I have been in Guatemala for a month! Yes, ONE MONTH! It is crazy; it feels like I have been here longer. It is too hot in Guatemala for me, it is a month without scarves and there are good and bad things about that.
I am not a fashion expert; some might say I have no clue about fashion (yes Gabo that was for you!). But the truth is that scarves are my thing, the one thing I love having with me. There are several reasons for them however the three most important ones are: they keep me warm and cozy, I control how they look, and they are part of my identity- like a birthmark or something.
I know what you are thinking, why in the world are you talking about scarves Andrea? Bear with me, it is a metaphor.
This month I have missed the warm and cozy feeling of security that comes with staying in your comfort zone. I’ve missed the great feeling of control over how I think things should look like or should be done. And most of all, I think the most difficult one is trying to figure out my identity. I am still Andrea. I am still the silly Bolivian who will choose to laugh most of the time, the workaholic, the chocolate addict, the movie fan, the one who overthinks everything, the one who loves God, family and service to others above everything else in life, the control freak, the one who will ask how I can pray for you, and the one that needs to know how to do everything and will not stop until she gets it. I am still me. But me… is a strange concept to everyone else here.
It has been an interesting month. I am not a local anymore, so I need to put myself out there to make new friends, to find new activities that will help me reduce stress and think about not being shot or raped while getting there (main crimes in this city). I am the one that needs to learn how to appreciate a new culture and has to find a new church. I HATE CHURCH SURFING! It is the worst think for a shy, introverted person like me (I know, this is shocking but I am actually shy!). And it is a time to learn new words in my own language that make no sense to me and be ok with the fact that people here will laugh at me for the ones they don´t understand! I guess culture shock in your own language is hard.
“I have learned that this is not a time for speaking but for listening; not a time for initiatives but for waiting, not a time to offer leadership but a time to let go of old and cherished ideas and to become poor in spirit. Since we can learn from our mistakes, I might as well use this experience as a way to recall that these are times to be silent” Henry Nouwen
While I read Henry Noewen´s ¡Gracias! A Latin American Journal again, I feel that he expresses exactly what I am feeling. Except for the fact that he was a Dutch Catholic Priest and I am not, he struggled with the weight of trying to make a difference in Latin America.
You know what? Guatemala has scarves, they are just different and I am going to fall in love with them too!
Thanks for your patience and now, enough with the deep thinking. Let me share some of the cool things now!
I have an amazing group of friends! The other interns and fellows are sooooooooooooooooooooooo incredibly smart, funny and sexy! Their hearts for God inspire me. Their passion to serve challenges me. And well… they are #epic.
I have had the opportunity to go visit some cool places. A lacke/volcano place called Panajachel, and the former Capital Antigua. I actually got to drive on the way to one of them. Such a grown up!
A church from Chicago came to serve and encourage the staff on our spiritual retreat and I was touched by their love for us and the work of the Mission. Also, I ended up singing with the worship team and translating for part of the retreat, so that was fun too. An we got to see the bigest fountain in Central America!
And, I had the absolute best Saturday morning ever in Antigua while we spend two hours in the ChocoMuseo, a Chocolate Tour, what can be better than that! We learned all about chocolate, its history, different recipes, and we even toasted our own cocoa beans to make our own dark chocolate and coffee bean bars! (I bet they were delicious, but I forgot mine in the car and they melted).
- A place to live that is safe and not too expensive: Right now I am with my aunt and her wonderful family but it is really far away from where I work.
- Grace and wisdom as I try to adapt in this new culture.
- New local friends and a local church.
- For security for our staff here in Guatemala and around the world. The work of justice is need it but there are people behind these acts of oppression that do not want to see justice and are thus not happy with the work we are doing. And, at a spiritual level we all know that this fight is only done by prayer.
- For a wonderful month in Guatemala, for the good things and for the not so good things that have forced me to grow in my faith.
- For my “new” family I met here. Because even if I move out of their place I will probably spend most of my weekends with them because they are just AWESOME :D
Ok, that is a lot for now.
Love and blessings for you all.