I have spent my free time reading the three first books of the Chronicles of Narnia – so far, the third one is the best – and I am now in the middle of month six of my fellowship with IJM Guatemala.
If right now my life was a book, someone would word it like this: “When she was once again entering the land that brings out the best and the worst of you, the land surrounded by wonderful and green volcanoes and that evokes unknown emotions in everyone that lives under the Quetzal´s spell, she realized something incredible had happen. She had not only changed digits, but she had spent her 5th month in five different countries. Her heart was filled with joy and gratitude for the blessing she was given- the blessing of life.”
I am not sure how, but in a month (plus an extra week, to be honest) I have been in Belize, The States, Colombia, Peru and Guatemala. They have been weeks full of emotions, work, friendships, laughter, tears, tons of thinking, and some travel miles that hopefully will take me somewhere great in the future.
This weekend, I went to a new part of Guatemala. I went to Xela with two of my good friends here (Fran & Matt, life in Guatemala would not be as good without you) and I had some time to journal, meditate and reflect. I found myself grateful for the blessing of life.
It might be because I turned 30, it might be because I realize that I have amazing people in my life right now or it might be because I have spent the last weeks exposed to a reality that no matter how many times I face it, it breaks something inside of me and makes me cry every single time, but I am thankful for life.
My last week of August I was in Peru, learning about- and talking to – mothers whose children were sadly and violent deprived of their childhood. They became victims of sexual assault because someone was not able to control his/her sexual drive and had to “get it out of his/her system”, and felt that molesting or having sex with a minor was the only way to do it – I know, maybe that is not what was going on in the rapist’s mind but that is the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear stories like this. It makes me angry, I want to vomit, and -if I am honest – it makes me want to punch some people.
Two weeks ago, I was blessed by the opportunity to join 29 young girls- ages 11 to 19 years old and 6 babies- on a retreat. Once again, all of them were victims of sexual violence because someone decided he owned their bodies (5 of the 6 babies there were born as a result of the abused). But, I said I was blessed, so let’s focus on that part for now.
I was blessed by these girls’ laughs and hugs! We spent two days on a wonderful place, with a lot of food, and with some time to just play some cool games. Our AfterCare staff, who has been walking along side with these girls in their therapy and restoration process is doing a great job. It is a long process, but these 29 girls are THE PROOF that it is worthy to invest in therapy. They are still standing strong, and their lives are being restored. And on a selfish note, spending time with them made me feel better because it helped me get out of the office :) and, of course, helped me see that my work matters.
Last but not least, as I said at the beginning, this past weekend I had the opportunity to get out of the city and meet some cool people in Xela that are working with children that live in the streets. I am just amazed-and truly encouraged- by all the people I have got to meet here in Guatemala, people that choose to lay down their lives for others as Christ laid down his life for us, as nationals or as expats. We all have a role to play in a big or small corner in this world.
And finally, let me share a cool phrase that got me thinking this weekend , it is from a book call Relationships: a mess worth making:
“We are sinners with the capacity to do great damage to ourselves and our relationships. We need God´s grace to save us from ourselves. But we are also God´s children, which means that we have great hope and potential –not hope that rests on our gifts, experiences, or track records, but hope that rests in Christ”
Yes, life is a mess. Violence sucks, and there is way more evil than good in the world right now, but today can end in a different way. The world ,for at least one person , today is going to end with hope, because there are people out there willing to protect the poor and the oppressed. And I am sure that 365 days of volunteering far away from home can make a difference, as big as donating to the charity you prefer, supporting an independent missionary, or giving your time and your shoulder to some that need one to rest or cry on. If we all take a small step against oppression and violence I can say –with hope and joy- that this battle is not over yet. It is not about humans rights, it is about human´s lives!
Love to you all,
Ps: Thanks Fran for the pictures. You rock and I will miss you!