Nearing our 30th wedding anniversary (a few years ago), Mary Beth and I discussed traveling to “somewhere warm.” “Thirty years is a big deal,” she told me, “and we have never taken a vacation where there are palm trees and ocean views.” I don’t like “touristy” places — I’m not a fan of man-made swimming pools and concrete. I’m not a golfer, a fisherman, or interested in tennis. I suggested looking for a resort in the British Virgin Islands, which we’d learned about from a priest friend who we knew in our early-married life. He’d told us it is a wonderful place to visit.
The resort I found online was beautiful. The cabins, set just steps from the white sand and sparkling blue lagoon, were sumptuous and inviting. High tea was served every day at 4 p.m., along with cakes and scones. The website warned us that high tea included a dress code (slacks, shoes and socks, and a button shirt for men). How cool was that? I learned, over the course of a few emails, that it would cost $2,000 apiece, which is very steep in our world. But hey, it was 30 years. Then I learned the price was not per week. It was per day.
“Honey,” I called, “I changed my mind about the British Virgin Islands.” She scanned the price tag. When she regained consciousness, we set about planning a trip better suited to our budget and our values.
Mary Beth and I traveled to a warm place, where a lovely but simple room awaited within a vine-covered, two story building. There were palm trees, fruit trees, coffee trees and brilliant flowers galore. No ocean view, but we rose each morning to see the rising sun obscured slightly by the smoke twisting skyward from an active volcano. High tea was replaced by a great morning cup of coffee. Mary Beth and I — along with eight people who’d traveled with us — took turns preparing our own meals, doing our dishes, and cleaning our living quarters.
Over our 10-day vacation, we met many beautiful people; often in their own homes, which usually had a dirt floor and flimsy walls. The better homes had a roof of corrugated tin. Every homeowner offered something to eat and drink. We held and played with developmentally disabled infants and children at a hospital in town. We picked coffee beans and worked on a building project at a local church. Our trip changed our lives forever!
If you’d like to learn more about the remarkable work done in Guatemala through Dave and Bina Huebsh and Rising Villages, google it and make a reservation. You will never be the same.
Curt Hanson, Director of Stewardship and Development, Diocese of Saint Cloud