Arrivals can be fraught with surprises, as I have learned through personal experience. My own arrival in Guatemala, for example, took an unexpected detour through El Salvador. The next arrivals were a bit of a scheduling surprise to Mother Ivonne, the director of the orphanage. The day after my arrival, we were pleased to welcome a wonderful team of 3 University of Indiana dental students, Neil Smith, Ewelina Ciula, and Evan Robbins, led by their teacher, Dr. Odette Aguirre-Zero. Dr. Odette is a native Guatemalan who resides in Indiana and brings a team of students every year to treat the children of the orphanage. This team was meticulous in their care of, not only the children, but all the staff and the nuns, as well. I was so sorry to see them leave on Friday evening.
Friday saw a big event at the Guatemala City airport -- the arrival of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico on his first visit here. It was covered by all the local news media. Met. Athenagoras is the heirarch who accepted Fr. Andres Giron and his many followers into the Orthodox Church. Fr. John and Fr. Andres wisked him away to Nueva Concepcion where he is being treated like visiting royalty. I, unfortunately, am not involved in any of the festivities because of the distance and my responsibilities here. Tomorrow, Sunday, they will be ordaining more new priests at the monastery church by Lake Amatitlan. I hope to receive some photos, which I will post.
I was originally told to expect 4 out-of-town students to arrive on Monday. Three of them would be 18-year-old girls from the remote mountain village of Avocate. These girls had never left home and had never seen a modern city. The fourth would be a priest´s wife from Nueva Concepcion. Yesterday (Friday) we suddenly received a call saying that they were arriving today and were already enroute. The trip from Avocate takes 2 days by bus. This sent Mother Ivonne into a tizzy because she needs to organize accommodations for all visitors while still maintaining order with the orphanage schedule. It also surprised me because I have been working feverishly to get all my patterns and teaching materials ready for Monday. Information has a way of getting skewed here. We were given the name of the wrong bus station where the girls would arrive. By the time Mother Ivonne tracked them down, the frightened girls had been cowering timidly in the station for 2 hours and were hungry, too. The other surprise was that there were only 2 of them. I was worried that the other 2 were lost somewhere. We were not able to contact Fr. John until late this evening, only to be told that the other 2 women would probably not be coming.
My two new charges are petite, classic Mayan beauties with dark eyes and jet black hair. They came dressed in their traditional floor-length black skirts, colorful blouses, and black jackets. The only luggage that each carried was a small plastic bag. Their lack of possessions was not a result of poverty, but a reflection of the world that they inhabit. Avocate is lost, not only to geography, but also to time. It is a place where life is simple and needs are few. A body can wear only one set of clothes at a time. Who needs more? I hope we don´t corrupt these beautiful, innocent creatures.
The other surprise arrival came early this morning. Up before dawn to work on my patterns, I heard a strange fluttering and flapping in the bathroom directly behind my work table. Peering in, I discovered a bewildered bat which had likely flown through the window vent in pursuit of the mosquito which was in pursuit of my blood. I flipped on the light and closed the door. The bat would think it was daytime, find a place to hang, and be easy to catch. I worked for a while and then decided it was time to act. With the immortal words of Lewis Carroll´s Mad Hatter running through my mind, ¨"Twinkle, twinkle little bat, how I wonder where you´re at," and armed with a waste basket, I went in after my prey. The bat, hanging off the edge of a shower shelf, had quicker reflexes than I did and refused to be caught. My catch and release plan thwarted, I closed the bathroom door again. My winged visitor eventually found his own way back out through the window vent.
Tomorrow is Sunday. Who knows what surprises might arrive?