Hawaiian Pizza

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And now, from central Guatemala:

Hawaiian Pizza by FTF Field Worker Tom Hornyak (2018-2020)

We planned on making pizza with the Peace Corps volunteers over at Mayra’s house. Mayra is a native friend who sells vegetables in the local market. She’s a mother of two and loved the idea of homemade pizza. Easy plan right? Visit, talk, make dinner and leave. 

I was in charge of bringing a pineapple for the official topping. Mayra’ loves pineapple. I arrived to a dark cave, the lights were out and everyone was cooking by candlelight. Nice evening, right? Let’s fast forward to the situation one hour later;

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There is a 6-year-old girl riding a tricycle in circles in the kitchen. Michael, the 7-foot-tall Peace Corps volunteer, is opening the fiery hot stove and is trying to be extremely careful not to burn anyone with the pan. The 10-year-old son is kicking a soccer ball as hard as he can against the wall and it’s bouncing everywhere, knocking burning candles over. Mayra is escaping the situation and is totally engulfed by her phone. Eileen, the other FTF Field Worker, is feeling so sick she’s sitting quietly in the corner with her sunglasses on… in the dark. The other Peace Corps volunteer is drinking wine and doing chair yoga. The dog, Cinnamon, is excited and wagging his tail and tippy-tapping his paws awaiting crumbs. Did I mention that someone was playing Italian pizza making music on their phone? Yep, like a flash the evening became a poly-chromatic negative of the relaxed, bohemian pizza party I thought it would be. I sort of surrendered to it, chilling for a time in the absurdity of it all, enjoying my new Guatemala normal the best I could.

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The pizza party is a kind of metaphor, I think, for our lives as FTF Field Workers. Deep immersion takes you so far away from your western mindset. I thought I was going from point A to point B in a straight line, you know, eating pizza. Except we never arrived to point B, we arrived to point R along some sort of zigzag circle course. I left the dinner without knowing how to feel about it. Did we have pizza? Yes, and in the end it was delicious. Was it enjoyable? Well, it was… well, interesting to be sure. I don’t know really. But I do know that this whole party is very much like the projects we are working on here. I have a general idea how things will play out once they begin, but still we end up somewhere far off and unexpected. But that unexpected part isn’t really a problem, not as long as the project, and the party, progress authentically, along the path of love and commitment, toward the good and the sustainable. I think the party had lots of love in it for sure. It was wacky, but boy was it authentic. The thing that really gets me sometimes is my role in it all. Have I done my part well? I mean I certainly do things, but are they good things, needful things? How do I measure the experience? It’s a constant state of scratching my head and wondering what just happened and whether it’s even worth trying to analyze. How much control do we really have and how much can we plan towards our goals and future? These are the kind of things all of us think about here, and in Africa too. I think it is good to think about these things. To wonder. Our faith is that it makes for better projects in the end.

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