upload it once I have power and the internet back in my life. It's 8:15pm now, so that should be tomorrow but not 100% sure. People in North America actually pay to go to places where they can be disconnected from these amenities. We call it "the bush". If we don't have a camper with wifi or satellite, or even sometimes when we do, some call it "roughing it". Here, it's life as usual. 

I walked by a restaurant this evening. It was beautiful, still open, cooking with gas, still serving people; no lights, no mobiles, just couples with their food and a candle between them.

Wednesday, Feb 23nd.


We've all had these moments. They are the moments when you have no idea how to clean up that much egg off the ground!
This exercise of the Daily Scroll has prompted some excellent trips down memory lane. The Daily Scroll is as much about revisiting the moments that I felt needed to be documented back then as capturing our life now.
They're moments that I knew I would forget or block from my memory but were important enough to claim some proof of their existence, so I would take a picture, hoping to laugh about it one day.
Hard moments.
Owen and I have learned the messier and more complicated the moment in the present, the better the story in the future.
Kids are messy, and that's ok; they need to be. They need to feel things, explore textures, taste bugs, and be allowed to make messes and break eggs. (At least once!)
It's gotten a lot easier for us to live more outdoors, where the kids can break eggs, taste bugs, smear mud on their bodies, and can carry out their explorations without the risk of damaging the carpet.
On my journey with mothering, I've observed how much of my job has been to domesticate the child. I haven't felt great about it at times, while other times I've felt it necessary. It seems there is a needed time and place for both the tame and the wild and health is all about finding that balance. 
For the sake of sanity, I surrender to the modern world with rules of behavior, tact, and discipline. However, I don't think I'll ever let go of the dream of some tribal existence where we can all be just a bit wilder.

-Christina

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Faye at 1.5, back in Canada.

Tuesday, Feb 22nd.

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The honor of being invited into a family's home for a meal here is really something special. We are learning that because of the size of the typical family here, outside of funerals or birthdays, invitations to friends are rather uncommon. This is not because of a lack of community, on the contrary. Community is so strong here that few ever stay home during the day. Living occurs outside in the town, on the sidewalks, in the parks. Meals are shared by families within what would be considered "extended family" in Canada. Uncles, aunts, grandparents all usually live within the block, if not, within the same quarters.

As we get to know Edwin and Sofia more, they are adopting us into their beautiful families.

Edwin's father moved to the area about 20 years ago and built a large mud baker's oven. Each day they start a wood fire and bake an average of 2000 buns. We recently enjoyed a fire oven pizza night with 23 other of their family members.

The kids play, the adults work together on the food. We shared our pizza recipes with them and they shared theirs with us. A few of the uncles and aunts have started sending their kids to club and we are enjoying the continuity and familiarity of interacting with the same faces on a daily basis.

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Monday, Feb 21st.

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Columbia.
 

Now over half her life has been spent in Guatemala. It is so interesting watching her and imagining what her childhood memories will be.

Today something cool happened. Our friends Sofia and Edwin had Columbia and Katie over while they were preparing fish in the kitchen. Columbia walked over, pointed and said ch’uu’. While Christina and I would have never caught how fascinating this. After spending the last 8 months of mornings with Mayan women in the kitchen, Columbia has begun learning the Mayan dialect of Tzu'tujil as much as she is learning English, and Spanish! As it turns out ch'uu' means fish and Sofia exclaimed to us how intentional she was about communicating.

In this video Columbia is being trained by Elena, who speaks no Spanish or English how to make tortillas over a traditional Guatemalan firewood stove. Thankful for these extremely unique cultural experiences she has as a 1.5-year-old living in a developing country.

Enjoying the blog?

Friday, Feb 18th.

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Royal

What a gift this boy is in our lives. We were talking the other day, maybe telling some friends how sick he was for the first three years of his life, and before moving here still suffered debilitating eczema.
It was a big deal at the time, and took hours everyday to take care of his special needs. Many people, unless they have had first hand experience with sick kids, could never understand how much it takes from the parents to care for a sick child, emotionally, mentally, physically, all of it. Thru it all, it taught me compassion, not to judge others, they are doing things differently, we all have our reasons and limitations due to circumstances. Sometimes these circumstances are out of people’s control. Compassion!
As we were telling about what happened to Roy, he was looking shocked, he couldn’t remember any of it! All the pain, discomfort, none of it.

 

-Christina

Thursday, Feb 17th.

Earthquake! 

The noise hit me before the motion. It's like a train that you can hear coming from miles away and you can run but you certainly cannot hide. It wasn't just a tiny one either. There were mixed reports depending on what website we looked at, but the consensus ranged between 6.2-6.5 on the Richter Scale.

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Having grown up in Peru and been rigorously trained and drilled in school all through my childhood, I shot out of bed and started calling everyone out of bed to stand in a doorway while the intensity magnified. Except, nobody got up. Until the shaking sopped, I couldn't get anyone out of bed. Everyone except Katie woke up to feel the intense shaking but in the 23 seconds of shaking, there was no convincing anyone that it was any safer out of bed. It occurred at 1:13 am, so we were all very out of it. Our hearts were pounding so hard! The electricity cut out but Christina proceeded to get out of bed to survey the damage. "There's debris everywhere! She said. She stepped on some of the debris and, "oh wait- haha, it just Pringles chips Katie must've spilled last night."

It was quite the adrenal rush and it gave us the opportunity to make a safety plan as a family. We stayed up for the following hour reading about what causes earthquakes and how to prepare for them. The shake did cause several rockslides and one death. We are thankful to all be ok and to have had a 'warning' to be able to prepare well for the future. 

Here's a little video from a news station in the city for a survey of the damage and magnitude of the shake. Enjoy the clip keeping in mind that these agencies make their money by capturing the worst and would never get any views if they filmed all millions of homes that were not affected in the slightest. 

Wednesday, Feb 16th.

Some reflections on what we have started doing and why we aren't just staying one year.

It's been such a great year. Incredible actually. We have talked about what it would be like going back to Canada and all our kids just get upset! They have found some roots and they love what this beautiful country has become to them. Columbia, our youngest, has now spent over half her life here!

This was meant to be an experiment of giving. Maybe it should have been called the "giving up" experiment. We felt like we were on a treadmill back home and working so hard but never really having time to truly enjoy the beautiful family we had created together. A lot of stress. To recap on what a lot of readers already know, we simply decided that we would give up trying so hard, working jobs that we weren't enjoying and that were bad for us. And then just taking a glance at what it would look like to just do things we love doing. Just give our time to others in doing those things. Could it work?

I remember Christina asking me what I would do if money was no issue. I would write music, write a book maybe, share my past experiences that have really helped me grow with others. Spend more time with kids, help people that want it and are willing to accept help while putting in the work as well. I asked her the same question back and she would do more art, learn a new language, cook for people. The next day I started working on the first page of this website.

It looked a lot different then! 

I will continue with more on this tomorrow but I want to let everyone know that so far this whole thing was ENTIRELY worth it to us. It has not been without pain, disappointment, discomfort or stress. I fact, there has been a lot of that and I know there are a lot of areas we could have executed better and will continue to try to improve on. However, the execution of our tasks in this job we have carved out for ourselves is truly the realization of us living out our dreams. It feels good to be giving and be doing it with the support that we have. Thank you to all of you for helping us make this dream a reality. Your reading, your emails of encouragement, notes, link shares, etc. Just... thank you!

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Tuesday, Feb 15th.

Simon turns 12 today. Being that this young man is our firstborn, not only is it his birthday, it is the anniversary of when we became parents! Such a humbling honor to have the privilege of guiding and accompanying him through these first 12 years of his.

Simon's greatest qualities are definitely related to his good humor and ability to get along with anyone. He is fine-tuning how not to be funny 'all the time' and to find the right moments for the right jokes but it's a happy problem to have! 

He is generous beyond his means and often gives the last of anything he has away to someone that would enjoy it more. We are so proud of him.

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Simon is also a young man with an incredible sense of adventure. We have discussed a few 12-year-old-birthday-becoming-a-man-right-of-passages together and we are planning to climb the nearby San Pedro volcano together and camp at the top overnight. I will let you all know if we land up doing it and how it goes!

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It's been really encouraging to us to see Simon's friendship with his brother grow over the year here in Guatemala. The initial language barrier brought them close and taught them how to depend on one another: for a playmate, a walking buddy or for figuring out unknown Spanish words when playing with other neighborhood children. 

Lastly, Simon has taught us so much about prayer and we are so grateful for his curious mind and sensitive heart. He reminds us every night about evening prayers and has a beautiful way about talking to God. 

We love you Simon and it's been an honor being your parents so far!

Birthday Congratulations can be sent to:

comelook@thegivingexperiment.com

Monday, Feb 14th.

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We've never really gone too long without a vehicle before. There is so much programming that we have become aware of in ourselves since arriving here. On one hand it can seem so obvious and on there other it's like, "No, I needed a minivan in Canada." But, did we? Once we had our 4th child, I just assumed we needed a big vehicle. Safety, comfort, warmth, etc. Maybe what we needed all along was to just move to somewhere where we DIDN'T need a minivan. Well, now we are here and are enjoying the simplicity and health of walking or the community of taking a tuk-tuk. 

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For those of you that do not know what a tuk tuk is, click here. In short, they are little 3 wheeled moto-taxis with a seat for the driver in the front and a bench in the back for passengers. The fare here is about .75 cents per adult to anywhere in town. This picture was taken on the way into town after our club day on Saturday, from the backseat facing the driver. 11 people and a dog. That's 2 families, one of 4 and one of 7 packed in nicely and getting from point A to point B. It works. It might not be the most comfortable ride and there is no DVD player, but hey, who needs it when you are laughing about how scrunched up your legs are the whole ride? 

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Sunday, Feb 13th.

We have been working hard on setting up forms of revenue to support our project here. The club just keeps growing! We stumbled upon a little rental house that we felt would make an amazing community center/guest house/coffee shop just over a month ago. We agreed on a 4-year lease and began putting some serious sweat equity into the place. We are about 3 weeks away from finishing the terrace coffee shop and final bedroom.

 

We are very excited about the space.

We have been holding open house dinner events there every Wednesday and Friday. We have a small courtyard where we installed a firepit and a seating area that fits about a dozen guests. It has packed out often and we enjoy getting to know people from the neighborhood or tourists interested in volunteering with us to help pick up garbage or do crafts during club days.

 

The house is already set up to host 2 couples or guests and is currently being lived in by a couple that has been volunteering with our project over the last 2 months. Their names are Alliey and Jason. This Red Deer couple has been an incredible help to our family and project. We met them in Mexico when we renewed our visas last November. While Jason has been helping me with construction and organization for kids club, Alliey has also been extremely involved with our kids, especially Katie and Faye. Our girls love them to pieces.

 

We are so thankful to have the opportunity to meet likeminded travelling friends. They are a pro-active and very mature (but young!) couple and we are proud to call them friends.

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Come Volunteer.

Get in touch so we can start colaborating together.

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