Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm here!

Hey Everyone,

I made it! What a long, almost unbelievable 24 hours! I'll fill you in. By the way, if you'd like to picture me in Guatemala, imagine coffee shop, open windows with red flowers, rain, lots of cars and motorcycles flying by, and Spanish everywhere.

It was very difficult leaving friends and family at the airport. I don't cry often, but this was definitely a teary occasion. As I was sitting at my gate, I realized that I should have boarded already. I learned that the gate # and time had changed, so I took a hike to gate 31.

I sat by a nice older woman on the plane who tugged on my seatbelt to make sure it was fastened. I journaled, read a page or 2, watched "Maid of Honor", and rested my eyes. The whole way there I couldn't believe I was headed to Central America!

After I got my luggage, I looked for my ride. I have never been so elated to see my name! Francisco, the driver, and I talked the whole way from Guatemala City to Angigua. The first thing he said to me was, "Solo espanol." My brain hurt trying to think of every Spanish word I ever learned. We were actually able to have a decent conversation about families, mountains, weather, volcanoes, and the school.

We pulled up to the house, and I was very nervous. Who is my host family? Are they kind? The answer that I now know is YES. More in a second on that. The dad, Hector, showed me my room and bathroom and told me breakfast is at 7. He speaks some English. That was a relief. When the door was closed, I felt VERY alone. This is where prayer came in big time! I am so grateful for a God who is personal and always present. I unpacked some, read cards from home, read some Scriptures, listened to "Never Let Go" on my iPod and then fell asleep listening to a sermon by Steve Roese. I was scared and wondering why I chose to leave my comfy apartment, church, and family.

Today is a new and MUCH better day. I am remembering that God has called me, that He has amazing plans and a purpose for this journey, that I will meet people from all over the world, that he is causing me to grow in my faith like never before, and that I will return home speaking espanol.

I had breakfast with Hector. I'd better learn to like bananas and fast! We also had delicious pancakes. Then, I was off to the school. I will be walking a lot here. It is about 5 blocks down the road. The staff greeted me warmly. I filled out paperwork and a beginner's test. I'd say out of 90 questions, I may have gotten 40 correct. I have some work to do, huh? I then sat down to email.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was able to call Dad upon arrival at the home. Hector hesitated, saying that the phone is only used for special occasions, but I said that it was a special occasion. :)

At school, I met a man and woman from Tulsa, 2 Canadian girls who graduated today, and a lady from St. Louis. They were each a blessing to help me get acquainted with my new surroundings.

Guess where I'm going tomorrow? I'm hiking a volcano! I don't waste any time, do I? We're starting at 6am. My host mother, Sandra, who I had lunch (delish chicken, potato, corn, broccoli, and jello) with this afternoon, who is absolutely precious, said that it is beautiful. I'm excited!

I'm at a YWAM (Youth with a Mission) cafe right now called Higher Grounds. I learned that World Racers are here until Wednesday! Remember the trip that I was going to go on? I hope to run in to them.

Tonight at dinner I will meet Diego 9 and Sophia 12, the children at the home. Tomorrow a 25 year old North American girl comes to live with us. I am really looking forward to meeting her. She may even be from Texas.

Prayer requests:
I am experiencing culture shock. I'm tired and missing everyone and the comforts of home. So, please pray for a quick adjustment period.
Divine appointments.
A fun, safe trip to the volcano.

I must update you on my financial situatioon. I am near 80, maybe 85%! I will look at that tonight. Praise God for bringing in the support. Thank you all.

I have to run to the bank and school shortly. I will blog tomorrow about my hike.

Love y'all,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3 days!

Since writing you last, I have spent some good time with family and friends - granddad and aunt, college girlfriends, Dad. Brice's 1 year bday party was Sunday. My favorite moment was seeing the back of his little blonde head as his dad pulled him down the sidewalk in his new red wagon.

I am almost finished packing. That was a big job trying to think of what I will need for 16 weeks.

3 days away!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quick update

I really enjoyed my family party on Saturday. We ate burgers, talked, watched an Olympic event, and some family members prayed for me, which was very special. Today I ran last minute errands. I was close to buying cute polka-dotted rain boots, but I decided I don't want to stand out that much as a tourist. My granddad and aunt from Corpus got here today. We are getting ready for my nephew's first birthday party. One of these days I'll learn how to upload pictures so you can actually see these events. Update on support - you all are so generous. It makes me extremely gateful. I am on my way to 60%. Many thanks. I will work at the sign company one more day. Next week will mostly be spent resting and packing. God bless.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It hit me this morning. I'm going to Guatemala in 2 weeks! I am so excited about this opportunity, but as I began my to-do list this morning, I realized I'd better get on the ball!

I want to stay in contact with friends and family while I am away, so please, check this blog for updates. I do not have regular internet access right now, so my posts may be few before I actually begin classes at the school, which has WiFi.

Let me back up just a bit for those who have not heard. Here is an email I sent out which explains "Tina's Trip."

"Dear Family and Friends,

Exciting things are happening in my life, and I want to share them with you! As many of you know, I was preparing to embark on a yearlong mission trip called The World Race. I had my support letters ready to go, but every day I put off mailing them because there was a hesitation and lack of peace in my heart.

One day, in the week of July 14th, I was praying and really asking God to give me direction. He brought to my mind a Spanish language school in Guatemala that I had researched a year or so ago. I have always wanted to be bilingual. I took classes in both high school and college. I have been surrounded by Spanish-speaking roommates, students, and coworkers for years.

Not quite understanding how learning Spanish fit into my plans, I called Bob. This is where the story becomes interesting. Bob Robinson is the Single Parent Pastor at Irving Bible Church. We met in early July to talk about how I could be involved in the launch of Parenting Alone, a non-profit organization that will minister to single parent families in crisis outside the church.

During our meeting, my heart began to race. Let me share with you my life mission statement that I wrote a few years ago: "God’s purpose for my life is to embrace, nurture, and inspire hurting individuals by encouraging them so that they will experience abundant life." As a child I experienced the loss of a parent, and it is my desire to now come alongside hurting people, specifically children, to share God’s love, joy, and hope.

Fast forward to the day I called Bob about language school. I simply asked if it made any sense to him. His response, "The biggest prayer and burden of my heart this week has been that we will not be able to effectively minister to our Spanish-speaking clients at the Parenting Alone Center."

So…now I am preparing to spend 3 or 4 months at Christian Language Academy in Antigua, Guatemala. I leave the last week of August. I will take classes 6 hours a day and live with a Guatemalan family. I am ready and so excited about this adventure!

Many of you wanted to contribute to send me on the World Race. If you would still like to help financially, just let me know, and I will give you those details.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you through pictures and stories, eventually some in Spanish. Email me any time. You are special to me, and I am grateful for your friendship, encouragement, and prayers.


These past 2 weeks have been wonderful. God has shown me time and time again how He is directing my steps and taking care of me. I will share a few ways with you.

1. Last night friends from my Sunday school class at Irving Bible Church attended my going away party. It was a special time where I was able to share about my trip with the group and also talk with friends individually. I am honored to have such incredible people in my life. One friend encouraged me to be flexible, and another challenged me to ask God daily to reveal Himself and then see how the day unfolds. I will keep these and other words of advice close to heart. Also, at the party was a chocolate fountain. What could possibly be better than that?

2. God provided me with 2 part-time jobs this month. I have been working at the Language Assessment Center for Plano ISD and also for TexasStar Solutions, the family sign company. I have had a great time working with 10 of my family members.

3. My parents, sister, and nephew moved to DFW from Tennessee recently. I am so grateful for the time I have been able to spend with them.

4. I am thankful for the home I am living in. My friend's parents are so kind in letting me stay in their side apartment now and also for a little while when I return. It is cozy and spacious and more than I could have ever asked for.

5. The Parenting Alone ministry is going to launch November 15th! It is exciting to be a part of this team.

6. I found out that my cousin, who now lives in Nevada, went to language school in Antigua. We talked this week, and he shared with me his enthusiasm and helpful hints.

So, tonight is my family going away party. I'll write about that next time. All my relatives have been so supportive. They have known for years about my desire to travel.

Here is my flight information:

American Airlines, Thursday, August 28, 6pm-8:10pm


If you would like to help financially, I would truly appreciate it. I have reached about 40% of my goal, which is $7,000. Tuition, room, and board is $275 a week. I will attend classes for 16 weeks. The other money covers my plane ticket, transportation in Antigua, and other misc. items and services. You may write a check out to me and mail to my sister's address. Email me at for that.

I ask for your prayers as the time draws closer. Here are some specific requests:

1. safe travel
2. health and energy
3. friends and family members and I as we are apart
4. opportunities to share my faith in Jesus Christ
5. great relationship with host family
6. all financial needs to be met
7. the right teacher

Thank you. I love you all. Check in here from time to time. You will want to see pictures of beautiful Antigua.


Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm going to Guatemala. More details to come.....