Around the World Day 1: Guatemala

I spent several adventorous months with the Diefenbacher family immersed in the Guatemalan culture (and laughing at the difference in being an American or a Canadian- Do you grill or barbeque? I really don’t care which it is, as long as I get in on the finished product 😋) All that aside- Valerie and her family have been a blessing in my life and I’m excited she took the time to add her wisdom to my project! -kh

The teen girls giggled and munched on their cupcakes, flipping back polished hairdo’s and comparing the crafts they had just completed. All seemed to be enjoying the rare treat I had provided. Baking items like flour and icing sugar were not available in the village, so cakes were usually in high demand.

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Two girls, however, shy little missies, skittish as colts, carefully tucked their cupcakes into paper napkins. As I passed one of them her drink, she peeked from under dark bangs to ask me shyly, “May I take this home?”

I knew the home to have an unusual level of commitment to each other, a father who didn’t drink, an ancient grandmother and two little brothers, all of whom seemed to care for each other.

“How sweet,” I thought, “she wants to share it with someone.” Nevertheless, I hesitated, picturing the busy village streets. It seemed a high likelihood that several other young eyes would see the treat and show up shortly at my door for their share. And I tried so hard to make this afternoon ‘for young ladies only’, a place where they could be relieved of their everlasting maternal duties, a space to be girls and hear Bible truths and make a thing of beauty.


I couldn’t resist the pleading in her eyes, though, so I brought the obligatory black bag and carefully packaged the sugary delicacies.

Later that evening, I told my family about this little bit of generosity I had witnessed. It was a bright spot in the seemingly endless chain of demanding dependency on the mission house.

“I don’t know if it was for the grandma, or mom, or the little boys,” I said, “but I’m sure they wanted to share.”

“Could be,” our fourteen year old son said nonchalantly, “but I saw a couple of dogs cleaning up two cupcakes when I was coming down the street just now.”

When we returned home, I had the privilege of discussing Guatemalan traditions that confused me with a Guatemalan national who had lived in Canada for many years. It was then that I received this startling news.

“It is not acceptable to refuse food that you don’t like, but it is acceptable to ask to have it wrapped to go. Then you can dispose of it however you like.”

And I grieved for my unloved cupcakes. And the many misunderstandings that were part of our experience in Guatemala.

-Valerie Diefenbacher


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