As I stood at the top of the Guatemalan mountain, tears streaming down my face, I asked the Lord, “who am I?” All off a sudden I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere or with anyone. I was in my beloved country but felt like I didn’t fit somehow. I was born in Guatemala but I know very little about Guatemala. I still feel like a foreigner in my own country. I want to learn more but I realize it’s a process.
|Lake Atitlan, the lake I have to cross to visit my Guatemalan family.|
As I continued to process, I realized traveling through the countries of Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Guatemala produced a sense of wondering where is it exactly I belong. I have lived in all of these countries, including Costa Rica, Ecuador and the United States, but don’t feel like I’m at home in any of these countries. At the time, I did feel at home in each of these countries. Sound confusing? I have friends in each of these countries. I have come to love and appreciate each culture. At the same time, due to the short time lived in each country made for some difficulties.
At the present, Costa Rica is my home. I have put down roots here. The longer I stay the deeper the roots. I have invested time, energy and love into its people. It feels good to call it my HOME. But I don’t know how long I will live here. God is the only one who knows that.
I have lived in Latin America 30 years. I was born in Guatemala and yet I have a USA passport. When I go through the immigration line in the US I am I US citizen. And when I get to the immigration line in Costa Rica I go with the Costa Rican's because I'm a Costa Rican resident. My first language is English. I love chicken soup with rice. At the same time I love roast beef Manhattan’s. I wear flip flops outside the home, a taboo in Latin America. I prefer Spanish worship. I read better in English and yet there are some words better said in Spanish. The Latins talk to me as if I were one of them. The North Americans talk to me as if I were one of them.
|I am Latin and proud of being one.|
They say for a third culture person; all these feeling are normal. The fact that one has developed one’s own culture which is a mixture of one’s home culture and adopted culture. In my case, there would be a mixture of several cultures, because each country is different.
I have to be honest, I consider being a third culture person blessing but at the same time very difficult. It has its pros and cons. Pro because I can choose which country I want to be from depending how I feel or what is convenient at the time! Sometimes I speak Spanish, sometime I speak English! Sometimes I tell people I’m 100% Chapina (Guatemalan). Other times I say, “I’m from the United States!” Other times I say I am indigenous. I have also met so many people from all over! I have eaten foods from all over! I have visited ALL kinds of churches! I had so many rich experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world!
Con’s? It’s been difficult to develop long term relationships. It’s been difficult to be away from family, whom I miss terribly. It’s been difficult not being able to spend Christmas and other holidays with family. It’ It’s been difficult to know where to call home at times. It’s been difficult not knowing exactly where I come from. Every time I meet someone new I have to explain why I speak English and look Spanish. I know if I’m Latin I should like coffee, but I didn’t drink it in my baby bottle like the Latin’s did. Yes, I have an accent, but that’s because it’s my second language. Trying to explain to others what it is exactly you do is difficult. I do not live in a grass hut. We do have electricity. I have a car. Etc. Etc.
In reality, I have the best of both words! Something few people have the privilege of living. That day as I stood on top of the mountain in Guatemala, my husband by my side, the Lord reminded me of several things. First, I am his daughter. He has a purpose for me from the beginning. God also used my life to answer one of my parent’s prayers. They wanted a baby girl and there I was! Second, focus on the truth. I belong to him! He adopted me! He is my Father. Third, we are pilgrims traveling through this earth. Life is short. I need to make my life count. My life has been used to bless the Latin people, even though at times I don’t feel like one of them. Continue to bless and minister to the people I have given you! That is what I heard God saying to me.
|My adoption verse.|