Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ultima Month: Post Three

It looks like I’m already at the final month mark of being in Guatemala. So much has happened since the last time I posted, so let me get you up to speed.
I’ve been spending most of my time at the Sponsorship ministry site. About mid-way through the semester, the Crown team and I left for a nearby town to work with a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in San Lucas. During those two weeks, we painted classrooms of two elementary schools. One of the schools is about an hour and a half drive to a remote town called Zapote. We rode in the bed of a truck on highways that switched to dirt roads with plenty of potholes, and crossed through 4 small rivers to get to the school. I will never complain about the speed bumps in Magdalena again. The kids were quite exciting to have us painting there, and did their fair share of distracting us at times, which was welcome during the hard work. By the end of each day, we were all covered in blue and white paint, wearing pretty much the same one or two outfits for both weeks. Vanity was non-existent. I really appreciated the change of pace from where we had been staying in Magdalena, as well as the opportunity it allowed for our team to bond with each other.
The last few weeks I have been back at my ministry site, in the office and out in the community. The school year has ended, so there were a couple graduations we attended. We made colorful cakes for one of the kindergarten graduations, and they loved it. We also went on two field trips to the zoo with two different kindergarten classes. We made animal headbands, and each were paired up with a little buddy for the day. Only one kid got sick on the bus ride, so that was a victory!

This last week in particular was a struggle for me. Feelings of inadequacy and failure creep their way in, and it takes God to show me that these thoughts are not from Him. I cannot say that I know exactly how God has been working in my heart, or even using me to minister to the people around me, but I think I will better understand my experience in Guatemala once I’ve had some time to process through it when I get back. Which is in a month. As long as this trip has felt at times, it has also gone very fast; a familiar dichotomy. One thing that I do know I have been learning about, is that for a long time now, not just in Guatemala, I have been very hesitant to love people. Whether friends, family, co-workers, or acquaintances, I’ve been fearful to love, at least to the extent that I believe God is desiring for me to love. Too often I weigh if this person is going to love me back, or if that person is going to stick around in my life long enough for it to be worth it for me to really give myself to her or him in love. But I’m realizing that God does not want us to love so selectively; to love only those who deserve it, because in truth, we all don’t deserve love. Love is not something to be deserved. It is the sacrificing of oneself for another. This opens myself up to be hurt, but isn’t that truly love? That’s what Jesus continues to do, every day.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once Upon a Month in Guatemala: Post Two

Last Friday finished the three weeks of Spanish classes! Some days I felt like my brain turned to soup, but we pushed through. Although I am nowhere near where I would like to be in my Spanish language skills, I can see some growth because of this experience. This has been incredibly helpful when communicating with my host family, in particular. I feel less tired during a given day when listening to people talk in Spanish, because now I can pick up on at least the topic of the conversations around me. Progress is good!

This week I started working with the Child Sponsorship program with my Crown teammate, Ashley. We have spent about half our time in the office, organizing things and becoming familiar with how the program works. The other half of the time we have been visiting a couple of the elementary schools in Magdalena and the nearby town of El Gorrion. It has been a great mix of seeing the background administrative work that goes into such a program, and seeing the cheerful faces of the children of whom the work effects. Yesterday I had the opportunity to go with our site leader, Rebecca, on a home visit. The sponsor of a little girl bought a Barbie doll for her sponsor child, and we got the privilege of bringing it to her. On our way to her house in a poorer section of town, we got poured on with rain. Seeing the girl’s face light up as she held her first doll was well worth the wet trek (and jeans that won’t dry for probably a week because of the humidity here).

I am currently healthy! Most days here I cannot say that, but I seem to be getting over the various stomach issues and colds that come up relatively quick. Maybe I’ll have an incredibly strong immune system by the time I head home! It’s a nice thought. As for my mental and emotional state, I am having a better day today. Some days are difficult, I won’t lie. Some days I don’t trust God’s faithfulness as well as I would like, and also doubt myself. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself (2 Tim 2:13)”. Whenever I find myself mulling over doubts, He always shows up. Whether in a kind, unexpected word from someone, a timely scripture, moments of rest, or physical protection from iffy situations, God has been giving me His mercies. Some of them I really have to pay attention, so not to miss them; others are blatantly obvious. I’m thankful for both. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Greetings From Guatemala! Post One

I've been here for about a week and a half, and the time has been full of new experiences! Flight travel went smoothly and the van travel from Guatemala City to Magdalena went bumpy; literally. There were speed bumps everywhere on the windy road up the mountainside. Once we reached the 7000 ft altitude, our Crown College team of 6 met our host families and split off for the night. The next day, we met the other internship group, Global Bridge, which is apart of the Students International Organization that we are here with. They are a group of 5 students from California, Michigan, and Indiana.

The next few days were spent getting to know each other and the newness of being in a different culture. We spent a couple days at our respective ministry sites. Me and the other Sarah on our team are helping with the Sponsorship program. Our days were split between visiting sponsored kids at the schools, and some filing work in the office. Some of the other sites are healthcare, education, agriculture, special education, art ministry, and women's ministry. On the weekend we visited Antigua and did a scavenger hunt, which brought us all over the city, dodging cars and motos in the street. 

On Sunday we went to the Mt. Sinai Church up the hill, which was a pretty interesting experience. We worshiped with incredibly loud music for about an hour and a half. I found that your hands become very sore from clapping that long. This was followed by a message in Spanish, and then a handful of people were baptized.  

This week started Spanish classes! For three weeks we meet one on one with a Spanish tutor from Antigua at the Church, and study with them for 4 hours. We have the afternoons off to do homework from online classes and rest. Once these three weeks are completed, we will go back to our ministry sites and continue online classes. Hopefully all the time spent diligently studying Spanish will help me to better communicate during my time here. At least it will help situations to not be as full of awkward silences. 

I was staying pretty healthy... until the end of last week. I got a stomach bug, and missed the first day of Spanish class. Now I'm on some kind of antibiotic for the week and feeling great! I had a lot of time to rest and think that day, which I think God purposefully used to help me with my attitude. The first week was a difficult transition in saying goodbye to so many familiarities and loved ones. I found it hard to want to be where I currently am at times, and continually had to give it over to God. After being sick, I'm finding that I really do want to take hold of this opportunity, even though it can be hard because of so many changes. I believe that God has His reasons for me being here. Each day I ask Him for His mercies, and He gives them in abundance. 

Thank you to everyone who has been diligently praying for me, our team, and the people of Guatemala! I so appreciate your support. Please pray for the health and protection of our team, as sickness seems to be a reoccurring theme. Also, pray during this continued transition time as we get used to all the new things around us, and learn to lean on each other as well as God. 

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dates and Donation Info

Welcome! From August 24th to December 12th, 2015, I will be interning in Guatemala! You are welcome to follow my activities over this time through this blog. If you would like to donate to this trip, you can give through Students International (tax-deductible). Donating through the following link will bring you directly to my account:
Also, please keep our team in your prayers, as we look to God for guidance in this trip. 
Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy following this new adventure that I'm on!