Saturday, November 22, 2008

flight info - Sunday

Tomorrow is the big day! I haven't posted anything lately, so when I get home I'll show you pictures and tell you about everything. In a nutshell, these have been 3 of the best months of my life. I have learned and grown in every way. I have met some incredible people and seen beautiful places.

Flight info:
American Airlines
flight 2196
November 23, arrive 12:20 pm

See you soon!

Monday, November 10, 2008

So busy!

Hi Everyone!
I am sorry that I haven't written in so long. These past few weeks have been amazing, and I am enjoying every minute left of my trip! I would post pictures, but my internet connection is too slow right now. I hope to write more later this week, but here are a few things I have been up to:
I visited a coffee plantation, had my birthday party at Luna de Miel, a place with delicious crepes, climbed 365 steps to see a beautiful view of Antigua, cheered for my friends as they ran a 10 K, and took my teacher out for her birthday. Of course, I have been studying a lot. I hope to take my grade D test at the beginning of next week.
I will see you soon. I get in Nov. 23.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spent some time with the little ones again

Hi Family and Friends,

Some friends and I went to the orphanage again on Saturday. A couple of them prepared walls for paint, but I wanted to spend the whole time with the same group of kids that I saw last time. We had a great time swinging, playing soccer, and blowing bubbles.
I did not go to Chichicastenango yesterday because I heard that it was not worth the time. I went to church and then to Gringo Chapin where you can get an entire meal including drink and dessert for $3.

So far I am enjoying level D at school. I hope to get to E before I leave.

Time for homework. There are a few interesting things that I want to do in the coming weeks, such as go to a coffee plantation/musical instrument and clothing museum, walk up 365 steps to a cross from which you can see the whole city of Antigua, ride a boat around breathtaking Lake Atitlan, and go to a festival of gigantic kites. So we can all look forward to that.

Have a great day!


Friday, October 24, 2008

A Good Week

After 2 long hours, I made a 92 on my level C test! Yea! My teacher could tell that I was not in the mood to start something new, so we walked around the market for a while and then played Scrabble. I used to make 2 letter words, but today I doubled her score. Woohoo! Don't get too excited though. Today at lunch the little boy in my family told me, "I understand what you're saying but your grammar is horrible." :)

Tomorrow I am going to the orphanage again with a few friends. I am looking forward to seeing the same little ones. Sunday I may go to a nearby city called Chichicastenango. So, look for some neat pictures Monday or Tuesday.

Mel, thank you SO much for my birthday package. I opened 2 things so far. The gum is delicious. Here I am with my gifts wrapped in paper colored by Brice.

Dad and Kathy sent me a card with their recorded voices on it. Listening to them gives me a great start in the mornings.

My housemate's grandfather passed away yesterday and she left this morning for Arizona. Since she only has 4 more weeks and the flight is so expensive, she will probably not return. We have walked everywhere together for 2 months, so it's weird not having her here. I pray that God comforts her family.

Have a wonderful weekend. I look forward to seeing you all more than you know!



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caves, Rivers, and Scorpions

If you thought any previous weekend was exciting, please read on. This one tops them all!

Seventeen other students and I decided to go to Coban and Lanquin, some beautifully unique cities north of here. Friday, after lunch, we boarded a bus and car with the idea that it would take us 5 hours to get there. 9.5 hours later we arrived at a hotel in the middle of the rainforest. It was about midnight. We talked and slept during the trip, but we sure were ready to go to sleep. I don't have a lot of pictures for you because I chose to enjoy the moments rather than capture them on film, but picture a camping lodge. The rooms each had 2 beds, a chair, and table. Hammocks were hanging outside some of the rooms.

Saturday, after eating crapes for breakfast, we headed for the cave. What fun! This place would definitely not pass the safety test in the states. Every surface was covered with slippery mud. I was one of many who fell. The guide led us around the lit cave, up and down many stairs. We saw rock formations that were named after the animals they looked like. I got within 5 feet of a bat. Yes, I screamed.
Then, after the guide told us that the river was higher than it should be, he asked who wanted to go tubing. When the few brave souls who went ahead returned and said that it was okay, I went with the second group. The water was freezing! I knew I had to do it though because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The river was beautiful but there were many branches hanging over the river from the banks. At some parts, I just covered my head with my arms and hoped for the best. Today my back is so sore from paddling. Certain parts had some fun waves. When the guide yelled, "A la derecha ahora!" we paddled as hard as we could to the right to grab a rope. We all made it and exited the river safely. We then rode this special truck back to the hotel.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that my teacher Erika went on the trip with us. I think she had a great time. Do you know what that meant for me? I spoke Spanish for about 60 hours straight. It was good practice but so tiring.
That night, we played games in the main meeting room. (I can't wait to get back and play one of them with Thrivers.) Erika went to bed early, so I was able to take a break from Spanish for a few hours. Here's where things got interesting. When I got back to the room, a surprise was waiting for me on my blanket. A scorpion 4 inches long! Now, if I had not been dealing with bugs in my room for the past 7 weeks I would have screamed and stayed up all night, but I just went next door to get my friend Lisa for moral support while I killed it. She kindly took care of it for me. It took a while to go to sleep that night. I woke up a few times and searched my bed with a flashlight. Erika slept through the whole thing. Folks here tell me that the smaller and clearer the scorpion, the more harmful they are. So I'm thinking that my gigantic black bug was no big deal. If you know otherwise, please, do not tell me until I get home.
The ride home was really good. People took turns telling their testimonies and praying for each other. I wish that Erika could have understood but God can work through language barriers. She enjoyed looking at pictures of my family, friends, and students on my iPod.
Part of my homework tonight is to write this whole story in Spanish so I'd better get started. I miss you all. See you in 5 weeks!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

From Silly to Serious

Good morning!
How are you? How's everything in Texas? The weather is so perfect today I wish I could play tennis. There is only one place to play here and it is for the richest of the rich. There are 3 other students who play tennis. We found old wooden rackets, but with no court, they are useless.
Yesterday was a fun day. About 10 students and our teachers rode a chicken bus to a nearby city to participate in a corn party. It sounds better in Spanish "La fiesta del maiz". The Mayans believe that they were made from corn and it is one of their biggest exports, so they celebrate it once a year. We watched a children's program complete with costumes that exploded with fireworks. I think that would be considered a safety hazard in Plano ISD. Then we ate all kinds of food made from corn. My favorite was a tostado with beans. When we returned, I had 1 more hour of class. My brain was tired and I was ready for the weekend. She asked me questions and I could only comprehend one word at a time. That happens occasionally and my patient teacher just keeps on trying. Last night I went to beautiful Hotel Antigua to listen to 80's music. We thought about dressing up in 80's clothing. I'm so glad we didn't because many people there were in formal attire. Then we met some friends outside the school. People get silly when they are bored. See below:
Then, Chelsea and I went to our favorite coffee shop, Higher Grounds. The Youth With A Mission staff and friends were there just hanging out in the closed shop. We set up the big screen used for church and ate cake while watching a movie.
Last night I did some reading like always. Here I am with my headlight. There is a small English library at Higher Grounds where I check out books. Since I do not go out much past dark and I do not have TV or Internet at home, I have a LOT of time to read, which has been great.

I enjoyed The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Miracle Worker about Helen Keller. These books reminded me of how blessed we are to have freedom and health.

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership was written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, an intelligent college professor who went to live among and love handicapped people. His conclusion sums up the book well. "He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people."

Comments from the next book come from my journal. This one was so helpful, I want to share it all with you.

The Awakening That Must Come by Lewis A. Drummond

The point: Prayer is what will bring revival. How to pray?

Text: Acts 12:5 - "Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Peter to be released from prison).

1) Unto God

"When we take the name of God on our lips, we must be vividly conscious to whom we speak. He is the mighty Creator; he is the powerful Sustainer; he is the gracious Redeemer; he is God Almighty of consuming holiness, the sovereign Lord."

Isaiah 6:3 - "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." Come to him with reverence.

2) Prayer in Jesus' Name

We are not worthy to pray to God. "Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, he is our worthiness." Praying in Jesus' name is not just a phrase we put at the end of a prayer. "It is an expression of a vitally important attitude and stance before God."

3) Praying in the Will of God

Bible reading and prayer go hand in hand. Read the Bible to find out what the will of God is. "Praying in the known will of God always leads to a confident prayer of faith. I John 5:14-15 - "this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him."

Does God want to send revival? See Ps. 85:1-6, Hab. 3:2, 2 Peter 3:9. Yes.

4) The Prayer of Faith

James 1:5-8 - "Let him ask God who gives to all men generously...But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord." "2 things are normally necessary to rise to that realm of confidence in prayer. One, we need to know that what we ask for is God's desire. Secondly, we usually have to pray long enough that the Holy Spirit can give us the inner assurance that our prayer is heard." Sometimes we give up too soon. Pray until the answer comes. Prevail.

5) Praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18)

"The Holy Spirit is the teacher in God's school of prayer. He is the one who inspires, instructs, leads, enables, and directs the God-centered prayers of God's people to God's throne room. The Holy Spirit actually prays through the submissive believer and lifts both the prayer and person praying right into God's glorious presence. He intercedes with groanings which cannot be uttered - Romans 8:26. Therefore, all prevailing prayer begins and ends in the believer's openness and yieldedness to the moving of the Spirit to prayer. We must listen to his voice; he knows how to pray unto God."

6) Deal with Sin

I John 1:6-9 - He is faithful to forgive. "One cannot walk in sin's darkness and God's light at the same time. Sin will inevitably extinguish the light of God's conscious presence and darken our whole spiritual experience." We must confess our sins specifically and regularly as the Holy Spirit convicts.

7) Together

"There is great prayer power in the united people of God interceding for needs." Matt. 18:19-20.

8) Be Specific

Make your requests "definite, pointed, answerable". When we pray vague prayers we sometimes do not recognize when the answer comes.

This book really gives me some direction concerning prayer. I hope one of the points helps you too.

Well, I am off to explore the town, possibly pick up a few souvenirs. I just have 6 weeks left. I want to make every moment count.

I love and miss you,


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mi Testimonio

Hi Everyone!

Here's your chance to see what you remember from high school Spanish. My homework was to write a short composition using different verb tenses. I decided to write my testimony. I would like to ask you to pray with me about something. If nothing else happens in Guatemala, I want to know that my teacher is a Christian. We have talked about it some. We even read scriptures in my bilingual Bible last week. I am praying that she puts her faith in Jesus if she has not already done so.

Yo tengo muchos recuerdos de la infancia maravillosos. Mis padres y mi hermana menor Melanie y yo estabamos muy compenetrados. Nosotros hablabamos, jugabamos, y reiamos mucho juntos. Mis padres nos ensenaban acerca de Dios. Yo aprendi que todos nosotros nacimos con pecado y estamos separados de Dios, pero Jesus murio en la cruz para pagar el precio por nuestros pecados entonces nosotros pudimos conocer a Dios y vamos al cielo. Nosotros necesitamos creer que Jesus murio por nosotros y entonces preguntamos a el para perdonarnos de nuestros pecados, y el va a perdonarnos. Cuando yo tenia ocho anos, yo dije a mi papa que yo queria recibir el regalo de Dios para la salvacion. El y yo nos sentamos en mi cuarto y leiamos algunas escrituras y orabamos juntos. Ahora mi cosa favorita acerca de dios es que El esta siempre conmigo. Yo estoy agradecida con mis padres porque me hablaron acerca de Jesus.

I have many wonderful memories of childhood. My parents, my younger sister Melanie, and I were very close. We talked, played, and laughed a lot together. My parents taught us about God. I learned that all of us are born with sin and are separated from God, but Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin so we can know God and go to heaven. We have to believe that Jesus died for us and then ask him to forgive us of our sins, and He will. When I was eight years old, I told my dad that I wanted to receive God's gift of salvation. He and I sat in my room and read some scriptures and prayed together. Now my favorite thing about God is that He is always with me. I am grateful to my parents for telling me about Jesus.

Today some students and teachers visited a jade factory. Above is a picture of Erika and me with tiny coffee mugs.

I'll see you in 6.5 weeks!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A day at the orphanage

My friend Cristen is a nurse from Illinois. She invited my housemate and I to visit the orphanage, Casa de Shalom, where she will work full-time when she graduates from Christian Spanish Academy. I was so excited yesterday morning to go meet the children. I hadn't been to an orphanage since my first mission trip in 1996.

We took a taxi to a little town 15 minutes away. Cristen showed us the different buildings on the probably 20 acre lot on the side of a mountain - clinic, offices, director's house, cafeteria, recreation room, and children's homes.
Casa de Shalom was started by American missionaries from the Church of God in the 1980's. It is home to 56 boys and girls ranging in ages from 2 to 18. Students attend school on property during the week.

We walked up the hill and entered The Baby Home. When we walked in, it was dark and silent. Then, all of a sudden, ten little children wearing footed flannel pajamas burst through the bedroom door and jumped into our arms. That is a moment I will never forget. They were smiling from ear to ear. As soon as I put down one, another reached up to be held. We hugged and talked for a while. Evelyn loved my sunglasses while the others wanted my hat.

One little boy stuck out immediately. I called him Monkey because he climbed on everything. I was his tree and swing for most of the day.

The children got out a few of their toys and books so we read and practiced the alphabet and numbers.

Then, it was time for breakfast. The children sat quietly at the table waiting for their food. They must have been told to be silent during mealtimes because I didn't hear a peep out of them until the end. After pudding, an orange, and bread with syrup, each child got a cup of hot diluted coffee. That's normal here, but it was so strange. They looked like little adults sipping their daily cup of Starbucks coffee.

When a child finished, he said, "Muchas gracias" (thank you very much), and everyone else said to him, "Buen provecho" (I hope you enjoyed your meal and I hope it is beneficial to you).

I was amazed at the independence of the children. When 2-year-old Tony was finished, he climbed out of his high chair like a contortionist , took his plate to the sink, then pushed his high chair to the wall.

After getting the children ready for the day, we played outside to our hearts' content. I was scared that the kids were going to roll down the mountain, but apparently they are used to their play area. They played on the swingset, slid, threw rocks into a bucket of water, rode little toys, played cops and robbers with pipes and sticks as guns, and played ball. For a while, I was a prisoner in jail who was only given water from time to time. Of course, little Monkey's feet never touched the ground.

After a good lunch of chicken, rice, potatoes, and tortillas, we watched a cartoon. I think it was the movie Barnyard.

Since it was raining, we played indoors the rest of the afternoon.

I enjoyed time with and will remember each child. By the time we left at 5:30, I was completely exhausted! I don't know how the house mothers do it every day.

I am thankful for the opportunity I had to spend time with the children. It was an unforgettable day. It certainly made me even more grateful for my family. I love you and miss you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Making Progress

I passed Grade B today! Yea! I have pages to review this weekend, and then I will start Grade C on Monday. I just have a second, but I wanted to let you know that I am alive and well. I played soccer this afternoon for the first time with fellow students and locals. We had a ton of fun. Tomorrow I am going to an orphanage in a nearby town with a missionary friend. I will have pictures on Sunday. Until then...have a GREAT weekend.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Great Reminder of Why I Am Here

I have the neatest story for you. Last week I was just emailing at school when this woman sat down beside me. I asked her name and we began talking. I told her all about Parenting Alone. Just then her daughter Audra walked in with her 6 week old baby. I continued telling them about the services Parenting Alone will provide. They were stunned. Audra said that before having the baby, she lived in DFW. She looked high and low for a program that could guide her as a single mother. Since she did not find one, she decided to have her baby in Guatemala to be near her mom. She is moving back to Fort Worth in mid-November. Guess when Parenting Alone is opening....November 15th! Audra is so excited and looking forward to receiving guidance at the center. She is also going to visit Thrive with me. Imagine that! Meeting one of the first single parents we will help here in Central America! I can't describe how that divine appointment encouraged me to press on and learn Spanish quickly and to the best of my ability.

Hot Chocolate Surprise

I must tell you about a neat surprise I found in my drink. Before boarding the bus to head to Monterrico Beach, I ran by the coffee shop for some hot chocolate. It was no Starbucks, but it was pretty yummy. Towards the end, I came across a big hunk of chocolate. When it did not crunch right, I realized it was not the chocolately hunk I thought it was. You got it. It was a baby cockroach!!! I screamed and spit until everyone in the park was watching this crazy gringa running around in circles. Bet you wish you could see a picture of that! I have decided to drink water for the next 9 weeks.

I am starting my 4th week of language school. There are 7 levels of instruction. When I pass my test Thursday or Friday, I will move up to level 3. Yippee! I'm making progress.

This weekend I went with 7 other women to Monterrico Beach. We boarded the travel bus at 8am Saturday and then rode for about 2 hours to the edge of nowhere. When we got off the bus, we crammed onto a ferry that looked as if it had survived a hurricane or two. We talked to our new friends from Chile and Germany during our 20 minute ride. When we hopped off the ferry, we walked about half a mile through a very colorful but poor town to the beach. It was very different than the Texas coast because the sand was black due to nearby volcanoes and also there was no one in sight! We had the whole place to ourselves. It is recommended that you do not swim because of the strong undertoe, so we stayed pretty close to shore. After a lunch of shark, chicken, fish, and shrimp, and, of course, hundreds of corn tortillas, we relaxed in hammocks shaded by giant leaves. Ah, what a wonderful half hour! I briefly forgot all about those irregular past tense verbs that give me fits. We headed home rested and ready for another week of school.

If you are wondering how I am really doing, I'll fill you in. The first 2 weeks were difficult because everything was new and I missed everyone like crazy. I still miss everyone, but I am taking it a day at a time, enjoying this experience to the fullest. I have a new appreciation for everything in the states.

I pray everyone is doing well. I miss y'all!

Monday, September 15, 2008

So many people!

This is a big money-making weekend for the markets. Last night at Bible study we watched a film on the ministry of Smith Wigglesworth of Great Britain. We also sang and prayed for each other. I love Sunday nights. Afterwards, we went to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. The Guatemalans will tell you that is VERY different from their food. There are SO many people in the city this weekend. Some streets have become parking lots. For 2 days straight people have been running around the city carrying torches and blowing whistles. The marching bands have been playing for days. The sound of drums is our background noise in the coffee shop.

Have a wonderful week. Look for more next weekend.

Independence Day Celebration

The teachers brought typical Guatemalan food to school on Friday for our party. It was so delicious! The tostadas were my favorite.

Field Trip to Macadamia Nut Farm

Antigua used to be the capital of Central America

Starting Week 3

I finished my 2nd week of school here in Antigua. I feel like I am learning a lot, but don't ask me too many questions in Spanish yet. :) Today is Guatemala's Independence Day, so we do not have school. I'm at Higher Grounds Coffee Shop emailing and doing homework. Here are some pictures to enjoy....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Home by Thanksgiving!

Hello, my friends and family.

Good news! I am coming home by Thanksgiving! That still gives me plenty of time to learn and practice Spanish. If I stayed longer than 90 days I would have to get a visa, which requires some travel. I do not think it is a wise decision to stay that long. far as support goes, I have reached the amount that I will need exactly!! Thank you so much for supporting me with your prayers and finances. I really appreciate it.

My classes are going well. I am feeling much more comfortable here. There are so many things to experience. September 15th is Guatemala's Independence Day, so the teachers are bringing typical food for all the students to try. I'm looking forward to that.

Enjoy the pictures!



Pictures of my church

Pictures of Antigua