Have I been here too long?!

A few years ago I was told a story of how to tell a first, second, and third time missionary. If you are drinking a glass of lemonade, and a fly lands in it, a first time missionary will ask for a new glass of lemonade. A second-timer will simply remove the fly, but continue to drink the lemonade. And a third-timer will look at the fly, and without interruption, drink the lemonade, fly and all, giving thanks for the extra nutrition! Last week I left Peru and moved on to Guatemala to begin my fifth month as a Kiva Fellow. Sitting down to a delicious lunch of tortillas, chicken, and rice, I reached for my glass to take a much-needed drink. After the first sip, I looked in the glass and noticed several dozen tiny ants floating on top of the could-be-so-refreshing pink beverage. I pondered for a moment, having already swallowed that first sip, and set the glass down, reflecting on this story I had once been told. I wasn’t about to ask for a new glass, as the others seated around me seemed to have the same added ‘nutrition’ in their glasses, so I figured it must be standard around here. I thought of scooping them out, but it wasn’t just a single fly, there were dozens of these little creatures, and I didn’t want to be rude. So… I acknowledged that I’d already surely downed a few of them in my first sip, and had noticed nothing– so far I was still alive and well… what harm could the rest of them do?! It would just be like eating cow-stomach soup in Peru—just close your eyes and hold on to the fact that it’s not going to kill you. And after all that hot salsa, I was just so thirsty! So, what could be done? I picked up my glass, and brought it to my lips, and began to drink my ant-seasoned lemonade. As I did this, by the grace of something almighty, my hostess got up and left the table, leaving me with the only other gringa around. I took the opportunity to inquire about the ants, (she’s lived here for some time and would know if it was normal) and to my great relief, it’s not normal, and she swiped the glass away and said ‘don’t drink that!’, and my taste buds breathed sighs of gratitude. A few minutes later all pink beverages were off the table, with fresh cups of ant-free coffee in their place. While I was quite relieved to not have to ingest more ants than necessary, I couldn’t help but smile with a small amount of pride that I’m now okay with doing so if the situation requires!


About the author

Maren Misner