A Travellerspoint blog

Pictures

snapshot memories

sunny 37 °F

I have had the time of my life looking back at pictures I was able to take of my time in Guatemala. As I can't go to every individual person and show them pictures, I will put some up with captions so you can get a snapshot of what my time was like. Trust me though, pictures don't even begin to describe the experience.

Several times we got to take the kids to the pool about 20 minutes away on foot. This pool gets it's water from the mountain, and is always flowing.

Several times we got to take the kids to the pool about 20 minutes away on foot. This pool gets it's water from the mountain, and is always flowing.

At the home, kids will use anything to create an instrument. Here is a compilation of trash can lids, waist pans and empty paint cans. The resulting instrument, a drum kit.

At the home, kids will use anything to create an instrument. Here is a compilation of trash can lids, waist pans and empty paint cans. The resulting instrument, a drum kit.

During crafts one day, I pulled this lively one over and was able to snap a picture. What a great smile.

During crafts one day, I pulled this lively one over and was able to snap a picture. What a great smile.

While she is a sassy little girl, she also has a huge heart and great smile. I enjoyed every moment she let me play and be with her.

While she is a sassy little girl, she also has a huge heart and great smile. I enjoyed every moment she let me play and be with her.

For one of the director's birthdays, I taught the kids how to sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" with motions, and how to sing "Happy Birthday" and say "We love you" in English. I was so proud of them.

For one of the director's birthdays, I taught the kids how to sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" with motions, and how to sing "Happy Birthday" and say "We love you" in English. I was so proud of them.

When we got the pipe cleaners out, I decided to try and make a bird, and then all of the kids, upon seeing mine, decided they wanted one as well. While some of them did judge the poor artistry in my birds, I decided to take pride in the fact that I had actually made something that looked remotely like anything at all.

When we got the pipe cleaners out, I decided to try and make a bird, and then all of the kids, upon seeing mine, decided they wanted one as well. While some of them did judge the poor artistry in my birds, I decided to take pride in the fact that I had actually made something that looked remotely like anything at all.

A group from Rochester, NY came down the last 10 days I was in Guatemala, and we all took the four older girls from the home an hour away to Quiche's Market to pick out fabric for quilts we made.

A group from Rochester, NY came down the last 10 days I was in Guatemala, and we all took the four older girls from the home an hour away to Quiche's Market to pick out fabric for quilts we made.

The final products of all who made a quilt. We had a great time.

The final products of all who made a quilt. We had a great time.

This was a picture that was taken the morning I left. I think it looks like a perfect example of a dysfunctional family photo.

This was a picture that was taken the morning I left. I think it looks like a perfect example of a dysfunctional family photo.

One of my closest little friends at the home. He brings joy to so many people.

One of my closest little friends at the home. He brings joy to so many people.

This amazing lady was with me the time I was in Guatemala. We have grown to be great friends. This picture was taken in a little café in Panajachel a day before I left.

This amazing lady was with me the time I was in Guatemala. We have grown to be great friends. This picture was taken in a little café in Panajachel a day before I left.

The morning I left for the sates, I got a picture with the two missionaries I was able to serve and Amanda.

The morning I left for the sates, I got a picture with the two missionaries I was able to serve and Amanda.

In Panajachel, there is a body of water called Lake Atitlan. Pictures never quite to it justice.

In Panajachel, there is a body of water called Lake Atitlan. Pictures never quite to it justice.

Posted by WorldRun 06:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

2 Weeks Home, 1 Month Gone

Learning to live in this stage of life

sunny 34 °F

I have been home now for two weeks and three days, and in exactly one month, I will be leaving to continue my next chapter in Zambia, South Africa. Being home has seemed so natural to me. I sleep in the same bed as I did before I left, I run the same errands as before, drop my sister off at school at the same time, attend church at the same location and help at the same places I did before. But this time, it's different. I've come back just a little bit the wiser.

While I was in Guatemala, I learned two big things:

1) When you're body is telling you to rest because you are sick, you should probably listen or you could regret it later on (As I discovered just in the nick of time)
1a) If someone tells you to eat or drink something you don't want because of how sick you are, don't complain but graciously accept it and suck up the fact you don't like whatever it is you are taking. (In my case, this was being forced to eat jello, yuck, and drink Gatorade, yuck yuck.)

2) It's okay not to know why you went someplace. Just living in stillness and in the moment is sometimes all that can be asked of you. There is nothing wrong with not having all the answers.

In Guatemala, I never had time to be lonely. I kept going with the piles of work to be done and was filled with the joyful, yet sometimes tiring, demands of children. Here, it's not like that. I don't have kids knocking on my door every 5 minutes and, while I do have work to do, it's not as demanding and definitely not as intensive.

The difference I mentioned above is the fact that I don't live with 33 other people any more. I live with my parents and younger sister, and while they do ask me to do many things, it's never quite the same. Friends are all off at college or in high school, and I'm now starting to understand what people mean by feeling lonely during a gap year. Don't get me wrong, being home is amazing. I know I was supposed to leave Hogar de Vida when I did, and I am blessed to have been there as long as I was. I know I'm to be home with my family, and I can't be more excited. This journey I'm on is the demanding, frustrating, hair pulling out kind. At the same time it challenges, strengthens and builds up who I am as a person. It's everything I've ever wanted really: To be pushed to my limits and discover that it wasn't so bad after I walk out of it.

People have been asking me in my short time back what my plans are for after Zambia. For whatever reason, while in Guatemala I started to become excited for the idea of college. So maybe that's my next step. I don't know what I'd study, I don't know where I'd go. But for me, that doesn't matter. I don't need to know everything. I just need to learn to be okay with where I'm at, ready to take a leap of faith to travel to another location, and the strength it takes to come back home.

For two weeks I've been here, and in one month I'll leave. What an adventure this is.

Posted by WorldRun 06:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day to Day

A Typical Day at Hogar de Vida

rain 72 °F

When anyone comes to Hogar de Vida for an extended period of time, they quickly realize that day to day usually looks pretty much the same. Everyone works hard, usually at the same task, and generally speaking, it's the same work all over the home that has to be done. Bellow is a detailed list, with approximate times, of my typical daily schedule during the week.

6:00 a.m. Get up and head over to the kids side to start work.

6:15 a.m. In the little kids room helping them all shower, lotion up, put clean clothes on, and get them out the door to breakfast before some of them have to leave for school at 7:30 a.m.

But usually I am...

In the kitchen washing a pile of dishes from the night before, washing the dishes that were in the kids rooms that the little ones collet and bring to me, setting up the breakfast table for the workers and making the coffee.

7:15 a.m. The bell rings for the kids to eat, and I serve them their morning cup of coffee. In between kids finishing their breakfast, I start washing dishes so the pile doesn't get too big.

7:35 a.m. I go and get the workers for breakfast and wipe down the table from any bugs that have decided to crawl up onto it since the last time it was wiped down.

7:45 a.m. The workers and I finally sit down, pray, and eat our typical meal of either black beans, eggs, tortillas, chilly salsa or refried beans, eggs, tortillas, chilly salsa. From here, we either talk and laugh at stuff the kids are running around doing or just sit and enjoy the rest for the moment.

8:20 (ish) a.m. The first person gets up from meal, thanks everyone for breakfast, and puts their dishes in the sink and places their chair on the stack of other chairs. Everyone follows suit and with in 5 minutes we all have gone to our own places and commence to clean up everything, put extra food away, wash dishes, wash the dirty rags, sweep, mop three times, and start to get things out for lunch preparation.

9:00 a.m. I go to my room and do my devotional and prayer time as the cleaning is just winding down in the kitchen on the other side.

9:20 a.m. Head to the other side and help the ladies get preparation stuff out still. We then begin to either cut and dice, peal, kneed, mix or kill what ever food needs to be prepared for the noon-hour meal. (Most days this takes about an hour, other days it takes longer.)

10:00 a.m. The fire on the open stone stove is started and set to warm up.

10:15 to 10:25 a.m. The tortilla dough is gotten out and we all begin the process of making a basket full of tortillas. This process is done solely by hand here and takes much skill to bring out a good sizes, round tortilla. I've still not completely mastered this task.

Also in this time, food that needs to be cooked is being put on the stove or other open fire and checked regularly to make sure everything is cooking to satisfaction.

11:35 to 11:45 a.m. The tortilla making is complete, and we have a basket of tortillas looking something like the picture bellow.

DSC05379.jpg

12:00 p.m. The fresca as it is called in Spanish, or cooled drink, is taken from the freezer and set on the counter, along with plates and cups and the food taken off the stoves and set up ready to serve.

12:15 p.m. The bell is rung and the kids come running over to be served their hot meal, always including vegetables, and then sit down to eat. I station myself at the drinks and help remind the kids, and students who have forgotten, to say please and thank you while serving them their cold refreshment.

12:30 p.m. The workers sit down and give thanks, then eat while some of the kids are finishing up and others are just getting home from school, ready to eat their already prepared plates of food.

12:50 p.m. We begin the long process of washing all of the dishes, putting away all food and leftovers, cleaning, sweeping, mopping three times, wiping down all of the tables and cleaning the dish towels that are dirty (which by this time is usually 7 to 8).

1:45 p.m. I head over to my room for my hour rest and rejuvenation time.

3:00 p.m. *On Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays* Head over and play with the kids. This either entails coloring, watching TV, if it is TV day for them, eating fruit, swinging, looking at pictures on my laptop, reading, playing games, playing doctor or school, listening to the little ones play their make shift instruments or playing on the playground.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach English to roughly 7 of the younger kids, and this goes from 3:30 p.m. to roughly 4:30 p.m. when they then help me clean up, put their materials away, and ask me to watch a movie on my iPod.

DSC05509.jpg

Wednesdays are my day off.

5:15 p.m. I head over to my side if not already here, make some dinner, and sit and relax.

On Tuesdays, I go with the other Americans here (Norman and Vickie) to a worship night at the home of another American family who has lived in Guatemala for 14 years. They live 30 minutes away, and we usually leave at 5:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

6:30 p.m. Head over to hang out with the kids. They all by now are in the pajamas and either running out their last bit of energy or washing clothes or in the kitchen fixing a snack. The little little ones have already been put into their rooms to sleep for the night.

7:00 p.m. Older kids devotional time, where we pray, sing as many songs as there are kids to pick songs, each say a verse, something we are thankful for, a prayer request, and pray again.

7:30 p.m. Wish the kids goodnight and head over to my side for the evening.

7:45 p.m. Start my journaling, read my bible, prayer time and quiet time.

8:45 (ish) p.m. Check online and listen to some music as I make a quick snack and get myself ready for bed.

8:50 to 9:15 p.m. I am in bed and ready to sleep and start my day all over again in a few hours.

On weekends, the morning does not start until 7:15 a.m. so I have time to sleep in.

While there are exceptions to all of this such as parades, taking the kids to the pool, extra long kitchen and cooking days and game day, it generally stays the same. To some, this schedule might seem busy, but in reality, it's just a person doing an honest days work. At the end of the day, you really feel like you have done something important, and that you have worked hard. Yes, sometimes I just feel too tired to do anything, but then I get up and take it one moment at a time.

Posted by WorldRun 20:53 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

Kids

They're Here, There and Everywhere

storm 78 °F

The heart of Hogar de Vida, or Home of Life, is rooted in the love of the kids that inhabit the place. The kids, loving and genuine to the core, are the most caring individuals I've ever met. They encourage me spirit more then I do them I think most of the time. But, instead of jumping ahead of myself, let me just go down the list of some things I've learned about kids in Guatemala, mainly Hogar de Vida.

1- Each kid has their own personality, from some being very sassy, to ornery, shy, quick witted, outspoken, loud, quiet, testing, clinging, enthusiastic, compassionate, caring, thoughtful, helpful and everything in between. Sound like kids all over the world? Well that's just it. That's how they are.

2- For many of the kids, this place is more of a family then their birth family will ever be. They share with each other noodles (why they are so fond of noodle packs here, like our ramen noodles, I don't understand. But every time they get their hands on them it's such a treat and everyone surrounds the pack of goodness) and take care of those younger then them, younger sit on the older students laps and laugh over nothing, pick each other up when they fall, and genuinely seem to love each other. Yes, kids will be kids and just like siblings in the states do, they hit each other and take the others toys and make each other cry, but in the end the love overwhelms the fault and reconciliation is always the ending outcome.

3- These kids can take anything! I can't tell you how many times I have seen them fall hard and just get up, laugh, brush themselves off and keep on going. What a model for life. Sometimes, we just have to laugh at ourselves and keep on moving and not care about every little scrape or bruise.

4- Kids have favorite "gringa's" or American's, and they like to stick to us like glue. One of my little buddies the other day, 3 years old, decided he was going to act like a baby all afternoon and pretend to cry and run to me. Cute, but not cute when he would throw books around and refuse to listen. He also thought that he would start calling me "mama" so he now takes to calling me mama. Oh boy, these kids really do have minds of their own.

5- The phrase "One mans trash is another mans treasure" really hits home with some of these kids. Yes, they have wonderful toys they love to play with, but that doesn't stop them from using old paint cans, trash, twigs, and the like to create a music concert for us, or to play pretend with. Their minds never stop working, and their laughs never quiet down.

6- They have the best laughs hands down. Their laughs come from deep inside themselves, and their eyes light up when the simplest thing makes them erupt in laughter. Sometimes I try to read their eyes and see what is going on in their little minds, but as most of you know, I am no mind reader.

7- They don't slow down. With a playground, trampoline, basketball court, and space to play fútbol (soccer), they never stop running around and having the time of their lives. I can hardly keep up with them half the time. And they run fast! The other day we played cops and robbers, me being the cop with another little friend, and I couldn't keep up. I had to use strategy to corner them rather then run the entire time. Those little peanuts know how to play a hard game.

8- They like to come up and either randomly hug you, slip their little hand in yours, have you hold them or grab onto your arm and walk side by side with you. How loved I feel when they do this to me.

9- From the youngest little girl here to the oldest of the adults, they all drink coffee. It's just a normal thing to do, like us drinking milk or juice maybe. Some may find that strange, but to them, nothing is more natural.

10- I love these kids. They're family and they're friends. They treat me as a sister, teasing me, challenging me, encouraging my horrible Spanish and lift me up. It's such an honor getting to know who they are and experience their culture full of love and compassion.

A group of the younger kids sitting around waiting to go swimming.

A group of the younger kids sitting around waiting to go swimming.

A mixture of ages sitting in the TV room.

A mixture of ages sitting in the TV room.

Posted by WorldRun 13:35 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Jeepers, it's the Creepers

A Different Culture

semi-overcast 70 °F

Village Path

Village Path

One thing I enjoy doing is shopping at the market in San Andrés, Sajcbajá Guatemala. I experience a different culture, buy fresh produce that tastes oh so good, and get some exercise in. I have been out several times other then market days to get a feel for the small village, buy internet, or walk one of the girls here in the home to her teachers house to pick something up. There has been a common thread among all of these visits...that thread is whistles. Apparently, many of the guys here, upon seeing a white female, will whistle at them or make a silly little comment. However, since there are three Norther American's here, or "gringo's" as many of the kids like to call us, there are a few more whistles then normal.

If my tally serves me correctly, with the 5 times we have been out, we have been whistled at roughly 11 times, with one guy saying "Hola Bonitas" or, hello lovelies, and another saying "Adios Nena's," translating to "goodbye honey." Yes, I will admit that this is taking some time to get used to. Not that I'm not flattered (whether they are doing it to me or one of the other girls I have no idea...or maybe to all three of us) but I just don't know how I'm going to get used to this. Living in another culture where it is acceptable, or rather not as frowned upon, to whistle at people in such a way is something to get used to for sure. I am always thankful that I am traveling the streets, usually, with one of the kids, and I feel safe with them. Not that I don't on my own or with the other Americans, but jeepers, I just get them creeps with the creepy whistles.

Posted by WorldRun 20:21 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

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