Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Gift of Now
Sitting on the couch after eating a breakfast of eggs, beans, plantains, and of course tortillas, I look down at my feet-they’re clean.  A sign and a promise of a new, exciting day ahead.  Especially if you’ve been wearing sandals as others and myself have.  

Shifting my gaze to the left I spot a man who is not part of our group standing next to the table.  For some reason he looks slightly familiar although there’s no way I know him and he’s probably one of Candace’s Friends. 
            Remembering what Candace has taught us so far about Guatemalan culture and etiquette, I approach the man, “buenos dias” (good morning) I say.
            He returns the gesture and we ask each other how we’re doing, then leading to, “commo te lamma?” what is your name? 
He told me his name was Gregorio, instantly I remembered him, I did know him!  Promise fulfilled. He gave a tour of the mountains the last trip here and educated us on something called Permaculture.  Permaculture relates to agriculture and has to do with the ability of an area to self sustain itself. 

(Pictured above: Gregorio)
            Both trips, this one included, we talked specifically about how people can work with the land for this self-sustaining system.  In the end both people and the land benefit from it.  The best example of the permaculture in action is something called a chicken tractor.  Just imagine a group of chicken in a designated space living the life.  All they have to do is what chicken do: eat, drink, sleep, and of course go to the bathroom.  That last part is very important because as they do that they’re fertilizing the soil.  In essence these chickens live large and in return they give the farmers great soil, call it a deal.  Not to mention they live on some grade A eye candy.

            Prior to our experience around what all of us considered paradise (I think that’s a safe bet that we all did), Gregorio gave us the opportunity of a meditation like practice. We stood in a circle hands held, eyes closed gently, and listened to Gregorio and Val, one of our other great leaders as she interpreted for us.
 “Water.  Imagine yourself as this element.  Imagine everything that has to do with this element.”  Translated Val.
As I imagined the essence of water I was encapsulated by the actual river behind us.    Sounding like white water falling from high rocks plunging into the depths below and then galloping along the pebbles of the bottom of the stream and through the plants that grew there.
“Air, Imagine yourself as this element now”
With that I was evaporated and floating into the sky higher and higher.
“Ground or Earth”
Finally I had completed the cycle to the end.  Falling as rain from a cloud then becoming a worm burrowing itself deeper and deeper into the cool earth. 

            Slowly everyone opened their eyes.  The wind blew through us as if we were trees standing in the wind.  For that moment it seemed I felt very present, very mindful of only what was what was going on at the moment.  For me I am going to do my best to maintain that attitude of mindfulness the rest of the trip and into my everyday life.  It is something that lets things happen naturally in their own way without being forced.

            As a group we’ve also been talking about this topic of observing and learning instead of problem solving.  Counterintuitive right?  Especially on a mission trip.  However, I fully buy into it.  I want to talk more about this and shine some light on it later this trip.  I hope you stay tuned for more.  Tomorrow we start our experience with the community of San Juan.  We will be building stoves.  Spoiler alert: it’s about more than that.

Happy New Year!

-Taylor Baretz


  1. Excellent post Taylor. Really felt like I was there with you. Keep 'em coming! - Dad