There were quite a few missionaries assigned to the region where I was assigned. In charge of everything was President Turley, who was taking three years away from his profession as an eye surgeon in Idaho to serve as our mission president. Being that it was impossible for him to be able to do everything by himself, at all times there were two young missionaries (around 20 years old, just like me) who were his assistants. And that’s who picked me and my fellow traveling companions up from the airport, the assistants to the president, or AP’s as they were most often called.
Riding in the back of a van in Guatemala City was a lot like riding in the back of a bobsled with your eyes closed. Still, the quick, sharp turns didn’t keep my eyes from soaking in the crazy scenery around me. If the airport hadn’t already cured me of my misconception that people around the world were just like me, 15 minutes driving through the Guatemalan capital did.
“That guy’s peeing in the street!” one of my new missionary friends shouted.
“Ha ha,” one of the AP’s laughed. “You’ll get used to that pretty fast.”
And sure enough, it wasn’t an unusual occurrence. We noticed the same thing half a dozen more times before we got to our destination. We assumed that the AP’s were taking us to the mission headquarters, but we suddenly turned onto a quiet side street and parked right in the middle of the road.
Suddenly, as we were stepping out of the van, a score of shop owners came rushing out of their shops and started yelling at all of us. It didn’t take too long before the natives realized that there were only two people in our group who really knew the language.
“Blah blah blah blah blah,” they all yelled, getting louder and more riotous by the second, shoving each other to try to get in the faces of the AP’s.
Finally, after 60 long seconds of street rioting, everyone hung their heads except for one shop owner and they all moped back to their shop with their eyes on the ground.
“In here,” one of the AP’s guides us.
“What was that all about?” We asked.
“Oh, we were just bartering a price,” he said. “We’re here to get all of your pictures taken for President Turley’s wall and they were all sort of bidding for best price.”
“I thought they all wanted to kill us,” I said.to be continued...