Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pata de Chucho

Pata de Chucho...

Translation: literally, "kick of the dog"
Significance: someone who is constantly traveling

My friends and I have been described as "Pata de Chuchos" because we have not been home much lately. Saturday, Alex, Beau, Mario, and I ventured to Antigua. We spent the entire day walking around the markets, stopping to take photoshoots, searching for coffee and ice cream, and the boys would not give up on finding Cuban cigars... Lots of walking, but it was a blast. I think my favorite part was watching Beau storm off after trying to negotiate with every store owner over a souvenier that he wasn't really interested in in the first place.

Yesterday, we visited a friend in Panta Leon. We were supposed to go to the lake, but it rained all day... so instead, we went to our friends house to swim. Mid-swim, we noticed a soccer field close by. So, we decided to play a game in the rain... don't get me wrong, I'm not becoming a soccer fan, but I'll have to admit that this was fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vacation...from my vacation...?

I haven't blogged in a week. I'm sorry to be such a disappointment, but I have a perfectly good explanation. I've been on vacation. No shoes, no computer, no problems. My friends and I journeyed to Tikal for 3 days, so I'd like to fill you in on my vacation... day by day.

Day 1:
Our group loaded into a 16 passenger van at 5am Saturday morning and faced the winding road ahead of us. Combined, it was 18 hours of winding road... to be exact. We made a stop at the Castillo de San Felipe and took a tour. I don't really know how historic it is, but since it's a Castle... I'm assuming it's a pretty big deal. Google it, for more information. I will be doing the same. After our tour, we pressed on and reached our hotel mid-afternoon. It was incredibly hot, and we were incredibly hungry. After eating the best burger I've had in months, it was time for a siesta. The boys slept literally all afternoon, while I at least went down to the pool to fall asleep.

We spent a lot of time in hammocks, playing cards, and drinking coffee.
Day 2:
The next morning at 5:45am, we drove to Tikal to take a tour of the jungle and the Mayan Ruins. I've become such a tourist. You know you're getting old when you find tours and historical locations and artifacts completely fascinating. As a child, I would not have appreciated it as much.

After our 5-hour tour, we hopped back in the van and drove to our next hotel. It was completely dark when we arrived, and we took a boat across the sea to our hotel. The stars were unreal, they were so close.

Day 3:
Slept in until 8:00am. Yes, this is considered sleeping in as far as my Guatemalan experience has gone. Normally, 8:00 would be unheard of on my clock, but the days are long here... Which has been a really good thing because it makes my time here seem like more. I can't believe I've only been here for 2 weeks.
Anyways, it was a typical day at the beach. Lounging in the sun, building sandcastles, swimming in the ocean, breaking open coconuts.
The trip to Tikal was amazing, and we are already planning our next adventure. El Salvador, perhaps?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

En Serio

By the grace of God, I finished the church bulletin. After 15 pieces of wasted paper and what seemed like an eternity, Ronald and I finally figured out how to print the thing so it was correctly aligned on both sides. And so, it was passed out at church tonight. I was a little disappointed at first when didn't see anyone taking notes on the back of them, but then I looked over and saw a man sitting by himself who had about three large words written on the back of his bulletin in truly child-like handwriting. I looked again at his bulletin, and I realized that he was taking notes. It was all I could do not to burst into tears. I held the tears back, though... I faced enough ridicule the other night from the boys after I balled the entire way through the movie The End of the Spear.
School has been cancelled for 2 weeks due to the Swine Flu. (Don't worry, mom. I almost refrained from even mentioning this for your sake, but as most of you know, I'm not one to shy away from the truth.) Anyways, it has provided us opportunities to visit the homes of the kids in the mornings. The visits have been exhausting but so rewarding. It has truly opened my eyes to the way that these people live, and in the midst of having nothing, love the Lord with everything that they do have.
I came across this verse today: "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Having nothing, and yet possessing everything." - 2 Corinthians 6:10

There is something so attractive to me about truly having nothing. I can only pray for a genuine heart like that. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is, but God is moving here. Alex, Beau, and I were talking the other day about hopefully creating an opportunity for us to share our faith to kids in the community by a Vacation Bible School, or something along those lines. God has really shown me that even though I am very much out of my comfort zone, I still have to find opportunities to share my faith. I guess that I was under the impression that as soon as I stepped off of the plane, I would be proclaiming my faith to everyone who could hear. Sadly, that has not been the case. This isn't your typical Mission Trip. We have no itenerary, no VBS, no construcion, no pre-fabricated opportunities to share our faith. We are living life here. But what a life lesson to learn! I am looking forward to the next few weeks after having come to this realization.

Please pray for courage, for obedience, for spirits of urgency, and for opportunities for me and my friends.


"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." - Colossians 4:5-6

Monday, June 15, 2009

Playing the Field

Sometimes the Mission Field is a tough field to play on. So we decided to test out a few different fields this weekend. For instance, a field used to play paintball. Saturday, a bunch of people went to play paintball, also known as "Gotcha" to the Guatemalans. Due to the fact that I was playing with all incredibly competitive boys, my goal was to avoid getting shot. Well friends, goals are meant to be accomplished, and I did not get hit. Meanwhile, I discovered that I have a natural talent for hiding.
After church on Sunday, we went to one of my favorite places in Guatemala. It's a little snack shop, and we go there to get "Choco-bananas"... which are essentially chocolate covered bananas frozen onto a stick. Too delightful for words. All of the stores are separate in Guatemala. For fruit, you go to one store, for meat you go to another, for bread.. another, etc. It's kind of fun going grocery shopping, because it's more of a challenge to find everything. Super-market Sweep could really make the show more interesting for the contestants if they simply moved location to Guatemala.
We spent most of Sunday at Fernando and Mario's house for Fernando's birthday lunch. Mario thought it was funny to keep sneaking up to the roof to shoot off firecrackers to scare people. It worked, for me at least. At some point, we left their house to get Mario's car washed. We dropped his car off to get cleaned and had some time to kill. So naturally, we drove some bumper cars... Almost as crazy as actual drivers in Guatemala.
I was coaxed into watching a soccer game Sunday night. I obviously refused to play, and in reality, I spent most of the game testing out different modes on my camera for taking better pictures... None worked well.
In conclusion, this weekend we have played paintball, eaten Choco-bananas, driven bumper cars, participated (or not) in a soccer game... We also played American football this morning in which I have no picutres of... I must have been too busy scoring 4 touchdowns. I don't want it to go unnoticed that all of this has been in the name of the Lord, of course.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Night Life

It's finally the weekend, and I have come to find that Guatemala has quite the night life. Last night, mi grupo de amigos went bowling. It was disco bowl and the bowling alley played the exact same music as they would in the States. Some things never change, I guess. It was Fernando's birthday, so after bowling, we went to McDonald's to eat because it was so late. The McDonald's staff sang happy birthday to him... I don't know of a single McDonald's that would do that for a man's 26th birthday in the States. These people are too nice.

After bowling, we went up to a mountain that overlooks all of Guatemala City. I had no idea that Guatemala was so big. We were sitting up there talking about how beautiful the lights were, but then we slowly realized how sad is was to think about what is actually going on in the streets below us. La Iglesia Biblica's mission is to reach these people in Guatemala, and it really made me appreciate my opportunity to be apart of their team.

This last picture turned out really awkward. The 2 guys on the left are Bo and Alex... also known as "the gringos." The guy on the right is Mario. He is really into Karate, so I told him that I received a black belt of my own when I was 8 years old. We've been friends ever since. All of my new friends are really great. Between the Gringo's Spanish and the Guatemalan's English, we can understand each other perfectly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Confession(s) of the Month - June Edition

Things that I said I would not do in Guatemala, but have:

1) Drink the water.
Woops. The first few days that I have been here, I was under the impression that all of the water at la Iglesia was sanitized.... and the drinking water is sanitized. However, the water in the sink and shower might not be... I'm not really sure, because I haven't gotten sick yet. So I'm thinking that it's ok.

2) Speak in English.
First of all, that was a totally unrealistic goal. I speak to most people in Spainsh, but there are a lot of gringos here that speak English. Ronald and some other Guatemalans also speak quite a bit of English, so it's hard not to!

3) Eat foreign meat.
I don't even like it very much, but I need some protein in this diet.

4) Drink coffee.
I didn't think this would be very hard, considering the heat. Plus, who knew that Guatemala has the best coffee ever? I didn't, but now I do. And I drink it often.

Things I said that I would do, but have not:

1) Excercise.
When it comes to excersicing in my free time or taking a siesta, I think you can guess what wins. However, I am going to play paintball tomorrow, so I think that counts as excercise. Right?

2) Get really tan.
So far, I've spent most of my time during the day in the office. Therefore, no sun exposure. Now more than ever, I wish heat made you tan. If that was the case, let's just say I'd blend in better with the Guatemalans.

3) Talk on Skype with my friends.
Not my fault, people. I'm on Skype every day. So, where are you? I'll leave you with that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ping-Pong

Ronald and I spend the majority of the afternoon staring at computer screens. So... sometimes it's just time to play ping-pong. And the lack of a ping-pong table wasn't going to stop us. Cleverly, Ronald found 2 erasers and some masking tape to construct a net for the former air hockey table (pictured below). No question that he had done this before. Ronald looks pretty happy in this picture... probably because he just demolished me at ping-pong.

It's day 3 in Guatemala and everything is going great. I'm still getting used to the schedule, though. I walk to the office at 10:00 (and by walk, I mean, step out onto the balcony of my apartment, take 7 steps to the next door, and I'm at the office), eat lunch around 1:30, take a siesta until 3:30, go back to the office until 7:00, eat dinner at 8:30, and go to bed around 11:00. Now that I think about it, the schedule is pretty great. It consists of a lot of sleeping.
Josefina makes lunch for me every day, and I have eaten dinner with different families in the neighborhood at night. The food has actually been pretty good... tortillas, rice, black beans, potatoes, chicken, and soup. Basically, any carbohydrate that you can think of.
I'm supposed to be working on the Sunday morning bulletin right now, but I haven't the slightest clue how to get a template for something like that. I think that they think that I know what I'm doing. Hopefully it stays that way until I can figure it out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Como se dice "awkward"?

Hola!

I arrived in Guatemala City at 11:30 yesterday morning. I was supposed to be picked up by Teddy, a Pastor at Iglesia Biblica Lomas del Norte when I landed. Unfortunately, Teddy must have been running a little late, so I stood outside for a good 15 minutes getting harassed by people wanting me to use their cell phones (so I would tip them). But I knew better.... for 5 more minutes, at least. Then I obviously took someone up on using their phone to call Teddy. It's a good thing I did, because he thought I arrived at 1:00. I gave the nagging man with the phone $2.

Twenty minutes later, Teddy and Ronald picked me up at the airport and drove me to la Iglesia Biblica. Ronald is my age and studies Graphic Design at the University in Guatemala. He also speaks a lot of English, so I'm glad I'll be working mostly with him.

I am living in an apartment above the church with a 70 year old woman named Josefina who speaks absolutely no English. Needlesstosay, lunch was really awkward. Just imagine really long silences while I rack my brain for any question that I am capable of asking in Spanish. This went on for about 30 minutes. Lunch consisted of soup, which was actually really good. I did not care for the chicken or the salad... which was quite literally a head of lettuce that I was supposed to squeeze a lime on top of for dressing.

Josefina and I went on a walk after I took a siesta. Sidenote: I can definately get used to this siesta culture... I think nap-time should be reinstated in the USA (for adults, that is). Anyways, we walked around the neighborhood and to the park and talking with her got much easier. The neighborhood is actually very calm. I've met so many people already, and I don't remember many of their names. There are a few students from Dallas here, and I'm glad that I can speak a little English with them. It is really easy to make friends here because the people are SO nice.

It is VERY hot. My clip-on fan was obviously the most brilliant thing that I packed. I took a picture of my room, but I'll refrain from putting it on here because I don't want you to feel sorry for me... But I really can't complain... I'm just glad I have my own room. This is the view from my window:

This morning, I went to the school and helped set up a video presentation and to play with the kids. The students are so precious, but I don't think I will get to work at the school much. I will mostly be working on the church website with Ronald and taking pictures to put on the website. I am also in charge of designing the Sunday morning bulletin for the church services.

I think every day is going to be different, and it seems like there will always be something for me to do around here. It is going to be incredibly busy and probably exhausting. But I have loved it so far, and I'm sure it will only get better. My Spanish is already getting better, and it has only been a day. It's really nice to be around people who don't really care about anything else... they just love Jesus and love each other. It's a very encouraging place to be.

Stay tuned because there will be more good stories and surely more awkward stories to come!