Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fiestas, Viajes, and a Boda

(Festivities, Trips, and a Wedding) 

For those of you who have been asking my mom how I’m doing, I am great!  So sorry I haven’t updated you on my progress through language school, though.  Time really is flying by.  And I hate studying…so it’s no wonder I have procrastinated writing as well.  I am doing very well though and the happiest I’ve been since I can remember.  Other than a minor case of bronchitis, some very very tired and sore muscles, a few stomach aches, and lots of rain, things are really wonderful here in Antigua! 
But in all seriousness, I have been extremely blessed with a truly amazing group of young adults to work with during our time at the Farm.  It is amazing to see how well all of us have molded together to form a strong, united group.  “Un groupo unido, jamás será vencido”  has become our mantra…and yes we did steal it from the Guatemalan’s on Independence Day for those of you wondering.   It means “united, we will never be defeated!”  And that couldn’t be truer from what I’ve experienced by traveling and spending day after day with these amazing individuals.  I love them all. Even when we disagree or mis-communicate, it isn’t a big issue. I’ve noticed that where some of us are weak, others are very strong and it makes for a very good combination.  

Needless to say, we have experienced a lot together over the past few weeks (has it only be 4 or 5 weeks??).  I started volunteering twice a week at a place in town called Casa Jackson with Noelle and Curtis.  It’s basically a place where malnourished children from all over Guatemala come to be taken care of for about 6 months typically and then they are sent home a little over their recommended weight because they may lose some again as their parents adjust to the new nutrition guidelines they are given.  This is tough because there is so much poverty in Central America and more often than not parents can’t feed their children and afford the nutrition necessary.  But, as sad as it makes me sometimes, I am overjoyed to know that these recovering, adorable, energetic little guys have parents and families to go home to one day.  They aren’t stuck in their cribs forever.  That’s basically what we take care of for an afternoon or two a week.  We come in to relieve the tired and jaded nurses from the constant crying by changing diapers (we’re becoming experts) and holding the little ones who just need someone to give them attention and love to help them get better. 

Me & Lisbeth (photo by Curtis)
We have been traveling a lot lately, mostly on the weekends.  Instead of describing it to you, however, I am going to cheat and just share two videos Patrick made.  The first is of our trip to Lago Atitlan which is a beautiful crater lake surrounded by three volcanoes! It was amazing.  The next is of this past weekend when we stayed in Antigua to celebrate Independence Day with Guate…which was also amazing!  America needs to get it together…this was the coolest Independence Day I’ve ever experienced.  I mean, there was a parade for three days straight people.  

Guatemalan Independence weekend: https://vimeo.com/74594820 
Things in the casa are great as well.  I still love my guate-family and they have helped me to realize how true the saying is that man cannot live on bread alone.  I’ve literally been living off the stuff.  I wish I could say its helping me grow in my faith and that maybe I had a deep reflection to share on the matter, but really all it’s done is make me realize that I need some serious fruits and veggies.  Who would have ever guessed that these Antigueños would be so addicted to every type of bread known to man and endless tazas of tea.   I am trying to enjoy it, however, because I know this is not what I should expect in two weeks by any means.  I can’t wait to see what kind of meals and dishes we can come up with at the Farm.  I hope the current missionaries are okay with a few random and potentially bad meals before we become pros at cooking everything from scratch on an outside fire.
Anyways, Francisco pequeño—the four year old cutie in my house—has turned my bedroom window upstairs, which conveniently opens up to the upstairs courtyard, into a tienda.  More often than not I will be reading, napping, or trying to make myself study, when I’ll see two little hands move through the curtains always followed by a little voice, “knock knock…excuse me señorita but I would like to buy a Coke nice and cold, some cookies of course, and also some medicine.  Yes yes I need medicine to fix pain in my head, feet, toes, arms…oh and for my dog too!”  How can I resist spending time as a simple tienda owner?  He is adorable and reminds me every time after a long day at school that it is all worth it.    

In other news, Curtis and Noelle got remarried to their other Mayan-halves.  Natalie and I were blessed to be in the bridal party and, seeing as Patrick was the only caballero (or spanish cowboy…which is ironic because he is also from Texas) that Curtis happens to be friends with, he was the honorable best Mayan man.  

We were really helping out some of the Mayan women who set up shop in our school every week to show off their incredibly intricate and beautiful trajes tipicas, or typical indigenous dress.  For the woman it consists of a blouse called a wipeel (and I’m probably misspelling that…sorry Shep!), and beautifully woven and equally colorful falda or skirt and it is completed with an ornately embroidered belt that holds it all together…and that is no understatement.  I think that belt is the equivalent of a corset because I definitely could not breathe.  Anyways, for Independence Day weekend celebrations we helped these Mayan women along with our school to put on a fashion show by modeling their trajes tipicas from different villages and they decided Curtis and Noelle would complete the show by getting married.  It was very fun and only confirmed my desire to become Latina.  

Well, hopefully you can see how beautiful this place is gracias a Patrick’s videos.  If you ever have the chance to visit Guatemala, Antigua is where you want to stay.  It is a beautiful, truly enjoyable place and makes the culture shock much easier…probably because while you are adjusting, you are falling in love with everything about it.   Pues, I think that’s all I have on my mind to share for now. 

I guess I covered most of it apart from getting pick-pocketed on a chicken bus, stuck in the market because the streets flooded, watching a large Mayan woman sit on my friend Joe’s lap for a whole van ride, the earthquake that had supposedly 74 aftershocks, the active volcano we climbed that spit steaming rocks out constantly, and the AMAZING retreat we had with Zulena—the co-founder of the mission.  Yep…I think that’s it for now.  Love you all and thanks for caring so much!  I am SO excited to get to the Farm and love on those kids and can’t wait to tell you all about it.  I promise to try better to keep this baby updated as well.

Lots of love from Guatemala,

PS- If you have donated recently and possibly after I left the States, THANK YOU!  I haven’t forgotten about you, I have simply become adjusted to chapina time (or Latino time) and apologize for not sending you a formal thank you.  I will try my best to get them to you as soon as I can with someone traveling home to the States.  Thank you for your support!