As mentioned in my previous post, Fr. John, Angel, and I made the 3-hour trek from the noisy congestion of Guatemala City to the peaceful, rural environs of Nueva Concepcion. We would be staying at a beautiful compound with a group of 15 older boys from the orphanage and a few Orthodox monks and priests. It is here that Fr. John has been training the newly ordained priests in Liturgics.
It was this change in location that made me realize how a country that is small in territory (the size of Ohio) can encompass great contrasts. The first difference that struck me was the climate. In Guatemala City, situated one mile above sea level, temperatures range from comfortably pleasant to chilly. There were nights when I slept with 2 blankets on my bed. Here in Nueva Concepcion, the temperature also ranges between two points: very hot and insufferable. The additional high humidity and the lack of a breeze provide a constant source of the health benefits of a steam bath. In the city, we were surrounded by brick walls, concrete, and acrid odors. Here, in the country, there are walls of lush, green vegetation with brilliant flowers springing from every nook, perfuming the air. The incessant honking of city traffic and wailing sirens have been replaced by 6 honking geese that waddle about, patrolling their domain and the crowing of a proud rooster, commanding his harem of hens. Life is slower and simpler here. During church services at the orphanage, our souls were lifted to heavenly heights by the cherubic voices of the children, young ladies, and nuns. I was not prepared for the explosion of robust, manly voices that chant the hymns in the Nueva Concepcion chapel. The boys who live at this school are powerful prayer warriors, akin to the archangels.
If, as the old adage says, variety is the spice of life, our lives are being seasoned to perfection here in Guatemala.