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


Introductory Thoughts on Culture

Culture- that which defines a group of people, the way they think, their world view, the habits and practices they have, their holidays, their individual idiosyncrasies

What is your culture? No- don’t say you don’t have one- this is something like a personality- we all are blessed with this and it makes us unique.
I am a conservative Anabaptist. (Christian most importantly) I am a farm girl, living in the Shenandoah Valley. Talk about a cultural smorgasbord. It is good to analyze myself upon occasion. My way of life makes perfect sense to me. I know (for the most part) what is expected and acceptable: I know where it’s ok to wear barn boots (to the barn) and when dress shoes are appropriate. I know when it’s ok to buy baked goods at the Bakery and when it’s better to make them at home (if you at least remove the Wal-Mart sticker- that helps) I know that a card in the mail is a wonderful day brightener. I know that it’s fun to have company- but it’s best to have a phone call to arrange a visit. If your not planning to stay- just stop by on an errand- this rule is hits the gray area. I know that if someone invites you for a meal- it’s a good thing to take a small gift as a token of your appreciation. I know that when dessert is served, you must painstakingly wait until all guests are served, and the host picks up his fork. (Ice cream is the exception) I know that a proper greeting is “Hi how are you” and the correct answer is always “I’m fine, thanks. How are you”. This makes sense to me. This is how “we” do it.


And guess what? “We” does not include include all the world. In fact, it doesn’t include many people at all. Maybe part of these would agree with your list- maybe not. I know for me it’s easy to get into the rut of assuming that “my way” is “the way”. SURPRISE- it’s not. There is so much to be gained by looking around us and appreciating each other for who we are. That’s not to say that as a Christian- I can fully embrace every cultural practice out there. Some things are wrong. We need to go to Scripture and examine things thru God’s Eyes and pray for wisdom and the ability to Love like He does.

I’ve been trying to sort out the difference in Culture and Traditions. In a lot of ways- they are the same. “We are shaped by culture, transmit culture, influence it and reshape it” as we pass it on to the next generation. (Thanks DNI workshop 2/15 for your wisdom on this subject) Tradition is “the handing down of beliefs, opinions, customs and stories, especially by word of mouth or practice.

I know that God loves different cultures. As I think about the differences in the worship services I’ve attended- can you imagine how much variety it is for Him when His children cry out to Him in their own unique way? This is a few random prayer times that I’ve experienced in the recent past…

Mississippi Southern Baptist prayer: The preacher is praying and the congregation is all joining in…. “And We ask- if there’s been anything ANYTHING yes anything,Jesus that has been shared today MmmHmm that isn’t purely Scriptural Yes Jesus We ask you to remove it and throw into the depths yes Lord of the sea That’s right the very depths, Praise Jesus….”

Latino Apostolic Pre-service Prayer: Everybody prays. Some standing, some kneeling. Everyone deeply involved in their own prayers. Praying audibly at the same time. Because of the language barrier- I don’t catch much, cept “Gloria a Dios” and “Cristo” and “Santo, Santo, Santo” (holy, holy, holy) The noise level rises and falls. Sometimes crying, sometimes, clapping… Worship

Amish House Church Service: Again a huge language barrier, but my wimpy back is relieved when everyone drops off of their backless benches to kneel for prayer. The prayer is led by a minister and goes on until my feet protest. Suddenly everyone scrambles to their feet and facing the back of the building for an unknown amount of time. And as the prayer concludes, everyone does a small knee bow, so the entire congregation appears to do a small hop. And the prayer concludes.


Such a wide variety of people with very similar needs, expressing themselves through worshiping the same Almighty Heavenly Father.

 He Reigns by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor

It’s the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain. It’s the song of the forgiven drowning out the Amazon rain,the song of Asian believers filled with God’s holy fire. It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation, a love song born of a grateful choir.

It’s all God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns.”

Let it rise above the four winds, caught up in the heavenly sound. Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals to the faithful gathered underground. Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation, some were meant to persist.Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples, none rings truer than this.

All God’s children singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

And all the powers of darkness tremble at what they’ve just heard. ‘Cause all the powers of darkness can’t drown out a single word When all God’s children sing out, “Glory, glory, hallelujah, He reigns. He reigns, He reigns.”

Blessings- Kendra

Tell me a Story

“Once upon a time when Father was a little, little boy” I wonder how many times I heard this growing up. All stories started this way and usually went into some elaborate tale about Aunt Martha Ann and Aunt Ella Rose and Aunt Thelma Jean and the hero, of course, the fearless only brother. But I learned a lot through those stories, of life when my dad was younger. About his family, their area and what meant the most to them. And though lots of things have changed, the memories don’t. And neither does the reality- I still love stories.

I’m not sure when I first noticed different cultures… My parents hosted Fresh Air Children before I arrived so my world was interspersed with that from the beginning. Our church sponsored several Ukrainian families in the early 90s. Their daughters always wore such beautiful bows in their hair, and they gave us a number of these beautiful silky red and pink bows. We would BEG mother to put them in our hair… But somehow they always looked a lot more dismal on us than they did on them. Regardless we wore them with pleasure. (Mother is just telling me that once she relented and let me wear a bow to church and everybody wondered who that new Ukrainian girl was- so she must have gotten the art down pat eventually- lol)


Our family hired one of the young men to help on the farm. Victor K. We girls loved him, which brings me to what I think is my first cross cultural memory: Victor’s parents made it to America several years after their children had arrived. And our congregation gathered in the church basement to welcome them and celebrate. Somehow Victor’s mom figured out who my dad was and everybody stood around and smiled as she met him. Apparently she was grateful for his influence in Victor’s life, because she grabbed his face and kissed one cheek and then the other back and forth until her head covering (the Ukrainian ladies wore a thin scarf) fell off… As a young girl I was wide-eyed… And falling totally in love with the beauty of different cultures.

So in order to celebrate this on a local and international level- Paradise Mounting Musings is hosting a story time. I want to hear from you. What has been your cultural experiences with your neighbor down the road or on the foreign field? I’m planning to post a story a day until we are out of stories- so email me-


Let’s learn together and celebrate as we share how beautifully unique God has created us! Looking forward to hearing from you! Blessings- Kendra


When my #2 fear becomes reality

There are a few scenarios that enter my mind occasionally that make me worry. Things that COULD happen… And wouldn’t you know- one of them actually did happen this past week.  And all the worrying in the world couldn’t have prepared me for it. It honestly made my day…

My number one fear is somebody being majorly injured in an accident.

My number two fear is being stranded out along the road with a whole bunch of ladies and a flat tire. My mind’s eye can come up with the exact scene: trip home from Lancaster. Bone weary. Flat tire. Emptying the box (of all the new fabric and cream filled doughnuts and everybody’s Christmas gifts) to remove it and wrestle the spare tire from under the van… There’s no beauty in this pic. None at all… I shiver at the thought.

I’m not fond of pulling a trailer. I don’t turn down a trip because of it-  but it’s more responsibility  and it’s more work- but that’s ok. From time to time, someone will fill a few miles with tales of their trailer woes… “the last trip we pulled a trailer, we had a flat tire, and no jack and then a wheel bearing went out- Sure were glad there were men along to handle it…” And my mind comprehends and my heart skips a beat… Ugh… What would I do?

My day Thursday got off to an unusual start- my mom beat my alarm clock by a few minutes to bring me breakfast in bed. Whatever would possess a lady to make breakfast for her adult daughter before 3:30 am is a mystery to me- but regardless- I don’t plan to move out any time soon 🙂 my mom is amazing… I knew it was going to be a good day!

The way that being a van driver works, is- you start each trip with what is called “pick up” and roam all over the country to each person’s house to pick them up.  There is no way to expedite this process and usually adds close to 1.5 hours at the beginning and ending of each trip.  But soon we (12 ladies and I) were to Rocky Cedars and were hooked up to the trailer loaded with clothes for Christian Aid Ministries and headed out into the darkness.

We hadn’t gone but a quarter of a mile when I got that annoying tire pressure warning on my van’s dash. I love GMC’s but I’m in a constant battle with their tire pressure gauge- somehow they tend to cry wolf…  Just in case there was an issue this round, I pulled into a gas station before we hit the interstate and when I got out of my van- before I even made it to the courtesy pressure gauge, my ears picked up that ominous hissssssssssssssssssssss… Oh boy…

I called my sleepy mechanic and filled him in on the situation as we tore back out 33 towards some warm, dry, shop with lots of lights. (my dear parents are very long-suffering) I told him I thought my uncle’s shop was the closest and Father said “well, see what you can find- I can come if you need me..”

So, I called my cousin at a cheery 5:30 am and explained to him as best  I could that there was an entire load of damsels in distress heading his way- could we use his shop? Very clever, I know. But I hated to out-right ask him to leave his warm house and change a tire.

As we rolled in the lane, he was walking towards the shop, and it took him about 5 seconds discover the nail in the tire, and get to work extracting the nail and plugging the tire. In the mean time, all 13 of us gathered around and watched our knight in shining armor and cowboy boots perform a surgery on the van’s tire. It was something to behold. (and it that wasn’t punishment enough, now I’m blogging about it 😉 )

In less than 10 minutes, he had the tire pressure back up to normal and we were on our way. The trailer did famously. We rolled into the CAM Clothes Packing Center at 8:31 ( they wanted to be there at 8:30) Wow.

It sounds really crazy, but this little incident made my day.Why? All day the verse from Phil 4:19 went over and over in my mind  “But my God will supply all your need…” My God supplies all MY needs.. It couldn’t have worked out better. God worked out all the details for me so beautifully, and my heart smiles at the reminder that He takes good care of me… (And who’s to say- should the flat tire happen on the way home from Lancaster- maybe we can feed the Good Samaritan that God sends along a cream filled doughnut or two)

So, my friend, I don’t know what your worst case scenario is, and if your cousin will bale you out… But I do know that God can and will work things out a lot more flawlessly than either you or I could… May He supply ALL your need…



Bonus Pics:

We enjoyed Skyline Dr last weekend… A hike to Dark Canyon Falls, almost full moon, lots of brightly colored leaves… Beautiful!

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