Regular readers will remember guestblogger Kacie Jesus, the Utah mother of five whose husband Ray (a native of Guatemala who moved to the US legally in 1989, but remained in the country illegally after his visa expired) was deported in August 2011. As Kacie reported back in July, she decided to move herself and the kids to Guatemala to be with their dad after a year apart. They’ve been in the Guatemalan countryside for almost 2 months now as they continue to wait out the legal process. Ray’s chances of coming back to the US anytime soon, however, are slim because he was charged with a DUI 13 years ago. Here’s an update from Kacie about the 7 weeks they’ve spent in Guatemala.
by Kacie Jesus
Used to the comforts of America, Guatemala has been a struggle. Our diet generally consists of tortillas, corn, and apples. We have to walk to a nearby mountain to chop firewood for the stove, and we carry it home on our backs. I am not good at starting fires so it can take me a very long time to prepare a meal when a Guatemalan woman is not around to help me get the fire going. We have to walk to find water. We have to boil it over a fire before we can drink it. We have to heat water to bathe ourselves. With 9 people in our home, I am always working to have enough drinking water on hand. We wash laundry by hand (including cloth diapers for my 1 year old and 8 year old autistic children) which takes a lot of time and isn’t fun. Our beds are filled with fleas. We have to take our bedding out in the sun everyday to pick the fleas off one-by-one.
It is very cold here in the mornings, and of course we have no heating inside the home. My children hate getting out of bed in the mornings. It warms up nicely during the day, but since it’s rainy season, it rains every single afternoon and night. The rain keeps us all stuck in the tiny house, which is miserable when the floors and walls are all dirty concrete. Also there are only a few kitchen chairs and our beds to sit on. We have no TV (which is fine), but my children keep themselves entertained with my laptop and a handful of DVDs.
We were going to home school the kids online through High Tech High, an online version of the Montessori school they attended in Utah. The internet here, however, rarely works. So now, the kids are not in school, which really scares me. I also know that I need to get my autistic son back to America soon so that we can get him the services he needs.
The poverty here is unbearable to see, and even with the little food we eat, we are better fed than most Guatemalans. In town, there are drunks around at all hours. There is a lot of robbery and theft here, and armed guards holding machine guns on street corners, which intimidates the kids. Ray walks with a machete for protection and I carry a knife and pepper spray. But we are okay if we stay in our own village because Ray knows almost everyone.
We still have not received an appointment from the Guatemalan embassy for Ray’s consular processing. My lawyer says that it should be any week now. At that appointment Ray will be denied because of his DUI 13 years ago, but my lawyer has filed a hardship waiver (because of our disabled son) that could allow him to return within a few weeks from his appointment. If denied, he may have to wait another year or more to return.
Even though it is very beautiful here in Guatemala, we are all ready to go back to our lives in Utah. But we will wait and see what happens with Ray’s consular appointment and waiver. If Ray has to wait another year to return to the US, I don’t know what we’ll do.
We are happy to be with Ray again but I feel I have traded one nightmare (living without Ray) for another (not enough food, no medical care, no school for the kids etc.). I feel like I am going to have to choose which life to live. Ray is much happier being with me and the kids. He said it’s a miracle to have his prayers answered and have us here with him. Ray gets really upset though when he thinks of maybe having to be separated from us again, and he wants to go home to Utah. After so much time in the United States, Guatemala doesn’t feel like home to him anymore. We are all okay for now and we are just praying for a miracle so that we can all return to the United States together soon!